Totalitarianism: STALIN’S RUSSIAross Johnson
It was here that she wrote her fascinating book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, in which she attempted to understand and come to terms with the horrors of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Arendt’s thought-provoking work on totalitarianism stimulated a wide ranging debate on the factors that led to the Nazi and Stalinist regimes, and earned. Apr 17, 2020 The rise of totalitarianism could have been stopped if, the Treaty of Versailles was not as severe, the League of Nations was more effective, and had their not been an economic downfall. The Treaty of Versailles had some harsh regulations. Lenin (who was exiled to Switzerland) had to get back to Russia but wasn't sure how to without running into Eastern Front (where Russia was fighting Germans), so Lenin tells Germany that he'll start Russian Revolution, then pull Russia out of WW1, Germany helps him because if Russia pulls out then it can fight a one front war and get ready for approaching U.S. Totalitarianism = suppressed on one hand, demonstrated mad chaos on the other. Lenin created the apparatus of a totalitarian state that Stalin inherited - the nation was already on it's way to totalitarianism under Lenin. This is what I have so far. Please feel free to add or ask questions.James Bridgman.
Stalin Becomes Dictator, From 1922 to 1927, Stalin began his ruthless climb to the head of the government. In 1922, as general secretary of the Communist Party, he worked behind the scenes . He shrewdly moved his followers into strategic government offices. By 1924, he had placed many of his supporters in key positions. By 1928, Stalin was in total command of the Communist Party. Trotsky, forced into exile in 1929, was no longer a threat. Stalin now stood poised to wield absolute power as dictator.
Stalin Builds A Totalitarian State, The term totalitarianism describes a government that takes total, centralized state control over every aspect of public and private life. Stalin appears to provide a sense of security and to give a direction for the future. Totalitarianism challenges the highest values of western democracies. By 1928 Stalin began taking great strides to build a totalitarianism state. He had achieved personal power and was ready to begin overhauling the economy.
Stalin Seizes Control of the Economy, Stalin's economic policies involved total state control. His plans called for a command economy--a system in which the government made all economic decisions. Political leaders identify the country's economic needs and determine how to fulfill them. To modernize the Soviet state, Stalin ushered in revolutions in industry and agriculture.
An Industrial Revolution, In 1928, Stalin outlined the first of several Five Year Plans for the development of the Soviet Union's economy. The government would take drastic steps to promote rapid industrial growth and strengthen national defense. The plans set impossibly high quotas to increase the output of raw materials. As a result people faced severe shortages of housing, food, clothing, and other necessary goods. The government controlled every aspect of the worker's life. Stalin's methods produced fantastic economic results. Most of the targets of the plans fell short, but made impressive gains. A second plan, launched in 1933 proved equally successful.
Agricultural Revolution, Stalin's agricultural revolution was successful and far more brutal than his industrial revolution. In 1928, the government seized over 25 million privately owned farms in the USSR. They combined the farms into large government owned farms. Hundreds of families worked on these farms, producing food for the state. Peasants resisted fiercely. Many killed livestock and destroyed crops in protest. Stalin used terror and violence to force peasants to work on collective farms. Between 5 and 10 million peasants died as a direct result of Stalin's agricultural revolution. Resistance was especially strong among kulaks, a class of wealthy peasants. The soviet government decided to eliminate them. Thousands were executed or sent to work camps. By 1938, more than 90 percent of all peasants lived on collective farms. That year the country produced almost twice the wheat than it had in 1928.
Police Terror, dictators of totalitarian states use terror and violence to force obedience and crush opposition. Stalin's secret police use tanks and armored cars to stop riots. Secret police arrested and executed millions of traitors. In 1934, Stalin turned against members of the communist party by launching the Great Purge. It was directed at eliminating anyone who threatened his power. The state had the authority to punish even the most minor acts. When the Great Purge ended in 1929, Stalin had gained total control of the Soviet government and the Communist Party.
Indoctrination and Propaganda, Totalitarian states rely on indoctrination--instruction in the government's beliefs--to mold people's minds. Totalitarian states also spread propaganda --biased or incomplete information used to sway people to accept certain beliefs or actions. Soviet newspapers and radio broadcasts glorified the achievements of communism, Stalin, and his economic programs.In 1930, an editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Pravda explained the purpose of art: 'Literature, the cinema, the arts are levers in the hands of the proletariat which must be used to show the masses positive models of initiative and heroic labor.' Socialist realism was an artistic style that praised Soviet life and Communist values.
