PDF Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

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Some moderates, well off and with much to lose from a revolution, called themselves liberals and advocated constitutional reform along Western European lines, with universal suffrage and a duma national parliament. However, Alexander II refused to set up a representative assembly. Discontent was sometimes directed at Jews and took the form of violent mass attacks pogroms. At their height in the s, these instances were often fanned by the authorities to divert social tension onto a convenient scapegoat.

Most were rounded up and executed or exiled, and the reign of his son Alexander III was marked by repression of revolutionaries and liberals alike. Many revolutionaries fled abroad — including Georgy Plekhanov and Pavel Axelrod, founders of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers Party in , and, in , Vladimir Ulyanov, better known by his later pseudonym, Lenin. But in Russia there was no parliament — and there was an active secret police, to boot. At a meeting of the Socialist International movement in London in , Lenin stood for a violent overthrow of the government by a small, committed, well-organised party, while Plekhanov stood for mass membership and cooperation with other political forces.

The Mensheviks actually outnumbered the Bolsheviks in the party, but Lenin clung to the name, for obvious reasons. A weak tsar, who commanded less respect than his father, he was equally opposed to representative government. As in Crimea 50 years before, poor diplomacy led to war. The war continued on land and sea, with the ultimate disaster for Russia coming in May , when the entire Baltic fleet, which had sailed halfway around the world to relieve Port Arthur, was sunk in the Tsushima Straits off Japan.

In September Russia signed the Treaty of Portsmouth New Hampshire , under the terms of which it gave up Port Arthur, Dalny and southern Sakhalin as well as any claims to Korea — but retained its preeminent position in Manchuria. Despite all this, Siberia and the Russian Far East were prospering.

PDF Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

From to , the immigrant population leapt above eight million, thanks partly to ease of access via the new Trans-Siberian Railway. Most immigrants were peasants, who put Siberian agriculture at the head of the class in grain, stock and dairy farming. Before the October Revolution, Europeans had Siberian butter on their tables. Unrest across Russia became widespread after the fall of Port Arthur. On 9 January a priest named Georgy Gapon led a crowd of some , people to the Winter Palace in St Petersburg to petition the tsar for better working conditions.

This was Bloody Sunday. The tsar gave in and general elections were held in April that created a duma with a leftist majority that demanded further reforms. The tsar disbanded it. New elections in pushed the duma further to the left. It was again disbanded, and a new electoral law, limiting the vote to the upper classes and Orthodox Christians, ensured that the third and fourth duma were more cooperative with the tsar, who continued to choose the prime minister and cabinet. The capable prime minister Pyotr Stolypin abolished the hated redemption payments in the countryside.


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Enterprising peasants were now able to buy decent parcels of land, which could be worked efficiently; this led to the creation of a new class of kulak wealthier peasant and to a series of good harvests. It also made it easier for peasants to leave their villages, providing a mobile labour force for industry. Russia enjoyed unprecedented economic growth and radical activists lost their following.

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Still, Stolypin was assassinated in and the tsarist regime again lost touch with the people. Nicholas became a puppet of his strong-willed, eccentric wife Alexandra, who herself fell under the spell of the Siberian mystic Rasputin. The Russian campaign went badly from the start. Much, if not most, of the fighting was with Austro-Hungarians in Galitsia Halichina in Ukrainian , rather than with the Germans.

Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

The tsar responded to antiwar protests by disbanding the duma and assuming personal command in the field. Soldiers and police mutinied, refusing to fire on demonstrators. The reconvened duma ignored an order to disband itself and set up a committee to assume government. Now there were two alternative power bases in the capital.

The soviet was a rallying and debating point for factory workers and soldiers; the duma committee attracted the educated and commercial elite. The tsar tried to return to Petrograd but was blocked by his own troops. On 1 March he abdicated. The provisional government announced general elections for November and continued the war despite a collapse of discipline in the army and popular demands for peace. On 3 April Lenin and other exiled Bolsheviks returned to Petrograd. Though in the minority in the soviets, the Bolsheviks were organised and committed. But a series of violent mass demonstrations in July, inspired by the Bolsheviks, was in the end not fully backed by the soviets and was quelled.

Lenin fled to Finland and Alexander Kerensky, a moderate Social Revolutionary, became prime minister. In September the Russian military chief of staff General Kornilov sent cavalry to Petrograd to crush the soviets. Kerensky turned to the left for support against this insubordination, even courting the Bolsheviks, and defeated the counter-revolution. After this, public opinion favoured the Bolsheviks, who took control of the Petrograd Soviet chaired by Trotsky, who had joined them and, by extension, all the soviets in the land.

Lenin decided it was time to seize power and returned from Finland in October. During the night of 24 October , Bolshevik workers and soldiers in Petrograd seized government buildings and communication centres, and arrested the provisional government, which was meeting in the Winter Palace. Kerensky escaped, eventually dying in the US in Soon after, a provisional government was formed, headed by Lenin, with Trotsky as commissar for foreign affairs and the Georgian Josef Stalin as commissar for nationalities, in charge of policy for all non-Russians in the former empire.

