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Flashcards in Stalin's Rise to Power Deck (17):

Explain why, in the mid-1920s, Stalin favoured the policy of ‘Socialism in One Country’. (12 marks)

- It was popular because it promised that the Soviet people's future lay in their own hands rather than depending on world revolution.
- It as a tactic in Stalin's power struggle against Trotsky and began championing it in 1925
- all Communists believed in a policy striving for Socialism one way or another.
- There was evidence the NEP was not working well economically as well as being unpopular with many Communists.
(political, ideological and economic motives - did Stalin do it just to gain power or was it for economic benefits for all Communists)


Explain why there was no agreed successor to Lenin in 1924. (12 marks)

- There was no official/agreed mechanism for electing a new leader.
- Lenin's testament had criticized all prominent Bolsheviks eg. 'Stalin is too rude' and hadn't came down on one side or another,.
- Lenin's reputation was great and his death was a shock, there was no one willing/ready to seize the reins plus they hadn't made any preparations for successor.
- All possible contenders has their own strengths/weaknesses and couldn't gather sufficient support on their own after the ban of factionalism in 1921. They agreed that there was no mechanism to appoint leadership.


‘Stalin became leader of the USSR by 1929 because neither the Right nor the Left in the
Communist Party had shown themselves capable of winning power.’ (24 marks)

The Left after 1924 , Kamenev, Zinoviev, Trotsky etc. changed alliances so looked inconsistent and opportunist,
- Left policies such as Permanent Revolution were not one of the best policies for the USSR in mid 20s.
- Right/Bukharin ideas weren't as popular as they were on a moderate path to socialism.

- Stalin's skills/qualities enabled him to succeed the power struggles.
- Stalin had more influence in the Party machine than other leading Party members - he was responsible for managing the 'Lenin Enrolment' in 1923 so many owed their loyalty to Stalin
- Other factors such as luck played an important part eg. the fact Lenin's Testament wasn't published after his death.


Explain why Trotsky had not become leader of the USSR by 1928. (12 marks)

- There was a legacy of distrust to Trotsky due to joining the Mensheviks in 1903, and being the commander of Red Army.
- He had no strong party base and even Lenin criticised his personal qualities in his testament 'preoccupation with the purely administrative side of work.' and 'excessive self-assurance'
- Stalin had a strong party base from elevating people to their positions due to being on Politburo, General Secretary etc.
- Trotsky was arrogant and made crucial mistakes such as turning up to Lenin's funeral a day late, agreeing not to publish Lenin's Testament and not seeing Stalin as a threat.
- His policies such as Permanent Revolution and hard line economic policies isolated him from some of his colleagues.
- Leading the army in the Civil War was less suited to the conditions of 1920s .

(Was it due to his failures or success of others eg. Stalin?)


‘In the years 1924 to 1928, the Soviet regime failed to solve the economic problems
facing the USSR.’ (24 marks)

- There was still weakness in Soviet economy: heavy industry was very inefficient, agriculture was scarcely reaching pre war levels.
- Peasants in countryside unhappy with new 'socialist order' being imposed on old ways.
- 1927 grain procurements very low, and a cut in price led to shortages.

- Significant recovery from days of War Communism even though USSR was still weak economically.
- The party had a strong hold on the towns and could address social issues there.


Explain why, in the years 1924 to 1929, the Right Opposition was unable to prevent
Stalin’s rise to power. (12 marks)

- Like other leading Communists, leaders of the right inc. Bukharin underestimated Stalin until it was too late. He, Rykov and Tomsky were no match.
- They also made the mistake of allying with Stalin and being used by him against the Left, and by the time the Left were defeated the Right were left exposed.
- The Right's strategy of supporting peasantry and 'gradual' approach to industrialisation was unpopular, especially after Procurement crisis of 1927-28 which showed the weaknesses of the NEP.
-Bukharin was developing a reputation for inconsistency - he moved from the radical hard-line position he had held soon after the revolution.

(Right's weaknesses plus Stalin's disadvantages, factors relating to personality and to policy.)


Explain why many Party members were dissatisfied with developments in Soviet industry
during the New Economic Policy. (12 marks)

-Although it brought some recovery from 1921, there was still problems: industries were inefficient and heavily subsidised. Workers were unhappy and striked and peasants hid grain and complained that taxes were higher than the Tsars.
- Many Communists were dissatisfied ideologically because of the existence of some privately owned industries and the motives for profit were against their ideological beliefs.
- Communists believed that proper industrialisation was necessary to move Russia to socialism and a stron industrial base needed to strengthen the USSR in a hostile capitalist world, especially at a time of war scares late 20s. Socialism in One Country demanded a more efficient and effective industry.
- Western historians including E.H.Carr said that the NEP could not work in the long term because of the unstable nature of both the internal and world market.
- Russian economists thought the central control of prices was too restrictive and didn't allow the USSR to expand.

