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Firstly, it is widely argued that Lenin may have overall had a negative impact on the USSR due to the various tactics of deceit, manipulation of the apathetic and desperate Russian people, the mass murders caused through starvation and the ‘Cheka’, and lastly; destruction to his own economy due to lack of benefits from trade etc. In spite of this, many others are of the opinion that Lenin’s overall impact was perhaps very beneficial in regards to the impact on the USSR due to the way in which he and Trotsky made the country much more tactically advanced than they used to be (In the Civil War) by visiting the troops in order to inspire and encourage them, while those showing cowardice were executed- making more people willing to fight and win.
In addition to the positive impact Lenin had on the USSR, it is believed that Lenin had a negative impact on the USSR due to his reign of terror with the introduction of the ‘Cheka’; which was established on December 20, 1917 by a decree from Vladimir Lenin, of whom it came under the leadership of Dzerzhinsky to obliterate any opposition prior to the success of the Bolshevik revolution. The reason for this was because it appeared to greatly contradict Lenin’s own promises of October 1917 (The Decree on Land), as he ordered the ‘Cheka’ to take the land and grain from the land that 90% of peasants were desperate for, and requisitioned it; much to the disapproval of the peasants as it caused mass starvation. The ‘Cheka’ were also used to terrorise political opponents of the Bolsheviks as a warning to various other Counter-revolutionists, which gradually deteriorated into the USSR juxtaposing their promise of a Communist state, as Lenin’s increased reliance on Political Centralisation (A one-party state) meant that a more dictatorial, autocratic, imperialist and fascist regime arose, which was often not recognised by the apathetic and hopeful Russian people.
Therefore, linked to my last point with reference to the main question, it is argued that Lenin’s overall impact on the USSR was negative, because his distorted Communist values and promises, eventually contrasted the democratic society that the Russian people envisioned (due to Lenin being so deceitful) ; thus meaning that there were increased class-divisions again between the peasants and Bourgeoise, as the peasants were prosecuted the most but had the least to give, which caused mass anger in March 1921 when they attacked government grain stores and 100,000 were arrested. This was again a negative impact to the USSR from Lenin, because Communism was meant to be about harmonious living, equal distribution of material, and freedom of speech, however Lenin encouraged prosecution, inequality and an undemocratic society by shutting down the Provisional Government because he did not receive a majority, as well as relying on the Politburo as opposed to Sovnarkom because it contained his most loyal supporters- Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev.
Furthermore, another reason why many may be of the opinion that Lenin overall had a negative impact on the USSR, is because of the destruction to the USSR economy. Although, the USSR traded with India, this accounted for very little of their GDP, and could not supply the soldiers at War alone. Therefore, the government were forced to use their own money from the requisitioned grain from the peasants to supply the soldiers- which meant that there was not enough food and resources for those at home; leading to inflation, mass starvation, and bankruptcy for the nation, as workers were paid very little nationally.
Consequently, this was had a very negative impact on the USSR, as thousands of people died and were forced to sell human flesh in order to survive both physically and financially, and undoubtedly made many Russians question the gumption and adequacy of the Soviet leadership. This therefore meant that there was uproar, and that Lenin would find it harder to consolidate power- leading him to use brute force, threats and executions as a last resort to gain support from the nation, which again; strongly opposed Communist ideals that Lenin seemed so adamant to enforce.
On the contrary, Lenin’s impact on the USSR may be perceived to be successful in some ways, because their move away from democracy in hindsight was very beneficial for the USSR in regards to how quickly decisions were made for the Civil War, for example: Tactics and Weaponry. This quick decision-making meant that Lenin and Trotsky could always be ahead tactically of their opponent’s due to not having to spend weeks and months voting for an overall decision.
Therefore, the tactics of Trotsky and Lenin to abandon democracy during the Civil War could be argued to be a very successful impact on the USSR, because it eventually led to them winning the Civil War, and establishing the message to the World that the USSR who were a ‘Communist State’, could show such tactical, attacking and defensive prowess to be victorious. This may have convinced other Countries that Communism was not perhaps as weak as they ostensibly thought.
Conversely, an alternative interpretation to Lenin’s deceit and tactics to win the War, is that it had a negative impact on the USSR because it links to their economic destruction- supplying the soldiers, fake promises- abandoning democracy, manipulation of the people – fake promises of a Communist society, and ultimately, still lead to thousands being killed in a War that could have arguably been easily avoided if it had not been for the Czech Legion, and if Lenin had not used the Red Guards to close the Constituent Assembly in 1918, and killed anybody who objected, as this lead to the Social Revolutionaries fighting back by attacking the Bolshevik government, as well as the Mensheviks (who had controlled the Provisional Government, and who they had toppled from control of the Soviets in September), and by the Tsarists (who wanted to rescue Nicholas II and put him back on the throne).
In conclusion, many are of the impression that Lenin impacted the USSR a lot more negatively than positively, because with the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk for example, the USSR had lost much of its best agricultural and industrial land to Germany, Ukraine and Latvia, resulting in less food to grow for the nation. This links overall to the previous points of fake promises and economic destruction, because Lenin promised for peasants to gain more land in the ‘Decree of Land’, but the amount given to them was limited due to this treaty. Also, the treaty may be believed to be the main reason why Lenin had a negative impact on the USSR, because by signing the Treaty this reduced the amount of grain massively- meaning that lots of money was therefore lost as well. However, an alternative to this viewpoint, is that the money lost by giving away the land, was saved by the USSR being able to pull out of the War, as they no longer were required to spend all their money on supplying the soldiers.
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