Last updated: June 23, 2019
Topic: SocietyWar
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To What Extent Did Ideology Play The Key Role In The Contest For Power After Lenin’s Death? In this essay I will be writing about how ideology played a key role to the contest for power in the USSR. Trotsky, Bukharin and Stalin are the leading figures in the race to become the leader after Lenin’s death. The key features include, shifting alliances, powerbases and Lenin’s reluctance to name an heir. I think ideology had a big part in the contest for power and how each person used different tactics to gain more support and defecting others on the way.

In this paragraph I will be writing about how shifting alliances was a great part in the contest for power. At the start just after Lenin’s death Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin created the Triumvirate which went against Trotsky and the left opposition for the struggle to power, the key issues were the great industrialisation debate and the future of the revolution in Russia. They first formed in 1923 to keep Trotsky out of power. They would do that by destroying his influence by questioning his ideology, loyalty to Lenin and his activities since the revolution.

Their strategy involved capitalising on the “Cult of Lenin” by suggesting that Trotsky was disloyal to their former leader and his ideas. The Triumvirate firstly used Lenin’s funeral to demonstrate Trotsky’s disloyalty and then they criticised his book for its apparent disrespect for Lenin. Zinoviev and Kamenev attempted to show that Trotsky’s ideology was far from Leninist. Zinoviev invented the term “Trotskyism”. Trotsky and the left opposition were defeated at the thirteenth party congress in 1924. The congress condemned Trotsky for forming a faction against the explicit command of Lenin, who had banned factions in 1921.

In this next paragraph I will be writing about the Duumvirate alliance against the new opposition with the key issues being world revolution and the same as the Triumvirate. At the fourteenth party congress they proved no match for the united forces of Bukharin and Stalin. Bukharin easily beat Zinoviev’s arguments in favour of world revolution. The new opposition’s positions were greatly weakened by their congress defeat. The vote proved how unpopular they were and consequently diminished their authority within the party.

Trotsky, who had remained aloof during the debate, did not escape the consequences of the left’s defeat. In 1925, in response to fears that he would become a Bonaparte’s military dictator, he was forced to resign as head of the red army. This event stripped him of this single most important powerbase within the party. Zinoviev and Kamenev now feared Stalin and Bukharin more than Trotsky. Furthermore, their ideological shift from supporting the NEP to demanding rapid industrialisation gave them a good reason to ally with Trotsky. Their position was strengthened by the apparent failure of the NEP.

At the fifteenth party congress of 1927, ten years after the October revolution. The united opposition were expelled from the party. Zinoviev and Kamenev publicly apologised for their ideological ‘crimes’ and were readmitted to the party. Trotsky refused to apologised and was sent into exile. In this next paragraph I will be writing about Stalin against Bukharin and the right opposition. In 1928 Stalin rejected the NEP and in doing this broke off this alliance with Bukharin. Following this, Bukharin appeared to be in the better place.

He was unrivalled as party theorist, he had power of both the soviet media and education too and was still the favourite of the party and he had support from two important people to gain more power to try to beat Stalin in this struggle. Stalin’s adoption of left wing economic policy, his mastery of the party machine, his growing ideas and beliefs and his tactical manoeuvring that assured him to win and beat Bukharin to become the leader of Russia. In 1928, Stalin advocated rapid growth and collectivisation. Stalin was assured the support of those who did not like right wing policies.

Moreover, by adopting radical economic ideas like war Communism, Stalin was able to appeal to the heroic aspiration of many Communists who had never been fully supported the NEP. In this paragraph I will be writing about how the powerbase was a key feature in the contest for power. How Stalin used the clash of the powerbases to finally become the winner in the end. Bukharin’s power rested on his control of the media, Bukharin could advocate his own policies whilst beating his opponents. Tomsky gave him huge power in the Russian trade unions.

Rykov was also an important person because he was head of state. On the other hand, Stalin’s powerbase was located in the middle of the party with his ability to manipulate appointments and promotions within the party then filling the party congresses with his loyal supports. As General Secretary, Stalin also had had the right to issue official directives to every party member. These were the centre to create opinion in the party and allowed Stalin to undercut the influence that Bukharin exercised through the media. In this next paragraph I will be writing about the ideological battle which was also key feature for power in Russia. Bukharin had been recognised as the official theorist of the communist party. However, as the NEP had increasing problems, Bukharin’s theoretical prestige diminished Stalin was furthermore growing in ideological stature. Lenin’s book, Stalin’s contribution to party ideological, was widely used by new members to the party. It was easy to read, short and simple so this makes it a perfect handbook for those who signed up for the party. Stalin then used the media against Bukharin to voice disagreements and to gain more power from the people.

Bukharin accused Stalin of turning the party into a bureaucracy. Stalin defended himself by accused Bukharin of Trotskyism. In this last paragraph I will writing my judgement on how much did ideology have on the contest for power and if it was a key role to gain a leader. Overall, I think that ideology played a huge part in the contest because of how Stalin with his tactics and defeating the other people and becoming the leader, he was great had being in the background for important topics like NEP and then at the end sparked off and beat Bukharin the last stage of the struggle.