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Lenin was a pragmatic ruler who was determined to reach his goals and had the ability to recognise that in order to pursue his aims he would have to negotiate and be lenient in certain situations, whilst being able to maintain his belief and control over people. As Lenin began to rise in prominence, he was alert and confident in the direction he was aiming towards by using strategic skills to take central position in Russia at a time of turmoil.
There were many aims Lenin hoped to achieve in Russia, one main aim that formed his whole ideology was to revolutionise Russia by bringing a disastrous end to the Romanov dynasty and capitalism which dominated Russia. He was influenced by the work of Karl Marx as he felt that the bourgeoises were exploiting the peasants and workers, he sought to bring equality by ensuring the lower classes weren’t restricted from their rights. Another aim of Lenin’s was that he wanted socialism to be integrated into all Western countries but first starting with Russia which would be the ideal model for other countries to follow. Socialism seemed ideal to Lenin because it promoted freedom of rights the only way this could be achieved was to gather support from workers and peasants as they were the majority that formed Russia who would be able to rise up against the dominating classes. Most importantly Lenin continuously aimed at improving Russia’s economy through industrialisation, which had been heavily in decline in world war one and were even behind before this, that resulted in discontent ranging from high inflation to fuel and food shortages.
As Lenin came into power, he used his slogan of ‘peace, bread, land’ which appealed and made promises to the workers and peasants. This was reflected in reforms that were introduced earlier in his dictatorship, one was the Land decree this was the idea of banning all private ownership which would be confiscated and equally distributed amongst the peasants and workers. This had a big impact on society because it promoted equality and fairness whilst giving the lower-class a chance to voice their input on the way farming should be organised. This was a strategic move as previously peasants were subjected to harsh treatment and labour by the tsarist government and the one main reason why peasants began revolting was for the longingness of land. It would have increased support for the Bolsheviks as they were serving the rights of peasants which would result in motivated workers and an increase in food production.
Another change Lenin opted to change was the position of women particularly in Russia by this he wanted to give more equal rights to them by allowing them to work in various careers such as doctors, nurses and lawyers as well as legalising divorce and abortion which would have reduced the pressure of commitment at home. Alongside this it was important and necessary to provide free education as the majority of Russia had been deprived from it because around ‘50 million’ peasants lived in Russia and education was typically reserved for the upper class during the tsarist regime. This would have made a fairly large impact because it introduced a modern approach in to Russia in which it lagged behind other western powers, it was a way of revolutionising the country because ‘more than 60%’ of the people were illiterate. By providing education it would be a good way to bring together the lower class and train them for more advanced jobs and develop their own businesses, instead of being subjected to forced labour in harsh conditions it would be a good way to industrialise the country.
He wanted to change society by removing the authority of the church as this emphasised the importance of the tsar and promoted their policies. To change this influence Lenin issued the decree on freedom of conscience in 1918, which was aimed at the church this was a time when churches were closed down and land was confiscated to reduce religious influence. However, this had little impact because many people still remained religious, for example Jews and Muslims. But it would have pleased the workers and peasants because land was evenly distributed to them, which they felt they deserved at the least due to years of serving as serfs under strict control of the former capitalist government.
In addition, Lenin was eager to meet the demands of the peasants who were heavily involved in the successful movement by improving basic human rights. One way he did this was by reducing working hours to around 8 hours and improved working conditions, instead of prolonged hours without limits. This would have a major impact because it was addressing the peasants concerns which arose early on and was ultimately one of the reasons why they rose up against the government. This approach was clever as Lenin recognised the needs of peasants and was the first thing, he tackled to gain support.
Also, Lenin aimed to change society and allow the people to express themselves and communist ideas through art and culture which was banned during the tsarist regime. He was responsible for the creation of the commissariat of Enlightment which was an organization that supported aspiring artists. This would have had a big impact on the economy and society because it would create more jobs for people and further development in infrastructure allowing people’s views and ideas to flourish and recognised, banning anything negative being said about communism. It would have been a way to modernise Russia allowing freedom of expression through art, in which this was not tolerated during the tsarist era with everything was centred around the importance and authority of the tsar
Furthermore, Lenin attempted to solve Russia’s problems firstly by aiming to resolve Russia’s international relations in terms of war. In 1918, he signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk which put an end to Russia’s involvement in world war one. This had little impact because as it did to an extent bring peace and a sense of security for the people it was viewed as betrayal from people because it resulted in Russia losing grain from Ukraine and ‘one fifth of European lands and half of its industrial capacity’ lost in the process which would add on to the economic discontent that was circulating in Russia already.
Additionally, Lenin was determined to solve the economic problems that remained since the first world war in Russia. The war caused major economic issues such as food shortages as there was a breakdown in railway communications as the army took control of trains causing a disruption in trade meaning food could not be transported in and out of the country. Also, inflation was another problem which was needed to meet expensive costs this just resulted in the government printing more money out causing food prices to drastically increase. one major problem that arose was fuel shortages, this had a disastrous effect on the society as it caused many businesses like factories and bakeries to shut down interfering with production.
Lenin was aware of these economic problems that haunted Russia, in order to address these during the civil war he introduced war communism which was the idea of requisitioning grain from people that was needed to feed the soldiers and nationalisation of the industry. This move was completely destructive towards the support for Bolsheviks as it created much hostility from their main supporters, many farmers burnt down farms and crops which resulted in starvation and famine and approximately ‘20 million’ deaths. This had a negative impact on economy as farmers stopped producing and consumer goods declined as a result of war causing resentment as it reintroduced an approach which was used by the tsars during the first world war, this was ideally the problem that caused the revolution against the government in the first place.
In contrast to this, Lenin developed a more tactical approach to solve economy by introducing the New Economic policy in 1921. This was an attempt to stabilise the economy which granted much more freedom to peasants and farmers as it made it acceptable to grow and sell their own food as well as giving part of it to the government, it allowed private ownership of fairly small businesses. This had a good impact on the economy because production increased in factories from ’2004 million roubles to 4600 million roubles’ and grain increased from ‘37.6 million tonnes to 51.4 million tonnes’ this would have helped Russia stabilise its economy for short term measures. However to an extent it did not have an entirely good impact on the society because many people felt that Lenin was implementing elements of capitalism back into Russia and were worried for the direction he was heading towards, but Lenin was aware of the obstacles he had to deal with to eventually lead to socialism meaning he would have to negotiate in extreme circumstances ‘ one step backwards, two steps forward’.
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