Stalinist Russia


After Lenin and Bolsheviks took control of Russia, they established the USSR. Even before the new nation was settled, the USSR had to face a new problem that was unexpected. The problem was that Lenin died so early without choosing a person to take over the nation after him. The biggest supporters of Lenin were Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. Since they wanted to seize the power of USSR, none of them stood back. The Bolsheviks started to split up into Trotsky and Stalin.

Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky supported Vladmir Lenin, who was once a Russian Revolutionary. When Lenin died, Stalin and Trotsky became rivals to the control of the Communist Party in Russia. Stalin had managed to kill Trotsky in the end. Then Stalin changed the Soviet Union to a totalitarian state when he became the new dictator. Totalitarianism is when the government has total control and power over the public and private lives of people.

This video clip is one of the series in "The Simpsons". It shows basic information about ideology in Russia/USSR-

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Joseph Stalin, Vladmir Lenin, Leon Trotsky

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Trotsky was a well-educated and cultured intellectual. Similarly to Lenin, he was one of the person that disagreed with the Orthodox Marxism by claiming Trotskyism. Trotskyism emphasized that people could force a revolution before capitalism advanced. He suggested to spread communism in the capitalist countries like Germany, France, and England which supported bourgeoisies. Proletariats in those countries would be unsatisfied; if they heard about communism they would make revolutions and seize power. Trotsky thought this would benefit the USSR because it's easier to ally with the countries that are communist. This was the World Revolution Theory. He also insisted Permanent Revolution. He believed that in late-developing countries, the bourgeoisie are incapable of developing the productive forces to achieve a certain level of the capitalism. So the proletariat must seize social, economic and political power by leading an alliance with the peasants. Many Bolsheviks supported Trotsky since Stalin's theory was very different from Lenin's opinions.Trotsky

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Compared to Lenin, Stalin was rough and crude. He insisted socialism in one country, concentrating communism only in the Soviet Union. Seeing several proletarian revolutions in countries like Germany and Hungary defeated, he thought the World Revolution Theory was impossible. Stalinism was based on his ideas. He wanted to use excessive propaganda to justify every government action.
"In his lifetime, Joseph Stalin murders more of his own country than are killed in all of Russia wars come by."
"Stalin was the greatest mass murderer in history."

Stalin's name means "Man of Steel". The below video shows Stalin. video link

The First Totalitarian State

Stalin tried to make the USSR a perfect Communist state in Russia and solve the Great Depression that they faced. After World WarⅠ, the development of technology and reorganization of production made the productive capacity to rise. But compared to the productive capacity, the purchase was low. Moreover, business people tried to make more profits by reducing the worker's wages. This caused the excessive supply of the products. In agriculture, due to the machines, the farmers were able to produce products massively. The advanced capitalist countries like U.S and Great Britain used their own method based on their administration and economic structure. But underdeveloped capitalism countries such as Italy, Germany and Japan planned external invasions to get over the Great Depression. Then to increase the effectiveness of the external invasion plan, they made strong totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism was suggested by Stalin that a government takes control over public and private life. Totalitarianism included dictatorship, one party rule, a dynamic leader that represents the central government, ideology that justifies every government actions, state control over all sectors of society, dependence on modern technology and organized violence. Totalitarianism spreaded through Germany, creating Hitler and Mussolini in Italy. In Asia, Mao Zedong in China and Kim Il Sung in North Korea accepts this term.
Japan also accepts this term, after the military seizes power.

The Result of Totalitarianism

The World WarⅡ was greatly influenced by totalitarianism. As Germany, Italy, and Japan shared same ideology, they allied with each other. Later on, communists, believing in totalitarianism, China made the People's Republic of China. In North Korea, Kim Il Sung the dictator ruled the country based on totalitarianism.

Rapid Growth

The Five- Year Plan

This plan was used to reinforce the Industrial Revolution in the Soviet Union. He made this plan in order to catch up with the technologies of the European countries in ten years. He used the police force to rule the workers in metal factories. If the workers disobeyed or did something that they are not supposed to, the police would harm them, or kill them. Because of this, many families and marriages had been broken up. The workers had to ask the police if the can move elsewhere. Because of this plan, the workers were having really hard times. The people of Soviet Union faced shortages of housing, food, and clothing. The police's jobs were to monitor the workers, and to harm them if necessary. The plan was indeed successful. The rate of productions soared up twenty five percent in ten years!

