Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union Essay

Joseph Stalin Rise & the Scope of his Dictatorship (1924-1934): An Introduction

            During Stalin rise and strengthening of his power, he put into operation several drastic policies and modus operandi so as to realize his objectives; these policies had a deep influence on Russian culture and traditions. At the same time as very efficient in helping him to keep his dictatorial authority, these policies had a very harmful influence on many characteristics of society in the USSR. The subjugation of the people which he believed indispensable with the aim of implementing his dictatorial goals radically restricted the liberty in addition to prosperity of his people. Especially in the sphere of politics, Stalin’s brutality in view of his rivals eliminated any chance of hostility to his policies. Minorities were subjugated as they were considered as a danger to the creation of a homogenous, and thus more pliant, Soviet population. Economically, Stalin’s collectivization of farms and consequent industrialization brought Russia badly required industrial progress; nevertheless, this came at the expense of many lives. Much of Soviet ingenuity and culture was smothered, as Stalin was scared of the creation of mutinous ideas by means of the Arts. Despite the fact that much progress was made in removing illiteracy, Soviet education was rigorously restrained by Stalin, and choice of education was absent. Consequently, due to the effectual use of fear, Stalin was able to achieve and later reinforce his power over the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, this came at an immense cultural, physical, and emotional detriment to the people.

Impact on Population

            Stalin’s rise to power had far-reaching impacts on the quality of life of Russians. The collectivization of farms brought up many demonstrations by the farmers, which were subjugated with increased brutality by Stalin’s government.

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            Stalin’s dictatorship held inconceivable rein over the general population of the USSR. Powerful propaganda promotion tried to teach the society with Communist philosophy. Stalin sought to restore the national characteristics, with the design of a simply “Soviet” citizen. He also ordered that all racial groups be treated uniformly. Religion came under extreme pressure too, as agnosticism was the authorized policy of the state.

            Propaganda designed particularly against women was also evident. Many of the rights that had been acquired by women after the Russian Revolution were taken away. Stalin advocated the function of the woman in the family as he looked-for replenishment of Russia’s population that had been dwindling as a result of severe crises. Moreover, women were forced to contribute to the enormous workforce Stalin wanted for his program of industrialization. Thus, women under Stalin were repressed, although they were obliged to return to the customary role of the woman that Stalin believed in.

            The preliminary phase of Stalin’s ascent to power was to some extent inert. Actually, he offered himself as the neutral, judicious, firm choice to the more ostentatious Trotsky. He stood aside whilst his opponents fought among themselves, quietly collecting authority, taking particular attention never to censure or oppose Lenin, building the underpinning of his later assertion to have been the only of the first radicals to have been genuine supporter of Lenin and therefore the true successor to the Soviet Party’s leadership. Stalin was thus able to build a large crowd of supporters whom he could count on at party congresses. Thus, by 1927, Stalin fully established his authoritarianism, with the Politburo totally under his rule.

            Controlling effectively the communist party, Stalin no longer had shown himself to be moderate. Politically, this can best be evident by the Great Purges and show trials of the 1930’s. Stalin Paranoid of conspiracies and political opposition, Stalin began to ruthlessly remove his political adversaries. The thorough annihilation of all political opposition is exemplified in the Show Trials. In 1936, sixteen ex-Bolsheviks were sentenced, being charged of conspiring against the killing of Stalin and other different criminal acts against the state. During the trial, all of the accused plead guilty explicitly in the court; it is greatly likely that they had been forced into doing so, with pressure on family members. The brutality and hostility with which Stalin removed political adversaries did much to strengthen his power.

            True, social conditions improved under Stalin. Joblessness dropped to almost zero, and large bounds in the public health were initiated. Yet, there was no free will at all in Soviet society.

Stalin Rise ; his Dictatorship: An Analysis

Fitzpatrick divides the Stalin era into group along class lines since class distinctions had become so vague in the Stalinist terminology, and the people so unsettled, that “relations between classes were comparatively unimportant in Stalinist society. What mattered was the relationship to the state — in particular, the state as an allocator of goods in an economy of chronic scarcity” (pp. 11-12).

