National Geographic : 1905 Feb
RUSSIA ful minister of the empire. Many others might be named to illustrate the same truth of high individual advance ment without title or favor and solely on merit. Russia has ministers, but no ministry. There is no united, coher ent, responsible governing body. Each minister acts only for himself and is re sponsible only to the Emperor. Often times ministers antagonize and intrigue against each other. Witte and Plehve were at swords' points. Thus the bu reaucracy lacks unity, cooperation, and efficiency. It is disorganized and dis cordant. Sometimes an individual min ister shows tremendous energy in the administration of his department, but the coordinated work which gives united force and strength is missing. Below the chiefs the system has the vice of venality. It is this which has sapped the strength of the navy and impaired the efficiency of the army. It is this which has provided the gun of inferior range and imparted structural weakness to the battleship. Russia has prodigious resources and almost un limited power, if it can be made avail able. She has the giant's strength, but the giant's strength enfeebled by a vicious system and an improvident sloth. There is personal valor and symptomatic defect. There is the bril liant dash of the daring Makaroff, but a strange paralysis and fatality of the fleet. There is the skillful generalship of Kuropatkin, with the patience of Fabius and the fight of Marius, but a want of preparation which leaves him always with inferior numbers. There is the intrepid courage of the heroic Stoessel and his fire-tried troops at Port Arthur, which has excited the admira tion of the world, but there is at the same time the lack of equipment which crippled his defense. The fighting quality and the latent power are there, but reconstruction is needed to bring the fruits. In some directions Russia has made 59 remarkable advances in recent years. The energetic and far-reaching policy of Witte as Finance Minister, with its striking results, has been the subject of great praise and great criticism. It had two central and fundamental con ceptions. The first was to make Russia wholly self-sustaining and industrially great by a system which should protect and foster her own manufactures. The second was to concentrate all power and control in the hands of the government by substituting state for local taxation, by the promotion of state ownership of railroads, and by the creation of great state monopolies, like those in spirits, drugs, and kindred articles. The fruits have been tremendous, though possibly in some directions open to question. The industrial progress of Russia in the face of serious obstacles has been signal. Within ten years the number of hands employed increased from 1,318,048 to 2,098,262 and the value of the output more than doubled. The chief industries are textiles and mines and metals. Cotton manufactures have been rapidly developed. The consump tion of cotton has increased in little more than a decade from 117,000,00o kilograms to 257,000,000, and the num ber of spindles in operation is about 7,000,000. In iron manufacture Rus sia holds the fourth place among the nations, ranking next to Germany and ahead of France. From 1892 to 1900oo the annual production of metallic arti cles rose in value from 142,000,000 roubles to 276,000,000. The advance was so rapid that after 1900oo there was a reaction, followed by an industrial crisis. In his report on the budget for 1902, M. Witte ascribed the depression to a succession of bad harvests and a withdrawal of foreign capital, caused by the Boer war and the resulting stringency in the European money markets. Doubtless also the extraordinary development had engen dered speculation and overproduction.