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Precursors to NEP

– Effects of Russian Civil War and War Communism
– Decline of industry and agriculture
– Leveling of society
– Gains by peasants – obtained all the land
– Suffering by workers
– Assumption of full control by Bolsheviks


1920-1: Disputes within the Bolsheviks

1920 – Democratic opposition

  • Workers demand democracy within the party
  • Demand control of the workplace

1921 – Kronstadt uprising

  • Free elections
  • Freedoms for workers and peasants
  • Soviets without Bolsheviks

1921 – NEP begins

1921 – Abandon war communism

  • Free trade in grain - tax in kind rather than expropriation)
  • Industry - encourage small-scale private enterprise
  • Effects on agriculture

  • Little government control
  • Peasants remain isolated, farming remains primitive
  • Some class distinctions (Bolsheviks exaggerate)
  • Kulaks disliked ideologically, feared for their potential political power (like the NEPmen)
  • Effects on industry and society

  • The NEPman
  • Private enterprise accounts for more than 50% of national income
  • Persistent high unemployment
  • Social class distinctions in the cities
  • Skilled received much higher wages than unskilled
  • Wealth in the midst of poverty
  • Changes in Justice

  • War Communism – "revolutionary justice"
  • Criminal Code of 1922
  • Heaviest penalties for "counter-revolutionary" rather than ordinary crimes
  • Concept of "wrecking"
  • Political issues

  • Primacy of the Party
  • Other organs (e.g., Soviets) lose significance
  • Central party machinery grows very powerful
  • Fundamental conflicts – interests of the peasants -v- workers
  • Repressing dissident views

  • 1920 Menshevik trial
  • 1922 Trial of Social Revolutionaries

1922: Struggle for Succession

Lenin incapacitated in 1922 (dies in 1924)


  • Commissar for Nationalities
  • 1922 – Chairman of Central Committee
  • Excellent politician, coalition builder
  • Established early "triumvirate" with Zinoviev and Kamenev
  • Trotsky

  • War hero, popular with lower levels
  • Jewish
  • Praised by Radek
  • Abrasive, doctrinaire, impractical
  • Intent on world revolution

1923: Left Opposition to Stalin ("Trotskyists")

1923 - Letter of the 46

  • Signed by Trotsky, Serebryakov, Piatakov, Smirnov…
  • Attacks bureaucratization, lack of democracy, top-down decisionmaking
  • Claims regime farther away from "worker's democracy" than during War Communism

1923-4: Left Opposition falters

December 1923 letter, articles - Trotsky calls for purge of bureaucrats

  • Hostile reception by triumvirate and others: is Trotsky splitting the Party?

1924 – 13th. Party Conference – Left Opposition condemned

  • Trotsky weakly defends, insists that no split intended
  • Trotsky attacked by Stalin and Zinoviev

1924-5: Left Opposition persists

Trotsky argues against Stalin's "Socialism in one country"

  • Contradicts NEP
  • Demands more pressure on "kulaks" and "capitalists"
  • Endorses forced industrialization
  • Criticizes Zinoviev's and Kamenev's acts in 1917
  • Left Oppositon censured, Trotsky relieved as commissar of war

NEP - Stalin and Bukharin

1924 - Full members of Politburo: Stalin, Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Tomsky, Trotsky

  • Bukharin allies with Stalin

Bukharin, an economist, becomes chief promoter of NEP

  • Urges relaxation of attitudes to middle peasants and Kulaks
  • Allied with Rykov

1924-5: New Opposition ("Zinovievists")

Zinoviev and Kamenev create a "New Opposition" against Stalin, Bukharin, Rykov

  • Accept Trotsky's concerns about Party democracy
  • Criticize "Kulakization" as a retreat by the "proletarian state"
  • Endorse concept of world revolution

1925: Party Congress repudiates the opposition

  • Kamenev reduced to candidate member of Politburo
  • Stalin brings in more supporters

1925-7: United Opposition (Trotskyists + Zinovievists)

Kamenev and Zinoviev ally with Trotsky

  • Also – Muralov, Pyatakov, Bakayev…

UO defeated

  • 1927: Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev expelled from Party CC
  • They attempt a demonstration – supporters arrested

1927-8: The Party Reacts

December 1927, 15th. Party Congress

  • Trotsky, Zinoviev expelled
  • Recommended for expulsion: Kamenev, Pyatakov, Radek, Smirnov…
  • Zinovievists capitulate

  • Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bakayev readmitted, later gain Party posts
  • Trotskyists do not

  • Trotsky gets internal exile, then deported in 1929
  • Radek exiled, capitulates in 1929

1928-9: Right Opposition

1928: Peasants hoard grain, demand better prices

    Stalin changes course to the Left

  • Demands expropriations
  • Endorses forced collectivization and rapid industrialization
  • Bukharin, supported by Rykov and Tomsky, oppose

  • Warn of rupture between peasants and workers
  • Emphasize incentives rather than coercion
  • Strive to expand and improve NEP

1929-30: Stalin triumphs

1929: Bukharin, Tomsky and Rykov publish the "platform of the three"

  • Criticize Stalin, offer alternative economic and political program
  • Accuse Stalin of "military-feudal exploitation of the peasantry"

Stalin and supporters criticize Right Deviation as defenders of capitalism

  • 1930-31 political campaign against the Rightists
  • They lose influence, capitulate