ERA OF LENIN  

LENIN AFTER THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

by Choung-ho Jason Lee

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The reason why I have chosen to write about Lenin, especially his work after the Russian Revolution that I believe the work of Lenin after the Revolution made possible for the Communism to place its root in the soil of Russia and became the base of Political philosophy of Union of Soviet Socialist Rupublics (U.S.S.R.) until it collapsed. Through out my essay, I will try to analyze his performances between 1917 and 1924 when he died.

After the February Revolution, Russia had been under control of two governmental institutions. They were called the Provisional Government and the Soviet. The Provisional Government made a kind of proposal for the freedom and rights of Russian people, but did not take definitive action for it. On the other hand, the Soviet was led by the Marxists--Mensheviks who were the moderates.

In July, 1917, Aleksandr Kerenski took the control over the Provisional Government after Lvov. He was very progressive and took the different route from the Bolsheviks led by Lenin. Lenin successfully directed the small number of extreme Marxists to expand the Soviet's power over Russia. In 1917, as the Soviets under Lenin took over the Provisional Government, Kerenski fled from Russia.

Lenin's organizing ability carefully arranged made thirty thousand people under Lenin to rule more than one hundred seventy million people. He also used force in order to come into power. In the election, his party only got less than 25% of votes. Furthermore, the National Assembly in January, 1918 refused to follow him. Lenin used the Red Army to dissolve the Assembly. But the domestic resist against Lenin by non-revolutionists became stronger. It prevented Lenin from participating World War I and forced Lenin to make the Brest-Letovsk treaty with Germany giving up a lot of territory in the West to solve the domestic problem. He began to practice terrorism by the Red Army and Cheka, the secret police. The Red Army under command of Leon Trotsky liqudated Nicholas II and his family on July, 1918 and by the 1920 on overthrew the non-revolutionists. As a result, 100 millions of white Russians who consisted most part of non-revolutionists, fled from Russia.

The Bolshevics not only reinforced their power by suppressing the resist, but also by nationalizing all of the land and industry. However, rapid nationalization dropped the productivity. In 1921, Lenin realized this and changed the system of a Kolkhoz - a collective farm- a little. Lenin adopted the New Economic Policy (NEP) which allowed the capitalism in some parts. A small factories with 15-20 workers could be owned by a private companies and farmers could sell their crops for their own sakes. Furthermore, he permitted foreign investments and encouraged the business.

In 1918, the Bolsheviks renamed their name as the Russian Communist Party, and as the condition of Economy improved, they could get a lot of supports from Russian people. By 1924, when Lenin died, the Communism became too strong to be removed out of Russia.

Between 1917 and 1924, a lot of events occurred in Russia. Those events were for Russia to be born again as the U.S.S.R., a Communist country by Lenin. Later, it represented the major power of the World along with the U.S. until it collapsed. Without Lenin's work, the U.S.S.R would not have existed. Lenin will be remembered through out the world history as one leader with his unbelievable performances. 

REFERENCES

  1. Ronald Grigor Suny "Red Bread." Indiana University Press, U.S.A, 1988.

  2. Gordon Young "The House of Secrets." Duell, Sloan and Pearce, N.Y. 1959

  3. Christopher Hills "Lenin and the Russian Revolution" The English University press, London, 1965

 

 ERA OF LENIN  

LENIN AND THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL

by Pubali Chakravarty

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The Origins

          Russia’s political history has been anything but calm.  An amalgam of political uprisings, civil and social wars, and economic instability, Russia has been a study in political experimentation for the last two centuries. One of the more interesting occurrences is the creation of the Third International, or the Comintern, a group of national communist parties that initially took the name “Bolsheviks”.

The idea of a Third International emerged in 1914 from a split in the socialist Second International over the issue of World War I.[1]  A large majority of the socialist party, the right wing, had chosen to support the idea of war between their respective nations and the enemies they saw as hostile towards their socialist goals.  Meanwhile, the pacifist “centre” was opposed to this war, and pursued reunification of the Second International under peaceful conditions.  The “left” group, led by Lenin was opposed to both nationalism and pacifism.  Instead, they wanted to transform the national war into a transnational war of classes. 

