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Society for Comparative Studies in Society and History

Amerikanizm and the Economic Development of Russia

Author(s): Hans Rogger
Source: Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Jul., 1981), pp. 382-420
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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Amerikanizmand the Economic
Developmentof Russia
Universityof California, Los Angeles

At electrificationhis eyes bulged a bit. "Utopia," he said, "nothingwill come of it."

Justyou wait, bourgeois. There will be New York in Tetiushi, therewill be paradisein
_ Vladimir Maiakovskii (1921)
Bourzhuis, keep wondering, but don't get histericky;Watch us work, live and play,
but make no mistake:Your fleet-footed, much advertised'Merikywe'll not only catch
up with but overtake.
_ Vladimir Maiakovskii (1929)1

Americanswho visited the young Soviet republicduringthe first dozen or so

years of its existence were astonished at the degree of interest, fascination,
respect, and even liking that their hosts displayed for them and the United
States. "Oursis the only importantGovernmentwhich refuses to grantRussia
political recognition," one of them wrote, "and yet it is our country that
Russia emulates and admires." Anotherreportedthat "the word for industri-
alization is Americanization,and the passion to Ford-ize the Soviet Union is
even stronger than the passion to communize it."2
The admirationand invocation of a country he had expected to be con-
demned and hated surprisedeven so knowledgeablean observerof his native
Russia as MauriceHindus. Nowhere else, he found, was Americaso earnestly
and generally idolized. America implied competence, responsibility, punctu-
ality, accuracy, and diligence. America meant to work steadily and effi-
ciently, with economy of materialsand of energy, but also with daringinven-

This study is partof a projectwhich was generouslysupportedby the NationalEndowmentfor

the Humanitiesand the American Philosophical Society.
1 The first Maiakovskii quotation is from his "Ran'she: Teper'," the second from
"Amerikantsyudivliaiutsia." They appearin VladimirMaiakovskii,Polnoe sobranie sochinenii
(Moscow, 1955-58), II, 98, and X, 89-90, respectively. Translationof the first is by the author.
The translationof the second is by B. G. Guerey and is takenfrom his An Anthologyof Russian
Literature(New York, 1960), 40.
2 H. V. Kaltenborn, We Look at the World (New York, 1930), 117; Anne O'Hare McCor-
mick, The Hammer and the Sickle (New York, 1928), 26. Other examples are to be found in
FrederickC. Barghoor, The Soviet Image of the United States (New York, 1950), 28-33;
Eugene Lyons, Assignmentin Utopia (New York, 1937); Anna Louise Strong, The First Timein
History (New York, 1924); Dorothy Thompson, The New Russia (New York, 1928).
0010-4175/81/3477-2317 $2.00? 1981 Society for ComparativeStudy of Society and History


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tiveness and a readiness to depart from routine and bureaucratism.America

signified youth and invincibility, the triumphof the machine and the possibil-
ity of freeing humanityfrom the burdensof poverty and toil; it stood for mass
production,the assembly line, and Fordizatsiia-one of the words of power,
as WalterDurantycalled it, with which Soviet oratorsspellboundtheir audi-
ences. "They all...," Theodore Dreiser noted sadly after his 1927 trip,
"want Russia to be like America-its cities like Chicago and Detroit, its
leaders and geniuses like Ford and Rockefeller, Edison and Gary. God! I
pray not."3
As Dreiserdiscovered, remindersby ideological puriststhat things were far
from perfect in the countryof ruthlessexploitationdid not prevail against the
widespreadbelief that every American, workmenincluded, was well dressed
and had a car, an apartmentor little house, a telephone, radio, Victrola,
electric lights, gas stove, leisure, and the means for travel. When the Fordson
tractorwas hailed in the countrysideas evidence of the Russian revolution's
triumph, and when its maker was toasted in homebrew along with Marx,
Lenin, and Kalinin and his autobiographytranslatedin eight editions, there
was reason to worry that peasants and workers, engineers and managers,
might be losing sight of the distinctions the doctrine called for between what
was good and what was bad about America, what was and was not worthyof
emulation and admiration.4
But nothing better testifies to the hold Americanism gained on Soviet
society than the very protests it called forth and the fact that both found an
echo in literature.In Nikolai Pogodin's play, Tempo, the Young Communist,
Maksimka, head of the Bureau of Rationalizationat the StalingradTractor
Plant, spends his nights studying "Fordism, Taylorism, and the scientific
organizationof labor" and declares that one has to "masterAmericanismand
suffuse it with Communistprinciples....' His comrade, Stepan, "infatuated
with Americanism like all the rest," is spending his nights conjugatingEn-
glish verbs and is planning to take a trip to America. The workers and
technicians at the project at first complain about the tempo demandedby the
American engineer, Carter, who, they say, works like an automatonand is

3 MauriceHindus,
HumanityUprooted (New York, 1929), 355-69; idem, BrokenEarth (New
York, 1931), 29, 107, 106; Walter Duranty, "Talk of Ford Favors Thrills Moscow," New York
Times, 17 February 1928, p. 7; idem, Duranty Reports (New York, 1934), 19, 246; Theodore
Dreiser, Dreiser Looks at Russia (New York, 1928), 76, 52.
4 Dreiser, Dreiser Looks at Russia; Hindus,
Humanity Uprooted, 355. Henry Ford's 1922
autobiography,My Life and Work(translatedas Moia zhizn', moi dostizheniia), had four Russian
editions in 1924 alone; an eighth appearedin Leningradin 1927. His Today and Tomorrow,
publishedin 1926, had at least three Russian editions. The third, published in Leningradin 1928
under the title Segodnia i zavtra, carried a preface by D. I. Zaslavskii which was designed to
counter the infatuationwith Ford of which the book at hand was an example. Also see S. G.
Ledenev, Preface, Za stankomu Forda (Moscow, 1927); and 0. E. Ermanskii,Legenda o Forde
(n.p., n.d.). For other warnings against the excesses of Americanism, see note 74 below.

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just like a machine. But in the end the Russiansagree to work at a pace that is
even faster than the American one.5
In two of his novels, Ilya Ehrenburgmocks the figure of the Americanized
Soviet managerwhose deficiencies of charactermake him indistinguishable
from his American counterpartand call into question his dedication to com-
munism. One of these, Boris Ilyin, is a directorof the fisheries trust, behaves
like an American magnate, smokes Manila cigars, thinks only in millions of
tons or billions of rubles, and regulateshis life by the clock. Anotheris Boris
K., a young executive of the state petroleumsyndicate, who has actuallybeen
to the United States and brought back with him a Dictaphone, which is his
chief instrumentof communicationwith his fellow workersand the measure
of his alienationfrom them. He too lives by a stricttimetable, in which there
are only minutes for the girl whose love he does not return,and whose death
he causes when she accidentally runs into his speeding Ford car. He speaks
enthusiastically of the United States, of the Ford factory, and of splendid
bathrooms and rational bookkeeping, adding perfunctorily:"Naturally, we
must give it all anothercontent, but we should acquire the technique."6
Yet there was ideological warrantfor Americanism, if not for its excesses.
Lenin had posited the necessity of catching up with and overtakingthe most
advanced countries economically on the eve of the October Revolution. In
early 1918, he elaborated:"Soviet power + the orderof the Prussianrailroads
+ American technique and the organization of trusts + American public
education etc. etc. + + = L = socialism." Nikolai Bukharin, one of the
party's chief theoreticians, declared in a speech of February 1923 that the
resumptionof the advance toward socialism requiredcadres who combined
the best qualities of the old Russian intelligentsia-Marxist training,theoreti-
cal scope, and analytical penetration-with an American grasp. "We need
Marxism plus Americanism."7
Just weeks afterLenin's death in January1924, Joseph Stalin, in a series of
lecturesbefore the men and women who were to staff the burgeoningapparat
of the Bolshevik Party, restated elaborately, and with enormous resonance,
what Lenin and Bukharinhad said more privately, more sketchily, or more

5 N. F. Pogodin, Temp (1929), in Sobraniedramaticheskikhproizvedenii (Moscow, 1960), I,

27-102. Quotations:I, 46, 77-78. The engineer in the play was patternedafter the American
engineer John Calder. See the article by Kendall E. Bailes in this issue.
6 Il'ia Ehrenburg'sTrestD.E. was originallypublishedin Russianin Berlin in 1923. The novel
10 L.S. was writtenin 1929 and first appearedin the Soviet Union in the journalKrasnaiaNov' in
SeptemberandOctoberof that year. Soviet editions of Ehrenburg'sworks accessible to me do not
contain the passages cited. They are taken from Germanversions of the two novels; TrustD.E.
(Berlin, 1925), 94; Das Leben der Autos (Berlin, 1930), 262-75.
7 V. I. Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 5th ed., (Moscow, 1958-65), XXXIV, 198; idem,
Leninskiisbornik (Moscow, 1959), XXXVI, 37-38; N. I. Bukharin,Proletarskaia revoliutsiia i
kul'tura (Petrograd, 1923), 48.

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casually. Appearingin Pravda in April and May of that year, and republished
many times under the title Foundations of Leninism, the lectures were de-
signed to establish their author'scredentialsas an interpreterand systematizer
of Lenin's thought and to help buttress Stalin's claim to the late leader's
political legacy. Of particularinterest for present purposes is the concluding
section, "Style in Work." There, having set out to define what constitutedthe
special Leninist style in partyand governmentwork, Stalin characterizedit as
a combinationof "Russianrevolutionarysweep" and, surprisingly, "Ameri-
can efficiency." The Russian word he used, delovitost', also suggests the
condition of being practical, businesslike, workmanlike.8
Russian revolutionarysweep, of course, came first. It was, Stalin said, the
antidoteto inertia, routine, conservatism, mental stagnation, and the unques-
tioning acceptance of tradition. Without its life-giving force, no forward
movement was possible. But by itself, unchecked by American practicality,
Russianrevolutionarysweep ran the risk of degeneratinginto Manilovism,the
kind of futile daydreamingto which a characterin Gogol's Dead Souls had
given his name, and of which there was all too much among too many
Communists. "American efficiency," Stalin hymned, "is that indomitable
force which neitherknows nor recognizes obstacles; which continues at a task
once starteduntil it is finished, even if it is a minor task; and without which
serious constructive work is impossible.... The combination of Russian
revolutionarysweep and American efficiency is the essence of Leninism in
party and state work."9
Making American delovitost' a chief ingredientof Leninism, and doing so
in such rhapsodicterms, still appearsextravagant,even if Stalin's advocacyof
the American style was not, per se, a radical departurefrom orthodoxy. To
ask that Russian Communistsadopt the work methods and habits of the most
advancedof the capitalistcountrieswas no violation of a doctrinewhich held
that the achievementsof capitalismwere a way-stationon mankind'smarchto
the socialist future. In July 1924, for example, Trotsky balanced an indict-
ment of Americanexpansionismwith a call for copying Americantechniques
and skills: "Americanized Bolshevism will triumph and smash imperialist
Americanism."10 It remainsto be explained, nonetheless, why Stalin chose to
recommend American virtues above all others to his listeners, why he as-
sumed that his appeal would evoke a positive response, why Americanism
did, in fact, find such a loud and lasting echo, and why for years to come
slogans exhortingRussia to catch up with and outstripAmerica were thought

8 I. V.
Stalin, Sochineniia (Moscow, 1947), VI, 186-88; idem, Problems of Leninism
(Moscow, 1954), 109-111.
9 Stalin, Problems of Leninism, 111; Sochineniia, idem, VI, 188.
10 L. D. Trotskii, "K voprosu o perspektivakh
mirovogo razvitiia," Izvestiia, 5 August 1924,
pp. 3-4.

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to be useful in the industrializationdrive-slogans which could still be heard,

if faintly, in the days of Khrushchevand Kosygin.11
The reasons for the employment of America as a goal and standardof
measurement are not obvious in a country where the leading cultural and
political figures had long disliked and condemned most of what they knew
about the United States. Soviet Americanism gives rise to two questions,
therefore:what purposeswas it expected and designed to serve, and why was
it assumed that there would be a receptivity to the appeals of Americanism
among those to whom they were addressed.The answerto both questions can
be found in the showing that Americanism, like anti-Americanism,had a
prior, prerevolutionaryhistory in Russia and that it played both before and
after 1917 the role of an industrializingor developmentalideology.12
In 1952 the late Alexander Gerschenkronset forth the propositionthat the
speed and characterof industrialdevelopmentin backwardcountrieswere to a
considerableextent determinedby "institutionalinstrumentsfor which there
was little or no counterpartin an establishedindustrialcountry," and by "the
intellectual climate within which industrializationproceeds-its spirit or
ideology, which differed considerably as between advanced and backward
countries. The latecomers (and for this category Russia provided striking
illustrations),in orderto realize their industrialpotentialand to compete with
more advancedcountries, needed capital, managerialskills, the most modern
techniques, and a force of reliable, disciplined workers who had cut their
umbilical cords to the land and could adjust to the rhythm of the factory.
They also requiredwhat Gerschenkroncalled "ideologies of delayed indus-
trialization,"whose power or "virulence" had a directbearingon the rate and
success of economic growth and on the degree to which its necessity or
desirability found emotional and intellectual acceptance.
"To break through the barriers of stagnation in a backward country,"
Gerschenkron wrote, "to ignite the imaginations of men..., a stronger
medicine is needed than the promise of a betterallocationof resourcesor even
1I Imogen Erro, "'Catching Up and Outstripping':An Appraisal," Problemsof Communism,
10:3 (May-June 1961), 24-25; Morton Schwartz, The Foreign Policy of the USSR: Domestic
Factors (Encino, California, 1975), 84-85.
12 I have
given a very brief review of Russianattitudestowardsthe United States in "America
in the Russian Mind-or Russian Discoveries of America," Pacific Historical Review, 47:1
(February1978), 27-51; and a lengthierone, with a focus on the middle third of the nineteenth
centuryand the American Civil War, in "Russia," in Heard Round the World, HaroldHyman,
ed. (New York, 1969), 172-256. The following deal with the question of perceptions and/or
influences in a variety of ways, but do not examine "Americanism"and its use as an ideology of
industrialization:Dieter Boden, Das Amerikabildim russischenSchrifttumbis zum Ende des 19.
Jahrhunderts(Hamburg, 1968); David Hecht, Russian Radicals Look to America (Cambridge,
Mass., 1947); Max M. Laserson, The AmericanImpacton Russia, 1784-1917: Diplomatic and
Ideological (New York, 1962). The fact that America is not mentioned at all in Donald W.
Treadgold'sThe Westin Russia and China, Vol. I of Russia, 1472-1917 (Cambridge,1973), is a
more accuratereflection of the extent of Americaninfluence on Russian thoughtthan the claims
made by Laserson, and it points up at the same time that the aspect of the Westernpresence with
which I am concerned has not been studied.

