“Stalin Won Because Trotsky Lacked a Power Base”: How Far Does This Statement Explain Why Stalin, Rather Than Trotsky, Succeeded Lenin as Leader of the Soviet State?

Topics: Soviet Union, Leon Trotsky, Vladimir Lenin Pages: 6 (2242 words) Published: May 10, 2011
“Stalin won because Trotsky lacked a power base”: How far does this statement explain why Stalin, rather than Trotsky, succeeded Lenin as leader of the Soviet State?

A power base is the source of a person’s organisation power or influence. The statement “Stalin won because Trotsky lacked a power base” does not explain the actual reasons as to why Trotsky did not succeed Lenin as the leader of the Soviet state. Trotsky had the most powerful power base in Russia at the time which was that he had control of the Red Army. Stalin on the other hand had control of the politburo which was still powerful but when it came down as to who was more powerful it was no doubt the power base of Trotsky. After Lenin’s death in 1924, there were 5 main possible candidates for the leader of the Bolshevik Party: these including Stalin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev and Bukharin. However, the two that were in contention for Lenin’s position were Trotsky and Stalin. There were many reasons why Stalin succeeded Trotsky to become the leader. Firstly, Stalin created the Triumvirate with Kamenev and Zinoviev. Secondly Stalin made sure that Lenin’s Testament was not published within the party. Lastly he was the main speaker in Lenin’s funeral where as Trotsky didn’t attend the funeral. However this is all what Stalin had done he, on the other hand Trotsky lacked leadership skills. The main reason why the party members disliked Trotsky was because Trotsky called them “Radishes”. Lenin's enrolment, the defeat of Trotsky and the defeat of the Left and Right, all contributed toward Stalin becoming leader of the USSR, it was not only Stalin's power base.

When Lenin’s death occurred most would have thought it obvious that Trotsky would succeed him. He was behind the planning of the November Revolution, he led the Red Army to victory in the Civil War, and he was Lenin’s good friend. Trotsky was the only party member who could rival Lenin as a speaker and writer. There were many reasons why Trotsky did not succeed Lenin. Trotsky had many weaknesses, he was arrogant, and he didn’t care much about those below him. He did not get involved in any dirty business, and did not make many allies within the party. Many party members distrusted him, as Trotsky claimed that he wanted to spread the revolution outside of Russia, and the prospect of more war frightened many. They imagined he would become a dangerous figure with power, as he had the backing of the Red Army, and they doubted his loyalty to the cause. From his point of view he saw Stalin as inferior, and underestimated him. He was confident he would become leader and didn’t take action to stop Stalin. Despite all this it’s not entirely Trotsky fault, Stalin himself ensured he would gain power.

Before he died, Lenin wrote a testament, about who he thought should take over as leader of the Bolsheviks when he did die. In it, he said that, although, Stalin had “unlimited authority in his hands” that he was not sure “whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution”. Lenin was much more complimentary of Trotsky, saying that he is distinguished by his “outstanding ability”, and is “the most capable man in the present Central Committee”. Stalin knew that if the Testament were ever published it would have damaged all he had worked hard for, and support Trotsky’s bid for leadership. So, with the help of two other Bolshevik members Kamenev and Zinoviev, who hated Trotsky, Stalin stopped the testament from ever being published in any newspapers, or books. With both Kamenev and Zinoviev in high positions in the Bolshevik party, Stalin had gained two very helpful supporters. All this meant Stalin had not only stopped his campaign from having criticism, but had also eliminated a key supporter of Trotsky’s.

Trotsky seemed like the obvious successor, and consequently he became inactive. He was over-confident, arrogant, and failed to take any threat seriously, least of all the...
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