Carr, and Stephen Cohen have interpreted war communism as short-term expedient imposed on the Bolsheviks by the emergency demands of civil war and foreign intervention. According to this version, the system was never intended to last into normal peacetime conditions and had no special ideological significance. While this has since become “the standard account,” several well- informed economists writing in the sass, such as Boris Brutes and Leo Passbooks, viewed war communism in a much more ideological light as an attempt to realism Marx’ anti-market socialist or communist utopia.
The features of war communism ere that peasant land was seized and then nationalized, however the peasant’s control. As insufficient grain was reaching the cities the government introduced grain requisition, excess food was seized with Check support, it couldn’t be sold for a profit. Large scale businesses were nationalized without compensation; this was extended to all business with more than ten people by 1918. All private trade was abolished, and the government controlled food with ration cards and workers were paid through food rations.
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Workers were told when and where to work, often working up o ten hours a day, and strikes became illegal. The impact of War Communism was great on both the peasantry and the proletariat. Most peasants were prepared to burn their crops and kill their livestock rather than hand them over to the Check, however the dire consequences that resulted in doing this meant that many peasants did reluctantly hand them over. As the Check also took the seed grain an acute shortage of food and a great famine occurred during the period 1920-1921. Peasants resented these changes and there were many great uprisings during this period of time.
This included the peasant revolution led by Antaean and the Tomato region in 1921. Peasants that did not cooperate were sent to concentration camps and labor camps. The famine of 1921 caused peasants to flee urban centers in search of food. The impact on the peasants were that their livelihood was destroyed they had no way of feeding their families and hence dissatisfaction with the government grew. A wave of strikes in Perpetrated demanded the abolishment of grain requisitioning, freedom for peasant to run their own farm, a political prisoners.
War communism also caused dissatisfaction within the proletariat. They were unhappy about the extremely long working hours and the punishment they received simply for being late. Industrial production declined, as raw materials were not reaching the factories. Food shortages occurred and many starving workers went to the countryside to try and find food. Factories had to close down as raw materials and fuel was not reaching them. The disastrous towards the government by the proletariat was shown as membership of the proletariat to the Bolshevik party greatly clines during this period of time.
The great number of illegal strikes and demonstrations caused Lenin to rethink his policy of war communism in order to preserve the revolution. The solution to War Communism was done through the New Economic Policy (NEAP). The NEAP partly reintroduced capitalism as it was a return to small industries. The NEAP abolished requisitioning, concessions were given to the Skulks, who were allowed to sell their surplus after paying a tax, who could rent land for limited periods of time, hire labor for cultivation and choose what they grew.
It was a emitted return to the cash economy with cash given rather than the ticketing system in place and private ownership of factories were allowed. Small business owners (Newman) could purchase raw materials and sell their products but the state still had control of large scale heavy industries within its central planning regime. Lenin was quick to recognize that the peasants were very important stating that “Only the agreement with peasants can save the socialist revolution in Russia” hence the policy seemed to benefit the peasants more than the proletariat, whose lives the revolution as supposed to benefit.
When firstly introduced in 1921 the NEAP had no impact on the peasants as it was introduced too later for the 1921 sowing and severe droughts ruined crops in Central Russia and Volta area. This led to the great famine of 1921. However in the period 1922-1923 the harvests were so good, largely due to corn seedlings from the USA, that Russia was able to export a small amount of grain. With the new conditions peasants were able to diversify and produce vegetables and fruits. As a result of this the peasants; standard of living began to improve.
However agriculture still remained primitive and inefficient as peasants did not have the capital for investment, and peasants had a tendency to hoard food until prices were higher. This meant that although initial successes had been gained by 1926 production levels were only equal to that of 1913. Hence the NEAP had initial positive impacts on the peasants, however this was not so with the proletariat. Large industry was much slower to recover from the detrimental effects of war communism as was the proletariat, who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of the October Revolution.
Although major industries was owned by the government, ‘Red Mangers’ (former factory mangers) were employed to run nationalized industries. Government, as their methods seemed to be a reversal for what the revolution stood for. With demonstration there was a surplus of labor in town which caused unemployment and low wages at a time of rising agricultural prices. Industrial prices remained low so there was little profit and consequently little investment to expand industry. In the early years the proletariat questioned the NEAP more and more and hey suffered while the peasantry prospered.
The proletariat saw it as the “New Exploitation of the Proletariat”. In conclusion both War Communism and the NEAP had a great impact on the lives and livelihood of both the peasantry and the proletariat as described above. Whilst the NEAP caused a refreshing new outlook to the peasantry after the suffering under War Communism this was not so for the proletariat. Both policies were implemented to preserve the revolution and although the initial revolution was to benefit the proletariat, the preservation of the revolution benefited the peasants.