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the lower price of bread.... Whatis needed to move the mountainsof routine
and prejudice is faith... that the golden age lies not behind but ahead of
mankind."13 That faith, which Saint-Simongave to Franceand FriedrichList
to Germany, orthodoxMarxism, Gerschenkronbelieved, had given to Russia
in the 1890s. Marxismhad reconciledan intelligentsiaenamoredof the village
commune and the craft cooperativeto the adventof capitalistindustrialization
by representingit as the result of an iron law of historicaldevelopment. It was
this that explained the power of Marxist thought over men whose Wel-
tanschauung was altogether alien to the ideas of Marxian socialism. "In
conditions of Russia's 'absolute' backwardness... a much more powerful
ideology was required to grease the intellectual and emotional wheels of
industrializationthan either in France or Germany." What Gerschenkron
called the "hybrid ideological concoction that went under the misnomer of
Marxism" was employed years laterto sanction Stalinistmethodsof industri-
Gerschenkronwas, of course, correct in crediting Marxism with causing
much of the Russian intelligentsia to welcome what it had once feared and
resisted. Historianshave often describedhow Marxism swept the intellectual
arena in the 1890s and how profoundlyit affected the terms of political and
economic debate, in large part because it was Western and affirmed a se-
quence of developmental stages through which Russia, too, would have to
pass. But there were those in the intelligentsia, and many more outside its
ranks, who rejected Marxism in whole or in part for one or several reasons:
because they could not abide its acceptanceof the inevitabilityof mass suffer-
ing or because of its neglect (borderingon contempt)of the peasantry;because
it sought abundanceout of mechanizedproductionratherthanthe distributive
justice of other brandsof socialism; or because it was atheistic, antinational,
and egalitarian. And Marxism held no appeal for that very business and
governmentalclass whose memberswere among the naturalleaders and pro-
ponents of economic development, and little for a large and growing number
of engineers and architects,agronomistsand economists, teachersand doctors
who did not sharethe intelligentsia'spredispositionfor ultimatesolutions and
who sought more pragmatic,less ideological, answersfor Russia's problems.
And then, both before and afterthe Bolshevik Revolution, therewere men and
women who found the complexities of Marxist theory difficult to grasp and
who were left unmoved by its grandabstractionsand broadhistoricalvistas.
That is why Americanism, the advocacy and invocation of the American

Alexander Gerschenkron, "Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective," in The
Progress of UnderdevelopedAreas, B. F. Hoselitz, ed. (Chicago, 1952), 3-39. Quotations:23,
14 Gerschenkron, "Economic Backwardness"; idem, "Problems and Patterns of Russian
Economic Development," in The Transformationof Russian Society, Cyril Black, ed. (Cam-
bridge, Mass., 1960), 115.

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example and experience-primarily but not exclusively in the economic

realm-came to supplement Marxism as an ideology of development and
industrialization,both before and after 1917. It was used to demonstratethe
promises and benefits that would accompanyRussia's economic transforma-
tion, to justify and to make more bearableits costs and consequences, and to
be a tangible goal and a goad for mobilizing a people who needed to be
convinced of the desirabilityof modernity.
Yet even though Americanismhad the advantageover Marxismof greater
concretenessand accessibility, how could it be the strongmedicine, the pow-
erful stimulus, the mountain-movingfaith of which Gerschenkronspoke?
There is, in fact, no instance of its having the soul-stirring, conversionist
effect that Marxismhad on men like Nikolai Berdiaev and Sergei Bulgakov,
for Americanismwas not a comprehensivesystem of beliefs and values nor
did it offer a new and coherentconceptionof man, society, and history.'5Not
only is there no major figure in Russia's intellectualor political history who
could be called an Americanist;with one or two notable and partial excep-
tions, every luminary of Russian thought and letters rendered a negative
judgementof the United States, of its excesses of materialismor mass democ-
racy, of its plutocracyandcorruption,of its crassnessandcruelty.In the face of
the evidence which America itself supplied to its Russian critics in the last
third of the nineteenthcentury-evidence of moral decline and political de-
generation, economic crises and conflicts, racial and social injustice-how
was it that Americanismcould grow just then in Russia and provide examples
and inspirationfor buildingthatcountry'sfuture,a brightcontrastwith its past
shortcomingsand miseries, a guide to their rectification?And why, finally,
distant and unknown America rather than the more familiar England, the
workshopof the world, or dynamic, efficient, and neighboringGermany?The
answeris not a simple one and must be drawnfrom a body of evidence which,
because of its size, can only be sampled, not displayed. It is, however,
possible to indicate the chief elements from which the answer is derived.
The first of these elements is the fact thatAmericanismwas the creationnot
of the giants of Russian thought and culture, but of men whose names have
little resonance;Svin'in and Lakier,Tsimmermanand Ogorodnikov,Tverskoi
and Ozerov, to name only a few. They and not their most famous compatriots
were the ones who actually studied or explored the United States, lived or
worked there, and wrote about it copiously, both creating and satisfying a
never-endingcuriosity abouthow people in the New World lived and made a
living, farmedand travelled, were schooled and managedtheir public affairs.
And althoughthey were lesser lights, they were not, if quantityand echo are
any measure, unknownor unread.Theirarticlesin leadingjournalsand news-

15 See Richard
Kindersley, TheFirst RussianRevisionists(Oxford, 1962), 29-67. Cf. Richard
Pipes, Struve.Liberalon the Left, 1870-1905 (Cambridge,Mass., 1970), 52-64, 111-13; Arthur
P. Mendel, Dilemmas of Progress in Tsarist Russia (Cambridge,Mass., 1961), 139ff.

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papers, their books and lectures, were discussed, reviewed, and cited and,
judging by the familiarityand recurrenceof theirthemes and theses, they must
have had a cumulativeeffect. Together with Americanand Europeanwriters,
who were read both in the original and in translation,these Russians shaped
an image of America that, albeit with negative connotations, even its critics
adopted and perpetuated. When Dostoevsky, for example, on reading and
disliking a journalist's glowing reports from the United States, remarkedin
1878 that "mankindcan live without America, without railroads,even with-
out bread," he was indirectly paying tribute to America's most envied
achievements. The horrorinspired in the populist philosopher Nikolai Mik-
hailovskii by the soulless and mindless American machine he saw in 1873,
a machine that turnedout a shoe every seven minutes and robbed maker and
product alike of humanity and individuality, was only the reverse side of
the coin on which, some forty years later, the poet Ilya Zdanevichstampedthe
outrageousclaim thatan Americanshoe was superiorto the Venus de Milo.16
No doubt to a Russianpeasantor worker, Zdanevich's slogan was true, and
Americanshoes came to be known, liked, and manufacturedin Russia, a fact
which reveals anotherof Americanism's attractions.Precisely because it was
not a movement or ideology, an all-embracingfaith that prescribed for all
areasof life and demandedtotal commitment,could it have such broadappeal
and gain so many adherents. Pace Gerschenkron,it was the lower price of
bread and the better allocation of resources that made America, the visible
embodiment of high productivityand well-being, the model for their attain-
ment. It was exactly its pragmatism, its concentrationon bread-and-butter
issues and everyday concerns, that permittedAmericanismto evade ideologi-
cal or political issues of great moment and allowed Russians of widely diver-
gent persuasionsto choose from its stock of techniques, methods, and motives
only those which they found congenial to their own purposes and beliefs.
True, it was the liberals and technocrats who found it easiest to accept
Americanmodels. But conservativesand socialists could also point to Ameri-
ca's free press and schools, the social and geographicalmobility of its people,
and their freedom from governmentcontrols and tutelage as prime factors of
Americaningenuity and brillianteconomic success, and thereforerecommend
imitation. In 1834, the authorof an article on Americanrailroadstried to still
fears that the building of railways in Russia would dangerouslyfacilitate the
circulation of people and ideas by arguing that there was no connection
between the flourishingof this new mode of transportationand the republican
institutionsof the United States; the American spirit of enterprisewas inde-
pendent of political forms and resulted from the love of profit alone.17And
F. M. Dostoevskii, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v tridtsati tomakh (Leningrad, 1972- ), XI,
233; David Hecht, "Mikhailovskij and the United States," Harvard Slavic Studies, 4 (1957),
268; Vladimir Markov, Russian Futurism (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968), 185.
17 R. M.
Haywood, The Beginnings of Railway Development in Russia in the Reign of
Nicholas 1, 1835-1852 (Durham, N.C., 1969), 177.

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when Maiakovskiiproclaimedin the poster/poemhe createdfor the electrifi-

cation campaign of 1921 that there would be New York in Tetiushi and
paradisein Shuia, he linked the well-known reality of American wealth and
comfort with utopianhopes for its translationto the darkestinteriorof Soviet
New York-not Paris, the city of light, capital of a nation for which
generationsof Russianshad had a deep attachment,but which they also found
frivolous, unstable, and petty, capable both of noble revolutionaryreckless-
ness and stifling conservatismin thought and practice.'8Not Manchesteror
Birmingham,for althoughthey were outposts of the machine age, they were
also prime examples of its horrors.19Not the steel mills or coal mines of the
Ruhr, because Russians were trying to loosen their almost symbiotic links to
Germany. Besides, even before the bitterness engenderedby World War I,
they distrustedGermans, disliked their officiousness, and found their accu-
racy and efficiency to be devoid of spontaneityand generosity. More thanone
traveller returningfrom the United States commented, on reaching Russian
soil, how reminiscent of Germany were the many uniforms, officials, and
formalitiesand how unpleasantlythey contrastedwith the ease and informal-
ity of America. They saw a similar contrast between the public schools of
Prussia and America. It was the latter, they thought, that had, together with
the steamshipand the railroad,conquereddistance and climate-enemies that
still had the upperhand in Russia.20
Thus, althoughit was Europethat played by far the largest role in Russian
economic development, and before 1914 an almost exclusive one,21 it was
America that furnishedthe operative values, the imagery, the symbols, and
the myths of a superiorindustrialcivilization; and Americanismmade these

18 0. Savich and I. Ehrenburg,My i oni: Frantsiia (Berlin, 1931); M. Kh. Reutem, "Vliianie
ekonomicheskago kharakteranaroda na obrazovanie kapitalov," Morskoi sbornik, 46:5 (April
1860), 59.
19 The poet Alexander Pushkin, writing in 1834, provided an early example of the horror
English industrialismcould inspire: "Read the complaintsof the English factory workers;your
hair will standon end. How much repulsiveoppression, incomprehensiblesufferings! Whatcold
barbarismon the one hand, and what appallingpoverty on the other. You will think that we are
speaking of the constructionof the Egyptianpyramids, of Jews working underEgyptian lashes.
Not at all: We are talking aboutthe textiles of Mr. Smithor the needles of Mr. Jackson. And note
that all this are not abuses, not crimes, but occurrenceswhich take place within the strictlimits of
legality. It seems there is no creaturein the world more unfortunatethan the English worker."
A. S. Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh (Moscow-Leningrad, 1949), VII,
289-90, as cited in RichardPipes, Russia under the Old Regime (London, 1974), 149.
20 A. P.
Lopukhin, Zhizn' za okeanom (Saint Petersburg, 1882), 397; P. I. Ogorodnikov,
V strane svobody (Saint Petersburg, 1882), pt. II, 257; A. I. Vasil'chikov, 0 samoupravlenii
(Saint Petersburg, 1872), I, 336.
21 R. B. Fisher, "American Investment in Pre-Soviet Russia," American Slavic and East

European Review, 8:2 (April 1949), 90-105; S. 0. Gulishambarov, Sravnitel'naia statistika

Rossii v mirovom khoziaistve... 1881-1894 (Saint Petersburg, 1905), 60-62, 68, Walther
Kirchner, Studies in Russian-American Commerce (Leiden, 1975), 55, 139, 224; Gilbert C.
Kohlenberg, "Russian-AmericanEconomic Relations, 1905-1917" (Ph.D. diss., University of
Illinois, 1951).

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values and images available for popularconsumptionand preparedthe ground

for their official employmentby the Soviet regime. This was possible because
the American connection, unlike relations with Europe, was free of ancient
rivalriesand injuredsensibilities. In addition, Russianssaw frequent,if super-
ficial, parallels and affinities between the two nations; both were young and
unencumberedby the burdensof the past; both occupied vast territorieswith
rich naturaland human resources;both lacked rigid hierarchiesand customs
that inhibitedbold undertakingsand innovation. Real or imagined similarities
of climate, size, nationalcharacteror temperament,problems and prospects,
made the ingenious, energetic, open Yankee a more welcome teacher or
model than the stiff class-conscious Englishmanor the deliberateand pomp-
ous German.
Finally, and notwithstandingthe pervasive Russian denigrationof Ameri-
can politics and materialism,what had enabled the United States to overtake
the Old World was the openness of a free society and the opportunitiesit
offered to all its citizens. For many Russians, the private and public liberties
of the Americans were no small part of the explanation for the economic
miracle they had wrought in a wilderness, and these freedoms made them
more acceptable guides than the authoritarianor tradition-boundEuropeans.
Whetherthe demand was for greater social mobility or for civil and human
rights, for political democracyor for merely a lessening of the state's tutelage
over its subjects-the expansionof freedom, in large mattersor small, would,
it was hoped, liberate Russian energies and give Russia the dynamism, the
flourishing cities, farms, and factories of America.

