Lenin Laid the Foundation for Stalinism

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In order to establish whether Lenin did, indeed lay the foundation for Stalinism, two questions need to be answered; what were Lenin’s plans for the future of Russia and what exactly gave rise to Stalinism? Official Soviet historians of the time at which Stalin was in power would have argued that each one answers the other. Similarly, Western historians saw Lenin as an important figure in the establishment of Stalin’s socialist state. This can be partly attributed to the prevailing current of pro-Stalin anti-Hitler sentiments amongst westerners until the outbreak of the cold war. As relations changed between Russia and the rest of the world, so did the main historical schools of thought. Following Stalins death, hostilities between the capitalist powers and the USSR, along with an increased awareness of the atrocities that were previously hidden and ignored, led to a split in the opinions of Soviet and Western Liberal historians. In Russia, he was seen, as Trotsky had always maintained, as a betrayer of the revolution, therefore as much distance as possible was placed between himself and Lenin in the schoolbooks of the 50s and early 60s in the USSR. These historians point to Stalin’s killing of fellow communists as a marked difference between himself and his predecessor. Trotsky himself remarked that ‘The present purge draws between Bolshevism and Stalinism… a whole river of blood’[1]. Liberal Western historians such as Richard Pipes, who himself was an advisor to President Reagan, drew lines of direct continuity between the two leaders, emphasising Lenin’s use of terror and bans on factionalism which allowed Stalin to come to power.... ... middle of paper ... ...--------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Trotsky, quoted in Stephen F. Cohen – Rethinking the Soviet Experience pp41 [2] Stephen F. Cohen, ‘Bolshevism and Stalinism’ in Tucker, ed., ‘Essays in historical interpretation’ pp12-13 [3] Maxim Gorky, quoted in M. McCauley, ‘Stalin and Stalinism’ pp86 [4] Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 2nd edition (1994) pp98 [5] M.N Ryutin, quoted in M. McCauley, ‘Stalin and Stalinism’ pp46 [6] http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/ch02.htm#02_A [7] http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/index.htm [8] Stalin, quoted in ‘From Lenin to Stalin’, Victor Serge, 1937 [9] Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik regime pp98 [10] Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik regime pp112

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