Here is a term paper on the ‘Emergence of the Extra-European Super-Powers’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper # 1. The Long Term Growth of Russian Power from 1917 to 1945:
End of European hegemony; the war of 1914-18 produced two different kinds of diplomacy one followed by the USA and the other by Russia. While USA joined the war breaking her isolation, Russia withdrew herself from the war. The withdrawal was because of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Bolsheviks, who in 1917 grabbed power, soon found the war as inimical to Russia. As a result of this transformation of diplomacy, the entire gamut of world politics and diplomacy took a sharp U-turn.
In 1917 actually two revolutions took place in Russia, one in February when the Czardom found its long-awaited demise and the others on 7 November when the Bolsheviks had seized power from the provisional liberal government of the Mensheviks. Lenin (1870-1924) was the architect of the November Revolution and the new state. The provisional liberal Government composed of bourgeois elements and led by moderate’ republicans like Milinkov, a professor-politician.
The Government, however, introduced a number of reforms current in the Western countries like freedom of speech, of association, of the press and of religion. To determine the form of a permanent government, it announced that a Constituent Assembly would shortly be elected. But, at the same breath, it announced the continuance of the war and sought to stimulate the patriotism of the masses. The people cared little for patriotism; the more urgent demands were peace, bread and land.
Thus this government was proved not efficacious and came to naught. Disgruntled working-men and soldiers set up local Soviets all over Russia which became the centre of popular movement and propaganda against the existing government. Indiscipline stalked all over the country. The soldiers refused to pay heed to the command of their officers. The subject nationalities — like Finns and Poles — began to assert their freedom and to break away from their union with Russia. The Empire was in a process of rapid disintegration.
At this stage, the moderate socialists, known as Mensheviks, led by Kerensky, replaced the unpopular government. But he soon found himself in a disastrous situation. He wanted to introduce socialism by constitutional methods and gradual stages but his policy found no favour with the extreme wing of the socialists — known as Bolsheviks. These extremists were opposed to war and wanted to bring about an end of the war. They sought to establish the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ as soon as possible by overthrowing the existing order.
They were led by two returned exiles, Lenin and Trotsky. Taking advantage of the prevailing confusion, Germany captured Riga and so threatened Petrograd itself. Soon the Bolsheviks improved their organisation and took up the control of the Petrograd Soviet and, on 7th November 1917, seized power and established a Government composed of Bolsheviks headed by Lenin. The important members of the Government were Trotsky, Stalin, Rykov and Lunacharsky. Trotsky was the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Stalin for National Minorities.
After their successful revolution the Bolsheviks, found their task was one of enormous difficulty. Firstly, they had to secure the acceptance of their rule within Russia as well as without. Secondly, the war with Germany was still going on and the supporters of Czarist regime enlisted foreign assistance to throw the Bolsheviks out of power. Finally, the overall economic condition of Russia was worse. Under this situation the Communists had to be consolidated.
To secure these objects external peace was imperative so that the Bolsheviks could engage themselves with their full strength and energy on the pressing problems at home. Hence, immediately, Lenin opened negotiations with the Central Powers and concluded a humiliating treaty — the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. But for Lenin and his followers no sacrifice was too great to secure the triumph of the social revolution which they were bent upon accomplishing. The Treaty was signed on 3 March 1918. The Allied Powers and the enemies of the Bolsheviks strongly denounced the Treaty.
But the most pressing problem was perhaps the civil war in Russia from 1918 to 1921. The Bolsheviks founded the Third International in 1919 with the object of a world revolution by appealing to the workers of the world to overthrow their democratic governments and establish ‘dictatorship of the Proletariat’. Lenin was obviously confident about the revolution to come. But it did not take place. It was the Herculean task of Trotsky who brought to an end the civil war and consolidated Bolshevik authority.
Forced by the events, Lenin devised a new kind of social revolution. He declared that “we will destroy the bourgeoisie, grind it to a powder.” Accordingly, the liquidation of both the nobility and the bourgeoisie was carried out with thoroughness and much cruelty. The All-Russian Commission for Combating Counter Revolution, Speculation and Sabotage — better known as Cheka — was formed in December 1917 to wipe out all opposition to the rule of the Bolsheviks.
