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Communism in Russia

Communism in Russia

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Communism in Russia

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  1. Communism in Russia SOC 30-1 Readings: Chapter 5 – parts on Russia SOC 30-2 Readings: Chapter 7, pg. 161-172

  2. Nature of Totalitarian (Dictatorship) Regimes: • Totalitarian regimes are responding to what they see as dangerous and destabilizing changes • Existing society is in need of a complete transformation • In the case of the Soviet Union, it became Radical • The change desired is a move toward the far left of the economic spectrum (a classless society with state [public] ownership of property) and a COMPLETE REJECTION of the political and economic traditions of the past

  3. Nature of Totalitarian (Dictatorship) Regimes: • Just like liberalism, dictatorships are simply ideologies • The focus is about control over your citizens • Control is maintained through: • Extensive local, regional, and national organizations • Youth, professional, cultural and athletic groups (forced participation) • A secret police, using terror • Indoctrination through education • Censorship of the media • Redirecting popular discontent (scapegoating)

  4. Nature of Totalitarian (Dictatorship) Regimes: • If Liberalism embraces… • Law • Individual Rights and Freedoms • Private Property • Self Interest • Economic Freedom • Competition • Then dictatorships reject some of these principles • But which ones…?

  5. Factors that led to the Communist Revolution in 1917 Weakness of Tsar Nicholas II Failure of the Duma Discontent of the workers Failures during WWI Rasputin and Scandal Opposition of the Communists February Revolution, 1917

  6. Weakness of Tsar Nicholas II • Was the absolute monarch of Russia. He had total power • Nicholas II was a weak man • His secret police, the Okrana, were used to persecute opponents • Books and newspapers censored • The Church supported the Tsar • Nicholas II ruled a vast country that was almost medieval compared to other countries • His undemocratic government also caused tension

  7. Failure of the Duma • In 1905, Russia lost a war with Japan • The defeat caused strikes throughout Russia • Nicholas II offered to call the Duma, or parliament, with free elections • When the Duma met, it began to criticize the Tsar and demanded the changes. Nicholas II didn’t like this • The Duma was dismissed and new elections, controlled by the Tsar were called • It became clear that the Duma would be shut down if it criticized the Tsar – as long as the Tsar had control of the army, his power could not be broken.

  8. Workers’ Discontent • Industrialization began much later in Russia than in Western Europe • Huge iron foundries, textile factories, and engineering firms were set up • Most were owned by the government or foreigners • By 1900, 20% of Russians were workers living in cities • Working conditions in towns was very hard, pay was low • Illegal strikes often took place, with strikers being shot by the Tsar’s soldiers or even secret police ‘The whole day we pour out our blood and sweat. Every minute we are exposed to danger.’ -Union leaflet 1898

  9. Workers’ Discontent • Traditionally, Russia was a rural society with over 90% of the people being poor peasants • Until 1861, peasants had belonged to their masters, who could buy and sell them like animals • When the peasants were freed in 1861, they were given small amounts of land for which they had to pay back the government • Most peasants were in a state of poverty. Agriculture was in desperate need of modernization • In contrast, a small number of upper-class people held most of the wealth and power. This aristocracy had large town houses and country estates

  10. Russian Failures in WWI • Russia fought very well early on in the war • In 1915, Tsar Nicholas II assumed personal command of the Russian forces • Risky- any defeats would be blamed on him • It turned out that he was a poor commander • The Russian army lost confidence in him after a string of defeats • The Russian soldiers were poorly equipped and trained; thousands deserted • Lacked basic items such as rifles and ammunition • Without the support of the army, the Tsar’s position became precarious

  11. Rasputin and Scandal • While Nicholas II was commanding the Russian forces, he left the day-to-day running of Russia to his wife: Tsarina Alexandra • Alexandra came under the influence of Gregory Rasputin • Seen as a ‘holy man’ • Was apparently able to heal the hemophilia of Prince Alexis, the heir to the throne • Rasputin used his power to win effective control of the Russian government • This aroused envy and he was murdered in 1916 • Rasputin’s influence undermined the prestige of the royal family

  12. Opposition of the Communists • Many middle-class Liberals and social revolutionaries who supported the peasants opposed the Tsar • But the social democrats/communists were the most revolutionary • Russian Communists are divided into two groups • Bolsheviks – led by Lenin • Believed that a small party of Bolsheviks should seize power and control Russia on behalf of the people • Mensheviks – led by Trotsky • Before 1917, Lenin and many other communist leaders were in exile abroad, plotting revolution