"We must make good distance in ten years. Either we do it or we shall be crushed."- Joseph Stalin

Poster advertising the Five-Year Plan

video link
This video shows how the Five-Year Plan was hard on USSR Citizens.

Agricultural Revolution

This is a picture of people working in collective farms

Stalin then shifted his attention to agricultural issues. He seized over twenty five million privately owned farms, these farms now belonged to the government, these farms are known as collective farms. Many peasants were enraged by this and decided to protest against Stalin. The peasants killed their live stocks and burnt their crops. Sadly, Stalin had police on his side. Five million to ten million peasants had been murdered by the the authorities. And a million more were were sent to Siberia.
The higher ranked peasants known as kulaks, were more enraged than the peasants. As a result, these people were executed.
Due to Stalin's plan, 90% of all peasants were living on collective farms. This plan was another success.

Police Terror

Many dictators like Stalin that had total control usually used the police as the weapon to bring out the absolute obedience in the citizens and to annihilate the opposing parties. Stalin had the secret police working for him, these police included even the children. Stalin's police had tanks and armored vehicles so riots couldn't do anything about them. These police went deep into people's personal life- they read other people's mails, tracked phone calls, and the kids informed the government about what their parents say about the authority. If the people were caught as "traitors," they were executed by the police. So as result, millions of people lost their lives.
In 1917, Stalin became even more powerful, he went against the other members of the Communist Party. He killed anyone that he felt threatened from. He even killed thousands of members of the old Bolsheviks by putting them on a trial and saying that they deserve to be beheaded for "crimes against the Soviet State". This is known as the Great Purge.
At this time, even the smallest "crime" would get one jailed, for example, a zoo keeper was arrested due to his monkeys having an infectious disease. And also the police themselves had disadvantages in this scene. If they fail to catch "criminals," their family including themselves will get arrested.

When the Great Purge's existence perished in 1939, Stalin was on top of the Soviet government and the Communist Party. It is estimated that nearly eight to thirteen million people's lives ended.

Indoctrination and propaganda

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The government gave instructions on what to believe, in this case, it would be communism. So the Soviet Union taught the workers and the peasants about why communism would be beneficial for the community. According to the teachings, sacrificing, hard working and sharing was essential to the community.
The authority also used the propaganda- an information that is biased or incomplete, so it is unreliable. Stalin used this to give information on how the things are going. Soviet newspapers and radio broadcasts celebrates the achievements of the country's success as a communist country. Also art was another weapon of choice.
"Literature, the cinema, the arts are levers in the hands of proletariat which must be used to show the masses positive model of initiative and heroic labor"
Art was used to show the glorious life under communism was. So this is used to make people think communism was the best thing in the world.

Picture of a poster advertising communism


Stalin didn't tolerate any media that threatened his power or disobedience towards communism and totalitarianism. He controlled all medias like newspapers, motion pictures, radio, and others... Many students and professor who wrote something against the concept of communism or totalitarianism, lost their jobs or faced imprisonment.

Banning Religious Practices

The government wanted to stop the religious studies and replace it with communism studies instead. They wanted a Godless community. Their main target was the Russian Orthodox church.

Women in the Soviet Union

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Picture of groups of Soviet women Source

Thanks to the Bolshevik Revolution that occured in 1917, women became equal to men. When Stalin's Five-Year Plan commensed, women had no choice but to work, along with men doing "men's" work. During their labor, they learned the new technologies. They did what men did. Millions of women worked in factories and such, and built things like roads and even dams. With this opportunity, women got a lot more educated. They prepared to start their own career. What women found most enchanting was medical cares. In 1950, only a quarter were male doctors, the rest were female. The women now had full-time jobs. After work, they had to come home and be the wife and mother again. So they were very tired, and the standard for regular women rose. Women had to be a good citizen and to teach their children to be loyal too. Overall, everything improved. Women's role increased a lot, and people were getting more educated than ever before with new machines and technology. But the only downside was that these all needed time and sacrifice.

Stalin's Educational System

All the education in Soviet State was now controlled by the authorities. This reign ranges from kindergarten to college. If the professors or teachers taught anything against communism or Stalin, they would be imprisoned. So the teachers teaching science and history were in the most danger. The authorities wanted highly educated people only. So if one is not very educated, one must have a poor job. "If a person does not want to become a collective farmer or a cleaning woman, the only means you have to get something is through education."

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Students learning through Stalin's educational system //Source//

Gihoon & Wonseok