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April 24, 2021, 03:46:49 am

Author Topic: Trotsky vs Stalin Essay Help Plz  (Read 586 times)  Share 

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Sebastian Dunlop

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Trotsky vs Stalin Essay Help Plz
« on: March 17, 2020, 11:41:48 am »
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Hello all I am really bad at history and would like help on my Essay.
What do you think of the Thesis, is it too broad and how should i structure my argments?

Also a lot of the content is not referenced properly yet
Why was Trotsky unable to succeed Lenin as leader of the USSR by 1928?

Stalin who had been a “barely perceptible shadow,” became a ruthless leader building up a tremendous powerbase and influence which prevented Trotsky from succeeding Lenin as leader of the USSR. By 1928 Joseph Stalin had become supreme ruler of Russia, initiating a five-year plan that would see him attempt to regain the confidence of the Russian public and lead them out of the poor economic situation in which they were surrounded. He brought all economic activity under control. The government had ownership of all business and distribution of all resources. The aspect that has intrigued Historians for decades is the way Stalin managed to rise to this supreme position of power ousting all political opposition and forming a totalitarian rule. Trotsky was long considered the ideal succeeder to Lenin as  Russias leader. Trotsky was equally as radical as Lenin in Bolshevik ideology, he was the mastermind of the Revolution of 1917. He was close to Lenin and he considered him the most capable man in the Central Committee. Lenins Testament written on the 25th of December 1922 depicted this “Comrade Trotsky, on the other hand is distinguished not only by his outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C.” Despite this indication Stalin managed to stack a lot of variables/aspects in his favour ousting Trotsky as leader. Stalin used his key party positions to develop a formidable powerbase and take control party organisation and membership. Stalin was also very shrewd in his actions as he emerged from relative insignificance, forming alliances and manipulating perceptions surrounding the behaviours and actions of Trotsky. This enabled the establishment of further influence and control over the party. 

Stalins’ positions in the Bolshevik administration enabled him to form his own influence and develop a rock-solid powerbase. Trotsky became Commissar for War in the Bolshevik government in March 1918. A brilliant organiser and improviser, Trotsky created the Red Army out of the Red Guards and from the remnants of the old Tsarist army. Victory in the civil war ensured Trotsky control of the Red Army. Although Trotsky was doing a highly important job, Stalin was also involved in the organisation and played a significant role in the Central Committee. In 1922, Lenin, appreciating his organisational talents, chose Stalin for the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party. This gave him authority over party membership and appointments. He boasted positions in Orgburo and the Secretariat, Control of the party organisation and Control of Party Membership. At the Bolshevik party’s 11th congress leaders decided to expand the party’s central committee. Due to this expansion a secretariat became a necessity. Stalin was appointed head of this under the title of ‘General Secretary’ on the 3rd of April 1922. Stalin now in this position accrued enormous power and influence in the party over the next few years. Being the Party secretary gave Stalin control to some extent of the business of the Politburo. He would draw up agendas and papers for the Politburo meetings. Thus, giving him control over what was discussed and what information other members received. Perhaps the most important aspect of Stalins ability to build a massive powerbase was his control over party membership. The year after Lenin’s death Stalin supervised the new ‘Lenin Enrolment’ campaign in which the party almost doubled its membership to one million. The party saw an influx of young urban workers, poorly educated ex-peasants who were appealed to Stalin’s practical polices based on nationalism. As well as signing new members Stalin was able to remove more radical elements such as soldiers and students who were most likely to support Trotsky. Stalins Positions in the Orgburo and Secretariat enabled him to appoint his own followers into positions of responsibility in the party structure. Trotskys plight was further compounded by Stalins control over party organisation and his ability to decide who was sent to the annual party congress where major issues of policy where decided and the central committee was chosen.

