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

To what extent was the Soviet Union under Stalin a totalitarian state?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent was the Soviet Union under Stalin a totalitarian state? In a totalitarian state, the government is a single-party dictatorship that controls every aspect of the lives of its citizens. Therefore, individual rights does not count for anything and the citizens must obey the government. When Stalin rose to power as the supreme leader of the Soviet Union after Lenin's death in 1924, the state undoubtedly became totalitarian as he was clever in using his power within the Communist Party in which he controlled every aspect of life. One of the ways Stalin strengthened his power over the Soviet Union was through the Purges. In 1934, Stalin used the murder of Kirov, who was the leader of the Leningrad Communist Party, as an excuse to clear out his opponents in the party. Leading figures, such as Kamenev, Bukharin, and Zinoviev, were purged while the other party members were arrested on charges of anti-Soviet activities and either executed or sent to labor camps. In addition, millions of other people disappeared or were also sent to labor camps (Walsh 133). ...read more.


The citizens of the Soviet Union could not criticize Stalin or else they would be immediately 'purged' (Lowe 327). So he still denied basic liberties as the people still had limitations in what they could say. Therefore, Stalin gained more power in the political aspect of the society with the new constitution. Furthermore, Stalin had control over the cultural and artistic life, which influenced the way people think. Stalin forced writers, musicians, and artists to make works of realism glorifying soviet accomplishments, which must satisfy him or else they would be persecuted (Lowe 327). For education, secret police would watch and ensure the teachers were only teaching about Communist ideology. Schoolchildren were expected to join the Young Pioneers (Walsh 135). He took advantage of all forms of art and the education system, and used it as a propaganda. He got rid of independent thinking and had artists glorify him only to make him look good and help elevate himself to a Godlike rank. He created restrictions for art when it should be a freedom of expression, thus he constricted people to focus on one idea. ...read more.


Furthermore, he failed to have total control over the religious aspect and ban any kind of religious worship. When he destroyed the churches and drove out the priests and kulaks, it forced all religion to go underground (Kuchenig). So people were still able to continue practicing their own religion secretly. They denied to stay loyal to Stalin and to believe in Communism. Hence, there were still some authoritarian aspects left in the Soviet Union because Stalin was not always able to impose his will. Consequently, the Soviet Union under Stalin was still an overall totalitarian state because even though the peasants did gain some power over their livestock, Stalin still had control in almost every political, social, and economic aspect of life. People began to obey his rules because they did not want to end getting killed or being sent to labor camps. While he instilled fear in most of the citizens, some saw him as one of the "real heroes of the Revolution" (Walsh 135) because he created social mobility for those who didn't have the opportunity before. Thus, Stalin had total control over the Soviet Union as the citizens were being loyal and did personal sacrifice for the good of the state. ...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

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. In order to achieve and retain power a leader of a single-party state needed ...

    * Lenin was able to successfully denounce the provision government through his April Theses and convince the Bolsheviks to initiate a communist revolution. * By the September of 1917, the Bolsheviks had a majority. * When the Bolshevik Party gained power, Lenin was influential in all activities within the party.

  2. Stalin was a necessary evil for the Soviet Union With regard to this statement ...

    Stalin's government was a totalitarian one; this meant that only the ruling government was allowed within the state. In this case Stalin's communist party was supreme and all other opposition and criticism would be annihilated. He held many purges against his rivals, these purges demonstrated how this insecure leader could be so evil in order to keep him in power.

  1. To what extent, if any, did the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster contribute to the fall ...

    number of civilian cancer deaths by the contamination is still difficult to reach. European countries noticed the spike in radiation levels and tried to monitor the disaster through satellite surveillance.10 Through its public broadcasts, the Soviet Union tried to downplay the accident11 in order to prevent outside countries from raising

  2. Evaluate the successes and failures of one ruler of a single-party state

    Stalin's removal of intelligentsia, perceived dissidents and traitors to the Soviet state within the army and the communist party, as well as other "anti-soviet" elements, in addition to the mass number of deaths (ranging from 700000 to 1800000 from direct executions alone), has often been attributed to the large number

  1. Mao Zedong: Dictatorship of a Single Party State

    * used army to kill opposition exposed by Hundred Flowers Campaign * unconfirmed amount killed during Cultural Revolution o scholarly estimates range roughly from 750,000 - 3 mill o Red Guard also used; consisted of students & young people mobilized by Mao b.

  2. USSR under Stalin

    lawfully but at the same time behind their backs to send the secret police. Source D is an extract from the 1933 diary of Tikon Puzanov who was a young peasant supporter of collectivisation.

  1. To what extent should the success of Stalin in the leadership struggle between 1924-1930 ...

    (Appendices 5). o o PART C: Evaluation of Sources. Trotsky, L., 1930, My Life; An Attempt at an Autobiography, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Leon Trotsky's memoirs, written in 1930, have the purpose of providing an explanation for his actions during the power struggle and expressing his point of view.

  2. Stalin's Collectivization

    that the best course of action in fulfilling the nation interest of public safety and security is through appeasement. In addition, the source has also illustrated the strong collective belief of the people of Britain in regards to how appeasement is the only measure to ensure national security and peace.

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