Lenin

Sovnarkom

The executive committe established the 'soviet of people Commissars' or Sonarvkom as the new government. This was comprised exclusivley of Bosheviks with Lenin as chairman and Trotsky as Commissar for foreign affairs. It also included one female commissar, Alexandra Kollantai. 

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Initial decrees

27th October - Decree on peace promised an end to war 'without annexation and indemnities'

27th October - Decree on land abolished private ownership of land and legitimised peasant seizures without compensation to Landlords

November - Workers control decree gave workers the right to 'supervise management'

November - nationality decree promised self determination to the peoples of the former Russian Empire

December - military decree removed class ranks, saluting and military decorations from the army

December - Decree on Churches nationalised church land and removed marriage and divorce from church control

*Banks were also nationalised, the governemt outlawed sex discrimination and women were given the right to own property 

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1918 Constitution

This stated that supreme power rested with the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The centeral executive committee of that congress was to be the 'supreme organ of power'. The Congress was also made responsible for electing the Sovnarkom for the purposes of the 'general administration of the affairs of the state'. Although the constitution looked highly democratic there were limitations:

- the votes were reserved for the 'toiling masses' (clergy, tsarist officials etc. were excluded from voting.

- the workers vote was weighted 5 to 1 against that of the peasants

- the sovnarkom was really chosen by the Bolshevik party's centeral committee

- congress was only to meet at intervals so exec authority remained in the hands of the Sovnarkom

- the structure was centeralised and the real focus of power was the party

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Democratic centeralism

The communist ideas of democracy was that because workers and peasants elected members of their local soviets who in turn, chose those who would sit on higher level soviets and the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, they thus exerted an influence on policy decisions. However, this was combined with centeralism because of the centeral authorities passed decisions down to the masses. 

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'dictatorship of the proletariat'

The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 resulted in a dictatorship not of the majority class of proletarians but of a political party that claimed to represent proletarian interests. Contrary to Marx’s vision and as George Orwell (1903–50), Mikhail Bakunin (1814–76), and others had foreseen, the proposed dictatorship of the proletariat eventually became a dictatorship of former proletarians.

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Marxist Leninism

Issues of ideology were easily sidelined. The question of wether the manner of taking power conformed to the marxist ideal became a side issue. Instead, the pressing need to retain and consolidate control led Lenin and the Bolsheviks to act first and 'justify' later.

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Second All Russian Congress of Soviets - 'dustbin

Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies ratified the revolutionary transfer of state power. On the first day of the Congress, the Socialist Revolutionaries split into two groups – the Left Social Revolutionaries and the Right Social Revolutionaries. Also on the first day, the Menshevikdelegation and Right Socialist Revolutionary deputies walked out in protest. The All-Russian Central Executive Committee and Council of People's Commissars was elected by the Congress, naming Lenin the Chairman, and thus making him the head of government. At the opening of the Congress, Lenin gave a speech saying that the "Soviet government will propose an immediate democratic peace to all the nations and an immediate armistice on all fronts" and declared "Long live the revolution."

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Constituent Assembly

Lenins consolidation of control was so effective that opponents could only pin their hopes on his promise of a constitunt assembly. Elections began in the November and produced a 41.7 million turnout, but the SRs won the most seats. Lenin was apalled and declared 'we must not be decieved by the election figures. Elections prove nothing'. A CA comprising of many political parties was a mere remnant of bourgeoise parliamentary democracy and to accept its ruling would be a step back in Russia's historical development. The CA was to meet for only one day - 5th Jan 1918 - after which Lenin dissolved it.  

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Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky wrote that Lenin had 'a ruthless contempt, worthy of an aristocrat, for the lives of ordinary individuals'.

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Fanny Kaplan and the SRs

As a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries, Kaplan viewed Lenin as a ‘traitor to the revolution’, when his Bolsheviks banned her party. On 30 August 1918, she approached Lenin as he was leaving a Moscow factory, and fired three shots, badly injuring him. Interrogated by the Cheka, she refused to name any accomplices, and was shot on 3 September. 

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The Treaty of Brest Litvosk and splits in the part

After a long debate the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk was signed on the 3rd of March 1918 and ratified by the emergency powers of Congress. However, this was only after Lenin twoce offred to resign. Trotsky spoke of scrificing his deeest convictions in the interests of Bolshevik unity.

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State capitalism

Lenin spoke about the dangers of moving towards socialism too quickly. He envisaged a long transition during which the first stage would be state capitalism. During this stage there would be a degree of state control but private markets would remain as an important feature of economic life.

Workers failed to organise thei factories effeciently and output shrank when it was most needed. some workers awarded themselves unsustainable payrises, others helped themselves to stock and equipment but mostly they lacked the skills needed for succesfull management .

