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History-The USSR and Marxism

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Elizabeth Jenkinson

on 13 May 2013

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Transcript of History-The USSR and Marxism

The USSR and Marxism Past Exam Questions Russian totalitarianism in the 1930s The intolerance of diversity Marxist theories of leadership and the cult of Stalin Specimen Paper 2011 2010 2012 The Bolshevik Revolution and the first totalitarian state Lenin's adaption of Marxist theory to Russia Marxist stage theory Marxist ideology, Lenin and Stalin The Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 overthrew the Russian provisional government that had, in turn forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate in February 1917. The Bolsheviks differed from other political parties in Russia primarily because they alone wanted to leave the First World war, and this policy was popular with peasants and workers as well as the armed forces. However they also had a set of political ideas they were committed to because the Bolshevik Party was a Marxist party. As such, they sought power to create a communist state. THEY DID NOT SEIZE POWER TO CREATE A TOTALITARIAN STATE. The Bolsheviks freed political prisoners ended press censorship and advanced personal freedom particularly for Russian women whose lives were transformed by birth control and divorce. These changes were not universally popular in 1917 and the Bolsheviks only really had control over Petrograd and Moscow, the two main cities. Those who resisted the Bolsheviks took part in the Russian Civil War which lasted from 1918 to 1921. The war was brutal and it transformed the Bolsheviks and their leaders. Marx based his theories on his study of Britain. During the 19th century Britain had a large working class whose labour was exploited. They worked long hours, in appalling conditions, for low pay, which ensured their living conditions were equally grim. Marx never believed that Russia would be the first state to have a Marxist revolution. Explain why there was a Cult of Stalin in the 1930s.

How important were the mistakes of his opponents in explaining Stalin’s victory in the power struggle between 1924 and 1928? Explain why the New Economic Policy (NEP) was ended by Stalin.

How successful was Stalin’s regime in crushing diversity in the Soviet Union inthe 1930s?

Explain why Stalin’s position as General Secretary gave him great power in the years 1924 to 1929.

How far was Stalin personally responsible for the development of the cult of personality after 1929?
Explain why the policies adopted by Stalin in the 1920s differed from Marxist theory.

How far was Stalin’s victory in the power struggle between 1924 and 1929 the result of the popularity of his policies?

How successful was Stalin in crushing opposition to his rule in the 1930s?

Explain why Trotsky lost the power struggle with Stalin.

Explain why Lenin adapted Marxism in the years 1917 to 1924.


How important was Stalin’s use of the ‘Lenin Legacy’ in explaining his victory in the power struggle in the years 1924 to 1929? In the Soviet Union there was a strong ideological basis for refusing to allow individual freedom and diversity The worship of the leader, or the cult of personality was a key feature for the Soviet Union from 1929. Reverence of leading members of the party was not new. Lenin himself had always rejected any hero worship, complaining once about how he hated reading about himself in the papers. On his deathbed, however, he has become an even greater symbol of Bolshevism than he had been alive. His body was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum in the Red Square, to be visited by millions of Soviet citizens and foreign visitors each year. The funeral oration given by Stalin also played a key role in deifying Lenin. The Power struggle to replace Lenin, 1924-9 Stalin's adaption of Marxist theory in the 1920s KEY PROFILE-LENIN Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), or Lenin. was the first leader of the Bolsheviks. Middle class, he studied law at Kazan university until his brother's execution by the tsarist government turned him into a revolutionary. Lenin studied the works of Marx but adapted them to fit the Russian context. He organized the Bolshevik party into a revolutionary elite and plotted the October revolution, even though Marx believed all revolutions would occur naturally. He was ruthless in power, creating the basis for the totalitarianism of Stalin. He did, however, object to the cult of Lenin that developed, considering it to be un-Marxist. KEY PROFILE-LEON TROTSKY Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was born Lev Bronstein. He was a middle-class Ukranian Jew, with a great intellect and an arrogance to match. He became a revolutionary in the late 1890s and was arrested in 1898 and sent into exile. Bronstein escaped and on his forged passport he first used the name Leon Trotsky, the name of his jailer. Trotsky planned the Bolshevik Revolution with Lenin and led the storming of the Winter Palace in Petrograd on his 38th birthday in 1917. His finest hour was in the Civil War. He led the defence of Petrograd when it appeared it would fall in 1919 and created the Red Army which was 5 million strong by 1920. The communist Red Army was created with a brutal military discipline. If soldiers deserted, Lenin approved shooting every tenth man in the unit; this decimation was deemed necessary to install the discipline required to win the war. In December 1917, Lenin created the first secret police, the Cheka. CHEKA All-Russian Extrodinary Commission for Combating Counter-revolution and Sabotage was led by a Polish aristocrat called Felix Dzerzhinsky. It had the power to investigate, arrest, interrogate, try and execute any opponents of the regime. The Cheka created the first Soviet labour camps and is estimated to be responsible for around 140,000 deaths. It was replaced by the GPU in 1922. These measure were necessary to ensure the Bolsheviks won the war and so could impose their official ideology and pursue Utopia. No measure was too extreme in the pursuit of the communist ideal. In January 1918, elections were held for the new Russian parliament, the Constituent Assembly. The Bolsheviks failed to win a majority so Lenin sent in the Red Army and dissolved the Assembly. In March 1918, the last non-Bolsheviks left the government. In 1921, Lenin was facing opposition to the NEP. He forced the policy through the assembly and then introduced the Decree Against Factionalism on the last day of the 10th Party Congress in 1921. The decree meant that it was no longer acceptable to go against anything that the regime said was true, or that you should believe in. You could not argue with the party decision once the decision had been made. The pressure for an ideologically pure economy that would also ensure that the Bolsheviks had the weapons and food to fight led to the introduction of the economic policy known as War Communism. The policy involved the Bolshevik state taking control of all industry as well as seizing the peasants' surplus grain and, where there was no surplus, the grain they needed to feed themselves. This caused famine in which an estimated 5 million perished. War Communism was ended in February 1921 when he introduced the NEP. A crucial part of the fight was the propaganda employed by the Bolsheviks. Trotsky led the war effort from a command train that travelled the front line, with a printing press and loud speakers to get across the Bolshevik message of 'peace, land. bread and freedom' The Bolshevik victory in the Civil War was due in no small part to the ever-increasing control that the party and the State exercised over the Soviet people. These measures, however brutal, were justified because they ensures a Bolshevik victory and the establishment of UTOPIA. Marx believed that there were six stages, or epochs, in human history and he had studied the first four in Britain.. He considered his theories to be scientific rather than political, in that what happened was inevitable because whenever there were certain conditions, certain events would occur. He believed in economic determinism. ECONOMIC DETERMINISM Marx's belief that all history is shaped by scientific laws that are fixed and therefore obeyed. The economic position of a country would determine the system of a government and, when two different economic groups inevitably clashed, the next stage of human history would occur. Primitive Communism In this epoch men worked together in communities to survive. There were no private properties and no class differences. All men performed the same economic function, essentially hunter-gatherer. This stage would give way to one in which the most successful hunter-gatherer-warrior gained power and control over others. Imperialism In this epoch the emperor rules, his rule is initially based on his superiority at gaining resources. The emperor would own all land. However, as this stage develops, the emperor would become threatened by outsiders and therefore grant land to others, who in return would provide soldiers to defend the country. A new land-owning aristocracy was therefore created. Feudalism At this stage of feudalism, land was owned by the aristocracy. They would exploit the peasantry, who worked on the land but did not own it. The key resource was the food produced which the aristocracy could sell. The surplus food led to the development of trade and industry and a new class of merchants who would want to access political power. Capitalism This was the stage that Marx observed in Britain in the mid-19th century. There were two classes: the bourgeoisie, and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie owned the means of production and became increasingly wealthy, selling goods for a profit. They exploited the proletariat, paying them low wages which ensured that they lived in terrible conditions. Marx argued that the proletariat accepted their position in society because of three great deceptions: The Church taught that suffering was a part of life and it brought a greater reward in the afterlife. Marx, for this reason, called religion "the opium of the masses". Marx was also a materialist, meaning he believed things which he could be seen or heard or touched, rather than accepting any supernatural force could be responsible. This meant that he rejected any role for religion in society.
Trades Unions served the bourgeois factory owners more than they served the working class. By seeking to improve workers' pay and conditions marginally they prevented the proletariat becoming revolutionary and overthrowing the bourgeois system of government.
Parliamentary Government deceived the working class into believing that they had control over government decisions. Although the working class had been given the vote in Britain in 1867, their lives did not improve because MPs were still middle-class factory owners who would not pass laws that were against their own interests. For example, Public Health Acts to provide clean water for the working classes in cities were permissive. Therefore, for the proletariat to rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie and end the stage of capitalism, it was crucial that the workers achieved a level of political awareness. This meant awareness that they were being exploited, and awareness that they made up the vast majority of the country and therefore they had the power. It was this need that led Marx to end the Communist Manifesto with the battle-cry: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, unite! Socialism Marx believed that it was inevitable that the proletariat would become politically aware and that they would then rise up and overthrow the bourgeois government. During this stage, the dictatorship of the proletariat would develop in which workers' organisations would ensure that food, goods and services were distributed fairly according to people's needs. The State would achieve this through taxation of the middle class and the provision of benefits to the working class, as well as through State ownership of industry which would ensure profits were shared by all. Marx believed that the stage of socialism would be transitional. It would last long enough for the middle class to be re-educated to understand that equality was superior to private ownership. If necessary, elements of the middle class who refused to accept socialism would be eliminated. Communism This stage was Marx's Utopia. As everyone worked together for the common good and therefore had enough resources for their needs, there would no longer be any need for money and government could whither away. Society would be class-less. Furthermore, as this was the ultimate stage in human history, this stage would be reached in all countries. This would mean that the world would also become State-less as there would no longer be competition between different States. The Russian Marxist political party was the Social Democrats. Lenin had become one of their leaders, but he was increasingly concerned about how the party was organised and how the communist revolution could come about. In 1902, he addressed the problem of Russia's backwardness in his work What is to be Done? In it, he argues that a small, professional revolutionary elite should form the "vanguard of the proletariat". These revolutionaries would carry out the revolution for the working class. Lenin was a practical politician and the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 showed how he had successfully adapted Marxism. Skipped the stage of Capitalism and move Russia directly from to stage of feudalism to the stage of Socialism
Ignored the need for a spontaneous revolution of the exploited workers who formed the majority in society and instead used a small revolutionary elite
Abandoned the dictatorship of the proletariat in favour of the dictatorship of the party who represented he proletariat
Accepted that the party relied on two classes: the proletariat and the poorer peasants
Allowed the political system to determine the economic system, the exact opposite of Marxism where the economic system determined the political system. This meant imposing War Communism and replacing it with the . NEP when it failed Power was more important that following Marxist theory, which might involve waiting decades for the time to be right for a workers' revolution. Therefore, Lenin: All the problems that the Bolsheviks faced after 1917 can be directly attributed to the decision to force the revolution. The Civil War, the problems of War Communism, the need to resort to the NEP and the problems with the peasantry were all because the Soviet Union did not have a proletarian majority. Lenin himself acknowledged the problem in his political statement, writing on 22 December 1922: "Our party relies on two classes and therefore its instability would be possible and its fall inevitable if these two classes were not able to come to an agreement." His adaptation of Marxist theory was so significant that the official ideology of the Soviet Union was Marxist-Leninism rather than Marxism. On 21st January 1924, Lenin suffered a third and final stroke. His death was critical for the Soviet Union’s future because the struggle to succeed him meant a battle of personalities and political ideas. Both would have a fundamental impact on the future of the Soviet Union, on Marxism in the Soviet Union and the development of totalitarianism. The struggle that took place between 1924 and 1928 would see Stalin emerge as victorious and adapt the existing Marxist-Leninist ideology into a more personal set of ideas that have become known as Stalinism-a truly totalitarian system. The Leadership Candidates Joseph Stalin was born in Georgia as Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, taking the name ‘Stalin’ or ‘Man of Steel’ from 1911 rather than his earlier alias ‘Koba’. He trained as a priest in a seminary in Gori but read illegal works by Marx and Lenin, becoming a committed Marxist and a follower of Lenin. He raised money for the Bolshevik Party by robbing banks, for which he was arrested and sent into exile. Stalin returned to Petrograd in March 1917 and was made a member of the Central Committee in April, but he played little part in the October Revolution. He was a member of the Bolshevik government as a Commissioner for Nationalities, but his key position was General Secretary, a post Lenin gave him in 1922. By the start of 1923, Lenin was regretting this move and, on his death, Stalin was rank outsider in the race to succeed Lenin. Joseph Stalin By 1924, Trotsky had established himself as the obvious successor to Lenin. He had plotted the October Revolution, saved the new soviet state in the Civil War and created the Red Army. However, both his success and his leadership of the army meant that other leading Bolsheviks thought that he needed to be stopped. Trotsky was, at times, too arrogant, believing that power would simply pass to himself. This led one Bolshevik to recall that he had few deeply committed followers and he also reportedly told his friends that he would never make leader because he was Jewish. Leon Trotsky Grigori Zinoviev was a lower middle-class Ukrainian Jew. A close associate of Lenin, he returned to Russia after a period of exile with Lenin in April 1917. Along with his close friend Lev Kamenev, he opposed the October Revolution, favouring a period of co-operation with other left-wing parties rather than a one party State. Lenin persuaded him to rejoin the leadership, making him leader of the Lenigrad Party. He was also the first Chairman of the Comintern (the organisation committed to spreading communism abroad) and a member on the Politburo when it was reformed in 1919. He was charged with the defense of Petrograd during the Civil War, but the city had to be saved by Trotsky when Zinoviev panicked. His reputation was further undermined by his womanising; he had a particular taste for chorus girls. Grigori Zinoviev Lev Kamenev was a university educated working-class Jew. He was an intellectual and a particularly talented journalist who ran the party newspaper before his arrest and exile in 1914. He returned to Petrograd with Stalin and the two of them before Lenin’s return in April 1917. Like Zinoviev, he opposed the October Revolution. However Lenin had great respect for him; he was not only made a member of the Politburo when it was reformed, he also usually chaired the meetings. In addition, he was Head of the Moscow Party. Kamenev was well liked but his reputation was damaged by three associations: he was married to Trotsky’e sister, his son Lutik was well known in Moskow as a drunk and a playboy and he worked closely with Zinoviev. Lev Kamenev Nikolai Bukharin was an intellectual, but he was also a charming and eloquent speaker and the most popular of the leadership candidates with the party and the peasantry. He returned to Russia after the February 1917 Revolution, having met and worked with Lenin in Europe and Trotsky in New York. He was made editor of the part newspaper Pravda in 1918 and was a member of the Politburo from the early 1920s. He was also the leading party theoretician. He argued for economic policies based on co-operation with the peasantry and was the leading supporter of the NEP, seeing it as a long-term measure rather than a short term compromise with the peasants. His policies were therefore regarded with suspicion by many Bolsheviks. Nikolai Bukharin The successor to Lenin was, however, unclear. Lenin himself did not believe that any of the leading Bolsheviks should replace him, as he had made clear in his Political Testament: “Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Comrade Trotsky*, on the other hand, as his struggles against the C.C. on the question of the People's Commissariat for Communications has already proved, is distinguished not only by outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C., but he has displayed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work.”“Speaking of the young C.C. members, I wish to say a few words about Bukharin and Pyatakov. They are, in my opinion, the most outstanding figures (among the younger ones), and the following must be borne in mind about them: Bukharin is not only a most valuable and major theorist of the Party; he is also rightly considered the favorite of the whole Party, but his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist only with the great reserve, for there is something scholastic about him (he has never made a study of dialectics, and, I think, never fully appreciated it).”“Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest the comrades think about a way of removing Staling from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split, and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky, it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.”Lenin’s criticism of all the leading Bolsheviks was deliberate. He did not want any of them to lead alone, preferring a collective leadership to be established. Lenin probably felt that a collective leadership was more in keeping with Marxism and his own view of ‘dictatorship of the part’ to create a truly socialist State. Lenin also had concerns about the personalities of the leading Bolsheviks:Trotsky’s Arrogance. Because of his superb intellect he often appeared to be speaking down to the other Bolsheviks. They were suspicious of him anyway because he was Jewish and ex-Menshevik Stalin’s power. Lenin was afraid that Stalin was becoming too powerful, using his position to create a party loyal to him rather than Bolshevism. Lenin had also been worried by Stalin’s actions in Georgia in 1922.Lenin reached a decision that Trotsky needed to be controlled and he therefore argued, in his testament, that the size of the Central Committee should be increased to 50-100 members. The dynamite in the testament however was that Stalin should be removed. It was of paramount importance to Stalin that this testament did not get published. All the leading Bolsheviks were desperate to associate themselves with Lenin and appear to be his natural successor. Stalin was the most successful in this, and this ‘Lenin Legacy’ was a crucial strength of Stalin in the power struggle. Despite Lenin’s attempts to remove him, Stalin survived because of a combination of good fortune and political cunning:
Lenin was unable to act himself because of the strokes he had suffered. Stalin controlled access to Lenin.
