Essay on The Soviet Struggle for Power

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The Soviet Struggle for Power

Throughout the summer of 1923, Lenin lay close to death, and a lull settled over the political struggle. But the battle lines were forming in the Politburo and Central Committee. Trotsky seemed to hold the most powerful position, thanks to his close friendship with Lenin before the Soviet leader's strokes, but an opposition had already begun to emerge. Although Stalin would later be Trotsky's primary antagonist, for the moment the opposition included not only Stalin but also two other politicians: Lev Kamenev and G.E. Zinoviev, a leading Bolshevik who had been Lenin's closest aide during the Revolution. Together the three formed what was referred to as the "troika," or
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This was a critical moment: if his rivals had demanded compliance with the testament at this point, Stalin would not have survived their attacks--his support base was not yet large enough. However, Trotsky kept silent and Stalin's allies, Kamenev and Zinoviev, came to his defense; Stalin retained his post as General Secretary.

The following year, 1924, marks the beginning of Stalin's rise to power. At that point he was one of seven members of the Politburo--the others were Zinoviev and Kamenev, Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, and Mikhail Tomsky. By 1930, Stalin would overshadow them, and by 1940 outlive them. His amazing success can be attributed to a combination of his own political genius and the mistakes that his rivals persisted in making. Gifted ideologues though they were, his opponents were primarily men of theory--Marxists to the core-- rather than men of action. Stalin, meanwhile, never enjoyed a deep understanding of Marxist theory, and was always willing to twist it to his advantage, a habit that proved useful in the years ahead, as he repeatedly out- intrigued his supposed "comrades" within the party.

In December 1924, Stalin first articulated his own twist on Marxist orthodoxy, which he termed "Socialism in One Country." He argued that the success of Marxism in Russia was not contingent upon a worldwide

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