- How did Stalin establish control over the Soviet Union?
- Historians talk about Stalin's Russia being a totalitarian state, where the Party set out to control every aspect of life.
- There is increasing evidence that however much it might have liked to give the impression of being totalitarian, that Stalin's government did not quite succeed.
- People did hold counter opinions, even if they largely kept them to themselves or grumbled in a crowd where it was hard to be picked out.
- First of all, Stalin had to establish control over the Party. He did this by a combination of Terror and delivering what party members wanted.
- Much the same can be said about Stalin's control over the country: control over dissenters was mostly force, but propaganda and the cult of the individual played a key part in sustaining Stalin's popularity in the country.
- Even prisioners in the Gulags were reported to cry when Stalin's death was announced.
- It is important to note that some recent historians question just how much control Stalin had over the country.
- They argue he was certainly at the centre of events, but that often the Centre was trying desperately to get local parties and members to follow the Party line.
- Perphaps Totalitarianism isn't an appropriate term to describe Stalin's Russia after all.
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