In 1918 the so-called Red-Terror was proclaimed to destroy some of the opposition and to terrorise the others into accepting the dictatorship of the Communists. On 18th July 1918, the entire family of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and their children, together with a number of attendants were shot dead and their dead bodies thrown into a mine shaft. Gradually the Proletariat dictatorship turned into single party dictatorship.
However, the Bolsheviks pulled through all these troubles and had made sweeping changes in the socio-economic system of Russia.
Being a realist Lenin introduced a New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921 which practically abandoned the programme of pure communism, but the situation compelled to adopt this new policy which combined state socialism and private enterprise. Lenin regarded it as a temporary makeshift. No doubt, the plan proved a grand success.
Lenin breathed his last in 1924 and Stalin virtually became the new dictator. The New Economic Policy, by this time, boosted economic prosperity of Russia. The farmers were given sufficient freedom to use their economic resources. The Government gave up its monopoly in grain and introduced free trade in all agricultural products. The requisition of foodstuff from the peasants was abandoned and they were required to pay a fixed tax instead, at first in kind and, after 1924, in money.
Private enterprise on a small scale was allowed, nationalisation was allowed only to big industries. Foreign capital was welcomed to increase production. It is a fact that the adoption of the New Economic Policy allowed the admission of capitalist elements into socialist economy but that retreat was planned, orderly and short-lived.
The State General Planning Commission was set up in February 1921 and the work of planning, control and management was placed in its hands. The Central Agricultural Bank was set up to grant credit to peasants. As a result, both agricultural production and productivity of labour in agriculture increased to a great extent.
The Government laid great emphasis on the development of industries. There was an unprecedented growth of industrial production. It is estimated that the average annual increase in industrial output during the period 1921 to 1925 was about 41%. There was rise not only in production but also in wages. It is estimated that, in 1925-26, wages were 34% above those in 1913. In 1926 the heavy industrial output increased by 43.2% as compared with the previous year. In 1927, it further increased by 14%. In 1928, it increased by about 25%. The rise in production helped the Government to improve the living standards of the people.
But the Government faced serious problem in procuring grains when the kulaks refused to sell their produce to the State. So, in December 1927, the Communist Party decided to follow the policy of collectivization of agriculture. Small individual peasant farms were turned into large-scale collective farms.
Term Paper # 2. Foreign Policy under Lenin and Stalin:
The Communists regarded the Russian Revolution as the first step of world revolution. Lenin was confident that Communism was destined to conquer the world. To quote him “It is not a question of only Russia. This is merely one phase through which we must pass on the way to world revolution.” He regarded world revolution not only inevitable but also imminent. To quote him again, “we are doomed to destruction unless revolution breaks out without delay in other countries.”
While making a study of the foreign policy of Soviet Russia after the successful October Revolution of 1917 under the leadership of Lenin we find ourselves in a different proposition. It is said that national interest is the basis of the foreign policy of a country. But, in the case of the Soviet Union, we find a peculiar blending of the ideology of Marxism-Leninism with the vague term of ‘national interest’ so much so that one is sought to be forcibly harmonised with the other.
All existing States of the world, not subscribing to the Soviet model are discredited as ‘bourgeois’ States destined to disappear in course of time. As such, the question of a ‘socialist’ state having permanent relations with the ‘bourgeois’ states of the world does not arise. At the same time, the ‘socialist’ state is committed to contribute its part to the realisation of the goal of international socialism. It is because of this that a fundamental change is said to have occurred in the sphere of foreign policy after the successful revolution in Russia in 1917.
To say that Russian foreign policy under the great Marxist leaders like Lenin and his successors was like the continuation of the old Czarist policy is altogether absurd. The reason behind it is that the new Soviet leaders not only repudiated the line of their predecessors, they sought to give a basically new shape to the foreign policy of their country of reconciling the premises of Marxism with the national interest of the ‘fatherland of Socialism’. Naturally, the canons of expediency and opportunism had their way into the formulation of this new policy.
However, the most perplexing feature of the Russian foreign policy finds place in a dexterous combination of the high principles of Marxism with the tactical norms of flexibility as sanctioned by the strategy of Leninism. Expose secret diplomacy of the ‘bourgeois’ states and, at the same time, follow it for its own purpose becomes the most perplexing of Soviet diplomacy.