(Ideological approaches and economical needs)


Stalin's power struggle: Political and Personal ability.

- Was made General Secretary in 1922: could decide promotions to party positions.
- Also a member of the Politburo, Secretariat and Orgburo so had a lot of control over the Party machine
- The massive increase in party membership 1923 'Lenin Enrolment' was managed by him so many party members owed their loyalty to Stalin.
- Organised Lenin's funeral and delivered the speech, and created a Lenin cult: had Lenin's body embalmed
- He was ruthless - he organised bank raids in the early revolutionary days to raise money for the party.
- His rivals also held important positions, eg. Zinoviev was head of the party organisation in Leningrad


Stalin's power struggle: luck

- His colleagues decided not to publish Lenin's testament because Lenin insisted on party unity and banned factions 'I suggest that comrades appoint another man who differs from Comrade Stalin in being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to
- to reduce the chance of being removed he pointed out the weaknesses of others, eg. Zinoviev and Kamenev's opposition to Lenin's decision of launching the October Revolution.


Stalin's power struggle: ambition

- Before the revolution he joined the insignificant Bolshevik Party.
- He was Georgian and an outsider.
- Was he seeking power or just thought he was the best man to lead on the path to Socialism.


Trotsky's strengths and weaknesses in the power struggle.

- His ruthless decision -making abilities during 1917-1921 carrying out the October Revolution and leading the Red Army.

- Joined the Mensheviks in 1903 and was late in joining the Bolsheviks 1917, which made some 'Old Bolsheviks' suspect him.
- Some leading Bolsheviks disliked his arrogance - even Lenin wrote in his testament he had 'excessive self-assurance'.
- Due to anti-Semitism in Russia, he believed there would be prejudice against him being Jew so he didn't push himself forward.
- Made no attempt to build a support base so had a difficult time after Lenin's death when party congresses were filled with Stalin's supporters.
- Made crucial errors of judgement - he underestimated Stalin and referred to him as things like a 'grey blur', as well as attacking the party bureaucracy in 1924 when it needed support and could be seen as criticising Lenin.


How did Stalin defeat the Left Opposition

- Trotsky allied himself with Zinoviev and Kamenev in the United/Left Opposition after he attacked Stalin's idea of SIOC.
- The Left argued for a more rapid transition from NEP to a Socialist State but at the 15th Party Conference their ideas weren't accepted.
- They were no longer allowed to voice their policies publically and expelled from official positions.
- Trotsky was sent into internal exile then forced to leave the USSR in 1929 for good.


How did Stalin defeat the Right Opposition

- Bukharin and the Right didn't believe in rapid industrialisation.
- The USSR was a peasant-based society and they wanted to encourage the peasants to produce more and pay more tax.
- This would help speed up industrial development but at a pace that ensured social harmony.
- Believed a ruthless approach like War Communism would alienate the peasants and lead to disaster.
- In 1928, with the Left out of the way, Stalin committed himself to rapid industrialisation.
- When the Right opposed his ideas, Stalin had their leaders removed from the Politburo


Arguments for the NEP

- Allowed individuals to make money.
- Protected the population as key industries and means of production/distribution stayed in State hands.
- Halfway between Capitalist and Socialist State.
- Small privately owned businesses allowed to make money.


Arguments against the NEP

- Private enterprise meant that some people made profit out of the labour of others.
- Economic divisions meant that class differences were increased.
- The new bourgeoisie were created who were enemies of Socialism.
- All party members agreed it shouldn't last forever: Lenin only wanted it to be temporary to recover from the civil and first world war.


Agriculture under the NEP

- Recovery was uneven: central and southern regions recovered a lot slower than northern and eastern. Crops such as fruit and vegetables recovered a lot more than grain.
- Peasants tried to hide stocks of grain to avoid being taxed as much and the GPU reported that peasants complained that they were taxed more than under the Tsar.
- Half the amount of grain sold outside the villages in 1913 was sold this way in 1926. Peasants didn't want to sell extra grain as it meant there would be lower prices.
- This led to the procurement crisis of 1927-8 which meant that the state had to introduce the Urals-Siberian method and then collectivisation.
- Grain exports fell to a quarter of what they were in 1913.
- It was hard for the party to control what went on in the countryside - there were only 1,595 party members in Orel
- In some areas, eg. Vologda, cultivated land increased by 25% 1925-28


Industry under the NEP

- Industry didn't recover as quickly as agriculture: much production was still not up to pre war- levels in 1913.
- Wages in State-owned industries were down to as far as 50% less than pre-war.
- The Supreme Council of National Economy was created where profitable industries would subsidise less efficient industries, whoever this wouldn't support long term growth.