Stalin Essay, Research Paper
When people here the word “Russia”, they immediately think of the poor living conditions which the Russians have been subject to for the last sixty years. They think of the Communist government, and then their thoughts turn to the leader who implanted communism into the Russian government and took away peoples’ basic rights. It is the name of a man who ruled Russia by a totalitarian dictatorship for almost thirty years. He set up a government that took control of peoples’ lives. There was only room for one person to have authority in Russia. The name of this person is Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, more commonly know as Joseph Stalin. This man was responsible for heading the Russian government after the revolution and implementing his own ideals for the economy as well as social life. He is also responsible for the deaths and brutal treatment of an estimated twenty million people. Joseph Stalin was said to rule over Russia with an iron fist. To find out how he acquired to nickname, we must follow this man’s life through the ranks of politics and on the title of dictator. In the material that follows, we will take examine the course of his rise to power. We will also take a look at Stalin’s policies, both economical and social, and their impacts on all of the U. S. S. R..
Joseph Stalin was born in the Georgian town of Gori in Transcaucasia in 1929. He was not born a wealthy person, his father made a living as a shoemaker. Despite this, Stalin was educated for the Oxford priesthood. But, by the age of eighteen, he had entered a revolutionary movement and became active in the Social-Democratic party
organization in Tbilisi. When the party split in 1903, Stalin took the side of the Bolsheviks instead of the side of the Mensheviks. Over the course of his involvement with the Bolsheviks, Stalin became a leading revolutionary figure. This was due mainly to his involvement with the “expropriations”, or bank robberies which the Bolsheviks used to finance their revolutionary work. He was periodically arrested for his involvement in the expropriations, but repeatedly escaped. As time went by, Stalin became increasingly unscrupulous and vindictive. Eventually, his involvement in the revolution brought him to the attention of one Vladimir Ilidg Lenin, a member of the Bolshevik Central Board.
Lenin immediately recognized Stalin’s usefulness and had him elected to the Bolshevik Central Board in 1912. Stalin became one of only ten members on the board. He was soon exiled to Siberia from 1913 to 1917 but was released after the February Revolution. Although he was exiled, and out of Russia for four years, Stalin never lost interest in politics. As time went by, he became increasingly more interested and involved in the revolutionary movement.
He very active in participating in the October Revolution, particularly as an editor of the party press. When the Soviet government was formed, Stalin was made Commissar Nationalities because of his own Georgian origin and his presumed sympathy for the problems of the national minorities in Russia. This so called “sympathy” for minorities was very much exaggerated. During the Civil War of 1918-1921, Stalin served as a political commissar with the Red Army on the southern front. While serving as political commissar, he clashed with Trosky, Commissar for War, and the two became
bitter personal enemies. In 1919, Stalin was made a member of the Communist party Politburo and became Commissar of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection. His influence in the party grew until he became the leading man in the Orgburo, an important subcommittee of the Central Committee of the party, in 1920. His influence continued to grow when his supporters displaced the Troskyists from the party Secretariat in 1921. In April of 1922, Stalin was appointed to the newly created post of General Secretary of the Communist party. This appointment confirmed his leading influence in the party organization.
Lenin fell ill in 1922, and power fell into the hands of a collective leadership made up of five men: Stalin, G. Y. Zinoviev, L. B. Kamenev, N. I. Bukharin, and A. I. Rykov. They fought off the attacks on their power by Trotsky’s Left Opposition in 1923. In this party, Stalin was growing in power until 1925 when Zinoviev and Kamenev grew alarmed and openly broke with him. Stalin, however, easily undermined their strength in the organization. In 1928, Stalin finally crushed the Troskyists, and then the Bukharin group whom he was still sharing power with. Stalin had crushed all opposition in Russia, but was afraid of international opposition, mainly from Japan and Germany. The fear of external threats from these two countries drove Stalin steadily towards intensified totalitarian controls and terror. By the early 1930’s, he had established complete party control over all the media of communication as well as all forms of intellectual life. Stalin thought that it was necessary to repudiate most of the revolutionary standards in social and cultural policy. These policies ranged from equal wages to abstract art, replacing them with conservative principles following Marxist labels. One of his first
governmental changes was called the Five Year Plan. The plan involved major economic and social changes, also based on some of Marx’s ideas.
