Stalin did not betray Lenin's ideals
Debate Rounds (4)
Good day comrade.
Some socialists argue that Stalin was a vile tyrant who betrayed the ideals of Lenin. Almost all left wing parties in Britain from Labour to Communist seem to 'disown' Stalin. I, however would like to argue that Stalin was a true follower of Lenin who embodied Leninist ideals.
This debate is not (at least not mainly) about whether Stalin is a good or not, or whether socialism and Communism are workable, but they might be mentioned. Also, bear in mind that both the instigator (me) and the contender are socialists, but socialists in dramatically different ways.
Round one is for acceptance
Round two for opening argument
Round three for rebuttals/new arguments
Round four for brief rebuttals and conclusion
I await your answer and good luck!
Thank you. I'd like to start the debate by giving an exert from Khrushchev's secret speech at the CPSU congress in 1956,
'The great modesty of the genius of the revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, is known. Lenin had always stressed the role of the people as the creator of history, the directing and organizational role of the party as a living and creative organism, and also the role of the central committee...
...Comrades, the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person. This is supported by numerous facts. One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin's self -glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his Short Biography, which was published in 1948.'
This shows the apparent disgust of Khrushchev at Stalin's crimes, but in reality Khrushchev's system of centrally planned economy, police state, mass organisation, party bureaucracy and over-the-top propaganda surrounding the Communist Party was really the successor the Leninist and ultimately Stalinist system.
Nevertheless, let us looked at how the early Leninist system, as well as small elements of the old Tsarist system which Lenin inherited influenced Stalin's system.
First and the most obvious and indeed the most infamous of the entire history of the Soviet system is of course, the police state. As you know, Lenin had the 'Cheka'. The Cheka was of course exceptionally brutal, executing 800 people without trial for vague and/or made up crimes (e.g. 'counterrevolution'). The Cheka was given almost unlimited power in searching, questioning and arresting suspected 'enemies of the revolution' without proper trial. The paranoid secret police also kept a list of potential 'saboteurs'. They are unaccountable and will answer to only the top leadership of the Communist Party. The Cheka also issued permits, internal passports (a bit like medieval serfdom) as well as being responsible for extensive control of Russian society. This system of a large, all pervasive police state was copied by many Soviet-styled socialist states like Poland, East Germany and Romania and of course, Stalin himself.
As you can see, the Red Terror and the paranoid and ruthless Cheka gave many 'inspirations' that will become Stalin's OGPU, NKVD and NVD among various others. The only difference being that Lenin executed more people than all the Tsars' and Kerensky in 5 years, whereas Stalin killed more than Lenin, the Tsars and Kerensky in a single day!
Having mentioned the police state, Lenin had a totalitarian system. Aside from the obvious one-party state where all the other parties have been outlawed, the totalitarian system had an extensive top-down bureaucratic system, a bit hypocritical when Marxists always quote Lenin as having said that, 'when there is state there can be no freedom, but when there is freedom, there will be no state.'
And you can guess what happened. I am sure you know of 'War Communism'. That was when the state seized everything, forced everyone to overwork while paying them exactly the same. The result is that Russia's industrial output fell, agricultural production fell and 7 million people starved to death (AQA GSCE History B). The economy was planned from the top, Lenin got his idea from early socialists and Taylorism, where the workers are like drones and the economy ran like a clockwork. Then Stalin came around with his Five Year Plans, which are just like Lenin's War Communism (i.e. the state running the economy like a clock). Although it worked better than Lenin's 'first go', it was developed under the influence of the Leninist system.
Aside from that, we have other elements from the Leninist state:
-Purges and show trials
-Labour camps for 'enemies of the revolution' (later Gulag for 'enemies of the people')
-The destruction of independent trade unions
-The end of rule of law, whereby law is used for political control
-Red Terror vs the Great Terror
-'Democratic' centralism in both Lenin and Stalin's system (Stalin later added a sham 'Constitution of 1936')
-Prolekult (Lenin) and Socialist Realism (Stalin), both are propaganda campaigns designed to promote the Marxist Leninist cause
Source: M. Lynch, Stalin' Russia, Fourth Edition, Hodder Education, page 4
Furthermore, in Simon Sebag Montefiore's Young Stalin (an autobiography of Stalin), Stalin was said to be the main source of income for the party, responsible for the 1907 T'blisi heist where Stalin and co. (mostly his friend 'Kamo') stole around 347,000 roubles.
Lastly, have a look at these pictures:
Caption: 'Hold up the banners of Marx, Engels, LENIN AND STALIN!'
'Long live the Young Pioneers- worthy follower's of LENIN-STALIN Komsomol'
These posters not only show Stalin's reliance on Lenin's ideals and influence, but also how Lenin shaped Stalin's system. Even talking theoretically, both Lenin and Stalin envisaged their own communist utopia, to be achieved using whatever means necessary.
I now turn to my opponent...
One of the most well known slogans associated with Bolshevism and Leninism is this- "Peace, Bread and Land". As I'm sure you're aware Lenin promised the Russian people these three things. I'm sure you'll also agree that "Peace, Bread and Land" just about sums up what Lenin was looking to do with hthe country, and so is a decent indicator as to his "ideals". So then, did Stalin deliver peace, bread and land to the Soviet people?
Giving context to the need of peace in early 20th century Russia, we need to look at Russia's involvement in World War One- in short it was abysmal. Combat losses were reported to be in excess of 2 and a half million, with casualties even higher. Slightly less than half a million civilians were killed. Millions of roubles of damage was done, crippling an already divided and economically weak nation. Industrially, Russia was miles behind Germany, and the only reason it was able to come out of the war at all was due to sheer weight of numbers.
Under Stalin in World War Two combat deaths increased by a factor of five. Between 7 million and 12 million civilians were killed by enemy action. Billions of roubles of damage was done. Of course I am not saying that Stalin caused WW2 nor was responsible in some way for it, however it is true that he presided over the slaughter, and saw it in the worst light. Lenin was in a similar situation during his rise to power, and in my opinion learned that the Russian people had no appetite for war, and as such strived in the future not to get his USSR into any other conflicts. Stalin did not do this- despite the larger scale of the slaughter in WW2- he got the USSR into a number of conflicts- the Korean War (causing a spike in defence spending, diverting resources from rebuilding after WW2, and the sending of 26,000 Soviet soldiers/military advisors to Korea) and various skirmishes with the west, which whilst not committing the Soviet Union into war were certainly aggressive acts and could hardly be called peaceful and diplomatic- namely the Berlin Blockade (http://www.johndclare.net...).
Source for statistics- www.wikipedia.com
During World War Two itself, Stalin organized one of the largest wartime spying operations against an ally in history- targeted, but not limited to, to investigate the Manhattan Project, enabling him to double and even triple check information given to him by other spies or the US government itself. According to my A2 history textbook 300+ "spies" sent information to Stalin from the US. This covert, but clearly aggressive and paranoid behaviour doesn't fit well with Lenin's idea of "peace", especially with reference to the war weary Soviet people.
Bread- admittedly Stalin extensively modernised Russia"s agricultural sector, mainly through government subsidies on machinery and fertilisers, and the combination of land into "collectives". During WW2, however, Russia suffered from severe food shortages, and its citizens "enjoyed" the lowest calorific consumption during the war of any combatant nation- ""and the food ration of the average Soviet citizen was lowest" (Source-http://forum.axishistory.com...)
Again, Russia"s difficulty during WW2 cannot be solely attributed to Stalin (however, he could have learned from the need for very tight rationing during the war that a change of tact was needed for Russia's agricultural sector, as enough food was simply not being produced). As this source shows things weren't exactly great afterwards;
"Agriculture also suffered from government neglect. In 1952, for example, farmers produced less per acre than they had in 1913, years before the Russian Revolution and the introduction of mechanized agriculture. Not giant communal farmlands but postage-stamp-sized household plots " family gardens grudgingly allowed by the government in response to famine " fed virtually the entire country during the late Stalin era.
The hardship and breakdown of the post-war period led to an increase in crime. As the Soviet
regime proved itself unable to provide for its citizens" most basic needs, the very act of survival came to entail breaking with the regime and certain of its rules. Virtually all families engaged in black market transactions. Many stole extra supplies from their workplace, to exchange surreptitiously for deficit goods. Such actions were not without considerable risk. In 1947 " the same year that wartime rationing was lifted and prices soared " the Stalinist dictatorship imposed strict laws against the stealing of state and private property. At least two million citizens fell victim to new mandatory sentencing laws, which required seven to 25 years" imprisonment for even the most insignificant theft."
(Not to mention all the famines caused by Stalin"s uncompromising nature regarding collectivisation)
And Land? Well, Stalin took much of the land of the peasants and placed in communal control (through collectivisation as mentioned earlier) and fulfilled Lenin"s claim of redistributing the land of the church, the nobility and the crown. Whether or not this was a good choice is open to debate, but it does show to be one area in which Stalin lived up to Lenin"s ideals.
Finally let me end on Lenin"s own views regarded this "man of steel"-
"Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution"
"Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest the comrades think about a way of removing Staling from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc."
Source- Lenin"s Testament 1922 from http://www.historyguide.org...
I thank you for your counterarguments.
However, I must still say that I am not any less convinced that Stalin has 'abberated' the Leninist values. Leninist values, at least in the early days of Bolshevik rule, is vague but held with almost divine devotion within the party. Even references to Lenin's words was enough to make one's argument legitimate. In fact, the person who used references to 'Great Lenin' the most in legitimising his arguments, and ultimately seize control was of course, Stalin. Furthermore, Leninism is defined as having:
-vanguard political party
-dictatorship of the proletariat
Also, Lenin is not as peaceful as many thought he is. According to Marxist-Leninist theory, the workers must rise up in a violent revolution against the bourgeois. The vanguard party is responsible for preparing the masses for the ultimate struggle, and the Social-Democrats/Bolsheviks, although officially renounced violence, still practices terrorism, which was amplified after the revolution in the form of the Red Terror. Here is an extract from Lenin's What Is To Be Done? :
'As soon as our available forces permit, we must without fail devote the most serious attention to propaganda and agitation among soldiers and officers, and to the creation of “military organisations” affiliated to our Party...'
(ref: V.I. Lenin, What is to be Done? , IV The Primitiveness of the Economists and Organisation of Revolutionaries)
Furthermore, a very 'Russian' Civil War actually spilled to Poland- Lenin and Trotsky wanted to spread their Revolution to the rest of Europe. In fact, although Russia was a backward agrarian country, the socialist Revolution still took place, because Lenin believe that Russia was 'the weakest link', where its fall to socialism will set off a chain of revolutions abroad. But returning to Poland, although the Polish sought to destroy the new revolutionary Russia by allying with the nationalist Ukrainians and attacked Russia, the Bolsheviks not only pushed them back but actually became the aggressor and attacked Poland.
The extract from Encyclopaedia Britannica described how the Russians turned from 'self-defence' to 'spreading revolution':
'...Soviet forces advanced through Poland to the outskirts of Warsaw (early August). The western European powers, fearing that the Russians might succeed in establishing a Soviet government in Poland and perhaps proceed to Germany, sent a military mission.'
Now Stalin's invasion of Lithuania, Lativia, Finland, Estonia and Poland in the late 1930s and the 1940s were also a mixture of 'liberation' and 'self defense' against Nazi Germany, (but of course also part of the agreement terms in the Nazi-Soviet pact). Furthermore, I might add that the Korean war was not started by Stalin (or Mao for that matter). Kim Il Sung of North Korea was always 'his own man'. Kim Il Sung desperately wanted to reunite Korea under his rule, but Stalin was reluctant to give assistance at first because he fears US reprisals. Kim Il Sung launched the invasion himself on 25th June, 1950. According to most modern academic works on North Korea, from Nuclear Showdown by Gordon Chang to The Cleanest Race by B.R.Myers, the cause of the Korean war was Kim's own ambition, not Stalin's orders.
Returning to the topic of Lenin and Stalin, I must emphasise that War Communism, which many early Communists viewed as genuine a socialist practice, was very similar to Stalin's Five Year Plans (Pyatletka). Economically Lenin and indeed Trotsky, both received the idea of the centrally planned economy from a Marxist Russian economist by the name of Yevgeni Preobrazhensky, who argued that private enterprise in the countryside should be abolished in the countryside so that the surplus generated by the peasants could be used by the planning authorities so that the USSR can industrialise (H.J.Chang, 23 Things They Didn't Tell You About Capitalism). It is truly ironic how his plan was appropriated by Stalin, then he was executed in 1937, and that he fiercely opposed the NEP as 'regression to capitalism'. But there are a few things to consider- Gosplan, and indeed War Communism and the whole Marxist-Leninist economic system were created under Lenin's orders, and that except for the second one (though under a different name), the other 'visions' of Lenin, from the top-down Gosplan economy to the 'Prolekult' which he has created were continued and glorified under the Stalinist regime. Again, to reiterate, the practice of War Communism on Lenin's orders created the same genus of Stalinist planning, which was 'genuine' socialist practice of central planning to fulfill needs.
Some argue that Lenin implemented the NEP, but in Lenin's own words, who was in fact reluctant to 'regress to capitalism', said 'two steps forward, one step backward.' Lenin's ultimate goal was to implement the planned economy, although he admitted that the peasants cannot be converted overnight but 'over generations but not centuries'.
One could thererfore argue that Stalin did indeed achieve Lenin's long term goal as well as to retain features of the Leninist state e.g. the police state, by introducing centralised control of the economy.
Moreover, Lenin's goals may not have fully materialised. Lenin's promise of 'peace, land and bread' were ultimately partial fulfilled by Stalin in the most abominous ways, although Lenin's instruction of how to deliver the three needs were faithfully practiced by Stalin's Communist officials.
Also, although Lenin does not view Stalin as a faithful revolutionary, Stalin indeed admired, followed and obeyed Lenin's Command. To quote Montefiore's Young Stalin again, Stalin was an important figure within the party- although Lenin officially condemns Stalin's brutal crimes, in secret Lenin knows that he needs Stalin for funding, organisation, keep company etc. The Testament of 1922 was really Lenin's worry that Stalin had concentrated too much power (not whether Stalin was a traitor to the party) in his hands, though by no means did Lenin have no responsibility in this, who in fact appointed Stalin to become the General Secretary, People's Commissar of Nationalities, Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate etc. (source: Michael Lynch, Stalin's Russia, 1924 1953 fourth edition, Hodder Education, p15). Lenin viewed Stalin as a trustworthy man (though he did later regret it), and Stalin joined the Bolsheviks because he was enthused by Lenin's ideas and 'spirit' (S.S.Montefiore, Young Stalin). To add to that point, Stalin was a commited Communist who believe capitalism is doomed (Adam Ulam), just as Lenin would have.
Lastly, the Stalin cult was heavily depedent on the Lenin cult. Lenin's cult of personality created a fog of infallibility around Lenin- making his ideals 'invincible'. Stalin's personality cult would not have came about had he not paid respect to Lenin, thus Stalin's success heavily depended on his early loyalty to Lenin, his acknowledgement of Leninist credibility etc. whether or not he did so for his own interest is not important- whatever it was, the Stalinist system followed, and derived, from Lenin's cult of personality. Stalin can be seen as 'Lenin's stooge', but because Stalin was shown to be the natural successor to Lenin shows that he genuinely believed that he followed Lenin's footsteps, whether he was idealistic, delusional or selfish. A similar phenomenon can be seen in China, for although China's economic system differs dramatically to the Cultural Revolutionary days, the Chinese Communist Party cannot afford to reject Maoism (which is still an official ideology of the CCP), and they even actively practice Maoist ideas for control (though Stalin practiced Leninism for the sake of the revolution).
I now await your argument...
In response to your point that Lenin himself practised violence- "....Lenin is not as peaceful as many thought he is"- I draw reference to the question at hand which is "Stalin did not betray Lenin's ideals". Although Lenin himself may have condoned the use of violence, I feel it is unlikely that violence was an integral part of his core belief set- I'm sure that his "ideal" Russia would not have involved violence at all. Also I'm sure that Lenin would have wanted peace, even if he himself did not achieve it, and that it was Stalin's responsibility to advance Russia towards Lenin's ideals as his successor, in the hope that one day Lenin's ideals, and that of Marx and Engels, could finally be realised. So in that way I don't think Stalin did fulfil Lenin's ideals and plans, as he didn't achieve peace or the gradual decrease in violence (let alone improve the living standards of the Russian people, and make the USSR a true rival to the USA) .
And, if as you say Lenin (and Trotsky) wanted to spread revolution to other countries, then Stalin certainly didn't live up to Lenin's ideals. Enforced occupation of Eastern Europe could hardly be called spreading revolution, although it certainly encouraged it later down the line (e.g. Solidarity movement etc.). Arguably Stalin did not want to spread communism for love of the ideology but for reasons of security and paranoia:
"Even before the start of World War II in 1939, Stalin"s principle foreign policy objectives were clear, he pursued consistently a geopolitical policy, which sought to quench his relentless desire for security by expanding the Soviet borders outwards, making Russia the dominant power on the Eurasian landmass with buffer states to her West"
Referring back to the Korean War, Stalin had no need to send any help at all- China sent many thousands of soldiers (1,350,000) and the tension that was caused by it in the west simply wasn't worth the bother- especially to a war damaged nation like USSR in early 1950s. It doesn't matter that Kim Il Sung was "his own man"- Stalin was also his own man too, and chose to send soldiers and get involved in yet another war, and throw millions of roubles down the drain for what? If he didn't want to antagonise the west, then why did he end up antagonising them at all? Many nations (some "Communist", and who would later join the Warsaw Pact) sent medical help and rations, so why would Stalin send 26,000 pairs of filled Russian boots?
Furthermore, the first point of Lenin's April Thesis (source: https://www.marxists.org... ) states thus:
"1) In our attitude towards the war, which under the new [provisional] government of Lvov and Co. unquestionably remains on Russia"s part a predatory imperialist war owing to the capitalist nature of that government, not the slightest concession to "revolutionary defencism" is permissible."
In this way Stalin should have avoided any "...imperialist war..."- such of the occupation of Eastern Europe (although perhaps this can be argued to be protection/defencism from the West(or was this yet another perceived threat from a paranoid and power obsessed man?)). Also, Lenin appears to be against Russia enacting a "...predatory....war..."- something that the political skirmishes with the west could well have resulted in. The afore mentioned espionage conducted by Stalin's agents could certainly be called "predatory" and unprovoked.
How about this one- "Stalin increased his own salary as General-Secretary from 225 rubles (until 1935), to 500 rubles in 1935, 1,200 rubles in 1936, 2,000 rubles by the end of the war, and a cool 10,000 rubles by 1947."
Whilst Lenin's April Thesis states that:
"The salaries of all officials, all of whom are elective and displaceable at any time, not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker."
"The highest administrative salaries reached into the 10,000R42;s of rubles, e.g. the director of one Kharkov enterprise in the late 1930R42;s got 22,000 rubles. The chairman and deputy chairman of the Supreme Council got salaries of 25,000 rubles. These figures are 100x the salary of an average worker which was 250 rubles and a minimum industrial wage of 110-115 rubles."
"While in the 1920R42;s there were strict limits on managerial salaries as a percentage of workers", in 1929-1934 they were quietly lifted. In the 1920R42;s, the "Party maxim" was 175 rubles compared to average worker salaries of 50 rubles; whereas by 1937 the average manager-worker differential increased to 5:1 (higher than in contemporary Paris, where it was 4:1). This figure doesn"t include unofficial payments in envelopes and huge bonuses for over-fulfillment of the Plan."
"In the military, a lieutenant"s salary in 1939 was 625 rubles, compared to a colonel"s 2000 rubles. This was a higher differential than in France, where it was 2,000 francs and 5,000 francs, respectively. Or for that matter far higher than in today"s "oligarchic" Russia, where a lieutenant now gets 50,000 rubles and a colonel 75,000 rubles."
Sorry for all the quotes in quick succession, but I think they are valuable in this context.
