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The "Russian" Civil Wars, 1916—1926Ten Years That Shook the World$
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Jonathan Smele

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190233044

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190233044.001.0001

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On the Internal Fronts

(p.173) 5 1917–21
The "Russian" Civil Wars, 1916—1926

Jonathan D. Smele

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the challenges to Bolshevik rule within the Soviet zone during the civil wars, including peasant rebellions against the requisitioning of foodstuffs that were at the heart of the stringent policies of War Communism introduced in 1918 — notably in Tambov, the Urals and Western Siberia in 1920-21. The impact upon the course of the struggles of the anarchist forces of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine is also foregrounded, as is the Red Terror introduced to cow opposition to the Soviet regime. The perceived deviation from the aims of the revolution also caused consternation within the Bolshevik party, spawning the Workers' Opposition that demanded greater proletarian involvement in industrial management, and, during the Kronshtadt Revolt of February–March 1921, even inspired armed opposition to the “Commissarocracy” from the party's formerly most fervent supporters in the Baltic Fleet. The Bolsheviks' abandonment of War Communism and its replacement with a market-orientated New Economic Policy in 1921 placated the population but, it is argued here, was not intended as a retreat in the civil wars: rather, it provided Moscow with the opportunity to complete its persecution of the Mensheviks, the Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries and proponents of anarchism, whilst synchroniously launching an anti-religious campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church.

Keywords:   War Communism, Nestor Makhno, Red Terror, Workers' Opposition, Kronshtadt Revolt, New Economic Policy, Mensheviks, Party of Socialists-Revolutionaries, anarchism, Russian Orthodox Church

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