Stalinism sample essay
The political ideologies and policies of Stalinism had profound effect and lasting significance on the Soviet state up to 1938. The influence of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin caused mass political upheaval, aggressive economic reform and great social implications in an effort to modernise a relatively unindustrialised weakened economy. The significance of these efforts is the changes in the structure of soviet society, with a broad spectrum of both positive and negative consequences. This political system is known as Stalinism.
All aspects of politics, military affairs and economic policies were shifted and changed as a result of Stalin’s totalitarianism dictatorship. Joseph Stalin gained political power through widespread political executions and purges whilst using propaganda to foster a fatherly image to the soviet people. Stalin was the Soviet leader from the exile of Trotsky in 1929 to his death on the 5th of March 1953. He was a leading Bolshevik revolutionary who consolidated his power and gained supreme command over all aspects of the Soviet Union.
He aimed at creating a classless society in an attempt to modernise the Russia society, which had fallen behind the major European powers in terms of industrial output and production. When Stalin exiled Trotsky, the expected successor of Lenin, A cult of personality was formed around Stalin, in which the citizens of the USSR saw him as a firm yet caring leader. This was created by propaganda campaigns carried out by the state controlled press and enforced by the secret police, known as the NKVD.
Stalin was a proponent of Lenin’s infallibility, and he used this politically. Stalin used his publicised close relationship to Lenin in combination with Lenin’s perceived infallibility to create a similar image, which is significant as it radically established Stalin’s power. The expansion of his political role from the general secretary to supreme commander was a continuous rise of power, and is highly significant as it allowed him to create greater influence through soviet Russia to become a totalitarianism leader.
As a result of his one party state, Stalinism made a large impact on the structure of the Soviet Union politically. Stalinism had a highly significant impact on the economy of the Soviet Union. Stalin had predicted that Russia had 10 years to overhaul the economy before an invasion, which he predicted correctly. The previous reforms of the New Economic Policy (NEP) had undermined the Soviet Union. Historian Alec Nove wrote “Stalin sought to mobilise the human and material resources of a backwards country to catch up to the west by barbarous means”.
This source reveals Stalin’s general motive and method in reforming the Soviet economy, as well as outlining the barbarous nature of its implementation. This is highly reliable evidence as the author is of strong authority, however it does not specifically reference any historical event. Firstly, Stalin’s economic revolution was primarily carried out in 3 5-year plans, the first of which was commenced in 1928. The aim was to drastically increase industry production by setting quota on steel, oil, natural gas and other basic industrial necessities.
As a result creches were created so women could join the workforce, and propaganda was heavily distributed to motivate workers to produce more. The significance of this economic reform was the increase in production, with electricity increased by 700%, coal by 250% and oil by 400%. Russia had been transformed into a major industry power, however the forced labour camps required for this were horrible, with over 100,000 deaths in the construction of the Belomor canal alone, and the wages were extremely low.
The quality of life was decreased, as labourers had to do without consumer goods. Secondly Stalin sought to increase food production, and this was achieved by the state collectivisation of farming. From 1934, 99% of farms had been collectivised. The implementation of the policy is generally considered a failure until 1940, as the forced collectivisation and mass murder of the Kulaks resulted in reduced grain production and the livestock was reduced to roughly half. This culminated in the 1933 famine, in which an estimated 11 million people died from starvation.
Historian A. J. P Taylor concluded “In terms of human suffering the cost was enormous, but the early 1930’s saw the Soviet Union transformed from a backwards, agricultural society into a major industrial power”. Therefore it is evident that Stalinism had a profound impact on the Soviet state economically, transforming from an agricultural based country into a major industry power, at the cost of its own citizens. Stalinism had an immense impact on the sociology of the Soviet state.
The great political changes from a communist party into a one-man political dictatorship, and the sweeping changes to the economic structure of the state, had severely internally weakened its prospects despite its growth. Historian Lynne Viola deduced that “Under Stalin, the Soviet Union existed in a state of almost perpetual crisis from the unintended consequences of the economic policies in the 1920’s”. The aggregate of the economic resentment towards Stalin, and Stalin’s paranoia, led to what is known as the Great Terror.
Stalin originated the purge in early 1936, in which he aimed to cleanse the social body of those he saw a threat to himself, which were officially known as ‘anti soviet elements’. This led to the eradication of the wealthy ‘Kulak’ peasants; around 350,000, 8% of all red army officers, and eventually most of the entire original Bolshevik party involved in the 1917 revolution. From 1936 onwards, constant NKVD surveillance led to several million arrests on political grounds from anti-Stalin views to beliefs in politically right wing views.
These prisoners were sent to the soviet Gulags where they were starved, executed or worked to death. In addition to this, Stalin deported political criminals to unliveable regions such as the Far North and Siberia. As a result of Stalinism, ‘anti soviet’ threats were culled off, especially those in political ranks, which made Stalin extremely difficult to stop. This is significant as in addition to the estimated 20 million deaths; it instilled fear into the remaining soviet citizens, which led to the subjugation of rights and freedoms of the Soviets.
The persecution of innocents facilitated social control, which is important as it kept Stalin in his position of power. It is clearly evident that Stalinism was an immense impact on Soviet sociology. Therefore it is clearly evident that Stalinism had a profound influence on the Soviet state up to 1938. The rise of Stalin and his implementation of economic policies had a reaching influence into the social structure of the state. Stalinism gave birth to an industrial giant, and the deaths of millions.
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