Triumph of Bolshevism

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Information about Triumph of Bolshevism

Published on October 12, 2007

Author: Mahugani


The Triumph of Bolshevism: Russia, 1918-29:  The Triumph of Bolshevism: Russia, 1918-29 Consolidation of Power, 1918:  Consolidation of Power, 1918 Lacked a plan Used existing structures – State Capitalism Authority existed in Moscow and Petrograd alone Problems:- Industrial production 2/3 1914 levels Inflation rocketed Transport crippled 13m tons short of grain Consolidation of Power, 1918:  Consolidation of Power, 1918 Decree on Land – need for food Decree on Workers’ Control Largely legalised what was already happening Vesenkha took control of ‘economic life’ Nationalised banks and railways Cancelled foreign debt Result – serious fall in production Consolidation of Power, 1918:  Consolidation of Power, 1918 Abolished all titles – ‘comrade’ became standard greeting Creation of Cheka (called GPU after 1922) Red Army founded Marriage Code gave married women equal rights with husbands Schools brought under State control Consolidation of Power, 1918:  Consolidation of Power, 1918 Constituent Assembly dissolved at gun-point Bolsheviks gained barely a ¼ of seats Lenin dismissed democracy as ‘bourgeois’ Criticism from Noam Chomsky and Rosa Luxemburg Reasons: Hold on power was precarious Lenin argued that Soviets already existed Lenin claimed SRs and Kadets had rigged elections Consolidation of Power, 1918:  Consolidation of Power, 1918 Treaty of Brest Litovsk WWI had been an imperial war Lost vital grain producing land – Ukraine Lenin faced stiff opposition Allies funded Bolsheviks’ enemies Treaty null and void in Nov. 1918 Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 Causes: Dissolution of Constituent Assembly – ‘Whites’ Bolsheviks were a ‘minority party’ Lenin welcomed a ‘show down’ ‘Greens’ (Ukrainians / Georgians) believed Bolsheviks were imposing Russian rule on the rest of the country Struggle for food (Petrograd bread ration reduced to 50 grams per day and population of city went from 3m to 2m – migration to countryside) SRs attempted a coup in Moscow (2 failed assassination attempts on Lenin in July and August – bullet lodged in neck) Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 40,000 Czech troops still in Russia – marching to Vladivostok to meet up with Allies SRs organised uprisings in central Russia White ‘volunteer army’ led by General Denikin in Caucuses (south) Czech legion encouraged White army under Admiral Kolchak in Siberia (north) In Estonia, ex-Trasist General Yudenich encourage White ‘resistence army’ (east) Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 White weaknesses: Fought in separate detachments Unwilling to sacrifice individual differences Widely scattered geographically Made up of socialists, liberals and conservatives Only common purpose was hatred of Bolshevism Too reliant on overseas aid Whites imposed reign of terror on areas they controlled Lacked quality leaders like Trotsky Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 Reds’ strengths: Controlled central Russia and maintained supply lines Controlled two major cities Moscow and Petrograd Controlled railway network Controlled industrial areas – access to munitions Could claim that Whites were ‘in league with foreign interventionists’ Had driving sense of purpose Brilliantly organised and led by Trotsky Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 Foreign intervention (Britain; France; USA; Japan): After Treaty of Brest Litovsk wanted to prevent war supplies getting into German hands French especially wanted to recover Russian debt Occupied major ports of Murmansk, Archangel, Odessa and Vladivostok Allies wanted to prevent spread of communism, e.g.: Sparticist uprising in Berlin, 1918 Communist republic in Bavaria, 1918-19 Hungary – Bela Kun, 1918 Civil War, 1918-20:  Civil War, 1918-20 Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish troops also occupied Russia to gain independence Reasons for withdrawal: Little co-operation between the occupiers Threats of mutiny in French and British regiments War-weary Allies withdrew by 1920; Japan by 1922 Lenin portrayed as ‘saviour of nation’ Red Terror:  Red Terror Chief instrument = Cheka (renamed GPU in 1922) Destroy ‘counter-revolution and sabotage’ Led by Felix Dzerzhinsky (Polish intellectual aristocrat) Law unto itself – answerable only to Lenin Granted unlimited powers of arrest, detention and torture July 1918 at Ekaterinburg murdered Romanovs Climate of Civil War ‘justified the terror’ Red Terror:  Red Terror Feb 1918 Decrees authorising execution of Bolsheviks’ opponents May 1918 Declaration of war on ‘peasant bourgeoisie’ May 1918 creation of grain requisitioning squads July 1918 military conscription imposed Feb 1919 forced labour camps created Dec 1919 Trotsky announced ‘militarisation of labour’ and abolished trade unions Red Army:  Red Army Created by Trotsky – Lenin gave him total confidence Heavily armed train as military HQ Attached political commissars to army Death sentence for desertion Re-imposed ranks, titles and rigid discipline Enforced conscription Those of ‘questionable’ social background used for backbreaking labour Elite of w/c troops War Communism, 1918-21:  War Communism, 1918-21 Linked to Red Terror Harsh economic measures adopted during Civil War Decree on Nationalisation – all major heavy industries under central control Military needs came first and many industries were starved of resources Factories deprived of manpower due to conscription Scarcity of goods whilst government continued printing money led to hyperinflation. By 1920, rouble fell to 1% of 1914 value Industrial output at 30% of 1914 levels by 1921 War Communism, 1918-21:  War Communism, 1918-21 Claimed Kulaks were hoarding grain, but truth was that they saw no point in producing grain Cheka sent to requisition grain Lenin ordered ‘merciless suppression’ of Kulaks Results = national famine By 1921 grain production less than 50% of 1913 levels Lenin accepted foreign aid, but cancelled it by 1923 Even though the policy failed some communists supported it as being true to their values Kronstadt Rising, 1921:  Kronstadt Rising, 1921 War Communism maintained after end of Civil War Severity of WC increased Bolshevik unpopularity Opposition even developed within the Party Alexandra Kollontai led a ‘Workers’ Opposition’ Petrograd went on strike By 1921 thousands of workers crossed from Petrograd to Kronstadt and linked up with sailors and dockworkers – led by Petrochenko Kronstadt Rising, 1921:  Kronstadt Rising, 1921 Kronstadt Manifesto (inc.): Freedom of speech, press, assembly and for trade unions Ending of special food rations for party members Ending of one-party state Withdrawal of political commissars from factories Had been great supporters of Bolsheviks in 1917 Artillery bombardment then 60,000 Red Army troops sent in. Savage fighting, but all workers killed and those who escaped were rounded up and shot Bolsheviks claimed that they were ‘White agents’, but afterwards abandoned WC. New Economic Policy, 1921-28:  New Economic Policy, 1921-28 Serious lack of food Replaced ‘force with persuasion’. Key features: Central economic control relaxed Requisitioning replaced by ‘tax-in-kind’ Peasants allowed to sell surplus for profit Public markets restored Money reintroduced as a means of trading New Economic Policy, 1921-28:  New Economic Policy, 1921-28 Restored ‘mixed economy’ Lenin stressed it was a ‘temporary concession’ State still controlled large-scale industry, banking and foreign trade Disturbed many in party such as Trotsky who objected to NEPmen Lenin introduced Ban on Factions to silence objections New Economic Policy, 1921-28:  New Economic Policy, 1921-28 Bukharin converted to NEP and convinced many other Bolsheviks to do likewise Production figures suggested that policy worked, e.g. factory output and wages more than doubled, agricultural production also increased However, industry stagnated and urban unemployment remained high ‘Great Turn’, 1928:  ‘Great Turn’, 1928 Stalin’s aims: Abandoned NEP – lacked ‘capacity’ Modernisation of economy ‘second revolution’ Overtake the West Self sufficiency Gosplan in charge of central planning Collectivisation Industrialisation – 5 Year Plans Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Lenin impressed by Stalin’s organisational ability By 1912 Stalin one of six key members Stalin helped to found Pravda Stalin supported the October Revolution Stalin was Georgian – very helpful to Lenin and became Commissar for Nationalities during Civil War Brought him into conflict with Trotsky, Commissar for War Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle But, Stalin had offended Lenin: Stalin had been rude in discussions with officials in Georgia whose support Lenin needed ‘Storm of abuse’ against Krurskaya, Lenin’s wife – called her a ‘whore’ After this, Lenin dictated his Testament Accused Stalin of being rude and encouraged others to remove him from his positions of authority Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Stalin lacked ‘brilliance’, but was willing to undertake laborious administrative work As government grew certain posts became more important. Stalin’s jobs: Commissar for Nationalities – appointed regional officials Liaison Officer – could monitor policy and personnel Head of Workers’ Inspectorate – oversee work of all departments General Secretary – could build up personal files on all party members “The indispensable link in the chain of command” Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Stalin was in charge of the Lenin Enrolment, 1923-25. Crammed party with his own loyal supporters. Stalin also benefited from Ban on Factions Stalin very effectively capitalised on Lenin’s legacy: ‘Cult of Lenin’ Lenin’s Funeral Suppression of Lenin’s Testament Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Trotsky was ‘own worst enemy’ Brilliant, but no power base in the party Until 1917, Trotsky had been a Menshevik Sometimes arrogant and sometimes diffident Inhibited by his ‘Jewishness’ Other leading Bolsheviks such as Kamenev and Zinoviev were determined to prevent him becoming leader. Trotsky seen as the Napoleon figure Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Bureaucratisation vs party democracy NEP – Left Communists vs Right Communists Permanent Revolution vs…. Encourage worldwide revolution for w/c Individual nations did not matter To protect communism in Russia ….Socialism in One Country Russia to become self-sufficient Survival and modernisation of Russia was the priority Invasion of Poland in 1920 showed limits of Perm. Rev. Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev vs Trotsky 1925 Trotsky relieved of his position as Commissar for War – Stalin could deliver the votes at Party Congress In 1927 Trotsky was exiled Stalin then turned on Kamenev and Zinoviev (Left) over the issue of the NEP. He was backed by Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin (Right) Leadership Struggle:  Leadership Struggle Stalin then defeated Right through ‘Great Turn’ Stalin believed in forced modernisation through collectivisation and industrialisation The Right’s ideas appeared timid by late-1920s and they were poorly organised and supported compared to Stalin By 1929, Stalin had emerged as supreme leader Religion:  Religion Marx: ‘opium of the people’ No place for organised religion (Orthodox Church; Judaism; Islam) Decree on Separation of Church and State: Church properties confiscated Clergy no longer paid salaries Church organisations disbanded Religious teaching forbidden in schools 300 priests executed; 10,000 exiled by 1924 (Show Trials) Monasteries and Churches looted and desecrated Propaganda campaign to ridicule the Church Union of the Militant Godless Bolshevism became the ‘new religion’, e.g Red Weddings Women and the Family:  Women and the Family Wanted to free women from slavery of marriage: Legalised divorce Recognised illegitimate children as full citizens Legalised abortion State responsibility for raising of children Helped women into work and political activity Alexandra Kollontai believed in free love, but Lenin was unimpressed by her brand of feminism However, policy was strongly resisted and had many negative side-effects, e.g abandoned pregnant women and children The Arts:  The Arts Create new type of human being – ‘Homo Sovieticus’ Proletcult – workers movement to create new Russian culture, but really led by a small elite (ended in 1922) Writers and artists would express values of new Soviet Russia Writers’ circles Amateur dramatic groups Art studios Poetry societies Many of these based in factories; literacy increased 20% Cheka (GPU) imposed strict censorship Education:  Education Combined education and political propaganda Religious education replaced by ‘communist values and atheism’ Schools placed under Commissariat for Enlightenment Authority of teachers and discipline reduced in favour of greater freedom for students Traditional teaching methods abandoned Although literacy improved, overall standards declined Youth groups: Pioneers for Children and Komsomol

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