The New Economic Policy (NEP)
At the end of the period of War Communism the most pressing problem was peasant agriculture. Production had fallen sharply—by 1921 the sown area had decreased by 30 per cent compared with 1913—and the peasants refused to sell for worthless currency the crops they did raise. The New Economic Policy began as an emergency measure to decrease the pressure upon the peasant and thus to increase his incentive to produce—an approach Lenin called the “alliance” or “bond” of worker and peasant. The first step was the abandonment of grain seizures (the “surplus-grain appropriation system”) and the introduction of a fixed tax on peasant production, first in kind and later in money. Such a tax implied a free market where the peasant could sell his surplus and, in turn, industrial production geared to the market. To those who objected that this amounted to a surrender to capitalism, Lenin replied that state control of heavy industry, transport, and banking assured a socialist core that would gradually expand and provide the means for transforming the Russian economy into an entirely socialist one. The first document below is the resolution, adopted in March, 1921, by the 10th Party Congress, establishing the tax in kind. The second is taken from a speech by Lenin, made a month later to a group of party functionaries, explaining the reasons for the new policy and his views on its evolution.
KeywordsFree Market Small Enterprise State Capitalism Peasant Farming Soviet Government
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- Excerpts from a speech delivered on April 9, 1921, to a meeting of party officials of the Moscow region, reprinted in V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. XXXII (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965), pp. 286–298.Google Scholar