The modernisation of Soviet Russia Essay

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The modernisation of Soviet Russia

Stalin was under a growing amount of pressure from the deadlines of the five-year plans, he needed desperately to find a quick solution, collectivisation seemed like a way, not only to stay on track with the deadlines, but it seemed like a way to modernise the economy. Making peasants work collectively for little or no profit as a unit seemed like a more efficient way to generate economic growth. Collectivisation was said by historians such as Robert Conquest to be ‘unjustifiable’, however there is a bias that Robert is not Russian and is writing over 40 years later. It is clear that collectivisation did achieve at the very least, hope for the success of the five-year plans, a secure grip on communism and a rising productive efficiency.

Foreign invasion was feared by Stalin but was becoming very common, Stalin wanted to ensure the safety of the USSR by increasing agriculture. Stalin needed food for his soldiers and he needed a source of income, he used collectivisation to produce copious amounts of food which could be traded to other countries. Although the results of collectivisation were violent and it has now been estimated that ten million peasants and Kulaks died. Stalin did use the opportunity to reduce foreign threat by not only collectivising the countries agriculture but collectivising the countries people.

The first of the five year plans was named collectivisation, it was an idea mening that all the peasant farmers were to work on one big farm to benefit the state. Many say that Stalin enforced collectivisation to tighten his grip on the Soveit Union, Stalin used the Kulaks as a scapegoat to blame and by sending millions of them to labour camps it diverted the attention from his wrong doings onto the Kulaks. This is known as using terror tactics, scaring peasants into complying with his demands. By using collectivisation Stalin is cleverly dispersing any remaining forms of capitalisim out of Russia, because many capitalists will not want to comply with these rules, they will move, this is further securing his grasp on leadership. This would severly reduce the chance of a threat via revolution, although peasants would not like the plan as they are excluded from making any surpluses.

There is alot of convincing evidence which suggests that the cultural revolution was a policy aimed directly at modernising The Soviet Union and after the NEP comprimised, the cultural revolution was viewed as a radical step towards a socialist utopia, many young communists were given promising job opportunities. This suggests that Stalin wanted everyone in job occupation so that Russia could be at full productive output. Stalin wanted to convert Russia into a technological metropolis, this is suggested by ‘ the space race ‘.

Stalin in just 30 years wanted to compete with the USA and brake the boundaries of science. This clearly shows that Stalin was aiming towards improving and modernising The Soviet Union. However the cultural revolution had disrupted the education system of Russia just a few years into its opening, this was recognised by Stalin who quickly provided the schools with a new set of rules and regulations to try and get Russian children back on track. Stalin enforced communist ideology as a compulsory subject, this shows Stalins attempt to ensure a leadership position and also how he cares about education and the modernisation of society.

Stalin wanted to maintain national security in 1929 by directing all forms of media and entertainment into attempts to brainwash the Russian public. This could be seen as an attempt to unite the people and consequently strengthern Russia as a whole, ensuring national security against foreigners. Stalin turned people such as the Kulaks into enemies of Russia and used propaganda to increase the hatrid directed at these people.

From 1928 onwards Stalin revamped Russia’s national identity and introduced a new personna which was intended to present a new image of Stalin and of Russia. Like the purges this policy was also heavily intended to rid Russia of anti-communists. He intended to convert normal people into devoted communists. Stalins reasons for the cultural revolution derived from the popularity of communism, nomral people were not excited by communists dreams and Stalin felt that he needed to gain the support of the average Russian.

Many would argue that Stalin was driven by the desire to remain in a role of leadership, the cultural revolution was a way of gaining support from the peasants who were the overwhelming majority and populated most of Russia. Stalin attempted to sell the communist dream and present himself as a good trusted man, he made numberous advertising campaigns, statues, paintings and all forms of art were made according to Stalin’s guidence. He intended to present himself as a friend of Lenin and consequently Stalin wanted to use Lenin’s popularity to boost his own.

The purges however did little to modernise The Soviet Union, there is more convincing evidence to infer that the purges hindered the modernisation of The Soviet Union. Many top government officials were murdered and the country was broken into anarchy, this was a real concern for modernisation and seemed to be doing the opposite of modernising. Stalin did however create various labour camps, not all of the prisoners were executed, many had to work on these camps. Stalin called this the GULAG system, he generated a huge labour force and provided lots of goods from these camps. This did help to increase economic growth adding to the modernisation of The Soviet Union. By enforcing strict guidelines and showing and unwilling mercless drive for power it is likely that Stalin may have put so much fear into citizens that they would work their hardest, just to avoid death. This could be concluded as aiding The Soviet Union’s modernisation.

Stalin could have been using the purges to execute threatening members of the Russian society, Stalin claimed that the people who were executed were traitors against Russia, and traitors of communism. It could be argued that Stalin used the purges to increase security in Russia and eliminate the chance of an insider giving away valuable information. However Stalin did immense damage to The Red Army by using these purges, he wiped out many great tacticans and executed many fine soldiers.

He did this also at a remarkable time, a time when it is of vital importance that he was to have The Red Army at full strength. Stalin decreased national security by destroying vital members of not only The Red Army but the NKVD aswell. Stalin left The Red Army in an appalling state on the eve of WWII and injured Russia’s fighting capabilities. The only benefit of destroying his army before a war was that the army that was left was much too afraid to step out of line and therefore this made them increasingly diciplined and secured Stalin’s leadership position.

Many think that the purges from 1934 to 1938 were an attempt to gain leadership authority, Stalin executed countless members of foreign countries and of his own communist party, in what many think was an attempt to secure his leadership position. It is often argued by historians that the purges were nothing but a ‘black shadow’. This is indicating that many historians disaggree with Stalins actions. Roy Medvedev although he is a Soviet dissident, says that the human cost of Stalin’s policies is a black shadow on the period, this means that he notes the achievements of Stalin’s reign but feels that the loss of life was unessessary to modernising Russia. This suggests that there were alternative motives behind Stalin’s decision to enforce a series of purges from 1934. One of the crucial causes of the purges was Stalin’s paranoia, this was awakened by the drastic agricultural, industrial and culural changes. By 1938 Stalin had turned on Yezhov and the NKVD, he had erased all of his competition and therefore these killings could be concluded as an attempt to sustain power.

There is alot of strong evidence that suggests Stalins polcies to be directed at ensuring national security, he planned to mass produce weaponary in the five-year plans and then he united the country using collectivisation and the cultural revolution. He projected himself as a father figure of Russia, reverting to Tsarist ways to try and control the mnds of Russians. Stalin also used the purges as an attempt to eliminate any threats to communism or to Russia itself.

There is alot of dense evidence suggesting that Stalin policies were influenced by his desire to remain leader, he cleverly plotted the five-year plans to secure his leadership and he used the image of Lenin to boost his own popularity, Stalin executed anyone who became too progressive or prosperous and blamed problems on them. This is the most significant reason why Stalin’s polcies seemed to be aimed towards keeping the leadership, he executed thousands claiming that all of them were plotting against him.

However i believe that the most convincing evidence shows Stalin’s policies to be directed at modernising Russia, Stalin created three sets of five-year plans which were all directed at improving the quality of Russian life, he intended to modernise Russia and even though his policies were not always correct the results cannot be ignored. Stalin made Russia into a superpower and allowed them to compete with the USA in the space race. Alec Nove writes that Stalins achievements were important despite the human cost. The most important reason why i believe that Stalin’s policies were aimed at modernising Russia was that he used collectivisation, to try and unite and increase productivity despite the views of the people.

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