Time and Revolution: Marxism and the Design of Soviet Institutions

By Stephen E. Hanson | Go to book overview

5
THE SOCIOECONOMIC CYCLE From Stalin to the "Era of Stagnation"

Perhaps no question is more central to intellectual disputes about the nature of the Soviet regime than how to characterize the historical connection, or disjuncture, between Leninism and Stalinism.1 Hanging like a shadow over every argument on either side of this issue is the incontrovertible fact that the Stalinist regime that emerged after 1929 was one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty in human history. Responsibility for the deaths of millions of peasants during the forced collectivization of the peasantry in 1932, of a large percentage of the party and state elite during the Great Terror of 1936-38, and of countless millions of inhabitants of the USSR whose lives might have been spared given proper military preparations before the Nazi attack in 1941 can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Stalin and his political associates. The reign of Stalin also saw the imposition of an all-pervasive system of spying and police terror over the population of the Soviet Union, the formation of a huge network of forced labor camps contributing no small portion of overall Soviet economic production, the deportations of entire "enemy nationalities" from their homelands, the stifling of even the slightest degree of freedom to dissent from official norms in all spheres of social life, and finally the imposition of these features of Stalinist rule on the East-

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