Joseph Stalin's Life and Political Power. The Man and the Symbol


Essay, 2015
10 Pages, Grade: 92.0

Excerpt

Proposal

It is proposed that Joseph Stalin, the man as well as the symbol, be analyzed in order to reveal the man behind icon. This research will include details of Stalin's everyday life and his vacations on the Black Sea, to the “Great Terror,” World War II, and the terrifying decades of his supreme power. It will also go into detail about the suicide of Stalin's wife, Nadya, and how it affected him for the rest of his life, what kind of man he was as a father, as well as the lives of the members of his inner circle and their fall from grace. From a historical context Joseph Stalin comes off as being psychotic, merciless, killer, and a brutal dictator. This research will attempt to reveal that this dictator of a nuclear capable world super-power, merges as being, although a bit paranoid, surprisingly normal and quite human.

In order to do this, the research will rely on various primary and secondary sources. One of the sources that will be used to research this topic will be The Court of the Red Tsar. This near eight-hundred page masterpiece was researched and put together by Simon Sebag Montefiore in 2003 and printed in New York City in 2004. This book assembles information from a nearly incomprehensible, but well documented, amount of sources, many of which come as quotes from interviews from Joseph Stalin's own family and the closest members of his inner-circle. This book is a national bestseller, with reviews from Time magazine, The New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and the Washington Post Book World, all calling it “deeply researched, wonderfully readable” and “Superb—A dark and excellent book.”[1]

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, in it's own words is a “widely acclaimed biography,” providing “a vivid riveting account of Stalin and his courtiers,” including “killers, fanatics, women, and children.”[2] ThesisJoseph Stalin is often recognized as the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the person responsible for the mass murder of twenty-million of his own country men, including women and children, but people always seem to look past the fact that he was in fact also a father, a husband, a son, and even to some—a friend. This is one of the historical issues that this essay discusses, by humanizing a world-recognized monster and pilot of the disastrous Stalinism.

Joseph Stalin, born as Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, known as “Soso” to his family and close friends, and in his early communist revolutionary years known as “Koba,”[3] is a man that people generally associate as a person who used deception and lies to have his enemies executed, as well as twenty-million of his fellow country men. He used manipulations, conspiracy, lies, and propaganda to get rid of anyone who might effect his rise to power as the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union. He started by expelling Leon Trotsky, his only real competition, after the death of Vladimir Lenin. Trotsky and Stalin were the two most powerful men in the Soviet Union, after Lenin. When Lenin died there was a brief power struggle, Stalin came out on top, disposing of Trotsky and anyone who had close ties to him. Trotsky was made out to be an enemy to communism, and anyone who had supported him was an enemy of the state.[4] [5] Years later during the “Great Purge” anyone who had even distant ties to Trotsky was accused of being a “Trotskyite,” or a German spy trying to sabotage the railways and other functions in Stalin's “perfect” society. Anything that went wrong in the Soviet Union was blamed on the “Trotskyites” as nothing could possible go wrong without sabotage.[6] Leon Trotsky, once Stalin’s comrade and fellow student of Lenin, spend the last years of his life looking over his should in Mexico, waiting for the inevitable blow that would end his life.[7]

But not all of the twenty-million that were executed were enemies of Stalin, most of them were just scapegoats, people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stalin held no personal grudge against them. They were usually the enemies of individual members of the Politburo, the communist executive committee. Stalin merely signed off on their execution papers because if the Politburo members looked to him as their leader, and they fought among themselves, there was no one to threaten his power. In a state where anyone accused of being anti-communist or speaking out against Stalin could be executed, there was bound to be order. Not even the Politburo were exempt from accusations of conspiracy and treason. They would be dealt with just like everybody else.[8] [9]

In the early years of the mass murders, there was one group that was singled out as an enemy of the state, the kulaks. Like Adolf Hitler used discrimination against the Jews to unite Germany, Stalin used the execution of the kulaks to unite Russia. Stalin was said to have praised Hitler’s genius, blaming the destruction of a government building on his opposition.[10] This was likely where Stalin got the idea to blame the Trotskyites for sabotage. Unlike Adolf Hitler though, who had millions of people killed based on their race and religion, Stalin's approach was much more random. A “kulak” is a peasant, but not all peasants are kulaks. Stalin himself wrote in his notes that he did not even know what a kulak was or how to define it.[11] “Kulak” was essentially the name for any random person, usually a peasant, that was accused of being an enemy of the state. It did not matter was their race or religion was, or even if they were supporters of communism or not. Their names written on a list at random, and they and their families were either executed or exile to unite Russia against a common enemy.

During the Great Terror (or Great Purge), Stalin went about to continually reshuffle his allies and generals, being careful to not let any one person stay in a position of power or influence for too long. This was in part to ensure that no one got as much experience and influence as himself, and no one could legitimately challenge his power or authority. Anyone who had had power or experience before Stalin replaced Lenin in the Communist Party, was expelled, exiled, or killed. Stalin had them liquidated to “save the revolution” from those who would attempt to use it to become a dictator, all the while this is what many people (such as Leon Trotsky) were suspecting him of doing.[12]

[...]


[1] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[2] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[3] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[4] Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia: People and Empire. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997.

[5] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[6] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[7] Galeano, Eduardo. Century of the Wind: Memory of Fire, Vol 3. Spain: Siglo XXI Veinto de España Editores, 1986.

[8] Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia: People and Empire. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1997.

[9] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[10] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[11] Sebag Montefiore, Simon. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

[12] Galeano, Eduardo. Century of the Wind: Memory of Fire, Vol 3. Spain: Siglo XXI Veinto de España Editores, 1986.

Excerpt out of 10 pages

Details

Title
Joseph Stalin's Life and Political Power. The Man and the Symbol
College
Westminster College
Grade
92.0
Author
Year
2015
Pages
10
Catalog Number
V323411
ISBN (eBook)
9783668232297
ISBN (Book)
9783668232303
File size
412 KB
Language
English
Tags
russia, soviet union, stalin, communism
Quote paper
Michael Gorman (Author), 2015, Joseph Stalin's Life and Political Power. The Man and the Symbol, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/323411

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