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Account For The Changes In The Policies Of The Communist Party In The Soviet Union From 1917 To 1921.

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The policies of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union underwent significant changes since the October Revolution in 1917 until 1921. These transformations were an outcome of the precarious political, social and economic state of post World War I Russia. The adaptations made to their policies were created as a method of ensuring communist power.

• 2 political hurdles had to be faced by the Bolshevik party вЂ" political survival and economic backwardness. These two problems gradually led them away from their original goals and force them to build a society similar to Tsarist Russia.

• The congress immediately passed 2 decrees on peace and land. The first proposed immediate negotiations to end the war and the second abolished private ownership of land.

• The new government did not command much power as they did not have a traditional machinery of power. There were no bureaucrats, soldiers or police whose obedience it could take for granted. When the new commissars entered the Tsarist ministries most officials refused to obey them.

• In the early months after October, the Bolsheviks took the aim of ruling through popular support rather than through a machinery of power.

• December 1917 they created a new police institution for the suppression of counter-revolution, sabotage and speculation.

• Lenin’s essay, “State and Revolution” stated that the socialist government would not be separate from or above the people.

• Soviet abolished all forms of legal discrimination based on sex in order to promote a classless society. Marriage Code of 1918 gave married women complete legal equality with their partners and made divorce easier. Within the Bolshevik party in 1919, the Zhenotdel was set up (a special women’s department).

• In 1920 the government legalised abortion.

• In early 1918 the decrees on land and peace earned the sympathy of most peasants and soldiers and the decrees on factory control consolidated proletariat support.

• There was the belief that the communist revolution would soon follow in other industrialised countries.

• In the Constituent Assembly in November 1917, Bolsheviks only received 24% of the vote. As the Bolshevik enemies also began to organise, the Bolsheviks realised they would need to adapt and change communist theory in order to build a new coercive machinery of power.

• In order to consolidate control of the country, the red army was created as a method of maintaining discipline and ensuring the loyalty of mainly “non-Bolshevik” military specialists.

• The government introduced compulsory military service for the working class and began to mobilise new Red Armies.

• Stricter discipline was reinforced as soldiers committees disappeared, ranks and harsh military discipline reappeared. Ie., death penalties for desertion were reintroduced.

• All counter-revolutionary newspapers were banned.

• In July 1918 the government issued the first Soviet constitution. This described the new governmental structure. On the face it seemed extremely democratic as elected soviets at all levels became the main organs of government. Each elected delegates to the next level of Soviets вЂ"district, provincial and republican. This was not democratic at all however as all socialist revolutionaries, Mensheviks and other non-Bolshevik parties were expelled from the soviet. This resulted in the communist party being the only organised group within the political structure.

• In June 1919, all factories were nationalised and workers were paid with rationed goods and private trade was abolished all together.

• In rural areas, the government regularised the system of food detachments.

• By the end of 1920 Russia was in such an intense state of economic collapse:

- The population of Petrograd dropped from 2m to 700, 000

- Hundreds of thousands of people died from famine and in some areas, cannibalism occurred

- Productivity had declined in all sectors of the economy

• By 1921 the communists had overthrown the old ruling group. Russia however is near a state of collapse and the Bolsheviks are proving to be increasingly isolated and unpopular. There are various uprisings in urban and rural areas.

• The peasants are no longer willing to tolerate food requisitioning detachments at this point and attempts to control or suppress free trade in grain.

• 118 separate peasant uprisings in various parts of the country.

• In March 1921 due to the Kronstadt uprising пÑ" Kronstradt had been one of the most loyal Bolshevik bases in 1917 which made their mutiny even more shocking for the government. The mutineers demanded the establishment of a democratic working-class government.

• The fighting in Kronstradt forced communists to realise the extent of the crisis they faced. They were unable to contain the internal discontent their methods had provoked among their working-class followers.

• Their ideas were challenged as well as their power and they were on the verge of being overthrown by that same working class. This is why



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