The five year plan was designed to strengthen and enrich the country, make it a militarily and industrially self-sufficient, lay the groundwork for a true workers; society, and overcome the Russian reputation for backwardness. In a speech in 1929, Stalin said ” We are becoming a country of metal, a country of automobiles, a country of tractors. And when we have put the U.S.S.R. in a motor car and the muzhik in a tractor. . . we shall see which countries may then be ‘classified’ as backward and which as advanced.” (Palmer/Colton 763). In order to relieve Russia as being considered a backward country, Stalin said that they (the Russians) must achieve some sort of economic prowess.
In order to achieve this ‘economic prowess’, Stalin set up an agency called the Gosplan to administer a new economic policy. The Gosplan had total control over everything remotely concerning economics. They determined how much of every article the country should produce, how much national effort should go into the formation of capital, and what wages all classes of workers would receive. They decided what raw materials to get, how much to buy, what to produce with the materials, and who would be allowed to work on the materials. All decision were made at the top. An example of the authority that the Gosplan had was that they would only order the exact number of ball bearings needed. They would never make any extra expenditures. This tight control of materials may have seemed to save money, but it actually cost the Russians. If a machine were to break down, there would be no extra parts to repair it. The Gosplan also controlled who would be working with the machinery. They controlled who would be
trained in technical schools and for what job they would be trained for. To put it simply, the Gosplan had total control of any form of capitalism. Stalin’s aim was to build up the heavy industry, or capital wealth, of the U.S.S.R.. The second part of the five year plan was the collective cultivation of farm land.
Originally, Stalin only called for the collectivization of one-fifth of the farm population, but suddenly revised the plan in the winter of 1929 to include the immediate collectivization of the greater part of the peasantry. Individual peasants were ordered to pool their livestock and land together in these collectives. Stalin said, in a speech in front of the Fifteenth Congress, “The solution lies in the transformation of small and scattered peasants’ plots into large consolidated farms based on the joint cultivation of land using new superior techniques.” The ideas presented in front of the congress were practical. Large consolidated farms using newer techniques would produce more and better quality products. The only problem to the plan was that Stalin did not elaborate on how he was going to transform the small plots into large consolidated farms. He also did not mention if he was going to see how the peasants felt about the collective cultivation of their land. Many of the peasants did not like the idea of pulling all of their land together.
Those peasants who owned large amounts of livestock and land, who Stalin called ‘kulaks’, resisted surrendering their land to the collectives. Stalin ordered that the land be seized. Zealous detachments of Communists from nearby cities used violence to obtain the land. Hundreds of thousands of kulaks and their families were killed, and many more were sent to work in labor camps in remote parts of the Soviet Union. Those kulaks who had not yet had their land taken away began to slaughter their livestock as a show of
defiance to the Stalin’s decree. The loss of the animals lead to agricultural disorders which caused a deadly famine in 1932, This famine cost the lives of millions, yet despite this heavy loss of life, Stalin refused to cut back on the exportation of cereal and other food exports because they were needed to pay for industrial imports under the five year plan. Peasants were also subject to a wide range of torture and suffering. The following excerpt shows the conditions that the peasants were subject to:
The ‘parilka’ or ’sweat room’ was a heated room in which most of the ventilation had been shut off and into which a hundred of more ‘ valuta suspects’ might be squeezed into regardless of sex. There was no space in which to squat let alone lie down. . . The stench was indescribable, since there were no toilet facilities and as often as not the room was infested with lice and other vermin. . . were often kept for several days on end in these foul conditions only to be removed to undergo the ordeal of the ‘conveyor’. The victims would be interrogated by relays of questioners in different rooms, being forced to go from one room to another at the double, beaten, kicked and cursed on their way until they fainted from exhaustion. . .(Hyde 273)
They lost the right to make decisions on their own. All were required to accept a program of austerity and self-denial, going without the better food, housing, and other consumers’ goods that might have been produced, in order that the capital wealth and heavy industry of the country might be built up. They were required to do hard work and receive low wages. Collective cultivation had been achieved, but against the will of the peasants, and at the cost of millions of lives.
A second five year plan was begun in 1933, though this plan was less ambitious. It did, howe