Lenin had urged Trotsky to attack Stalin over his ill treatment of the Georgians at the 12th party congress in 1923, but Trotsky, in an example of the type of arrogant miscalculation that destroyed his chances of becoming leader, had done a deal with Stalin. Stalin’s survival Before the testament was published, Stalin was informed of the comments made about him in it. He therefore ensured the testament was read to the central committee first. Kamenev and Zinoviev saw Trotsky as a much greater threat so backed Stalin, arguing that he had changed his ways. The Central Committee not to publish Lenin’s final wishes. The Politburo. Set up in 1917 and reformed in 1919, this was the main day-to-day decision-making body in the Soviet Union. Seven members were elected in June 1924: Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev,Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, elected by the Party Congress. It met about once every three months and was the policy-making body of the Soviet Union The Party Congress. This met about once a year and elected the Central Committee. Its members were representatives from all regional parties.
Regional secretaries. they effectively ran the Bolshevik Party in cities and towns across the Soviet Union. they were appointed by Stalin as General Secretary. In turn, they chose the regional delegates to the Party Congress. General Secretary Chooses the Regional Secretaries They select delegates to the Party Congress The Structure of the Bolshevik Party Stalin as general Secretary Stalin was made General secretary in 1922, essentially because the job was considered to be a boring administrative role and perfect for a man who had been described by a Menshevik as a "grey blur". As general secretary he was dismissed as "Comrade Card Index". No one anticipated the power the role would give him. Stalin had the power to appoint the regional secretaries. During the Civil War, Bolshevik officials who were captured were usually shot, meaning that Stalin was able to rebuild the party organisation. He could select his supporters to fill these posts.
Stalin could appoint, promote and demote the top 5,500 officials in the Soviet Union. as well as working in an office rather than in a mine or on a railway, these officials received privileges. They had holidays and lived in party housing, could use party dacha (holiday homes) and had access to party shops where luxuries like oranges were available.
Stalin supervised the expansion of the party. In tribute to Lenin, the decision was taken to expand the Bolshevik Party. The Lenin Enrolment was therefore announced in 1924 and increased the party from 500,000 to over 1 million in two years. These new members were you, inexperienced and uneducated. This made it easy for Stalin to impress and manipulate them.
Stalin had unrivalled knowledge of party members. He was the middleman between the Politburo and the government, with access to party files, and recording and conveying information. The defeat of the Opposition After Lenin's death, the most obvious successor was Leon Trotsky. This fact in itself was a weakness. Trotsky was the Commisar for War and the creator of the Red Army. Many were concerned that an ambitious man like Trotsky would use the army to secure his place as leader. Trotsky believed in worldwide revolution, which Stalin countered with his policy of Socialism in One State. Zinoviev and Kamenev therefore turned to Stalin to and formed the Triumvirate to stop Trotsky. Trotsky was accused of inventing "Trotskyism" and therefore factionalism. At the meeting of the Central Committee in January 1925 he was condemned. He resigned as Commisar for War, the position that had given him continuing control of the army.
Stalin also damaged Trotskys public image by telling him the wrong date for the funeral of Lenin. This was a huge disrespect for the former leader, who had become almost god like. The defeat of Trotsky The defeat of Zinoviev, Kamenev and the United Opposition. After Trotsky's defeat, Zinoviev and Kamenev became concerned that Stalin was now the most powerful figure in the party. They were right. Stalin turned on them and Kamenev lost control of the Moscow Party. Zinoviev held on in Leningrad and launched an attack on the party policy of the NEP, arguing that it was capitalist and that the time had come to introduce rapid industrialisation. They also started to question Socialism in One State, arguing that without an international revolution the economic backwardness of the country would destroy the Soviet Union. This was an attack on Bukharin as well as Stalin so the two united.
Stalin was able to brand their opponents as factionalists so at the 14th party congress in December 1925, Kamenev's warnings against Stalin were shouted down by angry delegates who proceeded to defeat the programme proposed by Kamenev and Zinoviev. In 1926, Zinoviev lost control of Leningrad and was replaced as Chair of the Commitern by Bukharin.
