Discuss the various reasons that forced Lenin to introduce war communism and show why he abandoned it in favour of his new economic policy.
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Lenin was perhaps familiar with Robespierre's statement that "the revolution devours its own children;" and saw that war communism was not working. His New Economic Plan was an attempt to avert a second revolution at the expense of the first.
Even though Lenin's first revolution had taken control of the government, the country was in ruins with steel and textile production at four percent of the pre-revolutionary level. Aside from the war, Russia had suffered a severe drought which created widespread famine. Peasants were still in something of a revolutionary mood, and Lenin realized after they had seized land from their old landlords, they had no intention of parting with it. Lenin had nationalized much of Russia's heavy industry and seized grain from peasants and not paid for it. Rumors spread that he would attempt to seize land from the peasants which they had no intention of allowing. Lenin had the foresight to realize that the government was not strong enough to withstand another revolution. As a result, he instituted his New Economic Plan (NEP) which established a small degree of economic freedom. His NEP appeared to be working; however Lenin died shortly after its implementation; and Joseph Stalin had no plans to follow through with it.
I think that saying he abandoned war communism IN FAVOUR of NEP is a bit extreme. Lenin stated that it was merely two steps forward and one step back, he knew that NEP was necessary so as to keep the communism in favour throughout Russia. This temporary form of capitalism was a 'breathing space' for Russia's economy - particularly throuhgout out the rural Russian peasantry.
NEP offered an incentive for the peasantry to cooperate with the government rather than just hoarding their grain because of one Russia's largest famines during the civil war.
Ultimately, war communism was a harsh and demanding form of economy that allowed the Government to have complete control during the Civil War. With the war won NEP is comparable to a 'hearts and minds' campaign to win support back again.
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