What perhaps was most important aspect of his ability to build such a powerbase was his relative insignificance and the way he was perceived in early 1920’s as ‘not fighting for power’. Stalin passed unnoticed by many observers. Trotsky acknowledged this by stating that he had been a “barely perceptible shadow,”. Historian Isaac Deutscher is of the opinion that Trotsky was complacent and did not see Stalin as a rival. “The truth is that Trotsky refrained from attacking Stalin because he felt secure. No contemporary, and least of all, saw in the Stalin of 1923 the menacing and towering figure he was to become. It seemed to Trotsky almost a bad joke that Stalin, the wilful and sly but shabby and inarticulate man in the background, should be his rival.” Donald W. Treadgold in his peer reviewed journal for the University of Washington was of the opinion that Isaac Deutschers book ‘The Prophet Unarmed’ “Possesses serene grandeur appropriate to the story of the fall of a titan, the sort of serenity one can maintain only if he ignores decades of criticism of his premises and disdains inconvenient facts.”   Despite this it is evident that Stalins ability to remain inconspicuous was pivotal in his rapid rise.

Stalin was very shrewd and sly in the way that he manipulated the actions, ideologies and behaviours of party members particularly Trotsky to appear contentious, gathering favourability from this. A significant example of this was at Lenin’s Funeral. At the time of Lenin’s death on the 21st of January 1924 Trotsky was ill and was on a rest-holiday in the south of Russia. Stalin contacted Trotsky, lying to him that he would not be able to make it back in time for the funeral. Trotsky in his autobiography ‘My Life’ depicts this; I was told: “The funeral will be on Saturday, you can’t get back in time, and so we advise you to continue your treatment.” Trotsky claims “I was even deceived about the date of the funeral.”  Further proclaiming that “The conspirators surmised correctly that I would never think of verifying it, and later on they could always find an explanation.” This was a big play from Stalin who capitalised on Trotsky’s absence at the funeral to tremendous effect, as he brought himself to the fore. Trotsky’s reputation and political prestige were severely damaged by his non-attendance as it appeared that he didn’t care. Compounding this further was Stalins conduct as he orchestrated the funeral putting himself in the central role as he acted as one of the pallbearers and made a speech in which he appeared to be taking on the mantle of Leninism. Hoping to transfer the prestige, respect and loyalty associated with Lenin, Stalin made great proclamations in the eulogy. “Leaving us, Comrade Lenin ordered us to hold high and keep pure the great title of member of the Party. We vow to thee Comrade Lenin, that we shall honourably fulfil this commandment.”  Stalin was thinking about the power struggle that was looming. His actions at Lenin’s Funeral laid solid foundations for the power struggle that would take place in the next five years. These foundations were instrumental in Trotsky failure to succeed Lenin. Stalin also formed alliances within the Central Committee as he played on the propensities of other party members to seek power for themselves. J.N Westwoood in his book ‘Endurance and Endeavour’ comments on Stalin acting as a bystander, allowing his rivals fight Trotsky and themselves. “He could stand back and watch his rivals dig their own graves, occasionally offering his spade to one or other of them.” Stalin formed alliances with left wing leaders Zinoviev and Kamenev. These two were very hungry for power and they rivalled Trotsky. They thought that Stalin presented no real threat to them or the party, they allowed more Stalinist supporters into key positions thus allowing them to form majorities on committees and at conferences. The Powerful blocs shared by Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin ensured that Trotsky was eventually defeated. Stalin then turned on Zinoviev and Kamenev developing the policy ‘Socialism in One Country.’ This policy seemed to fit in with the ‘New Economic Policy’ and hence was very popular with Right-Winged Leaders such as Bukharin. They formed a political Bloc and as a result of Stalins massive support in Conferences and Committees they defeated Zinoviev and Kamenev. Finally Stalin turned on the ‘New economic Policy’ and advocated rapid industrialisation (the very leftist polices that he had smashed). Stalin used his mass of supporters and left-wing votes to defeat the Right-Wing leaders  and establish Totalitarian rule. Bukharin developed an analogy in 1928 that emphasised the way in which Stalin was prepared to sacrifice everything to preserve power. “Stalin is a Genghis Khan, an unscrupulous intriguer, who sacrificed everything else to the preservation of power…He changes his theories according to whom he needs to get rid of next.” This is an interesting point as Bukharin was one to fall prey to such tactics when he was outvoted by Stalins voters at the congress of 1929, a time after they had developed an alliance to defeat the left wing of the party. Donald W. Treadgold wrote in his journal that this analogy was “tardily whimpered”. 

Conclusion: