Why was Stalin able to achieve total power in the USSR by the end of the 1920’s? Stalin’s rise to power was due to many different factors. Firstly, on Lenin’s funeral day Stalin had given the wrong date to Trotsky which meant that Trotsky never turned up. Stalin took great advantage of the ‘Lenin Levy’ and how they worshipped Lenin. Stalin had written a short book which had summarised all of Lenin’s ideas and plans.
From the side of the new Bolsheviks, this showed Stalin as the ‘true heir’ or natural successor of Lenin which made it increasingly difficult for his opponents to criticise him and his decisions. The absence of Trotsky at Lenin’s funeral created a large amount of political damage for him. Trotsky also had weaknesses and made a lot of mistakes. For example, Trotsky was the man who had organised the Bolshevik revolution, ran the Red Army and in 1917 was made the Commissar of Foreign Affairs.
Although Trotsky was a brilliant man and was feared by many because he controlled the Red Army and was thought to become the dictator, he was extremely unpopular with Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev along with some other members in the Politburo, because he was very arrogant and had never joined the Communist Party until 1917 and as a result many people had doubted his loyalty to the party. Stalin also had a good place in the Communist party because he was the general secretary, which meant that he could employ and fire communist party members.
As general secretary Stalin could organise meetings that were convenient to him. He could also disadvantage his opponents during conferences because he was in charge of preparing the agendas, which questions would be debated over and also between whom and in what order.. Stalin was the one who appointed the nomenklatura, who appointed the apparatchiki. Stalin used this to his advantage because he removed the supporters of Trotsky so that he only had supporters of himself. By 1933, there were 3. 5 million new members which were all recruited by him.
The 3. 5 million new members were very inexperienced and were extremely power hungry and so as a result obeyed all of Stalin’s instructions. Another reason why Stalin had a good place in the Communist Party was that he was in the middle of both the left wing and the right wing. In the left wing of the Communist Party was Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev who believed in Permanent Revolution with no deviation from Communist principles and in the right wing of the Communist Party was Bukharin who believed in the value of the New Economic Policy and also elieved in slower move towards communist society.
Stalin was in the middle and had the power to manoeuvre from the left to the right depending on the benefits, which meant that Stalin had used factionalism to achieve total power in the USSR. Another reason why Stalin was able to achieve total power in the USSR in the 1920’s is that Stalin got rid of all of his rivals leaving only him. This was also an extension of factionalism. First it was Trotsky who was exiled in 1929 and assassinated by Stalin’s orders because Trotsky was the first person to try to stop Stalin’s rise to power.
Then it was Zinoviev and Kamenev who had supported him against Trotsky. He did this by removing their supporters from key positions in the Moscow and the Leningrad Parties and then replaced them with his own supporters. From 1925-28 there was an argument between Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev accused Stalin of trying to become the sole ruler of the USSR and also attacked the New Economic Policy. Then lastly it was Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky. In 1928, Stalin then went against Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky who had originally supported him against Zinoviev and Kamenev.
The role of the Politburo also helped Stalin achiever total power in the USSR by the 1920’s. This is because when Lenin was bed-ridden, power was passed onto the Politburo which consisted of Trotsky, Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Rykov and Bukharin. The Politburo had decided that Stalin should be the only person allowed to see Lenin, this was to reduce the pressure put on Lenin. However rather than this helping Stalin’s career, it almost ended it, this was because Lenin had grown to hate Stalin.
As a result of Stalin having a disagreement with Lenin’s wife, Lenin had written a Political Testament which portrayed Stalin as too rude, someone who would abuse his power and someone who should be removed from his post. The real concern of the Politburo was not actually Stalin, it was Trostky. Kamenev and Zinoviev never wanted Trotsky to take power and so they formed an alliance called the Troika with Stalin. The Politburo had decided not to make Lenin’s testament public as it not only had criticisms of Stalin but of the rest of the leading communists.
Also it is highly unlikely that Stalin would have remained General Secretary of the Communist Party if Lenin’s views had become common knowledge. This all resulted in Stalin’s achievement of total power in the USSR, he used many factors and tactics such as factionalism, the strength of his position in the Communist Party, his politically cunning skills and the lack of strong political opponents, which allowed him to become sole leader and have total power in the USSR.
Courtney from Study Moose
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