How the Economic Policies of Lenin Changed 1918-1924 Essay
Lenin changed his economic policies during the Civil War to introduce communism and to ensure he stayed in power. He enforced these changes using terror from the Cheka and Red Guard Lenin centralized the government because of the civil war as it meant that only one man was approving all orders from the army which made them more efficient. He centralized the economy to Moscow and introduced Gosplan, which was the central planning agency of Russia. Centralizing the economy helped to strengthen the economy and to improve orders to the army.
The effects of centralization were that you had more discipline so the command structure direct war more efficiently. There was victory for the one party state as all opposition moved. Lenin took advantage of this by creating the Politburo which reinforced power. To survive during the Civil War, Lenin introduced War Communism. It was introduced because of food shortages for the army and because it allowed Lenin to control supply food and it weekend the peasants. It was implemented to establish a communist economy which would increase political control.
War communism meant that private trading was banned and so peasants could no longer sell their surplus food for profit but had to give it to the government instead. To implement this, Lenin ordered squads to the countryside to seize food from unwilling peasants. It also meant that factories with more than ten workers were nationalized which meant that the state owned the factories. The workers were now also under state control and could be told where they were to work. War communism also meant rapid inflation which left money valueless and rents, railways and postal charges were abolished.
Russia now had a barter economy. War communism resulted in a dramatic increase in discontent of the peasantry, who also refused to grow any excess grain and began to revolt and rebel, the Kronstadt rebellion is an example of just how much discontent there was in Russia over War Communism. War Communism left Russia in starvation and famine. Lenin knew that he had to change the economy if he was to survive. In 1921, War Communism was scrapped and the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced.
NEP was Lenin’s concession to help him stay in power. It was enforced to combat the discontent and uprisings but also because Russia urgently needed more food and the peasants could not be forced to give any more grain. The NEP had four main features. Firstly, it meant the taking of grain was stopped but the peasant farmers would have to give to the government a set amount of grain each year in tax but if they produced any extra they could then sell it to the open market for profit. This gave them an incentive to produce more grain.
Secondly, traders were allowed to buy and well which was illegal under War Communism. Thirdly, small factories producing things which people could buy but were not essential to life were returned to their original owner and they could now sell goods to make a profit. Lastly, although small factories were returned to their original owners, larger factories that produced essential items remained under state control. Overall, Lenin’s New Economic policy was a step back from communism but had overcome many problems that Russia could not cope with while they were at War.