Sunday, December 11, 2005

In contrasting the social, economic, and political policies of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, it can be seen that Lenin and Stalin’s policies were alike in many ways, although Stalin’s were far harsher. Lenin organized the Bolshevik Party (later changed to Communist Party). The Bolsheviks were radicals in the Russian Revolution led by Lenin and who favored revolution rather than gradual democratic change. Bolsheviks had an extreme socialist outlook, were opponents of the Russian traditional statehood and the Russian Orthodox Church. The Bolsheviks believed in organizing the party in a strongly centralized hierarchy that sought to overthrow the Tsar and achieve power. Bolshevik later became synonymous with the communist. Vladimir Lenin provided the revolutionary philosophy based on Karl Marx’s (German socialist, 1818-1883) theories to the Russian people. After 1917 Lenin successfully estab1ished the Communist government in Russia by skillfully adjusting the Party policy to suit the needs of the changing circumstances from 1917 and 1924. Lenin was the greatest architect of the Bolshevik Revolution and Father of the Soviet Union.

Lenin’s primary social policies dealt with the church and religious affairs. The Russian Orthodox Church is a reactionary institution and significant focus for the people during this time period. If the Russian Orthodox church did not agree with government, the church would react quickly and affect the populous. The government or any new government could not battle the church on any grounds and survive the encounter. Therefore the church could react decisively and could possibly be a proactive force against the Bolsheviks. Therefore the Bolsheviks sought to destroy it. Church and state were separated, church property was seized, and many churches, monasteries, and convents were closed. Religious instruction was prohibited, and only civil marriage ceremonies had legal recognition. Also, the Bolsheviks replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian calendar and abolished titles of nobility. During the civil war, Lenin had instituted “War Communism”, which involved nationalizing and centralizing the economy quickly. The produce of peasants was requisitioned or confiscated to feed the workers in the cities and the Red Army and compulsory labor was introduced. While this allowed the Russian regime to have the countries full resources at their disposal to fight the war, it gave no incentives for farmers or workers after the war. Lenin recognized the need for change and introduced the New Economic Policy. Under the National Economic Policy, the state retained ownership and control of large industries. The state also controlled transportation and foreign trade. A tax in kind, payable in grain, was levied on the peasants, who could then sell their surplus produce on the market. This provided the peasants with an incentive to produce more. Peasants were also permitted to rent additional land and to hire labor. Lenin’s political policies included dissolving the constituent assembly after just one session. Lenin also organized a secret police force known as the Cheka, to combat counterrevolutionary activity. By dissolving the constituent assembly and establishing a secret police, Lenin began the process of creating a Bolshevik dictatorship to replace the autocracy of the tsars. In 1924, Lenin died from stroke and was replaced by Stalin. In honor of the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, the Soviet Union changed the city's name of St. Petersburg to Leningrad. Leningrad became St. Petersburg again 67 years later when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Similar to Lenin, Stalin’s social policies were to get rid of religion. In 1929, the government again struck at religion. Many churches, synagogues, and mosques were closed or put to other uses. Schools, which had been ordered to ignore religion, were now required to teach lessons presenting religion as backward and harmful. Stalin was also had harsh policies against the people. Arrests were made for having friends in foreign countries, for practicing their religion, for casual remarks overheard by police informers. Stalin’s economic policies broke with Lenin’s to create, what were in effect, two new Soviet revolutions in industry and in agriculture.
Both Lenin and Stalin wanted to achieve socialism in Russia; however their plans to achieve this differed. Lenin believed that socialism could not be achieved without revolutions in other advanced western countries. Stalin believed that socialism could be achieved without the assistance of other countries and the platform of “Socialism in One Country” was created. Stalin wanted desperately for Russia to catch up to the advances of western civilization quickly. (

In 1928, Stalin outlined his Five Year Plan, which called for a command economy. A command economy is an economy in which all economic decisions are made by the government. The rapid industrialization under Stalin’s Five Year Plan was achieved in part by limiting the production of consumer goods. Instead, investment was mad in state-owned mines, heavy industry, railroads, and energy resources. The government controlled every aspect of the worker’s life.
Later, Stalin launched another plan in 1933 that was just as effective. Stalin’s agricultural revolution, which was also based on centralized planning, was far more brutal than his industrial revolution. Privately owned farms were abolished and replaced by collective farms, which were large units worked by hundreds of families. The peasants resisted fiercely, but Stalin showed no mercy and millions of peasants were executed.

Stalin’s political policies consisted of a totalitarian state, a country in which a dictator controls every facet of the lives of its citizens. The slightest dissent was not tolerated by the government. Similar to Lenin, he had a secret police. Stalin arrested and executed millions of suspected traitors. Stalin was able to stop rebellion because of his strict policies enforced upon the people in Russia and the secret police.
In 1933, Stalin put forth the theory of aggravation of the class struggle along with the development of socialism. It became one of cornerstones of Stalinism in the internal politics of the Soviet Union. Stalin believed that ongoing repression of political opponents is necessary. Stalin began persecuting his real and imagined enemies. Between 1934 and 1938 there were a series of trials followed by mass executions. These included many of Stalin’s close associates, members of the secret police and high ranking members of the Red Army. Those not sentenced to death were imprisoned or exiled.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Stalin’s harsh policies, by the end of 1930's, Russia had become a major industrial power. Production was second only to the U.S.A. and Germany. Unlike the World War I, Russia was now able to defend itself against its enemies, including Germany. It must be remembered that this achievement was made at great expense to the Russian people.