* * *

The origins of Americanism go back to the eighteenth century and to the

author of Poor Richard's Almanack (translatedto Russian in 1784), whose
virtuosityand virtuemade him the most popularcitizen of the young republic.
Practical,plain, and shrewd, Franklinwas the first specimen of an American
type-Fulton, Edison, and Ford were others-that the Russians learned to
recognize and like: the self-made, self-taught man of humble beginnings
whose native intelligence and industry had brought him fame and fortune
and blessings to his nation and mankind. Elected to the Russian Imperial
Academy of Sciences in 1789, he was describedin 1800 as "one of the most
significant phenomenaof our century;electricity and the United Provinces of
America will stand forever as monuments to his creative genius and im-
mortality.... "22 The power of electricity and the uses to which the Ameri-

22 Cited in
Boden, Amerikabild, 46. Cf. N. N. Bolkhovitinov's Rossiia i voina SShA za
nezavisimost' (Moscow, 1976), 105-131 and his Stanovlenie russko-amerikanskikh otnoshenii
(Moscow, 1966), 240ff. For a popularbiographyby an authorwho also wrote on Fulton, see Ia.
V. Abramov, Veniamin Franklin i ego vremia (Saint Petersburg, 1891).

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cans put it would come to be considered among their greatest and most
enviable triumphs.Only steam rivaled electricity as an Americanmarvel, and
in its practicalapplicationsdid so sooner and longer.
The earliest visitor to publish accounts of the "transatlanticrepublic" was
Pavel Svin'in, who was secretaryto the Russian consul-generalat Philadel-
phia from 1811 to 1813, and who a year laterdevoted the first of his articlesto
a "Description of the Steamboat" and the progress of manufactures. "The
craftsmenwho came from Europe combined their knowledge and their skill
with the enterprisingspirit of the Americans and, encouragedby protective
laws and by freedom, surpassedthemselves ...." Lacking England's capital
and cheap labor, they had made a virtue of necessity and by putting their
ingenuityto work, had perfectedand simplified variousmachines. "Mechan-
ical devices have completely replaced human hands in the United States.
There, everythingis done by machines;they saw rocks, make bricks, hammer
out nails, cobble shoes, etc."23
Nothing, however, impressed Svin'in as much as the steamboat. He wit-
nessed the first voyage of Fulton's Paragon and admired its luxurious ap-
pointments, which were availableto anyone who had the money, as much as
the steam ferries that carried large wagons, their teams, passengers, and
freight. Svin'in's effort to obtain a license from Fulton for building steam-
boats at home failed, and nothing came of the agreement Fulton had con-
cluded with the Tsar's governmentprior to his death in 1815. His death was
reportedand his achievementcelebratedin a Russianreview which statedthat
his vessel was already in wide use on the waterwaysof the United States.24
The authorof the notice called for the employment of stimboty on Russian
rivers, as had Svin'in, who hoped that they would replace human drudgery
and be as profitablefor Russian tradersas for Americans, even if the equality
of condition and the commercialspirit of the latterwere absent. Svin'in also
wrote of the restless passion for mercantileenterprisein which all classes of
Americansshared, and of the public benefits their privateinitiatives yielded.
There was, for example, the expedition outfittedby the New York merchant
Ivan Astor at a cost of 250,000 rubles to find a short overland route to the
Pacific-"what an undertakingfor a private citizen!"-and the small part
played by governmentin building roads, canals, and bridges as comparedto
that of private enterprise. Bridges remarkablefor their strength and beauty

23 P. P. Svin'in
published four articles about the United States between 1814 and 1829, and
two editions of a book which reproducedthe contents of the first two articles:Opytzhivopisnago
puteshestviiapo Severnoi Amerike(Saint Petersburg, 1815, 1818), 81-108. References here are
to an English version preparedby AvrahmYarmolinsky,Picturesque United States of America,
1811, 1812, 1813: Being a Memoiron Paul Svinin (New York, 1930), 7-10, 14-16. Cf. Boden,
Amerikabild,53-72, and Valentin Kiparsky, English and AmericanCharactersin Russian Fic-
tion (Berlin, 1964), 134.
24 V. S. Virginskii, Robert Ful'ton (Moscow, 1965), 209, 214-51; Bolkhovitinov, Stanov-
lenie, 564.

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were anotherproductof America's genius Svin'in describedand illustratedfor

his readers;these spans were the ancestorsof the BrooklynBridge which later
Russian travellers saw matching in its grandeurand technical boldness the
naturalwonders of a country in which everything was on a grand scale.
Privatewealth made possible public libraries,learnedsocieties, and charit-
able institutions which, together with the habit of mutual aid, prevented
pauperism.In educating their children, Americansgave preferenceto public
schools which impartedto the sons of the richest banker and the lowliest
laborer a common fund of knowledge that enabled even the humblest to
reason correctly about the most difficult matters. Virtue and ability bestowed
the right to a voice and share in the government;school and newspaper, the
wish and the knowledge to make use of that right. The cities, although not
distinguished for their architecture,were impressive for their vitality, their
generous dimensions, their amenities and, above all, for their rapid growth,
which reflected that of the country as a whole.
P. I. Poletika, who was secretaryto the Russianmission from 1809 to 1811
and ministerfrom 1812 to 1822, wrote more analyticallyand critically about
American life and institutionsthan did his colleague. Yet he too marveledat
the spectacularprogressthata people free of externalthreats,a standingarmy,
and the distractionof political and religious persecutionwas making under a
governmentthat gave a wide latitude to its talents and energies. "Wretched
villages which I had left in the midst of impenetrableforests had assumedthe
appearance of flourishing cities. Cultivated fields had taken the place of
heaths which not long before seemed impassable, and over groundthat could
barely be traversedin country wagons, mail stages were whirling along with
the greatest rapidity." All was in motion in America, Poletika concluded,
"and rapidly advancingtoward a better order of things. "25
Although Svin'in and Poletikadiscoveredprinciplesand practicesthatRus-
sia might usefully adopt, neithersaid, nor probablythought, thattheir country
was mired in stagnation. Svin'in saw both peoples on the marchto greatness
and glory at comparablespeed. Only as the centuryenteredits second half did
Russians note ever more frequentlythatAmerica had moved ahead with giant
strides, that they had fallen far behind, that America's farmswere much more
fertile than their peasants' fields, its ships, canals, and roads more numerous,
and its people much more skilled and prosperous.Not until after the shock of
the Crimeandefeat and the death of Nicholas I in 1855 did they realize the
degree to which their country's development had been arrested;not until the
more liberal rule of his son, Alexander II, could they propose remedies.

25 P. I. Poletika, A Sketch the Internal Conditions the United States America and
of of of of
TheirPolitical Relationswith Europe, by a Russian. Translatedfromthe French by an American,
withNotes (Baltimore, 1826), 11, 136. Poletika(p. 71) intendedhis book for a Russianaudience,
but only excerpts appeared in Russia in 1825 and 1830. See Boden, Amerikabild, 75-77;
Bolkhovitinov, Stanovlenie, 587-590.

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Nicholas had, it is true, taken an interestin Americannaval constructionand

ordered ships to be built in American yards; he had also invited American
engineers and mechanicsto help build the Saint Petersburg-MoscowRailway
as well as its rolling stock.26But the fears of political contaminationand the
restrictions placed on foreign travel and the press, especially after 1848,
virtually caused the United States of Svin'in and Poletika to disappearfrom
the pages of Russianjournals and newspapers.
By thattime, however, the Americanswere alreadyknown as inventorsand
makersof devices they were eager to sell and as pioneersin the applicationof
transport,communication,and manufacturingtechnologies for which a need
was felt in Russia in the second half of the century. The Americans' methods,
their style, their versatility and daring had made as much of a mark as had
their machines and money and, in the long run, a deeper one. The novelist
Ivan Turgenev remarkedaround 1849 that the Americans were the greatest
poets of the time, poets not of words but of action, who were getting ready to
cut throughthe Isthmusof Panamaand also to lay a cable across the Atlantic.
The cable was, in fact, completedby CyrusField in 1866, which put an end to
the Russian-Americanprojectfor an overlandline across Siberiaand Alaska.
The PanamaCanaldid not become reality for anotherhalf century, but it was
the Americans, as Turgenev predicted, who built it, as they had built the
railroadthat preceded it.27
A young gentleman traveller, nephew of the Russian minister in
Washington, hailed the constructionof that rail line in articles published in
1856. Only the Americanscould have undertakensuch a gigantic and forbid-
ding task and completed it within five years. "How much money and how
many victims it cost! How many visible and invisible obstacles had to be
overcome .... Yet the power of will and the almightydollar have conquered
all." Once embarkedon a promising venture, an American would shy from
neitherthe expenditureof his last kopek nor the risk of ruin and would pursue
his aim with stubborndetermination.The greaterthe gamble, the greaterits
attractivenessand the profit, pride, and honorto be gained. "It is not truethat
the Americanis governed by cupidity alone; no, there is the joy of emerging

26 William L.
Blackwell, The Beginnings of Russian Industrialization (Princeton, 1968),
280-315; EufrosinaDvoichenko-Markov,"Americans in the CrimeanWar," Russian Review,
13:2 (April 1954), 137-45; Albert Parry, Whistler'sFather (Indianapolis-NewYork, 1939),
145-60; Norman Saul, "Beverly C. Sanders and the Expansion of Russian-AmericanTrade,
1853-1855," Maryland Historical Magazine, 67:2 (Summer 1972), 156-71; Alexandre Tar-
saidze, Czars and Presidents (New York, 1958), 119ff.; idem, "Berdanka," Russian Review,
9:1 (January1950), 31-32; Susan Dallas, ed., The Dairy of George MifflinDallas (Philadelphia,
1892), 11.
27 Avrahm
Yarmolinsky, Turgenev(New York, 1959), 267, 331; PerryMcDonoughCollins,
Siberian Journey (Madison, Wisconsin, 1962), 87, 276, 297; Ronald Jensen, "The Alaska
Purchase and Russian-American Relations" (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1971), 34-36;
Albert Parry, "Cassius Clay's Glimpse into the Future," Russian Review, 2:2 (Spring 1943),
54-57; JamesR. Robertson,A Kentuckianat the Courtof the Tsars (Berea, Ky., 1935), 217-23.

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victorious from dangerous battle." No more shame attached to losing money

than making it, to falling than rising, and among the rich only a very few had
inherited their wealth. The passionate pursuit of wealth had resulted in the
spectacular expansion of canals, railroads, cities, and population with less
help from the state than the timid Europeans expected or received.28
There would be other visitors and articles to bear out the observations of the
American minister, made in August 1854, that the Russians were manifesting
"an increased interest in our trade, commerce, and everything that concerns
our present and future greatness," and that the Crimean War would teach
them to "look more than ever to industrial pursuits."29
Aleksandr Lakier set out in his book to answer the questions which were on
the minds of many of his countrymen and explained that the purpose of the
trip on which he had embarked in 1856 was to find out why this youngest
brother in the family of nations had far outstripped his older siblings in trade,
in seafaring, in all productive activity. Why was the North American union
already a model for Europe and what instruction could be derived from its
experience? How did it arrive at its institutions; how had these proved them-
selves; where was the source of that democratic equality which was quite
incomprehensible to Europeans? Lakier was not as explicit in answering his
questions as he had been in posing them. Even in the more liberal air of the
new reign it was best to be cautious. The direction of his sympathies, nonethe-
less, was clear. Like Tocqueville, if more guardedly and with little of the
Frenchman's melancholy regret over the disappearance of cultural and social
distinction, Lakier foresaw the triumph and the spread of American democ-
racy. The history of its past was the best guide to what might be expected in
the future.
Will the Americansremainconfined to America alone or are they destined to returnto
Europe, bringing to it the institutions which, having been implanted in virgin soil,
were regeneratedand cleansed of the excrescences acquired in their long European
past? A young, an energetic, a practicalpeople that has been fortunatein its under-
takingscan see no reason to give a negative answerto such a questionand is certainto
exert its influence over Europe. But it will do so not by force of arms, not by fire and
sword, not by death and destruction,but by the power of invention, by commerce and
industry, whose influence will be more lasting than any conquests.30
Tocqueville had prophesied that Russia and America would one day sway
the fate of half the globe, the one impelled by servitude, the other by liberty.
28 V. K.
Bodisko, "Iz Ameriki," Sovremennik,no. 3 (March 1856), 114-40; ibid., no. 4
(April 1856), 237-58. Quotations:no. 4, 249-51.
29 ThomasHart
Seymour, DispatchNo. 7 of 19 August 1854. NationalArchives, Washington,
D.C., Dispatches from U.S. Ministersto Russia, 1808-1906, Micro-copy no. M-35, Roll no.
30 A. B. Lakier, Puteshestvie po Severo-Amerikanskim Shtatam, Kanade i ostrovu Kube, 2
vols. (Saint Petersburg,1859), II, 399. Partsof the book first appearedas articles. A one-volume
English translation is now available: Arnold Schrier and Joyce Story, A Russian Looks at
America. The Journey of AleksandrBorisovich Lakier in 1857 (Chicago, 1979).

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Lakiertoo saw freedomas America's animatingand energizingprinciple, but

he wished to disprovethe otherhalf of Tocqueville's prophecy, or at least the
mannerof its fulfillment, by recommendingthe American experience to his
fellow citizens. Much of what he told them containedthe lesson that, freed of
the burdenof serfdom, they too might gain the world's regardand their own
pride and well-being.
The contrastLakierdescribedbetween the Americansouthernersand their
more bustling and affluent compatriotsof northand west became for Russian
abolitionists one of the most telling argumentsagainst serfdom. In the free
states, there was an equality of rights, an absence of caste distinctionsand of
that abjectpovertyto which most Europeanswere condemnedfor life; poverty
was a temporarycondition from which men could escape by hard work and
saving to become masters of their own farms, stores, or workshops. And if
they did not, their work, like all honest labor, was respected, as was their
voice when they spoke as citizens on matters of common concern. A large
numberof inexpensive publicationskept a highly literatepeople informedof
the great issues of the day. In addition, there were the free public schools,
libraries, and lectures, the lyceums and mechanics' institutes, to provide
knowledge and training.The result was a sense of equal worth, opportunity,
and ability which was as visible in the unceremoniousconduct of government
in the congress and the White House as in the smooth and efficient runningof
business, industry, and transport.31
Like so many Russians after him, Lakier saw the scope, the efficacy, and
the ingenuity of the Americaneconomy reflected in the PatentOffice and in
the wide use made of checks to facilitate transactionsof every kind and size;
in the large numberof banks ready to extend credit and in their bookkeeping
methods; in the applicationof new techniques and materialsto the construc-
tion of houses and ships; in the bridgesof John Roebling and in the phenome-
nal urbangrowth sponsorednot by governmentbut by the efforts of settlers.
With Lakier begins the special Russian fascination with Chicago that so
amazed Dreiser; Chicago was the archetypicalAmerican city which in its
dynamism, sheer size, and rawnessmanifestedhow a remoteand insignificant
settlement-of which Russia had all too many-could become the life-giving
center of a vast agriculturalregion. "To be in America," wrote Lakier,
"without seeing Chicago, would mean not to have a true conception of what
men can do who have the strength of youth, decisiveness, daring, and a
craving for money. '32
It was the railroadthat had helped to make Chicago, the railroadthat had
sold the land along its right of way to those who grew the grain that was

31 Lakier, Puteshestvie, I, 7-12, 120, 191-93, 231-38, 263; II, 371.

32 Ibid., II,121.

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beginning to compete with Russian exports. How could the crops of the
American plains, raised with expensive labor and carried across an ocean
challenge Russian grain in the much closer markets of Europe? American
wheat in Europe would be unthinkableif its cultivation, on family-owned
farms, were not for the most partcarriedon by the farmersthemselves, with
improved methods and machines reducing labor costs and increasing yields,
and with railroads, canals, and steamships lowering costs of transportation
and ultimately prices. "No mechanical device fails to be applied broadly
which will, even in the slightest degree, ease the burdenof labor or replace
humanhands by steam, to the same end of cheapness and abundance." Rare
and expensive machines for which there was only a seasonal need, such as
steam plows or threshers, could be rented;for other implements, there were
mechanics and even universities in nearby towns to provide service and in-
struction. Besides, everyone learned in school the basic principles of
mechanics and how to handle complicated machinery. In Buffalo and
Chicago, Lakier was struck by the sight of huge wooden structuresfor the
storage of grain, the "so-called elevatory." They obviated loadings and
unloadingsby wheelbarrowor on the backs of men, whose places were taken
by steam-poweredmachines of simple design and operation. Within an hour,
Lakierwas assured, a trainloadof wheat could be transferredto the holds of a
ship. In no other country, he was convinced, were technical innovations
adopted so quickly; nowhere else were the inducementsfor their adoptionas
great for worker and employer alike.33
In the decade of reforms that followed the accession of Alexander II in
1855, the Russian horizon expanded beyond the familiar and heretoforeau-
thoritative standard set by Western Europe to include the United States.
There, wrote a proponent of rural credit associations, foreigners and their
capital were welcomed, ratherthan feared, and had enrichedthe nation. "It is
an example worthyof imitation. We are fortunatethat... we can make use of
the lessons taughtby those who have overtakenus in civilization and citizen-
ship." Some thoughtthe lessons could be learnedin Americanclassrooms. A
well-known pedagogue who was for many years editor of the Journal of the
Ministry of Public Instruction advised imitating the generous public support
given to education in the United States and relying less on governmentfiat.
The Americanshad recognized the importanceof educationto state and soci-
ety and had acted with theirusual energy. Unlike the Germansor French,they
had made schooling compulsorywithout centralization,kept the clergy out of
it, designed the schools for childrenof all classes, and opened them to girls as
well as boys with good results for both. To decide whetherwomen should be
admitted to the Medico-Surgical Academy of Saint Petersburg,the Russian

33 Ibid., 11,153, 140; I, 245-47.

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governmentin 1860 sent a medical officer to the Women's Medical College of

the New York Infirmary;he reportedfavorablyon the traininggiven there.34
In 1857, a professorof the Instituteof Engineersof Ways of Communica-
tions went to the United States to look into bridge-buildingtechniques, and
M.Kh. Reutern,a futureministerof finance, was sent by the Navy Ministryto
familiarize himself with budgetaryand accountingproceduresin Europe and
America. The economist N. Kh. Bunge, anotherfuture minister of finance,
urged his government, as Reuternhad done, to clear away obstacles to pro-
gress by giving greater scope to the free labor and initiative of the people.
Citing the example of the United States, Bunge showed how a speedier
building of railroads would benefit the country as a whole, and its grain-
growing provinces in particular,and relieve the suffering caused by war and
crop failures. Among eighteen countries listed by Bunge, America ranked
first and Russia fifteenth in railway mileage to population;the point required
no laboring. Russia's low rankingwas taken up in 1862 in a petition to the
emperorby a group of landownerswhose share of England's wheat imports
was declining as America's was growing;it must also have played a partin the
decision of a futureministerof ways of communications,Prince M. I. Khil-
kov, to study railroadingin America, from locomotive cab to traffic depart-
For the inspector-generalof the ImperialNavy's Medical Department,the
Americangenius was as visible in the militaryand medical institutionshe had
been sent to examine in 1865 as it was in the country's patent system and
schools. The latterwere free to all and stressed a practicalpreparationfor life
over book learning. The United States Patent Office served the people by
examining every idea or applicationand answeringall requestsfor assistance.
"I myself witnessed how the simplest workmen, coming perhaps straight
from their labors, were quickly given all the informationthey required to
producean invention which may one day astonishthe world." Of the patents
and models shown him, the Russian dignitary took note of those with a
military application, but also of a process for vulcanizing rubberwhich had

34 A. Golovachov, "Sovremennaialetopis'," Russkiivestnik, 26:3 (March 1860), 129; K. D.

Ushinskii, Sobraniepedagogicheskikhsochinenii (Saint Petersburg,1875) contains two articles
on Americaneducationfirst publishedin 1858; James R. Chadwick, "The Study and Practiceof
Medicine by Women," InternationalReview (October 1879), 451. I am grateful to JeanetteE.
Tuve for supplying the latter reference.
35 W. H. G. Armytage, The Rise of the Technocrats (London and Toronto, 1965), 161. On
Reutern, see his own "Vliianie ekonomicheskago," 59-66; and Jacob W. Kipp, "M. Kh.
Reutern on the Russian State and Economy," Journal of Modern History, 47:3 (September
1975), 437-59. N. Kh. Bunge, "Politiko-ekonomicheskoe obozrenie 1855-1857 godov,"
Otechestvennyezapiski, 117:4 (April 1858), 371-408. A. M. Solov'eva, Zheleznodorozhnyi
transport vo vtoroi polovine XIX veka (Moscow, 1975), 88-89. For Khilkov, see Laserson,
AmericanImpacton Russia, 471; and Theodor von Laue, Sergei Witteand the Industrialization
of Russia (New York, 1963), 79.

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spawned a major industry, of the lamps that used the oil discovered in
Pennsylvania,of the sewing and knittingmachines, and of the great varietyof
For those Russians who were less concerned with individual or collective
salvation than with railroads and bread, America in the last third of the
century became ever more often an object of study, a source of ideas for
Russia's betterment, a goal of journeys motivated by general curiosity or a
practical interest in learning how specific questions of economy and society
were being solved there. For them, whetherthey were partisansof democracy
or not, the victory of the North in the AmericanCivil War proved the advan-
tages of materialmight in war and peace and engenderedthe wish to acquire
the secrets of that might as speedily as had the Americans. The tourists who
complained that America lacked charm and grace, that the whole place was
like a huge, clamorous factory, might be right, a critic and minor novelist
conceded;but why, if they had no interestin factories, no wish to know about
their processes and purposes, had they come at all?37 If, to speak with
Turgenev's sons, the world was turning from a temple into a workshop,
America was assuredly in the vanguardof that transformation.
The spate of accounts of Americantravel appearingin the 1870s caused a
reviewer for a radical-democraticmonthly to speak of a particularweakness
among Russian readersand writersfor the United States and to ask, tongue in
cheek, why America, ratherthan Turkeyor China?Was it, he wondered, the
avoidance of the familiar and the attractionof opposites, an attractionthat
would be quite praiseworthyand useful if only it were not so abstractand
without practical consequences. "We sympathize with American arrange-
ments, but only in principle, and... nothing comes of our sympathy but
epistolary exercises." In the eyes of leading figures of Left and Right, even
such a purely platonic yearningappearedto threatencherishedprinciples. For
the populist philosopherPetr Lavrov, the countrywhose revolution and con-
stitution had once placed it at the forefrontof mankindhad by 1876 turned
into the "republic of humbug and the empire of the dollar," and one which
was not likely to solve the social question by its empty political formulas.
Dostoevsky, fearful that a liberalism of Western origin would usher in the
worst kind of Godless materialismand radicalism, reacted angrily when "al-
most the only journal that stands for the beliefs I now hold dearerthan life"
carriedthe American diaries of P. I. Ogorodnikov.38
An army officer cashiered for his sympathies with Polish rebels, then a

36 I. V. Gaurovits,
Voenno-sanitarnyeuchrezhdeniia Severo-AmerikanskikhSoedinennykh
Shtatov vo vremiaposlednei voiny (Saint Petersburg, 1868), 134-39.
37 A. V. Druzhinin, Sobranie Sochinenii (Saint
Petersburg, 1865), V, 609.
38 "Novye knigi," Delo, No. 6 (June 1873), 27; Hecht, Russian Radicals, 152; F. M.
Dostoevskii, Pis'ma (Moscow-Leningrad, 1930), II, 299-300.

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railroademployee and journalist, Ogorodnikov39had written that nearly all

the evils of American society were but a small and necessary price for the
greatergood of liberty. It was their freedoms that had made the Americans
daring and successful and their schools that were the "font and bulwark" of
those freedoms. Theirmaterialismwas the conditionof liberty-the guarantee
not only of comfort but also of individual independence and dignity, the
safeguardagainst those extremes of misery and luxury that divided and de-
based Europeans.The dollar was loved not for itself but because it promoted
progress, liberty, and power. What if some railroad companies, aided by
grantsof public lands, had made inordinateprofits?That matteredlittle when
measuredagainst the magnitudeof the achievementand the speed (unknown
in Russia) at which tracks, trains, and civilization marched across a vast
continent. What if there was too much of rudeness and too little of gentility
and good manners?The want of refinement was both cause and effect of a
lowering of class barriersthat facilitatedsocial intercourseand the dispatchof
business. And if servants were few and their services indifferent, this was
more than made up for by the absence of servility, by high wages, by labor-
saving machines, and by a gain in human dignity as well as efficiency.
The relative equality of condition and what most saw as an absolute
equality of opportunitystruck Russian observers as perhapsAmerica's most
attractivefeature. Coming from a countryin which social distances were not
only vast but visible in differences of dress and demeanor,in legal rights and
literacy, they were amazed by the likeness, the near uniformityof look and
outlook, among their hosts. In the crowds that passed him in the streets of
New York, Ogorodnikovsaw neitherrags nor brilliantuniforms, little distinc-
tion of class or caste, only neatly and modestly dressed citizens. The sight
filled him with envy, for each of them, in the dignity and prideof citizenship,
stood higher than any subject of the tsar. The blessings of liberty-and the
promise of still greater future rights and opportunitiesfor workers, former
slaves, and women-were, for Ogorodnikovand others, a largerreality than
the new money aristocracyof the Northor the remnantsof the planteraristoc-
racy in the South.
In America, as elsewhere, governmentandjustice might be in the hands of
superior individuals, the literary censor Alexander Nikitenko noted in his
diary, but the importantpoint was that "there ... the way is open to everyone
to be and to become what he can." Born a serf, Nikitenko had attainedhigh
rank and academic distinction;he did not have to spell out his widely shared
belief in the rich but hiddentalents of the simple folk and in the need to draw
uponthis resourcefor the moraland materialimprovementof his people. That

39 Ogorodnikov, V strane svobody, passim. An earlier edition, Ot N'ui-lorka do San

Frantsisko i obratno v Rossii (Saint Petersburg, 1872), has not been available to me.

