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An Isolated Revolution

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The deeply anticapitalist Bolsheviks set about the task of laying down the foundations of a socialist economy. To Lenin and his followers, this meant, first of all, the implementation of Marxist ideas about introducing a socialist mode of production based on public ownership and a planned economy. Lenin realized that, in the economic sense, the new Soviet Russia was not ready for the introduction of socialism. But he was firmly convinced that Russia would not be left on its own and that its bold step toward socialism would be supported by the highly developed countries of Europe, which stood on the threshold of a world socialist revolution. This, however, did not happen, and the Bolshevik revolution remained isolated in a world dominated by “imperialist” powers.  

Soviet rulers became increasingly concerned that the country’s economic weakness had serious implications for national security. In 1931 Joseph Stalin made this point quite clear: “We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it or we shall be crushed.” Ten years later, Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler invaded Soviet Russia determined to crush it; thanks to Stalin (despite his massive and unforgivable errors) and the heroism of the Soviet people, Hitler’s plans were thwarted. Stalin’s industrialization and the routing of Nazi Germany in 1945 marked the Soviet Union’s achievement of great-power status in the industrial era.

Russia’s postwar enhanced international standing rested firmly on the foundations of the economic, social, and cultural modernization laid down under Stalin. His rapid industrialization, in particular, had provided the Soviet Union with the industrial capacity and military might that enabled it to defeat Nazi Germany.

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The Soviet Period


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

Models of Soviet Power

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