With more money than good availeable there was hih inflation. This made peasants hoard produce rather than sell for worthless money. The food shortages in towns grew worse. The citizens of Petrograd were living on rations of just 50 grams of bread a day by Febraury 1918 and elsewhere food riots threatened to undermine bolshevik control.

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War communism

In war communism 

  • The Bolsheviks took control of factories, mines, workshops and railways.
  • Workers were forced to work in factories.
  • Grain was taken from the peasants using force.
  • The Bolsheviks took control of the banks.
  • Private trade was not allowed.
  • Food was rationed.
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War communism

In war communism The Bolsheviks took control of factories, mines, workshops and railways. Workers were forced to work in factories. Grain was taken from the peasants using force. The Bolsheviks took control of the banks. Private trade was not allowed. Food was rationed.

It was introduced because  The Red Army needed to be supplied with food and weapons to help it fight the Civil War against the Whites. The Bolsheviks were Communists. They wanted to take control of industry and food production in Russia.

It failed because Peasants hid grain and so many peasants were arrested or shot. Peasants grew less grain. This led to a famine in 1921. There were food shortages in towns. The number of goods produced by factories did not increase as a result of War Communism. The sailors at the Kronstadt naval base revolted against the Bolshevik government in 1921. They wanted an end to War communism.

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The NEP

The NEP was announced at the 10th party congress in 1921 and was supported by Bukharin, zinoviev and most of the leadership but many rank and file Bolsheviks saw the NEP as an ideological betrayal.

State control of banking and heavy industry continued but the NEP allowed for the private ownership of smaller businesses and permitted private trade. Rationing was ended and there was an end to grain requisitioning although peasants were still required to give a proportion of their grain to the state as a form of tax. They were permitted to sell any surplus. 

The NEP got the economy moving again, but peasants responded more quickly than the towns and industrys which lead to the scissor crisiswhich forced the peasants to sell their grain after the government capped indstrial prices and replaced peasnts quotas with money taxes from 1923.

The crisis was short lived, by 1926 the production level of 1913 had been reached again which bought better living standards and favourabl trade agreementswith Britain and Germany. Nepmen traders flourished by buying grain and selling induatrial goods around the country as the kulak class re-emerged.

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Veshenka

In December 1917, Veshenka (the council of the National Economy) was established to supervise and control economic development. This council was responsible for state industry 1917-32.

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GOELRO

The Goelro plan was the first-ever Soviet plan for national economic recovery and development. It became the prototype for subsequent Five-Year Plans drafted by Gosplan.

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Gosplan

The Gosplan was the state general planning commission, with headquaters in Moscow and additional branches in each Soviet Republic, helped coordinate economic development and, from 1925, drafted economic plans, however this bought it into conflict with the Veshenka

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The Famine of 1921

When the harvest of produced only 48% of that of 1913 there was widespread famine. Millions died from malnourishment and disease. Russia's population, which had stood at 170.9 milion in 1913, had fallen to 130.9 million by 1921. Conditions were so bad that there were even reports of canbalism and trade in dead bodies.

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Tambov Rebellion

The requesitioning squads arrived in Tambov in August 1920, when the pesants had almost no reserves after a poor harvest. A 70,000 peasant man army was formed and the struggle continued until June 1921. This revolt spread across large swalthes of South Eastern Russia. 

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Kronstadt Uprising

30,000 sailors stationed in the Kronstadt naval base. The Kronstadt sailors had been most loyal the most loyal supporters of the October Revolution. In March 1921 they sent a manifesto to Lenin demanding an end to one-party communist rule. The Red army was sent to crush the rebels, they took 15,000 rebels prisoner and the leaders were shot. Lenin denounced the sailors as 'white traitors'.

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The Politburo

The highest policy making government authority under communist rule. It was the centeral policy making and governing body of the communist party.

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Decree on Party Unity 1921

Lenin succesfully argued for a ban on factions within the communist party, pointing out that party unity was paramount in the difficult circumstance of 1921. Although this resolution meant little at the time, it was to assume much more importance after Lenin's death when Stalin used the ban to defeat his rivals.

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10th Party Congress

The major decisions of the Congress included the Ban of factions and the agreement of the NEP.

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Civil war - Blacks, whites, reds, greens and leade

Reds comanded the hub of communications, the armaments factories and the most desley populated regions of centeral Russia. The whites were widley dispersed in less-developed.

White generals operated independently and fought for different objectives . The Reds have unified command structure.

The Red army became a well diciplined fighting force under Trotskys leadership. The whites had few component commanders and ill-disciplined was rife.

Although peasant support varied, generally Red land policies prevailed over the whites association with traditional tsarist policies.

Hostility to foreign involvement gave the reds a propaganda platform. It did not greatly aid the whites as forign help was not extensive and was withdrawn after peace was concluded in the West.

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Foreign intervention in the war

Russia's previous war-time allies, Britain, France and the USA, gave support to the whites for various reasons:

- ideological - as capitalist counrties they opposed thedoctrine of communism 

- the desire to force Russia back into the fight against Germany in the First World War

- to defend their own interests in Russia since the Bolsheviks refused to pay back money borrowed in tasriat times amd nationalised foriegn industries

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Actions of the Czech Legion

The czechoslavkia 'army of liberatio' (czech legion), had been formed from czech nationalists in Russia during the war against Germany and Austria Hungary. By 1918 it numbered 45,000 soldiers. In March 1918, the Bolsheviks gave permission for the army to travel east through siberia to continue the fight against their enemies on the westrn front. As the force travelled along the trans siberian railway, some bolsheviks officials tried to arrest some of the soldiers and fighting broke out and as a result the czech legion seized the railway line through much of western Siberia and parts of eastern European Russia. With this, they abandonned their original plan, joined forces with Anti-Bolsheviks and began to advance westwards towards Moscow.

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Dzerzhinsky and the Cheka and Lubianka

Lenin regarded Dzerzhinshky as a revolutionary hero and appointed him to organize a force to combat internal threats. On 20 December 1917, the Council of People's Commissars officially established the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-revolution and Sabotage—usually known as the Cheka, Dzerzhinsky became its director. The Cheka received a large number of resources, and became known for ruthlessly pursuing any perceived counterrevolutionary elements. As the Russian Civil War expanded, Dzerzhinsky also began organizing internal security troops to enforce the Cheka's authority.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the structure was seized by the government for the headquarters of the secret police, then called the Cheka. In Soviet Russian jokes, it was referred to as the tallest building in Moscow, since Siberia (a euphemism for the Gulag labour campsystem) could be seen from its basemen

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The Georgian affair

Georgia had been in the hands of the Mensheviks during the civil war. Lenin was assured by Stalin, who was Commissar of nationalities at the time, that a massive Bolshevik uprising had occured and the Mensheviks had been virtually overthrown by the georgian people. However, both Lenin and Trotsky were appalled when they later heard that heavy fighting was taking place and that people were supporting the mensheviks and 'independence'; the Bolsheviks/Communists were therefore engaged in ovethrowing an independent regime by force of arms

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The 12th Party congress

Lenin was unable to attend as a result of his illness. Ath the Congress a new enlarged Centeral Committee of 40 members was elected, only three of whom were supporters of Trotsky. Stalin used his powers as General Secretary to build up supporters at local level, so ensuring that his nominees are elected to future congress. 

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The murder of Romanovs in Yekateinberg

The tsar and his family were murdered at Yekateinburg in the Urals in july 1918. In theory, this was carried out by over-zealous local soviet officials, afraid that the Tsar would be rescued by the White armies and used as a figurehead. In practice, it is exteremely ulikely that Lenin did not authorise these assassinations, their bodies were drenched in acid and thrown into a disused mine shaft.

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1922 constitution

The USSR was formally established under the constitution but the difference was minimal. Although Lenin prevailed over Trotsky in creating a federation of republics, the states which made up the union were kept under very strict control. The governments of the Republics were regarded as regional branches of the Sovnarkom which could, when neccessary be coerced from the centre.

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Komsomol

The All-Leninist Union Young Communist league, the youth division of the ommunist Party which was represented in its own right in the Supreme Soviet. In 1926 the youth organisation was renamed the komsomol and the age range extended to include children from 10-28 years. However only 6% of eligible youth had joined at this stage.

It worked alongside the young pioneers. Young pioneers palaces were built which served as community centres fpr the children and summer and winter holiday camps were organised free of charge.

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The patriarch of the Orthodox church

The office of the patriarch of the Orthodox Church was abolished by Peter the Great in the eighteenth century, was revived in 1917. The patriarch was elected by a Church Council and the office was intended to strengthen the Church at a time of uncertainty.

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The League of the Godless

The League of the Godless was founded in 1925 to coordinate anti-religious propaganda. It tested bible stories against scientific knowldege and spread atheistic literature, bu the government remained wary of its activities and prefferred to weaken the hold of religion by less explicit means.

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Silver age of Russia literature

In the early years after the October revolution, cultural enterprise flourished in the new freer atmosphere the Bolsheviks brought. Although Lenin was personally a trafitionalist, freedom of expression was encouraged, as long as it did not express counter revolutionary sentiments. This stimulated artistic creativity and innovation and the 1920s became known as the 'silver age' of Russia literature and poetry.

The world of music also enjoyed new experimentation, inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the era.

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