Establishing Communist Party Control 1917-24

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  • Establishing Communist Party control, 1917-24
    • Background to the Bolshevik Revolution
      • Before the revolutions of 1917, Russia was ruled by a series of all powerful emperors. Tsar Nicholas II, was seen to be more repressive than other European rulers.
        • Repression was widespread, majority of citizens were impoverished and had no political rights.
          • Political repression and massive economic inequality led to the growth of underground opposition to the Tsar
            • SDLP and SR parties wanted to overthrow the Tsar and liberate the people, but were unable to organised effectively, due to police etc.
              • Tsarism was rocked by the 1905 revolution, that almost overthrew the Tsar, political compromise and renewed repression ensured the survival of the regime until WW1
                • In ww1, Russian economy was incapable of providing food and equipment neccessary to fight the war. The Tsar was an incapable wartime leader and after, econimc chaos, millitary defeat and political misanagementhe February Revolution occoured.
                  • The February revolution overthrew the Tsar and set up the Provisional Government
                    • The provisional government introduced a series of reforms, and replaced Tsarism with a liberal system; freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and promised democratic elections. However it continued fighting the war.
                      • Lenin and his followers the Bolsheviks argued for a second revolution, promising 'Peace, Land, Bread.
                        • By October 1917, Lenin and his followers overthrew the Provisional Government.
            • While the government was strong, the economy was weak. Encourageme-nt of economic growth was only partly successful. Population remained poor.
          • SDLP and SR parties wanted to overthrow the Tsar and liberate the people, but were unable to organised effectively, due to police etc.
            • Tsarism was rocked by the 1905 revolution, that almost overthrew the Tsar, political compromise and renewed repression ensured the survival of the regime until WW1
              • In ww1, Russian economy was incapable of providing food and equipment neccessary to fight the war. The Tsar was an incapable wartime leader and after, econimc chaos, millitary defeat and political misanagementhe February Revolution occoured.
                • The February revolution overthrew the Tsar and set up the Provisional Government
                  • The provisional government introduced a series of reforms, and replaced Tsarism with a liberal system; freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and promised democratic elections. However it continued fighting the war.
                    • Lenin and his followers the Bolsheviks argued for a second revolution, promising 'Peace, Land, Bread.
                      • By October 1917, Lenin and his followers overthrew the Provisional Government.
      • While the government was strong, the economy was weak. Encourageme-nt of economic growth was only partly successful. Population remained poor.
    • The impact of the Civil War, 1918-21
      • The Russian Civil War
        • From the start, Lenin’s revolutionary government faced serious opposition.The Bolsheviks had opponents on all sides. Senior members of the Russian army wanted to re-establish Tsarist rule,others wanted a military dictatorship, or a democratic system like France or America.
          • The new government had radical opponents too. The SRs and Mensheviks wanted a more democratic type of socialist government, and anarchists wanted to abolish government altogether. Britain, France, the US and Japan also sent troops to fight the new government. Some countries feared that a successful revolution might spread, while others wanted to gain territory. 
            •  A full-scale civil war broke out in the summer of 1918, with the enemies of the Bolsheviks gaining significant ground in the first six months of 1919. Following the failure of anti-Bolshevik forces to capture Petrograd and Moscow in the summer of 1919, the Red Army began to win the war.  
        • The new government had radical opponents too. The SRs and Mensheviks wanted a more democratic type of socialist government, and anarchists wanted to abolish government altogether. Britain, France, the US and Japan also sent troops to fight the new government. Some countries feared that a successful revolution might spread, while others wanted to gain territory. 
          •  A full-scale civil war broke out in the summer of 1918, with the enemies of the Bolsheviks gaining significant ground in the first six months of 1919. Following the failure of anti-Bolshevik forces to capture Petrograd and Moscow in the summer of 1919, the Red Army began to win the war.  
        • Lenin’s primary objective during the Civil War was to ensure the survival of the new government. Lenin was willing to do whatever was necessary in order to win. As a result of the Civil War government changed in two ways:
          • Lenin’s government became increasingly centralised
          • The Communist Party became increasingly powerful.
        • Lenin’s prime method of ensuring victory was to centralise power.
          • Centralisation ensured that the government, the economy and the army were able to win the war. However, it also took power away from the workers, peasants and soldiers that the Communists claimed to represent. 
