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What methods did Stalin use to undermine the power & authority of his rivals ?
Lenin's death in 1924 created a battle for power between the top Soviet politics. The Soviet
Communist Party faced a central problem; choosing a successor. One contender was Stalin and he
was very driven to achieve the top position of power. In order to achieve a success he had to use
various methods to undermine the power and authority of Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev.
One of the main method Stalin used to undermine the power and authority of his numerous rivals was
the creation of the Triumvirate. The alliance of Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin had the sole intention of
keeping Trotsky out of power. They did this by firstly ensuring Trotsky was unable to master the
power of the party and then destroying his influencing by questioning his ideology and loyalty to
Lenin. They exploited Trotsky's unpopularity within large sections of the party; isolating him. This
could be considered to be one of Stalin main methods of undermining his rival's power and authority
as it turned the many of the Party members attitude towards Trotsky; giving him the appearance of
an outsider. Also, it was the Triumvirate that implemented many of Stalin's other methods together
One of these methods was the ability to capitalise on his rivals mistakes. This method worked
especially well on Trotsky when he was in poor health. Trotsky began to miss meetings; excluding
himself from significant discussions.
Stalin was used Lenin as a method to undermine others. This method was known as `Capitalising on
the cult of Lenin'. The method was also aimed at Trotsky; Stalin would suggest Trotsky was disloyal to
Lenin and his ideas. The most notable event that Stalin manufactured under `Capitalising on the cult of
Lenin' was lying to Trotsky about the time of Lenin Funeral, so he would not show up. This gave other
party members a reason to believe Trotsky was as disloyal as Stalin described. The Triumvirate also
criticised Trotsky work for disrespecting Lenin.
Stalin's position as General Secretary was manipulated in order to undermine his rivals. Due to being
General Secretary he was able to appoint the majority of delegates who attended the Party
Congress. In result of this he was able to ensure the Duumvirate (alliance of Bukharin and Stalin after
the collapse of the Triumvirate) won 559 votes to 65 votes for the New Opposition (alliance of
Zinoviev and Kamenev after the collapse of the Triumvirate.) Also due to his position within the party
he was able to strip Kamenev and Zinoviev of their powerful positions; removing Kamenev from the
Sovnarkom and not allowing either of them to be re-elected for the Politburo. Finally, he was able to
force Trotsky to resign as Head of the Red Army, claiming there was a possibility he could become a
Bonapartist military dictator.
Finally, another important method Stalin used was consolidating his own power. Without
consolidating his own power he would not have been a position to undermine his rivals. Also without
his position he would not have been able to create a support network of other party members. Stalin
managed to consolidate his own power by ensuring that the Lenin testament was kept secret and
unpublished, claiming that it undermined the authority of the government. This kept the Triumvirate
secure. Also, he refrained from taking part in debates with rivals to keep his integrity intact, instead
he persuaded Zinoviev and Kamenev to do it for him.
In conclusion, Stalin used many methods to undermine the authority and power of his rivals but his
most important method was employing tactical alliances. His first alliance with Zinoviev and Kamenev
in the Triumvirate ensured he had the personal backing to fight the Left Opposition. His second
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Bukharin in the Duumvirate ensured he had the backing to fight the United Opposition
and the New Opposition. In essence his alliances were tactically used to do his `dirty work' for him, so
he could keep his integrity intact. To conclude, all the Stalin's' methods mentioned in this essay
coincided with each other to ensure that six years after Lenin's death in 1930, Stalin was publicly
recognised as the leader of Russia.…read more