How Far Were Divisions over the Continuation of the New Economic Policy Responsible for the Contest to Succeed Lenin in the Years 1924-28?

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The ongoing debate within the Bolshevik party between the years 1924 and 1928 regarding the New Economic Policy was largely responsible for the power struggle that followed Lenin’s death. However, there were other factors, such as the nature of the leadership the party should adopt and the direction the Revolution should take ideologically. Additionally, personal ambitions played a part in the struggle for power. The New Economic Policy was introduced after the end of the Civil War as a substitute to War Communism in 1921. This was an economic concession that Lenin was forced to make due to the deteriorating economic conditions and the real threat of a revolt against the Bolshevik government. It was always intended as a temporary measure, and the question after Lenin’s death wasn’t whether it should continue or not, but how it should be put an end to. The debate lay between the left-wing, lead by Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, who advocated a quick movement into rapid industrialisation, which would mean abandoning the New Economic Policy, militarising the labour forces and exploiting peasants for grain to fund the industrialisation; and the right-wing, led by Bukharin, who wanted to continue the New Economic Policy for another 20 years, which would mean peasants would grow wealthier and be encouraged to buy consumer goods, which in turn would lead to more products being made in factories and a gradual process of industrialisation. This became a passionate issue because economic policy was also at the heart of the debate of what a socialist society should look like. The growth of a rich super class led to activities such as property dealing, land speculation, gambling and prostitution, all of which conflicted greatly with the ideology of Communism. Also, people’s support of the New Economic Policy changed significantly throughout this period; initially it
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