The Progression from Leninism to Stalinism

Topics: Marxism, Communism, Vladimir Lenin Pages: 5 (1740 words) Published: September 30, 2013
The Progression from Leninism to Stalinism
The Progression from Leninism to Stalinism

The question of whether or not Stalinism was a logical continuation of Leninism is a difficult one. Stalinism did take significantly more drastic measures than Leninism did. There were differences in policy. But in spite of these, Stalinism still found its basis in Leninism. Even Trotsky, a friend of Lenin and a staunch opponent of Stalin, grudgingly admits that "Stalinism did issue from Bolshevism" (Trotsky). Stalin's policy of socialism in one country, his use of terror to eliminate opposition, and his suppression of democracy and the soviets were all characteristics of Lenin well before they were characteristic of Stalin. Although some of Stalin's policies were different from those of Lenin, what difference Stalinism did show from Leninism were either policies which Lenin had called for but never put into action, or logical continuations of Lenin's original principles, but modified to suit the demands of the time. One of Stalin's main focuses was on the concept of "socialism in one country" - that is, the focus on the betterment exclusively of his own country rather than on the international communist revolution. "Socialism in one country" began with Lenin. In 1918 Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest-Livtosk, which pulled Russia out of WW1 and surrendered much of the Ukraine to Austria-Hungarian forces ("How Lenin Led to Stalin"). At this time, there was a revolutionary movement in the Ukraine composed of peasants and workers known as the Makhnovist movement. This group needed only the support of Lenin and Russia to launch their own socialist revolution. However, they were not given this support ("How Lenin Led to Stalin"). Clearly, Lenin's focus was on the well being of Russia rather than the International Communist Movement. He was focused on Socialism in One Country. Stalin would later echo Lenin's actions, compromising his political ideals for the sake of peace, when Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler on August 23, 1939. In addition to a focus on socialism only within his own country, Stalin also focused on a concentration of governmental control of industry and agriculture. This policy, originated by Lenin under the moniker of state capitalism, was a clearly established goal of Leninism well before Stalin implemented it. Lenin said that "Socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people" ("How Lenin Led to Stalin"). It is clear that his idea of socialism was one of governmental economic control. Moreover, Lenin fully intended for this plan to be implemented. He said that "If we introduced state capitalism in approximately 6 months' time we would achieve a great success" ("How Lenin Led to Stalin"). As the government gained more and more control over the economy, Lenin felt it necessary to defend his actions. He published an article in April of 1918 in which he stated that "Unquestioning submission to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success of the labor process...the revolution demands, in the interests of socialism, that the masses unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of the labor process" ("How Lenin Led to Stalin"). In addition to demonstrating the Leninist ideal of state capitalism, it also shows that Lenin viewed absolute governmental authority as necessary, a policy that would be further instituted during the totalitarian rule of Stalin. One aspect of Lenin's state capitalism was the forced collectivization of agriculture. In article six of his "April Theses," Lenin called for "Nationalization of all lands in the country, and management of such lands by local Soviets of Agricultural Laborers' and Peasants' Deputies" (Russian History 1905-30"). In 1929, when Stalin forced collectivization onto the agricultural workers, he was simply putting Lenin's concepts into action. Lenin had had the original idea, and had felt it was a necessary...

Bibliography: "How Lenin Led to Stalin." Online. Available
"Russian History 1905-30." Online. Available
Trotsky, Leon. "Stalinism and Bolshevism." Online. Available
Wood, Alan. Stalin and Stalinism. London: Routledge,
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