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Dmytro Ostapenko War Communism . Industrial development of Russia in 1861-1900 Red circles – metal processing industry Blue – textile industry Yellow – food-processing industry .

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Dmytro Ostapenko


Industrial development of Russia in 1861-1900

Red circles – metal processing industry

Blue – textile industry

Yellow – food-processing industry


Index of total output in the manufacturing and mining industries in Russia in 1860 -1913. 1900 = 100%

A Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, Penguin Press, London, 1969, p. 12.


Millions of calories produced by average male agricultural worker

A Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, Penguin Press, London, 1969, p. 24.


1913 Industry output

A Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, Penguin Press, London, 1969, p. 14.


Make profits of the capitalists public, arrest fifty or a hundred of the biggest millionaires. Just keep them in custody for a few weeks ... for the simple purpose of making them reveal the hidden springs, the fraudulent practices, the filth and green which even under the new government are costing our country thousands and millions every day. That is the chief cause of our anarchy and ruin!


June 1917

Speech to the First Congress of Soviets


Centralisation or nationalisation of banking system

  • Nationalisations of syndicates, - main capitalist associations for sugar, oil, iron
  • Abolition of commercial secrecy
  • Compulsory ‘syndication’ of industry – independent firms should form part of syndicates
  • Compulsory membership of consumer cooperatives - simplify rationing
  • Lenin,
  • September 1917
  • The impending catastrophe and how to combat it
early measures late 1917 june 1918
Early measures (late 1917 – June 1918)
  • Land decree of 8 November 1917
  • Decree of workers’ control of 27 November 1917
  • VSNKh (Supreme Council of National Economy, ) 15 December 1917
  • Slow nationalisation (mostly by local authorities ) around 487 enterprises
  • Mixed economy – collaboration with capitalists
slide into war communism
Slide into War Communism
  • Agriculture

Decline of productivity, Prodrazverstka(confiscation of food surpluses), Narkomprod(People’s Commissariat for Supplies)

  • Political and military situation

Shortages of agricultural and industrial goods. Needs of tougher state control over economy and nationalisation. Impossible to compel the factory owner and individual peasant to produce, while simultaneously ruining him by requisitions and restricting his links with the market. September 1919 – 3300 nationalised enterprises – only1375 were functioning. VSNVK tried to cope up with an impossible job. Industrial census taken in August 1920 - 37,000 nationalized enterprises.

Black market

Lack of goods to sell and problem of effective distribution.Decline of urban population. 60% illegal bread in cities.

  • Monetary policy

. Printing press - ‘machine gun which attacked the bourgeois regime in the rear’ (Eugene Preobrazhensky). Naturalisation of economy and virtual abolition of money. Wages in kind. Moneyless budget

  • Militarisation of labour
  • Abolishment of workers’ control, system of rationing according to classes

Necessity over ideology

  • Anarchy and chaos. Orders couldn’t be obeyed. Weak administration.
  • Impact of war and civil war. Dispirited supplies. Losses of agricultural regions. Moving frontiers.
  • Necessity it is naturally good in this situation to ban private trade in foodstuffs.
  • End of War Communism
  • Early 1920 – most territories returned. Resources available.
  • The key problem remained the relationship with peasants and related problems of freedom of trade and of private small scale-industry. The state couldn’t cope up with running the all sectors of economy.
  • February 1921 - rising in Kronstand.
  • NEP
nicolay bukharin s the politics and economics of the transitional period 1920
Nicolay Bukharin’s The Politics and Economics of the Transitional Period, 1920
  • Marx – “expanded reproduction” – intensive development of capitalist relation
  • Bukharin – “negative expanded reproduction’ - economic disruption. The centralised apparatus of capitalism disintegrated and cannot be used as a basis for social order. Need of a long transitional period.

Key characteristics of War Communism

  • An attempt to ban private manufacture, nationalisation of all industry, allocation of all output by the state
  • A ban on private trade, not completely effective but actively imposed
  • Seizure of peasant surpluses
  • The partial elimination of money
  • Terror and arbitrariness, expropriation
  • Effort to establish strict discipline