Communist Government in the USSR 1917-85

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The creation of a one-party state

By 1922 Lenin had created a Communist dictatorshiopp of a one-party state.

He wanted to replace capitalism with socialism

The October revolution formally handed power to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets

The Congress created the Sovnarkem and the Provisional government

Lenin passed a series of decrees

Decree on Land

Decree of Peace

Worker's Decree (Nov 1917)

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Civil War 1918-21

Civil War led to an emergence of an authoritarian, centralised and bureaucratice regime

Power passed from sovnarkem to the soviets to the Politburo

New government also became increasingly bureaucratic.

Communist Nomnklatura dominated the government

In Feburary 1921 Lenin authorised the Checka

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The Party congress of 1921

War communism created famine and the Red Terror led to backlash

The autum of 1920 peasents in Tambov rebelled agaisnt war communism

January 1921 a rebel force of 50,000 was fighting the communists across the whole Tambov region

In early 1921 there was a wave of strikes across Russia's main cities - red army respond

Saliors at Kronstadt naval base rebelle Communists and demand to end war communism and restore democracy

In 1921, Lenin replaced war communinsm with the New Economic Plan (NEP)

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The Ban on Factions

Lenin faced opposition from two factions (Worker's opposition and Democratic Centralists)

Lenin introduced a resolution "On party unity" which banned factions inside the party

this made opposition more difficult

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Lenin's legacy

He died in 1924

From 1920 the Politburo became the government of Russia and the Sovnarkem played a much smaller role

By 1921 the new government was based on 2 parallel structures (Communist aprty and soviet state)

From 1921 oppostition party's fomally banned

Created the "party-state"

Party used its powers to ensure that Party members recieved more food and better accomidation than ordinary workers

By the early 1920's the Communist party had become a privalledged new elite

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Elimination of opposition

Between 1923 and 1928, Stalin was engaged in a struggle for power against Trotsky, Burkarin and Zinoviev

He expelled main rivals from the Politburo

He could give well paid and powerful jobs to his supporters as he was general secretary

Could count on loyal party members who wanted to retain their poistions or get a promotion

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Extent of the Purges of the 1930's

Stalin responded to opposition by launching the great terror

The Great Teroor was at its height from 1935-38

Around 10 million people died (10% of the population)

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Political consequences of the Great Terror

Most puclic aspect of the Great Terror was the show trials that took place in 1936, 1937 and 1938

The Great Terror led to the imprisonment of a whole generation of communists who had known and worked with Lenin

By the mid-1930's Stalin's position was fully secure

Stakin terrorised the Communist partty.

This ended Party Rule and established the personal rule of Stalin

By 1935 neither Party nor State could oppose Stalin

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Political consequences of the Great Terror

Most puclic aspect of the Great Terror was the show trials that took place in 1936, 1937 and 1938

The Great Terror led to the imprisonment of a whole generation of communists who had known and worked with Lenin

By the mid-1930's Stalin's position was fully secure

Stakin terrorised the Communist partty.

This ended Party Rule and established the personal rule of Stalin

By 1935 neither Party nor State could oppose Stalin

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Political consequences of the Great Terror

Most puclic aspect of the Great Terror was the show trials that took place in 1936, 1937 and 1938

The Great Terror led to the imprisonment of a whole generation of communists who had known and worked with Lenin

By the mid-1930's Stalin's position was fully secure

Stakin terrorised the Communist partty.

This ended Party Rule and established the personal rule of Stalin

By 1935 neither Party nor State could oppose Stalin

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Totalitarianism

Stalin constructed a new kind of dictatorship (complete control of the economy, use of widespread political terror, complete control of media, propaganda to win hearts and minds of his people)

Stalin demanded heartfelt enthusiasm from his people

Did not simply want obedience

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Relationship between party and state

Lenin had created the communists party and soviet state but had failed to define their relationship

Stakin used this vaugness to his advantage by encouraging competition

This meant that senior officials in the soviet government competed with each other and not Stalin

In 1938 Politburo was most senior committee in government

By 1942 State Defence committee was the most powerful committee in in government

After WW2 councile of ministers became more powerful

By shifting power, Stalin ensure that none of these senior committees grew to rival him

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Renewed Terror

The Leningrad affair of 1949

Following Zhdanov's death around 100 of his supporters were shot and 2,000 arrested and dismissed

Stalin also used persecution to test the loyalty of senior members.

Stalin died in 1953

Neither party nor state had any independant authority

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De-Stalinisation

Khrushchev came to power in 1956

wanted to De-Stalinise the government (ending personal rule, ending the use of terror)

In March and April 1953 there were amnesties for various classes of prisioners

In May 4,620 Communist prisoners were rehabilitated

Khrushchev removed Stalin loyalists from senior party bodies

Betwen 1953 and 1956 Khrushchev replaced around half of the senior party secretaries and 44% of the central committee

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The secret speech

In 1956 Khrushchev released a secret speech criticisng Stalin and the Party Congress

Said Stalin had abandoned the party and established a dictatorship based on a cult of personality

Many communists were shocked by what they heard

demonstartions in favour of multi-party democracy at Moscow's State university broke out.

Khrushchev responded by backtracking

Agreed that the Soviet people were not ready to know the truth about Stalin

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Democratisation and decentralisation

"Democritisation" was designed to allow peaseants and workers to join the communist party

Became more representative of the Russian people

"Decentralisation

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Khrushchev's final reforms

The Twenty-Second Party Congress of October 1961 introduced Khrushchev's final major poiltical reforms 

The Party was divided into two (one party supervised agriculture, the other industry)

Fixed terms introduced for all government jobs (Centrl Committee members had a fixed term of 16 years)

Some aspects of Stalinism lived on 

Never publicy rejeced his legcy or admitted the extent of Stalin's crimes 

Khrushchev succeeded i getting rid of terror

Ended the sytem of personal rule 

In Otober 1964 Khrushchev was forced to retire by senior figures in the Party who believed the reforms had gone too far

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Restoration

Brezhnev reversed Khrushchev's key rforms in a process called restoration

Reversed de-centralisation and re-established the all-union ministers 

Ended the split betwen theindustrial and agriultural wings of the Party

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Stability of Cadres

Reversed fixed-term positions 

Not a return of Stalin's terror 

Brezhnev controlled the party by offering Party members security 

"Stability of Cadres" discouraged demotions or changes in perosnnel within governement 

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Political Stagnation 1970-85

Stability of Cadres meant that governent officials stayed in the same job for years 

Few young people entered the governtent and so the avareage age increased

Avarage age of those in the Politburo rose from 58 in 1966 to 75 in 1982

Nicknamed the Gerontocracy (rule of old people)

Became less effective

Extremely limited opportunities for promotion and so oficials were effectivly stuck in dead-end-jobs

Provided no incentives to work hard 

Created the context of corruption 

Blak market a major form of corruption 

Brezhnev's rule led to a change in party nature as he believed the revolution wa over and so there as little to no revolutionary spirit 

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Andropov and Chrenenko 1982-85

Soviet Union ruled by Andropo and Chernenko 

Both had been close to Brezhnev 

Andropov initiated policies that were designed to end corruption and increase efficiency 

Abandoned the "Stablility of Cadres" plocy and replecaed a 1/4 of senior officials 

Anti-corruption campaign 

Chernenko unwilling to consider major reform due to ill health and hi short rule 

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