Stalin I: Stalin's rise to power


Stalin before the revolution

Born in Gori, Georgia.

Russian was his second language.

Rebellious at school and came from an impoverished background.

Influenced by Messame Dassy, revolutionary group wanting Georgian independence.

He met socialists whose ideology was based on marxism.

He joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) and became a revolutionnary

He organized strikes but was caught and sent to exile in Siberia.

Escaped, met Lenin in Finland and became a Bolshevik.

Sentenced to exile again to Siberia for life but was released by the overthrow of the Romanov Dynasty

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Role of Stalin in the 1917 Revolution

He was released from exile and became part of the editorial board of Pravda.

He was elected to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party.

The Bolshevik party were a minority but gained publicity after being the only party to oppose involvement in WW1 and opposed collabopration with the provisional governement. Two catch phrases: Land, peace and bread; All power to the soviets.

He was caught up in a struggle in the Bolshevik party and called a betrayer of socialism because of the Pravda publishing support for the war effort and the provisional gouvernment.

He changed his approach immediately.

He was not a player in the October Revolution.

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The Bolshevik revolution

Three interpretations of the October Revolution: popular uprising, coup d'etat, popular unrest combined with dynamic leadership.

Three Decrees:

  • The Decree for Land: land would be held communally. Peasants had already started to seize and divide land, he made this legal by saying there should be no private ownership of land and it should be held in common.
  • The Decree for Peace: they would pull out of WW1
  • The Decree for the Rights of the Peoples of Russia: allowed those who wanted to leave the Soviet Union to do so.

Lenin had written The State and Revolution in Finland and outlined that he planned to create a single party State and did so gradually.

The Treaty of Brest Litovsk geve the people peace but the price was high and added to discontent causing Civil Wars. The revolution was secured however and the White and Green were defeated.

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Stalin after the Bolshevik revolution

He was appointed commissar for nationalities and argued with Lenin against their policy on the republics of the former Russia. Lenin trusted them to join willingly, Stalin didn't, he believed republics must be ruled by a strong centre and with strict discipline.

The Georgian question brought this to the surface, they wanted to be a member of the USSR rather than the Transcaucasian Committee because they felt it affected their autonomy. Georgia eventually did enter as a member of the Transcaucasian Comittee. Lenin suspected Stalin wanted to return to Tsarist imperialism but let it pass.

Stalin was appointed General secretary for the party and became a member of the Politburo, the Orgburo and the Secretariat giving him a unique position of overview.

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The people involved in Stalin's rise to power

  • Zinoviev
  • Kamenev
  • Trotsky
  • Bukharin
  • Rykov
  • Tomsky
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Overview of the NEP

Reversal of War Communism and replaced with NEP.

War Communism was unpopular  and provoked uprising from peasants but also soldiers and sailors. The Kronstadt (naval base) uprising was suppressed but made Lenin realize he needed to be more moderate.

NEP was a step back into capitalism, it retained state control of heavy industry and trasportation but allowed small businesses to be privately owned.

Peasant farmers who had suffered from grain requisitionning were allowed to keep their surplus after the had paid taxes in grain. Production increased but not in industry and was called the scissor crisis as the graphs crossed.

It gave the USSR a more stable economic footing but was contreversian because some people thought it was moving away from socialism. In particular Trotsky thought farmers were back at producing food for profit and were holding back grain from the gouvernment.

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Method 1: Stalin and Lenin

Lenin's testament showed his reservation towards Stalin and recommended he be removed from his position. It was going to be read at the 12th party congress but was kept quiet to save Stalin's feelings and to appear as a united government after Lenin's death.

As Lenin was ill Stalin took advantage of the power vacuum and gave the oration at his funeral. He gave Trotsky the wrong date so he missed the funeral altogether.

Stalin began the Lenin enrolment to encourage people to join as a mark of respect for their leader. From the masses that joined he could choose future member s of the central comittee.

He wrote The Foundations of Leninism giving new members a ready made explanation and not allowing discussion over how to interpret Marxism.

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Method 2: Removal of rivals

  • Trotsky: He had led the Red Army buy lacked will for a political fight and was a Jew so believed he wouldn't get support. He made enemies by attacking the NEP. Zinoviev and Kamenev disliked him so Stalin joined them to form the Troika and removed him because of his opposition to the NEP and his advocation of permanent revolution.
  • Zinoviev and Kamenev (the left opposition): They argued that the NEP favoured the peasants over the workers and said it should be dropped. Bukharin however argued that it developped the economy and should be continued. Kamenev attacked the NEP and Stalin's Socialism in One Country at the 14th party congress and was therefore removed from the politburo.
  • Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky (the unitied opposition): Thy were branded by stalin as factionalists and expelled from the Central comittee and the party.
  • Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky (the right opposition/deviationists): Stalin changed his opinion on the NEP and became a heter of it. This went against Bukharin who thought it worked well. Stalin started a policy of grain requisitionning again. Everyone supported Stalin on the council because he put them there and they voted Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky off.
  • Stalin had WON
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Other aspects of his rise to power.

Was his rise to power legal or illegal?

Everything he did was legal because he had such good positions in the party.

Did he respond to popular opinion?

Yes because he supported angry workers by opposing the NEP but only once he had got rid of Zinoviev and Kamenev which was cheeky.

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