Presentation on theme: "Lenins Policies When the Bolsheviks established the first Communist state in Russia in 1918, this presaged the socialist subjection of the entire means."— Presentation transcript:
Lenins Policies When the Bolsheviks established the first Communist state in Russia in 1918, this presaged the socialist subjection of the entire means of production of the economy-- agriculture, industry, commerce--to the control of the new revolutionary government. Such an attempt to transform overnight the entire economy in the wake of war and revolution and in the midst of the ensuing civil war in the country inevitably produced chaos and disruption as opposing armies. The Red Army of the new state and its anti- Bolshevik enemy, ravaged the countryside. By 1921, with Lenin's government victorious, it was obvious that the harsh policy (War Communism) that had been adopted toward the peasants--forcible expropriation of grain supplies in order to feed the army and the towns--would have to be withdrawn, lest the regime itself lose the support of the peasantry.
A Devastated Russia in 1921 : In agriculture, the peasants did not show any interest to grow their crops as their produce was confiscated arbitrarily to feed the townworkers and the soldiers. Some rich landowners (Kulaks) refused to hand in their crops to the soldiers. They made risings in the countryside. Some peasants murdered the communist agents. By 1921 the annual grain yield was about one half of the pre-war production. The drought in the same year immediately brought famine to most of the Russians. From 1918 to 1920, about 6 million died of starvation, hunger and cold. Banditry became widespread. In sympathy with the hungry masses, the American Relief Administration sent reliefs to Russia and saved many lives. In industry, the workers also lost their interest to work because they received no cash wages. This led to a drastic decline in industrial output Many industries produced just 15% of the pre-1914 production. Many workers were unemployed. They moved back to the countryside to seek food. Trade declined because the communication system and the monetary system had broken down. In fact, the only form of trade was barter. A Retreat from Communism : Lenin thought that the collapse of Russian economy was mainly due to the introduction of 'War Communism' during the Civil War. As nationalization of both agriculture and industry had gone too far, individuals soon lost their initiative to work because they could not make private profits. Thus Lenin declared a 'Retreat from Communism'. In 1921, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy. "In order to take two steps forward", Lenin said, "we shall have to take one step backward." The New Economic Policy offered some concessions to the 'capitalistic' desire of the people.
The New Economic Policy (NEP) in Russia was officially decided in the course of the 10 th Congress of the Communist Party of Soviet Union. It was promulgated by decree on March21st 1921, "On the Replacement of Foodstuff and Natural Resource Assessment by a Natural Tax." In essence, the decree required the farmers, to give the government a specified amount of raw agricultural product. Further decrees refined the policy and expanded it to include some industries, which replaced, which amounted to requisition of all surplus agricultural product for a fixed price. The NEP restored some private ownership to small parts of the economy, especially farming (but not to the land itself). It replaced the policy of War Communism". To explain the NEP, Lenin had said "We are not civilized enough for socialism", referring to the fact that Russia was still a primarily agrarian nation, with a very small urban population and a weak industrial base, and thus it did not meet the economic criteria necessary for full socialism. Lenin further justified the introduction of the NEP by declaring that the "commanding heights" of industry, that is, the large factories producing coal, iron, electricity etc., would still be under state control. The NEP also loosened trade restrictions, and tried to regain alliances with foreign countries. Trotsky first proposed the NEP in 1920, but the idea was dismissed In the following year, Lenin proposed the NEP, and the policy was adopted. This allowed peasants to lease and hire labor, which is more capitalism than socialist. This has also led to the Fundamental Law of the Exploitation of Land by the Workers, which ensured that the peasants have a choice of land tenure.
In agriculture, the policy of confiscation of peasant produce was discontinued. The peasants could sell their produce in the market after they had paid a tax on their produce. They were given security of land tenure, permitted to sell or lease their own land and even hire labourers to work on their own land. The main industries such as banking, mining and transport were industrial still controlled by the Soviets or Workers' Councils. They employed about 80% of the total industrial labour force in 1923 and accounted for 90-95% of the total production by value. But small industrial enterprises were allowed to be in private hands. The private manufacturers were allowed to introduce piece-work rates, preferential rations and bonuses to stimulate the incentives of the workers. The government also allowed trade to be handled by private domestic traders. The middle men or Nepmen were active in retail and wholesale trade. These private traders controlled about 70% of the retail and wholesale trade between the town and the countryside. The Russian government encouraged trade by signing trade treaties with the outside world, by setting up a State Bank (which issued a new ruble based on gold an orthodox financial practice of the capitalist nations) and pushing up the schemes of electrification.