Local soviets elsewhere in Russia seized power relatively easily, but the coup in Moscow took six days of fighting. The Soviet government immediately redistributed land to those who worked it, signed an armistice with the Germans in December , and set up its own secret police force, the Cheka. Trotsky, now military commissar, founded the Red Army in January The murder of Nicholas II and his family in July was the prelude to a systematic program of arrest, torture and execution of anyone opposed to Soviet rule. But they lacked unity, including as they did tsarist stalwarts, landlord-killing social revolutionaries, Czech prisoners of war, Finnish partisans and Japanese troops.

The Bolsheviks had the advantage of controlling the heart of Russia, including its war industry and communications. Full-scale civil war broke out in early and lasted until when the Red Army was victorious at Volochaevka, west of Khabarovsk. By the Communist Party had firmly established one-party rule, thanks to the Red Army and the Cheka, which continued to eliminate opponents. Some opponents escaped, joining an estimated 1. During the civil war, a system called War Communism subjected every aspect of society to the aim of victory. This meant sweeping nationalisation in all economic sectors and strict administrative control by the Soviet government, which in turn was controlled by the Communist Party.

A new political bureau, the Politburo, was created for Party decision-making, and a new secretariat supervised Party appointments, ensuring that only loyal members were given responsibility. War Communism was also a form of social engineering to create a classless society. Forced food requisitions and hostility towards larger, more efficient farmers, combined with drought and a breakdown of infrastructure, led to the enormous famine of —21, when between four and five million people died. Farm output improved as kulaks small-scale land owners consolidated their holdings and employed landless peasants as wage earners.

Farm surplus was sold to the cities in return for industrial products, giving rise to a new class of traders and small-scale industrialists called nepmen.

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By the late s, agricultural and industrial production had reached prewar levels. But the political tide was set the other way.

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In , two years after suffering the first of a series of paralysing strokes, Lenin died. His embalmed remains were put on display in Moscow and a personality cult was built around him — all orchestrated by Stalin. The charismatic Trotsky, hero of the civil war and second only to Lenin as an architect of the revolution, wanted collectivisation of agriculture — an extension of War Communism — and worldwide revolution. As Party general secretary, he controlled all appointments and had installed his supporters wherever it mattered.

In he succeeded in getting Trotsky, his main rival, expelled.


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Agriculture was to be collectivised to get the peasants to fulfil production quotas, which would feed the growing cities and provide food exports to pay for imported heavy machinery. Farmers were required to pool their land and resources into kolkhozy collective farms , usually consisting of about 75 households and dozens of square kilometres in area, which became their collective property, in return for compulsory quotas of produce.

Bandelin, Oscar J. 1964-

These kolkhozy covered two-thirds of all farmland, supported by a network of Machine Tractor Stations that dispensed machinery and advice political or otherwise. Farmers who resisted — and most kulaks did, especially in Ukraine and the Volga and Don regions, which had the biggest grain surpluses — were killed or deported to labour camps in the millions. Farmers slaughtered their animals rather than hand them over, leading to the loss of half the national livestock. A drought and continued grain requisitions led to famine in the same three regions in —33, in which millions more people perished.

Ukrainians consider this famine, known as golodomor, a deliberate act of genocide against them while others say Stalin deliberately orchestrated this tragedy to wipe out opposition. Many new mines and factories were built in Central Asia or Siberia, which was resource-rich but thinly populated. A key labour force was provided by the network of concentration camps begun under Lenin and now called the Gulag, from the initial letters of Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerey Main Administration for Camps , which stretched from the north of European Russia through Siberia and Central Asia to the Russian Far East.

A huge slice of the northeast was set aside exclusively for labour camps, and whole cities such as Komsomolsk-na-Amure and Magadan were developed as Gulag centres. The Gulag population grew from 30, in to eight million in It's reckoned that at least 18 million people passed through the camp system. Many more suffered, though. Osip lasted four years before dying at the Vtoraya Rechka transit camp in Vladivostok.

Early camp inmates were often farmers caught up in the collectivisation, but in the mids, following the assassination of Leningrad Communist Party boss Sergei Kirov, the terror shifted to Party members and other influential people not enthusiastic enough about Stalin. A series of show trials were held in Moscow, in which the charges ranged from murder plots and capitalist sympathies to Trotskyist conspiracies. The biggest such trial was in against 21 leading Bolsheviks, including Party theoretician Bukharin.

sne77.fr/includes/church/rencontre-fille-drummondville.php Its victims are thought to have totalled 8. On 23 August the Soviet and German foreign ministers, Molotov and Ribbentrop, signed a nonaggression pact. A secret protocol stated that any future rearrangement would divide Poland between them; Germany would have a free hand in Lithuania and the Soviet Union in Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Bessarabia, which had been lost to Romania in Stalin traded the Polish provinces of Warsaw and Lublin with Hitler for most of Lithuania and the Red Army marched into these territories less than three weeks later.

Russia was better prepared, but the disorganised Red Army was no match for the German war machine, which advanced on three fronts. Within four months the Germans had overrun Minsk and Smolensk and were just outside Moscow. They had marched through the Baltic states and most of Ukraine and laid siege to Leningrad.

Only an early, severe winter halted the advance. German atrocities against the local population stiffened resistance. Stalin appealed to old-fashioned patriotism and eased restrictions on the Church, ensuring that the whole country rallied to the cause with incredible endurance.