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with the great reforms of Alexander II, Russia, like America, had entered onto
the road that would take both countries to an equally great destiny was a thesis
described by one writer as commonplace. Except for similarities of size,
relative youth, and the mission Providence had supposedly assigned the two
peoples, he thought the analogy imperfect. Russians, though they were enter-
prising, trusted too much to luck; they lacked the calculation, the steadiness,
the self-control, and the inventiveness of the Americans. These qualities could
only be imparted by education and by a greater tolerance for religious dissen-
ters, who alone in Russia possessed the sobriety, the diligence, and the so-
lidity of the American worker.40
E. R. Tsimmerman-who was the most widely read and travelled of the
Russians who were writing about the United States41-observed on the second
of his visits (1869-70) that the Americans had extended toleration even to
Jews, who participated in business and all manner of public affairs, and that
the influence of a multitude of sects was held in check by the laws and a large
measure of indifferentism. It was the school that was the "true temple of
popular felicity" of the Americans, who would find it as strange to imagine
that a community could not afford to teach its children as it would be unthink-
able to Russian peasants to say that their village had not the means to build a
church. In many a town, the school house, built before the church, served as
such on Sundays, just as in others the house of prayer became a schoolroom
during the week. There was a lesson here for those Russians, Tsimmerman
wrote, who claimed to believe in popular literacy but lamented the lack of
funds to erect schools for the people. He made much of the connection
between schooling and economic progress, schooling that took place in pleas-
ant classrooms which were for the many not the few, for girls as well as boys,
and where order was maintained by kindness and trust rather than harshness.

Having seen such a school one is no longer quite so surprisedat the achievementsin
the field of production by which the Americans are distinguished above all other
peoples in the world, achievements which owe much to the importantcircumstance
that in America public education builds from below, from the foundations.In Russia,
notwithstandingour gymnasiumsand universities, the mass of the people is deprived
almost entirely of all opportunitiesfor an education, whereas in the United States both
governmentand society make it theirfirstcare to see to it thatpublic schools accessible
to all are opened everywhere.42

40 A. V. Nikitenko, Dnevnik (Moscow, 1955-56), III, 144-45; anon., Russland, von einem
41 A
graduate in mathematics of Moscow University, E. R. Tsimmerman made his first
American trip in 1857-58, a second in 1869-70, and a third in 1884. He published numerous
articleson his travels, two books, and a study of Americanagriculture:Puteshestviepo Amerikev
1869-1870 g. (Moscow, 1872); SoedinennyeShtatySevernoiAmeriki;iz puteshestvii 1857-58 i
1869-70 godov (Moscow, 1873); Ocherki amerikanskogo sel's-kogo khoziaistva (Moscow,
42 Idem, Puteshestvie, 277-78.

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Nor did America know the gulf between life and learning that Russian
reformers assailed. The practical aims of its educational system derived from
a view of life as a continuous process of learning and experience in which
each supplemented and served the other. Practicality was not so much a matter
of preparing the young for specific trades as of a close link between school
and society; that was the true meaning of "public" education. In elementary
schools or universities, to be practical meant to be contemporary, concrete,
comprehensible, and competent.
If the historically unprecedenteddrive and boldness of Americancivilization amazes
us; if, still young and not yet fully formed, it has alreadydemonstratedto mankindthe
workingsof popularself-governmentand revealedto it new ways of productiveactiv-
ity; if it has laid rails across a continent that join the oceans and gave the world the
steamshipand the telegraph, harvestingand sewing machines and many other inven-
tions for the well-being of man, then these successes must be credited to the public
school and to a rational education that is based on mathematicsand the naturalsci-
There was more to American schooling, however, than what went on in
children's classrooms, and it too had a bearing on the country's technological
and industrial preeminence. Chicago's rise from prairie village to metropolis
would have been impossible without workers who had acquired a high level of
skills and useful knowledge at the evening courses, lectures, and reading
rooms of the city's Mechanics' Institute. New York's Cooper Union and
Astor Library, Detroit's Industrial Institute and Commercial College, the
educational and cultural activities of the Lowell textile mills and the Boston
Public Library provided the working class with means for its economic and
spiritual betterment, and industry with trained hands. The tasks of instruction
and education were shared by a large number of periodical publications. It
was not unusual for a farmer in some out-of-the-way place to receive several
newspapers as well as a magazine containing advice for the improved man-
agement of his fields and herd. He could get guidance also at the country fair
where his animals were judged and where he could examine the latest farm
machines, many of them suitable for Russian soils. And for the farmer's son
there were, or soon would be, the colleges for which the Morrill Act of 1862
had provided endowments of public land. In that year a department of agricul-
ture had been established which disseminated information, plants, and seeds,
and maintained a museum, library, and laboratory. These facilities could not
answer their purpose half so well if they were not freely accessible to all.
"Visiting them... you find neither doorkeepers nor guards and no one pays
the least attention to you until you yourself find it necessary to ask for help or
information. "44
This absence of formality and officiousness Tsimmerman had found re-
43 Idem, SoedinennyeShtaty, I, 177.
44 Idem, Puteshestvie, 79-80, 422. Cf. SoedinennyeShtaty, I, 62-63, 127, 171, 180.

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markablefrom the moment of arrival. Internalpassportswere unheardof and

freedom of movement, combined with the spirit of competition among indi-
viduals, firms, cities, and states emboldenedpeople and capital to undertake
venturesof a magnitudethata Europeancould not even conceive. Elaborating
in 1876 on earlier observations,45he called for the abolition of Russia's
system of internalpassportsby which the state controlledits subjectsand their
movements. The passportand the village commune to which law and custom
tied the peasants were the chief impediments to that freedom which had
allowed millions of men to come to the AmericanWest where they had turned
virgin soil into rich farms and built great centers of trade, of manufactures,
and of civilization. Comparingthe prairie states and their capital, Chicago,
with Odessa and the steppe country of New Russia, Tsimmermanasked why
the latter, for all the promise of its beginnings, had been overtaken by the
former in every respect. The passport and commune were only part of the
answer. The removal of barriershad to be matched with an equally great
attraction,the provision of land at low cost which the peasantscould work by
and for themselves and hope in time to call their own. That is what the
Homestead Act had accomplished, and that is what Tsimmermanhoped the
Ministry of State Domains would do: acquire unoccupiedlands from private
owners or monasteries, divide them into parcels of about eighty acres each,
adopt a version of the HomesteadAct that was tailoredto Russianconditions,
open land offices and registers, and make land available on clearly stated
terms to all who would work it by their own labor.
In declaring a healthy agricultureand sturdypeasantryto be the soundest
basis for Russia's future welfare, Tsimmermanwas taking note of the coun-
try's most pressingproblemand paying tributeto the egalitarian,progressive,
and populist sentimentsof his day. Yet he was no populist and had no wish to
keep Russia a country of villages and peasants. In the well-being of the
peasants,in theirtransformationinto independentfarmers,in theirfilling up of
the empty spaces of the homeland, he saw the preconditionand the guarantee
of the rise of manufactures,of cities, and of culture. "It is worthremembering
that everywhere, as the populationhas increasedin density, it has turnedmore
and more from its primitive, one-sided agriculturalpursuitsto manufacturing
industry, and this process, in turn, has raised the level of all materiallife.'"46
In this, too, Americawas showing the way: by the protectiontariffsgave to the
development of manufacturesand their exports; through a fiscal policy that
avoided placing excessive burdens on the population; and by avoiding the
high degree of administrativecentralizationthat in Russia concentratedtoo
many energies, resources, and amenities in a few great cities which drained
the country of talent and treasure. America's cities had not been created by
45 Idem, "Votchinny zakon v Amerike i nashi stepi," Otechestvennyezapiski, 234:9 (Sep-
tember 1877), 109-66.
46 Ibid., 129.

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royal fiat, like Saint Petersburg,or for the sake of bureaucraticconvenience.

They had grown to meet local needs and interests. Even the newest of them,
like Detroit, were centers of contemporarycivilization, withouta trace of the
backwardprovincialismthat markedthe towns of the Russian interior.
In 1884, twenty-six years after his first trip, Tsimmermanreturnedto the
United States and to the subject of its farmers. The Brooklyn Bridge, seen
from the deck of his departingsteamer, was proof, if proof were needed, that
in an age of engineeringmarvels, America occupied first place in the world.
But was it a model for the world in technical achievementalone? What of its
schools and their popular-democraticeducation, its fortunatefarmers?In no
other part of the globe was this indispensableyet mostly wretched class so
content;nowhereelse did the earthpromise such rich rewardsfor the laborof
the plowmanas in NorthAmerica-and in Russia. "Its vast black-soil steppes,
its virgin lands that now lie fallow, these are the naturalriches that have
been given in abundanceto our people to attainthe well-being thatthe farmers
of NorthAmericaenjoy. Why then do we tarry?"The answermust have been
obvious to those who knew Tsimmerman'searlier writings and he gave it
again in a book on Americanagriculturepublishedin 1897, when the question
of why Russia lagged far behind America in makinguse of nature'sgifts was
asked often and insistently:Give greaterscope to the efforts and intelligence
of individual farmers;allow them to form associations for cooperation and
mutualaid; help them to apply the latest findings of science to their fields.47
* * *

By 1897, Russia had for almost a decade pursueda programof state-fostered

industrialgrowth. But it had done so in the climate of political reaction that
followed the assassinationin 1881 of AlexanderII by terroristsof the People's
Will organization, a climate in which the notion of economic development
had become largely divorcedfrom the liberal motives, methods, or hopes that
often accompaniedit in earlier years. For Sergei Witte, minister of finance
from 1892 and chief architectof the system that bore his name, the mainte-
nance of firm, authoritarianrule was an essential ingredientof success. His
policy was a mixture of forced savings, lowered consumption, and high
investments combined with increased agriculturalexports, high tariffs, and
foreign borrowing. Representativeinstitutions, which would articulate and
mobilize the interests of a diverse population, could lead only to contention
and weaken or paralyze the steady resolve requiredto hold to a costly and
painful course. Witte's fall from power in 1903 was largely attributableto the
suffering and protests his system had caused. Peasant disturbances, labor
unrest, and the gentry's complaints against a policy which favored industri-
alizationat their expense combinedto make Nicholas II withdrawhis support
from a man and a policy he had long distrusted.

47 E. R. Tsimmerman, "Ot Tikhago okeana do Atlanticheskago," Russkaia Mysl', no. 3

(March 1885), 223; idem, Ocherki, 116-20.

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The tsar and other conservatives feared for the survival of traditional politi-
cal and social arrangements if Witte should succeed in industrializing Russia;
so did the sage of Iasnaia Poliana, although for different reasons. To a visitor
from the United States, Tolstoy in 1901 deplored the American preoccupation
with material things, with "mills and railroads and the like," and he thought
it "too bad" to see Russian statesmen following "in the footsteps of yours in
the matter of manufacturing and commercialism in general."

Look at the hideous smokestacks of the great factories that are now scattered over
Russia. They disfigure God's landscape.... It is all a mistake. We have no more than
100 million people. Scarcely more than one million of these are engaged in manufac-
turing.... How unjust that the remaindershould be burdened for these few! Our
countryis naturallyagricultural.We are an agriculturalpeople. No good can come from
turningus away from the naturalcurrentof our capabilities and physical condition.48

Populist writers also argued in the 1880s and 1890s against capitalism and
industrialism-the two becoming practically synonymous in public debates-
on both humanitarian and practical grounds and denied that the American
experience had any relevance for a peasant Russia that lacked virgin soil,
modem technology, a home market for its factories and was, besides, too
ignorant and too heavily burdened by taxes to compete abroad. They too
dreaded the rule of the banks and stock exchanges, the cancer of the pro-
letariat, and the destruction of the village commune and with it of the chance
for a socialist future of cooperation and community.
With these many challenges to industrialization, it was essential, Witte
realized, that the goals he had set-and which much of society resisted-be
decisively affirmed and propagated by the state and its head. Leadership was
needed to make the nation accept present hardship for future greatness, and in
Russia, leadership could come only from the throne. As early as 1882, the
great chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834-1907), who later became associated
with Witte as the most famous prophet of Russia's industrial future, spoke to a
congress of manufacturers of the need for a banner-Gerschenkron's industri-
alizing ideology-to rally the forces of technical and economic progress and
called on the tsar to raise that banner. Only he could make his people under-
stand and undertake the great tasks demanding their energies and attention.49
But no such guidance came from above and America became a standard with
which non-Marxist advocates of industrial development tried to rally a follow-
ing in the business and academic communities and in the country at large.
Although Mendeleev had not liked much of what he had seen in the United
States in 1876 and was no admirer of its unbridled laisser-faire capitalism,
during the last two decades of his life he time and again asked his countrymen
48 Albert J. Beveridge, The Russian Advance (New York, 1904), 430.
49 A one-volume selection of Mendeleev's writings, Problemy ekonomicheskogo razvitiia
Rossii (Moscow, 1960), includes the speech, but it omits the appeal to the tsar, which I have
taken from P. A. Berlin, Russkaia burzhuaziiav staroe i novoe vremia (Moscow, 1922), 123,
quoting from an earlier text.

