Paralysed since 1922 by a series of strokes, Lenin died in January 1924. In his honour Petrograd was renamed to Leningrad and he came to a god-like status within Russia.
The years between 1924-29 was in much debate by whom should take control and further the revolution that Lenin began. The direction in which the new leader would be established was in concern, as Lenin did not chose any legitimate heir.
The split between the leaders was due to the NEP policy, under the end of Lenin’s reign it started to produce results so it did have support yet other members were against it as it seemed to be a capitalist policy. To ensure the success of communism the NEP policy was agreed it would only be temporary yet it was not agreed when it should end. This spilt between members would be the result of a long debate on who should continue the Bolshevik party.
Rise of Stalin
From the collective leadership immediately taking after Lenin’s death, Stalin would emerge as the dominant leader that would take Russia into a new form of revolution known as Centralisation. This by the party was seen as unlucky as it was Trotsky who was seen as the emerging leader and no.2 of Lenin yet this would not be the result.
A significant theory of the victory that Stalin won could be showed by the difference in character that Trotsky and Stalin possessed. Stalin’s background was that he came from a peasant family from Georgia. In his brief education instead of religion he was taught the ideas of socialism and hatred of classes. The very meaning of his name could show ideas of his personality; ‘Stalin’ or ‘man of steel’ would portray his character very accurately. His Bolshevik activity was his main involvement of the Bolshevik newspaper, the Pravda. Stalin however, was not a great speaker as Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler or Mussolini could show yet his excellent charisma came from his actions; determined, ambitious, all famous characterists of Stalin. However, in comparison to Trotsky, his attitude and personality was much different. Trotsky was known for his intellect and excellent strategy that was used when he was commissar for war during the civil war, this was positive personality still possessed some negative points in him, his intellect made him arrogant and made him feel he would easily become the new leader of Russia. Trotsky was once a Menshevik until 1917 and this could be seen as lack of commitment in the party and not to be trusted fully.
Stalin needed to strengthen his support within the party itself, to do so he wanted to increase the members of the party by launching the ‘Lenin Enrolment’, which brought many uneducated proletarians to the group yet it was Stalin that would take control of the enrolment and supervise them, meaning he could influence them. This new Enrolment policy brought 500,000 new members to the party. It was soon seen by member this group was for the privileged and so brought much loyalty to Stalin.
Lenin’s funeral was seen as a tactical advantage for Stalin. This showed the skills of Stalin and the disadvantages of Trotsky. Stalin gained the advantage of by delivering the oration at the funeral, making him the chief mourner. This showed he was a true friend of Lenin and had the leadership skills to become the new premier of Russia; Stalin made his full intention to continue the work of Lenin in his speech. In contrast Trotsky did not even turn up for the funeral. His reasons were poor and gave huge doubt on the Trotsky0Lenin relationship to the public.
Another blunder that helped Stalin to gain the advantage over Trotsky was the failure of reading out the last testament that pictured Stalin as been negative for the job and the other leaders too, so it was decided by many leaders that it would not be read out.
Trotsky came very unpopular in the party has he criticised the party for the growing beaurocracy and said that the spirit of the revolution was been lost. This attack affected the members as they felt they could lose power if he gained control so he created many enemies. This resulted in the Triumvirate of Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev.
Trotsky grew further arrogant and made no attempt to gain support and he slowly slipped from the favourite heir. By 1926, Stalin had gained enough power to get rid of Trotsky for good. His manipulation and skilful personality managed to isolate Trotsky that great, that by 1929, Trotsky was no longer in the party or even the country as he was exiled from Stalin’s orders.
Divisions over the revolution
After the defeat of Trotsky, there were deep divisions among the party in its politics, either from the right or left of the party. Stalin managed to show how he could out-manoeuvre and skilfully adapt to this problem by not conducting on set policies and by changing giving his support to other people.
All leaders totally agreed on that the soviet union should progress into a strong socialised country by developing the agriculture and industry yet it would be how this would be maintained and how fast it should take place, relating on two main issues: NEP and ‘Permanent Revolution’.
The future of NEP was over if it should stay short term and how long that would be for. Lenin suggested that it would only last until the economy was back to 1913 levels and it was helping winning support from the peasants. The left saw that NEP was a capitalist idea and that it should be stopped immediately such as Trotsky who still believed in world revolution. The right however believed that NEP was a legitimate policy and that it should be carried through dynamically.
The debate opened and the left leaders that were Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev were formed into the ‘United opposition’ in 1926. The right was lead by Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky argued the good in the NEP and gaining the support from the workers and peasants. Where did Stalin stand in this debate? Stalin’s decision to stay out of the debate showed he might still give support to his old ally Bukharin. Another huge debate was on the work of Trotsky in believing in Permanent Revolution that would try to spread communism around the world to help gain support to the soviet union, that was further lead by the left. However, the right decided on the idea of ‘Socialism in one country’ that viewed internal control was more important.
The defeat of the Left
The defeat of the left was not a difficult task as internal affairs proved the defeat of the left. Trotsky had bad relations between Zineviev and Kamenev and this caused them to help each other organise support and this caused the group to dissolve and tried to make fractionism. Stalin used his power to prevent them from making speeches and eventually by 1926; they were not allowed to speak about political views.
The defeat of the right
The defeat if the left caused a heated rivalry between the powers that was left to take power. Stalin announced his new five-year plan that would brace Russia into a huge industrial recovery. In 1928, and the defeat of the left, caused the new right opposition party to debate on the future of industry.
However, Stalin in this debate seemed to disagree with the policy, as it did not focus on the socialism in one country. After the defeat of the left he used the ideas of abandoning NEP and start a new economic policy. This now annoyed Bukharin and was finally removed by the strong supporters of Stalin within the party. Stalin’s strong power block now managed to remove Rykov and Tomsky by party support and ended any threat to the leadership of the soviet union.