Class 9 History

The Civil War

After the land distribution order by the Bolsheviks, the Russian army began to break up. Most of the soldiers had come from farming background and hence wanted to go home for the redistribution of land.

Non-Bolshevik socialists, liberals and supporters of autocracy protested the Bolshevik uprising. Their leaders moved to south Russia. They organized troops to fight the Bolsheviks (the reds). The greens (Socialist Revolutionaries) and whites (pro-Tsarists) controlled most of the Russian empire during 1918 and 1919. They were backed by French, American, British and Japanese troops. These forces were worried at the growth of socialism in Russia. A civil war ensued between these forces and the Bolsheviks.

Supporters of private property (among whites) took harsh steps against peasants who had seized land. But such actions led to a loss of popular support for the non-Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks took control of most of the former Russian empire by January 1920. The succeeded because of cooperation with non-Russian nationalities and Muslim jadidists. But the cooperation did not work where Russian colonists themselves turned Bolshevik. In Khiva (Central Asia), Bolshevik colonists brutally massacred local nationalists in the name of defending socialism.

Finally, in December 1922, the Soviet Union (USSR) was formed from the Russian empire. Most non-Russian nationalities were given political autonomy in this union to prevent oppression by the Russian colonists. But various unpopular policies of the Bolsheviks meant that the attempts to win over different nationalities were only partially successful.

Making a Socialist Society

Planned Economy: A process of centralized planning was introduced by the Bolshevik. The officials planned for the development of the economy and made the Five Year Plans. Industrial growth was the target of the first two ‘Plans’ (1927-32 and 1933-38). Industrial production increased during this period and new industrial cities came up.

But rapid construction led to poor working conditions. Workers' quarters were built in haphazard manner; without giving proper attention to certain facilities. Toilets and other conveniences were often made across the street from the living quarter. It often made for miserable life in the bitterly cold weather.

Schools were established for workers’ children and an extended schooling system was developed for factory workers and peasants. Crèches were made in factories for the benefit of women workers. Cheap healthcare was provided by the government.