How far does Stalin’s position as General Secretary explain his success in defeating his rivals in the years 1924 – 1929?
Following Lenin’s untimely death in 1924, the Communist Leadership in Russia was thrown into disarray. Months of ideological confusion, full of proposals of ideas for the future of socialism, brought about potential contenders for party leadership and amongst these was Stalin. Through the next 5 year period, a great power struggle occurred between the contenders, but Stalin eventually emerged successful as the new leader of the USSR. Stalin’s position as General Secretary and other factors all contributed to this appointment. Prior to the start of the power struggle, Stalin had already used sly tactics to trick Trotsky into not attending Lenin’s funeral which hindered Trotsky’s reputation as it showed total disrespect for Leninism. Soon after, the Triumvirate was set up, consisting of Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin; it was in this organisation that Stalin’s true movements for power became clear. The Triumvirate were heavily opposed by Trotsky who was the head of the Red Army in the USSR. It is important to note that if Stalin had not had acquired the position of General Secretary, then he would not have been able to access the Bureaucratic parts of administration allowing his scheme of patronage to succeed. Stalin used his position to appoint people he knew would grant him unwavering support, to the politburo. Through this method, Trotsky’s distaste for the Lenin enrolment and call for the end of bureaucracy was outvoted. The patronage scheme that Stalin had employed helped him dodge the attack by Lenin’s wife, concerning the derogatory comments in Lenin’s testament. However, Stalin’s position was not the only reason the attack was dodged. Zinoviev and Kamenev also urged that the testament should be kept secret in a bid to protect themselves from the degrading comments Lenin had made about the two being cowards. Luck was also a major factor...
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