Stalin's Russia 1924-53

Stalin's Russia 1924-53

The Struggle for Power

Lenin very ill for many months before his death in Jan 1924. Party elite continued running the country. No mechanism for replacing Lenin

Stalin given responsibility for supervising Lenin's treatment by central committee. No one visited him as much as Stalin. Stalin offended Lenin by being rude to his wife. 

Lenin and Stalin disagreed about foreign trade, Lenin wanted to keep in hands of g'ment, Stalin wanted to relax. Lenin also disagreed with Stalin's treatment of independence m'ment in Georgia. 

Lenin died Jan 1924. Politburo (Rykov, Tomsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Trotsky and Stalin) announced intended ruling as collective leadership

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Struggle for Power Cont.

Stalin put Trotsky at disadvantage by being Chief Mourner and delivering oration. Trotsky said Stalin gave him the wrong date which is why he did not attend. 

Stalin's successful promotion of 'Leninism'. Associated himself with authority and philosophy of Lenin. 

May 1924 13th Party Congress. Lenin's political testament revealed secretly to reps of party at closed meeting

Political Testament very critical of Stalin and recommended he be removed from his position of General Secretary. Stalin offered to resign but Zino and Kamenev defended himThey backed Stalin because they were afraid of Trotsky. Stalin not seen as much of a threat. Triumvirate of three leaders kept Trotsky out of power

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Why was Trotsky unpopular?

Trotsky had a power base in the Red Army, many Bolsheviks were afraid he would become a military dictator

Trotsky was personally unpopular, arrogant and highly intellectual, did not make alliances with colleagues

Used to be a Menshevik and by becoming a Bolshevik later on - it worked against his favour

Violently opposed to growth of party bureaucracy, which Stalin headed and it gave people comfy jobs

Ideas that appeared dangerous e.g. USSR try to start revolution in other states

Advocated radical solution to economic problems. Opposed NEP believed peasants should be treated worse and forced to produce more

Lenin's political testament was shelved and kept quiet 

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Why did Trotsky become more unpopular from 1924? .

Trotsky launched an attack on lack of party democracy. Centralisation occurred during civil war, appeared to be an attack on what Lenin had sanctioned 

Central Bureaucracy provided jobs for many members, attack not likely to be popular

Oct 1924 Trotsky attacked Zinoviev and Kamenev in 'Lessons of October'. Drew attention to fact these two had opposed Lenin when decision for Oct Rev was decided 

Led to war of the words. Kamenev pointed to Trotsky's Menshevik past. Stalin remained aloof while his opponents destroyed each other. He appeared to be a moderate above party warfare. 

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Why had Stalin amassed such power by 1924?

People's Commissar for Nationalities 1917 -  Stalin in control of the regions of the former Russian empire that contained minority groups - half pop of USSR

Liaison officer between Politburo and Orgburo 1919 - Stalin key connection between politburo, g'ment cabinet, and highest organisation of the party, Orgburo

Head of Worker's and Peasants' Inspectorate 1919 - This was the most important office he held, key to success in power struggle. Administrative post - responsibilities v. wide.

1. Responsibility for membership of party, mem. grew rapidly after Lenin's death. New members were loyal to Stalin.

2. Secretariat prepared agenda of meetings. Gave Stalin cons. power as agendas could be used to shape decisions. 

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Ideological Struggle and Defeat of Left 1925

Great need to promote economic growth + industrialisation. USSR had to invest in industry, only place investment could come from was transfer of resources from agriculture to industry

Left Communists against NEP. Argued peasants benefited at expense of proleteriat. In favour of ending NEP immediately.  

Right accepted NEP as practical policy to be tolerated as long as it produced sufficient food supplies

Dec 1924, Stalin adopted 'Socialism in One Country'. Argued Russia could achieve socialism without aid of rev. in other countries. 

Trotsky saw industrialisation less important than spreading the revolution - he wanted 'Permanent Revolution' 

1925 Party Congress:Stalin many supporters as a result of being Gen. Secretary. Kamenev chairman of Moscow branch of party. Zinoviev of Leningrad branch. 

All votes went against Trotsky and lost position as Commissar of War. 

Zinoviev and Kamenev agreed with Trotsky about economic matters. End to NEP + moves to collectivisation. 

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Ideological Struggle and Defeat cont.

Zinoviev and Kamenev thought that rapid industrialisation could be achieved if food production more efficient. Thought USSR would struggle to survive without revolutions in other countries, views of political left of party.

On the right, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky said NEP should continue for another twenty years. 

At 1925 Congress Party all of Left resolutions were defeated and the party backed the right. Even Kamenev and Zinoviev's supporters didn't vote for them. Stalin sided with the right. 

1926 - Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky failed to get their view supported at party congress. Z and K were both dismissed from their position as party chairmen. Stalin placed two of his men at head of party organisation in Moscow and Leningrad

1927 - Left tried to make case again at party congress. Denied the right to speak. Attempts to publicise their views failed, their presses were found and destroyed. 

By opposing so openly meant that the charge of factionalism could brought against them. Left had been defeated. Kamenev, Zinoviev and Trotsky were expelled from the party. 

