Power to the People

The New Economic Policy 

From 1919 up to 1921, War Communism (the Soviet state economic plan) had devastated the national economy as well as the people. Famine, lack of resources, and disease out of malnutrition shocked the Bolsheviks into comprehending how unequipped the state was in instantly adopting Communism. The people demanded change and Vladimir Lenin was going to give it to them. Lenin proposed the New Economic Policy (NEP),  in March of 1921 at the Tenth Party Congress, introducing a tax-in-kind to the populous. In contrast to War Communism, when the state had control over the distribution of food, the NEP taxed people at a lower level than the previous requisition quotas and then allowed the farmers to keep or sell the rest of the food produced on the open market. This tax was called prodnalog. This tax appealed to a large majority of the population, the peasants, and greatly incentivizing them to produce an abundance of food.


City market place 1921                                                                         Citation

The February Revolution of 1917 transpired from riots against food rationing, and therefore Lenin and the Bolshevik party realized they had to change this policy in order to appease the people and prevent another uprising. Congress recognized the drastic changes proposed by NEP but out of fear of peasants and workers rebelling and Lenin forcing to resign, they chose to adopt NEP. NEP introduced the country to capitalism while the Bolsheviks hoped that it would prepare the economy for Communism and not turn power over to the Capitalists; “Who will win, the Capitalist or the Soviet Power?” said Lenin (Inquires Journal). The plan put a lot of trust into the people as this fear by the Bolsheviks existed and the principle of personal incentive and responsibility began.


Poster displaying the success rate of the Soviet government from 1918 to 1921 in various financial areas                                                                                                                                         Citation

In addition to the tax, small-scale industries and services were denationalized, trusts were established to supply, finance, and market large-scale industry products, currency was stabilized, and other measures were granted (Soviet History). The implementation of NEP revived the distraught economy, while it also restored Lenin and his party into power.


Siegelbaum, Lewis. “The New Economic Policy.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. Accessed February 25, 2018.

Trueman, C. N. “New Economic Policy.” The History Learning Site. May 25, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2018.

Glaza, Helene. “Lenin’s New Economic Policy: What it was and how it changed the Soviet Union.” Inquires Journal. 2009. Accessed February 25, 2018.

8 thoughts on “Power to the People

  1. Great post! It emphasized the importance of this new economic policy. I do wonder why War Communism didn’t implement something similar to this if the NEP seemed to immediately fixed all of the food and economic problems. It was also good to point out that this helped Lenin infiltrate the government to lead the people; it helped him leave an impact.


  2. hey Maura, I really enjoyed this post! I think the NEP is really important, and I really liked how you talked about it relating to the causes of 1917. I think it’s interesting how they needed to de-nationalize certain industries and reintroduce personal incentive to reinvigorate the economy after the devastation from war communism. I think it’s interesting how they needed to use more capitalist type policies in order to do this– do you think this early switch in policy stabilized or destabilized the communist ideologic hold?


  3. Great Post. I think it is highly ironic that by the time the Russian Civil War was over the Bolsheviks found themselves in an economic catastrophe, and what does Lenin realize? The need for subtle capitalism to incentivize the people. It’s funny that the Bolsheviks realize for just a brief moment what the Mensheviks wanted by the transition of tsarism, to capitalism, to socialism and then to communism. The Soviets are lucky the NEP kept the country intact as much as it did.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Ethan — it’s ironic that the Bolsheviks turn to capitalism to save socialism! But why did people like NEP so much? And the peasants — what was in it for them?


  5. Building Socialism with Capitalist Hands! Just like with our politicians today we always see a distinct change from campaigning to governing. The Soviets were no different as challenges and realities forced them to adapt and make concessions. Somewhere out there someone is probably still waiting for that global revolution.


  6. Maura, fantastic post! It was informative in regards to how War Communism devastated Russia, and as well as in regards to the New Economic Policy. I also learned from your post about the turn to capitalism to prepare the country for communism- its ironic in a sense, but it also follows the Marxist idea that capitalism is just a stage in the process of conversion to communism.


  7. Very interesting post, I like how you mentioned that the Bolsheviks quickly realized that the nation was not able to take on communist reforms so quickly. Russia actually jumps the gun regarding the natural progression towards communist, they went from basically a feudal state to a socialist communist state, without being a true capitalist state, like other western nations. I think its actually very interesting that the Bolsheviks actually introduce some capitalist reforms to correct that and get the country ready for full-on communism


  8. This was a great post – very easy to read and understand. I love that you related this back to the 1917 revolution and that this was one of their first steps to a capitalist society. I enjoyed the second poster as well as it demonstrated the success of NEP in different areas. Interesting that they made it a poster too, just because it incentivizes harder work and can largely promote it.


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