Lenin’s Russia 1917 - 1924 Romanovs, Marxism & Bolshevik Revolution, Civil War & Soviet Union
Contents • Russia in 1917: Slide 3 – 5 • Communism: Marxist Ideology • The Tsar Romanov Dynasty • Russia & World War I • Lenin & the Bolsheviks • The February Revolution (1917) • The October Revolution (1917) • Russian Civil War 1918 – 1920 • The Comintern • War Communism • Lenin’s New Economic Policy (1921) • Death of Lenin: A Power Struggle Begins
1905 – 1917Political Parties & Groups A revolution in 1905 had resulted in the introduction of a parliament – Duma- however, this had little power and the Tsar simply continued to rule undisputed It did however, produce the formation of embryonic political parties. These parties could now organise and propose social & political changes, even if their powers were virtually non-existent. • Cadets – Middle class party who wanted a parliamentary style democracy like Britain • Social Revolutionaries – wanted a peasant revolution • Communists – made of Mensheviks & Bolsheviks who wanted change by social and political uprising
Russia in 1917 • Ruled by the Romanov dynasty of Tsar Nicholas II • Most of the country was peasantry • Tsar rule created a stagnated society, not much removed from the Feudal System of the Middle Ages. • Population: 125 million people • Area: 2000 miles squared • Living & working conditions were very cramped and basic in industrial centres such as St. Petersburg. • Rationing of food due to war shortages. Tsar
Communism: A Marxist Ideology • Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) • Published the ‘Communist Manifesto’ in 1848 • Advocated ‘class consciousness’ of the Proletariat (factory & agricultural workers) to rise up and seize the ‘means of production’ from the Bourgeoisie (capitalist owners of factories & landowners) • “Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.” • - Communist Manifesto
Tsar Romonov Dynasty • Nicholas II ruled over all the Russian peoples as had his family for the previous 300 years. • Autocratic and distant from the people, he had little understanding of the hardships of ordinary Russians. • In 1917, he was at the front directing the Russian Army in its war against the German & Austrian Central Powers’ Alliance. • Russia was allied with Britain & France.
February Revolution 1917 • Civil unrest began when the Russian factory workers were placed on a bread rationing scheme. Protests moved onto the streets. • Initially, the Russian Army was brought in to support the police in putting down this protest. • However, when soldiers refused to shoot protestors, army mutiny spread quickly throughout the ranks. • Tsar Nicholas II was busy directing the Russian Army at the front. • He eventually returned to St. Petersburg to deal with the civil strife. • However, he was intercepted on the way and arrested as an ‘enemy of the people’.
Vladimir IlyichUlyanov‘Lenin’ • 1870 – 1924 • In 19 , Lenin was exiled from Russia • Returned to Russia (St. Petersburg) on a sealed train in April 1917. • On this journey, Lenin wrote what became known as the ‘April Thesis’ in which he advocated two main approaches: • All Power to the Soviets • End to the Imperialistic War
Russian Civil War 1918 - 1920Reds v. Whites • The Reds were the Bolsheviks and believed in revolution through armed insurrection coupled with political organisation. • TheWhiteswere the Mensheviks who believed in slow, gradual & peaceful transformation of society.
War Communism N.E.P. “The collapse of the productive forces surpassed anything of the kind that history had ever seen. The country, and the government with it, were at the very edge of the abyss.” - Leon Trotsky “I ask you, comrades, to be clear that the New Economic Policy is only a temporary deviation, a tactical retreat.” - Zinoviev The harsh realities of War Communism, coupled with the real demands of the peasants as portrayed by the Kronstadt Rebellion, made it clear to Lenin that War Communism was neither economically effective nor popular with the peasants. In response to this, Lenin sought to rescue both the economic well-being of the country and restore confidence in the Bolshevik Party by introducing a ‘New Economic Policy’. It had elements of quasi-capitalism, allowing for small businesses to open and allowing peasants to sell their surplus grain for profit.
Rationale: New Economic Policy Ostensibly, Lenin wanted to revive the economic well-being of Russia. In reality, Lenin was aware of the failure of ‘War Communism’ and wanted to appeal to the peasants for continued support. He also wanted to ‘defuse’ any lingering discontent after the death of 1,000 Russian sailors and the repression by the State in Kronstadt. • Methods: • Tax on peasants’ harvests. • Peasants allowed to sell excess produce for profit. • Although state control remained on all large-scale businesses and banking, small businesses were allowed to open.
Results: By 1924, 40& of Russian domestic trade was sourced in private businesses. The economy flourished with industrial and agricultural output reaching pre-war levels (see graph). • & Consequences: