2Stalin’s Strengths“Comrade Card Index”. Was Stalin’s control over the party machine the crucial factor in his rise to power? (2004)“Stalin rose to power in the 1920s only because he was a skilled political manipulator.” Discuss.(2002)Mackerras argues that Stalin’s rise to power was “achieved by his adroit manipulation of the party discipline “.Philips argues that Stalin “did not create the party structure, but he was able to use it to his advantage.”McCauley argues that “The party machine was Stalin’s power base”Boobbyer argues that Stalin’s control of the party grew so powerful that “it was very difficult to express a dissonant word publicly.”Philips argues that this quality helped him gain power due to the Communist Party’s “fear of a Bonaparte figure emerging”.
3Was it Stalin’s strengths or was it luck? McCauley argues that Luck was also a major factor in allowing Stalin to come into power. Lenin’s death meant that he had no one above him, keeping him in check and the death of Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Cheka, also meant that Stalin could gain support within the political police and use this support against his opponents. However, Pipes argues that Stalin was in an “unrivalled position” before the death of Lenin and that this position had already “assured his future career”.
4General SecretaryPayne argues that the post of General Secretary was “the greatest of all gifts he [Stalin] received from Lenin”.Service argues that Stalin’s rise to supreme power was not solely down to his manipulations, he argues that Stalin had the ability to convince the members of the Central Committee that he was a “suitable politician to followHaugen argues that he set up a network of spies to keep an eye on thousands of party members and he would also wiretap official’s phones such as Lenin‘s. This was how Stalin knew that he and Trotsky were discussing their worries about Stalin.Wood states that it was a “springboard” to dictatorshipPayne argues that he was the “chief filing clerk”.
5Liaison Officer between the Politburo and Orgburo (1919) Wood argues that these positions gave him “…significant administrative and even executive power”, he argues that it was the accumulation and manipulation of this power that led to Stalin’s rise to power.This involved the overseeing of the work of all government departments.This permitted to him monitor all personnel and policyCommissar of Nationalities (1918 to 1922)The basic objective of the Commissar was to set up an institution which was to try to win over the non-Russians in the former empire to the SonarkomNational Policy: Payne argues that Stalin had “not the least intention of acting upon it”J. Smith also argues that this role gave Stalin “the opportunity to exercise leadership”was only responsible for 22% of the population of the Russian Socialist Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR), and this didn’t cover the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Transcaucasia, which were all independent Soviet republics.
6Lenin’s funeralWaugh maintains the argument that Trotsky was tricked by Stalin into missing Lenin’s funeral, therefore Stalin was an opportunist.Laver argues that Stalin was able to strengthen his own position by establishing himself as Lenin’s disciple.However, Tumarkin argues that Stalin truly believed that Trotsky could not make it back in time and she argues that the funeral was only delayed, after Trotsky had been contacted, by a day to “…accommodate the many travellers who needed more time to reach Moscow, and to allow for the hurried construction of a temporary crypt by the Kremlin wall…”Service argues that, despite Trotsky’s claim years later that he had been tricked by Stalin, he does admit that it did not make much difference.
7Lenin EnrolmentsBy 1924 the Communist Party had only around 350,000 membersThe scheme added around 240,000 new members, 86% of them were classed as workers by social situation.McCauley argues that the new members would feel loyal to Stalin, also, their “political education was in the hands of men appointed by Stalin and his associates.Philips argues that the new members were “…poorly educated and political naïve…”
8Leadership contest-Trotsky To what extent was Trotsky responsible for his own downfall in the 1920s? (2008) To what extent was Stalin’s rise to power due to his opponents’ weakness? (2005)Conquest argues that Stalin seized every opportunity and managed to outmanoeuvre his main opponent Trotsky.Service calls him “…the man who could rally the forces”.Lenin’s Testament: “…perhaps the most capable man in the present Central Committee…” “…[Trotsky] has displayed excessive self-assurance…”Carr argues that Trotsky’s main weakness was that he could not lead his fellow Bolsheviks.When Trotsky was bored in the Politburo he would sit and read a French novelTrotsky did not have much support from other Bolsheviks as he had been a Menshevik until 1917Deutscher says that “…it seemed to Trotsky almost a bad joke that Stalin, the wilful and shy but shabby and inarticulate man in the background should be his rival.”Fitzpatrick argues that although Trotsky could be seen as the odd one out in the power struggle, he was an ambitious contender for the top position.
