Compare and contrast the economic policies of Lenin and Stalin and evaluate their success.

Topics: Marxism, Soviet Union, Communism Pages: 6 (1767 words) Published: May 3, 2004
Compare and contrast the economic policies of Lenin and Stalin and evaluate their success.

Comparing Lenin and Stalin one finds that both were following a communist ideal but what is the communist ideal? The main principal is to share a country's wealth amongst its people. This is the theoretical side of the communist idea; the practical side requires a careful planning of the country's economy and also a system that makes sure that everybody is treated equally.

When Lenin and the communist party took over power, following the revolution in 1917, Lenin made sure that a council took over the planning of the economy. The council was called the "Vesenkha" and established a planning commission in 1921 called the "Gosplan".

Following his succession to power in 1924, Stalin promised the Russian people that he would carry on Lenin's legacy, which meant continuing with Lenin's policies and also his aim to establish communism throughout the Soviet Union and the rest of the world. However, comparing their strategies, one finds that Stalin moved away from Lenin's ideals, War Communism and his New Economic Policies (NEP).

In order to evaluate the success, or to some extent the failure, of their economic policies, it is necessary to consider their personal ambitions, if any, and the internal and external circumstances facing the USSR that influenced economic policy making. (Miss Daley's essay)

Lenin and the communist party only had a vague idea how the communist philosophy should be put into practise. This included especially the economic proposals of the communist philosophy. The first economic ideas to be put into practise were reactionary and were formulated to please the Bolsheviks (the communist party). One of these ideas was the Land Decree of 1917 which was a radical change for Russia. It abolished all private ownership without compensation and all ranks in the army. In addition, most of the economy was taken over, on the behalf of the people, by the government. This represented a big step towards communism because the country was now in a period of socialism, a transitional phase between the end of capitalism and the beginning of communism. This radical step brought with it some problems, one such problem being the reconciliation of the workers' freedom to run their own affairs. Another problem was that Lenin had to face the demands made by the Civil War.

This period, where "private trade was banned and food was requisitioned from the peasantry to feed the Red Army and ensure supplies for those in vital industries" (Heinemann Advanced History) was called War Communism. Instead of bringing the promised success, War communism brought misery, in the form of famines and diseases, from which up to 20 million Russians a thought to have died. It also led to protests, which led to the peasant uprisings in 1920-21, such as the Kronstadt Mutiny in 1921. During this period the Russian currency collapsed and the economy was close to breaking down. This situation was nowhere near the utopia that Lenin and the Bolsheviks had promised.

Lenin's first economic policy had failed to deliver. To kick start the economy, drastic measures were needed.

These drastic measures came in the form of the NEP, which did not only revive the economy but also showed the pragmatic side of his character. Lenin showed himself to be a realist, willing to compromise communist ideology for the survival of the revolution. This pragmatic interpretation of Marxism that implied that the party should follow any course that would ultimately lead to communism was later called Marxist-Leninism. However, the introduction of the NEP meant a compromise between the ideology of the party and the desperate needs of the economy. This stopped the requisitioning of food and allowed peasants to trade with products that they had surplus.

Small factories, particular those producing consumer goods, and traders where now allowed to buy and sell goods and make a...
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