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Lenin's New Economic Policy: A Study Of Short And Long Term Viability

2337 words - 9 pages

The New Economic Policy instituted by Vladimir Lenin in 1922 was seen as a necessary evil in order to maintain power in the Soviet Union. While most historians agree with Lenin’s assessment and believe that without the change the entire Soviet economy would have collapsed there is a wide range of thoughts on the true effectiveness of the NEP. This paper will look at the progression of the NEP and the differing views Bolshevik leaders had on it as well as the perceived effectiveness of the limited free market policies adopted by these socialist leaders. It will also try to determine if NEP could have remained a viable option for the economy long term.
The New Economic Policy was in many ways a reactionary policy put forth because of widespread public disdain for War Communism (Richman 1981,92-93). War Communism was the set of policies enacted by the Bolsheviks from the time they took power in 1917 until the establishment of the NEP in 1921. Under War Communism private industry was essentially eliminated, farms were collectivized, industry and business were taken over by the government. The peasantry had not been very accepting of having the land they were so recently granted ownership of being taken away once again by the government. Because of this there was little motivation on farms to grow more than what was necessary for the family because they were seeing no benefit from a surplus of crops. Workers in cities were driven back out to the farms to avoid starvation and as a result production collapsed in the Soviet Union to below pre- WWI. War Communism saw a steady decline in popularity as the Civil war wound down but the final straw came with the Kronshtadt Rebellion in March of 1921. Then a force of sailors sympathetic to protesting peasants formed a Provisional Revolutionary Committee that looked to change the political climate in the Soviet Union. The sailors rallying cry “Soviets without Bolsheviks” reflected a growing anger at the Bolsheviks who since they had taken power had gone about taking over almost every aspect of the economy. Although Leon Trotsky was able to take down the revolutionaries with a force of his own the Bolsheviks knew that it was necessary to make changes. The Soviet Union, therefore, moved back toward Capitalism in an attempt to motivate the common people. The first step was only to replace the collectivization of food with a food tax allowing peasants to keep their surplus. But according to Lenin “the private market proved to strong for us.”(Davies, 1998). Over the course of the next few months, the Soviet Union continued its slide away from Socialism in order to reinvigorate the economy. The Bolsheviks made several concessions including selling or leasing many of the smaller factories, heavy industry stayed mainly under state control, back to private individuals and allowing them to once again make a profit. In conjunction with this, compulsory employment was also eliminated allowing employers to fire workers...

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