Results Of NEP Agricultural production increased greatly. Instead of the government taking all agricultural surpluses with no compensation, the farmers now had the option to sell their surplus yields, and therefore had an incentive to produce more grain. This incentive coupled with the break up of the quasi-feudal landed estates not only brought agricultural production to pre-Revolution levels, but further improved them. While the agricultural sector became increasingly reliant on small family farms, the heavy industries, banks and financial institutions remained owned and run by the state. Since the Soviet government did not yet pursue any policy of industrialization, this created an imbalance in the economy where the agricultural sector was growing much faster than the heavy industry. To keep their income high, the factories began to sell their products at higher prices. Due to the rising cost of manufactured goods, peasants had to produce much more wheat to purchase these consumer goods. This fall in prices of agricultural goods and sharp rise in prices of industrial products was known as the Scissor Crisis (from the shape of the graph of relative prices to a reference date). Peasants began withholding their surpluses to wait for higher prices, or sold them to "Nepmen" (traders and middle-men) who then sold them on at high prices, which was opposed by many members of the Communist Party who considered it an exploitation of urban consumers. To combat the price of consumer goods the state took measures to decrease inflation and enact reforms on the internal practices of the factories. The government also fixed prices to halt the scissor effect.
To mark the retreat from Communism, Russia re-established friendly relations with the outside world. In 1920 Russia had signed treaties with Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, recognizing their independence. In 1921, a treaty of peace was concluded with Poland, and a commercial treaty was made with Britain. In 1922 the Soviet Union also sent representatives to attend an important international conference at Genoa. By 1924, the Soviet government was trading with, and was recognized by Britain, France and Italy. Many western countries remained suspicious of Russia. (The U.S.A. accorded recognition to the Soviet Union as late as The Soviet Union entered the League of Nations only in 1934.)They were alarmed by the Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and Russia in 1922 because both countries were regarded as two 'disgraced' nations of Europe at the time. At the Paris Peace Conference, the Big Three had set up a chain of states to surround 'Bolshevik Russia' and 'aggressive Germany'. Rapallo Treaty threatened to break this protective chain. Although Russia had re-built her diplomatic relations with the European countries, she had never given up her long-term objective of world revolution. The Comintern was not dissolved. Throughout 1920's while the Soviet government maintained relations with the European countries, the Comintern continued to promote subversive activities within those countries.Comintern
Premature death Lenin's health had already been severely damaged by the intolerable strains of revolution and war. The assassination attempt earlier in his life also added to his health problems. The bullet was still lodged in his neck, too close to his spine for medical techniques of the time to remove. In May 1922, Lenin had his first stroke. He was left partially paralyzed on his right side, and his role in government declined. After the second stroke in December of the same year, he resigned from active politics. In March 1923, he suffered his third stroke and was left bedridden for the remainder of his life and was no longer able to speak. After his first stroke, Lenin dictated several papers regarding the government to his wife. Most famous of these is Lenin's Testament, which among other things criticized top-ranking communists, especially Joseph Stalin. Of Stalin, who had been the Communist Party's general secretary since April 1922, Lenin said that he had "unlimited authority concentrated in his hands" and suggested that "comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post." Upon Lenin's death, his wife mailed his Testament to the central committee, to be read at the 13th Party Congress in May Lenin died on January at age 53. Rumors of Lenin having syphilis sprang up shortly after his death. The official cause given for Lenin's death was cerebral arteriosclerosis, or a fourth stroke. But out of the 27 physicians who treated him, only eight signed onto that conclusion in his autopsy report. Therefore, several other theories regarding his death have been put forward. For example, a posthumous diagnosis by two psychiatrists and a neurologist recently published in the European Journal of Neurology claimed to show that Lenin died from syphilis.
Lenin Rests in Peace The city of Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honor three days after Lenin's death; this remained the name of the city until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it reverted to its original name, St Petersburg.
Statue of Lenin still standing at October Square, in central Moscow