  13. February & October Revolutions, 1917 • Russia did so poorly in WWI that a spontaneous uprising occurred in February • Sparked by food riots, poor working conditions, and failure to win the war • The Russian army refused to shoot at the demonstrators and joined forces with them • Lenin, in exile in Switzerland, raced to Petrograd so that he could attempt to seize control of the revolution • In March 1917, the Tsar was forced to abdicate and a provisional government was set up • Lenin believed that this new government was weak and would not impose communism on the Russian people • In October 1917, Lenin led an armed uprising against the Provisional Government

  14. How did Lenin impose Communist control between 1917-1924? Abandoning the Constituent Assembly The Cheka Success of the New Economic Policy The Kronstadt Revolt, 1921 War Communism Execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918 Civil War: 1918-1921 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 1918

  15. Abandonment of the Constituent Assembly, 1917 • Immediately after the October Revolution, Lenin promised to hold elections for a parliament to be known as the Constituent Assembly • Lenin renamed the Bolshevik Party as the Communist Part in order to win wider support. • However, the Communists only won 175/700 seats – not enough for a majority • Therefore Lenin shut down the Constituent Assembly after only one day! • Lenin was not prepared to share power with anyone. This was the first step in setting up a Communist dictatorship

  16. The Cheka (secret police) • In December 1917, Lenin created the Cheka • Cheka agents spied on the Russian people in factories and villages • Anyone suspected of being anti-Communist could be arrested, tortured, and executed without a trial • When opponents tried to assassinate Lenin in 1918, he launched the Red Terror campaign against his enemies • Estimated 50,000 people were arrested and executed in this period

  17. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 1918 • To impose Communist control, Lenin needed to bring Russia out of WWI • The Russian army was weakened by poor morale, desertions, and a lack of discipline. It could not resist the Germans • In March 1918, Russia signed a humiliating peace treaty with Germany • Russia lost a huge amount of Western lands, including 1/6 of its population (60 million people!) • Also lost ¾ of its iron & coal mines, and over ¼ of its best farmland! • The Treaty came at a high price, but Lenin knew he could not defeat Germany and his opponents in Russia at the same time

  18. Russia Treaty ofBrest-Litovsk1918 Estonia . Latvia Lithuania Germany Ukraine Brest-Litovsk Russian territory ceded to Germany

  19. Civil War: 1918-1921 • Two groups • “Reds” – Lenin & the Communists • “Whites” – aristocrats, royalists, churchmen, army officers, many others • Also supported by Britain, France, Japan, and the USA; countries alarmed at the possible spread of Communism • The Reds managed to win the civil war. How? • The Whites were divided, while the Reds controlled the key cities, industrial centers, and communication links • Leon Trotsky’s tough leadership of the new Red Army also proved to be a decisive advantage

  20. Japanese armies Finns Czechs (ex-prisoners of war) Communist Russia besieged during the Civil War 1918-1921 • Petrograd • Moscow Allied armies White Russian armies Polish armies

  21. Civil War: 1918-1921 • Leon Trotsky – founder and commander of the Red Army • “Every scoundrel who incites anyone to retreat or to desert will be shot!” • “Every soldier who throws away his rifle will be shot!”

  22. Execution of Tsar Nicholas II • After abdicating the throne, Nicholas II and his family were arrested and sent to Siberia • In July 1918, the Romanovs were in Ekaterinburg, with a White army closing in on the town • Local communists were worried that the Tsar might be a rallying point for the Whites • Thus the Tsar, his wife, their five children, and four attendants were shot and bayoneted

  23. Lenin's New Economic Policies Lenin replaced War Communism with his NEP in 1921 He never saw it as a permanent policy, but as a temporary retreat from socialism that would give Russia a chance to recover economically and socially

  24. New Economic Policy • Provisions • State retained ownership in large industry • Private enterprise allowed in small industries and retail trade • Peasants freed from forced requisitions • Had to pay tax in kind to the government, but were otherwise free to sell the rest of their produce on the free market • Farmers given a strong incentive to produce more • The NEP was a tremendous success and it quickly revived the Russian economy

  25. New Economic Policies • “Dangers” • 75% of all retail trade fell into private hands during the NEP • Caused the rise of “Nepmen” • It was feared that they would become the new “bourgeoisie” • Caused the rise of “kulaks” • Peasants had grown wealthy because of private enterprise provisions of the NEP • Debate over the NEP would become linked to the power struggle after Lenin’s death

