Liubov' Fedorovna Pisar'kova, The State Administration of Russia from the Late 17th to the Late 18th Centuries: Evolution of the Bureaucratic System/Gosudarstvennoe upravlenie Rossii s kontsa XVII do kontsa XVIII veka: Evoliutsiia biurokraticheskoi sistemy.
Dmitrii Alekseevich Redin, Administrativnye struktury i biurokratiia Urala v epokhu petrovskikh reform (zapadnye uezdy Sibirskoi gubernii v 1711-1727) [The Administrative Structures and Bureaucracy of the Urals in the Age of the Petrine Reforms (the Western Districts of the Governorship of Siberia in 1711-27)]. 608 pp. Ekaterinburg: Volot, 2007. ISBN 5890880381.
In recent years much effort in Russia has been invested in enlisting scholars and intellectuals in constructing a new post-Soviet "national idea" and reviving popular interest in Peter I as one of its emblems. This renewed attention to Peter's era--and concerns that it may lead to exaggerating and idealizing his achievement--has encouraged several leading Russian historians to weigh in with ambitious new studies of Peter's reforms of central and provincial government. (1) These studies emphasize the discrepancy between the intentions and expectations of the Petrine reforms, on the one hand, and the performance of reformed institutions, on the other. They also pay considerable attention to the persistence of corruption. The studies by Liubov' Pisar'kova and Dmitrii Redin represent the two most recent additions to this literature.
L. F. Pisar'kova offers a comprehensive and very detailed study of the development of both central and provincial government in Russia from the prikaz/voevoda system of the late 17th century to the "counterreforms" of Emperor Paul I, which she considers to be both a reaction against the Catherinian system and the foundation for the ministerial reform of Alexander I. She aims at devoting equal attention to the sociology and organization of the 18th-century Russian bureaucracy, arguing that past studies have not been explicit enough in showing the linkages between changes in personnel policies (recruitment, training, terms of service, and remuneration) and changes in the structure and internal organization of administration. The reorganization of administration was necessarily shaped and limited in great part by the quality of cadres available to it. The single greatest challenge facing administration was finding the optimal balance between centralized control and accountable local initiative, and experimentation to find this balance point is why the course of administrative development over the 18th century tended to be convulsive and oscillatory rather than progressively linear. To support this argument Pisar'kova devotes unusually great detail--sometimes stupefying detail--to the organs of provincial government, particularly the less-studied lower fiscal and judicial offices.
Despite its subtitle, The Evolution of the Bureaucratic System, her book is not interested in weighing the development of Russian administration against some ideal Weberian model of emerging "rational bureaucracy." Hence there is no effort here to typologize late Muscovite administration as "pre-bureaucratic" and Petrine administration as "protobureaucratic" or to identify the point at which Russian imperial administration became "rationally bureaucratic." Nor is Pisar'kova much interested in following the historiographic tradition of generalizing from changes in administrative organization a succession of stages in sociopolitical development expressing the changing class character of the Russian state (such as Lenin's "chinovnik-dvorianstvo monarchy," or B. N. Mironov's model of a 17th-century "patriarchal popular monarchy" that was succeeded in the 18th century by a "paternalist noble monarchy"). (2)
Her approach is more cautious and limits itself to assessing the effectiveness of administrative modifications in relation to changes in the declared "functions of rule": that is, changes in state policy that in some cases involved centralization and systematization and in others required devolution of authority and exceptions from the system. Her book is not entirely successful in fulfilling this goal, because it devotes so much detail to description of administrative organization that it sometimes allows space to discuss the development of policy only in the broadest terms. The impact of policy needs on organization and personnel policy is treated most successfully in her chapter on the 1708 governorship (guberniia) reform, which she explains as partly driven by the need to transfer very considerable power from the center--especially from the War Chancellery (Voennyi prikaz)--into the hands of the governors (gubernatory) and their chanceries in order to cut through the red tape hampering troop levies and logistics. But the Great Northern War also hampered reform by providing greater opportunities for official corruption, especially in the provinces; it increased the work load on officials in provincial administration and forced the government to turn to the elective principle and bring in local petty nobles to fill many newly created offices; it militated against strictly enforcing limitations on length of office tenure or granting petitioners redress by removing officials; it depreciated the ruble by half; and, of course, military expenditure limited the revenue available to governors for subordinate officials' remuneration, so that fewer cash salaries were paid in full and on time, while grain and service land remunerations were phased out altogether. Pisar'kova examines the range of measures taken over the next decade to try to restore central control over governorship administration and combat corruption: the 1715 reform of governorship chancery staffing; ordinances more explicitly and draconically criminalizing actions damaging treasury interests; the creation of the Senate and its acquisition of authority over the landrikhter magistrates, governorship councils, and governorship commissars; and the increasing reliance on special ad hoc investigatory commissions.
