Political Reforms of 1919

Lenin was a great believer that political reforms had to accompany economic reforms. During the civil war, the Bolsheviks had to have a stranglehold on rights in the areas that they controlled. Few would have been able to differentiate between the repression of the tsars and the autocratic nature of the Bolsheviks. For Lenin, the ends justified the means. During the civil war, Lenin acted as much as a dictator as Stalin was to become in future years.

Ironically, the one person who argued with Lenin over the introduction of more democracy was Leon Trotsky. It was the Commissar of War who had ordered the soldiers into Krondstadt to put down the sailors who had mutinied there. It was also Trotsky who had won the civil war at a military level. Whether the power he had acquired had determined Trotsky’s outlook is open to discussion. However, he lost out to Lenin who was in favour of so-called ‘resolutions’. These introduced far more democracy to Russia. They satisfied the intellectual Democratic Centralists who were firm supporters of ‘resolutions’.

Lenin won the day over Trotsky. To symbolise the new moderate era of the Bolsheviks, the three secretaries of the party (Krestinskii, Preobrazhenskii and Serebriankov) were dismissed. They had to take the blame for the way the party had moved towards a dictatorial policy. Preobrazhenskii was also a major opponent of the New Economic Policy.

On the last day of the 10th Party Conference, Lenin put forward two new resolutions: “Party Unity” and “The Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in our Party”.

The first resolution was in response to the belief that the party was splitting up into smaller groups each with their own discipline and loyalty. Lenin argued that splits in the party only encouraged the enemies of the party. The resolution called for the immediate dissolution of all groups within the party. Those who refused would be expelled form the party and the party’s Central Committee was to have full disciplinary powers in this issue.

The second resolution condemned the views of the Workers’ Opposition on the role of trade unions in exercising control over industry. Lenin believed that Marxism was the only way to educate, unite and organise the workers. Lenin argued that the beliefs of the Workers’ Opposition went against this. The charges against them were unjust but the 10th Congress needed to show unity and Lenin was supported in both resolutions. In fact, Congress passed them both with huge majorities.

The 10th Congress greatly strengthened Lenin’s power over the party. Having received the support of the 10th Congress for both resolutions, Lenin dropped both of them.

Related Posts

  • The Bolsheviks were born out of Russia’s Social Democrat Party. When the party split in 1903, the Bolsheviks only had one obvious leader – Lenin.…