Archives for category: The Rise of Stalin

In 1927-28, the party was once again divided into how industrialization was to take place.

The division was on how to procure more food for the growth of industrial and urban workers.

Stalin wanted to seize the grain by force (the First Five-Year Plan), the Right Opposition led by Bukharin advocated persuasion instead of force.

This was a threat to Stalin, and he used his power and influence in order to outvote the Right over policy decisions.

All opposition was removed from the Politburo and Stalin was the winner.


Trotsky continues to dig his grave by launching attacks on the party bureaucracy.  His criticism was none too popular with the party members and he was isolated by Stalin, who sided with Zinoviev and Kamanev.

One weapon that Stalin was able to use was Lenin’s rule against factionalism, the forming of factions within the party.  He was able to use this whenever disputes over ideology and ideas surfaced.  This limited Trotsky’s ability to organize his supporters.

In 1926, Trotsky joined forces with Zinoviev and Kamanev to form the United Opposition.

They were primarily concerned with NEP, which in their eyes, had to go because of its capitalist elements.

However, opposing them was the Right Opposition, which called for an intensification of NEP.

Trotsky was also concerned with the policy of “Permanent Revolution”.

Permanent Revolution was the need to spread the revolution worldwide, in order to guarantee the success of the Bolshevik Revolution

Stalin opposed this, with “Socialism in One Country”, which essentially says that they must perfect the revolution in Russia before anything else could be done.

The United Opposition was a wary alliance and Stalin was able to exploit their differences and outmaneuver them.

They were not allowed to talk at the Fifteenth Party Conference and from this point forward, they had to work in secret.

Accursed of factionalism, they were expelled from the Politburo.

Trotsky in particular was exiled.

Stalin enhanced his position within the Communist Party by attaching himself to the legacy of Lenin.

On Lenin’s death, Stalin was able to deliver the main oration at his funeral, while Trotsky didn’t even attend.

This was seen as Stalin being committed to continue Lenin’s work while Trotsky was disrespectful of Lenin’s achievements,

While Stalin presented himself as committed to Lenin’s policies, Trotsky completely misjudged the mood and launched attacks on Lenin’s policies.

Stalin began to build his support base long before Lenin’s death

Stalin became General Secretary in 1922, and used his powers and influence to gather information.

Above all, Stalin recognized that power laid in the Politburo.  As the party developed into various organs for administrating the state, it was the party structure that grew power, due to their increased scope of responsibilities.  At the top of this structure was the General Secretary, and Stalin.

In this position, he had access to personal information of party members, the head of the secret police reports to him regularly, and he also had the power to appoint people to party positions.

All this means Stalin could outvote and outmaneuver his opponents.

Stalin also launched the Lenin Enrollment between 1923-1925, which encouraged industrial workers to join the party.

This caused a influx of 500,000 party members.

These new members were politically naive, however, and they merely saw their enrollment as a source of benefits and employment.  Thus, they owed this all to the person who recruited them, which is Stalin.

Stalin was always careful to identity with the needs and demands of these new members.

With the death of Lenin in 1924, it seems likely that Trotsky would become the next leader of the Communist Party as he was Lenin’s right hand man.

Yet while Trotsky was a brilliant leader, he was not popular with the party due to his wealthy Jewish background and his late conversion to the Bolshevik cause (he was a Menshevik before)

The Mensheviks were the result of a split in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.  They had the larger support base, and was the more moderate of the two factions (the other being the Bolsheviks).  Yet, despite the division the two were deeply committed to Marxist principles.

He also displayed a lack of commitment to the party, and was very arrogant.  This all provided Stalin with a lot of ammunition to use against Trotsky.

Even before the death of Lenin, the leaders of the Bolshevik regime had began to prepare for the power struggle that was to follow. The five main players were Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and Stalin.