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The USSR from the NEP to terror
In 1883 Plekhanov argued a socialist party which took power in the wrong economic circumstances was doomed either to compromise with capitalism or to rule by terror. (Sakwa, 37) Between 1921 and 1938 the USSR was to experience both extremes.


In the Spring of 1921 the Communist government faced unrest from urban workers, peasants, and most symbolically the soldiers of Kronstadt. The economy was in tatters, and the Communist Party was riven with internal dissent. The NEP was introduced as a compromise which hoped to allow enough room for initiative to allow the economy to grow while retaining enough of Communist orthodoxy to avoid splitting the Party.

"The enormous central economic monopolies were broken up, market relations were restored between the peasant villages and the urban economy, and free exchange and private enterprise were tolerated." (Sakwa, 37)

Lenin’s tactics were in many ways similar to a ‘Chinese option’ - he did not liberalise politically and he "insisted that during a retreat discipline was at a premium to avoid a rout." (Sakwa, 37)

The NEP achieved remarkable success in its early years. By 1923, cereal production had risen 23% on 1920 while industrial production rose by a whopping 184%. (Service, 155) However, the relative gap between industrial and agricultural prices had risen by a factor of three. The famous ‘scissors’ had opened, discouraging farmers from selling.

"The tensions generated by the conflict between political concentration and economic liberalisation provided the context for the rise of Stalinism." (Sakwa, 40) There was always tension between Marxist theory and economic practice during the NEP years. The NEP ultimately, according to Sakwa, proved too much a long term process to satisfy Bolshevik activists led to expect overnight transformation. (Sakwa, 42)

In the final analysis, while NEP may not have fitted comfortably with Marxist dogma, it was certainly successful as an strategy for economic growth. It kick-started the rural economy and improved the food supply by encouraging peasants to sell once again. It combated hyper-inflation and by 1926-7 had achieved pre-war levels of both industrial and agricultural production. However, it was accompanied by gross inequalities (Sakwa, 40), and although it brought about substantial improvements to the economy, unemployment remained high and growth low. (McAuley, 39) The ‘scissors’ between urban and rural prices were never quite closed, and the terms of trade were always to an extent detrimental to the countryside. (Sakwa, 42)

Increasingly, the NEP ran into difficulties, particularly after a series of ill advised tax and prices policy changes in 1926, forcibly lowering both agricultural and industrial prices. (Service, 163) Agricultural prices were then much too low, giving too little incentive for producers to sell. At the same time, the artificial holding down of industrial prices gave little incentive to manufacturers (Sakwa, 43), and only meant that middle-men could make more money as peasants were not able to buy directly from the cities. (Service, 164) Ultimately, the NEP was abandoned because it failed to satisfy the Bolshevik desire for rapid industrialisation.

Party and Society

The spiralling bureaucracy did not end with the implementation of the NEP. Lenin’s rhetoric increasingly focused on bureaucracy as the major threat to the new state, but he was unable to come up with an effective antidote. Indeed, the NEP actually helped to increase the level of red tape in the towns.

However, this was as nothing compared to the level of bureaucracy which emerged during the years of the five year plan. "The first five-year plan engendered the massive expansion of the administrative apparatus." (Sakwa, 44) The command economy necessitated a hugely unwieldy bureaucracy to set and administer the level of inputs and outputs. The continued increase in bureaucracy was justified on the basis that the USSR faced powerful external enemies. The stronger the state was, the more quickly these enemies could be defeated and full Communism introduced. (Ponton, 37) The bureaucracy was also inflated as it needed to have some sort of control over the mass migrations of the collectivisation period. (Ponton, 39)

The emergence of Stalinism killed off many cultural freedoms. Sakwa feels, however, that much of this process was merely the natural working out of tensions which emerged during the NEP, as a new generation raised entirely after the revolution challenged the old guard in various professions. (Sakwa, 46) The attitude of the authorities towards the arts during the 1920s was ambiguous. While probably allowing more freedom than any Russian government in history - this was not difficult - severe controls still remained. In 1922 dozens of top writers and scholars were deported. Those who wrote or produced what the state wanted would receive fame and money; those who didn’t would be denied publication or exposure by the great state monopolies. (Service, 137) When Stalin took power there was no room at all for dissent. All had to agree with the single state ideology or face the consequences. On the other hand writers such as Akhtamova and Pasternak only began to produce great works once they had had time to view the Revolutions and Civil War in perspective (Service, 139), though of course publication during the height of the purges was out of the question.