The following long chapter (about 100 pages) examines the reforms of 1718-22: the creation of the colleges; the subdivision of the governorships and attempted reduction of the power of their governors; subordination of elective offices to the College of State Revenues (Kamer-kallegiia) and town magistracies to the Chief Magistracy; the multiplication of prosecutors (riskaly) and their detachment from the Senate; the reestablishment of the right to petition through the new petitions master (reketmeister); and the Table of Ranks. This chapter has little to say about policy changes underlying administrative reform beyond characterizing the reforms of 1718-22 as largely unsuccessful efforts to reinforce central control, introduce more regulation and uniformity of organization and procedures, and professionalize administrative service. But it does present a clearer picture than available before about the courts, elective offices, and the new chief accounting (kamerir) and bursar (rentmeister) offices for local finance. Its greatest strength is its examination of changes in the recruitment, training, and remuneration of personnel. From 1718 on, Peter I had sought to recentralize and bureaucratize by reducing the chancery staffs of the governors and expanding the secretariat and clericate in the central colleges, but the general trend over the course of Peter's reign was actually a decrease in the number of higher, experienced chancery staff and an expansion in the number of lower officials who were retired junior officers and soldiers or elected local nobles. The bureaucratic principle was most established in the capital and some of the larger governorship capitals, but much of the financial administration in particular remained in the hands of the tiaglo and soslovie communes and their elected representatives. The proportion of bureaucratic personnel to the empire's governed population actually decreased over Peter's reign: in 1698 there was one official for every 2,250 subjects, but in 1726 just one for every 3,400 (203, 215-25).
Because of its length and complexity, Pisar'kova's Gosudarstvennoe upravlenie Rossii will probably prove most useful as a reference work for those needing a comprehensive and detailed description of the organizational and staffing development of the early imperial Russian administrative apparatus. It also offers almost 200 pages of tables of quantitative data about salaries, expenditures, and staff sizes, making it possible to follow variations in recruitment and remuneration policy over time and across various parts of the empire.
Dmitrii Redin's Administrativnye struktury i biurokratiia Urala v epokhu petrovskikh reform is longer than Pisar'kova's text (minus her tables), but more tightly focused on the course of the Petrine administrative reforms in the Urals region (the western part of the governorship of Siberia, which was capitaled at Tobol'sk and included Tiumen', Turinsk, Pelym', Verkhotur'e, Kungur, Solikamsk, Cherdyn', Kaigorodok, and Viatka). This region underwent a different course of administrative development than the governorships west of the Urals because it lacked developed porneshchik authority to supplement state power at the local level and because many of its districts were mining and metallurgical centers requiring a special condominium between civil-administrative and production-management authority.
By focusing on the special case of the Urals, Redin is able to go into even greater detail than could Pisar'kova about administrative organization and practice at the level of the province (provintsiia), district (uezd or distrikt), and tax lot (dolia). He makes more use of archival sources, examining material in twenty fondy in RGADA and the state archives at Ekaterinburg and Tiumen'. He can use the sometimes contrasting example of the Urals to identify where the historiography of the Petrine reforms has overgeneralized and oversimplified--he presents over 60 very useful pages on the historiography of the Petrine reforms and another 40 on the historiography of the Urals in the Petrine era--and thereby explains which features of the reforms aimed at a universal system and which represented exceptions and adaptations to special regional and local needs. Above all, Redin can address more concretely, with numerous narrative examples, the issues of the effectiveness of the reforms and the discrepancy between anticipated results of reform and actual administrative performance. There is much interesting narrative here, not only about Governors M. P. Gagarin, V. N. Tatishchev, and Georg Wilhelm Henning and their chanceries, but also about the activity of a host of lower officials, including land councillors (landraty) and sloboda stewards. This greater attention to the "human factor" ultimately renders Redin's book more successful than Pisar'kova's in showing how cadre quality affected administrative reorganization and how administrative reorganization affected policy.
Because Redin views the character of the Petrine administrative reforms differently, his periodization of the reforms also differs. He sees two main phases of administrative reform in Peter's reign. The first phase (1711-18) was connected with the introduction of the governorships, which, like Pisar'kova, he sees as motivated by the need to enhance army revenue collection and troop mobilization by transferring authority for these tasks out of the old central chancelleries (prikazy) into the hands of the new governors and their chanceries. But he considers this phase of reform as achieving coherence only from 1711, not 1708, because he does not see any attempt to standardize governorship staffing until 1711, the year the governors' chancerles were also linked to the new Senate and its War Commissariat.