The preaching of the doctrine of peaceful co-existence, and, at the same time, working for the subversion of other political systems has their simultaneous flow. It is on this account Soviet relations with major ‘bourgeois’ countries of the world witnessed rise and fall at successive stages during the inter-war period (1919-1938).
An important shift in the Soviet Russia’s diplomacy appeared after the passing away of Lenin in January 1924. A war of succession ensued from which Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) emerged triumphant. Soviet regime became more ruthless under the hold of Stalin. Now the Soviet leaders like Litvinov took the course of openly condemning the diplomacy of bourgeois states and their role in maintaining peace through the League of Nations.
While attacking the League on November 23, 1925, Litvinov said in a press interview that “it is a cover for the preparation of military action for the further suppression of small and weak nationalities”. Therefore, the USSR, as a State of working masses, cannot take responsibility for the League of Nations.
To pursue this principle an International Conference of Communists was held in Moscow in 1919. Lenin organised this gathering as the Third International or Comintern with Moscow as its headquarters. This Communist International aimed at organising world revolution and outlined a programme of Communist uprising all over the world.
From 1918 to 1921 Soviet foreign policy was directed to over- throw the constitutional governments — wherever it is possible. The branches of the Third International were opened in several countries. Its activities roused great hostility and suspicion in most countries and for several years the Bolshevik Government was not recognised by other states.
Soon Lenin realised that capitalism in the West was too strongly entrenched to be speedily overthrown. Moreover, in 1921-22 a terrible famine devastated Volga basin because of draught that ruined the harvests. The situation needed material help from the West. Foreign manufacture and foreign technical advice could not be secured unless the Bolshevik propaganda was stopped. Lenin wanted to bring an end to Russia’s commercial and diplomatic isolation. Negotiation was opened with Britain and an Anglo-Russian trade agreement was concluded in 1921.
Within a year similar trade agreements were concluded with eleven other countries. Hence, the USSR obtained de facto recognition by many of the Western countries, although full diplomatic relation could not be restored for the nonce. Russia had to wait until 1924 when the British premier Macdonald of the Labour Party extended his goodwill and unconditional de jure recognition in 1924. Immediately Italy followed suit and by 1924 nine other European countries recognised Bolshevik Government. Bolshevik Government thus re-entered the arena of world politics.
But in 1925 the scenario was again changed. When the Locarno Agreements were made in October 1925, its news in the Kremlin caused ample alarm. Speaking at XIV Party Congress, in December 1925, Stalin expressed his grave concern commenting that it “was pregnant with a new war in Europe……..”
The Soviet reaction to the Kellog-Briand Pact of August 1925 must be studied against this background. Stalin took strong exception to the fact that the negotiations that culminated in the conclusion of a pact for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy had no representation of the USSR.
However, the most important achievement of Russian foreign policy during the latter part of the period of pacification’ (1925-30) was a steady improvement in her relations with Germany. Reference should now be made to the Neutrality Agreement signed by the two powers on April 24, 1926. With the conclusion of this treaty, the entire Western world was taken aback.
The conclusion of this treaty should be attributed to the successful diplomacy of the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Russia who ardently desired to improve the position of their countries in the comity of nations in the midst of prevailing conditions of Anglo-French hegemony. Both parties sought to make capital out of it in their own ways. The, East Pact, also known by the name of the Litvinov Protocol, was signed on 9 February 1929 by Poland, USSR, Rumania, Estonia and Latvia. It certainly came as a significant success for Soviet foreign Policy.
The relations of the USSR with the bourgeois states of the world improved after the triumph of Stalin’s edict of ‘Socialism in one country’. He discarded the Comintern plan of immediate world revolution. The expulsion of the arch-protagonist of the world-revolution (Trotsky) and Zinoviev in 1927 came as a concrete proof of the eventual victory of the Stalin Line. Stalin declared that the best propaganda for Communism would be the success of the Russian experiment and, to achieve it, peace was necessary.
The Soviet Union had thus at length accepted the fundamental basis of international community of States and it was only a matter of time as E. H. Carr observes. The Soviet Union began regularly co-operating in the economic, humanitarian and disarmament activities of the League. For the first time, in 1927, the representatives of the Soviet Union came to Geneva to attend the meetings of a general economic conference and also of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference.