“To what extent was the rise to power of Stalin due to personal appeal and ability”? Lenin died in January 1924 and Stalin emerged to power in 1929. Stalin has been described as a “grey blur” that rose to power. It’s quite hard to pin point the main reasons how Stalin got to power. Some historians may say that Stalin was lucky that he got to power and he benefited off events such as Lenin’s death and that his rival’s weaknesses such as Trotsky who was considered likely successor to Lenin, but Trotsky lacked the will for a political fight. However you just can’t become the leader of Russia just from good luck, Stalin used his ability to place himself in a great position within the party. This essay is going to look at the ways in which Stalin rose to power through personal appeal and ability such as ability to take advantages in situations, removing his rivals from potential power and the use of propaganda and his ability to manipulate people, or was he just lucky because of Lenin’s illness and that people didn’t want Trotsky to become leader because they were afraid he would become a military leader such as Nicholas 2nd.
Stalin was known as the “grey blur” this is a statement that means Stalin didn’t have any personal appeal so he didn’t rise to power through that aspect but through other means. However Stalin was able to “gauge public opinion”, also his view on ‘give the people what they want’ gave him a likeable side to him. Since 1917 workers had been looking for “improvements of living standards” and “greater participation in the running of factories” after Stalin saw that the NEP was failing and he had got rid of the Left Deviationists Stalin “would echo the grievances of the workers”. Stalin wasn’t seen as a good person because he was; it was because he saw opportunities in supporting certain groups to gain support, such as the workers. So Stalin didn’t come to power because of his personal appeal but it was because of his ability to take advantages of situations. Stalin used his ability of knowing when to take advantages of situations and knowing when to step back.
He used his name as the “grey blur” to full effect. This allowed him to effectively move around, the communist party and support the idea that is most popular at the time but not be too involved just in case that the idea collapses’ and he is cut out of the running for power, for example the ‘great left turn’ in 1927 Stalin was convinced the Kulaks were keeping grain from the market to keep prices high, Stalin had police officials confiscated the grain he was abandoning NEP. The right side argued against Stalin’s actions, but Stalin used his ability of persuasion and his role as general secretary to control the party organization. The Right side was defeated and Tomsky, Bukharin and Rykov were removed from their position by Stalin. After this Bukharin said “Stalin was an unprincipled intriguer who changed his theories at will in order to get rid of whomever he wished” also Stalin opponents didn’t know when to step back when to get involved such as Trotsky, when he attacked the central bureaucracy which provided jobs for many member so this made him unpopular within the party.
Stalin used his ability to take advantage of the illness and death of Lenin. When Lenin died in January 1924, people were looking for a leader to emerge many people thought it would be Trotsky but at the funeral of Lenin Stalin made himself “chief mourner”, he greeted guest, this put Trotsky at a disadvantage because Stalin made himself look like the forerunner for Lenin’s successor, later on Trotsky made a claim that “Stalin had given him the wrong date”. Lenin had wanted a small, quiet funeral; however Stalin had made it into a big public affair. Because Lenin was loved throughout Russia, Stalin made him look like a god figure; also Stalin created the cult of Lenin. The cult of Lenin made Stalin look like Lenin’s successor. Stalin forged pictures of himself and Lenin, which made them look like friends, when in fact Lenin couldn’t stand Stalin, as he revealed in his Testament “I suggest the comrades think about a way of removing Staling” The opposition of Trotsky helped Stalin into power.
Trotsky in 1918 became the war commissar and he created the red army, and was a major figure in the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War 1918–20. He was a great public speaker and war tactician. However many Bolsheviks were afraid that he would become a military dictator such as Nicholas 2nd was. Also he had a reputation for being arrogant which made him unpopular within the party, also after Lenin died the triumvirate group established this group was made up of Kamenev, Zinoviev and Stalin their aim was not to get Stalin into power but to keep Trotsky out of reach of power. Stalin’s used his position as general secretary to gain support and power. As the general secretary of the soviet communist party which controlled the membership of the party.
Through a series of appointments, gained the power of patronage over many parts of the Bolshevik Party, between 1923 – 25 the Party had expanded by recruiting more members, this was called the Lenin enrolment. “It increased from 300,000 in 1922 to 600,000 in 1925”. The new members were poorly educated; they thought that promotion and party privileges came from loyalty to the person who appointed them which in this case was Stalin; also they had to be loyal to Stalin because if they went against him they would lose their job. The expansion of the Party increased Stalin’s power of patronage. In conclusion, some historians had argued that Stalin was lucky to get to power and that Stalin was given all the opportunities such as Lenin death and the opposition to Trotsky, which made him able to come to power, but I believe that it was the way in which Stalin used his ability to take advantage of these situations that made him come to power.
Such as he used his positions as general secretary to get into a high position, the new members that Stalin allowed into the party were poorly educated; they thought that promotion and party privileges came from loyalty to the person who appointed. He out planned and out played his opponents, he didn’t allow himself to get too involved in situations, and this meant that he could change his views anytime. Bukharin said “Stalin was an unprincipled intriguer who changed his theories at will in order to get rid of whomever he wished”. Therefore I believe that Stalin came to power because of his ability to take advantages of situations he was given, and not because of his personal appeal, or luck.