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Stalin, was his paranoia the main cause of the great purges?

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Nov 2006, 01:58
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 29 Jan 2007, 02:53
The main reason for the Great purges was that Stalin felt threatened by the growing opposition towards him. There was so much opposition to him that he couldn’t help but feel isolated and so obviously wanted to replace the hostile opposition with people who supported him and were loyal.

There are two sides to the argument however. Some people argue that the purges came from the secret police, the bureaucracy. They argue that fear of the bureaucracy is what led many people to denounce others. People were so afraid for their own and their families safety that they denounced others to show that they were loyal to socialism and protect themselves from the purges. Even at party level, members were quick to denounce others to avoid punishment themselves. So arguably the purges came from the bottom up. However, the secret police was controlled by Stalin, as were all levels of the party, and you could arguably say that the secret police only killed who they were ordered to kill. Power was heavily centralised within the party and even though others might have carried out the murders, it was Stalin who ordered them. He signed death warrants of many people, and so must be held responsible. The secret police only killed members of the public and other party members because they themselves were afraid of being killed if they refused to do what Stalin said.

Another example of why Stalin was paranoid was the Ryutin platform. This was where party member Ryutin wrote a 200-page document which heavily criticised Stalin’s regime. It had an entire chapter on him, and called Stalin a hypocrite, a “counter-revolutionary”, and “evil”. It said Stalin had ruined the socialist construction of the Soviet Union. This document was handed out among party members in Moscow, and members such as Kamenev and Zinoviev were known to have read it. It led to a lot of opposition within the party to Stalin, which obviously made Stalin worried about his power. He was afraid of being overthrown. He was paranoid. The Ryutin Platform led to the arrest of many “old” Bolsheviks, and their eventual execution, which leads us to the conclusion that Stalin did indeed purge people because he was paranoid about their opposition to him.

The old Bolsheviks did indeed pose a large problem to Stalin. He felt threatened by their knowledge of him and the revolution. They all knew that the propaganda about him was lies. They all knew that he did virtually nothing in the 1917 revolution. They knew the real history and not the one in the textbooks which had been edited by Stalin. Stalin was aware of this and was extremely paranoid about it. He knew full well that his political career would be ruined if all the old Bolsheviks decided to go against party unity and overthrow him. So he purged them. By the end of the thirties, the party had completely changed and most of the members had joined since 1929; the old Bolsheviks were, “almost to a man/woman”, all dead. Was this just a mere coincidence? Most likely not.

Also, in terms of the general population, many began to dislike Stalin because of things that went wrong within the country. When deprivations “instead of disappearing, became more severe”, and when food supplies didn’t materialise, Stalin emerged as an easy scapegoat. This was due to the sheer amount of propaganda which said Stalin WAS the Bolshevik party, and so while being responsible for all the good it did, it also meant that anything bad that happened could be attributed to him. So as Stalin discovered this growing opposition in the population, so the amount of purges grew. He was paranoid about any sort of mass uprising and could justify purging the causes of unrest by saying they were anti-Bolshevik and anti-revolution, while perhaps just being anti-Stalin.

So overall the evidence overwhelmingly points to Stalin being threatened by opposition as the main cause of the purges. Perhaps there were some who were genuinely trying to sabotage the revolution, but it appears that anybody who opposed Stalin, even while still being communists, even Bolsheviks, were either sent to gulags or killed.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Oct 2006, 23:10
Politburo
Post 29 Jan 2007, 05:26
Quote:
evidence

Where?
Pat
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Jun 2004, 21:22
Embalmed
Post 29 Jan 2007, 07:15
This is a very basic opinion. I don't know that much about the political debate that happened between Trotsky and friends vs. Stalin.

I don't believe you can kill nearly all of your political opponents without it being paranoid.

There were two political sides fighting for control of the nation, while it appeared that they must move forward or sink. It was high stakes.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Aug 2006, 17:42
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
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Post 29 Jan 2007, 14:50
Quote:
There were two political sides fighting for control of the nation, while it appeared that they must move forward or sink. It was high stakes.


well, yes. and to continue to argue would be like arguing the dewey truman election.
Last edited by chaz171 on 29 Jan 2007, 16:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 29 Jan 2007, 16:13
Quote:
The main reason for the Great purges was that Stalin felt threatened by the growing opposition towards him.


Of course I believe that Stalin was deranged...and mentally sick: I believe he did these things believing they were the right thing to do...not otherwise.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Jun 2004, 21:22
Embalmed
Post 31 Jan 2007, 01:45
That's pretty insightful Chaz, not only to what should be done, but also to the event that occured to 'solve' the problem.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Jun 2005, 18:01
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 03:21
Quote:
Of course I believe that Stalin was deranged...and mentally sick


You try ruling the Soviet Union between, say, 1930 to 1953, when you are mentally ill or deranged.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Sep 2004, 16:21
Politburo
Post 07 Feb 2007, 04:15
Quote:
You try ruling the Soviet Union between, say, 1930 to 1953, when you are mentally ill or deranged.

Jobbyman speaks the truth. The 1930s and 40s were the most dangerous and complex period for the Soviet state, and Stalin successfully steered the Soviet Union through that crisis period. If he had been mentally ill, or had lost touch with reality, either he would have been removed from power by his colleagues (remember what happened to George III, an actual hereditary monarchy when he showed signs of madness!), or the Soviet Union would have collapsed in the face of its enemies, both internal and external, in the absence of effective and rational leadership. Neither of those two things happened.
"Comrade Lenin left us a great legacy, and we fucкed it up." - Josef Stalin
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 May 2006, 07:44
Resident Soviet
Post 07 Feb 2007, 06:10
Stalin's fear and the Politbureau fear of opposition + fear of the people to be labelled as "enemies" spawned a mass culture of denouncement.

