Joseph Stalin used his intellect, and power, to outmanoeuvre his rivals to become leader of the Soviet Union. Using carefully planned propaganda including, painting, statues, and a series of cultivated posters Stalin immortalised and glorified his leadership. These state-manufactured images created a ‘cult of personality' around him, subsequently, creating an image of a heroic worshipped figure, who was associated with every aspect of soviet society. Stalin controlled the media and according to the historian Moshe Lewin, Stalin single handily, ‘become the system,’ (Lewin in Pittaway, 2008, p.137.)
During the years following the death of Lenin in 1924, there was an immense power struggle in the politburo of the Communist Party, as its leading figures competed to replace him. By 1929, Joseph Stalin had defeated his rivals - and therefore become leader of the party - through three stages: the defeat of the left opposition (and therefore Trotsky), the united opposition (Zinoviev, Kamenev and Trotsky), and finally the right deviation (Bukharin). Stalin gained power due to a number of factors, particularly his position as General Secretary of the party, along with his other roles, but also through errors made by the Bolsheviks, most notably their underestimation and dismissal of Stalin. However, his position as General Secretary gave
One of the most important reasons why Stalin won the power struggle is that he used his high positions in the Communist party and the power that came with it to his advantage. Several factors fall under this category. Firstly is how Stalin used his position as General Secretary, as well as jealousies between the leaders and Trotsky’s illness to stage-manage Lenin’s funeral. To the general public, it appeared that Stalin was very close to Lenin, and as a result
Soso Djugashvili, more commonly known as Joseph Stalin, ‘man of steel’, dictator of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Russia, can be considered a ‘Red Tsar’ to an extent when features of Stalinism are compared to those of Tsarism and Russia ruled by Nicholas II’s autocratic regime from 1894 to 1917. A ‘Red Tsar’ is a communist leader whom follows similar principles followed under the leadership of a Tsar, that were influenced by few opinions allowing sole leadership and little opposition from others. Stalin can be considered a ‘Red Tsar’ to an extent as he ruled Communist Russia as a somewhat totalitarian state and was considered a ‘God-like’ figure sent to Earth to lead the nation and its people. From Stalin’s reign of terror from 1929 to 1953 there can be similarities seen in his regime to features of Tsarism as well as differences, this is why there are alternative interpretations for Stalin being considered a ‘Red Tsar’.
By imprisoning and executing members that opposed his views and were potential threats to his position, Stalin was able to keep control over the USSR by using fear. Hence, this raised up a new ruling elite that he found to be more dependable, as no one dared challenge him for fear of their life.
Also, Stalin was much more involved with the base of the Party and was thought to have worked hard to get himself to the top. Meanwhile, Trotsky was seen as a man trying to push his way in. Further damaging Trotsky, Lenin described him as possessing "…excessive self-confidence… and overly attracted by the purely administrative aspects of affairs…" Even though he unintentionally projected Trotsky in this way, Lenin felt that if the removal of Stalin were not acted upon, the conflict between Trotsky and Stalin would intensify, which would jeopardize the whole Party. Combined with the Testament, Trotsky could have used the Postscript to obtain power, but instead Stalin squashed it in the Central Committee.
Joseph Stalin, from the time that he was a low level revolutionary to the years that he spent as the dictator of the Soviet Union, always knew what he needed to do to achieve his goals. His organized rise to power allowed him to gain a steady flow of followers who would support him for decades to come. Stalin received a minor government position in 1917, but by the time a new leader was needed in 1924, he “had turned the largely routine post of Party general secretary into the most powerful office in the Soviet Union” (“Joseph Stalin) and “had built a personal empire for himself through his control over committee appointments at all levels . . . expand[ing] the leading Party organs with his supporters, who then voted against his rivals”
Joseph Stalin greatly influenced Russia in the years 1924 through 1932. His rise to this power can be explained by the Russian Revolutionary experience that allowed him to gain authority in Russia. Although historians often refer to Stalin as a ruthless, mindless dictator, he redirected the Russian Revolution to major economic development. Stalin’s character in Russia during the Revolution catalyzed the many events that took place during the time period. Because of Stalin’s ability to both appeal to the masses, and take advantage of events, like Lenin’s death, Stalin was able to rise to power. Essentially, the Russian Revolution fostered the development of Stalin’s dictatorship leading the country into a state of economic growth and influence. The Revolution fostered Stalin’s ability to maintain a central leadership, use violence to gain control, and regenerate a previously disconnected economy.
When Lenin/Old Major died there was a power struggle for control between Trotsky/Snowball and Stalin/Napoleon. Trotsky was a very smart strategist while Stalin was a simple yet effective leader. While not as smart as Trotsky he was a very effective politician.
Joseph Stalin was one of Russia’s most powerful and ruthless leaders. With his economic policies, he attained the favour of the struggling working class people and with the power he obtained from being a leader he eliminated the opposing party members. The concept of a ‘Five-Year-Plan’ was adopted by the Soviet Union as they sought escalated industrialization and controlled the economy where peasantry was directly in political power.
In 1922, Vladimir Lenin founded the Soviet Union, and during these years, Stalin became one of his most loyal followers. As he continued to gain popularity and began to move up the party ladder, Stalin became Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. This role enabled him to appoint his allies to government jobs and have a base of political support (History.com Staff, 2009). When Lenin passed away in 1924, Stalin began creating a "cult of personality" around himself and got artists to paint pictures glorifying him (Trueman, 2015). He also built himself to be a great genius and a leader who was guided by Lenin and described himself as "Lenin's right hand man" (Kenny 2015). In the late 1920's, Stalin gained complete control over the Soviet Union and became its dictator.
Thus, the “Cult of Personality” was flourishing. Propaganda glorifying Stalin and Soviet ideals brainwashed the minds of Russian people. Stalin successfully impressed his socialist philosophies on millions of workers and peasants. Over time, socialism transformed into Stalinism, and it took hold. Stalin was able to hypnotize people towards one belief, the love of Stalin. When they saw Stalin being portrayed heroically everyday in the news or on posters, they began to idolize him. Stalin is like Big Brother; he was the main focus and had total power over the people and their actions.
It is undeniable that Stalin had a profound impact on the Soviet Union following Lenin’s death. His rise to power within the Soviet Union has provided historians with a hotbed of political intrigue for many years. He was an opportunist, coming to dominance by manipulating party politics and influential figures in the politburo to eliminate his opposition by recognising and exploiting their weaknesses thus becoming the dominant leader of the Soviet Union. He was severely underestimated by other members of the Politburo about his potential within the party, leading to missed opportunities to ally and stand against him- a mistake that Stalin never made. He gained support from the public by exploiting the idea of ‘the Cult of Lenin’ in 1924 at Lenin’s funeral, and then adopting this concept for himself, thereby likening himself to Lenin; and, more importantly, gained support from other party members by following the wishes of Lenin, for example, initially supporting the continuation of the NEP and supporting the idea of factionalism. This essay will also argue that he was ideologically flexible as he was able to change his ideas for the party according to who he needed as an ally, in order to achieve dominant status in the party. He sought out which individual was the biggest threat, and eliminated them before they could stand against him.
Stalin was extremely ambitious and his initial taste of power had made him even more egotistical. Trotsky fled but was hunted down and eliminated to ensure Stalin retained power. The long term effects of this ensured that future opponents of Stalin would also be eliminated. With Lenin dead and Trotsky eliminated Stalin realized he was now able to concentrate on his own policies. He abandoned Lenin's idea of 'World Revolution' and adopted his own policy of 'Socialism in One Country'.