After Lenin’s death a leadership struggle took place between the 5 main contenders, Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin, who all tried to take over the leadership of the communist country. The personalities of each contender were significant, but I believe however that other factors such as ideological factors and most importantly Stalin’s tactical manoeuvring contributed to Stalin succeeding Lenin.
The personality factor was important as it contributed to Stalin’s eventuate success. Stalin, by many, was referred to as the ‘grey blur’ this was because Stalin was a seemingly simple character, however was capable to do many administrative tasks, which is why so many of his opponents underestimated him, gullibly. This was one of their greatest mistakes; he was able to manipulate his contenders without notice. The personalities of other contestants were significant as Stalin was able to play on their weaknesses.
Lenin’s funeral was the beginning of this as Stalin; quite cleverly, tricked Trotsky into thinking the funeral was on a different day causing Trotsky to miss Lenin’s funeral and overall effect his reputation badly. Stalin used the funeral to his advantage and set himself up as Lenin’s ‘best man’ and so the obvious successor of him. This shows that personalities are important because Trotsky did not believe that Stalin would deceive him in this way. Trotsky was also arrogant, popular and Jewish all traits that Stalin could use and manipulate. Many people feared Trotsky due to his participation in the Red Terror. All other opponents were indecisive and weak compared to Stalin, who was ruthless.
Zinoviev and Kamenev both disagreed with Lenin on multiple occasions, the October revolution being one of them. Zinoviev was undoubtedly the least appealing; he could be a good speaker when the crowd was with him, and however his vanity, naked ambition and obvious political failings led many in the party to express their open contempt for him. Kamenev had little personal ambition and therefore saw no need to consolidate his support base. In contrast to Zinoviev, he was something of an intellectual, but an uninspiring public speaker. He had a reputation for compromise and for giving up easily in the face of opposition. Bukharin admired Lenin and it was said Bukharin was Lenin’s ‘favourite of the whole party.’ Bukharin was young and naïve, he lacked the skills and political stunning of Stalin. However like all other opponents were gullible and underestimated Stalin resulted in Stalin being able to manipulate and out manoeuvre them, causing their loss of power.
Stalin’s position in the government as General Secretary was a main reason for Stalin to succeed Lenin over his opponents. He had lead roles in the government and access to secret, personal files that were important to overcome his rivals, he gained access to information that he could use to his advantage to manipulate his opponents. An example of this was the information that Stalin found out about Trotsky being an ex-Menshevik could be used to damage his reputation and loose him followers. This was Stalin’s skill and cunningness that enabled this to be so influential among supporters. This meant that at any of the meetings or elections to the Politburo, Stalin could make sure that he would have a majority and consequently be supported on crucial decisions, and made a large support base for himself. The power created when he removed the NEP in 1928, significantly contributed towards his removal of the…