Censorship, Many Soviet writers, composers, and other artists also fell victim to official censorship. Stalin would not tolerate individual creativity that threatened the conformity and obedience required of citizens in a totalitarian state. The government also controlled all newspapers, motion pictures, radio, and other sources of information.
Religious Persecution, Communists aimed to replace religious teachings with the ideals of communism. Under Stalin, the government and the League of the Militant Godless, an officially sponsored group of atheists, spread propaganda attacking religion. Yet many people in the Soviet Union still clung to their faiths. The police destroyed magnificent churches and synagogues; and many religious leaders were killed or sent to labor camps.
Comparing Revolutions, In its immediate and long-term effects, the Russian Revolution was more like the French Revolution than the American Revolution. The American Revolution expanded English political ideas into a constitutional government that built on many existing structures. In contrast, both the French and Russian revolutions attempted to destroy existing social and political structures. Mcculloch mac 110 chainsaw parts. France eventually became a constitutional monarchy, but the Russian Revolution established a totalitarian state that lasted for decades.
Soviet Women, With the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, women won equal rights. Given new educational opportunities, women prepared for careers in engineering and science. Medicine, in particular, attracted many women. By 1950, they made up 75 percent of Soviet doctors. Soviet women paid a heavy price for their rising status in society. Besides their full-time jobs, they were responsible for housework and child care. Soviet women were expected to provide the state with future generations of loyal, obedient citizens.
Education, Under Stalin, the government controlled all education--from nursery schools through the universities. Schoolchildren learned the virtues of the Communist Party. College professors and students who questioned the Communist Party's interpretations of history or science risked losing their jobs or faced imprisonment. Stalin's economic plans created a high demand for many skilled workers. By the mid-1930's, Stalin had forcibly transformed the Soviet Union into a totalitarian regime and an industrial and political power. He stood unopposed as dictator and maintained his authority over the Communist Party. His network of laws and regulations guided every aspect of individual behavior.
Terms and Names
Joseph Stalin- Russian leader who succeeded Lenin as head of the Communist Party and created a totalitarian state by purging all opposition (1879-1953)
Totalitarianism- a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state
Command Economy- an economy in which production, investment, prices, and incomes are determined centrally by a government
Collective Farm- a jointly operated amalgamation of several small farms, especially one owned by the government
Kulak- a peasant in Russia wealthy enough to own a farm and hire labor. Emerging after the emancipation of serfs in the 19th century, the kulaks resisted Stalin's forced collectivization, but millions were arrested, exiled, or killed
Great Purge- a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938.
Socialist Realism- a style of realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in that country as well as in other socialist countries
'A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.' -Stalin
'It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.' -Stalin
'Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.' -Stalin
1917- Women gain equal rights
1928- Stalin gains total control of the communist party
1928- Five Year Plans
1934- Great Purge
1938- 90% of peasants worked on collective farms
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When we look at ourselves in Australia, it is easy to complain and compare the things we may or may not have. Our system of democracy allows free speech, fair elections and politicians, that if we do not like, are replaced for ones we prefer. Yet, for us to have got to this stage, we have been part of a democratic process that started with the Federation of Australia in 1901. This process has evolved as times change, but ultimately, the freedoms we enjoy have been with us for over a century. This was not the case though for the citizens of Russia. A country torn apart during the same period by civil war, world wars, famine, revolution, cold war sanctions and life under the rule of a man many declare the epitome of totalitarianism, Joseph Stalin. This essay will look at just how totalitarian Stalin’s Russia was. This will be done by researching the way Stalin used the tools available to him to reign over the population and leave a huge death toll in his wake. I will not be comparing Stalin’s regime to that of other totalitarian leaders, although they are some noted, but with a definition of what totalitarianism is.
Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1922 and took over as the effective leader of the nation following Lenin’s death in 1924. He remained in control of the USSR until his death in 1953. His reign as leader was marked by the industrialisation of the nation, collectivisation of the agrarian sector and the purge of elements of society deemed a threat to the communist rule. These factors indicate that Stalin’s leadership was that of a totalitarian dictator. But how totalitarian was he? As a discourse, totalitarianism has been the subject of numerous books and articles . However, there are also differing definitions for the term. For this essay, I will be using the six traits of totalitarian dictatorship as outlined in Gleason and Pavlova to look at how totalitarian Stalin’s leadership , they are;
1. An official ideology
2. A single party led by one man
3. Terroristic police and the terror control as a method of control
4. Control of the mass media
5. Control of the armed forces
6. A centralised bureaucratic management of the economy
Totalitarianism evolved in the late 1930’s and 1940’s as a theory of explaining how dictatorships such as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin emerged . These leaders were enabled using technology that was emerging in the early twentieth century against enemies of democracy and who had expansionist idylls . Tucker (1965), describes how totalitarian regimes create mass movements and use propaganda to indoctrinate ideology . Arendt (1951) further differentiates between masses and classes, stating that these regimes need the weight of numbers to succeed . In Russia, totalitarianism was used as a way of rejecting the past and the stigma that the country had been backward and needed to move to rapid industrialisation . Although some of the transformation of Russia was started under Lenin’s rule and there are elements that appear to be from the totalitarian playbook, Lenin’s leadership and the Bolshevik movement are differentiated from Stalin. Lenin’s leadership is seen as being more of a revolutionary dictatorship . The use of terror, systematic terror, in totalitarian regimes is a key underlying factor that distinguishes them from other regime types . Looking at each of the six traits of totalitarianism as listed above, I will break these down and determine how totalitarian Stalin’s rule was.
• An Official Ideology
Stalin took over from Lenin in what was a society that had adopted a communist ideology following a revolution and a civil war. Leninism was a way of enabling the masses to turn against the former Tsarist leaders and refute imperialism as a method of government to one of proletariat rule. Stalinism, as an ideology, can be used to explain the way the Soviet state operated under Stalin . The Bolsheviks had promised the masses that they would be better of under communism. Cult like behaviour was at the heart of the Bolshevik ideology. The promise to deliver the population to the promise land was a common theme throughout the early writings of communist leaders . Stalin perpetuated this notion with his use of five-year plans to transform the country and the lives of the people. Still at the core of this behaviour was the communist’s ideology of Marx and Lenin and the belief that capitalism will succumb to proletarian revolution . This required indoctrination of all levels of society to ongoing education using public meetings, the arts, schooling and society at large . These even included the types of housing that were used as a way in assisting workers to be efficient whilst still being held to the ideology of the state . There is little doubt that an official ideology existed under Stalin. It is the depth at which it becomes all pervasive in the lives of the citizens that determines how totalitarian it is.
• A Single Party Led by One Man
This is a given. Stalin led the Communist Party for three decades. The question is how did he manage to do this? Stalin had already seen off opposition to his taking over the role of General Secretary in the final years of Lenin’s life . The years up until 1934 were marked with various levels of disputes at the highest levels of the Communist Party but it was the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December that started a series of show trials and the purging of the party, military and any others deemed enemies of the state . His leadership of the Communist Party allowed him to project his will on to all facets of life for the Soviet citizens. By eliminating the old Bolsheviks, Stalin was able to replace them with a new breed of communists, ones that hade grown up as part of the system . He also ordered the destruction of former opposition and any of their supporters. The NKVD operational order 00447, extended the purge to include those with criminal records, former well-off farmers (Kulaks) and others deemed harmful to the party . Tucker (1965) describes the “absolute and unsurpassed power in the hands of a single man” as a key to moving the state in to action The ‘Man of Steel’ was living up to his chosen name. His priorities were to strengthen his own power and develop a defence industry to further expand his ideology outwards from Russia.
A further element to Stalin’s control over the nation and how it was achieved, has included particular character traits. Tucker (1965) states that there is factual evidence to suggest Stalin suffered from paranoia and that this condition influenced his decision making . Edele (2011) goes further by calling Stalin a “callous leader with paranoid tendencies,” then add that he was treacherous, devious, vindictive and manipulative .
• Terroristic police and the terror control as a method of control
Terror was a critical tool for Stalin. The Soviet secret and regular police numbers grew from 87,000 in 1930 to 213,439 in 1940 . The secret police went through various name changes, Cheka, GPU, OGPU, MVD, NKVD and KGB during the Stalin years . The size of the police and the intelligence gathering they used resulted in the population being virtually powerless as so much of their lives were under scrutiny . Russia’s secret police would go on to become Stalin’s key to maintaining his power, this was particularly apparent during 1937-1938 . The purge and the resultant terror are part of a totalitarian system as it helps to prevent formation of any power being developed within the system by individuals or groups . An internal passport system was established in 1932 to keep citizens in their existing jobs and from moving around the country as means to dissuade the mobility of workers . All the above measures ensured that Stalin ruled over society based on his ideology and the use of terror as a way of controlling the country. Tucker (1965) argued that this use of permanent terror was the very essence of totalitarianism .