Lenin insisted on the need to transform the international wars proposed by the right wing into a series of national civil wars for socialism, a principle he termed “revolutionary defeatism”.[2]  When his ideas were overlooked by the Second International, and a pledge was taken by them to engage in international war, Lenin became convinced that they were traitors to the working class.  He adopted the position that the Socialists of the Right and Center were enemies of the people because they put national struggles before the class struggles.[3]

For two years following these deliberations, Lenin planned the creation of the Third International, a group that would focus on the proliferation of the working class. He needed a good opportunity to overtake the Second International, and the October Revolution of 1917 was that opportunity.  With the Bolsheviks revolting against the government, and the subsequent conditions from those uprisings, Lenin had power he needed to initiate the formation of the Third International. 

Administrative Structure

 

            The Third International, or the Comintern, had its first congressional meeting in 1919.[4]  The second congressional meeting, in 1920, was in many respects the real founding congress of the Comintern.[5]  Emotionally charged, hopes of world revolution ran high; the prestige of the new Soviet state was in the ascendant, and the resolutions adopted at this congress reflected in the fullest possible way Lenin’s idea of what a Communist party should be.[6]

The structure of the party consisted of an executive committee which acted when congress was not in session, while a smaller committee served a chief executive body.  The remaining members of the Comintern served as member parties, and over time received comparatively less importance as most of the power was given to the executive committee.

 In order to ensure the complete separation between the second and the third internationals, the Comintern devised a set of twenty-one conditions as prerequisites for parties affiliating with them. In carefully drafting the Twenty- one conditions, there can be little doubt that the Bolsheviks’ main purpose was to split the ran and file of the European socialist parties from the influence of their right-wing and centrist leaders.[7]

The freshly drafted conditions decreed that the new parties were required to adopt the name Communist in their title, to urge open and persistent warfare against reformist Social Democracy and the Second International, and to maintain a centralized and disciplined party press.[8]  In addition, they were to conduct periodic purges of their ranks, and to carry on continuous and systematic propaganda in the army and among the workers and peasants.[9] 

Furthermore, each constituent party was to support in every possible way the struggle of “every Soviet republic” against counterrevolution.[10]  Decisions of the Comintern and of its executive committee were to be binding on all members, and the breach of any of these conditions was to be ground for expelling individual members from their parties – a provision that in future years was to be interpreted very broadly.[11]

The Aftermath

            The Third International enjoyed sixteen years of power and decision making.  With the death of Lenin’s death in 1924, his successor Stalin took over. In its fledgling years, it foresaw the creations of Communist parties in the Netherlands, Austria, France, Sweden, Poland, Greece, and Yugoslavia.  This helped to sustain the Comintern’s belief in a world wide revolutionary movement.[12]

          Over the years, the Comintern continued its efforts to spread Communism all throughout the world.  After its successful attempts throughout Eastern Europe, it attempted Western parts, such as France, England, and Germany.  In all three, they were unsuccessful.  The failure of revolution in the West brought attention to the Far East, and arrangements were made to sell Bolshevism to the people of the Middle East and Asia.  In the case of Asia they eventually succeeded with such Communist leaders as Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse-tung beginning in the late 1930’s. 

Through a modern perspective, the Third International was much like a social plague.  Its intentions were purely negative, and its results were purely negative.  It thrived by manipulating people who otherwise had no opportunity to be independent.  Because of the Third International, and its predecessors, much blood was shed and many revolutions were executed. 

By the time of its seventh and last congress in 1935, the Comintern was being used as a tool of Soviet foreign policy.  However, this ended when Stalin and Adolf Hitler signed a pact in 1939 that made them allies in fighting fascism.  When the two countries went to war, however, Stalin was forced to dissolve the Comintern in order to allay fears of communist subversion among its allies.[13]  Soon thereafter, the communist movement broke down and the dark clouds made by Stalin, Lenin, and the communist movement were replaced with a rebirth of political democracy. 

[1] Encyclopedia Britannica Online,  Third International (http://www.eb.com:180/bol/topic?eu=43522&sctn=1&pm=1)

[2] K. McDermott and J. Agnew,  The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin (St. Martin’s Press, 1997) pp.5

[3] J.W. Hulse,  The Forming of the Communist International (Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1964) p.1

[4] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online,  Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions (http://www.eb.com:180/bol/topic?artcl=117284&seq_nbr=1&page=n&iscn=4&)

[5] K. McDermott and J. Agnew,  The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin (St. Martin’s Press, 1997) pp.5

[6] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online,  Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions (http://www.eb.com:180/bol/topic?artcl=117284&seq_nbr=1&page=n&iscn=4&)

 

[7] J.W. Hulse,  The Forming of the Communist International (Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1964) p.17

 

[8] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions

[9] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions, continued.

