On March 16, 1921, the 10th Congress of the Russian Bolshevik Party announced the adoption of the New Economic Policy.
After the Civil War - the fight for power following the overthrow of the tsarist regime that broke out from 1917-1923 between multiple social and political groups, and resulted in the victory of the Bolsheviks and establishment of the Soviet system - the NEP replaced the policy of the War Communism pursued by the Communist government from 1918-1922 and was marked by high tax rates and a mobilization of the country to meet the needs of the army. It consisted in temporarily switching over to a market economy. Exhausted by WWI and the Civil War, the country needed immediate mending and renewal.
In fact, the new economic policy was a set of reforms with a serious slant toward capitalism. However, with all the devastation, the slumping economy, agonizing agriculture and increasing danger of popular uprisings, only drastic measures could help and Vladimir Lenin had decided to stray from the communist line.
In agriculture, the food tax had been reduced by half and later converted into currency. In 1922, peasants were given the right to choose the form of land ownership to their liking and wage labor was permitted.
Industries were restructured, becoming almost autonomous and taking responsibility for all their affairs. The enterprises could syndicate to speed up the purchase or distribution of their goods and significant foreign capital was attracted to Soviet industry in the form of concessions. The ruble then strengthened and became a hard currency.
So controversial and unusual, the NEP stirred up social life. It was the time of easy money when the innate capacity for entrepreneurship was the key to success and wealth. Those who spent their childhood in poverty were now trying to make up for all the fun they had missed. The restaurant and cabaret culture thrived and many of the songs of the time are still popular as “Russian chansons”.
The 1920s was also the era of the satire magazines. Full of witty stories and cartoons, they enjoyed huge popularity. Only one of them, the “Crocodile”, though, managed to outlive NEP and remain a beloved satire publication right through to the present.
Overall, NEP was a very successful policy, the country did rise from the ashes and even caught up with its pre-war economic figures. The party members, however, saw NEP with all its excessive freedom as a threat for the socialist system and kept taking preventive measures to stop the market economy from going too far. Due to this inconsistency, NEP eventually failed and was ended.