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PELICAN BOOKS

THE INTERREGNUM
1923-1924
I

in 1892 and educatecl
Eclward Hallett Carr was born
London' antl Trinitv
School'
Taylors'
on"^t"¡"tt
Foreign office.in
joined
the
ä.iiãä Caori¿ee. He jobs
coTït^e^d-Ti:h
in
and
1916, atdafter numerous
in 193! and
resigned
he
abroad
and
home
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Professor of lnternational Politics
Wilson
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Abervstwvth:
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r of The Times ft om

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to
Colleee' oxford' fr91 19s^r
Camcollese;
rrinitv
öitlãilo*"*e a Follow ofmany
p'ublications are:
his
Among
1955'

O.i¿g",
Twentv

fniTå-"n

l968)'The
¡, Exiles (L933 ; Pereg:ríùe

rsts-ts3s (te3e), condit*^ !{.::?:'
(1946)'
Impact o'n the western lhorld
"rïri,,,
Soviet
iilq;), The
is Hßtorv? (1961;

äå:l

ãr;í;",

Societv (1951) and What

Pelican 1964).

large-scale History of
The fust three volumes of his
collec(1
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I
9 2 3 (P elic-an'
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7
9
1
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UE E IELEFELD
148/949843+ I

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nirírrii"*, 1s2s-1s24 (te54)' arc * l*:-:bj"o
(19.58-64)'
î"-* t*"íu* in one Countrv' 1924-1926
is 1917:
essays'
of
collection
ffit *"u recent book, a
Before and After (1969)'

lient of

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,1! first
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tLale

A HISTORY OF SOVIET }ìUSSIA

&;

THE, INTERREG}dUh'{

1923-t924
EDWARD HALLÉTT CAR.R

'trufion,

cceedLent

of

1923) mathr the
9 flrst
',L924,

tce or

ersial
se: in

ished

l that
pects

ions.
I too
n fhe

nt of
1926,
L4

to

The
tçcarrial,

iude

The
rtish

and

PENGUIN BOOKS
BÄLTIMORE

MÀRYLÄND

reen

Iniord
rale

t'J '':

,''r'jiii
Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
Penguin Books .dutralia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Äustralía

.

FREFACE
First publishetl by Macmillan 1954
Published in Pelican Books 1969
opyright O Macmillaà &' Co.' 7954
uaoe an¿ printeJ Great Briiain
Cox &'Wyman Ltd
London, Reading and Fakenh
Set

'.I

in Monotype TimeJ

'!

,

'

IN the preface to the first volume of The Bolshevik Revolution,
published in 1950, I expressed the intention of proceeding, on the corrpletion of this work, to'the second instalment of
tlre whole project' under the title The Struggle for Pov,er, 19231928. Furttrer consideration and fuller examination of the material have led me to modify this plan in several respects. In the
first place, the last months of Lenin's last illneds and the ûrst
weeks after his death, the interval from March 1923 to }lJay 1924,
appeared to constitute a sort of intermediate period - a truce or
19 17-1 92 3,

bY

.j

., | '

'' 41.1'#

i'?
: r i-.
"r'- "¡,'
,l
t-'

interregnum

t--.:¡

in party and

Soviet affairs

-

when controversial

decisions were, so far as possible, avoided or held in suspense: in
thenewplanthis period occupies a separatevolume, now published
under the title The Interregnum, 1923-1924. Next, it was founcl that
the period from 1924 fo 1928, while constituting in many respects
a unity, could more conveniently be divided into twb sections.
Finally, the title originally suggested for this period seerned too
trivial, and inadequate to the fundamental issries involved in the

"