• Control of the mass media
The use of the mass media to further augment the totalitarian regime is also a key trait. Newspapers were employed to highlight how society was becoming more cultured. Simple tasks such as personal hygiene was reported to demonstrate the population needed to move from their previous backwardness to one of industrious . Stalin controlled, through his bureaucracies, exactly what and how things could be written or portrayed. The term “speaking Bolshevik” relates to the approved language that all aspects of society were to adhere to . The arts and mass culture adopted an optimistic view of society within Russia. Socialist realism was declared the official style in 1934 and resulted in the representation of reality as what it was supposed to be, not as it was . Stalin’s statement, “life has become better, comrades; life has become more cheerful,” was used extensively in the 1930’s in the press, on placard and quoted in speeches .
• Control of the armed forces
Stalin was the supreme commander of the state and therefore controlled the armed forces. To demonstrate this, in June 1937 he had eight of the most senior officers arrested for espionage and treason . This signalled the beginning of the purge of the military that would ultimately result in 34,000 military officers being dismissed in the period 1937-1938 . Although some were reinstated in 1940, it is believed that the loss of experience within the senior ranks of the military compounded Russian losses during World War 2. Hitler reneged on his non-aggression pact with Stalin and launched operation Barbarossa and invaded Russia. Stalin’s actions left the army in a state of paralysis as the German Army rolled through the country . This total control of the military that Stalin exercised demonstrated that nobody was safe from the terror and purges that were going on throughout the country. His desire to establish a strong military through industrialisation as a way of way of demonstrating the new Soviet might to the world was damaged by his actions towards the officers that run it.
• A centralised bureaucratic management of the economy
Stalin inherited a bureaucratic juggernaut when he took over the leadership of Russia that was staffed by 2.4 million officials at the end of the Civil War . Compared the number of working class that was being governed, it was more than double . From 1922 to the 1930’s, Stalin continued to grow the numbers of police and other enforcers of the party rule and by 1934 they came under control of the Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) along with the border guards, foreign intelligence and the fire departments . The Great Terror was a way for Stalin to centralise more of the government functions and further adding to the nations bureaucracy. The stability of the bureaucracy in Russia allowed Stalin to control it at his will as he dominated the Politburo which ultimately controlled the bureaucrats . Stalin’s Five-Year Plans also required a vast amount of bureaucracy to make sure the development projects and workers required could be managed effectively to achieve his goals. Tucker (1965), discusses how a totalitarian state takes the process of bureaucratisation to the extreme and that a totalitarian state is no more than a bureaucratic monster .
Stalin’s rule was bookended by disparaging comments from both Lenin and Khrushchev. Lenin was concerned that Stalin had gained huge power and how he would use it. In one of his last letters to the Party, Lenin proposed that Stalin should be removed form his position as General Secretary . Khrushchev repudiated the ‘cult of personality’ that surrounded Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. He described Stalin as using the communist ideals as a way of cultivating his personality cult . Unfortunately for the citizens of the USSR, Stalin was allowed to rule for nearly three decades that resulted in a death toll that still has not been precisely ascertained. The large number of arrest’s, convictions, labour camp inmates and executions make a final figure of victims during the great purge as high as seven million . Add to this the possible number that died during the famines and the number jumps to a conservative fifteen million . The losses in military and civilian lives during the Second World War further increase the death toll by around twenty-three million .
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By examining the six traits that are present within a totalitarian regime, it has been possible to see how these were taken to extreme measures and demonstrate how totalitarian Stalin was. As has been shown, Stalin’s regime not only had all six traits and is therefore easy to classify as totalitarian, however, in all instances he took each trait to the most extreme level to suit his ambitions of total control. It is obvious that that he could not rule on his own and his manipulation of the state bureaucracies and military using fear and terror allowed him to stay in power. He consistently replaced those he felt were class enemies with new sycophantic young Soviets that worshipped his personality and status. This image of Stalin was replicated in the mass media and using propaganda. The final death toll because of Stalin’s policies may never be known, however, the sheer weight of numbers suggest just how totalitarian Stalin Russia was.
Rise Totalitarianism Russian Revolution Flashcards And Study ..
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