Question by : personalities of the contenders to succeed Lenin in accounting for defeats of his opponents?
“How significant were the personalities of the contenders to succeed Lenin in accounting for defeats of his opponents in the years 1924-29?”
Right i’m a little stuck with this question, I kinda understand what to write about; Trotsky, Bukharin, Stalin, Lenin’s testament etc, but I don’t really understand what the question is actually asking?
I’ve asked my teacher but she wasn’t much help at all,
Answers and Views:
Answer by Spellbound
The question is asking you not to simply tell the story of how Stalin succeeded, and the others failed, but to analyse factors beyond simply the posts they held or the authority they commanded, to ascertain how far the character of the main contenders was important in the struggle for power.
Lenin’s testament is the best place to start.
Trotsky is quite easy, he was an intellectual, brilliant organiser and administrator, he was also vain and bored by the endless meetings. But his two biggest failings, in the eyes of his Politburo comrades, were that he had only joined the Bolsheviks in October 1917, just before the Revolution, and he was Jewish. In fact, Trotsky himself ruled himself out of the leadership post before 1924, on grounds of his Jewishness. However, his vanity, intellectual drive and ambition probably would have seen him strive for the post, had Stalin not destroyed him politically.
Bukharin, was too much of an intellectual, and too humane for the ruthlessness of the leadership challenge, but was willing to side with Stalin to destroy the Left Opposition (led by Trotsky).
Georgi Pyatakov, a Bolshevik mostly forgotten about, but mentioned by Lenin, was a Left Communist who allied himself with Trotsky. He had opposed Lenin on too many occasions to be a serious rival for power.
Then the difficult question: what was Stalin like BEFORE he became the undisputed leader of the USSR. He was variously described by other Politburo members as “…”that grey blur”(as Trotsky said) or thought of as a mediator between the competing ambitions of other candidates.
Wikipedia is surprisingly good on the power struggle, but you should also use other sites and books, try these ones:
Stalin, A Biography – Robert Service
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