chapter  3
21 Pages

Stalin and Stalinism

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced in March 1921 in response to peasant hostility, worker unrest and political fragmentation within the communist party. The NEP was a concession but it soon gained adherents who argued that it was a system which could lay the basis for the transition to socialism in Russia. NEP represented another version of Soviet politics in contrast to the harshness of War Communism, and in some ways it took up the ideas of the state capitalist period of early 1918. Lenin personally was not long to preside over the new system. He suffered a stroke in May 1922 and after two more in late 1922 and March 1923 he died on 21 January 1924. The fate of the NEP became bound up with the succession struggle. Although Lenin had insisted that the ‘NEP would last a long time and seriously’, he added the ominous words – ‘but not for ever’. Although Bukharin sought to transform the NEP into a long-term strategy for socialist development, others opposed its concessions to ‘alien class forces’ and by the end of the 1920s it was dead. The militant revolutionary strategy of Stalinism emerged, combining frenetic industrialisation, total collectivisation and cultural revolution, accompanied by the intensification of coercion and the elevation of the Stalinist personality cult to unprecedented levels. The Soviet Union triumphed in the Second World War, partly as a result of the industrial foundations laid in the 1930s, but the system bequeathed by Stalin proved fatally flawed.