Why did Stalin win the power struggle?

  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 15-05-19 11:03
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  • Why did Stalin win the power struggle?
    • Stalins personality and drive for power
      • Held a central role in Party leadership
        • General Secretary and thus able to control the growing Party bureaucracy. Massive power base.
          • Lenin enrolment, 1922-25 meant that Party membership almost doubled.People joined for promotion within their workplace, not for politics, thus people were grateful towards him.
          • Good at gaining the loyalty of trusted subordinates.
      • Cult of Leninism
        • Placed in charge of Lenin's funeral - made Leninism into a religion, with him as Lenin's obvious, loyal successor.
      • Ultimately, Stalin knew how to deal with ideological debates, promoting idea he was following principles laid down by Lenin. Picked a middle path and used ban on factions to his advantage.
        • By December 1929 he had full control of the Party, and free to unfold is key themes.
          • Socialism in One Country
          • Centralised control
          • Stalins own role as Lenin's true successor
          • Need to rush through the economic transformation of the Soviet Union.
    • Weaknesses of other contenders
      • Lenin's Testament did not make one singular leader obvious, perhaps he was aiming at collective leadership which was in line with Marxist ideology?
        • However, it was heavily critical of Stalin and the other contenders did not publish it due to the threat it posed to themselves - underestimated Stalin and never thought he would gain leadership.
      • Trotsky
        • Had never attempted to create a power base
          • Attacked the Party Bureaucracy in 1924 when he needed its support - severe error of judgement.
        • Many Bolsheviks feared him and thought he might use his hold over the Red Army to seize power when Lenin died.
        • Seen as an inconsistent, arrogant opportunist who was not a true Bolshevik due to his Menshevik background.
        • Tended to fall ill at crucial moments
          • Was absent for Lenin's funeral due to influenza.
        • Was not a natural conspirator like Stalin and lacked the instinct for bureaucratic infighting.
          • Trotsky held back in 1924 at the 13th Party Congress, was his last opportunity to challenge Stalin.
            • By beginning of 1925 balance within the Party was swinging even further away from Trotsky, in January he was forced out of his post of People's Commissar for War
      • When Stalin offered to resign as General Secretary in December 1926 no one acted upon this.
      • Other leaders made themselves out as factionalists and opportunists due to sudden changes in alliances against Stalin.
        • Duumvirate of Bukharin and Stalin broke after it became obvious that Stalin had not intentions of power sharing and policy in the future.
          • Stalin took unilateral action with stern measures against the peasantry in western Siberia in January and February 1928
            • Not only did Bukharin not get a say in this, he strongly agreed with the NEP and despised the excessively bad treatment of peasants by government officials.
              • At the time NEP was becoming increasingly unpopular due to extreme food shortages and difficulty to buy grain from peasant producers.
          • By February 1929 Bukharin was desperate enough to consider making an alliance with Trotsky - Stalin was aware of this and managed to deprive him of several of his government posts.
    • Debates and policies
      • "Socialism in One Country" was popular with the Party and was the primary reason that Stalin came out triumphant at the literary discussion
        • Stalin held this view from 1923, popular as Russo-Polish war created barrier to the west to spread revolution and Comintern dominated by Russians.
          • Just as the NEP had bee a compromise with economic reality, Socialism in One Country would be a compromise with the realities of international situation.
      • Stayed in the "golden middle" to make him seem reasonable + prevented him being associated with unpopular policies
        • With NEP, at first wanted to abandon until 1925 when he supported its continuance till 1928.
        • From 1921 the Party was badly split over economic policy - insuperable from debates on Marxism and Leninism


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