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 Stalin such tight control over the party machine that, although the failure to publish Lenin's testament and general underestimation of Stalin were contributing factors, this role was the main reason for his success in the power struggle.
Stalin held the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 onwards, which was an incredibly powerful place to be, and aided him immensely during the power struggle. The role was predominantly bureaucratic and many people were unaware of the influence that Stalin held; being General Secretary, he could control membership of the party, which won him popularity with the peasants, whose social standing and benefits were raised by becoming party members. As the majority of the Soviet population consisted of peasants, this gave Stalin a solid base of support during the power struggle. This was emphasized by his other roles, for example he was Head of Workers and Peasants Inspectorate, and Peoples Commissar for Nationalities, both of which allowed Stalin to make connections all over the country in seemingly ‘low-level’ positions, meaning that he was able to fill the central committee with his supporters during important votes, effectively controlling the entire system to support his...
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