The Winds of Bureaucracy (January 1923–January 1924)
The Bolshevik Politburo met a spring and summer of crisis in 1923. The economic symptoms were a slow-down in the rate of industrial growth and a fall-off in the amounts of grain reaching the towns from the countryside. The peasantry felt it was getting a raw deal. The prices of industrial goods had risen, in real terms, three times as quickly as the prices of agricultural products in the decade since the start of the First World War. Rural households perceived less and less incentive to trade in the urban market. Quite apart from the mounting difficulty of feeding the population of the towns, it was becoming no easy task to keep the factories at anything near full operating capacity. Peasants refused to pay so much for their industrial purchases. The Politburo, in a bid to balance its financial books, concluded that a cut-back in factory production was inevitable. This was a drastic measure. Not only did it mean the consignment of valuable machinery to temporary disuse; it also involved the lay-off of thousands of members of the work force. Strikes burst out across the country. The underground groups led by ex-Bolsheviks, despite all the dangers they were running in defying the government, took up the cause of the strikers. A more embarrassing situation was scarcely conceivable fora political party which had ridden to power on its promises to the working class.
KeywordsGall Arena Boris Chalk Barb
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