For many, the Stalin era was a time of great promise. Until then neither the ill-educated Communist hacks promoted into management positions or the technically competent but bourgeois managers satisfied the party’s demands in both class and ability. In 1929-30 there was big wave of working class entrants to technology colleges who took the place of the old guard in management posts, along with many able workers promoted straight from the factory floor, including many non-Party members. For these people Stalin represented a new, fairer future. Even Brzezhinski, hardly the most ardent admirer of Stalin, notes that "for many Soviet citizens, the Stalinist era was one of some social advancement, of a great historical leap forward, and even of a genuinely proud sense of patriotic accomplishment." (Brzezhinski, 27) Daring mineral expeditions were made to the arctic, new scientific discoveries were made, Stakhanovite feats were at their height, while ‘socialist achievements’ such as the Moscow Metro and the White-Baltic Sea canal were the envy of the world in certain spheres. (Service, 247)

During the Stalin era too, millions of Soviet citizens were able to view the world beyond their own village or city for the first time through the mass productions of (albeit censored) books and films. New sporting clubs also drew huge crowds and radio emerged, much as in the West. (Service, 191)

However, in some areas the onset of Stalinism initiated a retreat from the ‘20s. In the military and bureaucracy, rank was reintroduced and a much more hierarchical system reintroduced. (Ponton, 37) Income differentials between different jobs were widened. Those high up in the bureaucracy gained new privileges. (McAuley, 44) It was a time when the tide of egalitarianism was rolled back.

In the cultural sphere, writers who did not tow Stalin’s line (an even some who did) were eliminated. Some committed suicide. (Service, 135) The religions were particularly savagely assaulted. From the death of the militantly atheistic Lenin, this policy had considerably abated. However, Stalin reimposed this policy with a vengeance. "Thousands of other [non-Orthodox] Christian leaders, mullahs, both Shi’ite and Sunni, and rabbis were also butchered." (Service, 203) Service believes that not only militant atheism but remembrance of the revolutionary past of radical priests such as Father Gapon spurred Stalin on. By the end of the 1930s, only 1 in 40 churches was till functioning. (Service, 204) The Jews had been even harder hit, while the Muslims, although, literally, decimated were spared some of the worst excesses which were inflicted upon other faiths.

The Disputes of Succession to Lenin

Lenin in many sense contributed to the bitter wrangling which followed his death and to the eventual rise of Stalinism by some poor decisions while leader. Firstly there was no formal post of leader of either State or Party. While Lenin was head of Sovnarkom, he held no formal party position despite being clearly its de facto leader and there was no mechanism for electing a successor.

Lenin’s testament, had it been released to the public, may have avoided the bitter splits between the leadership ‘team’. However it did serious damage to all of them and they decided to suppress it. (Service, 157)

Stalin was first able to build his power within the Party as a result of perestroika. He used his position of General Secretary within the more tightly disciplined party to promote officials within the expanding party structures who would owe their allegiance to him; a good old-fashioned patronage network. Indeed, McAuley (47) sees here another of the key elements which led to totalitarianism; followers became used to blindly following the leader for career reasons - and the leader who amassed by far the most followers was Stalin.

Stalin played the leadership campaign marvellously. His key tactic was divide and conquer. At first he hid his ambitions behind the leadership troika which included Kamenëv and Zinoviev as well as himself. (Sakwa, 38) Stalin was able to make common cause with Kamenëv and Zinoviev to oppose Trotski. Indeed he used Kamenëv and Zinoviev almost as a ‘battering ram’ to smash Trotski - he even accused them of going to far at some points. (Sakwa, 39)

Stalin used massive recruitment drives to flood the party with potential sympathisers and ensure that ‘his’ delegates were elected to party congresses etc. (Sakwa, 39) At the XIVth Congress in December 1925, Stalin had a majority of both Central Committee and Congress. So alarmed were his opponents, that Trotski, Kamenëv and Zinoviev ganged up, the latter two even opposing NEP. However, this only served to isolate the charismatic Bukharin, probably the most able of the post-Lenin leadership excepting Trotski, and a fervent supporter of NEP. Again, Stalin was able to play divide and rule. (Sakwa, 39)

The United Opposition were expelled from the Politburo in July-October 1926. The next year the opposition made the error of taking to the streets in protest. This enabled Stalin to expel them completely from the party, and then to turn his fire on Bukharin and what he called the Right Deviation. (Sakwa, 39-30)

