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The Rise of Stalin and His Influence Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 19th, 2022

The rise of Stalin can be attributed to various factors. Even though Stalin was an illiterate man who studied for the priesthood in the small village of Georgia, he managed to gain total control over one of the greatest nations in human history (Library of Congress). Historical documents, such as the comment of Trotsky about Stalin, revealed that the control over the Soviet Union was established through bureaucratic manipulations and violence (Library of Congress). However, the more direct explanation of Stalin’s influence is that he was helped by dedicated people and a fanatical secret police force (Library of Congress). This influence was exploited to establish a dictatorship which fueled his ambitions.

Stalin used the help of secret police for various means, which enforced his ideology and suppressed dissent. Initially, he used police repression on every figure within the Communist Party, which could threaten his power (Library of Congress). Consequently, prominent faces of Russian bureaucracy such as Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Grigorii Zinoviev, and Nikolai Bukharin were expelled, and Stalin attained absolute power (Library of Congress). Nevertheless, these expulsions and repressions later transformed into mass purges within the communist regime in the 1930s, which are now Called the Great Purges (Library of Congress). They continued for a long time and spread terror across the entire country as numerous arrests and executions followed the rule of Stalin. These purges were excessive and cannot be described as the logical solution for the future of the USSR. This leads to the question of the reasoning behind such atrocities.

Numerous scholars attribute the Great Purges to the paranoia and insatiable ambitions of Stalin. During the Cold War and after it, historians argued that Stalin was relatively insecure in a dysfunctional system despite his influence (Suny, 2018). His political rivals utilized the unleashed terror to fortify their political positions (Suny, 2018). At the same time, Stalin engaged in eradications within the Red Army. According to Peter Whitewood, they were the result of Stalin’s grave misperceptions about the gravity of security threats (Suny, 2018). Whitewood argued that Stalin acted following the conviction that foreign enemies infiltrated the Red Army ranks and organized a deep-rooted conspiracy (Suny, 2018). In the analysis of Whitewood, Marxist ideology plays a significant role because it led to the distortion of Stalin’s foreign and domestic level of threat (Suny, 2018). Marxist ideology led to the perception of the Red Army as the primary target for foreign agents and counterrevolutionaries between the 1920s and 1930s (Suny, 2018). Thus, feeling cornered and trapped, Stalin resolved to a single viable solution – purging and mass operations against former kulaks, criminals, and national minorities (Suny, 2018). This is the result of ungrounded paranoia built upon the insecurities and unstable political situation.

However, it is also possible to perceive the Purges to ensure Stalin’s prolonged and absolute dictatorship. The actions of Stalin are akin to the attempt to establish a nationalistic rule or dictatorship. He prioritized his allies and people with matching ideology which formed a tight community with common institutions, traditions, language, and customs. It is well known that communist rule in USSR operated on censorship and ideological oppression. Religion was banished, and people with liberal ideas were oppressed. The ideology was a distinguishing factor to identify those in favor of Stalin and against him. The purges are known to be enacted against possible threats and sometimes even fabricated to eliminate unwanted elements. Given the fact that the level of danger was high, purges are a solid although cruel solution. Hence, the oppression of national minorities and kulaks can be considered an attempt to eliminate the enemies whose ideology clashed with Stalin. National minorities searched for independence and liberation from the Soviet Union, and kulaks had the influence to facilitate the seeds of revolution. Therefore, the Great Purges can be attributed to both the massive paranoia and great ambitions of Joseph Stalin.

References

Library of Congress. (n.d.). Library of Congress.

Suny, R. G. (2018). (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2015. Pp. vii, 360. $37.50.). The Historian, 80(1), 177–179.

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