The historiographic tradition sees this first phase as also involving the division of the governorships into provinces (provintsii); the replacement of the old district voevodas by commandants (komendanty); the institution of landrikhter judges subordinated to the governors; the introduction of the land councillors, metropolitan nobles of stol'nik or lesser rank appointed by the Senate to sit in governorship chanceries as checks on gubernatorial abuse of authority; and, from 1715 on, the conversion of the land councillors into officials in charge of fiscal administration in the new tax-lot units that replaced the old districts. But Redin argues that what arose in the Urals differed in several crucial respects from the "system" most historians consider the essence of the first reform phase.
For the Urals region, the transfer of authority from the central chancerles into the hands of the new governors did not represent a decentralization so much as a recentering, for Governor Gagarin at Tobol'sk was given the power to establish his own unique new liason office at Moscow--the Moscow Chancery of the Governorship of Siberia (Kantseliariia Sibirskoi gubernii v Moskve)--which replaced the old Siberian Chancellery (Sibirskii prikaz). Through this arrangement, the governor's Moscow office acquired experienced secretarial and clerical personnel from the old Siberian Chancellery, and other bodies were rotated periodically through Gagarin's chancery at Tobol'sk. From 1711 on, representation of the Siberian governorship before the Senate and War Commissariat was provided not only by the Moscow liaison office and the governorship commissars but by the new Siberian landrikhter magistrate, who actually spent all his time in Moscow. The land-councillor reform also affected the Urals region differently; their function was less clearly defined there than in other governorships; no council of land councillors was established in the governorship of Siberia; and the subdivision of territory into tax lots headed by land councillors did not proceed very far, because nearly all Urals towns had been district centers and had garrisons and therefore received commandants. There were only ten or so land councillors in the Urals, assigned mostly to census taking, and none after 1720. Subdivision of the governorship into provinces under ober-commandants did not go very far, either; besides Tobol'sk, only Viatka and Solikamsk had ober-commandants. The lower levels of administration in the western part of the Urals region underwent no reorganization; here colonies (slobody), forts (ostrogi), and factories (zavody) remained the smallest territorial units.
The second phase of the reforms (1719-27, with the latter date marking the partial demontage of the Petrine administrative system) had a more explicit and coherent theoretical and juridical foundation. Redin sees Peter as having now embraced a cameralist theory of statecraft aiming at enhancing the specialization, regulation, and unification of administration. Having concluded that there were after all no locally available cadre reserves in the form of district gentry to sit in councils of land councillors and actively check abuses of authority by higher officials at the province and governorship levels, Peter decided to reorganize not only central government but the governors' chanceries along Swedish-style collegial lines: this was expected to introduce a clearer division of labor within them and promote greater specialization while also reducing duplication and dissension, while the new division of labor would also assist in turning governorship administration toward preparing for a new task, the assessment and collection of the soul tax. Meanwhile Peter also introduced a number of new specialized policing, judicial, and fiscal offices (kamerir accountants, rentmeister bursars, zemskii commissars, magistrates) below the governorship chancery level as new capillaries carrying power out from the governorship artery. The shortage of experienced bureaucratic specialists made it necessary once again to fill many of these new offices with local gentry or metropolitan gentry rotated out from Moscow or St. Petersburg, but to compensate for this, the second phase of reforms gave much greater attention to issuing ordinances that standardized staffing and office procedures and regulated remuneration and rewards (the law on salary remuneration, the Table of Ranks).
Redin's examination of administrative practice in the Urals region in this second phase concludes that the reform did succeed in shifting power back from the governor to the central college apparatus, particularly as the Senate and colleges reacquired the power to appoint the voevodas of the provinces and the new lower-level police, judicial, and fiscal officials. But there was inadequate coordination among the Senate and colleges in this, producing much red tape and confusion. The Siberian governor's Moscow liaison office was abolished, and in compensation the chancery of the governor at Tobol'sk had to expand, but due to the continuing shortage of experienced cadres the Tobol'sk chancery round it difficult to supervise and coordinate the large number of newly created offices at the lower levels. By 1727, much of the lower-level apparatus (particularly the accountants and judicial offices) would be considered overly complicated or superfluous and abolished. Ironically, the lower-level apparatus that most successfully fulfilled cameralist expectations was unique to the Urals example--the mining and metallurgical administration created by Tatishchev and Henning, which would survive beyond 1727.
