February - October "Dual Power" (dvoevlastie) - 100 years from the Russian Revolution

At the beginning of February, Petrograd workers began several strikes and demonstrations. On 7 March (O.S. 22 February), workers at Putilov, Petrograd's largest industrial plant, announced a strike.

The next day, a series of meetings and rallies were held for International Women's Day, which gradually turned into economic and political gatherings. Demonstrations were organised to demand bread, and these were supported by the industrial working force who considered them a reason for continuing the strikes. The women workers marched to nearby factories bringing out over 50,000 workers on strike. By 10 March (O.S. 25 February), virtually every industrial enterprise in Petrograd had been shut down, together with many commercial and service enterprises. Students, white-collar workers and teachers joined the workers in the streets and at public meetings.

To quell the riots, the Tsar looked to the army. At least 180,000 troops were available in the capital, but most were either untrained or injured. Historian Ian Beckett suggests around 12,000 could be regarded as reliable, but even these proved reluctant to move in on the crowd, since it included so many women. It was for this reason that when, on 11 March (O.S. 26 February), the Tsar ordered the army to suppress the rioting by force, troops began to mutiny. 

Although few actively joined the rioting, many officers were either shot or went into hiding; the ability of the garrison to hold back the protests was all but nullified, symbols of the Tsarist regime were rapidly torn down around the city, and governmental authority in the capital collapsed – not helped by the fact that Nicholas had prorogued the Duma that morning, leaving it with no legal authority to act. The response of the Duma, urged on by the liberal bloc, was to establish a Temporary Committee to restore law and order; meanwhile, the socialist parties establish the Petrograd Soviet to represent workers and soldiers. The remaining loyal units switched allegiance the next day.

The Tsar directed the royal train back towards Petrograd, which was stopped 14 March (O.S. 1 March), by a group of revolutionaries at Malaya Vishera. When the Tsar finally arrived at in Pskov, the Army Chief Nikolai Ruzsky, and the Duma deputees Guchkov and Vasily Shulgin suggested in unison that he abdicate the throne. He did so on 15 March [O.S. 2 March], on behalf of himself, and then, having taken advice, on behalf of his son, the Tsarevich. Nicholas nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, to succeed him. 

But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on 16 March (O.S. 3 March), stating that he would take it only if that was the consensus of democratic action. Six days later, Nicholas, no longer Tsar and addressed with contempt by the sentries as "Nicholas Romanov", was reunited with his family at the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. He was placed under house arrest with his family by the Provisional Government.

The immediate effect of the February Revolution was a widespread atmosphere of elation and excitement in Petrograd. On 16 March (O.S. 3 March), a provisional government was announced. The center-left was well represented, and the government was initially chaired by a liberal aristocrat, Prince Georgy Yevgenievich Lvov, a member of the Constitutional Democratic party (KD). The socialists had formed their rival body, the Petrograd Soviet (or workers' council) four days earlier. The Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government competed for power over Russia.

The effective power of the Provisional Government was challenged by the authority of an institution that claimed to represent the will of workers and soldiers and could, in fact, mobilize and control these groups during the early months of the revolution – the Petrograd Soviet (Council) of Workers' Deputies. The model for the soviet were workers' councils that had been established in scores of Russian cities during the 1905 Revolution. 

In February 1917, striking workers elected deputies to represent them and socialist activists began organizing a citywide council to unite these deputies with representatives of the socialist parties. On 27 February, socialist Duma deputies, mainly Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, took the lead in organizing a citywide council. The Petrograd Soviet met in the Tauride Palace, the same building where the new government was taking shape.

The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet believed that they represented particular classes of the population, not the whole nation. They also believed Russia was not ready for socialism. So they saw their role as limited to pressuring hesitant "bourgeoisie" to rule and to introduce extensive democratic reforms in Russia (the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, guaranteed civil rights, a democratic police and army, abolition of religious and ethnic discrimination, preparation of elections to a constituent assembly, and so on). They met in the same building as the emerging Provisional Government not to compete with the Duma Committee for state power but to best exert pressure on the new government, to act, in other words, as a popular democratic lobby.

The relationship between these two major powers was complex from the beginning and would shape the politics of 1917. The representatives of the Provisional Government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies", though they were also determined to prevent "interference in the actions of the government", which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power."
In fact, this was precisely what was being created, though this "dual power" (dvoevlastie) was the result less of the actions or attitudes of the leaders of these two institutions than of actions outside their control, especially the ongoing social movement taking place on the streets of Russia’s cities, in factories and shops, in barracks and in the trenches, and in the villages.

                                              Soviet meeting germains troop 1917
A series of political crises – see the chronology below – in the relationship between population and government and between the Provisional Government and the soviets (which developed into a nationwide movement with a national leadership, The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK)) undermined the authority of the Provisional Government but also of the moderate socialist leaders of the Soviet.

Although the Soviet leadership initially refused to participate in the "bourgeois" Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky, a young and popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRP), agreed to join the new cabinet, and became an increasingly central figure in the government, eventually taking leadership of the Provisional Government. As minister of war and later Prime Minister, Kerensky promoted freedom of speech, released thousands of political prisoners, did his very best to continue the war effort and even organised another offensive (which, however, was no more successful than its predecessors). 

