War Communism

War Communism was the policy which was adopted by Lenin and his Sovnarkom during the Civil War.

War communism included the following policies:
• All industry was nationalized and strict centralized management was introduced.
• State monopoly on foreign trade was introduced.
• Militarisation of the workplace where discipline for workers was strict, and strikers could be shot
• Obligatory labour duty was imposed onto “non-working classes”
• Prodrazvyorstka – requisition of agricultural surpluses from peasants in excess of absolute minimum for centralized distribution among the remaining population
• Food and most commodities were rationed and distributed in urban centres in a centralized way
• Private enterprise became illegal
• The state introduced military-style control of railroads

War Communism had a poor effect on the economic situation of Russia. It was estimated that the total output of mines and factories in 1921 had fallen to 20% of the pre–World War level. In addition to this other industries such as cotton production fell to 5% and iron to 2% of pre-war levels. This showed that economic conditions under Lenin were far worse than under the Tsar. In addition the requisition of agricultural surpluses without pay led to peasants having no incentive to create an efficient level of crops. The peasants responded to requisitions by refusing to till the land. By 1921, cultivated land had shrunk to 62% of the pre-war amount and the harvest yield was only about 37% of normal. The exchange rate with the U.S. dollar declined from two rubles in 1914 to 1,200 in 1920. Workers began migrating from the cities to the countryside. Between 1918 and 1920, Petrograd lost 75% of its population, whilst Moscow lost 50%. The shortages caused widespread famine and deaths amongst the Russian populace. This was highlighted through the Russian Famine of 1921 where an estimated 10 million people died mostly from the Volga-Ural region.