chapter  6
14 Pages

Russia's Economy and Finances after the Emancipation of the Serfs

The peasant reform fundamentally transformed Russian social relations and gave rise to new administrative and judicial institutions. Inevitably, it exerted a profound influence on the economy as well. The reformers of the 1860s and the 1870s believed that the economy on the whole should follow the Western path of development and embrace the principles of private property, free competition, entrepreneurship, and hired labor. Mikhail Reutern, the future minister of finance and a prominent representative of the enlightened bureaucracy, wrote in 1860: "The opportunity to seek one's own advantage without excessive constraints, and the conviction that the fruits of hard work are the inalienable possession of the worker, will develop in the intelligent Russian people the qualities with which it is endowed." I The authors of the peasant reform regarded market mechanisms as the principal means of increasing Russia's economic well-being.