Nevertheless, Kerensky still faced several great challenges, highlighted by the soldiers, urban workers and peasants, who claimed that they had gained nothing by the revolution:
-  Other political groups were trying to undermine him.
-  Heavy military losses were being suffered on the front.
- The soldiers were dissatisfied and demoralised and had started to defect. (On 
   arrival back in Russia, these soldiers were either imprisoned or sent straight back 
   into the front.)
- There was enormous discontent with Russia's involvement in the war, and many 
   were calling for an end to it.
- There were great shortages of food and supplies, which was difficult to remedy 
    because of the wartime economic conditions.

The political group that proved most troublesome for Kerensky, and would eventually overthrow him, was the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin had been living in exile in neutral Switzerland and, due to democratization of politics after the February Revolution, which legalized formerly banned political parties, he perceived the opportunity for his Marxist revolution.
                                              Bolshevik parade in the red square 1917

                         1917 Parade in Vladivostok. Usa, British and Japanese troops

Although return to Russia had become a possibility, the war made it logistically difficult. Eventually, German officials arranged for Lenin to pass through their territory, hoping that his activities would weaken Russia or even – if the Bolsheviks came to power – led to Russia's withdrawal from the war. Lenin and his associates, however, had to agree to travel to Russia in a sealed train: Germany would not take the chance that he would foment revolution in Germany. After passing through the front, he arrived in Petrograd in April 1917.

With Lenin's arrival, the popularity of the Bolsheviks increased steadily. Over the course of the spring, public dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government and the war, in particular among workers, soldiers and peasants, pushed these groups to radical parties. Despite growing support for the Bolsheviks, buoyed by maxims that called most famously for "all power to the Soviets," the party held very little real power in the moderate-dominated Petrograd Soviet. 

In fact, historians such as Sheila Fitzpatrick have asserted that Lenin's exhortations for the Soviet Council to take power were intended to arouse indignation both with the Provisional Government, whose policies were viewed as conservative, and the Soviet itself, which was viewed as subservient to the conservative government. By some historians' accounts, Lenin and his followers were unprepared for how their groundswell of support, especially among influential worker and soldier groups, would translate into real power in the summer of 1917.

Soviets attacking the Czar's police in the early days of the March Revolution
On 18 June, the Provisional Government launched an attack against Germany that failed miserably. Soon after, the government ordered soldiers to go to the front, reneging on a promise. The soldiers refused to follow the new orders. The arrival of radical Kronstadt sailors – who had tried and executed many officers, including one admiral – further fueled the growing revolutionary atmosphere. The sailors and soldiers, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviets." 

The revolt, however, was disowned by Lenin[24] and the Bolshevik leaders and dissipated within a few days. In the aftermath, Lenin fled to Finland under threat of arrest while Trotsky, among other prominent Bolsheviks, was arrested. The July Days confirmed the popularity of the anti-war, radical Bolsheviks, but their unpreparedness at the moment of revolt was an embarrassing gaffe that lost them support among their main constituent groups: soldiers and workers.

The Bolshevik failure in the July Days proved temporary. The Bolsheviks had undergone a spectacular growth in membership. Whereas, in February 1917, the Bolsheviks were limited to only 24,000 members, by September 1917 there were 200,000 members of the Bolshevik faction.[25] Previously, the Bolsheviks had been in the minority in the two leading cities of Russia - St. Petersburg and Moscow behind the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, by September the Bolsheviks were in the majority in both cities. Furthermore, the Bolshevik-controlled Moscow Regional Bureau of the Party also controlled the Party organizations of the thirteen (13) provinces around Moscow. These thirteen provinces held 37% of Russia's population and 20% of the membership of the Bolshevik faction.

In August, poor or misleading communication led General Lavr Kornilov, the recently appointed Supreme Commander of Russian military forces, to believe that the Petrograd government had already been captured by radicals, or was in serious danger thereof. In response, he ordered troops to Petrograd to pacify the city. To secure his position, Kerensky had to ask for Bolshevik assistance. He also sought help from the Petrograd Soviet, which called upon armed Red Guards to "defend the revolution". 

The Kornilov Affair failed largely due to the efforts of the Bolsheviks, whose influence over railroad and telegraph workers proved vital in stopping the movement of troops. With his coup failing, Kornilov surrendered and was relieved of his position. The Bolsheviks' role in stopping the attempted coup further strengthened their position.

In early September, the Petrograd Soviet freed all jailed Bolsheviks and Trotsky became chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. Growing numbers of socialists and lower-class Russians viewed the government less and less as a force in support of their needs and interests. The Bolsheviks benefited as the only major organized opposition party that had refused to compromise with the Provisional Government, and they benefited from growing frustration and even disgust with other parties, such as the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who stubbornly refused to break with the idea of national unity across all classes.
In Finland, Lenin had worked on his book State and Revolution and continued to lead his party, writing newspaper articles and policy decrees. By October, he returned to Petrograd (St. Petersburg), aware that the increasingly radical city presented him no legal danger and a second opportunity for revolution. Recognising the strength of the Bolsheviks, Lenin began pressing for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky government by the Bolsheviks. 