The policy of ending the NEP and beginning rapid industrialism was not new: it had been Trotsky's policy in 1924. Zinoviev and Kamenev therefore tried to ally with Trotsky, but this lacked credibility given their attacks on him the year before. They held protest meetings which confirmed tat they were factionalists. The Central Committee removed them from all positions of power and used the secret police against their supporters. Trotsky was placed in internal exile in 1928 and deported from the Soviet Union in 1929. Kamenec was sent to Rome as Ambassador in January 1927 and expelled from the party at the end of the year.. He was exiled in 1928 but allowed back into the party when he denounced Trotsky. Zinoviev was also expelled andreadmitted to the party in 1928. The defeat of the Right Deviation By 1926, the Soviet Union was effectively ruled by Stalin and Bukharin. Stalin, however, did not instinctively likely NEP, seeing it is a compromise with the peasantry and therefore with Socialism. The NEP was restoring economic stability but it was also a slow recovery. Now that the United opposition had been defeated, he was keen to adopt their policies and introduce rapid industrialisation.Stalin no longer needed to support an alternative policy for fear of aiding the United opposition, so he turned on Bukharin and his allies Aleksei Rykov and Mikhail Tomsky. Bukharin had no power base within the party to resist Stalin, but he was wary of making the same mistakes of the united opposition and being accused of factionalism. Although in the summer of 1928 he pleaded with Kamenev “If we don’t unite, Koba will cut our throats”, he never managed to organise an effective opposition. Instead he argued for the NEP in the Politburo. This was futile and Stalins supporters crushed what Stalin called the Right Deviation. Control of the party was all important; as a disillusion Stalinist remarked, “We have defeated Bukharin not with argument but with party cards.” Bukharin was duly removed from the Comintern and lost his position as editor of Pravda. In November 1929, he lost his place in the Politburo. Rykov was head of the government as chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, but he lost the post and was expelled from the Politburo. Stalin used his powers as General Secretary to purge the trades unions’ leadership and Tomsky lost his post on the Central Council of Trade Unions and his place in the politburo in 1930. On 21 December 1929, Stalin’s 50th birthday, Pravda dedicated the edition to ‘the Lenin of today’. His victory in the power struggle was complete. His more perceptive opponents recognised he was more a ‘Red Tsar’. The role of ideology in the power struggle Although the power struggle was, in essence, about personalities, the different ideas about the future of the revolution and the development of the economy were also critical. The Future:World Revolution v. Socialism in One Country At the heart of the dispute between Trotsky and Stalin in 1924 was the question of how the Bolshevik Revolution should be protected. Trotsky believed that the answer was a worldwide revolution. The aim of the Comintern, set up in 1919 by Lenin and Trotsky, was to promote worldwide revolutions. Stalin was dismissive of Trotsky's ideas
Stalin partly developed his idea of Socialism in One Country because he didn't like Trotsky and was in competition with him to replace Lenin. However, he also recognised that the party was over-optimistic and unpopular. Stalin realised that war was impossible both economically and psychologically; the country and the people had been shattered by the First World War and the Civil War. Socialism in One Country was a patriotic policy which showed faith in the Soviet People. Stalin portrayed Worldwide Revolution as a policy that put the needs of other countries before those of the Soviet People. Trotsky's Jewish background marked him as a disloyal outsider among many party members anyway, and his international policy only seemed to confirm his treacherous nature. The economy: the NEP v. rapid industrialisation Stalin's rejection of rapid industrialisation and then adoption of the plan as and when he saw fit in the power struggle led to the view that he had no concern with ideology. However, he had been a firm supporter of Lenin, who had introduced the NEP. He therefore continued Lenin's policy whilst it was working.
By 1927, Stalin had grave doubts about the NEP. Many party members were openly complaining that the Bolshevik Revolution had been in vain, pointing to women cal in fox furs attending the theatre while wealthy owners of private enterprises visited prostitutes. The NEP was providing a slow recovery but it was also creating a new, wealthy, middle class, with the support of Bukharin.
Furthermore, in 1927 there was a war scare: Britain had broken off diplomatic relations, France had broken off trade links, the Japanese were threatening war in the Far East and the future of international Communism looked insecure after the destruction of the Chinese Communist Party in the Shanghai Massacre.
Stalin believed that the Soviet Union had to become as strong as possible, to protect itself from invasion. this meant maximising the production of grain to export and raise the capital for a rapid industrialisation that would produce the iron, coal, steel, oil and electricity needed for self-defence. However, in 1927-28 State grain collection fell again.
Stalin decided to take the grain from the peasants, leading the expedition to the Urals and Siberia where he closed the peasant markets, seized grain and arrested those who resisted. He was supported in this by the left-wing of the party, many of whom he had promoted during the power struggle with Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev and whose loyalty he needed. Rapid industrialisation and collectivisation of agriculture (combining small peasant farms into large cooperative or state-owned farms to increase yields) were measures that ended the capitalist compromise that was brought about by the NEP and made the soviet economy socialist. It was necessary because Lenin had forced the Bolshevik Revolution early and the capitalist stage had been missed out. The political system of Socialism now created a socialist economic system the opposite of Marx's theory. Lenin had already made the fundamental adaption to Marxism when he skipped the stage of Feudalism and forced a socialist revolution rather than waiting for it to happen spontaneously. As we have seen, from 1924 Stalin proceeded to adapt Marxist theory further: The invasion of Georgia had seen Stalin ignore Marxist ideas of internationalism in favour of the invasion and takeover of the republic in the interests of greater Russian Nationalism.
The victory of Socialism in One Country over Worldwide Revolution was also a victory for Nationalism over internationalism.
Stalin created the cult of Lenin which, in its elevation of the dead leader to a god-like status was contrary to Marxist ideas of 'leadership'. Marx believed in the dictatorship of the proletariat, which would give way to a communist Utopia where there would be no leadership and no State.
Stalin adapted Marxist-Leninist ideas on leadership too, as Lenin had sought to rule through the central committee and had allowed free discussion until a decision was agreed. He was the ‘first among equals’ in the Soviet Union but he did not assert his power as freely as Stalin, who ended any sense of collective leadership and instituted a personal dictatorship. The continuation of the NEP until 1927 was clearly inconsistent with Marxism. It should be noted that the introduction of collectivisation and industrialisation by Stalin were both partially intended to end ideological compromise and more closely aligned policy with Marxism Marxism was scientific theory that stressed that progress towards Utopia was inevitable. However, in the state of socialism, the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ would occur. This involves ending class divisions (diversity) by one of two methods: re-education and the creation of a new class consciousness or extermination. This was ultimately lead to communism, the ‘Utopian State’. However before this state could be reached, it was necessary to subordinate the individual to the State to ensure that the state would triumph against the enemies of socialism. It was believed that the final stage of communism became even nearer, capitalist enemies would struggle ever harder to prevent the Socialist victory. 'Stalinism' was also a personal ideology that rejected any opposition to the leader: like the 19th century tsars, Stalin believed he was the Soviet state. He also added a racial element of the Soviet intolerance in that he promoted Russian nationalism. At times, this spilled over into violent attacks on the minorities, such as Ukrainians in the collectivisation drive and Jews in the purges. It was essential that the country was united because of the threat of war presented by international Capitalism in the 1920s, the aggressive Nazi regime from 1933 and the USA and its capitalist allies in 1940s and 1950s. That could do no argument or opposition when, according to Lenin, the survival of the world’s first communist state hung by a ‘hair’s breadth’. Marxism had not been followed in the Soviet Union. Most of the population were peasants. The Soviet State had to destroy their belief in alternative vision of Utopia. Other sets of ideas, such as Trotskyism, were also dangerous and destructive forces that had to be eradicated as concepts. Economic Intolerance Political Intolerance Religious Intolerance In 1927 the party agreed to implement a FIVE YEAR PLAN for industry. Stalin argued in 1931 that the Soviet Union was 50-100 years behind the West and that this deficit had to be mace up in 10-15 years. The introduction of collectivisation would ensure that the level of agricultural productivity would increase and that the State would also become more successful in procuring or collecting the grain they were entitled to from the peasants. The adoption of the NEP in 1921 had