’s Transformation Of Russia Successful? Essay, Research Paper
Was Stalin’s transformation of Russia successful? That depends on your definition of success. If success is nothing more than to carry out and prosper with what you intended to do, than I believe that his transformation of Russia was indeed a success. But success also accounts for continuing prosperity, and how the success is achieved. While Stalin’s plans may have been more successful than Lenin’s Russia or the Tsar’s Russia, the mass amounts of death and the eventual fall of Russia, causes me to say that Stalin’s transformation was not a success. Stalin’s economic policies had moderate, short-term success, his reign seemed more autocratic than Marxist, and social affairs in Russia were repressed. Under these three points I intend to prove that Stalin’s transformation of Russia was a failure.
The focus of Stalin’s economy was on rapid industrialisation. Russian industry, at the time, was behind in coal and steel produce to non-industrial countries such as France and were a long way behind the major industrial powers of Britain, Germany and the USA. The heavy workload on miners and factory workers and later, the collectivisation policy on agriculture, caused suffering for most of the population. Workers had to face accusations of sabotage if the produce was not of high quality or if there were accidents. Kulaks were being arrested and executed, breaking peasant morale (and resistance.) By 1937, well over 90% of farmland had been collectivised to pay for major projects such as rail, roads and trivial things such as the great statues of Stalin which began appearing all over Russia. A foreign journalist spoke of the unimaginable horror, “Mothers killed and ate their children. Human flesh was sold at the market. Dead horses were dug up and eaten. Bark and leather was ground up to make a sort of flour. The famine which claimed their lives was entirely man-made.” This horror would perhaps have been lessened if the tons of food that was not exported, had been redistributed back to the peasants. Stalin could claim that his economic policies were a success; greater mechanisation had increased grain output to over 80% higher than in 1913. On the other hand, so much livestock had been slaughtered that the industry never fully recovered and the cost in human life and suffering was enormous. His economic policies therefore, were more necessary in terms of satisfying his own ideology than they were for his people, as more problems were created because of them.
Politics had been similarly effected by major change. The strength of communism in his government, is however, questionable given that Stalin’s reign seemed more autocratic than Marxist. This view is quite valid given all the evidence that supports this claim. He was, after all, a man who could take absolutely no criticism and as a result, was responsible for the long period of terror, otherwise known as The Purges’. It all began with the assassination of Sergey Kirov, on December 1 1934 by the assassin Leonid Nikolaev. The reason behind the assassination was that Kirov had popular support from the people who wanted a replacement for Stalin. Opposition was strong following his mediocre success with his economic reforms. While he still had a group of so-called, Loyal Stalinists’ who shared in Stalin’s belief of terror against the peasantry, there was increasing opposition and criticism from the men who once supported Stalin in his rise to power. The assassination of Kirov was only the first of many purges which would see millions dead and many of the original Bolsheviks arrested, humiliated in show trials and executed behind closed doors. His purge also targeted many highly ranked military officials, who as a result, were not there to lead Russia in the Second World War. This of course, had a disastrous effect on Russia’s performance. Stalin in doing so created greater problems for his country. Stalin’s foreign policy (mainly economic goals) had disastrous repercussions for the general population and therefore his approach to political matters, again, did more harm than good.
Stalin felt that in order to shape and rule Russia under his regime, social activities needed to be controlled just as much as economic and political life. Oppression was a major problem in society during that period. Art and culture were repressed to prevent criticism of Stalin’s reign. Writers, artists and musicians were expected to produce works of realism, glorifying soviet achievements. Those who did not, were persecuted. Even those that tried often fell foul of Stalin. During the days of Lenin, a cartoonist submitted humorous drawings that amused everyone, including Lenin and Trotsky. When Stalin came to power, he had them banned. He simply did not allow any criticism. Education, although compulsory and free, only served to brainwash children into worshipping Stalin’s leadership and like everything, was also closely watched by secret police. Literacy however, did increase, as did improved social services. This is one of the only social reforms that did improve the standard of living in society. The Orthodox Church didn’t escape persecution either. Many churches were closed down during the 1930’s. Marriages between Soviet citizens and foreigners were also outlawed. Hundreds of marriages, even ones made before the law took effect, were tragically broken. This law in effect, caused problems that were not previously there.
Russia’s economy was subsiding because of the mass slaughter of livestock and destruction of crops. The soviet government was in disarray from Stalin’s autocracy and his extreme paranoia. Artistic expression was being suppressed and education filtered. Morale and nationalism that had been obtained through the revolution, was now lost. A country that during Lenin’s time looked like it had a hope of prosperity, was now crumbling through Stalin’s fingers. Stalin’s attempts to transford Russia into a wealthier more powerful nation had failed because of his extremely strict policies. Russia was dying a slow and painful death.