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Why did Stalin Emerge as Leader of the Soviet Union between 1924 and 1929?

History IB2 Aurora Lin

The Bolshevik party played a crucial role when Stalin emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union. In October 1917 it seized power during the chaos drowning Russia after the fall of the Tsarist regime in February. The Bolshevik Party was relatively small, however it still managed to seize power due to the fact that Russia fell into confusion. Lenin was the Bolshevik leader at the time, it was a hard task to hold on to power at that time, yet despite the multiple forces attempting to overthrow them, the party stayed in power. The party strengthened its position and at the same time introduce measures and reforms for bringing change based on the principles of socialism. The principles developed by Karl Marx were used widely during the reformation of Russia by the Bolshevik Party. Lenin thought it was really important for the party to govern on behalf of the people. This meant the working classes, and more specifically industrial workers. His idea was to get rid of the social classes completely. But this is just a theory, in reality, the party was faced with serious opposition that resulted in a civil war. The war forced the Bolsheviks into measures they had not foreseen. To prevent the grow of opposition, the party used terror and short-term economic compromises, which had seen the return of some private industry under the New Economic Policy (NEP). Still, aspects of capitalism and its supporters were starting to reappear after 1921. Reforming the countrys economy proved to be harder than what the Bolsheviks had expected. When Lenin died in 1924 the future of the country and the party seemed more uncertain than before. The rise to power of Stalin is compared to Trotsky, many discussions are sparked by why Stalin emerged up as the leader of the Soviet Union and not Trotsky who was a well-respected intellectual. As mentioned before, Stalins earlier life as a Georgian youth. His identity as a peasants son has

left him outside the revolutionary and political circles, but he learned to be self-reliant. The peasant background he has led him to develop a deep class hatred. Although his understanding of Marxist ideologies were limited compared to the other people in the circle, but he proved his ruthlessness and determination to join the revolutionary movement by numerous actions, for example Stalin robbed banks to support the movement. The rivalry between Stalin and Trotsky seems to have emerged when they came to conflict over military matters. Trotsky and Stalin were of completely different characteristics. Trotsky grew up in a wealthy Jewish family and studied mathematics at the towns university. Trotsky excelled when it comes to dealing with crisis. However, the Jewish blood that flows inside him led to some prejudice against him within the party. He was also unpopular because he was arrogant and aloof, Trotsky was not a team player, his qualities were unsociability, individualism and aristocratism. Completely opposite of Stalin, who worked well in a group, obeyed orders and was the son of a peasant. These qualities did not help with his popularity within the party. Moreover, he has been a Menshevik until the summer of 1917, he lacked commitment to the party, therefore it isnt a surprise when he only came tenth in the elections to the Central Committee at the tenth Party Congress in 1921. Bolsheviks wonder if Trotsky was working for the party or is just working purely for himself, these concerns became more important when the revolutionary movement reached a fevered pitch. The revolutionists were reminded by the French revolution at which Napoleon Bonaparte became dictator. A leader that is concerned about his own good can end up dictating and this was what the party was afraid of. Lenin did not give a clear indication of the distribution of power for after his death, which led to some confusion within the party. The uncertain atmosphere in the party worked towards Stalins advantage. Stalin has started working to gain power before Lenins death, the weakness in the central power structure resulted by Lenins illness helped Stalin a lot. Using his power as the general secretary, Stalin managed to gather large quantities of information, he even bugged Lenins private home in order to keep the steady

flow of incoming information. After Lenins third stroke in 1923, he became too weak to talk more than monosyllables, which worked great for Stalin and his position. By 1924 the party has developed its roles in administration of the state, it was the party structure that grew into power. The head of the party was the general secretary and the man who held this position was Stalin. Gradually, the influence Stalin has on the party increases as well as his experience of how the party functioned. Between 1917 and 1923, Stalin held the post of Commissar for Nationalities, which meant that he was in charge of the officials in various republics outside Russia. Moreover, in 1919 he was appointed as Liaison Officer between Politburo and the Orgburo, this allowed him to monitor the personnel and policies of the part. He was additionally made Head of Workers and Peasants Inspectorate. The position allowed him to oversee the work of all government departments. 1922 was the crucial year Stalin was appointed as the General Secretary of the party. Information is power and Stalin clearly understood the importance of holding information. Only a few Politburo members werent under his surveillance. He also had the right to appoint people to party positions, therefore Stalin was able to promote his supporters to key roles in the party. After the death of Lenin in 1924, the significant positions in the party were replaced by Stalins supporters, providing Stalin a great advantage when it comes to decision making regarding to the support one has. Stalin was always able to outvote his opponents, although the party looked like it was run by democracy, it was completely controlled by Stalin and his supporters. Trotsky was not given too much support when he worked as Commissar for War, he was made responsible for the requisitioning of grain during the civil war. Stalin used the party structure to his advantages, holding the post of the general secretary his power was endless and was provided with information nonstop. Stalin was named Comrade Card-Index, showing his willingness to do routine, tasteless administrative work, but it was this quality that gave him ultimate power over the control of the party. Structural changes in the party between 1923 and 1925 has provided the party with huge numbers of party members. The launch of the Lenin Enrolment not only brought in a new flow of party members, but also

enhanced Stalins power within the party. The main goal of the enrolment was to increase the number of true proletarians within the party. A large number of the new members were poor and came from deprived backgrounds. They see joining the party as a way to leave poverty. The privileges of being in the party were seen as given by the person who allowed them into the party, therefore most of them showed loyalty to Stalin, his peasantry background also helped gain support within the politically nave newcomers of the party. Stalin maintained his popularity within the party as he made sure his views echoed those of the rank and file in the country. The funeral of Lenin was a great opportunity for Stalin to present himself to the party. The event highlighted Stalins skills in manipulating events and the lack of judgment Trotsky has. Delivering the oration at the funeral labeled Stalin as the chief mourner, showing his intention of continuing the work of Lenin. Trotsky, on the other hand, did not turn up at the funeral. It was a serious mistake and gave the impression that Trotsky did not respect Lenin and his position within the party. With the atmosphere of hero worship, Stalin presented himself as the heir to the Lenin legacy. Lenin was a god-like figure in the party, presenting himself as the continuer of Lenins ideology and hopes for the party, Stalin was able to send the message that he was the suitable candidate to finish Lenins job. To highlight his insensitivity, Trotsky launched an attack on Lenins new economic policy, creating a hatred towards himself in the party. To make situations worse for himself, Trotsky also attacked the growing bureaucracy in the party. In the eyes of Trotsky, the bureaucracy had grown into the position in danger of becoming the master of the people rather than the servant. The growth of the party was the work of Lenin, therefore the criticisms were seen as criticizing Lenin. All of the reasons above led to a plummet in Trotskys low reputation. Comparing to Stalin, he wasnt able to get half as much support Stalin had and this weakened his position within the party and was never able to create influence within it. In 1926 the power of Stalin was so great he was able to deal with Trotsky effectively. Although Trotsky improved his position by allying with Zinoviev and Kamenev during

the ideological debate, the support Stalin had crushed Trotsky like dropping a rock on an egg. By 1929 Trotsky had himself expelled from the party and also the Soviet Union, sent to central Asia and then being exiled on Stalins orders. Due to the many reasons above, Stalin came into power and controlled the Soviet Union.