Lenin Laid the Foundation for Stalinism Essay

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In order to establish whether Lenin did, indeed lay the foundation for Stalinism, two questions need to be answered; what were Lenin’s plans for the future of Russia and what exactly gave rise to Stalinism? Official Soviet historians of the time at which Stalin was in power would have argued that each one answers the other. Similarly, Western historians saw Lenin as an important figure in the establishment of Stalin’s socialist state. This can be partly attributed to the prevailing current of pro-Stalin anti-Hitler sentiments amongst westerners until the outbreak of the cold war. As relations changed between Russia and the rest of the world, so did the main historical schools of thought. Following …show more content…
The detachment from the Cold War politics that pervaded the study of Lenin and Stalinism and increased access to source material previously hidden has created a more objective viewpoint that almost mediates between Soviet and right wing Western historians, both identifying changes and lines of continuity. One such historian writes ‘Excesses were the essence of historical Stalinism, and they are what really require explanation’[2]. Identified here is the fact that many of the ideas and practices seen under Lenin were continued and most importantly, developed by Stalin. His personality, even Pipes admits, sets him apart from Lenin and goes some way towards explaining the frequent examples of what Stalin would have called ‘Leninist’ ideologies and acts taken to a new level.

One such example is the use of terror. Right wing western historians often emphasise the importance of the fact that it was under Lenin that terror was first used. Even Sheila Fitzpatrick, a noted revisionist, points out that the genesis of the Purges carried out by Stalin in the 30s lay in the ‘periodic cleansing’ of the party practiced in the early 20s, in which every member of the party was made to justify himself
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