Following the October Revolution of 1917 the Bolsheviks embarked upon a series of initiatives in order to bring about a socialist economic order. Traditional accounts of these events—"War Communism”; and the New Economic Policy—are deficient in two respects. First, they do not consider the policy implications of early twentieth‐century Marxism. Second, they do not appreciate the economic coordination problems such policies would, and did, encounter. As a result, the standard account of early Soviet socialism is distorted. This paper attempts to rectify these deficiencies by discussing the Bolshevisks’ own assessments of their purposes and exploring the consequences of their policies in the period 1918–1921.
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