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Lenin’s view of economic polices in Russia between 1917 and 1923 was shaped by the factors of War Communism, and the New Economic Plan (NEP). Lenin realized that to have a successful economy and to keep the idea of equality in Communism there had to be a compromise; there needed to be a balance of state control and individual incentive for the economy to prosper. Through the failure of War Communism and the success of the economy and the drift away from Communism with the NEP; Lenin learned the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of a successful economy. Lenin described what the country needed to do to have a successful economy, he said, ” We have found that a degree of private commercial interest, with state supervision and control of that interest, is all we actually need… (doc. 5). This shows how both War Communism and the NEP were factors that shaped Lenin’s compromising idea of what a economy needed to be successful.
The War Communism policy was adopted to keep the Red Army supplied. During War Communism the government took control of industry, and told factories what to produce; and the government would take any grain that was produced by the farmers. The Cheka would steel the grain that the farmers produced, this made the farmers angry and they no longer had any incentive to grow crops because the crops would just be taken away from them. Also money became worthless, wages were paid in food or other goods, and many people bartered goods instead of using money. The situation for the farmers and the peasants got worse. By 1921 Russia’s economy was shattered. Industrial production had drastically decreased; and the cities were in chaos. Agriculture had been demolished. War Communism was put in affect to increase the productivity of both industrial goods and food, but the workers and farmers saw no point in putting in the effort if in the end it would be taken away from them.
War Communism led to the destruction of the economy of Russia. Lenin finally admitted that War Communism was a mistake, he said, “The small farmer needs a spur, and incentive that accords with his condition… We are very much to blame for having gone to far; we overdid the nationalization of industry and trade, clamping down on the local exchange of commodities. Was that a mistake? It certainly was. (doc. 4)” This quote is an example of how Lenin realized that he had made a mistake and this quote also shows that Lenin understands that the workers and farmers need an incentive to work; with an incentive the economy will grow. Lenin’s view of economic policies was greatly influenced by the failure of War Communism, and by the failure he was able to figure out another system that would revive Russia’s economy.
Lenin realized that to have a successful economy the people have to have the incentive to work. Lenin also knew that if he did not improve the economic state of Russia that the Communists would not survive; War Communism took the ‘safety net’ away from the Communists. Lenin had to act quickly to figure out another policy that would make the people want to work, and to revive the economy. In 1921 the NEP was created to fix the economy. Lenin created this new policy to try to burst the morale of the people and make them want to produce more grain or products. The transition form War Communism to the NEP was drastic, the people had to change there lives to fit this new, more capitalists society. Though the change to a more capitalist economy, the NEP was successful in ‘jump starting’ the farming production, for example. Lenin says, “Release of [surplus goods] into circulation would stimulate small farming, which is in terrible state…” (doc. 4) This is a great example of how Lenin realizes why he needs to change from the War Communism to the NEP, for a least one reason to increase the amount of grain produced.
The creation of the NEP changed many laws that were once holding Russia’s economy back. Grain requisitioning was stopped. Grain was no longer taken from the peasants. Also traders could buy and sell goods, which was illegal during War Communism. Smaller factories were returned to their former owners; and they were allowed to sell the goods they made and make a profit from them. Finally larger industries like coal and steel remained under state control; but some larger factories were able to sell their products. These were some of the main differences between War Communism and NEP. During the NEP the economy prospered, because people were now allowed to keep some of the goods they made and then sell them for their own profit. This made the people want to produce more so they could have more for their family.
Lenin described some of the good affects that the NEP had, he said, “We have achieved much with our requisitioning system. Our food policy has made it possible in the second year to acquire three times as much grain as in the first.” (doc. 2) Lenin was talking about the great increase in the production of grain, this great increase was directly related to the NEP; because the peasants could keep some of the grain they made which gave them an incentive to work hard. Communists were angry because they saw the country returning to capitalism. They did not like the fact that bosses of factories called kulacks could hire men to work for them.
Also Communists disliked the ‘Nepmen’, because they made a high profit by buying goods cheaply and then selling them for more. Though the NEP revived the economy, people, especially peasants were unhappy with the new capitalist society. Lenin’s view of economic policies was changed through the NEP, he knew that people need the incentive to work, but he also knew he could not give the people to much economic freedom; the idea of balancing the policy of War Communism and NEP was Lenin’s final view of how to keep the people happy and to sustain a great economy.