Josef Stalin

Topics: Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin Pages: 8 (3090 words) Published: November 5, 2008
During his years as General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin encountered many social, economical and political problems which were left unsolved at the time of Lenin's premature death in 1924. Economic problems involving issues such as agriculture and industrialisation. Political problems related to politics, both in terms of foreign and domestic policy and also the military. Social problems being related to aspects of life such as education, religion and culture. Stalin had problems in all three areas, some of these complementing and influencing each other. His leadership not only exacerbate these problems, but he created greater problems which would gradually tear apart the nation and ruin the fabric of communism that the Bolsheviks had once fought so hard to attain. While he did bring moderate success, it all depends on whether the consequences of his approach was worth the price he had paid. The problems which faced Stalin at the time of his rise to power needs to be weighed in with his solution. Was his solution for the greater good of the nation? Evidence such as the great periods of collectivisation, purges and the persecution of the Soviet population, would suggest that this approach was not for the greater good at all. There has certainly been conjecture over whether Stalin's solutions were more for the benefit of the state or for the benefit of his own agenda. Either way, whatever his intentions, it cannot be argued that his leadership his leadership did not exacerbate exisitng problems and create new ones which would prove so terrible for the Russian people.

Economic problems have been a part of Russian society since the days of Tsraist rule and were part of the reasons that attributed to the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 as well as the prior unrest before them. These problems worsened during the First World War and the Russian Civil War when Lenin was forced to adopt a policy of War Communism and later the New Economic Policy (NEP) to rebuild what was a shattered economy. The NEP was a response to anger over war communism in which peasants saw little point in working harder to produce more food, which was taken away from them without compensation. The result was that farmers only produced enough to satisfy their own needs, leading to food shortages during the droughts of 1920-21 and thus rendering war communism a failure. This failure combined with the naval mutiny at Kronstadt, convinced Lenin to change his approach to the economic crises. He experienced moderate success in rebuilding the economy and if it weren't for his premature death in 1924, may have continued to lead Russia out of the 'backwardness' that had hampered the nation in the global economy. Stalin's economic policies had moderate, short-term success. The focus was on rapid industrialisation. Russian industry at the time was behind in coal and steel produce to non-industrial countries such as France and were a long way behind the major industrial powers of Britain, Germany and the USA. His efforts to expand was motivated by his belief that the major western powers would invade Russia to stamp out communism. This again, asks the question of whether his policies were necessary for his people or to his own ideology. A fear that may or may not have existed in reality. Lowe's opinion, "Stalin believed that a rapid of heavy industry was essential so that Russia would be able to survive the attack which he convinced would come sooner or later from the Western capitalist powers who hated communism," suggests that the series of five year plans which plunged Russia into rapid expansion, was in the interests of his agenda to preserve communism rather than for the benefit of the working and lower classes which weren't even suppose to exist under Marxism. His fears can be partly justified, as it became known that "conservative regimes everywhere made no secret of their hatred of the Soviet Union." This seems the more likely scenario in...

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Lowe.N. (1988). Mastering Modern World History 2nd ed. McMillan, London.
Marrin.A. (1988). Stalin: Russia 's Man of Steel. Viking, Ontario.
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Watson.J. (1991). Success in 20th century World Affaires 3rd ed. John Murray, London.
Ward.C. (1994). Stalin 's Russia. Edward Arnold.
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