The Superpower under Joseph StalinDidi SalamonCourse NameInstructor

The Development Soviet Russia as a Global Superpower under Joseph StalinDidi SalamonCourse NameInstructor NameJanuary 22, 2018    The Soviet Union was established after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 dismantled the tsar-based autocratic government and established a communist-based system of government headed by Vladimir Lenin. The Soviet Union was properly consolidated and established in 1922, and lasted until its demise in 1991.1 The revolution in 1917 was a result of poor governmental administration on behalf of the previous Provisional Government of the Russian Empire, stark class differences between the working class and bourgeoisie, and widespread poverty. The goal of the revolution was, in the eyes of Vladimir Lenin, to establish a classless state without bureaucratic oversight. The transformation of the Russian state from a relatively dysfunctional nation under the Russian Empire to the global superpower of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s was largely resultant of the ruthless leadership prowess of Joseph Stalin, whom served as the head of the Communist Party from 1922 to 19522. His economic tactics, industrial emphasis, and utilization of oppression and terror all contributed greatly to his ‘iron fist’ rule, and to the eventual elevation of the Soviet Union from regional to global superpower.     Joseph Stalin was initially faced with a nation whose economy was largely dependent on agriculture, and the shift towards industrialization and economic growth was relatively slow to occur. It wasn’t until the 1930’s with the Russian Holocaust and the late ’30s—early ’40s with Russia’s preparation for war that Russia truly industrialized on a large, nationwide scale.3 Pre-Stalin Russia was populated primarily by peasant farmers, who ran small subsistence-style farms, and were oppressed heavily by a small class of merchants and wealthy peoples—the bourgeoisie.4 The economic structure of the nation at the time was simple, with the peasants representing a large portion of the population, and mostly experiencing poverty and oppression from the wealthy class. The wealthy class dominated Russian politics and economic activity, earning revenue from peasants and engaging in international trade, using Russia’s richness in natural resources to generate money. This economic atmosphere was challenged under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, whose desire to shape Russia into a powerful global actor was widely known and documented.     Industrialization was sped up by Stalin’s 5-Year Plans—essentially goals for Russian economics, outlining quotas and economic goals to reach for the purpose of industrializing the nation.5 These plans included communistic principles including collectivization of private land, and ended the previous economic plan, the ‘New Economic Policy’.6 Collectivization involved the merging of small, subsistence-style farms belonging to impoverished peasants into larger government owned farms called kolkhozes.7 A report published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1930 details state collectivization and the ‘state of collective construction,’  1. In recent months, the collective movement has taken a new step forward, covering not only individual groups of individual farms, but also entire districts, and even regions. The movement is based on the collectivization of the means of production of the poor and middle peasant farms.All the planned rates of development of the collective movement have been surpassed. As early as the spring of 1930, the area under cultivation, cultivated on socialized grounds, would considerably exceed 30 million hectares, i.?. five-year plan for collectivization, by which by the end of the five-year period it was intended to cover 22-24 million hectares by the collective, will be considerably exceeded in this year.8The emphasis on industrialization in the Soviet Union was strong, and Stalin imposed industrial growth projections exceeding 250%—goals entirely unreachable, which eventually led to economic problems like severe shortages in consumer goods and services.9 This shortage in consumer goods was the result of too heavy an emphasis on Russian industrialization, with the majority of investment targeting “heavy industry”.10 However, Stalin and his Communist Party developed another plan. Unremarkably dubbed the Second Five-Year Plan, it also was placed an emphasis on industry, but did not set unreachable goals, and the Russian economy was much more rounded out as a result during its’ tenure from 1933 to 1937 (it was declared to be finished early by several months, meaning it was only technically active for a little over 4 years).11 These plans vastly increased the industrial capability of Soviet Russia during this time, and allowed for better preparation for WWII and provided a more stable foundation for economic and industrial growth during the Cold War.     This final economic product of these plans is that of Russian regional supremacy, poised as the most powerful economic actor in its immediate region during the 1930s. However, after WWII, the Soviet Union’s economy expanded dramatically and it grew to challenge the United States of America as the only other clearly defined global superpower after WWII. The basis for this superpower status was established with the economic policies implemented under Stalin in the 1920s and ’30s and grown throughout and after WWII.     