Fitzpatrick tries to bear out a plain allegation: that Soviet urban populace in the Stalinist era sought to live “normal,” natural lives in odd times, following of constant scarcity, social disorder and political victimization.

Fitzpatrick further attempted to deal with a portrayal of the prevailing class Homo sovieticus. She tried to get the insight of people’s to understand how they observed and made sense of what was happening.

Fitzpatrick wonders how populace might stay steer clear of the pain of what Sovietologists called “cognitive dissonance.” How did Soviet people resolve their existing material sufferings? How they accepted official claims that existing hardships were temporary and on the road to prosperity? Fitzpatrick maintains what Soviets believed was less significant than the truth that high and lofty promises were part of the population’s familiarity; “a Soviet citizen might believe or disbelieve in a radiant future, but could not be ignorant that one was promised” (p. 67).

In the same way, Fitzpatrick wondered how the Soviets reconciled a free ideology with the continuation of privileged class for example prize-winning workers, Writers’ Union members and Communists. One policy for psychological endurance facing this incongruity was “misrecognition,” by which privileged found mental frameworks to rationalize their own privileged position (p. 104).

Stalin used “misrecognition” by “appropriating the term ’intelligentsia’ to depict Soviet elites as a whole,” justifying this elite’s privilege because it was supposedly “the most cultured, advanced group in a backward society”(p. 105).

Fitzpatrick also  focused on the psychological endurance styles of those people whose principles were troubled by connivance, those who had been charged or were unsuccessful to protect innocent people or “in a host of ways found themselves becoming participants in the process of terror”(p. 191). One tactic was to adopt a “them” and “us” classification in which “we” (the population) are totally passive vis-à-vis “them” (the state) (p. 191).

Indeed, the image was illusive, as Fitzpatrick reveal that the demarcation between the state and the people was ambiguous, as large number of people was being upgraded into executive positions. Nevertheless, the psychological concept helped people disprove that they had a role in the Great Terror. Fitzpatrick asserts, “One of the most useful functions of the ’them’ and ’us’ framework for Soviet citizens –and a major reason why historians should approach it warily– was that it obscured this unbearable fact [of complicity]” (p. 191).

Fitzpatrick summed up Stalin era as stigmatization of ‘class enemies’, police watch, fear, and the a variety of unceremonious, measures by which people at every level tried to shield themselves and get limited commodities. Stalinism was “a maximalist version of [the Soviet experience] and its defining moment” (pp. 3-4) (1).

On the other hand, Theodore Laue states that Lenin’s outline of dictatorship, related to communists and nationalism, took the most distinguished shape under the regime of Stalin, a brutal dictator obsessed by appreciation of American industrialized supremacy.

The service and allegiance to the Tsar and later to the multiethnic Bolshevik Party, in the useful style of the state, became the major criterion of Russian political perception.

Stalin was resolute, in a completely extraordinary extensive experimentation of aggressive reorganization, rapidly to change his under-developed peoples in into populace able to overcome the threats of external attack as well as the dishonor of backwardness, no matter what it costs.

Moreover Russia has been vital not only to her great expansion eastward and southward through its capacity to affirm and protect its security westward, where the benefits and supremacy of industrially advanced West European states have been engaged (2).


Stalin mostly through intimidation, authoritarian controls, and subjugation, was able to efficiently obtain and keep power over the Russian State. He brought some developments in the USSR that include a sweeping progress in literacy and commerce. Nevertheless, much of Stalin’s endeavor for power was severely damaging to Russian society and people equally. The liberty and welfare of the people was radically curtailed; also, political resistance was made absolutely impracticable, and very treacherous. Moreover, in spite of their comparative success, Stalin’s industrial strategies were full with governmental blunders and cost millions of lives. Finally, creativity in the arts, as well as freedom and objectivity in instruction were completely repressed. Overall, the harmful aspects and impacts of Stalin’s regime seriously prevailed over the positive measures under Stalin.


1)       Fitzpatrick, Sheila. Everyday Stalinism. Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the1930s, 1999, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2)       Laue, Theodore H. von. Why Lenin? Why Stalin? Why Gorbachev? 1993, New York: Harper-Collins.