I must clarify that Lenin's use of terror and violence was not a mere practice or a coincidence, but rather, it was enshrined in the Bolshevik ideology. Lenin wrote in chapter two of The State and Revolution:
"The overthrow of the bourgeoisie [i.e. capitalist class] can be achieved only by the proletariat [i.e. working class] becoming the ruling class, capable of crushing the inevitable and desperate resistance of the bourgeoisie, and of organizing all the working and exploited people for the new economic system. The proletariat needs state power, a centralized organization of force, an organization of violence, both to crush the resistance of the exploiters and to lead the enormous mass of the population - the peasants, the petty bourgeoisie, and semi-proletarians - in the work of organizing a socialist economy."
The need for violence was essential for the revolution to succeed, dating back to Marx and of course, intepreted by Lenin in this case, was (and still is sometimes) a key concept among Communists.
(A slight digression, the Marxist, and ultimately the Marxist-Leninist 'taste' for violence, was justified by the last paragraph of the Communist Manifesto:
'The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their aims can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of the existing social conditions'
Regarding the 'state power, a centralized organization of force, an organization of violence...', we return to Lenin's Cheka as well as Gosplan. If this is the only aspect of the Leninist agaenda, then Stalin certainly carried out the violence 'for the greater good'. For example, Stalin's liquidation of the so-called 'Kulaks' was not just for Stalin's own power, but also for the interest of the Party as well as for 'investment' into the Five Year Plans, by increasing the food rations of urban workers as well as to attract foreign imports. How is this related to Lenin's ideals? Lenin wanted a centralised state, as this blog article about Stalin stated:
'The Bolsheviks believed in organizing the party in a strongly centralized hierarchy that sought to overthrow the Tsar and achieve power'
Furthermore, the same article quoted that:
'In contrasting the social, economic, and political policies of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, it can be seen that Lenin and Stalin’s policies were alike in many ways, although Stalin’s were far harsher.'
That was exactly what Stalin did during the Five Year Plans, not just to enforce the plan but also as a mean of control and 'guidance'.
The failed collectivisation campaign was Stalin's idealistic attempt to increase food production, as the Soviet Union's food production never exceeded that of 1913 (you said that it was exclusively the Stalinist era, but Stephen Lovell's Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction stated that Soviet food production never reached the 1913 level). The BBC Bitesize revision note for GCSE History, which covers the topic of collectivisation, stated:
'In 1927, Stalin declared that the way forward was for people in each village to voluntarily unite their farms into one collective farm. This kolkhoz [Kolkhoz: A collective farm. ] would be able to afford machinery, be more efficient, and be able to create a surplus to send to the towns.'
Lenin also believed in, rather ironically, that workers will somehow unite to fulfill the Communist dream by cooperating with the plan, yet at the same time state coercion is needed. Returning to the topic of collectivisation linked the the idea of statism, Stalin followed Lenin's instruction to try to 'industrialise' Russia, to attempt to increase food production etc. The failure of Stalin to achieve these goals does not mean that he has failed to follow Lenin's ideas and his 'methods' for achieving Communism- afterall, I must reiterate that Gosplan was the brainchild of Lenin that became the trademark 'brand' of Stalinist progress and Stalinist terror. Also, repression of opponents, which Communists today always attribute to Stalinist abberation, this is one FAQ on the Communist Party of Britain's website:
'The crimes committed during the Stalin period cannot be ignored. But the first attempts to build a socialist society took place in a semi-feudal society facing the hostile forces of imperialism. A bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule became entrenched. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working class and popular democracy. In the late 1930s in particular, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred as large numbers of innocent people were imprisoned and executed. Lessons have to be learnt from both the achievements and the failures of this period. '
This is nothing short of a delusion. As we have discussed earlier, that the system of bureaucracy, Gosplan's commanding authority were all Lenin's works which Stalin had continued as part of his deluded campaign to build Communism, just as Lenin had wished. The 'socialist democracy and law' which he 'violated' were in fact vague laws which Stalin had made, were commonplace in Lenin's Russia in the form of 'counterrevolution' or 'enemies of the revolution', where more than 70% of the executions carried out was for the above mentioned 'crimes' (Ben Walsh, AQA GCSE History).