The Left Opposition had little support among the working class, but did have the backing of a number of key party figures. (Ponton, 36) It saw NEP as a sell out and called for rapid industrialisation and debureaucratisation. In 1926 it became part of the United Opposition, backed by Trotski, Zinoviev and Kamenëv, which called for spreading the revolution, denouncing the policy of building socialism in one country and increasingly called for dekulakisation. (Ponton, 36)

Brzezhinski feels it was Trotski’s focus on world revolution which ensured its failure - "Trotsky offended the instinct for self-preservation of the newly entrenched party bureaucrats, who were not prepared to risk all on the altar of a premature world revolution." (Brzezhinski, 22) Moreover, McAuley notes the degree of paranoia among Bolsheviks about parallels with the French revolution. (McAuley, 35) In this scenario, Trotski was the Bonaparte.

As early as 1916, Bukharin had warned Lenin of the dangers of the huge potential for authoritarianism in the modern state. (Sakwa, 25) Rykov too had been in favour of forming a coalition at the time of the October revolution. After Stalin’s trip to the Urals in 1928, they became concerned enough to form the Right Opposition along with Tomski. This supported a better deal for the peasants, voluntary collectivisation, a slower pace of industrialisation and rejected forced requisitioning. (Ponton, 36) "Bukharin argued, that if they squeezed the peasantry now, they would kill the goose that laid the golden eggs." (McAuley, 38)

McAuley feels that there were a number of mistakes made in the handling of the disagreements which opened the way for Stalinism. It was felt that whatever disagreements existed in private, in public a façade of unity would be presented. The decision of the leadership to limit debate to within its own coterie and continue to ban factions within the party, meant that in 1925 it was impossible for Trotski and the left opposition to get a proper hearing at party meetings. Moreover, Lenin was elevated to an almost godlike figure; the leadership hid its disagreements under Lenin’s long shadow. This began the tradition of the cult of personality; though this was hardly a complete innovation in Russia.

Collectivisation and Industrialisation

Despite the success of the NEP, it fundamentally contradicted Marxist economic notions. As a result the Communists were faced with two choices - "The alternatives were to make further concessions to the peasants in return for higher productivity - but this meant tolerating capitalism; or reorganisation of agriculture to restrict peasant consumption, that is, collectivisation. The later alternative was adopted." (Ponton, 28)

Moreover, the Soviet government remained isolated and after a series of setbacks for the world Communist movement in the 1920s, increasingly fearful of its long term ability to survive. While NEP had undoubtedly brought some successes, the industrial sector remained weaker that in Western countries; the NEP had primarily benefited the agricultural sector. (Sakwa, 41) There remained demands for rapid industrialisation from within the Communist Party.

Evgenii Preobrazhenskii came up with the solution for how the gap between what the party wished to do in terms of industrialisation of what funds were in fact available could be closed. Only when the industrial sector was built up to the extent that it could produce the goods that peasants wanted to buy would an adequate food supply be ensured. "Investment for heavy industry was they key." (McAuley, 37)

Preobrazhenskii looked at how this process of ‘capital formation took place in England - by exploitation, a route supposedly not possible for the USSR. Therefore "The state was to accumulate the resources for accelerated industrial investment at the expense of the peasantry by demanding high prices for industrial products and by high taxes.". (Sakwa, 42) Although this was initially criticised by Stalin, his own eventual plan for industrialisation would be pretty much the same with the added bonus of coercion and mass murder. (Sakwa, 43)

Most critically, Stalin, who by this stage was in de facto control of the party, began to shift his views in the period after 1924. Although initially he had supported NEP as the best plan to increase support for the revolution among peasants, he began to see the benefits of increased industrialisation, and the XVIth Party Congress in November 1926 passed a motion to overtake the industrial development of advanced capitalist states in a short time. (Sakwa, 43) This was inconsistent with NEP and so Stalin gradually began to support the industrialisers.

After ridding himself of Trotski and the Left Opposition, he began to turn of Bukharin and his support for the retention of NEP. Stalin in 1928 visited the Urals in person in order to obtain grain by means of force. (Sakwa, 43).

There were three main aspects, according to Sakwa, of the ‘revolution from above: accelerated industrialisation; rapid, compulsory collectivisation; and cultural revolution.

