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Lecture 6

326 - Week 6 – Lecture 1 - Lenin, Struggle for Power, the Great Turn.docx

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McGill University
HIST 326
Katrin Bozeva

Week 6 – Lecture 1 History 326 – Russia from 1905 Lenin Cult, Struggle for Power, the Great Turn 1928-1933 N. Bukharin, Gosplan, M. Weber, Kolkhoz, Politburo, Orgburo, Edward Shils - meaning, relate it to larger historical context Stalinism = related to Stalin and his personality - how did people experience the 1930s? o terror and violence is well documented; the mechanism for negotiating Stalin on an everyday level with more subtle policies however needs more effort and a deeper understanding Stalin = hard to speak of as a concept and historical period, because the people who produced it and suffered under it, the people who lived under it have descendants whom are still divided re. the legacy of Stalinism - horrific part of the story is relatively well-known since Gorbachev initiated in the mid-1980s, a whole campaign of discrediting Stalin and his crimes o one side = millions of people who fell into the category of kulaks  targets of forceful deportation; number of Soviet national groups deported because they were expected of not being loyal  Chechens, Germans during WW2  Crimes that exported Stalinism beyond the frontiers of the Soviet Union = the Poles from 1939 onwards when S decimated the Polish Communist Party, the Katyn massacre when 20,000 Polish men and civilians were shot by the NKVD because they could provide opposition to the Soviet Union in Poland  Stalinism exported to satellite countries post-1945 = Czech Republic etc. w. show trials = easy to assume that no one liked Stalin; can be paired with Hitler?! o BUT – ever since Putin assumed power post-2000, the version of Soviet period that is taught in contemporary Russia, is a sanitised one  Huge discrepancy in which the way Soviet achievements of WW2 in which all these crimes that were committed are not a part of the story because, on the other side, Stalinism was perceived as a period of time when the Soviet state performed its biggest feat and contribution to humanity with the victory in WW2 • WW2 victory = inseparable from the victory of Stalin  New generation growing up under Putin due to the subtleties of propaganda within education that tells the youth that there were positives of Stalin and Stalinism and what the Soviet state achieved in the 1950s was built over foundations that Stalin put there for later generations to benefit What were the reasons for Stalin’s emergence as leader from the power struggle that followed Lenin’s death? - NEP = period between 1921-1927, were a period of breathing space or transitioning between the horrors of the Civil War and what was about to come during the years of mature Stalinism or building of socialism o In the 1980s, it was popular to explore the issue of alternatives to Stalinism – were there any political leaders or personal opinions and programmes that looked viable after 1924 and could have been implemented instead of S’s rapid industrialisation and the forceful collectivisation of the countryside?  Answer in 1986/7 from historians and scholars  alternative was in Nikolai Bukharin • B was one of the best education and one of the most sensitive among the Bolsheviks and Communists • Presented as an alternative to Stalinism = the staunchest supporter of the NEP post-1921: even when things were not looking so hopeful for his opinion, he remained convinced that the key to economic success and socialising the countryside was not force, speed and hurting people, but giving them economic incentives and stimulus whilst pacing the speed of industrialisation o Scholars describe B’s policy or platform as ‘gradualist’or – even better – ‘negotiated’ socialising of the state’s agriculture with open communication with the peasantry due to the importance of their food production • Two or three years later, Perestroika was dead and 1991 the USSR disintegrated = people lost interest BUT there is an interesting group of social historians – inc. Fitzpatrick – whom claimed that the propaganda state with mass organisations and process of indoctrinating the future generation of Soviets, was actually not working (novel idea at the time – early 1990s): Why? - discrepancy between the state and priorities of the population were due to letters kept in archives by school inspectors and party officials whom were seeing a gap between the ambitious state agenda of doctrination and building the character of new soviet character of men and women, and the problems of everyday lives (wages, high employment not solved by the NEP – mixed economy meant people were sacked from non-profiting enterprises) o traditional attitudes were clearly much more resistant to change than other historians would like to believe o 1920s = nuanced period  much to be learnt and re-evaluated in 1922 and 1923 = Lenin had 2 strokes and was henceforth unable to work: some of the party officials whom claim that the Testament was written by a man whom did not have his lucidity anymore - Testament = key historical documen▯Lenin towards the end of his life was turning into an individual very much separated from the Lenin of the previous decades o Why?  Because of illness  concerns on an international scale as he did not have the means to predict  had expected a major European revolution to support Russia’s socialist efforts: instead there were two incidents in Germany and Hungary where the Soviet experiment was attempted for a while but both were put down • meant Soviet Russia was left to fend for itself o in terms of diplomacy this was a huge problem = the Communists were not experienced diplomats and had no models from previous examples o this meant the SU was in isolation from 1917 until early 1922  in order to break this, the Communists had to normalise their relation with their neighbours from the early 1920s onwards • late 1921 = concluded treaties of friendship and assistance with the Baltic countries, Poland (in spite of war from 1918-1920) and Finland meaning that the territorial flank was secured o other borders were Turkey and Persia o for the time being it looked secure and peaceful  other worries = domestic: problems to do with a narrowing of the decision making structure of the Party  narrowing of the organs involved with the decision making of the Party • when reading the text of testament, Lenin does not designate any of his lieutenants as being the next heir to the chain of command o instead recommends the expansion of membership to the Central Committee which voted for major decisions (in 1924 this was about 50 members  L wanted to expand this to 100 in the hope that the animosity between Stalin and Trotsky)  Bukharin = youngest and best prepared but questions too much = ‘a doubtful Marxist’  Trotsky = s
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