Br'e¡L,,t,,c

This book is sold subject to the condition
that ít shall not, by way of trade ol otherwise,
be lent, re-sold, hired out, or othe¡wíse circulated
without the publisher's prior consent in any form of
binding or cover other than that jn which it is
published and without a simila¡ condition
including thís condition being imposed

or the subsequent purchaser

struggle. According to my present plan, the third instalment of
my project will bear the title Socialism in One Country, 1924-1926,
will cover the period approximately from the summer of 1924 to
the first months of 1,926, and will occupy two{' volumes. The
proclamation of 'socialism in one country' wili provide the occasion for some reflexions, which I feel to be appropriate at this stage,
on the relation between the Bolshevik revolution and the material,
political and cultural lega-cy of the Russian past.
I have once more to acknowledge a continuing debt of gratitude
tomanyof thosewho heiped mein the earlier stages of mytask. The
most important sources of my material have again been the British
Museum and the libraries of the London School of Economics and
of the Royal Institute of Intemational Affairs. I have also been
ableto use thelibraries of theSchoolof Slavonic Studies of theUniversity of Loudonand ofthelnstitute of Agrarian Affairs of ûxford

University, the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale
* It did in fact occupy th¡ee volumes.

)

I

I

6

PREFACE

I
I

Contemporaine of the University of Faris, and the librarìes of the
International Labour Office at Geneva and of the Internationaal
instituutvoor Sociale Geschiedenis atAmsterdam. It wasin thelastnamed institute that I found the typewritten copy of the hitheito
unpnblished'platform of the 46'from which I made the translation printed in the present volume. I wish to express my very warm
thanks to the librarians of all these institutions and their staffs for
their invaluableassistanceand for the untiring patiencewith which
they have receivecl ancl satisfled my exacting demands on thern.
The present volume has suffered, in comparison with its predecessors, from the fact that I have had no opportunity ofvisiting the
United States while I have been engaged on it. Bttt I hav*e been
deeply indebted to Mrs Olga Gankin of the Hoover Library andtrnstitute at Stanford for her unfailing kindness in answering my
most pertinacious inquiries and in supplying information from the
rich and still partly unexplored resources of the library. Few
scholars appear so far to have worked on the Trotsky archives in
the Houghton Library of Harvard University; nor, so far as I know,
has any systematic account yet been publishecl of what they con'
tain. This is a most serious gap in our knowledge of Soviet history.
My special thanks are due to Mr Isaac Deutscher, the biographer of Stalin and Trotsky, both for reading and crittcizing a
substantial part of my manuscript and for putting at my dispofal
notes made by him from the Trotsky archives during a visit in
1951; to Herr Heinrich Brandler for giving me his personal
recollections of the events of 1923; to Mr Maurice Dobb and
Mr H. C. Stevens for lending me books and pamphlets whi'ch I
should otherwise have missed; to Mrs Degras for once more
volunteering to read the proofs, and to Dr IIya Neustadt for compiling the index - two particularly onerous tasks, the discharge of
whichplacesboththeauthorandhisreadersvery much in theirdebt.
The bibliog¡aphy is a continuation of the one which appeared at
the endof the thirdvolume of The Bolshevik Revolut ion, I 9 17-1923,
and has the same limited scope. Some critics of that volume complained that I had not supplied a complete bibliography, including
secondary sources. This is a counsel of perfection ; and I must with
regret leave the compilation ofsuch awork to other hands. Secondary sources which I have found useful are cited in the footnotes.
5

January

1954

E.

n. CARR

CONTENTS

i
ì

l

PART I

Tlte Scissors Crisìs
¡¡anrtNc rrv¡
2 rtln ptlcur oF LABoUR

:
:

1

I

3 rHn cntsrs BREAtis
4 tHB crosIr.Jc oF THE sclssoRs

:

l

:

7t
47
95
127

PART II
The CapÌtalist World

i

ì

5 tn¡ occup.A,TIoN oF THE RUHR
6 rn¡ cunzoN ULTrMÀTUM

l

7

l

COUI¿UNTS¡T,î

AND GERI\4AN NATIONALISM

8 eurcant.À AND TI{E PEASÄNT

9 rtrn c¡nuaN FIAsco
l

10 REcocNrrroN

16t
L73

182
i9B
209
252

PART III
The Triuntvirate Ìn Power

i

l

j

i
)

i

l

i
¡

I

l
I

)
I;

