Power Struggle

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The Latter Years of Lenin -Talal

  • From late 1921 to January 1924, Lenin had a series of strokes
  • In late 1922, Lenin was removed from day-to-day business of the government
    • He was left with more time to think about the problems of the party and became increasingly aware of the threat of Stalin
  • In December 1922, Lenin wrote his testament, a "Letter to the Party Congress"
    • He warned that Stalin had become too powerful and couldn't be trusted to use that power wisely
  • Stalin learned that Lenin and Trotsky were becoming more friendly, so he attempted to contact Lenin
    • Lenin's wife would not let Stalin visit, so he insulted her with crude and abusive language over the phone
      • Lenin incorporated this into his testament and stated that such a rude person should not become General Secretary of the Party
  • A major stroke in March 1923 left him without the power of speech (before he could reveal his testament)
  • Lenin dies on January 21, 1924
    • Stalin used the death of Lenin to his advantage
    • Trotsky was on a holiday due to illness, so Stalin informed him that he was not needed during the funeral
    • Stalin was one of the pallbearers, made a speech glorifying Lenin (basically creating a cult of Lenin), and set himself up as the prime disciple and heir to Leninist communism

Section by Chelsea Daniel

1929- Joseph Stalin is victor of power struggle!—HOW?

Some Background…

*In 1912 invited onto the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party

  • Later on, made editor of Pravda, the party newspaper
  • then given a seat on Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet
  • Stayed close to Lenin, slavishly following him
  • After October Revolution (1917), Stalin was made Comissar for Nationalities in new government— gaining Lenin's trust
  • May 1919 Lenin put Stalin in charge of the Orgburo which controlled aspects of the party organization
  • 1922 Stalin appointed as party's first General Secretary in charge of general organization—this showed his reputation had grown and how much Lenin trusted him

Who were the contenders of the power struggle?

  • Struggle truly between Trotsky and Stalin— not clear at first though
  • clear split between radical left wing led by Trotsky; right wing headed by Bukharin
    • many of the party leaders were in the middle, as was Stalin
  • Politburo in June 1924: Right wing— BUKHARIN, Rykov, and Tomsky; Left wing— TROTSKY, Zinoviev, Kamenev; middle— STALIN

Main Issues in Power Struggle

1. Leadership

  • many members wanted "collective leadership" since it would be more socialist
  • they feared if not collective, a dictator would emerge — particularly feared Trotsky of becoming this because he was the commander of the Red Army and had an arrogant manner in the direction he wanted party to go
  • Also worried of unity of party after Lenin's death — didn't want a leader who caused divisions

2. NEP and Industrialization

  • Everyone agreed Industrialization was a necessity, but disagreed on most effective way
  • NEP unattractive— high level of unemployment of workers in a "worker's society"; food shortages also appeared again
  • BIG question was when should NEP end…
    • Left wing view:
      • Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev wanted to end it and go for rapid industrialization —> militarization of labor, breaking stranglehold peasants had on economy by getting more grain out of them
    • Right wing view:
      • Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, and others wanted NEP to keep going and encourage peasants to become richer so in turn they would spend more on consumer good which would lead to growth of the manufacturing industry

3. Political Policies: Permanent Revolution VS. Socialism in One Country

  • Permanent Revolution: Trotsky believed in this and was convinced Russian working class was not big enough, so they needed to branch out to more industrialized European countries
    • he wanted to put money and energy into working class in other countries to stage their own revolutions as well: a WORLD COMMUNIST REVOLUTION
  • Socialism in One Country: Stalin put together this policy in 1924— said the Communists had to accept that the world revolution had not happened and was not likely to take place any time soon. He proposed that the Russians build a socialist state in the USSR without outside help…he encouraged nationalism and patriotism with this by saying they needed to solve their own problems and become world leaders.

Adi's Sections

How did Stalin become party Leader?

Stalin liked power (duh) and intended to keep it as soon as he got some. Here is how Stalin built up his base of power:

It was Stalin's positions in all the key organizations in the party — The Politburo, the Orgburo, the Secretariat, the General Secretary — That gave him control over party organization, membership, etc.

  • Stalin
    • Party Secretary — He controlled what the Politburo talked about, and what information they received
      • Orgburo/Secretariat — He controlled appointments to party secretaryships (filled them with his minions)
        • Control of Party organization — He controlled what delegates were sent to the annual Congress where the Central Committee was chosen. Most of the delegates were his minions.
          • Control of part6y membership — Stalin cut out the revolutionaries that thought, and replaced them with Party members that obeyed.
  • Trotsky
    • Red Army & younger members, especially students.
  • Kamenev & Zinoviev
    • Zinoviev had a power base in Leningrad, Kamenev had one in Moscow; Zinoviev thought he could fight Stalin with his power base.
  • Bukharin
    • Some support in Moscow after Kamenev's defeat; appealed to the youth; main draw was his strength as a theoretician.

A summary of the Power Struggle (Given in a boxing match?!)

Round 1 : Stalin Starts Strong

  • (1924) Tricks Trotsky into missing the funeral
  • He made himself seem epic at the funeral

Round 2: Stalin dodges Krupskaya

  • (1924) Crazy 'ho (i.e. Lenin's wife) wanted to Lenin's testament read to the public.
    • Good thing nobody else did
    • (It critiqued everyone except Trotsky and Bukharin)
    • Nobody saw Stalin as a threat

Round 3: Trotsky on the brink!

  • (1924) Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin all band together and beat up on Strotsky
  • Despite his eloquence, Trotsky was beaten out by Stalin's minions in the Congress
  • He maintained unity because he did not want to break the law against factions

Round 4: Left vs. Left vs. Left

  • (1924) Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky all fight while Stalin sits back and watches it all.
  • Stalin pretends to be the peacemaker
  • Zinoviev and Kamenev, too busy fighting Trotsky, allowed Stalin to stck the Congress even more in his favor

Round 5: Left = KO!

  • (1925) Socialism in One Country + NEP = Popular
  • Stalin allys with the Center and Right to fight the Left
  • (1926) Zinoviev and Kamenev join forces with Trotsky to form an opposition, and are promptly declared "factionalists" and kicked out of the party.

Round 5: Right = KO!

  • (1928) Stalin attacks the NEP (therefore, the right)
  • Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky tried to fight, but was bested at the 1929 Congress by Stalin's massive army of minions.

Stalin = The Winner!

What happened to the other contenders?!

  • Trotsky
    • Jan. 1925 Trotsky loses his position as Commissar for Military affairs
    • Dec. 1925 Trotsky loses his politburo seat.
    • 1928 Sent to Central Asia [Alma-Ata] (in his pyjamas)
    • 1929 Deported to Turkey
    • 1933 France, then Norway
    • 1937 Mexico
    • Aug 1940 Ice-pick to the skull [From Russia With Love].
  • Kamenev
    • July 1926 Loses Politburo seat
    • Oct. 1926 Kicked out of the Comintern
    • 1927 Expelled from Party
    • 1928 Readmitted to the Party
  • Zinoviev
    • Jan. 1926
    • Lost Leningrad Chairmanship
    • 1927 Expelled from Party
    • 1928 Readmitted to the Party
    • July 1926 Kicked out of the Politburo
  • Bukharin, Tomsky, Rykov
    • 1929 Accused of 'right deviation' lost their posts
    • Recanted, rejoined the party.
    • Killed in the purges (Show Trials)
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