Stalin and the Soviet Union

By Stephen J. Lee | Go to book overview

2

STALINIST POLITICS AND TERROR

BACKGROUND NARRATIVE

By the time Stalin had become a member of the leadership triumvirate in 1924, he was already well placed in the Party that Lenin had led to power in 1917. He also inherited the political infrastructure of the Soviet system from the Bolshevik period. This took the form of the 1918 Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR), to which Stalin added the 1924 and 1936 Constitutions: these first established and then refined the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Meanwhile, he had also secured his position within the three key components of the Communist Party-the Politburo, the Central Committee and the Orgburo. After 1929 Stalin tried to tighten the Party's grip on the state institutions-the soviets and the Council of People's Commissars, while at the same time increasing his own control over the Party itself. Everything seemed to point to the emergence of a more personalised regime that Stalin intended to use to bring about an economic transformation. Since this would require subordinate institutions and a compliant workforce, the way ahead was through intensification of dictatorship.

The process involved a considerable degree of coercion and the deliberate use of terror. To some extent this had already been applied before 1924. Stalin now reactivated the earlier Cheka in the form of the GPU, OGPU and the NKVD. His ruthlessness had already been shown in his systematic destruction of the alternative

STALINIST POLITICS AND TERROR

-16-

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Stalin and the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • 1 - Stalin's Rise and Rule 1
  • 2 - Stalinist Politics and Terror 16
  • 3 - Stalin's Economic Policies 35
  • 4 - Society and Culture 54
  • 5 - Stalin's Foreign Policy, 1929-41 65
  • 6 - The Soviet Union at War, 1941-5 79
  • 7 - Stalin's Post-War Regime, 1945-53 96
  • 8 - An Overall Summary 110
  • Notes 113
  • Bibliography 118
  • Index 121
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