How did Lenin and Stalin transform the society and economy of the USSR?
After the devastation of World War I, the Revolution, and Civil War, Russia was a total wreck. Factories were in ruins and half the working class gone, either dead or returned to the farms. Millions had died, mainly from the famine and disease accompanying war. Two million more, mostly nobles, middle class, and intellectuals, had emigrated to other countries. Lenin returned to Russia from exile in 1917 and it was up to him to restore some degree of prosperity, order and eventual control of all aspects of Russian economy and society.
Lenin’s policy of War Communism proved a disasterous failure. It’s aim was to bring an immediate change to Communist. It involved replacing the free market (private business) with state control over all means of Production (farms, factories) and distribution (railways, shops). In practice, War Communism meant that all privately run businesses became illegal, worker control of factories ended, workers were now subject to strict discipline and strikers could be shot, food would be rationed, peasants were expected to sell all their produce to the government and only keep what they needed to survive and forced labour was introduced. This policy resulted in hyperinflation with the rouble becoming worthless, peasants refused to give up their grain and the Cheka and the Red Army were sent out to seize it. Famine insued, 5 million died with reports of cannibalism. Reluctantly Lenin agreed to seek international aid and relieve the situation. The only success of the War Communism policy was that it helped Russia win the war by ensuring the soldiers were fed.
‘We will take one step backward in order to take two steps forward’, this is how Lenin justified his New Economic Policy. Growing social discontent culminating in the naval strike at Kronstadt proved to Lenin that if the Communist regime was to survive he would have to get the peasants on his side. He...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document