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Totalitarianism, Communism, Stalinism

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Presentation on theme: "Totalitarianism, Communism, Stalinism"— Presentation transcript:


2 Totalitarianism, Communism, Stalinism
Totalitarianism can be both Left and Right: similarities and differences Communism in its original utopian meaning means abolition of the state – the exact opposite of totalitarianism Communism as the political praxis of Communist Party regimes has historically produced the most developed forms of totalitarianism The fact that the ideology of liberation led to the practice of enslavement of society by the state has dealt a devastating blow to the communist project Ability of communist states to move away from the totalitarian mode without abandoning a socialist framework would be tested for several decades

3 2 forms of totalitarianism
Similarities Total subjugation of society to the state State control of the economy, suppression or heavy regulation of market forces Personal dictatorship Abolition of political and civil liberties The party-state Cult of the Leader Mass political terror and repression, key role of secret police Mass mobilization in support of the state – key role of mind control by means of culture, media, propaganda Militarization of society, preparation for war

4 Stalin and Stalinism The association of a specific form of communist rule with a specific leader – inevitable, given the enormous personal role of the leader in a totalitarian system But the personality cult and the new type of autocratic rule were products of specific processes of political and social change The ubiquity of totalitarianism in the 20th century – Russia was just one of many examples

5 The march of dictators 1922: Italy, Spain 1923: Turkey 1926: Poland, Lithuania, Portugal 1929: Yugoslavia 1933: Germany 1934: Latvia, Bulgaria 1936: Hungary, Greece 1939: Spain again 1940: Romania

6 Need for modernization widely recognized
1927 The economy had been restored to pre-World War I levels, but on an old and weak technological base Need for modernization widely recognized The rural economy not productive enough, peasants demand higher prices for produce, more industrial goods Fear of war, sense of backwardness and weakness How to industrialize? By means of national economic planning – Five Year Plans

7 Nikolai Bukharin, member of the Party’s Politburo

8 Aleksei Rykov, head of the Soviet Government (1924-30)

9 Mikhail Tomsky, head of the Soviet trade union federation

10 Nikolai Uglanov, head of Moscow Party organization

11 Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, Uglanov:
Planning must be within the NEP framework, combine government directives with market economy maintain peace with the peasantry, developing economic incentives, setting realistic goals for economic growth (not more than 16% a year)

12 Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov

13 Lazar Kaganovich

14 Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich:
abandon NEP as obsolete industrialize fast – or perish set high targets for growth (20-22% a year) force the peasants into collective and state farms extract economic “tribute” from them to finance industrialization suppress market forces, replace the market with state commands The Command Economy (term invented later)

15 : The Bukharin group is defeated by Stalinists The Stalinist version of planning is adopted as government policy Bukharin and his supporters are removed from their posts Implementation of the 1st Five Year Plan begins Shift from market economy to command economy

16 Collectivization of agriculture
Destruction of traditional forms of rural economy and life Forcing peasants into collective and state farms Liquidation of the kulaks – richer peasants – “as a class” Ordering peasants to produce more at minimal prices Punishment for insubordination Using this “tribute” to finance industrialization Disorganization of agricultural economy Drought Peasant resistance Fall in production Escalation of state violence 7 mln. people died of famine

17 Members of a village Soviet, 1930




21 The 1932-33 famine affected 66 mln. people; 7 mln. died

22 Industrialization Massive construction of new industrial plants Government pressure on the workers and managers to produce more Labour unions lose their role as defenders of worker interests Wages fell by 50% Food shortages in the cities Lack of housing Social discontent




26 This type of forced social change had the characteristics of another civil war
To wage it, the state became totalitarian It did so in the name of “building socialism” It mobilized millions of people to participate in this offensive Vast expansion of the police apparatus, with the security police as its core Systematic large-scale repressions against all groups of the population deemed “dangerous”

27 “The Cultural Revolution”
Massive education campaign (literacy rate grew from 20% to 70% by 1939) Literacy, culture are used to form a new mindset Suppression of individualism, extolling the virtues of collective power No dissent allowed Total loyalty to the Party Stalin’s personality cult “We are only cogs in the great machine”

28 The shift from NEP to Stalinism met opposition and resistance within the Communist Party
In response, Stalinists expelled from the Party those who had different views The Party was transformed into a “monolithic” political force obedient to Stalin, bureaucratically run The Party is fused with of the state, becomes its core : Repressions aimed at Soviet elites 10 of the 15 members of the first Soviet Government (formed in 1917 under Lenin) were executed as “enemies of the people”

29 Sergei Kirov, Leningrad Party leader, killed Dec. 1, 1934

30 Scale of repression, official secret police data
From KGB secret report to Soviet leader Khrushchev, Feb. 1, 1954: Number of people charged with “counterrevolutionary crimes”, since 1921: Convicted – 3,777, 380 people, of whom: Executed – 642,000 people, Incarcerated in camps and prisons for terms up to 25 years – 2,369,000 people, Exiled – 765,180 people.

31 Instruction of secret police officers

32 State security organs, numbers of victims, 1926-1953
executed convicted released

33 Numbers of persecuted Russian Orthodox priests: blue graph – arrests, red - executions







40 Genrikh Yagoda, head of security police, 1934-36: executed in 1937 for treason

41 Nikolai Yezhov, head of security police, 1936-38, executed in 1938 for treason

42 Lavrenty Beria, head of security police, 1938-1945, executed in 1953 for treason

43 GULAG wards, 1930s

44 Prison “kindergarten” for children of “political criminals”

45 March of Enthusiasts:

46 “Life has become better, comrades, life has become happier – and when life is happy, the work is more productive.” – I.V.Stalin

47 “Let us raise a generation fully loyal to the cause of communism!”

48 “The people’s dreams have come true!”

49 “Young people – take to the planes!”

50 1934: ANT-20, world’s biggest airplane


52 1937: Soviet pilots are first to fly to America over the North Pole

53 Landing in Vancouver

54 Collective farmers, 1930s

55 Athletic games at a summer resort, 1935

56 High school graduates, 1930s

57 A family party, 1937

58 Young Pioneers, 1937

59 Amusements park, Moscow, 1938

60 Soviet postage stamps, 1930s

61 Soviet postage stamps, 1930s

62 “Worker and Farmer”, giant metal monument by N. Mukhina, 1937

63 The human toll of Stalinism Causes: policy blunders and state terror
Excessive deaths, : 10 mln. people 8.5 mln. in (most died of hunger) 1.5 mln. in (executed or died in camps)

64 Vorkuta, center of GULAG: Memorial to inmates of labour camps

65 Russia: a memorial to victims of the Great Terror

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