Slides in this set
War Communism had several aims for the Russian economy, the measures taken
were harsh, and it began with the introduction of the Decree on Nationalisation in
June 1918. Within two years, this brought pretty much all major industries and
industrial enterprises under state control. This also meant that any private properties
were confiscated by the state.
Strict discipline was enforced in the factories and strikes were forbidden.
The state also had control over foreign trade.
It was decided that once the army had completed its military mission it would be
converted into a labour army and used to run the means of production, such as the
heavy industries and the railways. In fact, the railway was brought under strict military
control early on in the war.
Food and other commodities were to be rationed and excess food was to be
requisitioned from peasants by Cheka requisition squads and distributed to the
military and to workers in urban areas.…read more
With War Communism, the Bolsheviks were
largely successful in aiding the Red Army in their
conflict against the Whites.
Not only did War Communism help them win the
Civil War but it also aided in regaining much of
the former territories of the Russian Empire.
The militarisation of the railways was essential to
the Red victory as food and supplies were
delivered with efficiency although this may be
due to Trotsky's management rather than the
policies of War Communism.
War Communism was also largely successful in
nationalising and centralising the industry, and
although requisitioning did not work due to lack of
food production, the requisitioning process in
itself could be seen as a success.
War Communism also created an ideal situation…read more
Overall production levels fell dangerously low. Production levels in
the heavy industry fell to 20% of its 1913 level, in some areas
there was no production at all.
Food production also fell to 2/3rds of the 1913 level due to their
being no incentive for peasants to produce more than they needed
they would be making no profits due to requisition. The
Bolsheviks did not see this, thinking that the peasants were
hoarding food so as to sell it at a later point for extremely high
prices, and so repression of the peasants increased. The
production of cotton also fell to 13% of its 1913 level as again
any produce would be confiscated by the state thus removing any
incentive the peasant may have had to produce.
The abolishing of private businesses caused for a black market to
emerge even though the punishment for profiteering was death.
The rising inflation eventually rose to a level where the ruble
collapsed and people turned to barter rather than selling and
buying with money. Many Bolsheviks thought this was good as it
meant that capitalism was slowly falling, but they didn't realise that
this was in fact due to the critically high inflation rates in the
During the Civil war the population in urban areas fell dramatically
as workers made for the countryside where they could grow their
own food, this contributed to the fall in production in the factories.
The transport system also collapsed due to the strains of the war,
many trains were off the track and in crucial need of repair.
The insufficient production of food due to a lack of incentive
resulted in a great famine in the urban areas and over 20 million
people died of starvation and diseases such as typhus and
The Kronstadt Mutiny
The greatest shock came with the Kronstadt Mutiny in March 1921. This was a revolt by the Kronstadt
Sailors who had been described as the, `reddest of the reds' and, `the heroes of the Revolution' by
Lenin and Trotsky, and played a great part in the October Revolution in 1917. The Kronstadt sailors
had several aims, and they elected a council of fifteen men to represent them, a Revolutionary
Committee. They had the following manifesto;
New elections were to be held to the soviet and to be held by secret ballot.
Freedom of speech and of the press
Freedom of assembly
Rights for trade unions and the release of imprisoned trade unionists
Ending the right of Communists to be the only permitted socialist political party
The release of left-wing political prisoners
The ending of special food rations for Communist Party members
Freedom for individuals to bring food from the country into towns without confiscation
Withdrawal of political commissars from the factories
Ending of the Communist Party's monopoly of the press
As strikes began to rise and their demands slowly increased, the Bolsheviks had to act, and it was
Trotsky who came up with a solution. The Red Army was sent in and the Kronstadt base was stormed
by 60,000 Red Army troops, and the Kronstadters were eventually overcome after long and brutal
This mutiny was clear proof that the Communist were far from representatives of the working classes,
but were in fact seen as just another elite minority who had risen up and were not in anyway in tune
with the working class. In fact, this revealed the authoritarian and dictatorial disposition of the
Bolsheviks even at this early stage of their development.…read more
The months following the Kronstadt Mutiny saw increased Cheka activity as Lenin
ordered the capture and execution of any survivors of Kronstadt, claiming that they
`the reddest of the reds' and `heroes of the revolution' were nothing but tools of
the bourgeois enemies of the revolution.
However, the mutiny also opened Lenins eyes to the realities on the ground, to the
realities of the great famine and just how bad things were for the working class, he
went so far as to listen to peasants who told him that the `kulaks' had actually been
extremely supportive of the Bolsheviks and had done their utmost to help. All of this
spurred a change in policy which received very little support from Bolsheviks, as it
was seen as a step back from Communism and towards Capitalism, however it was
pushed through due to the precarious situation of the Bolsheviks at the time and due
to Lenins ability to get what he wants in the end.
However, even though Lenin had backed down in terms of the economy, he was not
willing to make any concessions when it came to political power, if anything, the,
monopoly of the Communist Party on the Russian political sphere tightened even
more with the increased activity of the Cheka, led by Dzerzhinsky and managed by