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How and why did Stalin rise to power?

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Introduction

How and why did Stalin rise to power? Vladmir Lenin was the leader of the Bolsheviks who seized power in November 1917. He died in January 1924 after a series of strokes that left him completely paralysed, and eventually killed him. When he died, he left no clues as to whom he wanted to succeed him as ruler of the USSR, even though he had been very ill for a long time before he died. It was decided that the member of the Politburo that had the most power would succeed Lenin, instead of having leadership elections, because the Communist Party did not want it to work that way. The two leading figures that would fight for power would be Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Lenin's funeral was held on the 27th January 1924. Stalin made an appearance as chief mourner and Lenin's closest friend, but Trotsky was nowhere to be seen. It was revealed later that Trotsky had most likely fallen victim to a trick played by Stalin. Stalin had told Trotsky (who was away in the south of Russia at the time) that the funeral was to be held on the 26th. ...read more.

Middle

His lack of political tact and arrogance left him with no base of support within the party, but even without that, he still could have gained power if he had gained alliances within the Politburo. The Politburo in 1924 consisted of seven members, but over the two previous years, they had split into two sides - the Rightists and the Left Opposition. The main cause of this split was the disagreement about how to develop the economy of the USSR. The Left Opposition consisted of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev. They strongly disagreed with the idea of continuing with the NEP (New Economic Policy). They wanted the USSR to turn into an agricultural country as soon as possible. The west countries hated communism and the Left Opposition were worried that if the USSR remained an agricultural country under the NEP, then the west may try and invade the USSR to crush it. The Left Opposition therefore decided that the government should take control of the USSR's farming land and force the peasants to make as much food as the towns needed. They also suggested forming 'shock brigades' out of dedicated communists to build new power stations and railways. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Rightists tried to argue against him, but now Stalin had so much support within the Politburo, their arguments fell on deaf ears. Therefore, at the beginning of 1929, all the Rightists (Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky) all resigned from the Politburo. Meanwhile, in 1928, Trotsky had been deported to Alma Ata in Soviet Central Asia, and finally in 1929 was exiled from the USSR altogether. Stalin was now the supreme leader of the USSR. Stalin had finally proved himself a clever politician, and it is clear that he planned his bid for power carefully. He made great efforts to relate to Lenin at all times, making a fine start at Lenin's funeral. He used his power carefully within the Communists party, taking pride in doing all the boring but important jobs that had to be done (such as Commissar for Nationalities and General Secretary), and used his position to put his supporters into important posts and transfer his opponents to remote posts. He proved completely ruthless in picking off his opponents, and did not care what tactics he used in getting rid of them, even using the former arguments of Trotsky to get rid of the remaining Rightists. To the people of the USSR, Stalin's ideas of Socialism in one country seemed perfect - they finally thought they had found the man who understood them. ...read more.

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