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to look to America for methods and results-in education;in tariff protection

to infant industries;in a balanceddevelopmentof agriculture,manufactures,
transport,and mining; in urbangrowth;and in applying (and rewarding)new
technologies, inventions, better work habits, and capital in all branches of
production.In 1899-long before the Soviets-he posited "catching up with
the Americans" (dognat' Amerikantsev)as a goal which could be achieved in
two or three decades if not less than 700 million rubles were invested in
industryeach year. So often did Mendeleev point to Americathat he once felt
obliged to explain that he did not think the United States an ideal country in
every respect, and thathe sought wealth and power for his countrynot as ends
in themselves, as the Americansdid, but as means to the fuller unfolding of
the treasuresof the national spirit.50
The articles and book that the political emigre Petr Tverskoi published in
the 1890s about his life in the United States have a significance that goes
beyond their popularityor praiseof America. They depict a countrythat more
Russians than ever before were eager to understandand one in which they
sought to discern the lineaments of their own future. Tverskoi had made his
way to Floridain 1879 to take up farming. When that venturefailed, he took
over a small sawmill and soon was launchedon a successful careerin business
and industry.He became a railroadbuilderand a manufacturerof furniture,an
owner of steam laundriesand orange groves, a building contractorand land
developer. The America that Tverskoi discovered for his countrymen had
never been shown to them in such concrete detail and in such approving
terms-a countryof commerce and factories which few of them knew, none
as well as he, and which most had before found frighteningor distasteful. He
told them not only of the crimes of the greattrustsand the fever of speculation
that seized every American, of sharpbusiness dealings and ruthless competi-
tion, of strikes and lockouts. He spoke also of high standardsof commercial
honesty and trust; of excellent communicationsand easy credit for men of
small means and large visions; of advanced manufacturingprocesses and
business methods, the abilities and high productivityof workmen and their
struggle for betterwages and hours. Like Ogorodnikovand Tsimmerman,he
noted the wide spreadof literacy and political awareness, the general compe-
tence and comfort, confidence, and civic pride. And like Ogorodnikov(who
had angeredDostoevsky) and Tsimmerman(whom Mendeleev had found an
unreliable guide), Tverskoi too was thought by some of his better-known
contemporariesto have praised America too much.s5
50 D. I. Mendeleev, Neftianaia promyshlennost'v Severo-Amerikanskom Shtate Pensilvanii i
na Kavkaze (Saint Petersburg, 1877), xiii-xiv, 62ff.; idem, Raboty po sel'skomu khoziaistvui
lesovodstvu (Moscow, 1954), 541; idem, Sochineniia (Leningrad, 1937-52), XX, 501.
51 P. A. Tverskoi, Ocherki Servero-Amerikanskikh SoedinennykhShtatov (Saint Petersburg,
1895). The book was first serializedin the monthly VestnikEvropyfor which Tverskoicontinued
to reporton American affairs in later years. Maksim Gorkii, who was familiar with Tverskoi's
articles, said of him, "What idiots all these Tverskiis and similarRussian writersabout America
are!" Charles Rougle, Three Russians ConsiderAmerica (Stockholm, 1977), 25.

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Mendeleev's summons to catch up and the transformationof the gentry

liberal from Tver into an American businessman were signs that Russian
Americanismhad arrived. Americanismwas both a perceptionof the United
States as an industrial civilization from which more could and should be
learned or borrowed than mere isolated techniques or pieces of equipment,
and the acceptanceof the inevitabilityof doing so and of Russia's becoming
more like America in the process. The response of the many private and
official Russian visitors to the Chicago ColumbianExposition of 1893 gave a
powerful impetusto the emergence and spreadof Americanism,even when it
struck them as flawed or deformed on its home ground. "America-the
Chicago Fair in particular-is so importantto us as a model in many spheres
of economic life," the political economist and founderof the Society for the
Propagationof Technical Knowledge, A. I. Chuprov, wrote to a colleague
who was preparingto go to the United States at Witte's behest, "that the
governmentshould not be sparingof funds to send specialists. "52
The recipientof that letter was the Moscow professorof financial law, I. I.
Ianzhul, who subsequently spent four months in the United States studying
taxes and tariffs, the grain tradeand the Departmentof Agriculture,technical
and general education, syndicates and trusts. He and his educator wife de-
scribed what they saw and learnedfor newspapersand journals, in books and
official reports.53A believer in a strongrole for the state to secure social and
economic justice and no more enamoredof free tradeand classical economics
than Mendeleev, Ianzhul found the competitive excesses of American busi-
ness, the tastelessness of its advertising,and the universalmadnessfor money
and profit to be as destructiveof cultureand community as he had expected.
In no other greatcity, he observed, were there as manyjoyless faces, as many
worried or angry people, as in New York, and he attributedtheir self-
absorption, their curtness, and lack of civility to the pressuresof making a
living in difficult circumstances.The dirty, ill-paved streetsof New York and
Chicago made Moscow or even provincialtowns appearmore attractiveand,
althoughthe White City surpassedin grandeurand beauty all previous fairs,
the ColumbianExposition was not of such great technical importanceas they
had been. Yet the nation which had planned and mounted it had much to
show and to teach, and the Ianzhulsrecommendedfor imitation some of the
very things that presumablywere making the Americans unhappy.
They liked the comradelyrespect with which women were treatedand that
they were employed not only as teachers or secretaries but were gaining
entranceto the professions, to public service, and to industry;America had

I. I. Ianzhul, Vospominaniia(Saint Petersburg, 1910-11), II, 126.
53 Ibid., 12-17, 120-153; idem, Promyslovyesindikaty... v SoedinennykhShtatakhSevernoi
Ameriki(Saint Petersburg, 1895); idem, Mezhdudelom (Saint Petersburg,1904), 1-21, 99-106,
162-92, 420-26; idem, Chasy Dosuga (Moscow, 1896), 227-374; idem, V poiskakh luchshago
budushchago (Saint Petersburg, 1893), 232-56, 339-42; Ekaterina Ianzhul, Amerikanskaia
shkola (Saint Petersburg, 1902, 1904).

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recognized that its economy could only benefit from their contribution.Light
and airy Washington, with its broad, tree-lined boulevards and smoothly
runningstreetcarswas the ideal which the Europeancity of the future should
strive to realize. The assistanceoffered by the Departmentof Agriculturewas
an impressive example of the services the state could render to its people.
Insteadof a ministrywith numerousfunctionariesand clerks busily filling up
papers, there were scientists and technicians, laboratoriesand experimental
stations, statisticiansand metereologists-the whole more like a universityin
aim and spirit than a bureauof government. The practicaleconomic benefits
of all this "scientific-administrative"activity were beyond calculation.
If Russianstraditionallyhad no thoughtfor the morrowand no inclination
to save-a matterof no small momentin a countryshortof capital-why not
inculcate upon children, as American schools and parents did, the habit of
saving, of working at an early age for pocket money, and a sense of self-
reliance? American millionaires were to be praised for their gifts to cultural
and philanthropicinstitutions;universitiesfor not stifling students'minds with
dead knowledge and theirbodies with excessive hoursof study;state and local
governmentsfor fostering agriculture,education, and sobriety;manufacturers
for not looking to the state for orders and assistance. Even the sensationalist
press was a positive force for maintaininggeneral literacy and morality in
politics and business. Whatwas needed to make the lattertruly responsive to
the public interestwithoutlosing the advantagesof size, of rationalproduction
and distribution,was not unhinderedcompetition but state regulation of the
trustsand protectionof their workers. As always, there was the public school
to help explain the greater efficiency and productivityof American labor.
Ekaterina Ianzhul's book, The Economic Value of Education, to which her
husband, Chuprov, and others contributed,cited the Americanprinciplethat
no child should enter the world of work without at least a primaryeducation,
"for a class of uneducatedworkersis forever a loss and danger to state and
society." Thatprinciple, she thought, was entirelyapplicableto Russia where
a carpenterwould build better houses and a millhand weave better cloth for
knowing how to read and write.54
The railroad expert and the mechanical engineer, the oil man and the
industrialchemist, the educatorsand the guardsofficer, the geodesist and the
sightseers,55all of whom had come to the New Worldat the same time as the
54 Ekaterina Ianzhul, Ekonomicheskaia otsenka narodnago obrazovaniia (Saint Petersburg,
1899), 83.
55 S. D. Kareisha, Severo-amerikanskie zheleznyiia dorogi (Saint Petersburg, 1896); V. L.
Kirpichev, Otchet o komandirovke direktora Khar'kovskago tekhnologicheskago instituta Kir-
picheva v Severnuiu Ameriku (Saint Petersburg, 1895); S. I. Gulishambarov, Neftianaia prom-
yshlennost' Soedinennykh Shtatov Severnoi Ameriki v sviazi s obshchim promyshlennym razvitiem
strany (Saint Petersburg, 1894); D. P. Konovalov, Promyshlennost' Soedinennykh Shtatov
Severnoi Ameriki i sovremennye priemy khimicheskoi tekhnologii (Saint Petersburg, 1895); E. P.
Kovalevskii, et al., Narodnoe obrazovanie v Soedinennykh Shtatakh Severnoi Ameriki (Saint

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Ianzhuls,returnedhome, like them, with mixed feelings of revulsion, fascina-

tion, admiration,and envy. Most shareda premonitionthat they had caught a
glimpse of a futurewhich, ugly, vulgar, and prosaic though it might be, was
inescapablytheirsand the world's. America, as an aestheticvisitor wrote, was
a window to the future; men of philosophical or artistic temperamentcould
only shudderor shake their heads when they looked throughit. To a young
guards lieutenant, however, the view was more encouraging. Whathe saw at
Chicago and from the Brooklyn Bridge was technical genius, great ventures,
the use of science, of steam and electricity, to lighten the labors of men and
beasts. And for most, that was the meaning of Chicago, in spite of warnings
that Russia must not follow in the footsteps of a capitalist America that was
boundto suffer impoverishmentat home and to embarkon foreign conquestto
postpone that day of reckoning.56
Americanpower and productivity,the lessons and the threatsthey held for
Russia and the rest of Europe, had by the turn of the century become com-
monplaces. The Moscow economist I. Kh. Ozerov saw the coming ascen-
dancy of the United States as one of the most disturbing results of the
nineteenthcentury. The Americanadvanceon Europe, not with dynamiteand
the sword, but with price lists and commercial agents, iron and steel,
machines and merchandise, was a nightmarefrom which an awakening was
possible only by adopting American methods. Europe had to stop looking
down on America, put its own house in order, and spread enlightenment
among the lowliest of its citizens. "You can fight America only with its own
weapons. "57 "Why Does AmericaAdvance So Quickly?"58and "WhatDoes
America Teach Us?"59Ozerov asked in 1903 and many times thereafterin a
varietyof ways and forums, and always pointing a sharpcontrast.On the one
hand, there was Russian sloth, bureaucraticarbitrariness,and immobility; a
resistanceto innovation, new men, and new ideas; on the partof the business
class, a reluctance to take risks or to leave the shelter of the state and high

Petersburg, 1895); A. I. Nedumov, V Novyi svet; putevyia zametki (Warsaw, 1894); V. V.

Vitkovskii, Za okean:putevvyiazapiski (Saint Petersburg,1894); Vasilii Sidorov, Amerika(Saint
Petersburg, 1895); V. V. Sviatlovskii, Po belu svetu; za Atlanticheskookeanom (Ekaterinoslav,
1898); V. G. Korolenko, Puteshestvie v Ameriku(Moscow, 1923).
56 S. M. Volkonskii, Moi vospominaniia (Munich, 1923), II, 271; Nedumov, V Novyi svet,
12-22; 57-58. For predictionsthat America was fated to go the way of all capitalist countries,
see, for example, S. N. Iuzhakov, "Voprosy ekonomicheskago razvitiia Rossii," Russkoe
bogatstvo, no. 12 (1893), 186-209; here 189.
57 I. Kh. Ozerov, Itogi ekonomicheskagorazvitiiaXIX veka (Saint Petersburg,
1902), 74ff. A
second edition appearedunder the title Kuda my idem (Saint Petersburg, 1911).
58 Idem, Otchego Amerika idet tak bystro vpered? (Moscow, 1903). Also see Ozerov's Iz
zhizni truda (Moscow, 1904), 269-93; Na temydnia (Moscow, 1912), 44-57; and his prefaceto
the Russian translation of Werner Sombart's Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben:Evrei i
khoziaistvennaiazhizn' (Saint Petersburg, 1912).
59 Chemu uchit nas Amerika?was based on a series of lectures Ozerov gave in the Moscow
HistoricalMuseum. They first appearedin Russkoeekonomicheskoeobozrenie, nos. 4, 5 (1903),
and as a book that same year. A second edition was published in Moscow in 1908.

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protective tariffs; on the part of labor, an excess of holidays and drinking,

poor discipline, and illiteracy. On the other hand, there was Americaninitia-
tive, inventiveness, energy, organization, sobriety, self-reliance, education,
the absence of prejudiceand social barriers,and the protectiongiven to every
individual and his efforts by the laws.
"Why do we sleep? How can we awaken our energies, develop our slum-
bering strength;what magic slogan will summon forth the riches of our soil?
Why, with our vast territoriesdo we lack land; why, with a relatively sparse
population do so many of our people have no opportunityto apply their
labor?" For Ozerov, even more than for Mendeleev, America was to be the
slogan, the banner, the challenge that would help propel sluggish Russia
forwardon the road America had markedout. Why not organize delegations
from business, industry, and agricultureto look at the latest America had to
offer in irrigationand refrigeration,transportation,metallurgy, and mining?
And why not send workers too, so that they would see for themselves with
what energy and skill their Americancomradesworked. Some of them might
even stay for a time, acquiringknowledge and work habits that would make
them living examples to those who stayed at home. Young Russians in par-
ticular, Ozerov hoped, studying in and about America, would furnish the
impetus to overcome traditionalism,inertia, and social prejudice.60
The young Russians were beginning to view America in a light different
from that in which the literaryand radical intelligentsiahad usually seen it,
because the intelligentsiaand Russia too were changing. "There is more love
for man in electricity and steam than there is in chastity and vegetarianism,"
Anton Chekhov, abjuringhis former Tolstoyism, wrote in 1894. Tverskoi
noted the change in the young Russians who came to Chicago. They differed
not only from the stuffy officials of the Russian pavilion and from the leftist
writerVladimirKorolenkohe met there, but from the youths he had known in
the 1860s and 1870s. The idealism and purityof heartthat had characterized
the best of those, Tverskoi also saw in Korolenko. But the new generationof
young people were of quite another type: neither shameless careerists nor
endlessly unhappyseekers after truth and justice. They were practicalmen,
Tverskoidiscovered, more interestedin productionthanpolitics, conscious of
the worth of a ruble, ignorantof much they should have known, not likely to
be carried away by strong passions, more moderate, more sober, in short,
more like Americans.61
In the aftermathof the Revolutionof 1905, the intelligentsia's utopianism
and radicalism, its revulsion for the bourgeoisie, and its distrustof the con-
tributionsthat capitalism and industrycould make to the creation of cultural
and human values, came under increasing attack. In the Landmarkssym-
60 Ozerov, Chemuuchit nas Amerika?(Moscow, 1908), 19; idem, "My i Amerika," in his
Novaia Rossiia (Petrograd, 1916), 73-87.
61 A. P. Chekhov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i
pisem (Moscow, 1944-50), XVI, 133;
Tverskoi, Ocherki, 419-28.