Lenin was of the opinion that taking power should occur in both St. Petersburg and Moscow simultaneously, parenthetically stating that it made no difference which city rose up first, but expressing his opinion that Moscow may well rise up first. The Bolshevik Central Committee drafted a resolution, calling for the dissolution of the Provisional Government in favor of the Petrograd Soviet. The resolution was passed 10 - 2 (Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev prominently dissenting) and the October Revolution began.
The October Revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin and was based upon Lenin's writing on the ideas of Karl Marx, a political ideology often known as Marxism -
 Leninism. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the 20th century. It was far less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.

Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since Lenin was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's organization and direction that led the revolution, merely spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party. Critics on the Right have long argued that the financial and logistical assistance of German intelligence via their key agent, Alexander Parvus was a key component as well, though historians are divided, since there is little evidence supporting that claim.

On 7 November 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led his leftist revolutionaries in a revolt against the ineffective Provisional Government (Russia was still using the Julian calendar at the time, so period references show a 25 October date). The October revolution ended the phase of the revolution instigated in February, replacing Russia's short-lived provisional parliamentary government with government by soviets, local councils elected by bodies of workers and peasants. Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Army, immediately went to war against the Bolsheviks' Red Army, in a series of battles that would become known as the Russian Civil War.

Soviet membership was initially freely elected, but many members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, anarchists, and other leftists created opposition to the Bolsheviks through the soviets themselves. When it became clear that the Bolsheviks had little support outside of the industrialized areas of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, they simply barred non-Bolsheviks from membership in the soviets. 

Not surprisingly, this caused mass domestic tension with many individuals who called for another series of political reform, revolting, and calling for "a third Russian revolution," a movement that received a significant amount of support. The most notable instances of this anti-Bolshevik mentality were expressed in the Tambov rebellion, 1919 - 1921, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March 1921. 

These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually defeated along with the White Army during the Civil War.


General Secretary - 100 years from the Russian Revolution

Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. In the years following the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin rose to become the leader of the Soviet Union.

After growing up in Georgia, Stalin conducted discreet activities for the Bolshevik Party for twelve years before the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, Stalin took military positions in the Russian Civil War and the Polish-Soviet War. 
Stalin was one of the Bolsheviks' chief operatives in the Caucasus and grew close to Lenin, who saw him as a tough character, and a loyal follower capable of getting things done behind the scenes. Stalin played a decisive role in engineering the 1921 Red Army invasion of Georgia, adopting a particularly hardline approach to opposition. 

Stalin's connections helped him to gain influential positions behind the scenes in the new Soviet government, eventually being appointed General Secretary in 1922. In 1922, a stroke forced Lenin into semi-retirement, while Lenin grew critical of Stalin in late 1922 and early 1923, recommending Stalin's dismissal from the post of General Secretary. However, a very debilitating stroke in March 1923 ended Lenin's political career. In the years following, opponents of Stalin, most notably Leon Trotsky, became isolated politically and were sidelined from the government by Stalin. Eventually, this led Stalin to become the uncontested highest leader of the Party and the Soviet Union.

Before his 1913-1917 exile in Siberia, Stalin was one of the Bolshevik operatives in the Caucasus, organising cells, spreading propaganda, and raising money through criminal activities. Stalin eventually earned a place in Lenin's inner circle and the highest echelons of the Bolshevik hierarchy. His pseudonym, Stalin, means "man of the steel hand". The October Revolution took place in the Russian capital of Petrograd on 7 November 1917 (O.S. 25 October 1917), which saw the transfer of all political power to the Soviets.

In the Russian Civil War that followed, Stalin forged connections with various Red Army generals and eventually acquired military powers of his own. He brutally suppressed counter-revolutionaries and bandits. After winning the civil war, the Bolsheviks moved to expand the revolution into Europe, starting with Poland, which was fighting the Red Army in Ukraine. As joint commander of an army in Ukraine and later in Poland itself, Stalin's actions in the war were later criticized by many, including Leon Trotsky.
In late 1920, with the crises in society following the Russian Civil War, Trotsky argued for the trade unions to be incorporated more and more into the workers' state, and for the workers' state to completely control the industrial sectors. Lenin's position was one where the trade unions were subordinate to the workers' state, but separate, with Lenin accusing Trotsky of "bureaucratically nagging the trade unions". 

Fearing a backlash from the trade unions, Lenin asked Stalin to build a support base in the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate (Rabkrin) against bureaucratism. Lenin's faction eventually prevailed at the Tenth Party Congress in March 1921. Frustrated by the squabbling factions within the Communist Party during what he saw as a time of crisis, Lenin convinced the Tenth Congress to pass a ban on any opposition to official Central Committee policy (the Ban on Factions, a law which Stalin would later exploit to expel his enemies).

Stalin played a decisive role in engineering the Red Army invasion of Georgia in February and March 1921, at a time when Georgia was the biggest Menshevik stronghold. Following the invasion, Stalin adopted particularly hardline, centralist policies towards Soviet Georgia, which included severe repression of opposition to the Bolsheviks, and to opposition within the local Communist Party (e.g., the Georgian Affair of 1922), not to mention any manifestations of anti-Sovietism (the August Uprising of 1924). It was in the Georgian affairs that Stalin first began to play his own hand. Lenin, however, disliked Stalin's policy towards Georgia, as he believed that all Soviet states should be on equal standing with Russia, rather than be absorbed and subordinated to Russia.

