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Stalin's Power Struggle

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Introduction

The Power Struggle Finding a successor to Lenin was never going to be easy. He had played a unique role in holding the party together and giving it direction after the revolution. For the five years after 1924, a power struggle took place in the USSR. The struggle was not just about which person should become leader, it was also about the policies the party should follow. The person who emerged in 1929 as the victor of this struggle was Joseph Stalin. What were the main issues in the leadership struggle? In order to understand the power struggle that took place, we have to look at the issues that were uppermost in people's minds when the struggle was taking place. The nature of the leadership (Collective or Single person) Many party members did not want to see one person running the party and the government; they favoured "collective leadership" or rule by committee as this it was thought that a collective leadership would be a more socialist way of running the state. ...read more.

Middle

This entailed squeezing the peasants to get more grain out of them to pay for industrialization. The right wing of the party, led by Bukharin, wanted to keep the NEP going and to encourage peasants to become richer, so that they would spend more on consumer goods and this would lead to the growth of manufacturing industry. They believed that conflict with the peasants might lead to economic collapse. 'Permanent Revolution' versus 'Socialism in One Country' Another important issue was the overall policy the party should develop for the future. Trotsky and Stalin developed different lines on this: Trotsky believed in 'Permanent Revolution'. He was convinced that the communist revolution in Russia could not really succeed because the Russian working class was too small and the economy underdeveloped; it needed the support of the working class in the more industrialized countries of Europe. He felt that the Russians should put energy and money into helping the working class in other countries to carry out their own revolutions. He wanted to achieve a world communist revolution by applying measures such as forcing peasants into collective farms. ...read more.

Conclusion

A new alliance emerged between Stalin and Bukharin, supporting the NEP. Zinoviev and Kamenev attacked Stalin and the NEP, but Stalin's control of the party was so complete that they lost every vote. They then joined Trotsky and tried to organize demonstrations in Moscow. As a result, they lost their positions of power and were expelled from the party. Stalin turned against the NEP and Bukharin and attacked the right wing. He now adopted the policies the very policies he smashed (industrialization). Bukharin found himself outvoted by Stalin's supporters. Stalin rose as the winner of the power struggle and the successor of Lenin. Summary of points: * The main contenders were Stalin and Trotsky. * Key issues like leadership, NEP, policies were as important as the personalities involved. * It was a struggle over power rather than a struggle for power. Contenders were keen on preventing rivals from coming to power. * Party members tended to support Stalin's policies (Socialism in One Country). * Stalin's control of the party was a crucial factor in his success. * Stalin was a skillful politician who outmaneuvered his opponents. He was also very lucky. ...read more.

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