11 rn¡ TRIUMVTRATE TÄKES ovER
12 srnar¡¡s AND srREssgs
13 rnr cAMPÄrcN AcArNsr rRorsKy
14 rnE DEA.TH oF LENIN
Note A. THE PLATFoRU or rnr 46

LIST OF ABBREVIA,TIONS
BIBLIOGRÄ.PHY
INDEX

265
300
316
349
374
381
JÓJ

387

PART

T

THE SCISSORS CRISTS

CHAPTER

1

MARKING TIME
IN the winter of 1922-3, after two years of NEP, a noteworthy
revival was discernible in the Soviet economy - a reviva-l due partly
to the natural process of recovery from the long orcleal of war and
civil war, partly to the excellent harvest of 1922, and paltly to the
new policies which had been inarigurated in March 1921. Froduction had risen steeply both in agriculture ancl in rural and
artisan industry, and less steeply in factory industries producing
consumer goods (and as yet hardly at all in the heavy industries
producing capital goods); while the peasant was the principal
beneficiary of NEF, the industrial worker had been freed frorn
laboui conscription, and his miserable standarcl of living had to
some extent risen; both internal and foreign trade were being
developed; the foundation of a fiscal system and a vrorking state
budget had been laid, and the flrst steps taken towards the creation
of a stable currency. On the other hand, none of these aims was
distinctively socialist. The structure of the economy was capitalist
or pre-capitalist except for the nationalized industries; and these
had been obliged to adapt themselves to a quasi-capitalist environment through the obligation laid on them to conduct their
business on commercial principles. The successes of NEP had
been achieved by resort to capitalist methods and brought with
them two incidental consequences which Marxists had always
regarded as characteristic evils of capitalism - large-scale unemployment and violent price fluctuations. The problem which
had dogged the victorious revolution since 1917, ancl was inherent
in the attempt to effect the transition to socialism in a predominantly peasant community, was its dependence on the support of the

peasantry. In 7921 a temporary solution seemed to have been
found in the adoption of NEP; the alliánce with the peasantry
had been so securely welded that it would hold until the spread
of the proletarian revolution to Europe brought relief to the
struggling Russian proletariat. But, at the moment of Lenin's
final withdrawal from the scene, this assumption was for the first
time severely challenged, .A revival of economic tension, primarily

ll

THE SCISSORS CRISIS
due to wild fluctuations in rnarket prices, opened a new rift

MARKING TIME

12

between industry and agriculture, between proletariat anõl peasantry, and called in question the tenability of the NEP compronrise.
Attention has already been drawn to certain inconsistencies in
the attitude to NF P revealed in the pronouncements of the party
and of Lenin himself, turning on the equivocal position of the
peasant as the necessary ally of the proletariat but the ultimate
obstacle to be overcome on the road to socialism.l Lenin had been
fully conscious at an early stage of NEF of the anomalies inherent

in it:
There are more contradictions

in our economic reality than

there,

were before the new economic policy: partial, small irnprovements in
the economic position among some stfata of the population, among a
few; cornplete inability to make econonric resources square with indispensable needs among the rest, among themany. These contradictions
have grown gteater, And it is understandable that, so long as we are
going through a sharp turn, it is impossible to escape frorn these cbntra-

dictions all at once.z
When, at the eleventh party congress in the spring of 1922, under
from those who dwelt on the disastrous consequences of
NEF for industry, Lenin announcedtheending of the'retreat',3 it
was a natural deduction that there would be no more concessions
to the peasant.Yef at the same congress he dwelt with the utmost
emphasis on the need to 'restore the link', to come to the help of
'the ruined, impoverished, miserably hungry' small peasant 'or he will send us to all the devils'.a In his speech at the fourth
congress of Comintern in November 1922 - his last public speech
but one - Lenin spoke both of the satisfaction that had been given
to the peasant and of the need for state subsidies for heavy industry ('unless we find them, we are lost').s A week later in his
last speech of all, he referred to the 'retreat' as sti1l in progress,
and added frankly:
pressLrre

'!,. See The Bolshevík

Revolution, 1917-1923, Yol' 2, pp. 27Ç9.