Grigory Zinoviev successfully had Stalin appointed to the post of General Secretary in March 1922, with Stalin officially starting in the post on 3 April 1922. Stalin still held his posts in the Orgburo, the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate and the Commassariat for Nationalities Affairs, though he agreed to delegate his workload to subordinates. With this power, he would steadily place his supporters in positions of authority.
Kliment Voroshilov (= KV-tank name) Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov at the shore of the Moscow-Volga canal. After Yezhov was tried and executed he vanished between 1939

On 25 May 1922, Lenin suffered a stroke while recovering from surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his neck since a failed assassination attempt in August 1918. Severely debilitated, he went into semi-retirement and moved to his dacha in Gorki. After this, prominent Bolsheviks were concerned about who would take over if Lenin actually died. Lenin and Trotsky had more of a personal and theoretical relationship, while Lenin and Stalin had more of a political and apparatical relationship. Yet, Stalin visited Lenin often, acting as his intermediary with the outside world. During this time, the two quarrelled over economic policy and how to consolidate the Soviet republics. 

One day, Stalin verbally swore at Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, for breaching Politburo orders by helping Lenin communicate with Trotsky and others about politics; this greatly offended Lenin. As their relationship deteriorated, Lenin dictated increasingly disparaging notes on Stalin in what would become his testament. Lenin criticised Stalin's rude manners, excessive power, ambition and politics, and suggested that Stalin should be removed from the position of General Secretary. One of Lenin's secretaries showed Stalin the notes, whose contents shocked him. On 9 March 1923, Lenin suffered his most debilitating stroke, which ended his political career.

During Lenin's semi-retirement, Stalin forged a triumvirate alliance with Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev in May 1922, against Trotsky. These allies prevented Lenin's Testament from being revealed to the Twelfth Party Congress in April 1923.
Although Zinoviev and Kamenev were disconcerted by Stalin's power and some of his policies, they needed Stalin's help in opposing Trotsky's faction and to prevent Trotsky's possible succession to Lenin in a power struggle.

Lenin died on 21 January 1924. Stalin was given the honour of organising his funeral. Upon Lenin's death, Stalin was officially hailed as his successor as the leader of the ruling Communist Party and of the Soviet Union itself. Against Lenin's wishes, he was given a lavish funeral and his body was embalmed and put on display. Thanks to Kamenev and Zinoviev's influence, the Central Committee decided that Lenin's Testament should not be made public. At the Thirteenth Party Congress in May 1924, it was read out only to the heads of the provincial delegations. Trotsky did not want to appear divisive so soon after Lenin's death and did not seize the opportunity to demand Stalin's removal.
In the months following Lenin's death, Stalin's disputes with Zinoviev and Kamenev intensified. While the triumvirate remained intact throughout 1924 and the early months of 1925, Zinoviev and Kamenev did not regard Stalin highly as a revolutionary theorist, and often disparaged him in private even as they had aided him publicly against Trotsky and the Left Opposition. For his part, Stalin was cautious about where the political situation was heading, and often felt that Zinoviev's volatile rhetoric against Trotsky was going too far, especially when Zinoviev demanded Trotsky's expulsion from the Communist Party in January 1925. Stalin opposed Zinoviev's demand, and skillfully played the role of a moderate. 

At this time, Stalin was allying himself more and more with Nikolai Bukharin and the Right Opposition, whom Stalin had promoted to the Politburo at the Thirteenth Party Congress. Stalin proposed the theory of Socialism in One Country in October 1924, which Bukharin soon elaborated upon to give it a theoretical justification. Zinoviev and Kamenev suddenly found themselves in a minority at the Fourteenth Party Conference in April 1925, over their belief that socialism could only be achieved internationally, which resulted in the triumvirate splitting up. This saw a strengthening of Stalin's alliance with Bukharin.

With Trotsky mostly sidelined with a persistent illness during 1925, Zinoviev and Kamenev then formed the New Opposition against Stalin. At the Fourteenth Party Congress in December 1925, Stalin openly attacked Kamenev and Zinoviev, revealing that they had asked for his aid in expelling Trotsky from the Communist Party. Stalin's revelation made Zinoviev, in particular, very unpopular with many inside the Communist Party. Trotsky remained silent throughout this Congress.

In early 1926, Zinoviev and Kamenev drew closer to Trotsky and the Left Opposition, forming an alliance which became known as the United Opposition. The United Opposition demanded, among other things, greater freedom of expression within the Communist Party and less bureaucracy. In October 1926, Stalin's supporters voted Trotsky out of the Politburo.

During the years of 1926 and 1927, Soviet policy toward the Chinese Revolution became the ideological line of demarcation between Stalin and the United Opposition. The Chinese Revolution began on 10 October 1911, resulting in the abdication of the Chinese Emperor, Puyi, on 12 February 1912. Sun Yat-sen established the Republic of China. In reality, however, the Republic controlled very little of the country. Much of China was divided between various regional warlords. The Republican government established a new "nationalist people's army and a national people's party" — the Kuomintang. 