In carrying out industrialisation, the consumer sector was destroyed, and replaced by massive concentration of heavy industry. "Consumption was reduced to a minimum to permit greater investment in heavy and associated defence industries". (Sakwa, 44) This was as nothing compared with the sins visited upon the countryside however, and Ponton argues this sacrifice paid off during World War Two. (Ponton, 36) Brzezhinski notes some of the incredible growth statistics reported during the period of the five year plan: a tenfold increase in electricity production, a fourfold increase in steel production, an astonishing 18 fold increase in motor vehicle production. (Brzezhinski, 29) Even if not totally reliable, these figures are still quite exceptional, but perhaps somewhat exaggerated; Tsarist Russia achieved higher growth rates between 1890 and 1914 at much less social cost (Brzezhinski, 30) - "never before had such human sacrifice been exacted for so little social benefit." (ibid, 31) While Sakwa claims that, "The price of the Stalinist model of industrialisation was a parasitic ‘new class’, inefficiency and low labour productivity." (Sakwa, 49)

The era was, according to McAuley (41), a time of great campaigns. Sometimes, as during the initial period collectivisation, the enthusiasm got out of control and became too much even for Stalin - and caused civil war in the countryside. Moreover, many campaigns did damage to the economy. Often whole factories or mines would be put on hold to enable one prestige project to succeed, e.g. Stakhanovitch.

There was a perception among urban Bolsheviks that the peasantry were holding the revolution to ransom. There was also the traditional Marxist contempt for the peasant, and particularly the kulak. Much of the rhetoric of collectivisation was couched in terms of dekulakisation; however this was artificial. By 1929 the class situation was radically different form 1917; there essentially were no kulaks anymore. The overwhelming (90%+) of the inhabitants of the countryside were middle peasants. (Sakwa, 45) Urban Bolshevik activists descended on the countryside to implement collectivisation - over half the peasantry were collectivised in a few months (December 1929 - March 1930). "Unofficial statistics suggest that 15 million were left homeless by collectivisation." Huge numbers of livestock, vital to the economy, also died, or were eaten by their owners who refused to see them lost to a collective farm. (Sakwa, 46; McAuley, 42)

Cultural revolution - see Party and Society.

Grossman argues that the five year plan initiated not a planned economy but command economy; the very idea of massive overfulfillment contradicts the idea of planning. (Sakwa, 44)

"Rather than any fundamental flaws, it was distrust between the party leaders and the peasants, ideological hostility to the market and co-operatives, political manoeuvring to succeed Lenin, and lack of political will to maintain the NEP which caused its demise." (Sakwa, 46) The economic grounds for implementing collectivisation simply do not stand up to scrutiny. If collectivisation was about making sure agriculture financed heavy industrial development, destroying the agricultural base did not make much sense. Rather the five year plan was a product of ideology not economics. "There was a fundamental contradiction between a socialist political ‘superstructure’ sitting on top of a peasant economic base. The second revolution was a way of integrating the two and securing the social foundations of the Bolshevik régime." (Sakwa, 47)

Ultimately the strategy did ensure the emergence of the USSR as one of the world’s foremost economic powers, but one must ask if Bukharin’s plan could not have achieved the same objectives at much less social cost. At the same time Ponton notes that Bukharin’s ideas were heavily dependent on the ‘Kulaks’ and claims it would have left the country militarily unprepared for too long. (Ponton, 39) Divested of moral implications, the five year plan worked admirably well. According to Ponton, "It involved great suffering for the peasantry, but the towns were fed and political control enforced in the countryside." (Ponton, 36)


Purges had been a consistent, and possibly beneficial, element of Soviet life since 1918. The Party would, at varying but normally several yearly intervals expel the deadwood from its ranks. However, in 1935 the whole concept of the purge took on a life of its own - "In the 1930s the idea of the purge was extended to the rest of society, and the cleansing of the party was no longer restricted to the expulsion of undesirable but meant their elimination." (Sakwa, 50) Purge had become terror.

McAuley (50) provides us with an interesting definition of terror. "In most societies at most times, however repressive the authorities may be, citizens know which actions will result in arrest and sentencing…With terror any such rules go; it is impossible to know how to avoid arrest." (McAuley, 50)

Terror is seen as an idiosyncratically individual political choice. However, Brzezhinski notes that "the roots of the catastrophic legacy of Stalin go back to Lenin - to his twin legacies of the dogmatic party and of the terroristic secret police." (Brzezhinski, 32)

The terror is normally counted to begin at the assassination of Kirov on 1 December 1934. Kirov was a potential rival of Stalin, "He seemed to represent a reaffirmation of the leading rôle of the party as opposed to the informal structures focusing on Stalin personally." (Sakwa, 51) though Stalin’s complicity has never been proven. However it did provide the pretext for Stalin to arrest Kamenëv and Zinoviev, and for new powers to be given to the NKVD. The however there was a long period of peace. However, in August 1936, Kamenëv and Zinoviev were accused of being part of a Trotskiite conspiracy and the NKVD were given the power of summary conviction and execution. This began a run of show trials, the second in January 1937 in which the defendants implicated Bukharin in a Trotskiite conspiracy. He then appeared in the last great show trial in March 1938 with Rykov and Yagoda.

