New Economic Policy

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Summary

After 3 years of war communism, a mutiny in the Kronstaft naval base scared the Bolsheviks, and they realsied that they were pressing the people too hard.

Lenin - much to the annoyance of hard-line Communists - brought in the New Economic Policy, which allowed some free enterprise, and concentrated on simulating production. 

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Causes

  • In 1921, the sailors at the Kronstadt Naval Base mutinied 
  • They demanded free speech, free elections, free trade unions and an end to war communism 
  • Trotsky's Red Army put the mutiny down with great losses
  • The Mutiny scared the Bolsheviks because the Kronstadt sailors had been their greatest supporters
  • Lenin said later that the rebellion was "like a flash of lightening which threw more of a glare upon reality than anything else." 
  • So he abandoned the policy of War Communism and brought in the NEP
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National Freedoms

  • Lenin allowed freedom to national and Muslim cultures 
  • In the Ukraine, although the Bolsheviks were in power, the Ukrainian language was used in government and business and children were taught in schools.
  • In the Muslim areas of central Asia, bazaars were allowed to reopen, mosques were taken from Soviet control, the Koran was restored and native languages were encouraged. 
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Experts

  • Coal, iron, steel and railways stayed nationalised, but the Bolsheviks brought in experts (on high wages) to increase production 
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Private Enterprise

  • Small factories were handed back to their owners 
  • New traders (called "nepmen") were allowed to set up small private businesses 
  • At the same time - where War communism had forced the peasants to hand over all their surplus grain - Lenin let them sell their surplus, and pay a tax instead. 
  • Some hardworking peasants become rich - the Kulaks 
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Results

  • Some of the Politburo (the inner cabinet of the government) opposed the NEP because it allowed capitalism 
  • However, the NEP did something to restore prosperity - although production levels passed the 1914 levels in 1928. 
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