In 1920, the Kuomintang opened relations with Soviet Russia. With Soviet help, the Republic of China built up the nationalist people's army. With the development of the nationalist army, a Northern Expedition was planned to smash the power of the warlords of the northern part of the country. This Northern Expedition became a point of contention over foreign policy by Stalin and Trotsky. Stalin tried to persuade the small Chinese Communist Party to merge with the Kuomintang (KMT) Nationalists to bring about a bourgeois revolution before attempting to bring about a Soviet-style working class revolution. Stalin believed that the KMT bourgeoisie, together with all patriotic national liberation forces in the country, would defeat the western imperialists in China.

Trotsky wanted the Communist Party to complete an orthodox proletarian revolution and have clear class independence from the KMT. Stalin funded the KMT during the expedition. Stalin countered Trotskyist criticism by making a secret speech in which he said that Chiang's right-wing Kuomintang were the only ones capable of defeating the imperialists, that Chiang Kai-shek had funding from the rich merchants, and that his forces were to be utilized until squeezed for all usefulness like a lemon before being discarded. However, Chiang quickly reversed the tables in the Shanghai massacre of April 1927 by massacring the Communist Party in Shanghai midway through the Northern Expedition.

While the catastrophic events in China completely vindicated Trotsky's criticism of Stalin's approach towards the Chinese Revolution, this paled in significance compared to the demoralization that the Soviet masses felt at such a big setback for socialist revolution in China, with this demoralization aiding Stalin and his allies in the Communist Party and the Soviet state. Attacks against the United Opposition increased in volatility and ferocity. Many supporters of Kamenev and Zinoviev's group, as well as most from the Workers Opposition grouping, had left the United Opposition by mid-1927, changing sides under the growing political pressure and espousing their support for Stalin. Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev grew increasingly isolated and were ejected from the Central Committee in October 1927.

On 7 November 1927, on the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, the United Opposition held a demonstration in Red Square, Moscow, along with Vladimir Lenin's widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya. On 12 November 1927, Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the Communist Party itself, followed by Kamenev at the Fifteenth Party Congress in December 1927. At the Congress, where Kamenev acted as the United Opposition's spokesman due to Trotsky's and Zinoviev's expulsion, the United Opposition were unable to gain the support of more than a small minority of the Communist Party, and they were expelled after the Congress declared United Opposition views to be incompatible with Communist Party membership.

While Trotsky remained firm in his opposition to Stalin after his expulsion from the Communist Party and his subsequent exile, Zinoviev and Kamenev capitulated almost immediately, and called on their supporters to follow suit. They wrote open letters acknowledging their mistakes and were readmitted to the Communist Party in June 1928, after a six-month cooling-off period. They never regained their Central Committee seats, but they were given mid-level positions within the Soviet bureaucracy. 

Kamenev and Zinoviev were courted by Bukharin at the beginning of his short and ill-fated struggle with Stalin in the summer of 1928. This activity was soon reported to Stalin and was later used against Bukharin as proof of his factionalism. Trotsky, firmer than ever in his opposition to Stalin, was exiled to Alma-ata in January 1928, and was exiled from the Soviet Union itself in February 1929, sent into exile in Turkey. From his exile, Trotsky continued to oppose Stalin, right up until Trotsky was assassinated on Stalin's orders in August 1940.

After the United Opposition were illegalized in December 1927, the Kulaks and NEPmen were emboldened and exerted much greater economic pressure on the Soviet government in the months afterwards. In January 1928, Stalin personally travelled to Siberia where he oversaw the seizure of grain stockpiles from kulak farmers. Many in the Communist Party supported the seizures, but Bukharin and Premier Rykov were outraged. Bukharin criticized Stalin's plans for rapid industrialization financed by kulak wealth, and advocated a return to Lenin's NEP.

However, Bukharin was unable to rally sufficient support from the higher levels of the Communist Party to oppose Stalin. By the latter months of 1928, a critical shortfall in grain supplies prompted Stalin to push for collectivisation of agriculture. Stalin began pushing for more rapid industrialisation and central control of the economy, a position which alienated Bukharin and the Right Opposition, but which appeared close to what the Left Opposition had advocated before they were banned. Stalin accused Bukharin of factionalism and capitalist tendencies. The other Politburo members sided with Stalin, and labelled Bukharin a "Right Deviationist" from Marxist–Leninist principles. Bukharin was ejected from the Politburo in November 1929.

Stalin's agricultural policies were also criticized by fellow Politburo member Mikhail Kalinin. In the summer of 1930, Stalin exposed Kalinin's embezzlement of state funds, which he spent on a mistress. Kalinin begged forgiveness and effectively submitted himself to Stalin. In September 1930, Stalin proposed dismissing Premier Rykov, who was Bukharin's fellow oppositionist. The other Politburo members agreed with Stalin, and supported his nomination of Vyacheslav Molotov. On December 19, the Central Committee dismissed Rykov and replaced him with Molotov.

After 1930, open criticism of Stalin within the Communist Party was virtually non-existent, though Stalin continued to hunt for discreet dissenters. Stalin dominated the Politburo (the executive branch of the Soviet government) through staunch allies such as Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Lazar Kaganovich, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Kliment Voroshilov.
On the night of 9 November 1932, Stalin's wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, shot herself in her bedroom. Stalin was sleeping in another room that night, so her death was not discovered until the next morning. To prevent a scandal, Pravda reported the cause of death as appendicitis. Stalin did not tell his own children the truth to prevent them from spreading the truth accidentally.

On 1 December 1934, Sergei Kirov was murdered by Leonid Nikolaev. The death of this popular, high-profile politician shocked Russia, and Stalin used this murder to begin The Great Terror. Within hours of Kirov's death, Stalin declared Grigory Zinoviev and his supporters to be responsible for Kirov's murder. Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev were arrested and, to escape long prison sentences, confessed to political and moral responsibility for Kirov's murder. In January 1935, Zinoviev was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, and Kamenev was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. Stalin sanctioned the formation of troikas for the purpose of extrajudicial punishment. 

In April 1935, Kamenev's prison sentence was increased by another 5 years, to a total of 10 years imprisonment. Hundreds of oppositionists linked to Kamenev and Zinoviev were arrested and exiled to Siberia. In late 1935, Stalin reopened the case. Kamenev and Zinoviev were interrogated again, and the exiled Trotsky was now accused of being the leading mastermind in Kirov's murder. In July 1936, Stalin promised Kamenev and Zinoviev (through NKVD chief, Genrikh Yagoda) that there would be no executions or persecution of their families if they confessed to conspiring with Trotsky. Stalin's promise was soon broken. A few weeks later, after a show trial, Kamenev and Zinoviev were both executed on 25 August 1936.

Spearheading Stalin's purges was a Commissar called Nikolai Yezhov, a fervent Stalinist and a believer in violent repression. Nikolai Yezhov continued to expand the lists of suspects to include all the old oppositionists as well as entire nationalities, such as the Poles.

Stalin distrusted the Soviet secret police - the NKVD - which was filled with Old Bolsheviks and ethnicities he distrusted, such as Poles, Jews and Latvians.[29] In September 1936, Stalin fired the head of the NKVD, Genrikh Yagoda, and replaced him with the more aggressive and zealous Yezhov, with Yezhov overseeing the most brutally oppressive period of Stalin's Great Purge from late 1936 to late 1938.

In June 1937, The Case of the Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization took place. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and the senior Red Army military officers Iona Yakir, Ieronim Uborevich, Robert Eideman, August Kork, Vitovt Putna, Boris Feldman and Vitaly Primakov (as well as Yakov Gamarnik, who committed suicide before the investigations began) were accused of anti-Soviet conspiracy and sentenced to death; they were executed on the night of 11 to 12 June 1937, immediately after the verdict delivered by a Special Session (специальное судебное присутствие) of the Supreme Court of the USSR. 

The Tribunal was presided over by Vasili Ulrikh and included marshals Vasily Blyukher, Semyon Budyonny and Army Commanders Yakov Alksnis, Boris Shaposhnikov, Ivan Panfilovich Belov, Pavel Dybenko, and Nikolai Kashirin. Only Ulrikh, Budyonny and Shaposhnikov would survive the purges that followed. The Tukhachevsky trial triggered a massive subsequent purge of the Red Army. In September 1938, the People's Commissar for Defence, Voroshilov, reported that a total of 37,761 officers and commissars were dismissed from the army, 10,868 were arrested and 7,211 were condemned for anti-Soviet crimes.

Since his falling out with Stalin in 1928–1929, Bukharin had written an endless stream of letters of repentance and admiration to Stalin. However, Stalin knew that Bukharin's repentance was insincere, as in private Bukharin continued to criticize Stalin and seek out other opponents of Stalin (the NKVD wiretapped Bukharin's telephone). Shortly before their executions in August 1936, Kamenev and Zinoviev had denounced Bukharin as a traitor during their show trial. At the December 1936 plenum of the Central Committee, Yezhov accused Bukharin and Alexei Rykov of treachery. Bukharin was coerced into confessing to conspiring against Stalin, and was executed on 15 March 1938, on the same day that former NKVD chief, Yagoda, was also executed.

Stalin eventually turned on Yezhov. He appointed Yezhov Commissar of Water Transport in April 1938 (a similar thing had happened to Yezhov's predecessor, Yagoda, shortly before he was fired). Stalin began ordering the executions of Yezhov's protégés in the NKVD. Politburo members also started to openly condemn the excesses of the NKVD under Yezhov's leadership, all of which gave the signal that Yezhov was falling from Stalin's favour. Yezhov eventually suffered a nervous breakdown and resigned as NKVD chief on 23 November 1938. Yezhov was replaced as NKVD chief by Lavrentiy Beria. Yezhov was executed on 4 February 1940.


New Economic Policy - 100 years from the Russian Revolution

The New Economic Policy (NEP, Russian новая экономическая политика, НЭП) was an economic policy of Soviet Russia proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who described it as a progression towards "state capitalism" within the workers' state of the USSR. Lenin characterized "state capitalism" and his NEP policies in 1922 as an economic system that would include "a free market and capitalism, both subject to state control" while socialized state enterprises were to operate on "a profit basis". 

