Account For Stalin’s Rise To Power In The Period 1922 To 1929

1740 words - 7 pages

History 2084: Russia in War and Revolution, 1894-1953Account for Stalin's rise to power in the period 1922 to 1929INTRODUCTIONStalin's ascent to the leadership of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was neither easy nor inevitable. Following the incapacitation and subsequent death of Vladimir Lenin, there were many legitimate claimants to this leadership: Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin and, particularly, Leon Trotsky, Lenin's right-hand man and heir apparent. Among such company Stalin - the bureaucrat from humble origins in the Slavic republic of Georgia - seemed unlikely to fill the political vacuum left by Lenin's death. This essay examines Stalin's rise to power. It argues that a combination of factors, including the disorganised structure of the Communist Party, the deficiencies of his political rivals, particularly those of Trotsky, and Stalin's own particular skills of ruthlessness and his ability to manipulate political situations - in short, opportunism - all combined to underpin his rise to power.PARTY STRUCTUREThe organisational structure of the Bolshevik Party was dominated by its fabled leader, Lenin. Following his death, it became obvious that the Party had little pragmatic understanding of how to rule a country the size of Russia. Most importantly for the succession battle, Stalin, as well as being a member of the politburo, also held four vital posts to which he had been appointed between 1917 and 1922: Commissar for Nationalities, Liaison Officer between the Politburo and the Party's organising body, Head of the Workers' Inspectorate, and General Secretary of the Communist Party. The combination of these offices made Stalin the indispensable link in the party and government network. Service argues that holding these positions, allied to the high centralisation of the Party, was the reason why Stalin gained power. Simply, his control over the party files meant he knew everybody, and that nothing could go on without his being aware of it. Related, he wielded the power of patronage: "the key posts in the party were within his gift". This combination of powers had certainly not been intended by Lenin and the other Bolsheviks, nor had it been planned by Stalin himself. Rather it is attributable to the inexperience of a revolutionary party which suddenly found itself in power in 1917 without having developed a systematic form of government. The Bolsheviks' response was to learn how to govern as they went along. The Soviet regime's power structures thus emerged independently of its constitutional structures, which were weakly formulated in any case, and Stalin stood at the focal point of this limited development. "Circumstances ensured that inside the mutating power of the party-state he (Stalin) would succeed and his rivals fail". Arguably then, as Ward posits, Stalin's rise could be seen as a failure of the Party's organisation rather than the triumph of the individual.OPPORTUNISM AND STRATEGYStalin was both...

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