I must address the argument that 'these are not Lenin's ideals, but his and Stalin's practice'. One must realise that Lenin's goals can only be realised by such brutal practice, and like I said earlier, Lenin demanded such brutal measures to be carried out in order to safeguard the revolution. Away from the socialist perspective, Friedrich Hayek also noted similar patterns in the development of this trend (including the Russian case) in his book, the Road to Serfdom. Similarly, Stalin used the same justifications for his crimes.
Furthermore, Lenin once said 'all power to the Soviets'. Perhaps one should understand the context of the argument- Lenin believed that democracy is the rule by what he called 'revolutionary democrats' on behalf of the majority of the people. source: https://www.marxists.org... can see how Stalin intepreted, or at the very least misintepreted that as a sign that the party should use repression, terror and control in order to achieve Communism. In other words, Stalin and Lenin's justification for the practice of their ideals are both essentially the same, 'the end justifies the means'. Moreover, both their 'democracies' are very similar- it will not be considered democratic by western standards, and that they claim that they have legitimacy to do anything because the party and the Communist ideal demand it. One phrase to sum up both Leninist and Stalinist 'democracy' would be 'democratic centralism'- in other words, power without limit repackaged as democracy.
Also, Stalin's 'peace' would still be considered to be 'peace' by Lenin's standard. Stalin published an article entitled 'The People Do Not Want War' in 1946, as well as being nominated for the Nobel Peace Price, source: http://www.nobelprize.org...;. As perverted as it seems, although Stalin was not considered to be a peaceful person, he at least tried to defend to Soviet Union and coexist with the West. The so-called 'war' Stalin declared is a low-redefinition of the meanin of the word 'war' to broaden the subjects that could be counted as war. Stalin's uneasy relationship with the west is comparable with Lenin's tension with the capitalist neighbours of the USSR, whereas the Korean war is analogous to Lenin's intervention in the Communist revolution in Mongolia in 1922.
It is my judgement to say that although Lenin and Stalin seemed very different, largely due to Western wishful thinking as well as a mountain of Communist defense and Soviet propaganda. The similarities are not just superficial- the practice of the main tenets of the Leninist idea- central planning, top-down bureaucracy, democratic centralism, 'revolutionary justice' (i.e. terror) in the name of the Communist cause were continued, advocated if not enhanced by Stalinism. I might add that the April Theses, much like Stalin's Constitution of 1936, were essentially Communist window-dressing designed to give the sham of democratic accountability. The Soviet system, of Stalin's time and after, had always followed Lenin's ideals, which was refined by Stalinism. It was always the case of 'the end justifies the means', where the only difference is between the degree of implementation. As an ardent Communist and a faithful servant of the Party, Stalin not only believed in the final victory of the socialist revolution as Lenin had, but also in the Party's absolute legitimacy to carry out violence, all in the name of the cause. During Stalin's time, the Soviet people were expected to quote exerts from works of Marx and Lenin, then from his 'successor' Stalin. Lenin left behind a legacy of an empty dream, which Stalin expanded upon.
Thank you for your arguments and I'd like to thank the audience.
I wish my opponent good luck and please, vote pro!
Well, I still think that Stalin, as Lenin's successor, should have made a more concerted effort to actually fulfil Lenin's ideals and long term goals- stabilising the Soviet Union, bringing prosperity to her people and transforming a agricultural state into an industrial superpower to rival the USA, and by doing so showing the world that socialism was and is a viable alternative to capitalism. Stalin ruled with an iron fist and did little to extol the values of socialism to other countries, instead becoming embroiled in a propaganda war with the west. Today's "communist" China has managed to build a good relationship with the west, and earned its begrudging admiration. I believe Stalin should have aimed to have built a similar relationship with the west, so that by the time of Gorbachev the USSR might have been in the position China is in today.
Stalin was nominated for a Nobel peace prize, but this was merely an empty gesture- Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Franklin Roosevelt were also nominated for "helping to win WW2". I'm sure that the Nobel committee would be horrified that they awarded a peace prize to someone who would go on to kill 20 million people (source: http://www.ibtimes.com... ) .
Many thanks Comrade and anyone else who bothers to read all this *stuff* :P
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