Bolshevik Government Crisis and the re assumption of control


The Bolsheviks faced major troubles in 1920-21.

  • There were already peasant wars in 1920, in order to restore peasant self rule- to destroy the Soviet infrastructure in the countryside.
  • Peasants were joining the larger peasant armies, for example Makhno in Ukraine, or Antonov in Tambov region
  • Trotsky angered the workers and trade unionists by abolishing railway unions.
  • City strikes occured in 1921, starting with Moscow.
  • Kronstadt sailors joined the strikes: demanding the overthrow of the dictatorship- a new revolution

This is how they resolved them

  • Peasants were ruthless terrorised. Villages burned, tens of thousands hostages taken, thousands shot dead.
  • Kronstadt naval base bombarded, then invaded with 50,000 crack troops. Results in 10,000 of those troops deaths. 2,500 sailors shot dead, no trial.
  • Moscow leaders were arrested and then free trade was restored
  • Food requisitioning replaced with tax in kind. Lenin said that the peasants were “far more dangerous than all the Denikins…and all the Kolchaks put together”

So, how did the Civil War ultimately affect the Bolshevik government style?

  1. Insistence on the need to crush revolutions enemies
  2. Militarised labour
  3. Military style of government
  4. Extension of military and political control
  5. Mistrust of the peasants
  6. Use of terror to suppress dissent
  7. Prototype of planned economy developed
  8. Polarisation of country into revolutionary and counter-revolutionary sides



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