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posium of 1909, prominent members of the intelligentsia (including the

former Marxists Berdiaev, Bulgakov, and Petr Struve) took it to task for
disdaining wealth and wanting only its just distribution,for looking down on
the solid bourgeois tenor of Westernlife and its everyday virtues. Struvehad
since the days of his eclectic Marxismlooked to America as the example that
Russia could and would follow; he saw industrial development, well-paid
workers, and prosperousfarmersleading throughmass productionand mass
consumptionto a more just and thriving Russia.62
In spite of all the changes taking place in the intellectualclimate duringthe
last years of the old regime, the new appreciationof the partthat capitalism,
industry,the bourgeoisie, hardwork, and thriftcould play in Russia's regen-
erationdid not become the dominantmode of Russianthought. But the degree
to which America had become a symbol of industrialmodernity is dramati-
cally illustratedby the poem of a man who was not at all like an American,
who was neither engineer, economist, budding businessman, nor former
Marxist-although he was Mendeleev's son-in-law and familiarwith his writ-
ings. In the last half of a New Year's poem called "New America" and
addressed to Russia, the symbolist Aleksandr Blok in December of 1913
envisioned his country's future in images drawn from industrialAmerica.63
No gay flags on the steppes are flowering,
No pennons in the breezes stream....
I see black factory chimneys towering
And everywhere the hooters scream.

Path of your steppes, without limit your floor is...

Steppes, winds and still winds that nothing can bound....
I see huge factories with many stories,
And workers' cities clustering round.

In the empty wilds, the homeless spaces,

Another thou wert, yet ever the same,
Showing now a new face of thy many faces,
A new vision leaping like a flame.

Black coal, Messiah subterranean,

Thy Tsar, thy bridegroomin his pride,
Now roars his song from depths vulcanian;
Thou fearst them not, O Russia, his bride!

Now crackles the coal, now the salt whitens,

I hear molten iron hiss from afar,
Now over thy empty steppes there brightens,
My America, my new-risen star!
62 Boris
Shragin and Albert Todd, eds., Landmarks:A Collection of Ess,:ys on the Russian
Intelligentsia, Marian Schwartz, trans. (New York, 1977), 5-6, 14-15, 36, 73, 86-87, 110,
152-53; Pipes, Struve, 112.
63 The translationof Blok's "Novaia Amerika" is by V. de S. Pinto and is taken from A
Second Book of Russian Verse, C. M. Bowra, ed. (London, 1948), 74-75.

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That an industrial trade journal should hail the poem as a call to respect the
neglected cultural and economic contributions of mines and mills, their own-
ers and managers, is not very surprising. But there is better evidence to show
that Blok's "New America" reflected a mood that was not felt in the business
community alone. N. V. Vol'skii, an editor for several years of the liberal
daily Russian Word recalled that although he had little liking for most of
Blok's poetry, he would, if he had still been at the paper, have published
"New America." It spoke to him of the new spirit that was visibly transform-
ing Russia and creating a new kind of life, a new kind of worker, peasant, and
intelligent. He saw the change in the American tempo with which new build-
ings went up and the coal mines and steel mills of the Donets Basin were
developed, at trade fairs, and in the consciousness of the people. "New
America" represented in artistic form the two principles contesting for
supremacy in Russian life--"the untouched, immobile Rus' of old and the
new Russia which is being Americanized. "64
The literary critic A. K. Sokolov (writing under the pseudonym S. Vol'skii)
described the United States in familiar terms when he discussed Whitman,
London, and 0. Henry in early 1914. Rich in things but poor in spirit,
Americans had become almost as simple as machines, whereas their machines
had been made almost as complicated as human beings. Nowhere else was
submission to the capitalist Minotaur so complete, his worship so open and
shameless. Yet, it might well be the American of will and action rather than
the Russian intelligent of reflection and analysis who would be the man of the
postcapitalist future. Whatever their shortcomings, one thing was certain
about the Americans.
They strive, they struggle, they act. They approachthe world with the will. And those
among them-as yet only a few-who wantto change the psychology of the traderalso
respondto life with the will and the deed. They take the world not as an abstractwhole,
but as infinitely varied diversity. Nothing is passed over or ignored, for only living
reality teaches a man to hate and to love actively. For the Russianintelligent, life is an
equation; he sees his task as defining the meaning of the x's and the y's. For the
American, whether he is of the intelligentsia or not, life is an elemental, disorderly,
endlessly interestingprocess. He is not troubledby the search for final answers; for
him it is the separatelinks in the process which are important,links which he can
change or make over.65
"Russia is ready to be Americanized," a purchasing agent sent by the
Imperial government to buy refrigerator cars told the New York Times in
1913. Although his intent was to spread good will as much as to state a fact
and to open new channels of commerce, thereby lessening Russia's depen-
dence on Germany and other European trading partners, the comment was not
all hyperbole. In spite of the abrogation in 1912 of the Russian-American

64 Rougle, Three Russians, 74-75; N. V. Vol'skii (N. Valentinov) Dva goda s simvolistami
(Stanford, 1969), 232-34.
65 S. Vol'skii
(A. K. Sokolov), "Dva priatiiamira," Zavety, no. 4 (1914), 67.

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commercial treaty of 1832 because America was displeased by Russia's

treatmentof its own and naturalizedJews, the traffic in men and goods was
growing; and its greatest impact was on Russia, whose imports from the
United States were nearly three times exports. Speaking in February 1912
before the Club of Public Men, a high official of the Ministryof Agriculture
called the United States the ideal civilized state on which Russia would have
to rely "for at least the next ten to fifteen years" for machines and technical
assistance of various kinds.66
The Singer Sewing Machine Company, which had a representativein Rus-
sia as early as 1873, established a branchfactory near Podol'sk in 1900 and
had by 1910 a virtualmonopoly of the business. Americanreapershad begun
to appear on Russian estates in the 1850s, and in 1895 the McCormick
Company had thirty-two agencies in the empire. Its successor, International
Harvester,with nearly two thousandretailers, sold more machines there than
anywhere else in Europe and began productionnear Moscow in 1910. The
Westinghouse Air Brake Company, which had opened an assembly plant in
the capital in 1898, expandedto full productionin 1903, and by 1906 was also
building trams for Moscow and Saint Petersburg.The Baldwin Locomotive
Works had a plant operating near Niznhii Novgorod from 1900. Galoshes
made by the Russian-AmericanRubberCompanyand Walk-Overshoes pro-
duced in Saint Petersburgwere much in demand. Like cash registers, type-
writers, Kodak cameras, and Otis elevators, these goods and factories were
less importantas a quantitativeindex of the role the United States played in
the Russian economy, which was a smaller role than that of any other major
country, than as a visible sign of the American presence and of the promise
mass productionand distributionmethods, pioneered in America and iden-
tified as American, held for bringingbenefits to Russia and its people. Of the
activities of Singer and InternationalHarvester, Frederick Carstensen has
writtenthat "these firms may be seen as agents for economic developmentin
the widest sense of that term."67
The cancellation of the 1832 treatyput an end to negotiationsbetween the
Russian government and the American engineer and businessman John H.

66 Jeanette E. Tuve,
"Changing Directions in Russian-American Economic Relations,"
Slavic Review, 31:1 (March 1972), 52-70; M. la. Gefter, "Iz istorii proniknoveniia
amerikanskogokapitalav tsarskuiuRossiiu do pervoi mirovoi voiny," Istoricheskiezapiski, 35
(1950), 62-86.
Kohlenberg, "Russian-American Economic Relations," 121ff; George S. Queen, "The
United States and the Material Advance in Russia, 1881-1906" (Ph.D. diss. University of
Illinois, 1941; V. V. Lebedev, Russko-amerikanskieeknomicheskiiaotnosheniia, 1900-1917
(Moscow, 1964); Louise Bryant, Six Red Months in Russia (New York, 1918), 176-77; E. T.
Heald, Witness to Revolution (Kent, Ohio, 1972), 3, 17, 41, 47, 64, 78, 125; G. T. Marye,
Nearing the End in Imperial Russia (Philadelphia, 1929), 476-77; Thomas Stevens, Through
Russia on a Mustang (Boston, 1891), 78; M. L. Taft, Strange Siberia (New York, 1911), 120,
200, 215; W. H. Beable, CommercialRussia (London, 1918), 211; ArthurRuhl, WhiteNights
and Other Russian Impressions (New York, 1917), 182; FrederickV. Carstensen, "American
MultinationalCorporationsin ImperialRussia" (Ph.D. diss. Yale University, 1976), 377.

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Hammond for concessions or joint enterprises for which he was to have

suppliedAmericanexperts;these includedirrigationprojectsin Turkestanand
the building of grainelevators, refrigeratorcars, and portfacilities. It did not,
however, end interestin or studies of Americanagriculture,industry,educa-
tion, and scientific management.The growing numberof ethnic Russians (as
distinct from Jews or Poles) who migratedto the United States after 1900-
from 1,200 in that year to 22,500 in 1912, for a total of 122,361-confirmed
for themselves and for those who stayedbehindthatthoughAmericamight be
a cruel taskmaster,it was also an invaluableschool of hardwork, experience,
and skills their country lacked. Many who had passed through that "iron
school" returnedafterthe revolutionsof 1917 to put what they had learnedat
Russia's service and helped to spreadthe message of Americanism.68
The acceptance of that message had been greatly facilitated by World
War I. The conflict with Germany, the inability of England and France to
meet all of Russia's needs and, even more, Americahaving become an ally in
April 1917, meanta furtherturntowardthe United States. Duringthe war, and
especially after the fall of the tsar in February1917, the advocates of such a
turn, who had been organizedsince 1913 in the Russian-AmericanChamber
of Commerce(of which Ozerov, then a memberof the Council of State, was
vice-president)and since 1915 in the Society for Closer Relations Between
Russia and America, could voice more openly than before their belief that
after victory in the war theircountrywould need America's freedomsas much
as its capital, machines, andknow-how. N. A. Borodin, a directorof the latter
group who had been twice in America investigating refrigeration and
fisheries, declared in 1915 that American economic history was especially
instructive for Russia as an example of what a nation with an analogous
naturalendowmentcould achieve underfavorablepolitical and social circum-
stances. "Studying its fortunes, we can with a high degree of probability
foresee the course which our fatherlandwill follow in its future develop-
ment." Numbers of professionals and businessmen agreed, and the head of
the Provisional Government, Prince Georgii Lvov, greeting an arriving
Americanrailroadcommission in July 1917, announcedthatRussia, having in
one jump reached America's condition of freedom, could now embark on
"the slower but not impossible task to overtake her in education, material
progress, culture, and respect for order. We are on the right track."69
68 The
Autobiographyof John Hays Hammond(New York, 1935), II, 473-75. On emigration,
see B. Kurchevskii, O russkoi emigratsii v Ameriku (Libava, 1914), 9-14; A. N. Shlepakov,
Immigratsiiai amerikanskiirabochiiklass v epokhuimperializma(Moscow, 1966), 36-38; N. A.
Borodin, Severo-AmerikanskieSoedinennye Shtaty i Rossiia (Petrograd, 1915), 296-303. The
bibliographyof the latter,on pp. 315-16, gives an indicationof continuingRussianinterestin the
United States; it is, however, far from complete.
69 Borodin, Severo-Amerikanskie SoedinennyeShtaty, 312-13. See F. F. Schuman, American
Policy TowardRussia since 1917 (New York, 1928), 45, for the Lvov quotation.Also see R. S.
Ganelin, Rossiia i SShA. Ocherki istorii russko-amerikanskikhotnoshenii (Leningrad, 1969),
23-29; G. K. Seleznev, Ten' dollara nad Rossiei (Moscow, 1957), 15-20.

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* * *

But Lvov represented a minority of property, privilege, or education whose

adherence to the Western military alliance and to the ideals of orderly repre-
sentative government had soon to yield to the powerful yearning of the masses
for peace and equality. When the new Soviet government, in March 1918,
withdrew from a war whose aims it considered to be imperialistic rather than
democratic; when it repudiated Russia's debts to its allies and appealed to the
soldiers and workers of all the warring countries to fight for peace, if need be
even against their own rulers; when Woodrow Wilson, "the head of the
American multimillionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks," emerged as
Lenin's great adversary in the international arena; and when America joined in
military intervention against the Soviets, the short-lived community of inter-
ests and ideals of the two states came to an abrupt end. Even so, some
Bolsheviks conceded, as did Lenin before a gathering of factory workers in
August 1918, that the democratic republic of the United States-where "you
have feudal servitude for millions of workers and unrelieved destitution"
was also the freest and the most civilized country in the world.70
That fact justified extending invitations to American concessionaires and
importing locomotives, automobiles, tractors, and capital goods, as well as
sending engineers and workers to be trained in Dearborn and Gary. "Where
you show us and the Russian people that your methods are better than ours,"
President M. I. Kalinin told an American relief official in 1921, "we cannot
help trying to adopt them. To that extent, Russia will be in a sense
Americanized. "71 But the emergence, or reemergence, of Americanism in the
early 1920s was only in part the expression of a shattered and friendless
country's need for help or of its envious admiration for the most advanced of
the industrial countries. More than ever before, the America of bread and
railroads-and now of cars, radios, telephones, and all its other marvels and
conveniences-became a useful, indeed, a necessary symbol employed to
elicit enthusiasm and interest for the leaders' bold plans of economic recon-
struction and development. Just as before the Revolution, there was need of a
banner, a rallying cry, a concrete goal to make acceptable to a skeptical or
resistant people the difficult march to the abundant future that mechanized
farms and factories would deliver.
That Marxism or communism could not alone provide a goal for people
who were in the main hostile to both, or simply did not know what they
meant, Lenin was one of the first to recognize and to express in his December
1920 formula, "Soviets plus electrification equals Communism." In a letter
to the head of the State Electrification Commission, written in January of that
year, he asked for a preliminary version of the electrification plan that would

Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, XXXVII, 59, 83.
71 Duranty, Duranty Reports, 19.

