What were the main advantages and disadvantages to the period of rapid industrialization in Russia under Sergei Witte?
Witte attracted large amounts of foreign investment by stablizing Russian currency. Under his control as finance minister, Russia saw enormous infrastructural expansion, most notably in the area of railroads. The Trans-Siberian railroad in particular was an enormous achievement, and led to increased demand for steel and coal, which stimulated those industries. Under Witte's guidance, the Russian state lurched toward modernization. But it was never able to achieve the level of industrialization Witte wanted. There were major cultural and bureaucratic factors that made the formation of private corporations very difficult, there was considerable corruption, and while attracting foreign capital was good in the short term, Russia was always too reliant on it around the turn of the century. Additionally, the agricultural base of the empire remained essentially manorial, and the Russian state placed heavy taxes on the peasantry to pay for monetary reform and other initiatives.