The NEP represented a more market -oriented economic policy, deemed necessary after the Russian Civil War of 1918 to 1922, to foster the economy of the country, which was almost ruined. The complete nationalization of industry, established during the period of War Communism, was partially revoked and a system of mixed economy was introduced, which allowed private individuals to own small enterprises,  while the state continued to control banks, foreign trade, and large industries. 

In addition, the NEP abolished prodrazvyorstka (forced grain requisition) and introduced prodnalog: a tax on farmers, payable in the form of raw agricultural product. The Bolshevik government adopted the NEP in the course of the 10th Congress of the All-Russian Communist Party (March 1921) and promulgated it by a decree on 21 March 1921 "On the Replacement of Prodrazvyorstka by Prodnalog ". Further decrees refined the policy.

Other policies included the monetary reform (1922–1924) and the attraction of foreign capital.
The NEP policy created a new category of people called NEPmen (нэпманы), nouveau riches due to NEP.

Joseph Stalin abolished the New Economic Policy in 1928.

In November 1917, the Bolsheviks seized control of most of Russia. This led to the Russian Civil War , pitting the Bolsheviks against the Whites and other counter-revolutionary forces. During this period, the Bolsheviks attempted to administer Russia's economy purely by decree, a policy dubbed War Communism. Farmers and factory workers were ordered to produce, and food and goods were seized and issued by decree.

While this policy enabled the Bolshevik regime to overcome some initial difficulties, it soon caused disruptions and hardships. Producers who were not directly compensated for their labor often stopped working, leading to widespread shortages. Combined with the devastation of the war, these were major hardships for the Russian people and diminished popular support for the Bolsheviks.

At the end of the Civil War, the Bolsheviks controlled cities, but 80% of the Russian population were peasants.

Although the fighting was nearly all outside urban areas, urban populations decreased substantially. The war disrupted transportation (especially railroads), and basic public services. Infectious diseases thrived, especially typhus. Shipments of food and fuel by railroad and water dramatically decreased. City residents first experienced a shortage of heating oil, then coal, until they resorted to wood.

Populations in northern towns (excluding capital cities) declined an average of 24%.  Northern towns were more deprived of food than towns in the agricultural south. Petrograd alone lost 850,000 people, half of the urban population decline during the Civil War. Hunger and poor conditions drove residents out of cities. Workers migrated south to get peasants' surpluses. Recent migrants to cities left because they still had ties to villages.

Urban workers formed the Bolshevik base of support, so the exodus posed a serious problem. Factory production severely slowed or halted. Factories lacked 30,000 workers in 1919. To survive, city dwellers sold personal valuables, made artisan craft goods for sale or barter, and planted gardens. The acute need for food drove them to obtain 50%–60% of food through illegal trading (see meshochnik). The shortage of cash caused the black market to use a barter system, which was inefficient. 

Drought and frost led to the Russian famine of 1921, in which millions starved to death, especially in the Volga region, and urban support for the Bolshevik party eroded. 

When no bread arrived in Moscow in 1921, workers became hungry and disillusioned. They organised demonstrations against the Party's policy of privileged rations, in which the Red Army, Party members, and students received rations first. The Kronstadt rebellion of soldiers and sailors broke out in March 1921, fueled by anarchism and populism.

In 1921, Lenin replaced the food requisitioning policy with a tax, signaling the inauguration of the New Economic Policy.

The laws sanctioned the co-existence of private and public sectors, which were incorporated in the NEP, which on the other hand was a state oriented "mixed economy". 

The NEP represented a move away from full nationalization of certain parts of industries. Some kinds of foreign investments were expected by the Soviet Union under the NEP, in order to fund industrial and developmental projects with foreign exchange or technology requirements. 

The NEP was primarily a new agricultural policy. The Bolsheviks viewed traditional village life as conservative and backward. It was reminiscent of the Tsarist Russia that had supposedly been overthrown by the October Revolution. With the NEP, the state only allowed private landholdings because the idea of collectivized farming had met strong opposition. 

Lenin understood that economic conditions were dire, so he opened up markets to a greater degree of free trade, hoping to motivate the population to increase production. Under the NEP, not only were “private property, private enterprise, and private profit largely restored in Lenin's Russia,” but Lenin's regime turned to international capitalism for assistance, willing to provide “generous concessions to foreign capitalism.”  

Lenin took the position that in order to achieve socialism, he had to create “the missing material prerequisites” of modernization and industrial development that made it imperative for Soviet Russia to “fall back on a centrally supervised market-influenced program of state capitalism”. 

Lenin was following Karl Marx 's precepts that a nation must first reach “full maturation of capitalism as the precondition for socialist realization.” The main policy Lenin used was an end to grain requisitions and instead instituted a tax on the peasants, thereby allowing them to keep and trade part of their produce. At first, this tax was paid in kind, but as the currency became more stable in 1924, it was changed to a cash payment. This increased the peasants' incentive to produce, and in response production jumped by 40% after the drought and famine of 1921–22. 

NEP economic reforms aimed to take a step back from central planning and allow the economy to become more independent. NEP labor reforms tied labor to productivity, incentivizing the reduction of costs and the redoubled efforts of labor. Labor unions became independent civic organizations. 

