Stalin was an effective leader
Debate Rounds (5)
Any questions will be answered in the comments.
My opponent may present his/her arguments in the first Round.
1. Agricultural Collectivization/Liquidation of the Kulaks
One of the primary goals of the "Five Year Plan" was to increase agricultural productivity in the Soviet Union. Lenin"s "New Economic Policy" sought to mix a state run economy with aspects of capitalism, such as private property. The result was "state capitalism", which saw steady improvement in the agricultural sector (1). Stalin did away with this new system, resulting in a catastrophic famine. Rapid collectivization led a dramatic decline in food production. The infamous Holodomor caused the deaths of 6 to 8 million soviet citizens, most of which were Ukrainian (2).
Stalin targeted a specific class of peasants referred to as the "kulaks". Kulaks were affluent (at least relative to other peasants) farmers living in the Soviet Union. The kulaks resisted Stalin"s regime, being that they had the most to lose from collectivization. Stalin declared the kulaks an enemy class in 1929 (3). The violent removal of land owners led to further agricultural disruption, especially in Ukraine, the Soviet Republic with the most fertile land.
2. The Five Year Plans
Stalin"s first Five Year Plan called for rapid industrialization, which was more or less successful. Iron, steel, coal, and oil production had doubled from 1928 to 1933 (4). However, growth began to slow down after this initial upswing. Even the impressive gains of the Soviet economy in this period didn"t meet Stalin"s expectations. Fueled by a fear of western/capitalist invasion, Stalin continued to push unrealistic quotas. Stalin claimed that the USSR would produce the highest number of industrial goods in the world by 1960, which simply never happened. The Soviet GDP never came close to that of the United States (5).
The effect of forced labor must also be considered. Many of Stalin"s great work projects were carried out by prisoners of the gulag. The influence of free labor should not be compared to normal production. In fact, Khrushchev"s reduction of the gulag system could explain part of the mediocre performance of the Russian economy shortly after Stalin"s death in 1953; Khrushchev had a similar economic policy to that of Stalin, despite engaging in "De-Stalinization".
3. Military Purges
Stalin began "the Great Purge" in 1936, which is known for the imprisonment and execution of many Soviet bureaucrats. However, he also targeted the military hierarchy. During the Great Purge alone, Stain executed three marshals and many other high ranking officers (6). Another purge, 1940-1942, led to the deaths of even more military personnel (7). Stalin"s paranoia led to a weakening of the Red Army, explaining the crushing Soviet defeats of 1941. Poor German planning and the harsh winter is what allowed the Red Army enough time to fully mobilize and retaliate at Stalingrad. In other words, luck was on Stalin"s side giving time to correct the self-created leadership problem in the army. I"d say Russia (or the entire world) should feel lucky Stalin didn"t accuse Zhukov of being a traitor.
5. http://phobos.ramapo.edu... (See table 9.1)
1) Agricultural Collectivization
My opponent summarizes the entire process, but it all boils down the fact that collectivization caused a massive famine (Holodor). While this is true, it should be noted that the population of the nation (which is often a measure of prosperity) continued increasing rapidly from 147 million in 1926 to 164 million in 1937. I will also note that "Following collectivization of agriculture and forced industrialization from 1927, a Soviet economy emerged based on large-scale production and communal agricultural work. This foundation resulted in increased growth rates, which propelled the Soviet Union to be among the industrialized powers." After the initial turbulent stages, collectivization was relatively successful.
2) The Five Year Plans
"Many of Stalin"s great work projects were carried out by prisoners of the gulag. The influence of free labor should not be compared to normal production. "
In this section, my opponent doesn't really make any points against Stalin's leadership. He only says that the GDP never reached that of the US (which is irrelevant) and Stalin's quotas were never reached. I don't see why the latter is an issue considering that there was still massive growth.
3) Military Purges
"Stalin"s paranoia led to a weakening of the Red Army, explaining the crushing Soviet defeats of 1941."
While I agree that the weaker military leadership played a role in the defeats of 1941, there were so many other factors such as surprise attack of Germans, superior German technology and dilution of Russian forces across the country that led to these defeats. The elimination of some military leaders doesn't come close to being the sole or most significant cause of the defeats.
"Poor German planning and the harsh winter is what allowed the Red Army enough time to fully mobilize and retaliate at Stalingrad. In other words, luck was on Stalin"s side giving time to correct the self-created leadership problem in the army."
While I strongly disagree with everything in this statement, it is irrelevant to the debate and we can debate it another time.
As a whole, I agree with my opponent that the purging of military personnel was a mistake on Stalin's part, the issue is not as significant as my opponent tries to make it out to be, without showing any really evidence.
I will now present my own arguments to show that Stalin managed to completely revolutionize the Soviet economy and military, making the nation a world superpower.
1) Economic growth
The Five Year Plans led to rapid industrialization of the USSR. Not only did the national income rise from 24 billion rubles in 1928 to 96 billion in 1937 (enormous increase), but industrial output increased dramatically. In this same time frame of 9 years, coal output increased from 35.4 to 128 million tons, steel production from 4 to 17.7 million tons, electricity output rose 700%. It is thought that annual economic growth rate under Stalin's rule was close to 13%, which is absolutely incredible.
2) Education and Transportation
As a result of education reforms, Stalin brought the illiteracy rate from 50%, to 20%. He also increased transportation be building many new railroads all across the country, including the Turkenstan-Siberian railway.
3) Standard of Living
Under Stalin's rule, women were given equal rights in terms of employment and education. Advancement in the field of healthcare increased the average lifespan of Russians, and most of the Russians had universal access to hospitals and medicines. The prevalence of some dreaded diseases of those times, like cholera and malaria, dropped to record low numbers.
Probably the single, most critical moment of Stalin's regime was the USSR's involvement in WW2. It should be noted that even during such a time of incredible destruction and turmoil, the USSR was able to put out increasingly large amounts of tanks, aircraft and warships which in the end led to the USSR's victory on the Eastern Front.
It seems to me pretty much indisputable that Stalin had a massive, positive impact on the USSR, turning a war-stricken mess into a world superpower.
I await my opponent's response.
1. My opponent states that population is a "measure of prosperity". This is not accurate. Yes, prosperity can lead to population growth but one is not indicative of the other. Germany is the 17th most populous country in the world, but has the 4th highest GDP (GDP being a more accurate measure of prosperity). Modern day Russia has a population almost double that of Germany's (9th most populous), but has less than half GDP (ranked 10th). If you were referring to population growth, Japan is 3rd in GDP and has a negative population growth.
Stalin did succeed in increasing agricultural output long term, but at a tremendous human cost. It's hard to say whether or not Lenin's NEP would have seen similar success, but it's a reasonable assumption. As I've stated and sourced, the NEP was successful in increasing agricultural production while it was in place. Whether or not the NEP could have seen agricultural growth equivalent to collectivization is debatable, but the NEP would not have led to nearly the same number of deaths by famine and related illnesses. If we are judging Stalin by "how much he did for the nation", the Holodomor is certainly an catastrophic blunder.
2. My comment about Stalin not meeting the production goal is meant to illustrate the early success of the Five Year Plan did not last nearly to the same degree in later plans. Stalin forced an industrial revolution, which is generally a short lived phenomenon. I understand that the statement about America's GDP was tangential. I could find any other sort of information relating to the USSR's industrial output other than GDP.
3. Yes, I agree. I should have been more careful not to overplay the role of the military purges. I still believe that it had a negative effect on the Red Army, lasting until Stalingrad. However, as you mentioned, the element of surprise and technological edge did contribute heavily to Germany's early success.
1. I have nothing more to add than what I've mentioned above regarding the Five Year Plans.
2. All good points.
3. I concede that quality of life did increase in the USSR under Stalin. However, housing conditions were abysmal. To quote my source: "It was not unusual for flat complexes to be built without electric sockets despite electricity being available."
Also, the working conditions of the Gulags were shockingly inhumane. At the height of the Gulag system under Stalin, 5 million were sent to these forced labor camps. These people ought to be considered.
4. My opponent states that Stalin's industrialization led to Soviet success during WW2. This is partially true. The USSR's industrial advancement allowed for massive production of weapons and supplies. However, even this was not enough. Lend-Lease provided the USSR alone with a staggering 20,000 armored vehicles, accounting for %20 of the total Soviet product of armored vehicles. 15,000 aircraft were also provided, %25 of Soviet produced aircraft. Whats more, the USA provided many small arms and monetary loans. Even with strides in industrial development, Soviet industry still lagged behind significantly.
My opponent disagrees with me and points out several examples of nations who do not follow the "prosperity=population" idea that I presented. I may have explained this poorly in the previous round and I apologize, but it's not the raw population, but rather the growth/decay of the population. My opponent brings up Japan as an example to counter this. By looking at the graphs in the two links below, it can be seen that drops in population often coincide with drops in GDP. It is well known that the two factors are closely related.
"Stalin did succeed in increasing agricultural output long term, but at a tremendous human cost."
But what from what I understand, even such a human cost was not large enough to cause a decline in the population. While Stalin could've been more careful in the process of collectivization, it seems that there seem to be no negative, long term effects and in the end, the agricultural revolution pays off.
2. Five Year Plans
"My comment about Stalin not meeting the production goal is meant to illustrate the early success of the Five Year Plan did not last nearly to the same degree in later plans."
The effect was still, however, enormous and positive.
"I could find any other sort of information relating to the USSR's industrial output other than GDP."
In my previous argument, I provided information about the phenomenal growth of the USSR's GDP prior to World War II as a result of the Five Year Plans. It seems that the Five Year Plans were undeniably a huge success.
3. Military Purges
Our positions are the same on this issue.
4. Standard of Living
"I concede that quality of life did increase in the USSR under Stalin."
And this is precisely my point. While the quality of life may not have matched other nations, Stalin made huge improvements, which show his effectiveness as a leader.
"Also, the working conditions of the Gulags were shockingly inhumane. At the height of the Gulag system under Stalin, 5 million were sent to these forced labor camps. These people ought to be considered."
My opponent notes "At the HEIGHT of the Gulag system...", which should be taken into account. My opponent hasn't really shown what harm the Gulag brought the nation as a whole, which is what he must show in order to really use this as a point against Stalin's effective leadership. Even if my opponent does show how this was harmful to the entire nation, I highly doubt that this harm would be significant enough to counter all of the improvements that occurred under Stalin.
5. Military industrialization
"Even with strides in industrial development, Soviet industry still lagged behind significantly."
Once again, my opponent makes comparisons to other nations. The key here is that massive improvement was made. Stalin did not worsen the situation, he significantly bettered it. As a result, I don't see how one could argue that he was a poor or ineffective leader.
I await my opponent's response.
However, the voters should consider the cost of these reforms and if Stalin could have preserved the fledgling USSR without said cost. Was the Holodomor a justified price for the eventual success of collectivization? Could the Five Year Plans have been more successful? Did Stalin's military purges weaken the Red Army during the early stages of the war?
I would like to thank my opponent for an interesting and personally thought provoking debate!
SgtHakeswill forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by U.n 8 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: In the 3rd round Con conceded that Stalin an effective leader stating "After considering all the evidence posed in this debate, it has become clear that Joseph Stalin was an effective leader for the Soviet Union". And the debate essentially ended with two rounds left. Therefore awarding more convincing argument point to Pro.
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