9Zinoviev and KamenevZinoviev: Philips argues that he was an “unsavoury careerist”, “weak, vain and ambitious [and] only too eager to occupy the empty throne”.Serge agrees stating that he “gave an impression of flabbiness…irresolution…simply a demagogue”.Zinoviev and Kamenev were both seen to be disloyal to the Bolsheviks as they had been opposed to the armed uprising in October They had a letter published in “Novaia Zhizn”, a Menshevik paper, showing their disapproval, they felt that the uprising was too risky and believed that the “…the mass of the soldiers… [would] not support… [them]…”Kamenev was against Lenin’s April Theses when Lenin first announced it, as he felt it was non Marxist. Both Kamenev and Zinoviev wanted a socialist coalition instead of a one party ruleBoth joined with Stalin to form the “Triumvirate” in 1922 in order to take down Trotsky, who they all believed to be their biggest rival.Kort argues that Zinoviev and Kamenev disliked Trotsky as he had “…replaced Zinoviev as Lenin’s right-hand man”.
10BukharinLenin describes him in his Testament as being “…rightly considered the favourite of the whole party…”Philips argues that he was “politically short-sighted”, as he moved from being against the Brest-Litovsk Treaty to being pro NEP.Haynes argues that Bukharin had gradually become more hostile within the Party, as he was gullible and easily believed rumours and gossip and was therefore often incorrect in his assumptions.After Stalin left the “Triumvirate”, Bukharin and Stalin collaborated together to get rid of the “United Opposition” which formed in 1926Bukharin said, Stalin “… changes his theories according to whom he need to get rid of next”.Service argues that Stalin later described him as being “worse than a swine”.
11Ideology How important were policy issues in Stalin’s rise to power Deutscher states that Permanent Revolution “sounded like an ominous warning to a tired generation”Trotsky was immediately against this, he felt that if Communism stayed within one country it would collapse and die. Trotsky accused the proposal of being un-Marxist.Zinoviev and Kamenev who accused him of “Factionalism” which was illegal.Trotsky was opposed to the New Economic Policy (NEP) as he felt it was an “…unacceptable compromise to true Socialism.” He proposed ‘Permanent Revolution’. This is where communism spreads from country to country, capitalist governments fall like dominoes and the world’s proletariat live as equals.Stalin introduced an alternative; ‘Socialism in One Country’.
12Was Lenin to blame?Conquest argues that Stalin seized every opportunity he was given and was therefore able to outwit his greatest rival Trotsky.It could be argued that Lenin’s Testament had left the question of who would be the next leader open. Perhaps even Lenin could be criticised for not making a definite decision about his successor and therefore making it possible for Stalin to seize power.In 1926, Krupskaya mentioned to a group of left communists that “If Lenin were still alive,he [Stalin] would probably already be in jail”Lenin’s secret testament had showed that Lenin had not trusted Stalin in his post as General Secretary, as it held too much power and he had urged his comrades to “think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man”.However, Krupskaya had been discouraged from making the secret testament known to the Central Committee, as Zinoviev and Kamenev, fearing that the testament would lose support for them and believing that Stalin was not a real threat, urged that it did not become general knowledge.Therefore, it could be argued that although Lenin perhaps should have been clearer on his original testament about the threats of Stalin, it was the other Bolsheviks’ underestimation of Stalin that could be said to have led to his rise in power.
13Historical Arguments about Ideology and Stalin’s Policies Deutscher argues that Stalin supported the right policies at the right time unlike his opponents. The policy of Socialism in one country, which he advocated, appealed to the majority of the party.Carr argues that the policy appealed to the Russian people, as it made Socialism achievable and it made it seem that Stalin was the man who would achieve this for them. It also inspired patriotism and gave Russia a historical role in being the first Socialist state.Meanwhile, Stalin’s opponents advocated polices that were unpopular.Bukharin’s pro-NEP stance was realistic and was backed by big players, such as Rykov, the head of the Vesenkha, and Tomsky, the head of the Trade Unions, but he never got the support of the majority of the party delegates, as his policy was perceived to be like a capitalist system.Moreover, it could be argued that it was Stalin’s political cunning that made him a suitable candidate to take up the mantle of Leninism, as he had never clashed with Lenin, unlike the other contenders.