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The Defeat of the Right

Stalin had appeared to take the side of the right in struggle with Left. This tactical manoeuvre an did not reflect his ideological position

1927 - poor harvest, Jan 1928 Stalin visited West. Siberia. Convinced Kulaks were keeping grain from the market to keep up prices. Stalin had police officials with him and ordered confiscation of grain - he was abandoning NEP. 

1928 - Party Congress - The Right argued against Stalin's actions. Thought peasants would produce more if NEP continued + they had oppor. to become prosperous 

'War Scare' in USSR 1927/8 - The Rights policies offered only gradual industrialisation but Military strength has to be built on indus. strength. A more vigorous policy looked more attractive for faster industrialisation. 

Stalin used his control of the party organisation so that the Right resolutions were defeated at the party congress. Tomsky, Bukharin and Rykov were removed from their positions by Stalin. 

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Why did Stalin win?

  • Had luck on his side - if Lenin had not died he would most likely have been sent to work in the provinces 
  • Centralised nature of Party made it quite easy for Stalin as General Secretary to control it through the secretariat. 
  • Stalin possessed the organisational skill to develop Party secretariat into a maj. power base 
  • Stalin only member of Politburo and Orgburo 
  • Stalin listened into private Kremlin phone network and thus was well informed about what his colleagues thought. 
  • He was based in Moscow from 1921 onwards so he knew about most things going on 
  • Stalin liked to play role of mediator in early phase of revolution. He would listen to their arguments then propose a solution. He came to be seen as a moderate
  • Had position to recruit persons who wanted a career and preferred working in party apparatus. They owed advantages of party membership to him and supported him. 
  • Poorly educated new Party members were easy to dominate
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Why did Stalin win continued ...

Stalin's control over personnel enabled him to sack those who sided with opposition. Every time a leading politician lost would be followed with a purge of his supporters 

Stalin was consistently able to win votes against opposition

Lenin, at 10th Party congress, forced ban on factionalism. If 2/3 of Central Committe agreed a comrade could be expelled. Stalin used this to claim he was carrying out Lenin's will. 

Low level of culture in Russia, especially among Bolshevik supporters, easier to misrepresent opponents POV. 

Stalin presented himself as leading disciple of Lenin. 

He understood advantage of promoting Russian Nationalism. 

Never took on all his opponents at same time 

Never totally committed to any policy - on Right against Trotsky and Left against Bukharin

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Why did Stalin win continued ...

Stalin was very skilled in spotting weaknesses of his opponents and devising tactics to outmanoeuvre them 

Stalin was aware that successful mobilisation of the state during Civil War provided many lessons for the future 

Many party members desired radical change - easy to attack Bukharin and NEP

Stalin's opponents made a major error in failing to publish Lenin testament. 

Other leaders underestimated Stalin and exaggerated danger by Trotsky. Stalin did not appear as threatening.

Trotsky's failure to turn up at Lenin's funeral weakened his position from start

Trotsky's personality was a handicap, impatient of people. Arrogant and not liked

Trotsky did not see need to make alliances at first. When he did with Zinoviev and Kamenev they were charged with factionalism. His slogan of 'PR' unattractive. 

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Stalin now dominant in the party ....

He had outmanoeuvred all potential leadership rivals. Controlled the party apparatus as he had done since 1922 and many people owed their jobs in the party to him 

Economy been recovering well under the NEP, although major crisis over grain procurement in 1927-8

Peasants growing plenty of grain but didn't sell the to state for low prices

There was nothing for them to spend roubles on so they stock piled crops incase of a future poor harvest

Investment in state-owned heavy industry was growing, but not fast enough  

All Bolsheviks agreed on the need for an economy based on industry to ensure maintenance of world's first socialist state. 

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How to maximise investment income ....

Borrowing from the West was out  - Bolsheviks refused to be associated with all the loans the Tsar had taken from the Capitalist powers and all the war debts

No one was likely to lend money to the Soviet Union 

Only way open to Stalin was to generate income internally and that meant from the countryside where 80% of the population lived

If cash could be raised by selling agricultural produce abroad, the Soviet Union would be able to buy the technology neccessary to modernise industry

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The State of the NEP economy in 1928

80% population were peasants. Since 1921 farmed own plots and become increasingly wealthy. Change in agriculture fundamental for economic growth 

Under NEP food production rapidly returned to pre world war 1 levels with emergence of richer peasants known as Kulaks 

Most agriculture still small scale, not very productive and old fashioned 

Lenin set up first collective farms hoping peasants would voluntarily joining together. By 1928 less than 3% of peasants had joined 

Debate in communist party - HOW to squeeze capital from peasants - all agreed on industrialisation 

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NEP continued . . .

Workers also needed in new towns so imperative to grow more food with fewer workers 

Some items needed for industrialisation had to be imported from the West and could only be paid in the short term by food exports - again needing to raise productivity in countryside 

Peasants were happy to produce more food 

Famine of 1927 -28 shows if no goods in towns for them to buy or prices for gain too low, then they would hold on to their surplus 

they would use it either to feed animals or improve own standard of living and incase of poor harvest next year 

Most peasants conservative. Supported Bolsheviks in order to get rid of their landlords and get their hands on land, they had no loyalty to Communism unlike many industrial workers 

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Really detailed thanks :)

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