  26. Ban on “Factions” • In response to criticisms of the NEP, Lenin and Politburo ban all “factions” in 1922 • Any party member who joined others to oppose or criticize any party policy would be expelled • Stalin would later use this policy to eliminate rivals • Leaders who would later suffer because of this policy all voted for it in 1922

  27. The Close of Lenin's Life Lenin suffered a series of increasingly serious strokes between 1921 and 1924. These left him speechless and paralyzed. He also made two mistakes 1) Supported the ban on factions 2) Appointed Josef Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party

  28. Lenin Moves to get rid of Stalin • Lenin discovered that Stalin had used terror and murder to stifle peaceful opposition of local communist leaders in Georgia • Lenin criticized Stalin’s “Moscow chauvinism” and began to meet with Trotsky to kick Stalin out of the party • Stalin learned of the meeting and berated Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, when she would not let him meet with Lenin

  29. Lenin’s Last Testament • Began in 1922 – Lenin did not name a successor, but offered his personal evaluation of all possible candidates • Stalin: should be replaced with someone “more patient, more loyal, more courteous, and less capricious” • Trotsky: most pre-eminent member of the party but suffered from excessive self-confidence and highhandedness • Highly praised NicholasBukharinand FelixPyatokov • No one was fit to succeed him • He wanted Trotsky and several other party members to form a caretaker government until Bukharin and Pyatokov were ready to take over

  30. Death of Lenin • Lenin took final steps to eliminate Stalin • But a final stroke on March 10, 1924 completely paralyzes Lenin before he could get rid of Stalin • Lenin died in early 1924 at the age of 54

  31. Death of Lenin • When Lenin died, he had been very successful in imposing a communist dictatorship in Russia • He had defeated all of his opponents and established a strong communist government • As each of the areas formerly belonging to the Tsar came under communist control, they were turned into socialist republics • In 1923, these became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) • But, Lenin failed to provide a clear successor on his death. This led to four years of bitter struggle

  32. Power Struggle:Stalin VS Trotsky

  33. Stalin VS Trotsky • After Lenin’s death, a four-year power struggle emerged as to who would lead the Communist party • Trotsky believed that under his leadership, Russia would become a catalyst for the spread of Communism across the world • He had also been very successful as the commander of the Red Army and appeared to have Lenin’s support • Stalin had not played a significant part in the Revolution of 1917, but had since gained a number of key posts in the Communist party • Stalin had no interest in international communism; he wanted to make Russia strong, with himself at its head

  34. Reason’s for Stalin’s Success • Stalin’s strong position • As General Secretary of the Communist party, Stalin had the job of appointing posts in the party • He could remove opponents and replace them with supporters • He was also popular since he wanted to concentrate on turning Russia into a modern, powerful state • Trotsky was much less popular • He had been a Menshevik and had only joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 • He gradually lost positions during the struggle and was forced into exile in 1929 • Stalin had him assassinated in Mexico in 1940 • Other leading figures of 1917: Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Bukharin were also removed by Stalin

  35. Stalin’s Dictatorship:Purges & Propaganda • Even with his opponents removed, Stalin felt insecure • He conducted a policy of purges between 1934-1938 • Millions arrested, executed, or sent to labour camps • Stalin used the NKVD, secret police, to undertake the “Great Terror”. Stalin purged: • 90% of the army’s top officers • Every navy admiral • 1 million Communist Party members • 20 million+ ordinary Russians • He also encouraged a cult of personality – propaganda was used to make people constantly aware of Stalin

  36. A foreigner describes the glorification of Stalin in the USSR “Stalin’s face is everywhere. His name is spoken by everyone. His praises are sung in every speech. Every room I entered had a portrait of Stalin hanging on the wall. Is it love or fear? I do not know.

  37. Socialism in One Country • Stalin’s victory also had an ideological component • Of three possible views, only his had the most attraction for rank-and-file party members • Communist Right: told people to bide their time to become powerful (Bukharin) • Communist Left: made Russia and its revolution seem ineffective and unimportant (Trotsky) • Only Stalin offered a program and goal that could be achieved by Soviets • To underline this point, the 15th Party Congress also adopted measures that ended the NEP and began a new era of Five-Year Plans

  38. Stalin's Five Year Plans Overview: Made Russia a great industrial nation Russia was 5th in industrial production in 1928 It became neck-and-neck with the USA in 1980! New system of collective farming introduced A vast social transformation a accompanied the economic changes