2.Lenin, Sochineniya, xxvii,

71.

3. See The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Yol 2, p. 277.
4. Lenin, Sochinenìya, xxvü,231.
5. See The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, VoI. 2, pp. 295, 315-16'

13

Where and how we must now re-form ourselves, adapt ourselves,
re-organize ourselves so that after the retreat we may begin a stubborn
move forward, we still do not know.l

In one of his last articles, written in January 1923, he described
the Soviet order as'founded on the collaboration oftwo classes,
the workers and the peasants', and laid down what he regarded
as the major task of the party:
If serious class antagonisms arise between these two classes, then a
split will be unavoidable; but in our social order there are no fixed and
inevitable grounds for such a split, and the chief task of our central
committee and central control commission, and of our party as a
whole, is to watch attentively those circumstances out of which a split
might arise and anticipate them, since in the last resort the fate of our
republic will depend on whether the peasant mass goes with the wo¡king class and remains faithful to its alliance wiih that class, or whether
it âllows the 'nepmen', i.e. the new bourgeoisie, to divide it from the
workers, to split it away from them.2
Thus, while Lenin had appeared in 1.922to voice the demand for a
resumption of the march towards socialism, his last injunction was
to keep the link with the peasantry in being at all costs. So long as
the compromise held, all was well. But, in any crisis which made
the existing compromise unworkable without further concessions
to one side or the other, any colrrse of action could be supported
by appropriate quotations from the fountain-head.
The fust signs of crisis began to appear when, in the winter of
1922-3, the terms of trade between agricultural and industrial
goods, hitherto favourable to the former, began to move slowly
but steadily in favour of industry. NEP had given the peasant the
opportunity to recoup himself, after the privations and terrors of

war cofirmunism, by extracting from the town-dwellers a hígh
price for his products; the land law of l:|L4.ay 1922, confirmed by the
new agfarian code at the end of the year, gave him security of
tenure;3 and the steps taken to restore orthodox finance and
stabilize the currency promised protection to the peasant against a
1.

Lenin, Sochìneniya, xxvii, 362,

2.ibid., xxvii, 405; Lenin's 'testament' also emphasized

agreement
between workers and peasants as the fundamental basis on which the pa¡ty
rested (see p. 266 beiow).
3.See The Bolshevik Revolutîon, 1917-1923, Vol. 2, pp. 289,295-6.

14

MARKING TIME
15
According to statistics compiled by Vserabotzemles, the agri-

THE SCISSORS CRISIS

currency inflation the cost of which had fallen heavily ,on him.
After the wonderful harvest of 1922, the peasant was more prosperous than al any time since the revolution, and was, as Lgnin
noted, well satisfled with his lot.1 It was true that the process of

equalization of holdings and resources between different categories of peasants which was set in motion after the October
revolution and intensified by the requisitions of war communism
had now been reversed. The inherent tendency of NEF to encourage differentiation between clifferent strata of the peasantry
continued unchecked. At one end of the scale more poor peasants
were sinking below the level of self-sufficiency an¿ trail to hire out
their land or their labour in order to live; at the other-end the
kulalcs were producing large surpluses for disposal on the market.
The extension within the peasantry of the practices of leasing land
and hiring labour, which had been held in check in the first years

of the revolution, was the symptom of this

cultural workers' trade union, at the end of 1923,400,000 peasants

(or 2 per cent of the total number) employed 600,000 hired

I
L
!,

I

1

differentiation.2

.7. See TIte Bolsltevílc Revolution, 19I7-1923, Yol. 2, p. 295.
2, S. Strumilin, Na Khozyatu¡ysnttonz Fronte (1925), pp.230-61, coitains
a caleful statistical study ofthese processes originally published in April 1 923.
A detailed analysis, which appeared in the trade union newspaper, Trud, of
the peasantry in one province of the Ukraine (Odessa) showed that out of
577,000 households 11,000 had no cultivated land at all, another 162,000

