By 1921 Lenin’s government had succeeded in winning the civil war and driving out all foreign invaders. The major task of the Soviet government now was rebuilding the country, especially getting the economy functioning. To do so involved creating a more harmonious balance between city and countryside and carrying out the tasks of industrialization and modernization. Much effort was made to extend health, education, cultural development, and other gains to increasing numbers of workers and peasants and to draw many of them into the government and upper levels of society.
For many years, the example of the Russian revolutions of 1917 inspired workers and other oppressed people throughout the world. This was true not only in the massive international Communist movement, but also among many others inclined to challenge the established order. The Russian revolutionary experiences of 1917 influenced later revolutions throughout the 20th century.
On the other hand, hopes for rebuilding soviet democracy were not realized. The Communist Party was supposed to be a highly principled working-class force that would control the new government bureaucracy. However, the bureaucratic mode of functioning, combined with the brutalizing effects of the civil war, transformed the Communist Party into an increasingly authoritarian body. Lenin proved utterly unsuccessful in his efforts, during the last years of his life, to push back bureaucratic developments and to end the influence of Joseph Stalin, the most authoritarian of the Communist leaders. Similar efforts by other Communist leaders throughout the 1920s, most notably by Leon Trotsky and his Left Opposition, were defeated. Stalin became the USSR’s unquestioned dictator. Even his onetime ally, Nikolay Bukharin, proved unable to curb the tyrant’s increasingly brutal excesses.
Millions, including many Communists, suffered and died after Stalin and his supporters consolidated their dictatorship in the early 1930s.
As the USSR was experiencing significant economic development and becoming a major world power, the bureaucratic and authoritarian nature of the Stalin regime gave Communism the profoundly undemocratic connotation that it has for many people today. For many, socialism came to mean not economic democracy but merely state ownership and control of the economy. Even the word soviet became associated simply with the USSR’s dictatorial regime. Stalin’s successors in subsequent Communist governments of that country later denounced his crimes, but they were never successful in overcoming the dictatorial legacy. That legacy ultimately undermined the country’s future development, contributing in significant ways to the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Many analysts argue that such a dictatorship was inherent in the nature of Lenin’s ideas, Marxism, socialism, and even revolution as such.
Others explain its development by pointing to different factors: deep-rooted aspects of Russian culture from tsarist times, the failure of working-class revolutions in more industrialized countries, and the impact of hostile foreign pressures. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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