introduced diversity into the economy. The State accepted that the control it had tried to exercise it through War Communism had failed and therefore private ownership of land and 90% of industry was once again allowed. The NEP had been introduced to try to aid economic recovery, and by 1927 production had returned to 1913 levels before the extreme disruption of the First World War, Civil War and the policy of War Communism. But the NEP was a capitalist policy and Stalin’s opposition to it had enabled him to defeat Bukharin. Five Year Plans:sets of targets for industrial production, but they did not specify in detail precisely how these targets would be achieved. It was left to managers on a regional, local and individual factory basis to work out how to reach their targets. In total, there were five Five Year Plans, free before the Nazi invasion in 1941 and two post-war. State control of the economy was ensured through the State Planning Commission, or Gosplan, which set targets for production, prices and wages; allocated man-power and resources; and produced the statistics which proved the success of the Socialist economy. Gosplan also provided state control of the economy. This insured that there could be no relationship between the people and employers which could undermine the loyalty the people felt for the state: the state was their employer. In the countryside, machine tractor stations were established which were responsible for supplying grain and hiring machinery to the collective farms. They were also meant to serve as a proletarian base in the countryside and were staffed by Bolshevik party officials, members of the secret police and army units. The Soviet union was trying to improve economic production but there was also a clear intention to increase political control through economic policy and to ensure that individualism was crushed by the all-powerful Soviet state. A range of economic measures were used to enforce control over the people. Rationing for the cities had been introduced in 1929. In 1932, the death penalty was introduced to punish the theft of state property and internal passports were used to restrict movement, although an average industrial worker changed jobs every 17 months. In 1932 being absent from work without a good reason could lead to instant dismissal or a loss of home and ration card. By 1939 absenteeism was defined as being 20 minutes late for work and by 1940 it was punishable by a pay cut of 25% for six months. Prison was used to punish anyone who left a job without permission. Strikes were bands and trade unions were used to control and discipline workers. Soviet workers were told where they would work and live and for what price. They faced the accusations being called a wrecker, saboteur or Trotskyite if they challenged their impossible targets for production or questioned the shortages of food, fuel or other essentials. The Soviet State proclaimed that the first five year plan to develop industry had achieved its targets in four years and ended the plan early, despite the fact that it had failed to achieve any of the targets for heavy industry. Dissenting voices were few and far between. Industrial experts that argued that targets were unrealistic were arrested and placed on trial, as in the 1928 Shakhty trial of 53 technicians and engineers. A new world was being created by industrialisation. Not everyone was happy with the 'second revolution'. Labour discipline brought urban workers under control but peasant resistance was widespread. Small-scale actions saw Bolshevik officials assassinated but the extent of these was so great that the Red Army units had to be deployed and, in one case, an air unit. This was seen by the Bolsheviks as a further civil war, fought to ensure the victory of Soviet power and Bolshevik ideology. Resistance to collectivisation was blamed on the bourgeois kulaks. The collectivisation campaign was therefore coupled with the 'destruction of the kulaks as a class', as agreed by Stalin in December 1929. In 1930, 115,000 kulak families were sent to Siberia in exile. Moshe Lewin has estimated that the total number of deportations may have been as high as 10 million. These measures ensured state control of the peasantry and grain production. The grain was taken to raise foreign capital for investment in industry but it ensured a man-made famine that historians generally accept killed approximately 7 million people in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Don and Volga regions. The very existence of the famine was denied, preventing aid through the League of Nations. One possible motive for this famine was to exact revenge on Ukraine, a region that had been independent between 1918 and 1922 and which had a stronger commitment to its own national identity that it did to Bolshevism. Ukrainian officials who were opposed to the requisition of grain were replaced by party officials from Moscow. The introduction of internal passports prevented peasants from leaving the collectives and finding jobs in the cities. They became tied to the land as they had been under the Tzars, as they were not issued with these passports. In August 1935, Stalin made a speech in which he stated that 'Life has become better, life has become merrier' as the end of rationing of bread, meat , fish, sugar and potatoes was announced. Denying the successful economic transformation became a crime. However, there were concessions to the peasants, forced on Stalin by circumstances. Private peasant plots were allowed from 1935 and became a crucial part of the economic system; by 1937 50% of vegetables and 70% of milk came from these plots. The party was also forced to make concessions to industrial workers. There was also intolerance within the Bolshevik party, again the legacy of Lenin's actions, as the 1921 Decree Against Factionalism had made it impossible to challenge the official party line. Lenin had laid the foundations for political intolerance with the creation of the one-party state, which removed the formal political expression of alternative ideas. In 1936, Stalin introduced a new constitution for the Soviet Union. known as the 1936 Constitution, it was prepared by Bukharin although Stalin took all the credit. It guaranteed
personal freedom but it also increased the powers of the central government, leaving the republics only minor responsibilities. The destruction of the Kulaks was also a political
act, in that Stalin was destroying a group who believed in capitalist ideas. The purges In the Soviet Union, several purges of the Bolshevik party took place. In the 1920s and the early 1930s, the term was used to describe the updating of the party membership, The most extensive expression of political intolerance came in the purges of the 1930s. which meant the expulsion on individuals who were considered to be suspect in their loyalty to the party. However, between 1936 and 1938 the Great Purge took place, which was a violent cleansing of that party and society. The Bolshevik party turned on members who were politically suspect; they might have a Menshevik past, or have supported Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev or Bukharin in the power struggle.
Expulsion was replaced by punishment of arrest, torture and execution. The initial party purges had begun following criticism of Stalin by Martimyan Ryutin, an Old Bolshevik who called Stalin 'the evil genius who had brought the revolution to the brink of destruction' in a paper to the Central Committee. Around 1 million of the 3million party members were expelled as 'Ryutinites'. If you lost you party card, you would also lose your job, work and home. It was clear that Stalin would not accept criticism of official party policy. The murder of the Leningrad Party boss Sergei Kirov on 1st December 1934 at the Smolny Institute, the Leningrad Party headquarters, was the event that triggered the Great Purge and allowed Stalin to achieve his maxim of 'no man, no problem' Kirov had offered a clear threat to Stalin's position. The 17th Party Congress held in February 1934 was the 'Congress of Victors', a reference to the success of the First Five Year Plan and its economic transformation of the country. The Leningrad delegates believed it was time to retire Stalin. They offered Kirov the job of general secretary, which he rejected, telling Stalin of the offer. The voting for the membership of the Central Committee confirmed that the Congress generally saw Kirov as an alternative to Stalin. Only 3 votes were cast against Kirov, while 292 were cast against Stalin. The pro-Stalin elections chairman asked Kaganovich what to do. He told him to destroy 289 ballot papers so there were only 3 votes against both Kirov and Stalin. Kirov predicted his own doom, warning his friends that his head was now on the block.
Kirov's assassination gave Stalin the opportunity to crush both alternative ideas and the people who were putting them forward. On the same day, Stalin issued the Emergency Decree Against Terrorism, which gave the NKVD the power to arrest, question, torture and execute without trial anyone suspected of terrorist activities. NKVD Stalin's secret police. The GPU had been replaced by the OGPU in 1923 and the NKVD in 1934. Genrikh Yagoda was the head of the NKVD from 1934 until his replacement in 1936 by Nikolai Yezhov, who was replaced himself in 1938 by Lavrenti Beria.
The main job of the secret police was to round up anyone who was looked on with disfavour by the government. There wee of course a certain amount of criminals, but the great bulk were so-called political prisoners. Political prisoners were of various sorts:
The rich peasant or kulak was of course a criminal because he was better off an harder working than his neighbours
Anyone who was unfortunate enough to be the child of a former landed gentleman, a merchant, an officer etc. became of course a class prisoner
Any peasant who refused to be collectivised, and, to avoid that, destroyed his live stock.
These 'political prisoners' were sent off by tens of thousands to work in the great timber districts in the North.