[10] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions, continued.

[11] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, Communism: Lenin’s 21 Conditions, continued.

[12] J.W. Hulse,  The Forming of the Communist International (Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1964) pp.219

[13] Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, The Origins of Soviet Communism


 

 ERA OF LENIN  

THE KRONSTADT REBELLION

BY NICHOLAS WHITE

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The Kronstadt Rebellion played a significantly large role in the history of Communist rule in Russia. In March of 1921 the Kronstadt sailors, who were known as the "pride and glory" of the Russian Revolution, discouraged and desperate, rose against the Bolshevik party with a series of political and economic demands-only to be ravaged by the Bolsheviks in a ferocious battle that would leave the Lenin and the Bolsheviks in power. The Kronstadt uprising marked a definite end to the Russian Revolution and to the development of Lenin's NEP (New Economic Policy).

Just twenty miles west of Petrograd was Kotlin Island, which was very narrow and protected by rocks that jutted out into the sea. About half of this islands population consisted of the Kronstadt sailors. The Kronstadt sailors were no ordinary military body, they were the famous "Red Sailors" who had supported the revolution of 1905 and in 1917 backed up Lenin by not accepting the Provisional government. They were in support of all power to the soviets. And it was this same group of sailors who rebelled against the Bolsheviks in the Kronstadt rebellion. This "third revolution", accompanied with political and economic demands, threatened the stability of the Bolshevik party dictatorship.

On March 2, 1921 the rebel leaders (Kronstadt sailors) created a committee that called for new soviet leaders. This committee questioned the legitimacy of Bolshevik rule. They felt that the Bolshevik party had become a political dictatorship that governed Russia with tyrannical rule. Ultimately the Bolsheviks had created a society that was ruled by a one party elite rather than a society led by the masses. (As was promised in the Revolution of 1917.) "The party, in short, was losing its character as a revolutionary force and becoming an elite dictating to rather than leading the proletariat" (Kort, pp. 126). The rebels were not happy with this and sought to transform this authoritarian and bureaucratic regime that had developed into a genuine socialist democracy.

Lenin was infuriated by this attack on Bolshevism. He feared that the Rebels accusations would make civilians doubt the Bolshevik Party's control of the Soviet state. Lenin accused the rebels of being corrupt peasant drunks and of being whites from the civil war. Lenin knew that the rebels had to be detained and ordered that they be crushed. On March 7th, 1921 the fighting began. The rebels wanted to gain control of the soviet state and the Bolsheviks wanted to remain in control of the soviet state.

Continuing for 11 days, the fighting was fierce and brutal, plaguing both sides with numerous casualties. Because the fighting took place on Kotlin Island it made it very difficult for the Bolsheviks to victor over the rebels. The rebels fought with desperation, but to no avail. On March 18th the fighting ceased. The Communist victory had made history. That night 8,000 rebels fled to Finland, those who did not were shot at once, imprisoned in Petrograd, or sent to concentration camps.

This rebellion was a heroin stand by a small group of people against a tyrannical state. This attack by the rebels affected Bolshevik thinking and this in turn makes the Kronstadt rebellion an extremely significant event in the history of Russia. Due to the severity of the rebellion, Lenin and the Bolsheviks made some crucial realizations. First they realized that discontent among the masses in Russia was growing stronger. They also realized that in order to stanch this harmful discontent something needed to change. In response to the latter Lenin launched the NEP (New Economic Policy). The NEP brought democratic ways back to Russia. This project of dire necessity led to the economic recovery of Russia.

With the Kronstadt Rebellion behind them, the victorious Bolsheviks had little to cheer about. Their country was in ruin. Lenin's two main objectives for building socialism in Russia stood unfulfilled. No socialist revolution had occurred in Western Europe and the expected proletariat alliance at home did not exist. All in all, something absolutely had to be done--Russia's economy had to be revived. The NEP was the result-focusing economic policy on the marketplace and traditional market incentives. Capitalism became the core of the NEP. One thing was certain, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Kronstadt Rebellion assured that Russia's development into a modern state would take a different road than any other country had traveled before. Here lies the extreme significance of the Kronstadt Rebellion--economic change in Russia.

SOURCES:

  • The Soviet Colossus. Michael Kort, 1993.

  • Kronstadt. Israel Getzler, 1983.

 

 

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