had no animals, and could not grow enough to be self-supporting. A further
137,000 had one animal; their situation was precarious. Peasants who were

t

i

not self-supporting could not find employment in the towns (industrial
unemployment was worse in the Ukraine than elsewhe¡e - see p. 58 below),
or in the collective farms, which were not in a flourishing condition, or in
the Sovklrozy (see The Bolshevilc Revolutíort, 1917-1923, Vol. 2, p. 159,
289-90), which were more or less derelict, employing only 3,000 workers in
the whole province, and leasing most oftheir land, There was therefore no
option but to become batralcs, i.e. hired workers on the land of more
prosperous peasants. In brief, 'a sharp division exists between "strong"
and "weak" households' and'the "weak" households perish, filling the
ranks ofthe óallaks' (Trud,26 September 1923). A.yearlater, at the thi¡teenth
party congress, I(amenev, apparently quoting from a monograph issued by
the central statistical administration, classified the peasant population as
follows : 63 per cent poor peasants, forming 74 per cent of the total number
ofhouseholds, cultivating 40 per cent of the area under crops, and owning
50 per cent of the animals; 23 per cent middle peasants, forming 18 per
cent of the households, cultivating 25 pel cent of the area under crops, and
owning 25 per cent of the anirnals; and 14 per cent rich peasants, forming
8 per cent of the households, cultivating 34 per cent of the area undel crops

and owning 25 per cent of the animals (Trinadtsatyi S"ezd Rossiisko.

workers.l Both flgures certainly represent a serious understatement. But the proportion of employed to employe.rs shows that
the process had not yet gone very far. For the moment, the picture
ofa prosperous and contented peasantry which had left behind for
ever the horrors of requisitioning and war communism represented
a fair approximation to the trurth; and the arglrmeÍìts for letting
well alone seemed still impregnable. Towarcls the end of 1922, after
the excellent harvest of that year, a smail quantity of grain had
been exported from Soviet R.ussia for the fust time since the
revolution; and a lively dernand was now heard for action to stem
the progressive fall in grain prices by promoting exports of grain.
Narkomfin, the champion at this time of peasant interests and
now also concernecl to build up the foreign currency reserves of
Gosbank, came olrt strongly in favour of grain exports; and, on its
instigation, the tenth All-Russian Congress of Soviets in December 1922 came out with a recommendation to expand exports
of grain and raw materials.2 The distribution of seed to the peasants on an unprecedented scale was announced in a clecree of
17 Jantary 1923, which described an increase of the areas under
crops as 'the foundation of the welfare not only of the peasant,
but of the whole state'; and another decree prornised land
'in border regions where land is abundant' to agricultural immigÏants.3

"i

I

Kommunistìcheslcoí Partii (Bol'shevilcov) (1924), pp.408-9). Examples of the
way in which legal limitations on the right to hire labou¡ were.evaded by
such devices as fictitious marriages or adoption, or the rendering of labour
in ¡eturn fol advances of grain or seed, ar.e given in L, K¡istman, Klassovoe
Rassloeníe v Sovetskoí Dereyne (1926), pp. 1634,
7. XI Vserossíîskii S"ezd Sovetov (1.924),p.47.;tlne statistics also showed

100,000 workers

j
,

on Soviet farms, 100,000 in forestry and 100,000 on

specialized forms of agricultural production (fruit, vegetables, etc.). For an
accoutt of Vserabotzemles see Trud,2 December 1,923: it was founded in
7920 for workers on Soviet falrns or irt artels and communes (these being
later excluded), but it never became an effective organization.
2. S"ezdy Sovetoy v Dolcwnentalch, i (1959),227.
3. Sobraníe Uzalconenii, 1923, No. 4, art. 73; No. 10, art. 128.


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