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To What Extent Was Stalin Anything More Than A Brutal Dictator?

1116 words - 4 pages

Yes Stalin was brutal few would deny that. Many might think that was an understatement. Whether he was anything more than brutal asks the question did Stalin cause anything of worth or success that was valuable to Russia or beyond. If you take that further the word 'more' suggests this theoretical value or worth of Stalin would have to be above or excel beyond his brutality. Where the successes of Stalin separate/more than a by-product of his brutality? How far were the so-called successes of Stalin his own success? Are there in fact any successes that can be credited to Stalinism let alone Stalin in the first place?The most obvious 'success' of Stalin would be the five-year plans responsible for the explosive growth in industry during the 1930s. But how responsible was Stalin for these plans? Was there a better way of implementing industrialization via Bukarin's ideas? Revisionist historians argue the extent to which Stalin was in control. In the case of the five-year plans a Revisionist would probably argue Stalin's policy was largely formed by pressure from bellow in the rank and file of the party. A determinist historian would take this idea further and say Stalin was a product of social and economic circumstance he was merely the unlikely conduit through which unique, impressive and brutal progress happened such as industrial explosion. Although there is much truth in these arguments are we all not the products of circumstance and pressure from outside? Perhaps Stalin did only take the decisions he did not in a progressive but a reactionary way? Did he act out of paranoia and misguided ideas? Were his policies merely stolen from other intellectuals (both left and right when it suited him) or forced upon him by an overly enthusiastic party? You will find though if you take Stalin out of the equation that the five-year plans and all that they entailed would probably not have happened. Perhaps differently and over a long time similar results could have been achieved. However it is the speed at which these events occurred '100 years in 10' that makes them out of the ordinary to the extent of being unique in history.Other 'successes' or factors that make Stalin more than an ordinary brutal dictator (if there is such a thing) might be his connection with expanding the Soviet Empire, resisting invasion from Nazi Germany and the complex idea of whether Stalin preserved or destroyed Bolshevism. Then perhaps more importantly whether the great 'social experiment' benefited the people of the USSR.For Stalin to be more than brutal you need to accept that Stalin was in fact ultimately in some kind of control and wasn't acting under complete causation from Lenin and the structures put in place by Lenin etc. Or the idea that brutal dictators like Stalin are a guaranteed product of history in Russia (powerful men such as Ivan the terrible and Peter the Great have ruled Russia in the past but was it something about them or the government of Russia that made...

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