• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How far do Trotsky(TM)s own misjudgments account for his failure in the power struggle which followed Lenin(TM)s death?

Extracts from this document...


"How far do Trotsky's own misjudgments account for his failure in the power struggle which followed Lenin's death?" Following Lenin's death in 1924, a power vacuum appeared for the leadership of the Communist Party in Russia. A collective leadership was proclaimed, however competition for individual authority between Trotsky, Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky led to a fierce struggle for power, ending in Stalin's triumph and the beginning of his tenure as the leader of the Communist Party. The strongest contenders in the power struggle were Stalin and Trotsky, however a number of unfortunate decisions and lack of support on Trotsky's part, coupled with Stalin's tactics and power base, led to Trotsky's defeat and exile. It was the latter of the two factors that contributed more to Trotsky's ultimate failure, due to the fact that Stalin's initial position was stronger, and his opportunism allowed him to take advantage of Trotsky's misjudgments, thereby allowing him to take power. However, it is worth noting that the term 'misjudgments' is relative to the historian, since a number of Trotsky's unsuccessful decisions were deliberately made to avoid certain outcomes, therefore cannot accurately be termed 'misjudgments'. Trotsky, although he had a limited power base made up of mostly radicals and students, was in a position of adequate leverage immediately following Lenin's death. He had Lenin's support, as shown in Lenin's testament, "Comrade Trotsky... is distinguished not only by his outstanding ability. ...read more.


Trotsky especially so, did not pay regard to the threat of Stalin's increasing power base. Regardless of Trotsky's motivation however, the results were the same, he lost his support in the party and was eventually exiled. Trotsky's main shortcomings were offset by Stalin's strengths - mainly - but also Kamenev and Zinoviev's at the beginning. Stalin had built up a strong power base first by controlling party membership through the Lenin Enrolment. This had been a series of structural changes to the party's membership, which had been conducted under Stalin's supervision. This allowed him to weed out elements who were sympathetic to Trotsky, and replace them with poor, uneducated proletarians who supported him instead. Second, Stalin took control of the party's organization, by gaining the ability to select the delegates attending the annual party congress. He could then fill the congress with again, his supporters. Lastly, Stalin also had positions in the Orgburo and the Secretariat. As the General Secretary of the party he was aware of all happenings and could control what was discussed and what information the other party members were given. This power gave him the ability to 'deliver the vote' in party assemblies. He was also involved in publishing the Communist newspaper, Pravda, which gave him a suitable platform for propaganda. Despite this, Stalin was underestimated by all the other contenders. ...read more.


In this case, Trotsky's ill-judgment translated directly into loss of support. Furthermore, Trotsky once again was idle when Lenin's Testament was suppressed. The reasons for this are unclear, although again it is possible that Trotsky did not want to create factionalism or weaken the party. Releasing Lenin's Testament would have weakened the other contenders' positions much more than it would have weakened Trotsky's, since Lenin clearly favored Trotsky as the most competent leader. Instead of seizing the opportunity to improve his position, Trotsky missed a valuable chance to build support for his policies. Trotsky's lack of support, and choice to pursue paths such as campaigning against bureaucratization, which failed to attract the attention of the party members, led to his removal as a candidate for leadership. Stalin's pragmatism and opportunism however, on the other side of the spectrum, allowed him to be victorious in the power struggle and go on to become a major leader of Communist Russia. However, it is clear that Trotsky's misjudgments were not the only cause of his failure, Trotsky's initial position was much weaker than Lenin's, and his unwillingness to take hard stances out of fear of dividing the party held him back. Trotsky's misjudgments then played a minor role in his failure, but the true cause was his lack of future vision and disregard for the need for party support. , ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a very good answer which covers all the main points. Some points could be explored with a little more detail and less of a reliance on quotations would also add to its merits. It would also benefit from a clear thesis - which is offered in the conclusion but the answer would be more persuasive if constant references were made to it throughout the essay to add weight to the evidence presented. Nevertheless, a well written answer.

Marked by teacher Natalie Stanley 30/03/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. Notes on Italian unification - background and main events

    Spanish Bourbons in Spain itself, which triggers the revolutions that occur in Italy - There was a revolution in the Kingdom of the two Sicily's but only in the province of Naples - This revolution was led by a Carbonaro, Pepe - Naples was conquered by the revolution - The

  2. Notes on German unification - main events

    of the states of Germany met in Frankfurt; it included the 39 German states o This organization was called the Bund (Union) o Usually it followed instructions from Austria o In 1848, both Prussia and Austria are so busy with their own affairs, that the Frankfurt Parliament meets at its

  1. Free essay

    May the League of Nations be considered a complete failure? Answer this question and ...

    At the same time, it was obliged to defend the peace treaty even if by many it was considered unjust or exaggerated, and even if the terms of the settlement did not satisfy the promises which had been previously made to some nations, for example those on which Italy relied to gain new territory.

  2. the causes and consequences of the spanish civil war

    The depression did not only worsen Spain's already declining economy but in fact, shattered it. Any support Rivera had from the army was lost. He clearly mishandled the government's finances which is a vital backbone to any government, let alone Spain's at that time of economic instability.

  1. Discuss the short and long term consequences of the Indian Mutiny 1857

    Muslims had to use grease from pigs which is against their religion to eat. This was very serious problems for the sepoys. They had to go against their religion or the leader of their regiment. To solve this problem the British let troops use whatever grease they would like.

  2. According to Machiavelli, what qualities should the ideal Prince possess?

    When a Prince is dealing with people, he must always let go of the promises which put him in a negative situation, or at disadvantage. He must realize that although promises are important at gaining trust, promises are not something on which a Prince can rely, since deceit and wretch exist among humanity.

  1. IB History HL, Extended Notes: Russia, the Tsars, the Provisional Govenment and the Revolution.

    Also would help to form a commercial system of farming when serfdom ended. 8. Transport gave people mobility and migration to expanding areas of production while serfdom tied peasants to the village. Economic 1. Serfdom was economically inefficient. Many argued that free wage labor was more productive than forced labor

  2. Examine the impact of foreign intervention on the Spanish Civil War

    Hence, in comparison with the Nationalists, the Republicans lacked weapons and men which was vital to fight against the now strengthened Nationalists, which was supported by the powerful empires of Germany and Italy. On the other hand, United States role was also critical in the Spanish Civil War as oil

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work