Over the period of 1855-1964 Russia went through various reforms and policies under the Tsars and other communist rulers
Over the period of 1855-1964 Russia went through various reforms and policies under the Tsars and other communist rulers. They had a great impact of Russia’s society and economy, for example Lenin being one of the most dynamic ruler who definitely implanted policies which changed Russia’s society and economy. Lenin changed Russia’s society through the influences of Karl Marx from autocratic rule from the Tsars, to rule by communism. At this point in time Russia was considered to be backwards in terms of modernisation and industrialisation compared to countries like England and America where they had begun to build railways for safer journeys. Lenin’s aim was to modernise Russia in its industrialisation and in the political system. Therefore, Lenin tried to rejuvenate Russia by changing the Russian lifestyle such as industrialisation and urbanisation and its policies. Changing policies meant Lenin could impact the progress of its economy and society and create a clear path of communism in Russia. This would set Russia on a clear direction of development. Rulers in the past ruled as dictators. Dictatorship can be used to denote a form of government which restricts traditional freedom and authority only from one source. It is well known Stalin was a dictator but it is questionable if Lenin also ruled as a dictator using communism as an excuse.
Lenin had a great impact of Russia as he created a soviet state and introduced a new way of living in Russia. Lenin wanted Russia to accelerate in industrialising Russia. (catch up to the west). As they were still suffering from the effects of the war Lenin believed centralised control was necessary for Russia to survive Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest -Litovsk in March 1918 to create peace with Germany and so he could now work on building the economy as inflation was out of control. War communism was a combination of emergency measures and socialist beliefs. State control of industries caused distressed as individuals lost their freedom to sell goods at their accord. They had lost control of their production and distribution. Militarisation of labour was very unpopular but people were forced to work due to war. Rationing was introduced and requisitioning of food from the peasants in order to feed the army and the towns. By 1929 war communism was a disaster in all areas because peasant’s farmers only grew for themselves as they knew surplus goods would be taken by the state. Between 1916 and 1920 industrial production fell by 40% and central Russia lost 33% of their population to the countryside. Under war communism the number of workers in factories dropped by 50%. War communism was used on the intent of settling the economy while civil war was taking place.
War communism fits in with Lenin’s communist ideology because it meant all forms on capitalism was being removed such as private ownership being limited and the state controlled everything from peasants to army. It almost sounds like a Stalin’s dictatorship. War communism had a negative impact on Russia as it created many problems. It affected society by creating divisions between the classes as the peasants and the workers could not work effectively and thus lacked in the basic necessities. Private trade was illegal but more people were engaged in it. Malnutrition become very common. war communism was very unpopular especially amongst the peasant farmers and so people began to resent and resulted in strikes and protests. People began to lose hope in Lenin and so to regain the trust of the people he introduced the new economic policy.
Peasants who had been forced to hand over their produce to the war effort were allowed to keep some to sell for profit .As a results kulaks became quiet rich and Nepmen were allowed to set up businesses .Local nationalities who had been forced to follow a strict communist line were allowed to bring back their own languages and customs .The economy flourished and people were much happier but many old Bolsheviks claim Lenin to be weak and had ‘ sold put to capitalism.’ Towards the end the new economic policy was widely successful because farmers produced more food, prices dropped so it was affordable for all. There were social improvements such as limiting work hours. abolishing titles and equality to women in right of studying and working. Divorces were made easier and employment insurance was introduced.
Despite Lenin policy which improved Russia’s economy it left an impact such as the scissor crisis. This was the product of one half of the economy growing while the other half fell. As farmer’s income and buying power grew, industries raise prices to maintain their position. Farmers then need to buy more grain and so it led to them holding Back and only selling it to speculators. Also resulting in a general rise to inflation.
Alexander II was commonly known as the ‘tsar liberator’. He developed Russia with his new reforms, starting with the government, law, army, education and finance as these were the main areas foe the best effect. In 1861 one of the major reform was the ‘Emancipation of the serfs’. This gave rights to a large section of the population. Previously the labourers had to work in order to get food and shelter. The edict consisted of the serfs being freed, peasants owing their own property. The emancipation of the serfs benefitted Russia’s economy because many former serfs took jobs in the factories. Additionally, in 1864 Alexander set a new form of government Zemstvo which was an elected assembly with attempted powers. They would raise money through taxes and spend it on hospitals, roads and schools. He also introduced judicial reforms in 1864. there was a system of trial by jury and public hearing.
The loss of the Crimean war meant there had to be a military reform. It is fair to say at this point that military was the first step of Russia moving forward towards modernisation. The tsar has been described as ‘traditional’ but modernisation in military was needed to make Russia powerful. There was introduction to national conscription, the army were well equipped with modern weapons. Alexander II ‘s changes were effective and was starting to change the Russian lifestyle. By 1867 the Russian empire had extended and grew into an enormous continental empire. However, he wanted a very successful leader in changing Russia because majority of the reforms were removed by Alexander III. Also, the emancipation of the serfs didn’t really give them freedom as they had less land and poor conditions. Also, they had to pay tax on the land they owned and the tax was more than what the property was actually worse. To an extent it can be argued that reforms of Alexander II did not maker matter better but rather worse, therefore not making a great impact on Russia.