While the economic growth of Soviet Russia under Stalin is impressive and undeniable, the social tactics implemented during his regime are nothing short of terroristic and genocidal. With historians reporting over 20 million people dead by the indirect hand of Joseph Stalin, his valuable contributions to the economic integrity of the Soviet Union may easily be dismissed. Stalin was famous for his ruthlessness, killing his political enemies and all who oppose him without mercy and on a grand scale. Millions of people were deported, tortured, worked to death, or executed, all as a by-product of a vicious campaign of political terror perpetrated by the Stalin regime.12 The tactic of terror was implemented to scare away political dissidents who opposed Stalinist ideals. This campaign, which was dubbed the ‘Great Purge’ or the ‘Great Terror’ lasted from 1936 to 1938 (a legal campaign in fact, which officially called for the mass execution of “enemies of the people”—which constituted anyone Stalin deemed a threat).13     There is a well-documented incident that highlights the ruthless nature of Joseph Stalin in his leadership that pertains to his own family. Stalin’s son, Yakov Dzhugashvili, was an officer in the Russian military at the onset of WWII, and was captured early on by Nazi forces. Because of his status as the son of the leader of the USSR, contact was made with Joseph Stalin to negotiate a trade. The terms included the transfer of a German officer, named Friedrich Paulus, in exchange for Yakov, Stalin’s own son. However, Stalin coldly declined the offer for the purpose of retaining the German officer—thus sealing the fate of his son, whom died as a result of suicide.14 This incident clearly illustrates the cruel coldness of Stalin, whose doctrine lead to the death of millions under the guise of state security or national interests.     Despite his ruthless reign of terror, however, Stalin did sculpt Russia as one of the most powerful nations on the globe by fearlessly facing the Nazi war machine and installing ambitious economic goals that pulled Russia out of an agriculture-based economy and into an industry-based economy. This overall shift under the rule of Joseph Stalin represents the most significant period of development in Russian history, as it sets the foundation for Russian socioeconomic participation in the international community for the entire 20th century. It also is a noticeable influence on contemporary Russian politics, in which ruthlessness and confidence is glorified.     The transition that the Soviet Union underwent during the late 1930s, and early- to mid- ’40s marks the shift from a regional to a global superpower. Russia gained international influence and power, standing as the most powerful and influential state alongside the United States. As Britain, France, and many other European nations lay mostly or partly in ruins, the United States and mainland Russia remained relatively in-tact, allowing both nations to make fairly speedy recoveries after the war.15 This speedy recovery, coupled with Stalin’s emphasis on industrial and economic growth, led to the development of the Soviet Union as a global superpower—economically and, after intensive investment into defense, militarily. The progression of the Soviet economy was constant before, during, and after WWII under the Stalinist regime, allowing for the Soviet Union to excel quickly after involvement in the otherwise crippling conflict.     The Soviet Union was led to global superpower status by Joseph Stalin—his economic plans, military-industrial emphasis, and his utilization of political repression campaigns to consolidate power and contain dissention. His ruthless tactics of leadership were powerful tools he used to contain and control his people and his nation at large, pushing forward his economic plans and political agenda by any and all means available to him. The prominence of state prisons or ‘Gulags’ was significant, and reports suggest millions of people were sent to Gulag prison camps. However, the social atmosphere reflected the tense reality of Soviet life, with many individuals acting as state accomplices—many individuals were actually implicated themselves in the atrocities committed by the state.16 However, Stalin’s contributions to the Soviet Union are largely positive, with his ideas and programs resulting in a global economic and military superpower, contested only by the largest capitalistic nation in the world. This status as the world’s most dominate communist nation (second most powerful nation overall, behind the United States) was held until the total collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, after decades of relative national success. The trajectory the Soviet Union was placed on by Stalin-era policies and doctrines translated into the development of the nation as a global superpower and as an international economic, social, and political contender, all of which remains true to this day under contemporary Russian rule. Though without Joseph Stalin, this progression likely would never have been possible for the Russian state. NotesGennadii Bordyugov, “The Policy and Regime of Extraordinary Measures in Russia under Lenin and Stalin,” Europe-Asia Studies 47, no. 4 (1955): 616.Ibid., 616.3.   Anton Cheremukhin, Mikhail Golosov, Sergei Guriev, and Aleh Tsyvinski, “Was Stalin Necessary for Russia’s Economic Development?” 1-2. Ibid., 26-27. Ibid., 9.Ibid., 9.Ibid., 31. 8.   Central Committee of the CPSU, “The Rate of Collectivization and Measures to Assist the State in Collective Farm Construction,” Communist Party of Soviet Russia, Jan. 5, 1930.9. Library of Congress, “Revelations from the Russian Archives: Collectivization and Industrialization,” Library of Congress, 2017, Ibid.11. S. P. Turin, “The Second Five Year Plan,” The Slavonic and East European Review 11, no. 31 (1932): 60-61.12. Cynthia Haven, “Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?” Stanford University News, Sep. 13, 2010, Ibid.14. “Stalin’s Son was Executed in Nazi Camp—Archives,” Russia Today, May 11, 2012,  15. “The Soviet Union and Europe After 1945,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2017, 16. Cynthia Haven, “Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?” Stanford University News, Sep. 13, 2010, BibliographyBordyugov, Gennadii. “The Policy and Regime of Extraordinary Measures in Russia under Lenin and Stalin,” Europe-Asia Studies 47, no. 4 (1955): 615-632.Central Committee of the CPSU. The Rate of Collectivization and Measures to Assist the State in Collective Farm Construction, Communist Party of Soviet Russia, January 5, 1930.Cheremukhin, Anton; Golosov, Mikhail; Guriev, Sergei; Tsyvinski, Aleh. Was Stalin Necessary for Russia’s Economic Development?, (2013): 1-62.Haven, Cynthia. “Stalin killed millions. A Stanford historian answers the question, was it genocide?” Stanford University News. Sep. 13, 2010.  “Revelations from the Russian Archives: Collectivization and Industrialization.” Library of Congress. Aug. 31, 2016. Turin, S. P. “The Second Five Year Plan.” The Slavonic and East European Review 11, no. 31 (1932): 58-64. “The Soviet Union and Europe After 1945.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Holocaust Encyclopedia. 2017. “Stalin’s Son was Executed in Nazi Camp—Archives.” Russia Today. May 11, 2012.