As well as this, thousands of engineers were arrested for 'wrecking machinery' and other such anti-State activity. Those engineers were then used to draw up plans for big projects such as the Baltic-White Sea canal. Tens of thousands of prisoners were then set to work on the project. It was finished in a fabulously quick time though no mention was made of the awful death-roll that occurred. The experiment was so successful, that it was felt that, when important strategic work was required to be done in a hurry, quite the best thing was to allow the NKVD to help some more of the criminal classes to repent of their errors. 18 months later they were put on show trial, charged with collaborating with Trotsky and conspiring to murder Kirov. They were found guilty and executed. The Show Trials allowed Stalin to publicly destroy those who offered alternative ideas. Conspiracy with the exiled Trotsky was a favourite accusation. Initially, known opponents of the regime in Moscow and Leningrad were arrested; Zinoviev and Kamenev were accused of being part of the conspiracy and tried in secret for moral complicity in the murder of Kirov. Trotsky's assassination by Stalin's agent Ramon Mercader in Mexico in 1940 meant that only Stalin remained alive from Lenin's first Soviet government of 1917. Stalin had ensured there was no political diversity. Stalin had also taken revenge on the congress of victors, which had preferred Kirov. In all, 98 out of the 139 members of the Central Committee elected at the 17th Party Congress were executed, along with 1,108 of the 1,996 delegates who had attended. In addition, the regional communist parties were purged. Beria arrested 30,000 officials and executed 10,000 in Georgia between 1936 and 1938, including two State Prime Ministers. All the Ukranian Politburo members were arrested. Finally, the armed forces were purged, with three out of five marshals of the Soviet Union executed. These purges ensured that Stalin's political
power could not be challenged, but Stalin also saw them
as destroying those who stood for a different
set of ideas. • there was a ‘psychological need’ for a leader amongst the Soviets – the Tsars had been worshipped as the batyushka, with icons in homes – Stalin now acted in place of the Tsar. The intolerance of religion also meant that the Soviets looked for another to look up to – a cross had often been present alongside the icon of the Tsar
• Stalin was personally responsible for the creation of the cult – he deified Lenin, who had also filled the psychological role as leader, and then used the Lenin Legacy to make himself the ‘Lenin of Today’• propaganda spread the cult – gigantic busts and portraits at every corner, speeches on artistic and scientific subjects glorified Stalin. Cities and streets named in honour of Lenin and Stalin (such as Stalingrad) helped create the cult• the psychology of adulation meant that as the cult grew it became more difficult to resist as people wished to follow their neighbours and take part in mass activities• people genuinely wished to thank Stalin for material improvements in their lives, such as the end of rationing in 1935, extended education and the removal of ‘enemies’ in the purges• there was an element of fear in existence in the USSR in the 1930s due to the purges, show trials and NKVD arrests that meant some would feel pressured into supporting the cult. • Trotsky’s weaknesses and mistakes: Trotsky was feared as an ambitious man with the backing of the Red Army of 5 million. He was an ex-Menshevik, Jewish and intellectual. Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin therefore formed the Troika to defeat Trotsky in 1924 – the first stage in Stalin’s victory in the power struggle
•it was this fear of Trotsky that led Zinoviev and Kamenev to argue that Stalin should not be removed as General Secretary, which had been Lenin’s directive in his Political Testament
•other rivals errors and mistakes: Zinoviev and Kamenev were Jews and ‘October Deserters’, whilst their attack on Trotsky made them appear indecisive – a former ally; Bukharin fought in the party though his strength lay with the peasants and the Trades Unions; commitment to NEP meant he lacked credibility as a Marxist.
Factors suggesting other factors were responsible for Stalin’s victory might include:
•Stalin’s powers as General Secretary: linkman between Politburo and government, access to party-files, recorded and conveyed information, most crucially by ensuring Trotsky failed to attend Lenin’s funeral, right to appoint, remove and transfer top 5,500 officials in USSR, including the regional secretaries meaning Stalin could make sure delegates to the Party Congress backed him. Stalin ensured the appointment of six Stalinists to the 1926 Politburo
•Stalin was the beneficiary of the Lenin Legacy: benefited from Lenin’s 1921 Ban on Factionalism – no criticism once PC had voted for something or the leadership decreed it; this allowed Stalin to attack the United Opposition and the Right Opposition as acting contrary to the will of Lenin; Lenin Enrolment, funeral speech, ‘Foundations of Leninism’ all tied Stalin to Lenin
•Stalin used ideological differences to defeat his opponents – he challenged Trotsky’s view of ‘Worldwide Revolution’ with ‘Socialism in One Country’ which appealed to nationalists within the party, claimed the left wing support of rapid industrialisation was unmarxist and then turned on the NEP (when it was failing) to defeat Bukharin. Explain why Stalin supported the policy of ‘socialism in one country’. How successful was Stalin in creating a totalitarian state by 1941? • Russia's backwardness was preventing that country from becoming the great power Stalin wanted
• Stalin saw the strengthening of Russia industrially as the underpinning of the Communist revolution – and his regime
• Stalin believed the strengthening of Russian industry was the only way to protect the country and its revolution from other (capitalist) states
• the economic problems of Russia had never been resolved by Lenin who left an ambiguous legacy
• Stalin chose to use the policy to challenge his rivals in his bid for the leadership struggle. It proved particularly useful in challenging Trotsky, whose theory of permanent revolution was less immediately appealing within Russia. Factors suggesting that Stalin was successful in creating a totalitarian state might include:
• the strength of the official ideology of Marxist-Leninism that was promoted and the extent to which adherence was expected and alternative ideologies were crushed; opponents were labelled as deviationists, Trotskyites, wreckers etc. because of their lack of faith.
• Religion, which offered an alternative to communism, was crushed; buildings were demolished or converted, priests were arrested and executed, anti-religious museums were opened
• the one-party state established under Lenin was maintained under Stalin and confirmed by the 1936 Constitution
• the state had a monopoly over the means of legitimate force through the NKVD and the Red Army
• Political opposition was put down. Ryutin criticised collectivisation and was expelled along with 1 million Ryutinites in 1932; Kirov defended comrades and called for a reduction in the speed of collectivisation and was assassinated in 1934; the 1934 Congress which supported Kirov was purged; the left and the right who challenged Stalin in the 1920s were purged in the 1930s; Trotsky was hounded from USSR and assassinated in 1940. By 1940 only Stalin remained from Lenin’s original government
• the state had a monopoly over the economy through GOSPLAN and the collective farms
• the state had a monopoly over the means of mass communication. Radio, film, newspapers and the arts were all brought under State control. The Union of Russian Writers, the imposition of Socialist Realism, the banning of foreign films and Stalin'spersonal supervising of film scripts all removed cultural and artistic diversity
• the Cult of Stalin was omnipresent.
Factors suggesting there were some limits to Stalin's totalitarianism might include:
• the official ideology did not necessarily win hearts and minds. Religion retained its grip on the population with 57% of the population describing themselves as having a religion in the census of 1937
• the economy was not as tightly controlled on a local level because of the need to achieve targets through any means. The Stakhanovite movement, differentiated wage rates on collective farms and in industry, with higher wages paid to more skilled workers, and GOSPLAN's focus on targets rather than planning undermined Communist theory. Private peasant plots existed in the countryside, producing the majority of milk by 1937
• the traditional peasant way of life continued with little indication of 'totalitarian' controls - for example, local festivals and religious celebrations; minorities survived
• the 1936 Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and association. • NEP was always a temporary expedient as it was capitalist and an adaptation of Marxism. The Bolsheviks had seized power at a time when 80% of the population were peasants. Ending NEP would finally create socialism
• NEP was no longer working by 1927/8 as grain procurements were falling
• rapid industrialisation could be adopted as a policy as Trotsky and the United Opposition had been defeated
• ending NEP allowed Stalin’s policies to create a distinction between his policies and those of Bukharin, and defeat the right in the power struggle
• 1927 War scare – Britain had broken off diplomatic relations, France trade links and Japan threatened war. Stalin believed rapid industrialisation was needed to defend the USSR which influenced the ending of NEP Factors suggesting Stalin’s regime did successfully crush diversity might include:• political opposition and alternative ideologies were crushed; Ryutin criticised collectivisation and was expelled in 1932 along with 1 million Ryutinites, Kirov defended comrades and called for a reduction in the speed of collectivisation and was assassinated in 1934, the 1934 Congress which supported Kirov was purged, the left and the right who challenged Stalin in the 1920s were purged in the 1930s, Trotsky was assassinated in 1940. By 1940 only Stalin remained from Lenin’s original government.
