S.J.Witte

COUNT SERGEI WITTE (1849-1915) THE AUTHOR OF THE WITTE SYSTEM
- Minister of Ways and Communication (1891-1892):
- Minister of Finance (1892-1903)
- Prime Minister (1905-1906)

The project is devoted to Count Sergei Witte; (1849-1915) to one of the most remarkable European statesman of the 19th century. He was the first statesman who introduced Market Economy in Eurasia (imperial Russia) and his modernization and industrialization plan as Minister of Finance and Prime Minister (1892-1903; 1905-1906) was implemented after Western example and his natural bias was liberal pro-Western. “As minister of finance I was also in charge of our commerce and industry. As such I increased our industry threefold. This again is held against me. Fools! It is said I took artificial measures to develop our industry. What a silly phrase! How else can one develop an industry?” (T. von Laue, Sergei Witte and Industrialization of Russia, U.S.A 1969).

Count Witte left his life work “The Witte System” for the later generation to make a judgment on his work and his greatest wish was that his “System” would live further. The term “System” characterizes a complete course of action, which is as  coherent as a well-integrated and strong-willed personality can make it. Personality is expanded into an economic system V. (WittschefskyHandels-, Zoll-, und Industriepolitik).

The basic plan of the Witte System remained a simple one: “Extensive railroad construction would stimulate the growth of the metallurgical and fuel industries supplying rails and other equipment. In turn, the expansion of the heavy industries would create favorable conditions for the growth of the light industries. (…) Railroad construction thus served as the flywheel for the entire economy”. . Theodore H. von Laue, Sergei Witte and the industrialisation of Russia U.S:A 1969

Witte was set up by the tsar to formulate a railroad policy for the government. He wrote the railroad charter, which was the basis for the first regulation of railroads in all of Russia. In 1892 Witte became the Minister of the Ways of Communication. He set up the Siberian Railway Committee and the plan to build a railroad all the way to the Pacific. It took ten and half years (1889-1901) to build the worlds longest rail connection 9112 km.

Sergei Witte wrote 1902: Joining Europe and Asia by a continuous rail connection, that road becomes a global means of transit, on which the exchange of goods between West and East will have to flow. (…) with this great steam-propelled transit system producing more rapid and cheaper communication …”  “Thanks to the Siberian Rail Road (…) European know-how, and capital will find for itself an extensive new field of employment for the exploration and development of the natural riches of the Eastern nations.”

It was Sergei Witte who constructed the last part of Trans-Siberian Railroad straight through Manchuria; East Chinese Railway 2400 km,  bringing China into the Eurasian development.  East Chinese Railroad was sort of a “New Silk Route” of modern time designed by S. Witte. . The Schiller Institute, Bad Schwalbach Conference “How to Reconstruct a Bankrupt World”, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, The Eurasian Land-Bridge Concept, The Answer to the Strategic Crisis, 21-23.3.2003, Washington DC)

Count Witte: “I am neither a liberal nor a conservative; I am simply a civilized man. I cannot send someone to Siberia simply because he doesn’t think as I do, and I cannot take away his civil rights simply because he does not worship God in the same church as I”. (S. I.  Witte, Memoirs of Count Witte, Harcave 1990 U.S.A.)

Count Witte: “All revolutions proceed from the fact that the government does not satisfy in time the demands of the people as they arise. They proceed from the fact that the government remains deaf to needs of the people.” (T. von Laue Sergei Witte and Industraialisation of Russia, U.S.A. 1969).

Count Sergei Witte was a supporter of the European integration. He briefed Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany on his vision of war-avoidance: “Imagine, Your Majesty, the European countries united in one entity, one that does not waste vast sums of money, resources, blood and labour on rivalry among themselves, no longer compelled to maintain armies for wars among themselves, no longer forming an armed camp, (…) If that were done, Europe would be, much richer, much stronger, more civilized, not going downhill under weight of mutual hatred, rivalry, and war. (S.I. Witte, Memoirs of Count Witte, Harcave 1990 U.S.A.))

Sergei Witte’s achievements was well acknowledged by the Soviet Russia and its leader Josef Stalin. According to a member of the politburo, Malenkov, Stalin criticized the politburo of neglecting theoretical study. Malenkov started immediately to prepare a study plan, which consisted of the works of Stalin. Stalin refused the plan with the words “What kind of politburo members are not acquainted with the works of Stalin?”  “In that case what should we study”, asked Malenkov. “For example Witte. How can anyone rule Russia, not knowing Witte?” After this remark by Stalin the memoirs of Witte were republished in Russia. Even in Stalin's opinion  Witte had a real, working plan of developing Russia - by industrializing it.