At the same time, Soviet society was seized by a form of collective insanity. Huge sections of the élite perished, along with millions of ordinary people. Three-quarters of the high command were killed. (Sakwa, 53) The NKVD itself was a particular target within the Party. (McAuley, 53) Neighbours denounced neighbours. (McAuley, 54)

McAuley notes the difficulties is interpreting the Terror. The issues are so emotive that it is difficult to remain objective. There is a lack of written material, so much depends on personal memoirs, which mostly come from those of one social class. (McAuley, 56) The Terror is literally a minefield for historians and political scientists.

Ponton (42) notes two schools of thought regarding the terror

Stalin was one of the great monsters of the twentieth century, some even arguing that Stalin was responsible for Hitler. This is supported by Service who says (210), "He [Stalin] it was who directed the state’s punitive machinery against all those whom he identified as ‘anti-Soviet elements’ and ‘enemies of the people’."

The other is that Stalin was merely trying to build order or maintain Party unity in a chaotic society. Getty sees Stalin as acting pre-emptively against one section (the moderates in an increasingly bitter internal dispute. This is given some credence by the sheer scale of dislocation in Soviet society during the 1930s. Industrialisation and collectivisation had broken millions of personal relationships and social linkages. Delinquency, abortion, divorce were all rife. (Service, 246)

Another explanation is what I will call the big car, small dick analysis. Stalin felt himself inadequate compared to Lenin and other charismatic Party figures, so he killed all who had known Lenin and all who he perceived as a threat. (Sakwa, 54)

Two other arguments are proposed and rejected by Sakwa (54) - that Stalin wanted to replace the old managers by a new managerial class loyal to him personally; and that the process of collectivisation, purges and terror were a response to first Western and later Nazi aggression vis a vis the USSR. None of these, Sakwa feels, deal with the sheer level of damage which was self-inflicted.

Others (e.g. Brzezhinski, Sholtsenitsyn) see Stalinism as simply the natural extension of Leninism. However, as Service comments, "It is hard to imagine Lenin, however, carrying out a terror upon his own party. Nor was he likely to have insisted on the physical and psychological degradation of those arrested by the political police." (Service, 227)

However, none of this can explain how so many completely uninvolved died. The Terror amounted to a collective insanity. Service notes that "Stalin’s terror was more chaotic and confusing [than Hitler’s]: thousands went to their deaths shouting their fervent loyalty to Stalin." (Service, 222-3) He further notes that officially recorded executions alone number 681,692, and estimates that during the years 1937 and 1938, between a million and a million and a half dies from firing squad, maltreatment or massive over-work at the hands of the NKVD. (Service, 222) Estimates for total death tolls of collectivisation, industrialisation and terror range from 3.5 million (Milne, Anderson and Silver - see Ponton, 43) - to 20 to 40 million (Brzezhinski, 47) The Terror wrought havoc within Party ranks - 56% of delegates to the 1934 Party Congress had been arrested before the 1939 one, along with 79% of the Central Committee elected by them (only 16 out of 71 survived (Service, 224)); 60% of 1931 Party activists had been purged by 1937. (Sakwa, 52) In July 1937, arrest quotas were assigned to every region. (Service, 221) This gave obvious incentive to local agents to arrest innocents to fill the quotas, or they too might find themselves arrested. A total quota of 72,950 executions was ordered. (loc cit) Indeed given Stalin’s love of overfulfilling quotas, they needed to overshoot the mark! In March 1938 the arrest quotas were extended by 57,200 of whom 48,000 were to be executed. (Service, 222)

Views of some writers on the terror

Conquest - terror was the consequence of Stalin’s desire for total power and his paranoia regarding potential opponents. Kirov was murdered after receiving more votes than Stalin in the Central Committee election at the XVIIth Congress in 1934. Kirov’s murder also provided the excuse for Stalin to turn on other potential threats. (Ponton 41)

Lewin sees it as a desperate attempt to create order from the chaos of the revolution, and to weed out some of the weaker elements within the Party, to avoid become a prisoner of the bureaucratic monster he had created.

