Speaking of the political figures in the 20th century, Joseph Stalin is definitely one of them, and he is one of the most controversial one. Certainly, one word can’t evaluate his political career. This essay will evaluate Stalin in terms of his authoritarian leadership style, military and economic achievement, mistakes and dishonesty, extreme public opinions.
Stalin’s authoritarian leadership style is very evident. “He promotes himself into dictator.” (“Joseph Stalin: National hero or cold-blooded murderer,” 2018) He is in charge of the Soviet Union for a quarter of century.
During that time, he made all the important decisions of the Soviet Union, those who opposed him suffered a fatal blow. Trotsky’s tragic fate was a typical example. As the direct leader of October Revolution and the leader of Red Army, Trotsky also won many people’s heart in Soviet Union.
He proposed the “principle of the development imbalance” against with Stalin’s “Socialism in one country” theory. Therefore, Stalin could not allow him to threaten his position within the party.
In 1929, he exiled Trotsky. Moreover, Stalin raised the personality cult to maintain his power, the brainwashing propaganda could be seen everywhere in Soviet Union at that time.According to Tucker, R. C., “Pravda marked Stalin’s name ranks with the great names of the theoreticians and leaders of the world proletariat-Marx, Engels, and Lenin.’ (Tucker, 1979) Stalin’s personality cult also had a great impact on the arts. In that particular period, boasting Stalin became the main subject of art in Soviet Union. “Stalin became art’s principle subject matter.” (Stalin, 1938)During this period, lots of books, articles, and speeches that praised Stalin are very popular among the Soviet Union. There were also many songs about Stalin, people can easily find out these songs are extremely flattering Stalin once they see the names of the songs. For example, “Long live Stalin” (S.Alimov,1937), and “The Party is Always Right” (Louis Fuernberg). It seemed that Stalin’s personal worship was very rampant at the time. To sum up, Stalin’s leadership style failed to meet the standards of a great leader.
Honestly, Stalin’s military and economic achievements are remarkable. the biggest military achievement is his role in stopping Hitler from annexing parts of Russia, and the most important economic achievement is Stalin was the institution of five-year plans to improve the state of the Russian economy. (Williams, 2015) During World War II, Stalin was the supreme commander of the Soviet army, he had the complete control of the entire country’s military power. As a dictator, he had more control than any other country’s leader. Before 1941, Hitler seemed unstoppable, his flash tactics worked very well, and he never let the Germans lose. However, Stalin stopped him. He greatly boosted the morale of the army and the people before The Battle of Moscow and worked out the right military strategy. Under his leadership, the Soviet Union won this battle and the final victory. He really did that a good leader should do during the war. Furthermore, Stalin attended a series of important conferences during the war. For instance, He attended the Tehran Conference and the Yalta Conference. Particularly, he was acclaimed as one of the greatest diplomats of the twentieth century. According to Michael G., “While the world hated Hitler, it commiserated with Stalin.”（Michael, G. (2012) This helped him make the huge military achievement and showed his ability. Besides, his economic achievement was also incredible. He made the five-year plan that greatly developed the Soviet Union’s economy and citizen’s living standard. The education, industry and agriculture of the Soviet Union all improved. Five-year plan also laid the material foundation for the victory of World War II. In conclusion, it transformed the Soviet Union into an industrial power.
However, the huge mistakes he made, and his dishonesty reflected in the error, allow people to think he is an evil dictator. The great purge is the typical example. In 1937-1938, the whole country was shrouded in a horrible atmosphere. Stalin’s purpose of the great purge is to destroy the county’s enemy; he made it sound good for the country. In fact, this was a huge mistake. Numerous people were framed and persecuted. Including the many Soviet army’s and government’s leaders such as Grigori Zinoviev, economist Nikolai Kondratieff, biologist Николай Иванович Вавилов, writer Isaac Babel et al. These elites of various fields in the Soviet Union were brutally killed, which greatly hindered the development of the Soviet Union. Many civilians didn’t survive either. According to Whitewood’s words, “In the late 1930s in which over one million Soviet people were imprisoned in labor camps and over 750,000 executed.(Whitewood, P. (2015).) Another terrible mistake of hims was concealed for nearly half a century. He really didn’t admit this mistake. He caused the Kayten Massacre. According to Materski, W. “this is really a crime without any punishment .”(Materski, W. (2008;2007;)In the spring of 1940, about 22,000 Polish soldiers, intellectuals, politicians and public officials were killed by Soviet troops. However, Soviet officials and Stalin himself had denied it for many years since the Nazi Germany found lots of corpses in 1943. It was not until April 13, 1990, when the Polish President Yarzelski visited the Soviet Union that the Soviet Union officially acknowledged that he was fully responsible for the Katyn Massacre. This clearly showed Stalin was evil and dishonest.
People’s opinion about Stalin are extremely divided. Although Stalin ‘s cult of personality once prevailed, and he died as a hero, “on the day of his funeral, the whole nation appeared to cry for his death” (Kuromiya, H. (2013;2005;), he was severely criticized in the third year after his death. The next Soviet leader Khrushchev made a famous speech ——“On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” (1956) to directly point out many Stalin’s mistakes. Despite the Great Purge and the authoritarian, he also criticized Stalin’s economic policy and his action in world war II. Since then, many people began to belittle Stalin However, many Russians today believe that “Stalin is the most outstanding figure in the world’s history”. (David Filipov (2017))
In conclusion, his leadership style lack of democracy, his mistakes and dishonesty appear to be very cold- blooded, these make Stalin an evil dictator. Nevertheless, but looking at his achievements, he definitely is a kind of a good dictator. As the extremely public opinion, Stalin is a good but evil dictator.