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stress its political ratherthan technical aspects, an assignment for the pro-
letariatand the masses in general thatwould be popular,graspable,and clear,
and engage them in the tasks of reconstruction. "In ten to twenty years we
shall electrify all of Russia-industry as well as agriculture .... I repeat, it is
necessary to fire the enthusiasm of the masses of workers and conscious
peasants for a great programof from ten to twenty years."72
Apparently even electrification was too much of an abstractionto lend
meaning, substance, and conviction to the remotegoal of the establishmentof
communism, which is why Bukharin,Trotsky, and Stalin made Americanism
part of the equationthat would, when joined with Marxism, Bolshevism, or
Russian revolutionarysweep, yield the desired result. Stalin had evidently
sensed and was respondingto a mood in much of the partyand in the country
at large that was weary of chopping still finer the fine points of doctrine. He
was appealing for supportboth to opportunistslike Ehrenburg'smanagers,
who had their eyes on the clock and the main chance, and to idealists like
Pogodin's Maksimkaand Stepan who wanted to speed up the clock of history
for larger and more generous ends. In any case, Stalin must have felt
confident-and justly so, judging by DorothyThompson'sreportof a peasant
quoting him73-of finding both understandingand sympathy for a brand of
Americanismwhose foundationshad been laid long before.
Soviet Americanism, therefore, can be understoodas a case of ideological
transfer-it was so understoodby guardiansof orthodoxywho warnedagainst
romanticizingits countryof origin74-and it probablymade as decisive, pro-
found, and lasting a contributionto the development of Soviet society and
economy as did the transferof Americantechnology, perhapsa greaterone.
Indeed, for most of the 1920s, during the very years when poets and politi-
cians were loudest in their praise of Americanismand wanted to imbue Rus-
sian workersand managerswith the drive, tempo, and competence of Ameri-
can "biznes"; when the new Soviet man was not only to acquire American
features but was even to be called a "Russian American,"75it was not, in
fact, the United States but Germanythat was the principalsupplierof foreign
expertise and equipment. Even during the First Five Year Plan, when the
United States for a time displaced Germany as the chief source of Soviet
Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, XL, 62-63.
Thompson, TheNew Russia, 167. Cf. I. B. Sheinman, Chto ia videl v Amerike;chto delal v
SSSR (Moscow, 1934), 19.
74 N. Osinskii (V. V. Obolenskii), Po tu storonu okeana (Moscow-Leningrad, 1926); idem,
Moilzheucheniiao SShA (Moscow, 1926); Mikhail Levidov, "Amerikanizmatragifars," LEF,
no. 2 (1923), 45-46; E. M. Friedman,Russia in Transition(New York, 1932), 252. A translation
of William Collier's Americanism:A WorldMenace (London, 1925) also suggests thattherewas
sentimentfor resisting the American infatuation.
75KorneliiZelinskii, "Sotsialisticheskii biznes," in Biznes. Sbornik literaturnogo tsentra
konstruktivistov,K. Zelinskii and I. Sel'vinskii, eds. (Moscow, 1929), 50-64; Ren6 Fuelop-
Miller, Geist und Gesicht des Bolschewismus (Zuerich-Leipzig-Wien, 1929), 27-32; Franziska
Baumgarten,Arbeitswissenschaftund Psychotechnik(Munich-Berlin, 1924), 117-18.

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imports and an unprecedentednumberof technical aid agreementswas con-

cluded, American engineers and technicians, althoughthey numberedin the
thousands, were never as numerousas Germanones.76
Nonetheless it was Americanism that provided much of the spiritual
energy, the ideological justification, and the tangible targets that neither
Marxismnor the example of Germanwartimeplanningcould supply. Indeed,
the choice of America as a source of advancedtechnologies and organization
was conditioned and possibly determinedby beliefs and assumptions about
America that many Bolshevik leaders shared with prerevolutionaryand
non-Marxiststudents and observers of American ways and values-some of
which the former found more congenial than had their predecessors.
Not only did some communists think that the politically naive or indiffer-
ent American engineers would be less troublesomethan their Europeancol-
leagues, as had been true since the days of Nicholas I; not only did they repeat
familiar truisms about similarities of size and physical environmentmaking
the experience of smallercountriesinappropriate.Nor was it only their desire
to shortenthe time it would take to move Russia into the forefrontof industrial
powers by borrowing and learning from the biggest and most moder. And
it was not simply that the Soviet planners were attractedto the efficiency
and productivityof the American assembly lines.77 Explicitly or not, it was
the spirit of Americanism and all the positive connotations it had acquired
during the previous century that they were seeking to impart to a tradition-
bound people that had still to be persuadedof the efficacy and legitimacy of
Bolshevik policies.
Polytechnical, practicaleducationof both sexes,78cost accounting, careful
bookkeeping, and the mechanizationof office work;79the "Fordian" factory
as a better and quicker school for making peasants into proletariansthan the
traditionalapprenticeshipor formal training;an end to excessive specializa-
tion and the rank consciousness that went with it80-all these were urged as
American, the achievementsof a society that was freer, Stalin said, than any
other (except the Soviet Union) of the remmantsof feudalism.81This society
76 See the
following article by Kendall E. Bailes; Floyd J. Fithian, "Soviet-American Eco-
nomic Relations, 1918-1933" (Ph.D. diss. University of Nebraska, 1964), 261; and Antony
Sutton, WesternTechnologyand Soviet Development (Stanford, 1968-73), I, 343-46.
77 Ella Winter, Red Virtue(New York, 1933), 76-77; Adolf CarlNoe, Golden Days of Soviet
Russia (Chicago, 1931), 26, 111-13; Anastas Mikoian, "Dva mesiatsa v SShA," SShA, no. 10
(October 1971), 70.
78 A. P. Pinkevich, The New Education in the Soviet Republic, Nucia Perlmutter,trans. (New
York, 1929), 139-41; Robert H. McNeal, Bride of the Revolution:Krupskaiaand Lenin (Ann
Arbor, Mich., 1972), 161-63; A. V. Lunacharskii,O narodnomobrazovanii (Moscow, 1958),
79 A. P. Serebrovskii, Na zolotomfronte (Moscow-Leningrad, 1936), 74; Strong, First Time
in History, 234; Ia. G. Dorfman, V strane rekordnykhchisel (Moscow, 1927), 78-79.
80 Armytage, Rise of Technocrats, 225; Lunacharskii, O narodnom obrazovanii, 128-29;
Sylvia R. Margulies, The Pilgrimage to Russia (Madison, Wisc., 1969), 70-71.
81 Emil
Ludwig, Leaders of Europe (London, 1934), 378-79.

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had created a democratic simplicity of mannersthat for all its superficiality

promoted efficiency without weakening work discipline, dealt a blow to
bureaucratismand enhanced human dignity-as did the ignoring of class
barrierswhen Americanmanagersrecruitedor co-opted officers for the indus-
trial army from its lower ranks. Standardizedproductionfor a mass market
made economic as well as ideological sense, because it put within the reachof
all a wide range of goods that would be unavailableif individual tastes and
arbitrarydemands were allowed to determine output. There might be few
bookstores in New York, but its ubiquitous Woolworth stores, with their
many cash registers,their absence of lines, and theirabundanceof well-made,
inexpensive necessities, were admirableinstrumentsfor equalizing consump-
tion. And the typewriters,copiers, and calculatorsthat saved money and time
and set an even, steady rhythmof work also made possible rationalplanning,
whether for a firm, an industry, or an entire economy.82
Americanism,to sum up, besides being the statementof a goal, was also a
way of reaching that goal throughthe inculcation of what ReinhardBendix
called an ethic of work performance.83Backwardnessor, to use the language
favored by the Russian Left, the lack of culture and civilization, had denied
that ethic to a country which had achieved its political and social revolution
before the culturalone, before, that is, bourgeois rule and industrialcapital
had had a chance to create the conditions for economic development by
working the culturaltransformationof the masses. Lenin thought it pedantry
to indict as rash or prematurethe implantationof socialism in an insufficiently
culturedcountry.But he did not deny thatthe culturalrevolutionhad still to be
made and that, without it, Russia could not become a truly socialist society.
He, his comrades, and successors, tried to close the gap in a variety of ways,
to lay the materialand culturalfoundationsfor overtakingthe capitalist states
in every respect, and for a time they turnedfor help, inspiration,and example
to the United States.
In doing so, they tacitly admittedthat Marxism-which was hardto grasp,
resisted, and nowhere realized-had proved to be inadequateas an industri-
alizing ideology in Russian conditions. These inadequacies remained even
when the Depression appearedto validate the doctrine, when Americanism
ceased to be its complement, and when exhortationand foreign example were
thoughtto be less useful for mobilizing the nation's energies than differential
rewards, coercion, and nationalism.The degree to which nationalistappeals

82 Il'ia Il'f and

Evgenii Petrov, Little GoldenAmerica, CharlesMalamuth,trans. (New York,
1937), 380-82; Lunacharskii, O narodnom obrazovanii, 102; Pogodin, "Temp," 41; Harry
Stekoll, HumanityMade to Order (New York, 1937), 123; John D. Littlepage, In Search of
Soviet Gold (New York, 1937), 41-42; Anna Louise Strong, I Change Worlds (New York,
1935), 161; Thompson, The New Russia, 166-67; Dorfman, V strane, 50-52; A. M. Gintsburg,
Ocherkipromyshlennoiekonomiki(Moscow, 1930), 118-19.
83 Reinhard
Bendix, Nationbuildingand Citizenship(Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977), 185.

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diluted Marxismand displaced Americanismis nowhere seen more strikingly

than in Stalin's 1931 speech, "On the Tasks of IndustrialAdministrators,"in
which he pictureda Russia constantlybeatenby her foreign enemies, from the
Mongol khans to the British and Frenchcapitalists, "because of her military
backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial
backwardness,agriculturalbackwardness." To save their socialist fatherland
and preserveits independence,he told the assembledengineersand managers,
they had to make good in ten years the fifty or hundredyears that Russia
lagged behind the advanced countries. "Either we do it, or we shall go
under." Much had alreadybeen achieved; what remainedwas to study tech-
nique, to master science, and to develop a Bolshevik tempo. Americanism
had been Bolshevized and nationalized.84
Stalin's summons to catch up still reverberates with the notes of an
Americanismhe had helped to propagate, and provides a clue to the unique
role Americanism played in the Soviet Union and the unusual strength it
acquiredthere. In the postwardecade, as CharlesMaier85has shown, Western
Europe also discovered Americanism, its cultural and political appeal.
Taylorism and Fordism, rationalizationand scientific managementfound ad-
mirersand advocates in business and labor, among conservativesand leftists.
Yet Americanismremainedfor the most part much more narrowlytechnical
and technocraticthan in the Soviet Union.
In the West, Americanism'semphasis was almost exclusively productivist,
designed less to serve the creationof a new kind of man and the transforma-
tion of a traditionalsociety than to revitalize existing arrangementsand, by
increasingefficiency and expandingoutput, to stabilizethese and reduceclass
conflict. Europe, with its establishedindustries,trainedworkers, and experi-
enced managers, might find Americanexperience and methods useful, but it
had no such pressing need as did the new rulers of Russia to look elsewhere
for inspiration,guidance, and example. Not only did WesternEuropehave its
own rationalizersand plannersand a populationwhich had been socialized by
school, factory, and union to the demands of an industrialand urbanecon-
omy. It neither was nor felt backward, and its leaders, with their sense of
culturalsuperiorityover the United States (which was reinforcedafterthe war
by a resentmentborn of dependence), did not embraceAmericanismwith the
same fervor as did Russia's.
A Clemenceau might ask that war plants pay attention to Taylorism and
84 I. V. Stalin, "On the Tasks of IndustrialAdministrators,"in Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev:
Voices of Bolshevism, Robert H. McNeal, ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1963), 99-102.
C. S. Maier, "Between Taylorismand Technocracy:EuropeanIdeologies and the Vision of
IndustrialProductivity in the 1920s," Journal of ContemporaryHistory, 5:2 (1970), 27-62;
idem, Recasting Bourgeois Europe (Princeton, 1975), 12, 544, 583, 589. German Fordism is
discussed in Molly Nolan, 'The Infatuationwith Fordism:Social Democracyand Rationalization
in the Weimar Republic," unpublished, 1979; and German Amerikanismus in Peter Berg,
Deutschland und Amerika, 1918-1929 (Liibeck and Hamburg, 1963), 132-53.

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establish Taylorite planning departments;but it is hard to conceive of him

grasping the bannerof Americanismas did Stalin and other Soviet leaders.
The intensityof Soviet Americanismwas a measureboth of greaterneeds and
opportunitiesthanexisted in WesternEurope:the compelling urgencyto build
up a backwardand devastatedcountry;the necessity and difficulty of demon-
stratingthe desirabilityand rewardsof doing so; and the opportunitythatback-
wardnessitself offered of choosing the most advancedand promising models
when neither vested interests nor old plants and old elites stood in the way.

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