          •  He centralised control of the economy with the policy of War Communism (see page 80). l He relied on political centralisation, working through the loyal Party nomenklatura rather than the more democratic soviets. l He also used terror to suppress opposition. l Trotsky made the Red Army more authoritarian. He introduced conscription, harsh punishments and relied on former Tsarist generals to lead the army
        • The emergence of a ‘party state’
        • Building  the Red Army
          •  the Russian army had been democratised: soldiers’ committees were empowered to elect senior officers
            • s. Lenin abolished this system and Trotsky, the leader of the new army, put Tsarist generals back in charge of the army. 
          • s. Lenin abolished this system and Trotsky, the leader of the new army, put Tsarist generals back in charge of the army. 
      • At first, the new regime described itself as a ‘soviet-state’  however, during the Civil War the government increasingly became a party state, based on the Communist Party. 
      • Red Terror
        •  Lenin created Cheka), a political police force tasked with defending the revolution. 
          • During the Civil War Chekists were responsible for raiding anarchist organisations, closing down opposition newspapers and expelling Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries from the soviets.
          • The Cheka was willing to imprison, torture or kill anyone that the Communists viewed as a threat.
    • Lenin's State 1917-18
      • Lenin's  new state changed overtime, it began as democratic and liberal and changed to authoritarian
        • Lenin seized power for soviets, small democratic councils that emerged in every town. Local representative were sent to All Russian Congress of Soviets to discuss Russia's future.
          • Sovnarkom
            • Essentially the new Russian cabinet. Lenin was elected head, other commissars were notable revolutionaries. The majority had supported Lenin and worked with him in exile.
            • Lenin's first government passed a series of decrees that were genuinely popular.
              • Decree of land - Peasants could seize the rights of land from nobility and churches.
              • Decree of peace - Withdrawing ww1, seeking peace
              • Workers Decree - Eight hour maximum working day and minimum wage
              • Decree of workers control - Allowed factory workers to elect committees to run factories.
              • These early measures allowed Lenin to establish control in two ways.
                • Decrees won support from workers, peasants and soldiers
                • Ending war gave regime 'breathing space' allowed economy to be rebuilt and construct a government
              • For the first few months Sovnarkom had little real power
                • Only maintained power in Petrograd, leading officials elsewhere refused to accept Bolshevik rule
                  • Lenin's government would have to fight a civil war to gain genuine control of the whole of Russia
                • Russian state bank and Treasury went on strike after revolution, denying the government funds
                • Initially it was unorganized and unofficial
                  • Lenin's government would have to fight a civil war to gain genuine control of the whole of Russia
          • Lenin's first government passed a series of decrees that were genuinely popular.
            • Decree of land - Peasants could seize the rights of land from nobility and churches.
            • Decree of peace - Withdrawing ww1, seeking peace
            • Workers Decree - Eight hour maximum working day and minimum wage
            • Decree of workers control - Allowed factory workers to elect committees to run factories.
            • These early measures allowed Lenin to establish control in two ways.
              • Decrees won support from workers, peasants and soldiers
              • Ending war gave regime 'breathing space' allowed economy to be rebuilt and construct a government
            • For the first few months Sovnarkom had little real power
              • Only maintained power in Petrograd, leading officials elsewhere refused to accept Bolshevik rule
                • Russian state bank and Treasury went on strike after revolution, denying the government funds
                • Initially it was unorganized and unofficial
              • How democratic was Russia in 1919?
                • Claimed soviet-state was more Democratic  than the west, Trotsky related new government to French revolution.
                • There is clear evidence new government was genuinely democratic, for example popularity of decrees, Russia was not yet a one party state.
                  • Sovnarkorm included representatives from multiple parties, and some party's had role in government some Bolsheviks even resigned when coalition wasn't formed
                    • Sovnarkom was then filled with people who wanted single party rule
                    • Lenin also disregarded soviets, in accepting peace treaty. He started one party rule. Called for new elections but postponed due to civil war, with the abolishion of Constituent Assembly and election results, Bolshevik rule was secured
                    • Januray 18, 1918 clear indication Lenin was turning against democracy when he rejected the election which created a Bolshevik minority in Constituent Assembly
                      • Lenin also disregarded soviets, in accepting peace treaty. He started one party rule. Called for new elections but postponed due to civil war, with the abolishion of Constituent Assembly and election results, Bolshevik rule was secured

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