Why did Stalin gain power from 1924?

  • Created by: P0larbear
  • Created on: 02-01-21 15:08

Lenin's legacy


  • Unpublished set of negative comments about other members of Politburo 
  • Stalin a) did not take discussions with Georgian respresentatives seriously enough, b) insulted Lenin's wife. Lenin called for his removal from his position as General Secretary 


  • Stalin delivered oration on behalf of Politburo, so he appeared to be the leading mourner
  • Speech: dedicated self to following Lenin's orders and ideas
  • Trotsky offered this honour. Declined, and did not come to funeral.


  • Lenin Enrolment: 1923-25 - membership increased 340,000 to 600,000. New members= unsophisticated, but aware that membership depended on loyalty. Stalin used it to increase power, gaining a reliable body of votes
  • Factionalism: 1921 - Lenin condemned party divisions and attempts to criticise party policies. Meant Stalin could resist any challenge to his growing authority.
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Stalin's position


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Leon Trotsky


  • Intellectually brilliant, cultured and flamboyant, unlike the practical Proletariats of the CPSU
  • Major flaws that prevented success: uncertain, didn't take advantage of situations to improve, had bad judgement. Didn't inspire loyalty
  • Created Red Army
  • Had been Menshevik until revolution - others did not trust him
  • Tried to condemn bureucratisation but this only made him more unpopoular


  • Trotsky wanted a continuous revolution process spreading between countries. Considered 1917 revolution the first step. Thought this would be the only way for USSR to be a safe socialist state in a conservative Europe that made the new Russia struggle
  • Stalin portrayed this idea as intent on damaging USSR (not Trotsky's idea)
  • Stalin came up with "Socialism in One Country" to oppose this idea - aimed to turn USSR into a modern, self-dependent state before exporting the revolution
  • Created an image of Trotsky as an isolated, posturing Jew who had plans to threaten USSR. Image held as people still feared capitalist invasion
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New Economic Policy dispute


  • Created by Lenin 1921 as a temporary relaxing of strict socialism
  • Appeased peasants to meet need for food: restored public markets, replaced requisitioning with taxes, allowed peasants to sell surpluses
  • Right Communists: NEP had fulfilled purpose, was now betraying the revolution
  • Left Communists: wanted to honour Lenin by keeping what he created


  • Dispute quickly developed to question party loyalty and political correctness
  • Trotsky = left. Supported Lenin 1921, but 1923 criticised Gosplan for 'errors in economic policy'. Thought that the government was starting to prioritise NEPmen over the revolution
  • Stalin made Trotsky look like an enemy, but he did not make his own views clear


  • USSR needed to industrialise to become a modern state, but couldn't settle how
  • To industrialise, they needed resources and capital. Only usable resource = 80% peasant population (no money to extract raw materials, and would not borrow)
  • Right wanted to persuade the peasants to produce a surplus, Left wanted to force.
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Stalin's defeat of the Left


  • Trotsky could not get support for Permanent Revolution thanks to the Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev triumvirate. Was relieved of his position as Commissar for War 
  • Triumvirate began to break up: Stalin getting closer to other Politburo members.
  • Kamenev and Zinoviev responded by publicly stating their belif in Permanent Revolution


  • Personally disliked Trotsky - he kept reminding people that they didn't support Lenin 1917
  • Were party bosses in Moscow and Leningrad (industrial areas) so they wanted to abandon NEP and enforce industrialisation
  • Formed United Opposition with Trotsky 1926. Outvoted by Stalin and the Right
  • Replaced by Molotov and Kirov (Stalin's supporters)


  • Expelled from Politburo and Central Committe when United Opposition failed
  • 1927- tried to directly challenge Stalin. Outvoted again. Exiled internally.
  • 1929- exiled from USSR, went to South America
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Stalin's defeat of the Right


  • Collectivisation: forcing peasants to work communally by pooling what they own
  • Industrialisation: scheme of building factories for heavy goods (e.g. iron)
  • 1928 - Stalin decided only these drastic measures would solve problems of USSR
  • Right (Bukharin, Tomsky, Rykov)  did not want pace to be forced by state, only guided: could lead to resentful and unproductive peasants. Wanted to give them the option to prosper
  • Bukharin: Stalin's policy (of enforced collections of fixed grain quotas) = unproductive. Also highlighted that Stalin's policy = Trotsky's policy


  • Ideas: Focussed on economic problems - not an apparent priority in 1920s. Lenient with peasants - people preferred hardline policy. Stalin considered they underestimated the crisis facing the party.
  • Organisation: Couldn't spread ideas - Stalin master of party organisation. Couldn't fully oppose Stalin - would be seen as disloyalty/factionalism. Stalin's supporters distributed party information so he easily belittled them
  • Support: only trade unions, which Stalin purged of opposition
  • 1929 - defeat. Bukharin voted out of Comintern and Politburo.
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