The Bolsheviks Retreat (March 1921–December 1922)

  • Robert Service


The New Economic Policy was something of a misnomer since it had political as well as economic ramifications. No Bolshevik leader, at least in the first few months of its operation, pretended that it did not constitute an ideological retreat. The party was perfectly aware of the hazards involved in permitting the free trading of agricultural products and the denationalisation of the smaller factories, but rightly calculated that the hazards of refusing such concessions would be even greater. The inspiring hope was that these measures would guarantee the speedy recovery of Soviet society and its economy from the devastation of the Civil War. After the Tenth Party Congress it was decided by the Politburo to extend the scope of its accommodation to private enterprise. Fixed-term contracts were to be signed with numerous foreign firms ready and willing to operate in the Baku oilfields and other traditional areas of the country’s industry. Care was always taken to retain ‘the commanding heights’ of the economy in governmental hands; large-scale factories, banking and foreign trade were kept outside the private sector. The results were impressive. Factory output is reckoned to have risen by over 40 per cent between 1920 and 1921, and by a further 30 percent between 1921 and 1922.


Central Committee Party Member Central Leader Local Committee Central Party 
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Notes and References

  1. 9.
    L. Trotski, Moya zhizn’: opyt autobiografii (Berlin, 1932), Chapter 34.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    L. Trotski, Novyi kurs, which has been translated by M. Schachtman in The New Course (Ann Arbor, 1965).Google Scholar
  3. 42.
    G. S. Agabekov, GPU: zapiski chekista (Berlin, 1930), Part 1, p. 63.Google Scholar

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© Robert Service 1979

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  • Robert Service

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