Redin's book is especially good in explaining the failure of the second reform phase to remunerate officials with salaries and to contain corruption. The final two chapters--over 200 pages in all--examine the actual conditions of administrative work and the effect on them of the human factor. A superb section on corruption documents its various forms and explains why some forms resisted criminalization and why the attempted shift to salary remuneration only made corruption worse. Redin's discussion of the persistence of "feeding" extortion (kormlenie) is particularly nuanced, recognizing its dual nature as a form of official malfeasance and a bargaining tool of the subject community, and making the interesting argument that in the Urals region the formation of officialdom (chinovnichestvo) as a social and state-service identity occurred in part through the failure of Peter's law on salary remuneration, leading Siberian officials to define themselves as a privileged order entitled to feedings by analogy with serf owners entitled to peasant rent. (3)
Both of these books are exhaustively researched and make significant contributions to our knowledge of the Petrine reforms and the history of Russian political development in the 18th century. Much of the older literature on the Petrine reforms tended to generalize about the character of Petrine government simply by describing the changes in its structure and making broad assumptions about policy as the expression of class interests. Redin's and Pisar'kova's books offer a clearer understanding of the logic and limitations of Peter's administrative reforms, not only because they give greater attention to variation and exception in institutional restructuring but because they go farther in examining personnel policy and actual administrative performance. They augment the late Marc Raeff's influential 1983 study, The Well-Ordered Police Store, by explaining how specific administrative reforms reflected Peter's changing views on statecraft--his commitment to the construction of a "regulated" state and then to more ambitious cameralist policy dictating prescriptions as well as regulations for bureaucratic and civil conduct. (4) But they also explain how these goals were frustrated by shortages of manpower, revenue, and expertise and by some restructuring measures that had the effect of complicating rather than rationalizing government. This forced greater reliance on extraordinary authority and coercive techniques in order to govern. One of the most influential post-Soviet Russian scholars reviewing the Petrine period, Evgenii Viktorovich Anisimov, concluded that the real "regulator" of the Petrine system became these "varied forms of coercion ... [in which] the system's totalitarianism was exhibited." (5) The picture of Petrine government one takes away from Pisar'kova and Redin partly supports this, with the qualification that coercion appears to have an improvisation and stopgap, a compensation for the failure to build a regulated and rationalized state that could credibly "prescribe" for its subjects. "Totalitarian" power thus remained an aim and a claim, not a condition achieved.
Dept. of History
University of Texas at San Antonio
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, Texas 78249-0652 USA
(1) E. V. Anisimov, Gosudarstvennye preobrazovaniia i samoderzhavie Petra Velikogo v pervoi chetverti XVIII veka (St. Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 1997); M. O. Akishin, Politseiskoe gosudarstvo i sibirskoe obshchestvo: Epokha Petra Velikogo (Novosibirsk: Avtor, 1996); M. V. Babich, Gosudarstvennye uchrezhdeniia XVIII veka: Komissii petrovskogo vremeni (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2003); Akishin, Rossiiskii absoliutizm i upravlenie Sibiri XVIII veka: Struktura i sostav apparata (Moscow/Novosibirsk: Drevlekhranilishche, 2003).
(2) N. K. Druzhinin et al., eds., Absoliutizm v Rossii (XVII-XVIII vv.): Sbornik statei k semidesiatiletiiu so dnia rozhdeniia i sorokopiatiletiiu nauchnoi i pedagogicheskoi deiatel'nosti B. B. Kafengauza (Moscow: Nauka, 1964), 1-14; Boris Mironov, with Ben Eklof, A Social History of Imperial Russia, 1700-1917 (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000), 2: 3, 13.
(3) On the dual nature of kormlenie as extortionate impost and disarming prestation, see Brian Davies, "The Politics of Give and Take: Kormlenie as Service Remuneration and Generalized Exchange, 1488-1726," in Culture and Identity in Muscovy, 1359-1584/Moskovskaia Rus' (1389-1584): Kul'tura i istoricheskoe samosoznanie, ed. A. M. Kleimola and G. D. Lenhoff (Moscow: ITZ-Garant, 1997), 39-67, which examines kormlenie through the lens of Marcel Mauss's observations about the political semiotics of gift exchange. On the conflict between traditional kormlenie practices and the Petrine model of the "regulated state," see Tamara Kondrat'eva, Kormit' i pravit': O vlasti v Rossii XVI-XX vv. (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2006). Kondrat'eva's book has also been published in French translation as Gouverner et nourrir: Du pouvoir en Russie XVIe-XXe siecles (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2002). Stephen Lovell reviewed both editions of Kondrat'eva's work in "Power, Personalism, and Provisioning in Russian History," Kritika 9, 2 (2008): 373-88.
(4) Marc Raeff, The Well-Ordered Police State: Social and Institutional Change through Law in the Germanies and Russia, 1600-1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 200-6. 5 E. V. Anisimov, The Reforms of Peter the Great: Progress through Coercion in Russia (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1993), 228.
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|Author:||Davies, Brian L.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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