• religion offered an alternative to communism and was crushed; buildings were demolished or converted, priests were arrested and executed, anti-religious museums were opened
• economic diversity was destroyed when NEP was ended. A fierce labour discipline ensured loyalty to the State as employer
• radio, film, newspapers and the arts were all brought under State control. The Union of Russian Writers, the imposition of Socialist Realism, the banning of foreign films and Stalin personally supervising film scripts all removed cultural and artistic diversity
• ethnic heroes were removed from history as Stalin imposed Russian chauvinism
• education, the Pioneers and Komsomol all ensured that the young and the youthreceived only one view of the world.
Factors suggesting some diversity existed and therefore the regime was not wholly successful in crushing diversity might include:
• differentiated wage rates on collective farms and in industry, with higher wages paid to more skilled workers
• the Stakhanovite movement created an elite class (as did the existence of privileged party members)
• private peasant plots existed in the countryside, producing the majority of milk by 1937
• religion retained its grip on the population with 57% of the population describingthemselves as having a religion in the census of 1937
• the 1936 Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and association. • as link man between the Politburo and the government and as head of the party Orgburo Stalin controlled the flow of information. He reputedly used this power to tell Trotsky the wrong date for Lenin’s funeral• Stalin had the power of patronage over the top 5 500 officials, including the ability to hire and fire, promote and demote the Regional Secretaries. He used these powers to promote his supporters, for example Kirov was made Leningrad party secretary and Molotov was made Moscow Party secretary
• Stalin was able to dictate the timing of the Party Congress, delaying the 1925 Congress until December when he had a majority amongst the delegates Factors suggesting Stalin was personally responsible for the development of the cult of personality might include:
• the linking of ideas to individuals, followed by the ruthless attacks on Trotskyism and Bukharinism and the creation of Stalinism
• the way he presented himself as the ‘Lenin of today’. Through the funeral speech, and the Lenin Enrolment, Stalin was able to present himself as the natural heir to the respect and reverence shown to Lenin
• Stalin did nothing to stop the cult even though he had the power to do so.
Factors suggesting Stalin was not responsible might include:
• it was the product of the media wanting to ‘please’ Stalin
• the cult was inconsistent with Marxist-Leninist ideology and therefore not Stalin’s work
• Stalin’s daughter reported that Stalin detested the cult and found it oppressive.
Other factors responsible for the development of the cult might include:
• the use of propaganda, typified by the deification of Stalin in the edition of Pravda dedicated to him on his 50th birthday, but also including the renaming of Tsarytsyn as Stalingrad, posters, statues etc
• the Russian people’s psychological need for a leader to replace the tsars, emphasised by the way Lenin had already been deified despite his objection to any form of worship
• the need of the Russian people to have an obvious and understandable focus for their connection with the regime. It was easier to follow an individual than a complex set of ideas, and there was a need to thank someone for the material benefits enjoyed by some in the mid to late 1930s, for example, the ending of bread rationing in 1935, or protection from internal and external enemies
• the complex psychology of adulation meant that individuals were swept along by the mass veneration of Stalin, and that once such an emotional investment had been made in the cult people were deeply reluctant to accept that they had been deceived. Stalin was not therefore damaged by the extreme state terror of the 1930s. • NEP was capitalist, allowing private ownership of industry and private trade in grain. It led to the creation of a new urban bourgeoisie and kulaks in the countryside• Socialism in One Country also focused on the pragmatic needs of the USSR but it facilitated economic recovery until 1927, and rejected the internationalism of Marxism (‘Workers of the world unite’), focusing on the needs of the USSR rather than spreading socialism• The Cult of Lenin raised one man above others, in contrast to the Marxist dictatorship of the proletariat. Stalin deified Lenin through his funeral speech, the Lenin Enrolment, Foundations of Leninism etc. He also benefited from this reverence himself as the ‘Lenin of Today’• The Second Revolution forced economic change from above, as the political system determined the economic system, in contrast to Marxist theory. Factors suggesting it was the popularity of Stalin’s policies might include:• Socialism in One Country put the needs of the USSR first, as well as showing faith in the country and socialism’s ability to meet the challenges of economic development and protection. The policy enabled him to defeat Trotsky in 1924 and start to marginalise his rival• Stalin’s commitment to NEP until 1927 enabled him to defeat the United Opposition of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. The policy was a continuation of the work of Lenin and it appeared to be working as the Soviet economy recovered in the mid 1920s. It secured the support of the peasantry and much of the party• Stalin’s abandonment of NEP and adoption of collectivisation and rapid forced industrialisation enabled him to defeat Bukharin. It won him the support of party radicals like Kirov, Kaganovich and Ordzhonkidze, and of the party rank and file who were increasingly disgusted with the capitalist NEP.
Factors suggesting it was not the popularity of Stalin’s policies might include:
• Trotsky’s weaknesses and mistakes: Trotsky was feared as an ambitious man with the backing of the Red Army of 5 million. He was an ex-Menshevik, Jewish, intellectual. Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin therefore formed the Troika to defeat Trotsky in 1924, which was the first stage in Stalin’s victory in the power struggle. It was this fear of Trotsky that led Zinoviev and Kamenev to argue that Stalin should not be removed as General Secretary, which had been Lenin’s directive in his Political Testament
• other rivals errors and mistakes: Zinoviev and Kamenev were Jews and ‘October Deserters’, whilst their attack on Trotsky made them appear indecisive – a former ally; Bukharin fought in the party though his strength lay with the peasants and the Trades Unions; commitment to NEP meant he lacked credibility as a Marxist
• Stalin was the beneficiary of the Lenin Legacy: benefited from Lenin’s 1921 Ban on Factionalism – no criticism once PC had voted for something or the leadership decreed it; this allowed Stalin to attack the United Opposition and the Right Opposition as acting contrary to the will of Lenin; Lenin Enrolment, funeral speech, ‘Foundations of Leninism’ all tied Stalin to Lenin
• Stalin’s powers as General Secretary: linkman between Politburo and government, access to party-files, recorded and conveyed information, most crucially by ensuring Trotsky failed to attend Lenin’s funeral, right to appoint, remove and transfer top 5,500 officials in USSR, including the regional secretaries meaning Stalin could make sure delegates to the Party Congress backed him. Stalin ensured the appointment of six Stalinists to the 1926 Politburo. • the weaknesses of Trotsky: Jewish, ex-Menshevik, lacked partisans and a power base• the mistakes of Trotsky: did not attack Stalin over his actions in Georgia at the 1923 Congress, did not push for the publication of Lenin’s Testament, missed the funeral of Lenin, attacked party bureaucracy and therefore appeared to be guilty of factionalism, attacked Zinoviev and Kamenev in ‘Lessons of October’ and then sided with them in the United Opposition, programme of World Revolution appeared to be unrealistic andunpatriotic, whilst arguing in favour of NEP appeared to be contradictory to Leninism
• the strengths of Stalin: As General Secretary he hired and fired the top 5 500 officials and he was able to manipulate the timing of the 1925 Congress and ensure that the delegates were pro-Stalin and anti-Trotsky; his policy of Socialism in One Country was realistic and popular, whilst continuing NEP was presented as being consistent with the wishes of Lenin• luck: Lenin had a stroke before he could remove Stalin; Trotsky was suffering from malaria at the time of Lenin’s funeral. Evidence Stalin had successfully crushed all opposition:• the defeat of political opposition, both real and imaginary. Ryutin and his supporters were expelled from the party in 1932 and a purge of membership followed. The murder of Kirov removed a potential successor and the court-martial of Tuchachevsky ensured the army had no realistic opposition leader. The 1934 Congress which had preferred Kirov to Stalin was decimated – 98/139 of the Central Committee and 1,108/1,996 of the Congress were purged. In the 1990s the KGB admitted to 681 692 political executions though Conquest would argue that more than 20 million were killed. By the end of the decade only Stalin was still alive in the USSR from Lenin’s 1917 government
