Consolidation of new Soviet state (1917 - 1918)

How did the Bolsheviks survive the first few month

  • The Bolshevik government was in a fragile condition in the first few months, facing strikes and protests from other socialists over one-party rule.
  • There were divisions within the party over a proposed socialist coalition. Some leading Bolsheviks temporarily resigned in protest at Lenin’s failure to support the coalition idea.
  • Lenin always intended to rule on his own and asserted this in his own party and in government.
  • Lenin’s early policies had to be modified in response to pressures from the masses.
  • The Bolsheviks crushed opposition and developed forces of terror and coercion, especially the Cheka.
  • Lenin persuaded the Bolsheviks to sign the unfavourable Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. He knew he had to have peace for his government to survive.
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Problems- what was it, how did Lenin deal with it,

Problem

What was the problem?

How did Lenin deal with it?

How effectively did he deal with it?

Getting new government on its feet

Having taken power in the name of the Soviet, Lenin tried to keep power to the Bolsheviks.  Precarious hold on power, with no guarantee it could enforce its decisions - i.e. no money from Bank.

Set up sovnarkom to exclude Mensheviks and SRs, and ruled bu decree without Soviet support. 

Lenin gave the workers what they wanted - responsive to pressure from below (Acton). 

Fairly effectively, given the circumstances.  Managed to stay in power against the odds, and earned support of the workers and peasants. 

Land ownership

Peasants’ demand for land - unresolved issue from Kerensky’s Provisional Government

Land decree - allowed peasants to take over the estates of the gentry without compensation.  Land belonged to ‘the people’, and could no longer be bought, sold or rented.

Satisfied peasants, but went against the Bolsheviks’ idea that all the land actually belonged to the state - in the socialist vision, privately owned land had no role.

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Problems- what was it, how did Lenin deal with it,

Running industry

Economic crisis, and need for production in the face of workers’ demand for greater control

Workers’ control decree - gave factory committees right to control production and supervise management. 

In many places workers actually went further and took direct management control, but Bolsheviks couldn’t resist this pressure for reform.

Opposition

What should the Bolsheviks do about opposition political parties?  Kadets, Right SRs and Mensheviks?

Opposition press shut down; political opponents were arrested; Cheka (secret police) established; class warfare encouraged as means of terrorising the MC.

Success - opposition weak and unco-ordinated.

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