Rebuilding Russia

In the early 1920’s Russia was recovering from the revolution and the following civil war. A famine was underway and the country was in disarray after the chaos of the last few years. In response the Soviet Union started enacting new policies to get the economy and the industrial section back on track. First they established the First Labor Army. This organization used men from the military to do labor in order to further the industrial sphere of Russia. The labor included coal, lumber, and others. It was enacted not only to further the industrial area of Russia but also to keep people alive. Russia was in the midst of a famine because of the disorder in the country. The workers in the factories were losing ground and a major act was necessary to turn things around. Also enacted was the New Economic Policy. In 1921 the Soviet Union changed the ways peasants were taxed. Instead of the grain requisitions, excess food was to be given to the government. As it became more common, this tax, in the form of supplies, transitioned into a monetary exchange. This policy was unusual for the Soviet government as usually exchange happened through the government rather than this people centered form. Both of these policies were criticized for their similarities to pre-revolution ideas. Many peasants believed that the labor army and the new form of taxation were too similar to serfdom. But these new policies fulfilled their purpose: rebuilding Russia.

3 thoughts on “Rebuilding Russia

  1. The similarities are striking between the taxation for the Soviet government as well as the dues between the serfs and lords. This shows a very telling theme in Russia where the majority of the population is sacrificing their food to the ones more powerful than they. Power was still exercised through limiting basic necessities to the population.

  2. These similarities were also apparent to me when I read the text. What struck me was that the laws did not provide a concrete explanation regarding how handling of the peasants’ surpluses. The tax in the NEP in the Countryside law is structured in a way that the government determines its sum based on its needs. The government has complete authority when deciding how much income it needs in order to fulfill its “needs,” which are broadly defined. Further, the law provides no concrete explanation regarding how the surplus of the peasants will actually be distributed to the organs of the government in need. Because Marx did not outline a plan after the revolution of the proletariat in his writings, the Bolsheviks did not have a concrete idea of how to progress after their own successful revolution. This law seemed to be the Soviet Government’s attempt at creating a loose outline for the unknown future of the country.

  3. Food for the peasants of the working class in Russia would have been worth more than money. The way that the NEP allows the government to determine its requisition of food based on its need shows the beginning of the Authoritarian Autarkic spiral that the country would become under Stalinism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *