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Opposition to the NEP

New Economic Policy, NEP, NEPmen, Moscow, 1920s
Nepmen
New Economic Policy, NEP, NEPmen
Buying from a merchant

The restoration of the market brought back life to the Soviet economy. Private trade responded quickly to the chronic shortages that had built up in years of Revolution and the Civil War. Traders set up booths and stalls, flea-markets boomed, and peasant sold their foodstuffs in the towns.

To many Bolsheviks the return of the market seemed like a betrayal of the Revolution. There was a widespread feeling that the NEP was sacrificing the workers' interests to the peasantry, which was growing rich at their expense, because of higher food prices. It seemed to them that the boom in private trade would inevitably lead to a widening gap between rich and poor and to the restoration of capitalism. They dubbed the NEP the 'New Exploitation of the Proletariat'. Much of their anger was focused on the 'NEPmen', the private traders who thrived in the 1920s.

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