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How did the rule of Stalin affect the Soviet Union?

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Introduction

How did the rule of Stalin affect the Soviet Union? Joseph Stalin was born in Georgia in 1879. Stalin was educated in a religious college but was expelled for revolutionary activities. He then became a member of the Bolshevik Party, he used to organise bank robberies and was jailed a few times. After the November revolution Stalin was given more power and was promoted by Lenin. Stalin was a good organiser and would get jobs done. Lenin then made Stalin General Secretary of the Communist Party. Stalin became very powerful. After Lenin's death there were two sides competing for leadership of Russia, Stalin presented himself in the middle, but he then joined the 'Right opposition' and defeated their rivalry. Stalin then stabbed them in their back by turning against them; they were expelled from the government. Stalin now was in complete control. Before Stalin came to power Russia was in a terrible state, there was a huge problem of feeding the Russian people. When Lenin was in charge he set up the New Economic Policy, this made small factories being able to be privatised (controlled by the owners, not the government), but the government controlled important industries such as coal and steel. Peasants had to give a fixed amount of what they grew to the government, the rest they could sell to make a profit. Now more food was being produced because peasants had an incentive to grow more. But the prices of food fell as more was produced. Prices of industrial goods rose so therefore the peasants selling food wouldn't be able to gain much money to buy goods; they'd be better off keeping the food for themselves. The peasants then began to produce less food, and Russia's problem worsened. When Stalin came to power he believed that the N.E.P. should be abandoned and industry and agriculture should be taken under direct government control. ...read more.

Middle

Stakhanovites caused tremendous pressure in the industries to exceed targets. Some workers disliked the pressure on them to become Stakhanovites. The first five-year plan only dealt with capitol industries, mainly goods such as coal, cement, steel and machine tools were being produced. These products were needed to build up industry. So there was a shortage of consumer goods such as clothes, furniture and radios. The consumer goods, which were available, were usually at very high prices, ordinary people didn't have enough money to buy these goods so did without. The government told the workers they'd have to make sacrifices now to have a better future. Life was very hard for the women because there was a shortage of workers, women were expected to work full time and also look after their homes. The goods that were produced were often of poor quality; factory managers were only concerned of how much was being made not the quality. The quantity produced was more important that the quality of the goods. Soviet goods where not as good as the western ones. Also the quality suffered because the majority of the workforce were unskilled and poorly trained. It is safe to say that the five-year plans were highly successful but at the cost of the peoples lives. The government were only concerned about the mass production of goods not the quality. Stalin turned Russia from a backward agricultural country to an industrial super power in less than 10 years; this was a huge achievement for Stalin. Stalin was able to run Russia's industry far better than her agriculture. A lot of lives were lost in industrialising Russia, but this industrialisation saved many more lives when Germany tried to invade the Soviet Union. Overall I feel that Stalin's five-year plans were successful in industrialising Russia, but other less ruthless methods could have been used to achieve that success. Stalin used political terror with his economic policies. ...read more.

Conclusion

This type of art was optimistic and showed happy workers. Artists weren't allowed to use fantasy. Sculptors and painters were expected to only produce socialist realism art, for example statues of muscular men, women working and painting of peasants joining the collective farms. Stalin and Zhdanov despised modern music because it was too complicated for peasants to understand. They didn't like foreign music and composers had to produce music which followed rules set by the government, so that ordinary peasants would be able to understand the music. Stalin only played optimistic, cheerful and patriotic music. Stalin used socialist realism to brain wash the soviet citizens to work, be determined and be optimistic. Overall I feel that Stalin achieved most of his goals, industry had more than doubled, most of the soviet people were under government control and Stalin's enemies were annihilated. Stalin failed to reach the five-year plans targets, but this does not mean that the five-year plans were a failure because Stalin dramatically increased industry. This massive industrial increase enabled the Russians to beat the Germans in the war. However there was a tremendous loss of life due to Stalin's purges. But I believe that Stalin saved more lives by industrialising Russia because if the Germans had invaded Russia there would have been more lives lost. Even though there was a big loss of life, casualties would have been expected for such a huge operation like this to be carried out. The following quotation aggress with my view: 'Stalin transformed Russia from a backward country into one of the two greatest Powers in the world, with its industrial and intellectual resources multiplied many times over. He brought it safely through a terrible war. It is hard to say the same result could be achieved at less cost. But the cost was certainly exorbitant...' from the obituary in The Guardian newspaper published in England on 6 March 1953. I think that Stalin could have used a less brutal way of achieving this success of turning backward Russia into an industrial super power. Fezan Shakir 11SNR - 1 - ...read more.

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