Professor David Shearer
May 5, 2015
Question 2: Phases of Stalin’s Rule
Socialism in One Country is the theory that strayed away from from Lenin’s goal of international socialist reach, to Stalin’s regime of national Communism. Up until Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, his rule can be followed through different phases. While Major figures such as Leon Trotsky and the deceased Vladimir Lenin were not on good terms with Stalin or his ideals, believing them to be against Marxist theory. Stalin’s rule from the beginning was harsh and a return to traditional values along with a goal of industrialization and increasing internal strength. Though in time he became paranoid and through his self-aggrandizing personality his regime became extremely cruel leading to several deaths. Then to make matters worse World War II bought about massive tragedy in Russia and questionable decisions from Stalin. After World War II, the Soviet Union began on a path that would eventually lead to the Cold War, one of distrust and continued paranoia of invasion from the west. Stalin’s intent compared to Stalin’s regime is hard to distinguish, but importance of intent and character is lost in the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union’s leader. Joseph Stalin changed in his style of rule from his early idealism, to the purges, and to World War II and after, though there is cruelty and totalitarianism weaved within his entire leadership of the Soviet Union.
Joseph Stalin took power of the Soviet Union after Lenin’s death and began to dismantle the system of the NEP (New Economic Policy), including the Elimination of the Kulak class of capitalist farmers (Lecture, April 7). This regime was still anti-capitalist but used violence and fear to control its people. The Kulaks were corporate farmers who were a reflection of capitalism and the NEP; therefore Stalin sought to eliminate it as a social class. As seen in John Scott’s Beyond The Urals punishment for being a Kulak could lead to forced industrial labor. This industrial labor, voluntary or not, is an important aspect of Stalin’s early rule. Its reflection of the internal strengthening of nation that Stalin had ideally wanted, and while hasty it served to bring about a collective desire to build a better nation. Though peasants did not have it easy during this time and famine had erupted in the Ukraine and “Stalin turned a deaf ear to stories of famine, and the press printed nothing of starvation” (Suny, 246). In the midst of this tragedy Stalin had ignored the starving population, which reveals a bit about his character, the industrialization was more important than lives of peasants. With Stalin’s collapse of the NEP he installs a centralized planned economy, though its plans were not well though out. War communism remerged in a way with the use of black markets and government rations (Lecture, April 7). Workers were not getting paid and inflation devalued money, this economy was a disaster that socially dislocated workers. The strain on the nation was against Stalin’s intentions of strengthening internally. Already there is a discrepancy in intent and action, but Stalin decides to break from his plans of industrialization. By 1933 a consumerist economy was encouraged and in 1934, the 17th Party Congress decided normalcy needed to be returned and that the foundations of socialism had been laid (Lecture, April 7). In the next few years there was stability, and a strict moral code. Women were supposed to take a domestic role again and leave the work force; this is a very common occurrence in times of peace for women to be pushed in the background after a time of crisis. This time of Stalin’s rule was called Reactionary Totalitarianism that represented the return to traditional values and the intent to destroy private life; all of this was done through either loyalty or fear. Art of kinds was restricted and changed to the style of Socialist Realism-“A depiction of life