  39. Reasons for giving up the NEP • NEP viewed as a temporary retreat from socialism • Unacceptable to most Communists • Industry had gained prewar levels, but future growth depended on massive investment • Peasants felt state prices were too low and refused to sell, and felt prices were manufactured products were too high and refused to buy • Five-Year Plans would fix the situation by ensuring a steady supply of food at low prices and squeezing necessary capital for industrial growth out of peasants • Stalin knew that war with Germany and Japan was inevitable • Victory depended on absolute control of population and industrial strength • Five-Year Plans would collectivize agriculture and put peasants in centralized areas where they could be watched and would increase industrial production

  40. First Five Year Plan (1928-1932) • Projected that industrial production would increase by 200% • Emphasis on heavy industry • Investment capital would come from collective farms • 20% of agricultural production would be performed on collective farms • Large consolidated blocs of land made up of formerly independent peasant smallholdings • Peasants would live and work together on these farms and equally share income from them

  41. Collective Farms: Advantages • Would halt growth of “petty capitalist mentalities” among peasants • Would make the peasants easier to watch and educate them • Increased productivity through mechanization • Creation of large industrial workforce – increased mechanization has fewer peasants farming • Provide Capital for industrial development • State would pay farms 1/8 market value for products • Difference diverted into industry • Farmer would also pay sales tax and this would be invested into industry

  42. Collectivization Gets Rough • Collectivization was supposed to be voluntary • But it was clear that peasants would not voluntarily give up their small parcels of land • Stalin then abruptly announced the abandonment of his 20% collectivization goal and states that ALL peasants would be collectivized – by force if needed • Also announced his intention to liquidate all kulaks • Thousands of kulaks had their property and possession confiscated • Many sent to labour camps or deported to Siberia • All this was done with a great deal of armed force

  43. Very High Price of Collectivization • 98% of all farmland collectivized by 1941 • Peasants slaughtered livestock – huge drop in # of sheep, cattle, and hogs • Urban communist party members sent to manage farms • Ignorant of agriculture • Huge drop in agricultural famine • Famine hits again in 1932-33 • Crime of “pilfering” imposed on starving peasants who stole their own grain • At least 5 million people died during collectivization

  44. Industry • The Industrial labour force doubled during the first Five Year Plan • Peasants were moving to cities • Uncooperative factory managers who argued that goals were too high were imprisoned and replaced with more enthusiastic men and women • Stalin declared the Plan fulfilled in 1932 • All targets were under fulfilled, but production had drastically increased • Coal & iron by 200% (target of 300% though)

  45. First Five Year Plan • The most glaring shortfall occurred in consumer goods • Targets had been low to begin with, but they were still not met • Textile production actually declined • Urban housing went from bad to abysmal • Waste, chaos, and mismanagement accompanied rapid industrialization • Expensive equipment was ruined by trying to produce too much too fast, or by using untrained workers • Blame was put on “saboteurs” • Often technically educated men of pre-1917 generation

  46. Second Five Year Plan (1933-1937) • Had to be scaled down after one year • Realization that a limit had been reached as to what the economy could do and what people could take • Emphasis placed on improvement of efficiency and improving living standards • Things got better for three years and then leveled off • Due to increased emphasis on military production and chaos of the Great Purges

  47. Third Five Year Plan (1938-1942) • Projected 200% increase in production and increase in consumer products • Neither goal is fulfilled • The outbreak of WWII causes an oil shortage and severe labour shortage • Main goal had been achieved by 1941: • Although demoralized and exhausted, the Soviet Union had become one of the world’s great industrial superpowers

  48. Problems Of Centralization • Huge planning bureaucracy • Tons of paperwork • Stalin interfered with planning & caused problems • Hired flunkies who gave him the numbers he wanted • No one would point out the mistakes, thereby guaranteeing that when a mistake was made, it would be a giant one • Centralized planning failed to make the Soviet Union competitive in the world marketplace

  49. Effects of Stalin’s Rule on men and women Pro’s Con’s • Schools built • Social insurance schemes introduced • Russia became a modern industrial country • Millions suffered in Stalin’s purges • Brutality, persecution, executions, forced labour • Millions died of starvation and over-work • Shops empty, clothes dull and badly made • Household items difficult to find

  50. The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) • When Germany attacked the USSR in 1941, Stalin used the same ruthlessness to defend his country • This defense was the bloodiest war in history and cost millions of lives and the destruction of thousands of villages, towns and cities • The final victory was, like everything else, attributed to Stalin by the Soviet propaganda machine • After the war, Stalin built up the USSR as a superpower, in opposition to the USA • This conflict is known as the Cold War • Stalin died in 1953 Long live the great Stalin 1938