Stalin – History
How far was Stalin’s victory in the power struggle between 1924 and 1929 the result of the popularity of his policies? Even though Stalin’s victory in the power struggle was partly due to his popular policies, it was not just this that allowed Stalin also because of the mistakes made by other rivals and factors that played into his hands. For example Trotsky was a former menshevik which helped Stalin accuse him of not been a true Bolshevik. There are many reasons that suggest Stalin’s victory in the power struggle was because his popular policies.
For example Stalin’s popular policy of Socialism in one country put the needs of the USSR first, this was particularly popular because the conditions for the majority of the Russian people was unthinkable as extreme poverty was common for the average Russian in the the early 20th Century. It was a lot more popular than Trotsky’s idea of World revolution, which would have seen many of the resources owned by the USSR sent abroad to try spread the Communist revolution abroad in other countries. Stalin developed his idea in Socialism in one Country because he did not like Trotsky.
Stalin recognised that Trotsky’s policy was over optimistic and unpopular. The First World War and the civil war had destroyed the Russian economy and Stalin’s policy showed faith in the soviet people, almost portraying that Stalin believed in the Russian people. Stalin portrayed the Worldwide revolution as a policy that put the needs of other countries before those of the Russian people. Trostsky’s Jewish background marked him as a disloyal outsider among many party members anyway, and his international policy only seemed to confirm that he was not loyal to the people of Russia.
It was not just his popular policies that saw Stalin replace Lenin as the leader of the USSR. It was also partly due to the mistakes and weaknesses made by the other leading Bolsheviks such as Trotsky. Trotsky was seen as too powerful because he was the leader of the 5 million strong red army, he was known as the Red Napoleon. Trotsky was also Jewish, even though he himself believed that this reason would stop him from becoming the next leader, many argue that this was not such a big problem.
However he was an ex menshevik which allowed Stalin to question his belief in Bolshevism, it was this fear that Trotsky was too powerful that led to kamenev and Zinoviev to side with Stalin. His popular policies were key to Stalin becoming the next leader of the USSR. Stalin’s commitment to the NEP until 1927 allowed him to defeat the united opposition of Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. After the fall of Trotsky Zinoviev and Kamenev realised that Stalin was now the most powerful figure in the party and they began to speak out against the NEP.
This was not only an attack on Stalin but an attack on Bukharin resulting in the two uniting. The NEP was particularly popular because it was following the line of Lenin and more than anything it seemed to be working as the Russian economy recovered in the mid 1920’s. However Stalin was victorious in the power struggle not just because his policies were popular but because he had a great deal of luck. The two main pieces of luck that Stalin had was the ban on factionalism introduced by Lenin before his death and the appointment of Stalin as general secretary in 1922.
Originally when Stalin was first appointed as General Secretary many Bolsheviks didn’t realise the potential power which this now gave Stalin,one Menshevik described Stalin as the ‘grey blur’. However this gave Stalin power that nobody could have anticipated, it allowed for Stalin to appoint the regional secretaries, meaning that Stalin was able to rebuild the party by selecting the people who he wanted into key posts. This meant that slowly the party was been built up of people which were supporters of Stalin. The second bit of luck which inevitably benefited Stalin was the Ban on Factionalism which was introduced in 1921.
This ‘Ban on Factionalism’ meant that everybody within the party were not able to speak out against official party policies and if somebody did then they were accused of been a factionalist and therefore expelled from the party. This benefited Stalin greatly as he could use this to his advantage, anybody that publicly spooke out against one of the policies which he supported could be branded as a factionalist and not a supporter of Lenin and therefore be defeated in the struggle for power. It could be argued that Stalin’s policies were the main reason as to why he was victorious in the power struggle, however it is important to remember hat Stalin was extremely pragmatic when it came to what he believed in, changing his mind and supporting particular policies when it suited him, so the real fundamental reason as to why Stalin was victorious in the power struggle was because Stalin unlike the other leading figure of the party played his cards right and was clever when it came to who he sided with. It was his cunningness combined with the amount of luck which he had which led to him eventually becoming the next leader of Russia in 1928.