NEP reforms also opened up government positions to the most qualified workers. The NEP gave opportunities for the government to use engineers, specialists, and intelligentsia for cost accounting, equipment purchasing, efficiency procedures, railway construction, and industrial administration. A new class of " NEPmen " thrived. These private traders opened up urban firms hiring up to 20 workers. NEPmen also included rural artisan craftsmen selling their wares on the private market.

Lenin considered the NEP as a strategic retreat from socialism. He believed it was capitalism, but justified it by insisting that it was a different type of capitalism, " state capitalism ", the last stage of capitalism before socialism evolved.

Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin disagreed over how to develop the Soviet economy after World War I and the Russian Civil War . Trotsky, supported by left-wing members of the Communist Party, believed that socialism in Russia would only survive if the state controlled the allocation of all output. Trotsky believed that the state should repossess all output to invest in capital formation. On the other hand, Stalin supported the more conservative members of the Communist Party and advocated for a state-run capitalist economy. Stalin managed to wrest control of the Communist Party from Trotsky. After defeating the Trotsky faction, Stalin reversed his opinions about economic policy and implemented the first five-year plan.

After the NEP was instituted, agricultural production increased greatly. Instead of the government taking all agricultural surpluses with no compensation, [dubious – discuss] farmers now had the option to sell some of their produce, giving them a personal economic incentive to produce more grain. This incentive, coupled with the breakup of the quasi-feudal landed estates, surpassed pre-Revolution agricultural production. The agricultural sector became increasingly reliant on small family farms, while heavy industries, banks, and financial institutions remained owned and run by the state. This created an imbalance in the economy where the agricultural sector was growing much faster than heavy industry. 

To maintain their income, factories raised prices. Due to the rising cost of manufactured goods, peasants had to produce much more wheat to buy these consumer goods, which increased supply and thus lowered the price of these agricultural products. This fall in prices of agricultural goods and sharp rise in prices of industrial products was known as the Scissors Crisis (due to the crossing of graphs of the prices of the two types of product). Peasants began withholding their surpluses in wait for higher prices, or sold them to " NEPmen " (traders and middle-men) who re-sold them at high prices. 

Many Communist Party members considered this an exploitation of urban consumers. To lower the price of consumer goods, the state took measures to decrease inflation and enact reforms on the internal practices of the factories. 
The government also fixed prices, in an attempt to halt the scissor effect. 

The NEP succeeded in creating an economic recovery after the devastation of World War I, the Russian Revolution , and the Russian Civil War. By 1925, in the wake of Lenin's NEP, a "... major transformation was occurring politically, economically, culturally and spiritually." Small-scale and light industries were largely in the hands of private entrepreneurs or cooperatives. By 1928, agricultural and industrial production had been restored to the 1913 (pre-World War I) level. 

End of NEP 
By 1924, the year of Lenin's death, Nikolai Bukharin had become the foremost supporter of the New Economic Policy. The USSR abandoned NEP in 1928 after Joseph Stalin obtained a position of leadership during the Great Turn. Stalin had initially supported the NEP against Leon Trotsky, but switched in favour of collectivization during the Grain Procurement Crisis of 1928 and saw the need to quickly accumulate capital for the vast industrialization programme introduced with the Five Year Plans starting in 1928. The Bolsheviks hoped that the USSR's industrial base would reach the level of capitalist countries in the West, to avoid losing a future war. (Stalin proclaimed, "Either we do it, or we shall be crushed.") 

Stalin proposed that the grain crisis was caused by kulaks - relatively wealthy farmers who hoarded grain and participated in speculation of agricultural produce. The peasant farms were too small to support the massive agricultural demands of the Soviet Union's push for rapid industrialization, and Soviet economists claimed that only a collectivization of farms could support such an expansion. Accordingly, Stalin imposed collectivization to replace private farms. Collectivization included stripping of land from the kulaks to distribute it among agricultural cooperatives (kolkhozes and sovkhozes). 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle nep politics
Lenin and his followers saw the NEP as an interim measure. However, it proved highly unpopular with the Left Opposition in the Bolshevik party because of its compromise with some capitalist elements and the relinquishment of state control.  The Left saw the NEP as a betrayal of Communist principles, and believed it would have a negative long-term economic effect, so they wanted a fully planned economy instead. In particular, the NEP fostered a class of traders ("NEPmen") whom the Communists regarded as "class enemies" of the working class.

On the other hand, Vladimir Lenin is quoted to have said "The NEP is in earnest and long-term" (НЭП – это всерьез и надолго), which has been used to surmise that if Lenin had lived, the NEP would have continued beyond 1929. Lenin had also been known to say about NEP, "We are taking one step backward, to take two steps forward later",  suggesting that, though the NEP pointed in another direction, it would provide the economic conditions necessary for socialism eventually to evolve.

Despite Lenin's opinion that the NEP should last several decades at least, until universal literacy was accomplished, in 1928, after only seven years of NEP, Lenin's successor Stalin introduced full central planning, re-nationalized much of the economy, and from the late 1920s onwards introduced a policy of rapid industrialization. Stalin's collectivization of agriculture was his most notable departure from the NEP approach.


Pantsov and Levine see many of the post- Mao Tse-Tung economic reforms of CCP leader Deng Xiaoping in the People's Republic of China during the 1980s as influenced by the NEP.