That created a favorable seedbed for the growing of radical trends, a situation that was radicalized by Russia’s involvement in World War I, in which the Russian Army mobilized almost 15.5 million people. As a result, “semi-literate rural youth received a coat, a gun and a primary agitation which allowed it to reach agitation leaflets.”
“After that,” Vorobyev says, “everything was only a question of technique.”
Given this demographic explosion, the only policies that made sense were to resettle people in the borderlands, expand the industrialization of the country and increase labor productivity both in agriculture and in industry. But those things required some years of peace, and World War I blocked them.
As a result, the commentator says, that war and the civil war that followed meant that Russia’s “’human capital’ was spent in the most insane way.”
Vorobyev’s argument is important in terms of the end of the Russian Empire, but it is even more important now to provide context for the debates about what the Russian Federation must do to cope with population decline. That is because it is a reminder that population growth, especially rapid growth, can be a problem too and not the simple salvation many believe.
Indeed, when a country’s population is growing more slowly or not at all, that reduces many of the pressures on society and the political system that may otherwise be too great for the system to cope with, outcomes that radical pro-natalist advocates all too often ignore or forget.