Ingerform- After 1934, the Party went through a legitimacy crisis as it now claimed to represent the ‘nationalised masses’, rather than merely the working classes. Loyal Communists from the order had to be destroyed to make way for the new. (Ponton, 42)

Ponton: Revisionist scumbag. Minimises Stalin’s rôle in the whole thing. Points to late-Soviet historians who noted that society’s response was more complex than envisaged with both initiative and resistance as well as compliance. Claims that much of the initiative came not from Stalin but from managers and Stakhanovite workers fighting a war for control - I just don’t buy this. (Ponton, 42-46) Ignores Stalin’s bizarre 1,2,3 system (noted by Service, 228)

Brzezhinski: Inventor of the totalitarian model. Even he, however, notes that "though a personal tyrant with few peers in all of history, his rule was exercised through a complex structure of state power, both highly bureaucratised and institutionalised." (Brzezhinski, 23)

Solzhenitsyn: The terror is an inevitable consequence of Bolshevik ideology. If behaviour is based on class, then the bourgeoisie cannot help but behave in a certain way, and it is quite reasonable to eliminate them. Bolsheviks believed in criminal reform through socially useful work, leading to labour camps. Finally, the belief that justice should be administered by those with a proper proletarian conscience led to the entry of the riff-raff of society into penal administration. (McAuley, 58)

Swianewicz: Terror, specifically its labour camp component, has an economic rationale. The labour camps were source of cheap labour - producers who consumed almost nothing and could be moved about at will. Some evidence for this - accounts for Stalin’s unwillingness (reported by Service) to see the camps dismantled as they were too economically useful. On the other hand, does not account for mass murder. (McAuley, 58)

Service - A number of factors, principally: use of the victims as scapegoats for chaos in the country; cheap labour to sustain the pace of industrialisation; pre-emptive action against those he felt would form a fifth column in the time of war. This amounted to an attempt "to build an efficient Soviet state subservient to his personal dictatorship." (Service, 211)

The Stalinist System

Stalinism saw the true introduction of the hierarchical system of decision making, not only with the introduction of the Administrative-Command system in the economy, but in other spheres as well. In many senses this was inevitable. The Leninist concept of a party guiding, but not directly involved with, decision making was never realistic. According to McAuley, eventually party officers had more and more control over society, leading to more and more conflict between them, which in turn led to the leadership to emphasise more and more the democratic centralist principle. (McAuley, 45)

Sakwa sees Stalinism as having the following characteristics: a hyper-rationalism (Karl Mannheim) which allowed the ends to justify any means whatsoever; the survival of the Party only as a mass movement and repository of power, but its annihilation as a political organism; an increase on the dependence of charisma and convention begun by Lenin, in other words an extension of the Führerprinzip; an intensification of Lenin’s belief in castigating all who disagreed with him as class enemies; an enormous level of state power; the total suppression of independent organisations. He sums Stalin’s transformation of society up as "distorted modernisation". (Sakwa, 59)

Ponton states that "He [Stalin] aimed to create a large centralised, Russian-dominated, controlling bureaucracy. The Party leader was elevated to the position of guide and inspiration of the nation." (Ponton, 35) Stalin suppressed all opposition. The bureaucracy (Ponton, 36) and party hierarchy were given no chance to oppose Stalin. Those who opposed him were killed or sent to Siberia. Structures were kept in a state of flux.

It must also be remembered that some prospered in the new system. The younger generation benefited from the removal of a significant part of their superiors. Those who played within the rules could look forward to exceedingly rapid social mobility. (Ponton, 36) Many within the Bolshevik party saw Stalin’s methods as necessary in establishing a new order.

Friedrich and Brzezhinski developed the totalitarian model in 1956 to try and explain both Nazism and Stalisnism. This focused on six key elements, namely:

This model proved to be too simplistic - and in some cases inaccurate. Most democratic governments exercised a monopoly on the means of co-ercion, while the Nazis did not exert central control of the economy in the same way as Stalin.

Oskvotov: Totalitarianism is where the majority disregard the rights of the minority; therefore totalitarianism is an ideology of the masses; a bias towards totalitarianism is inbuilt in the Russian psyche.

Shkreba: Totalitarianism was possible because the Soviet industrial proletariat was created through the severance of all human bonds.

Volkov: Totalitarianism is the misalliance of some Western European ideas and the pre-modern ideas of some societies. There was a clash between the desire for Western material wealth but a hatred of their cultural norms and pluralism. (Ponton, 38)

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