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Key Economic Developments. Witte (1890s) Stolypin (1900s) War Communism (1917 +) NEP (1920s) Collectivisation (1920s) Five-Year-Plans (1930s) Seven-Year-Plans (1950s). Why nothing before Witte?. Society still evolving from feudal to ‘free agricultural’, let alone industrial

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Key economic developments
Key Economic Developments

  • Witte (1890s)

  • Stolypin (1900s)

  • War Communism (1917 +)

  • NEP (1920s)

  • Collectivisation (1920s)

  • Five-Year-Plans (1930s)

  • Seven-Year-Plans (1950s)

Why nothing before witte
Why nothing before Witte?

  • Society still evolving from feudal to ‘free agricultural’, let alone industrial

  • Reactionary land policies of Alexander III meant most peasants did not move to cities

  • Hence very little industrialisation


  • Aim: “Save Russia”

  • Focus: Industry

  • Theory:

    • Railways built

    • This required coal/iron

    • This led to ‘supporting industries’

    • Led to increase in agricultural goods

    • All areas of economy stimulated

Witte continuity
Witte: Continuity

  • There had been small-scale railway and industrial growth pre-1891

Witte change
Witte: Change

  • Witte’s Great Spurt relied on foreign investment in Russia

  • The new industries created needed to be protected by tariffs, which greatly increased the living costs

Witte a turning point
Witte: A Turning Point?

  • State involvement in industrial planning

  • Russia took great steps towards becoming an industrialised power

  • The notion of the peasantry being central to Russian development took a less prominent role


  • Aim: Save Russia (“Wager on the strong”)

  • Focus: Peasantry

  • Theory:

    • Through loans and land and rights, encouraged peasants to leave mir and develop as independent farmers

    • Created a new level of wealthy small-holding peasants, loyal to the regime

Stolypin continuity
Stolypin: Continuity

  • The peasant had always been central to Russia

  • No redistribution of land

  • In the same way that Witte aimed to develop an industrial class loyal to the Tsar, Stolypin wanted an agricultural group loyal to the Tsar

Stolypin change
Stolypin: Change

  • The emphasis shifted from industrial to agricultural

  • Peasants were viewed as people with rights and freedoms

Stolypin a turning point
Stolypin: A Turning Point?

  • Stolypin’s ‘wager’ was the final effort of the Tsar to do anything proactive towards the peasantry

War communism
War Communism

  • Aim: Save the revolution

  • Focus: Agriculture

  • Theory:

    • The requisitioning of grain and the execution of those thought to be hoarding it would allow the regime to continue

War communism continuity
War Communism: Continuity

  • The peasants continue to be badly treated

  • Led to the organisation of peasant resistance, the same sort as seen by Alexander and Nicholas

  • Production still low

  • Cities still undersupplied

War communism change
War Communism: Change

  • The state was now prepared to use violence not as a last resort, but as a first method

  • The focus was not on production, but on the distribution of what had been produced

War communism a turning point
War Communism: A Turning Point?

  • It shows a negative attitude from the Communist Party towards the peasantry


  • Aim: Save the revolution

  • Focus: Agriculture

  • Theory:

    • Farmers had to give a set amount of their income to the state

    • The remainder can be sold for profit

Nep continuity
NEP: Continuity

  • The peasants continued to see part of their harvest taken by the state

Nep change
NEP: Change

  • The peasants became recognised as a hugely important section of Russian society

  • A radical departure from both war communism and Marxist theory

Nep a turning point
NEP: A Turning Point?

  • NEP was a departure from the period immediately after 1917

  • It was a return to the pre-1917 period

  • It did not endure beyond 1928

  • Short-term it ended famine and stabilised the economy


  • Aim: Save the revolution

  • Focus: Agriculture

  • Theory:

    • Peasants working together collectively produce more than peasants working alone independently

    • Large-scale farms would produce large-scale crops

    • Farming would be equal, eliminating Stolypin’s “strong”

Collectivisation continuity
Collectivisation: Continuity

  • Link with the mir of Tsarist Russia?

  • It was followed ruthlessly, much like War Communism had been

Collectivisation change
Collectivisation: Change

  • Agriculture became industrialised

  • Wealthy peasants were viewed as dangerous rather than desirable

Collectivisation a turning point
Collectivisation: A Turning Point?

  • After this point, there was little or no private agriculture in Russia

  • The cities and the countryside finally formed a symbiotic relationship, with each needing the other

Five year plans

  • Aim: Save the USSR

  • Focus: Industry (Heavy and Light)

  • Theory:

    • The USSR was non-industrialised

    • Stalin reckoned that they had about 10 years before someone exploited this and invaded

    • USSR must be forcefully and totally industrialised

Five year plans continuity
Five-Year-Plans: Continuity

  • Link with Witte, in terms of the focus (heavy industry, coal, iron, steel and railways)

  • Marxist ideology depends heavily on an industrialised working class

  • The total disregard for the suffering and loss of life that it caused was a continuation of the attitudes of previous approaches

  • There was a reliance on foreign expertise in the same way that Witte had relied on foreign capital

Five year plans change
Five-Year-Plans: Change

  • Attention switched back to industry – this was the first time since Witte that it became central

  • The scale of involvement was far greater that Witte

  • The Five Year Plans incorporated movements to modernise the army and defence, which had not been a feature of Witte’s plans

  • Some new industries, which Witte had not examined, were included – electricity being the most notable

Five year plans a turning point
Five-Year-Plans: A Turning Point?

  • After them, the USSR was an undeniably industrialised nation

  • It set the scene for future centralised planning initiatives, notably the seven-year-plans

  • Focus clearly shifts back onto industry over and above agriculture

Seven year plans

  • Aim: Make people happier

  • Focus: Consumer goods

  • Theory:

    • “It is no good having the right ideology if everyone has to walk around without any trousers”

    • More consumer goods led to a happier populace

    • This led to a contented populace

    • This safeguarded the regime

Seven year plans continuity
Seven-Year-Plans: Continuity

  • State planning

  • Production targets

  • Continued city/countryside relationship

  • Although new targets in new areas were set, traditional areas like industry and defence continued to be important

Seven year plans change
Seven-Year-Plans: Change

  • The welfare of people is paramount, at least in the first instance

  • Consumer goods

  • A genuine understanding of the needs of the workers/peasants

Seven year plans a turning point
Seven-Year-Plans: A Turning Point?

  • Difficult to say, as at the end of the period

  • BUT the first time that welfare of the people had made the list of important considerations