In conclusion, it can be seen that Lenin and Stalin’s social policies were similar in that both leaders tried to remove religion. Lenin and Stalin were also comparable in their economic policies, which was to have the government control the economy. Both Lenin and Stalin’s political policies were similar in that they both had secret police and upheld the dictatorship. Thus, it can be seen that in contrasting the social, economic, and political policies of Lenin and Stalin you can conclude that Lenin and Stalin were very much alike; however they differed on their approach to achieve socialism.


Blogger Peter said...

I just would like to add that Leninism and Stalinism are unquestionably linked.
Stalin based his principals on most of the aspects of Leninism, Lenin’s ideas of political control lead to Stalin’s style of power.

You have motioned in your blog that Lenin organized a secret police force known as the Cheka. This was his way of control though terror which made Stalin’s horrifying acts technically possible. Although Lenin had the potential for creating misery on the scale of Stalin, he chose not to use it to such a degree. Stalin did use his powers to a horrific extent to achieve personal gain rather then benefit the idea of communism on a wider scale as Lenin had tried to do.

One of the last known Stalin’s horrifying acts was the Katyn Massacre.
In 1990 the Russian government handed over to Polish President Lech Walesa previously secret documents showing that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had directly ordered the killing of the Polish army officers. Most of the victims in Katyn forest were Polish army reservists lawyers, doctors, scientists and businessmen who were called up to active service following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. But instead of fighting the Germans, about 15,000 Polish officers found themselves prisoners of the Red Army, which had occupied eastern Poland under the terms of a secret Moscow-Berlin treaty. In the spring of 1940, about 4,500 of these officers were taken by their Soviet captors to the Katyn forest. Most were then gagged, bound, shot once in the head and buried on the spot. The other Polish POWs were taken to other locations, where many of them were also executed. The mass liquidation killed off much of Poland's intelligentsia and facilitated the Soviet takeover of the nation.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Bea Sauerhoff said...

I would agree in concept but I would like to emphasis that the cornerstone of society is education. An educated society through interaction would promote lively discussion and embracement and acceptance of new ideas which ultimately would lead to advancement of society. Much of this was not embrased though by Lenin and Stalin.

5:02 PM  
Blogger marvail said...

Lenin and Stalin were nothing but ignorant so called leaders who care nothing about the people(poor) but themselves. I despised anyone who alienates religion because of their unawareness of what they don't understand.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Centenary6 said...

I'm surprised that more has not been said about stalin's murderous activities. As archaic as the world once was(maybe will say that in another hundred years about our time period), I'm surprised someone did not just take over and expel stalin. I guess he was just too feared.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

This was a very well structured and infomative blog. It helped me verify my thoughts during the readings and added to my understanding of the material. This blog was well formatted and flowed nicely. This is a very interesting and easy to read site. This was a tremendous help in visualizing what it was like during this period. The picture was a nice touch. Well done.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Judy_Rapp said...

As you stated, the advancements made by Lenin and Stalin were at a great cost to the people of Russia. I feel that Lenin and especially Stalin used the ideas of Marx for their own good. They used brutality and fear to bend the people to their will. Marx's manifesto was an idea to bring equality to the people and to bring advancement to the country but Stalin and Lenin used his ideas to crush them and take their freedoms away.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Jefferson Clark said...

They were both extremists. This caused suspicion and fear of being overthrown in both of their minds. This caused millions of deaths that should never have occured. Although liberal instead of conservative they should be placed in history beside Hitler. The difference between the two is that Lenin was more of a revolutionary. He believed more of the propaganda than Stalin did. Stalin was an opportunist, like Hitler. There was alot of potential here for alot of good. Stalin and Lenin did not take advantage of that.

8:20 PM  
Blogger tim said...

They both used very simular techniques for getting things done. In my opion it was a controlled version of them being fanatics and takign to extremes.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Theresa Bowers said...

I found this presentation to be very informative, I actually found it very helpful with some of the homework assignments. As far as Stalin is concerned I would say both eh and Hitler were runnin gjust about neck to neck when it came to fatalities. I consider both to be tyrants, who took advantage of their gain of power and control.

12:02 AM  
Blogger April Leaver said...

Very interestingly, I spoke to a man tonight who was in Hungary during the communist regime. He stated that although he remembers (he was age 12 upon leaving) waiting in line for essentials such as bread and milk, he specifically remembers the way the employers took care of families. Although it required 12 hour days, 2 days a week, factories took care of their employees and their families in regards to health benefits. Loyalty apparently was rewarded. Scoialized medicine was not the devil it seems to be now. He (nor his parents) remember waiting long for any required testing (perhaps then, but look at Canada now). He does remember that eventually Capitalism creaped into their Communist environment. If you slipped the doctor a $20 bill, you were sure to see the doctor sooner.

He believes that a blend of the democracy and communism is the key to harmony. Food for thought.....

1:04 AM  

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