• tight state control of the economy through Gosplan, quotas, draconian labour laws and the ruthless suppression of wreckers and saboteurs destroyed industrial opposition; in the countryside 90%+ land was collectivised, millions of Kulaks were exiled and Machine Tractor Stations became proletarian bases in the countryside• religious opposition was devastated, with churches turned into grain stores, swimming pools and museums.Evidence Stalin had not successfully crushed all opposition:• political opposition had existed in the early 30s. Ryutin’s platform had won support in the Central Committee and Stalin was unable to win support for the death penalty to be passed on his critic. Smirnov did leak information to Trotsky in the early 1930s. The 1934 Congress had cast 292 votes against Stalin’s election, and it has been suggested he was placed as low as tenth on the list. A Zinoviev-Trotskyite Bloc did exist in 1936• economic opposition still existed in the sense that many peasants focused on their private plots rather than on the working on the collective. Industrial workers continued to change jobs in defiance of labour directives• Churches remained opened across major cities. Answers may reasonable point to the enthusiasm for religion when churches were reopened during the war as evidence that religion had not been destroyed in the 1930s. • Marx believed that the economic system should determine the political system; therefore countries with a developed working class who were aware they were being exploited would see spontaneous workers revolutions• In the USSR, the political system determined the economic system, in that the peasantry were 80% of the population and the country was not ready for a workers’ revolution.• The USSR had skipped a stage in Marx’s stage theory, moving from Feudalism to the stage of Socialism• The internal and external context also required adaptations to Marxism; the civil war required the discipline of War Communism with requisitioning and terror; the famine, Scissor Crisis and Kronstadt Rebellion required the retreat from communism to the capitalist NEP Lenin Legacy:• Benefited from Lenin’s 1921 Ban on Factionalism – no criticism once Party Congress had voted for something or the leadership decreed it; this allowed Stalin to attack the United Opposition and the Right Opposition as acting contrary to the will of Lenin• Lenin Enrolment, funeral speech, ‘Foundations of Leninism’ all tied Stalin to LeninOther Factors:• Powers as General Secretary: Link man between politburo and government, access to party-files, recorded and conveyed information, most crucially by ensuring Trotsky failed to attend Lenin’s funeral, right to appoint, remove and transfer top 5500 officials in USSR, including the regional secretaries, meaning Stalin could make sure delegates to the Party Congress backed him. Stalin ensured the appointment of six Stalinists to the 1926 Politburo• Rivals’ errors and mistakes: Trotsky was an ex-Menshevik, Jew, feared as the ‘Red Napoleon’; World Revolution made him appear to be a traitor, too intellectual and arrogant, failed to publish the Political Testament; Zinoviev and Kamenev were Jews and ‘October’, whilst their attack on Trotsky made them appear indecisive – a former ally; Bukharin fought in the party though his strength lay with the peasants and the Trades Unions, commitment to NEP meant he lacked credibility as a Marxist On the other hand, many argue that the purges were the results of complex social economic circumstances. Stalin was reacting to circumstances: he feared for life of the assassination of Kirov and gave the NKVD greater power to protect the party leadership. The replacement of Yagoda with Yezhov was not part of a decision to act against the party. Instead, it followed an explosion at mining complex in Siberia; Yagoda failed to prevent an act of terrorism and Yezhov was known to excel ferreting out conspirators. In 1925, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in deference of the dead founder of Bolshevism. Other leaders, like Kirov and Molotov, were recognised in the same way. Stalin’s contribution to the Soviet State was also recognised: the city of Tsaritsyn was renamed Stalingrad in 1925 and Stalinsk and Stalinabad also appeared on the map. Articles, letters, poems and pictures all praised Stalin coining him the ‘Lenin of Today’ who was now driving the USSR to the utopian future. Excessive praise of Stalin became the norm over the next 24 years. He had aquired a status of living God in the USSR. He was considered to be capable of doing no wrong, to be all seeing, all knowing and all-powerful, constantly acting in the best interests of the Soviet people. The Cult of Stalin There was a psychological need for a single leader to follow and worship. The Tzars had been considered to be a little father of the Russian people. As gods representative on earth, they embodied all that was holy and omnipotent and were worshipped as such. The typical Russian peasants home contained a cross and a cheap icon of the Tsar, symbols of the two pillars of faith. The Russian peasantry now transferred the allegiance to a new ‘little father’, with a picture of Stalin replacing the tzar and the cross. It mattered little that the Bolsheviks were responsible for the murder of the last tzar and had banned the Orthodox Church. Stalin himself played a key role in creating his own cult by deifying Lenin. Lenin too had filled the crucial psychological role of guardian and leader for the Russian people,in spite of his hatred for such veneration. Stalin directly linked himself to Lenin. The ‘Lenin of today’ therefore benefited from the cult of Lenin. The psychology of adulation is also complex. It is possible that, as the cult grew, it became more difficult to resist as the average soviet citizen wished to behave in the same way as their neighbours and take part in the same mass activities. It is also likely that, once people have invested their emotions and commitment in Stalin, they did not want to have to face up to the reality of him as it would mean their worship had been meaningless. Soviet propaganda also played a crucial role in creating the cult, from gigantic bust and portraitists on every corner and every crossroads to speeches on artistic and scientific subjects which were also peppered with the glorification of Stalin. Stalin clearly fancied benefited from the cult. He could impose his views and therefore demand absolute submission without having to argue a case because he was the batyushka and therefore his word was law. This suited him psychologically as he could not personal accept any criticism. Stalin demanded the death penalty for Ryutin and his family in 1932 after Ryutins public criticism of Stalin. It was easier to follow an individual than a set of ideas. The complexities of Marxism and the Soviet version of Marxist-Leninism required the cult. It was not easy to explain to the uneducated masses the rationale for government decisions, particularly when they contradicted previous policies. The masses accepted policies from Stalin because he thought they were good ideas and he knew best, particularly valuable the when Nazi-soviet pact was signed and the Germans invaded 22 months later. Although many soviet citizens suffered during the 1930s, millions were also grateful to comrade Stalin. Famine devastated Ukraine and the Purges traumatised millions, but they disproportionately affected Leningrad, the party and those in ‘bourgeois’ professions. Pravda stressed that ‘life is getting more joyous’ and living standards made some improvements. The Soviet people had to have someone to express their thanks to for the material improvements in their life and the successes of the regime, and they wanted to thank a real person rather than abstract concept. The people were grateful for the end of rationing in 1935, for the order in their lives, for the education, for the systematic unmasking the enemies of the people discovered during the purges and for the victory of the Great Patriotic War. Furthermore, each of these successes reinforced the genius of Stalin. The great purge was part of the process of crushing not just opposition but also concepts like truth, evidence and reality. Stalin was realistic enough to recognise the threat to the Soviet union from the West or, increasingly, Nazi Germany, and was therefore making sure that there would be no rival leader to challenge him if the anticipated war was as disastrous as the First World War; he was not playing the role of the Tzar in the sequel. In July 1937, the NKVD set targets for arrests and executions by region; 72,500 were to be executed and 177,500 arrested. Truth and lies, innocence and guilt ceased to have any meaning as obedience became all. The destruction of Bukharin makes this clear. During the confessions of Zinoviev and Kamenev at the first show trial, both Bolsheviks admitted that they were part of a wider conspiracy against the party.
Yagoda was replaced by Yezhov who was charged with the instigation of the Great Purge. The impact of the great purge was to transform the party from one consisting of 55-year-olds who were old comrades of Lenin and lacked the necessary respect for Stalin, to a new generation of 35-year-olds understood that obedience to Stalin was all. Stalin's motives for the Great Purge have been debated. Some historians have debated that Stalin carried out the purges to explicitly destroy potential opposition.
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