Stalin's Lieutenants: A Study of Command under Duress

By William J. Spahr | Go to book overview
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6
STALIN ROUTS TROTSKY

Vrangel's defeat supposedly marked the end of the civil war. Now the Bolsheviks, having attained power by exploiting the longing of the masses for peace, land, and bread, were faced with redeeming their promises in a country ruined and exhausted from four years of world war followed almost immediately by four years of civil strife. And to say that the civil war was ended is to categorize the events at Tambov and Kronstadt in 1921 according to some new definition of fraternal conflict.

Trotsky was to claim that he realized in late 1919 that the economic policy known as "war communism" had to be modified. Under that policy, grain and other foodstuffs were requisitioned from the peasants by the government in return for arbitrarily fixed prices well below the open market level. Peasants refusing to sell to the government on these terms were branded as "kulaks" and "counterrevolutionaries" as well as being subject to the search and seizure of their farms. Trotsky urged some degree of restoration of the home market: the peasants had to be offered some incentives, other than artificially low, fixed state prices, to surrender their grain. Lenin opposed Trotsky's proposal ( Trotsky 1930, 461-64). The "New Economic Policy" (NEP), which ameliorated the lot of the peasantry, was not announced until March 1921.


THE ANTONOVSHCHINA

In early 1921, a widespread peasant revolt erupted in Tambov Gubernia (province) led by a Socialist Revolutionary, A. S. Antonov. The Politburo, after trying combinations of coercion and economic incentives to quell the revolt, decided in April to seek a military

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