Inside a Totalitarian Regime: Key features of Stalinism
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Stalin’s rule lasted almost thirty years, from the middle of the 1920’s until his death in 1953. His rule deeply transformed the USSR and destalinization is still not fully achieved today. While Stalinism and Nazism are often compared because they were the two totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, the Stalinist regime lasted for decades while Nazism collapsed after 12 years, thus raising several questions concerning the particular nature of the Stalinist Society. What were the key features of Stalinism, thus differentiating Stalin’s policy from Lenin’s and Marx’s theory? Was Stalinism a logical outcome of the Marxist theory or a betrayal of communism? In this perspective, one must analyze Stalin’s key policies, collectivization, industrialization and Cultural Revolution in comparison with Marxism and Leninism and within the framework of Communism in one country. Indeed, unlike Lenin who envisioned to spread the Socialist Revolution worldwide, Stalin believed that in its primary states, Communism should stay contained within the USSR.
Starting 1928, the Stalinist economic policy was characterized by a rupture with Lenin’s quasi-capitalist New Economic Policy. The need to protect the Union from eventual capitalist and imperialist wars necessitated the creation of a self-sufficient industry and agriculture freed from the constraints of the market. The industrial policy resembled that of a war economy focused on heavy industries such as steel, weapons and the industrial centers were relocated in remote areas such as the Urals and Siberia, rich in natural resources. In 1937, the part of small industries had fallen from a third in 1913 to 6 percent (Davies 1989, 1029). This process revealed to be extremely successful on a macroscop...
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