BY: cecilie s. Erichsen



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HISTORY ESSAY FOR WEEK 45

BY: CECILIE S. ERICHSEN

2
WAS LENIN THE GOOD GUY AND STALIN THE BAD?
For many years there has been a discussion on who ruled Russia in the best way for the people. There has been two camps formed. Those who say Lenin ruled for the people and those who say that Stalin ruled for the future of the nation. In this essay I will try to explain why these two groups have occurred and how the leaders (Stalin and Lenin) made life for their people during their time of rule.

Lenin came to power when the Bolsheviks sized the power in the October revolution (it was actually in November but due to different calendars it is called the October revolution) 1917. Lenin had recently returned from exile in Switzerland (April) and had from this timed managed to organise the Bolsheviks so that they would not loose their power when the final violent revolution came. The Bolsheviks did not have a majority, even if the name would suggest it, but the opposition was to unorganised to put up a fight against them.

The Bolsheviks main aim was "dictatorship for the proletariat", and by that he meant that all means of production should be run by the workers. He believed that if this happened there would be no more classes, and thus no more wars, so everybody would share equally. They would by this also let the people run the country from their Soviets in their factories. The main points in Lenin's` program was what the people wanted to here. He would give them peace with the Central Powers, redistribution of land to the farmers, transfer of factories, mines and other industrial plants from the capitalists to the soviets and recognition of the soviets as the supreme power in the country. He promised them "Peace, Bread and Land", and they got it, at least for a little while. As the Bolsheviks got their power the changed from being known as the Bolsheviks to Communists, especially those people who did not like them.

From 1918 till 1921 Lenin led the country through what has been known as the War Communism. The main points in this policy was:

1. State ownership of some central industries (steel & coal)

2. Factories owned by workers committees (Soviets)

3. Private small companies were allowed

4. Small farmers and kulaks (large farmers) had to give state deliveries.

In the beginning this led to a rapid change in peoples life. They had more freedom than before, and a better life. Lenin gave people what they wanted, so in that way he was not a communist but a Socialist.

After the civil war (1918-1921), when it was certain that the Bolsheviks would stay at power Lenin introduced yet another economic Policy. This got known as the Hew Economic Policy or NEP.

The NEP came through very much because of the dismays with the war communism. The NEP was a compromise with the capitalists to get the country on it's feet again. The main points in this policy was:

1. State ownership of some central industries (steel & coal)

2. Private companies and private profit on a free marked

3. The peasants were allowed to sell their products on a free market after having given off their state quantum.

The NEP favoured the sprouting new-rich commercial class, who ate out at expensive restaurants, and the Kulaks who made a small fortunes on buying farms of small peasants with very weak economy. By doing this he hoped to get the country on it's feet again, remain full state control of industry and of the agriculture through collective farms. Lenin lost much of his popularity by introducing the NEP. The NEP took the land away from the people again and trapped the peasants between a free priced market and locked amounts of products to be produced.

Even though Lenin lost mush of his popularity by the introducing of the NEP, he did improve the economy gradually, even if there was a recurring food shortage for many years.

This was only what Lenin did as a politician, as a person he was much more uncertain on how to lead the country. He band and expelled people in the party who started going against, as well as selecting his closest co-workers from the people who would let him run the country the way he saw fit.
On the other hand there was Stalin, who was one of the people Lenin warned his party fellows of before he died. Stalin was elected general secretary of the party in 1920, and started to gain power quickly through secret deals which others in the party were unaware of. He was still the party secretary and when Lenin died he took over the rule in a slow, unnoticed way. When all of Lenin's comrades started splitting over who should become the next leader of the party, Stalin kept up his daily work in the office. He noticed everything happening, and organised Lenin's body to be sent around the country. This was much because he wanted to toady up to people of Russia , by making them think he was a nice guy. After all, he did all this for Lenin, and a friend of Lenin had to be a friend of the people. The difference in the two is very well illustrated in this Russian joke: Gorbachev, Stalin and Lenin were riding on a train when, suddenly, the train stops moving. The engineer explains to the three passengers that the locomotive is disabled. " the will of the people will pull us onward, " replied Lenin. "Let's shoot the engineer," says Stalin. Finally Gorbachev responds, "We can pull down the shades and pretend we're moving forward" (Gorbachev was the leaders of Soviet from 1985 till 1991)

Stalin's way of changing the economic structure of the country with his five years plans. He introduced the first one in 1928. He considered all of the farms, land, crops, machinery and so on, to be owned by the state. Most farmers resisted the order to transfer all their goods to the government. That was like taking away all that Lenin had given them back from the Tsar-regime. The farmers killed half the livestock and otherwise destroyed much food production. To deal with this, Stalin sent about a million families to rest in exile.

In 1935, Stalin started his great purge of the government. Anyone he thought of as a threat to himself or the rule, was exiled or killed. In the time he ruled, over 60 000 priest were killed. He made away with most of the old Bolsheviks that had been under Lenin's leadership. People let him get away with it due to fright of it happening to them (no one knew who belonged to the secret police), and the fact that Stalin was a physically and mentally strong man. He basically scared everyone who had to deal with him. He lied, cheated and murdered only to get what he believed in. A classless society. Stalin himself believed he was a good leader for the people, correcting all the mistakes others had made before him.

After having selected the people he wanted around him, he slowly broke of the contact with the rest of the world, and Russia did not open up again till the late 1980`s. Stalin died in 1953, when ruling over a country that went backwards whilst the rest of the world made enormous progress.


From this one can say that Lenin was the good guy, who believed in the people, but failed with the system, whilst Stalin was the good guy who succeeded with the system by ruining the people. The to camps of good and evil still stand as they will until someone can determine what total freedom and classless society is for the people.


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