The situation was pretty unstable though, a lot of spy cells operated in the USSR and sabotaged it's industry. Thus anyone who acted against Stalin was perceived as a possible enemy as in "enemy saboteur". A mass hunt on saboteurs, etc. was started.

Stalin was a complex person, on one hand he thought that communism was close and in his nearest circle and anywhere, he firmly defended socialism, but he clearly had little regard for human lives of those who were labelled as enemies either by denouncement or whatnot.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2007, 14:36
Pioneer
Post 07 Feb 2007, 18:34
We are always told that the purges were simply down to Stalins paranoia, however their were many enemies within the USSR at the time, trying to destroy socialism. Remember the old saying "just because your paranoid doesnt mean its not true"
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 18:40
Quote:
We are always told that the purges were simply down to Stalins paranoia, however their were many enemies within the USSR at the time, trying to destroy socialism. Remember the old saying "just because your paranoid doesnt mean its not true"


Yes, however these "enemies" you speak of that were inside the USSR were for the most part, the key element to party democracy. When a single party controls the government, that party MUST have competing viewpoints in order to not have the key elements of totalitarianism built in. These methods, as Trotsky explained, cause "..the party organization substitues itself for the Party, the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organization, and finally, a 'dictator' substitutes himself for the Central Committee" Mostly the "enemies" you are speaking of were against the Socialism in One Country method, however this does not mean that they aren't Communists. That's like saying, if you don't agree with Stalin you are not a Communist. That logic has dwindled, and although unfortunately some people still think that way, their credability has been pretty much lost.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Nov 2005, 17:55
Party Bureaucrat
Post 07 Feb 2007, 18:51
What people don't really care to realize is that Stalin did not rule on his own. Stalin was noted for sitting back during discussions and debates at the Politburo and the Supreme Soviet, reading the consensus, and suggesting decisions accordingly. Stalin was more like a Periclean figure, while the official state organ was ruled by Molotov, Kalinin, etc.

Anyway, I have to agree that Stalin faced extraordinary circumstances. Since the waning days of the Russian Empire and Western intervention in the Civil War, the capitalist nations maintained assets/saboteurs throughout the Soviet Union (whose borders were hard to maintain), and Stalin knew that for his country to develop and survive against the imperial powers, he had to root out those assets. I agree that what he did was overkill, resulting in the execution of ~706,000 people during his 25 years as Gen Sec, but it was necessary.

You should remember how the Nazis conquered continental Europe in the late 30s and in 1940 (and how the US fights wars today). Prior to the tactical air strikes and blitzkrieg, the Nazis typically prepped the ground for invasion by inserting "fifth column" elements in the political scene of the target nations, to subvert the political will of those nations to resist. Undoubtedly, the Nazis had such assets in the USSR, as it was their intention to invade the USSR; however, Stalin realized this and actively sought to get rid of those assets.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 18:58
Quote:
You should remember how the Nazis conquered continental Europe in the late 30s and in 1940 (and how the US fights wars today). Prior to the tactical air strikes and blitzkrieg, the Nazis typically prepped the ground for invasion by inserting "fifth column" elements in the political scene of the target nations, to subvert the political will of those nations to resist. Undoubtedly, the Nazis had such assets in the USSR, as it was their intention to invade the USSR; however, Stalin realized this and actively sought to get rid of those assets.


On that note I should say the only reason I have ever supported Stalin and his programs was his ability to understand and defeat Nazism.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Jun 2005, 18:01
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 19:49
Quote:
On that note I should say the only reason I have ever supported Stalin and his programs was his ability to understand and defeat Nazism.


Do you agree with him that Social Democracy was the moderate wing of fascism, or do you agree with Trotsky that the Communist Party should of had a United Front with them in Germany?
Soviet cogitations: 585
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 19:50
Quote:
Do you agree with him that Social Democracy was the moderate wing of fascism


Of course not.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Jun 2005, 18:01
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 19:57
Then what do you agree with if not that? The fact that Stalin had to get the Red Army to take control of Germany and destroy Nazism externally, as the Germans were not able to do it themselves as Trotsky hilariously predicted?
Soviet cogitations: 585
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 20:02
I agree with niether. Social Democracy is not a moderate wing of Fascism(which should be capitalized) and Trotsky was obviously wrong about German workers being able to dismantle Nazism. I think the circumstances that happened happened for a reason, that reason being we needed Stalin to defeat Hitler, whatever the costs.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Sep 2004, 16:21
Politburo
Post 07 Feb 2007, 20:21
Quote:
Do you agree with him that Social Democracy was the moderate wing of fascism

It would be more accurate to say that Fascism is the political expression of capitalism in extremis, while Social Democracy is the political expression of capitalism which is stable and secure. In that sense, and only that sense, Social Democracy can be described as the moderate wing of Fascism. They are both political expressions of capitalist-imperialism, but one is moderate while the other is extreme. There is not a continuum between them, but they are both different expressions of the same thing.
"Comrade Lenin left us a great legacy, and we fucкed it up." - Josef Stalin
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 May 2006, 07:44
Resident Soviet
Post 07 Feb 2007, 20:43
Bravo Potemkin, Marxism 5. Fascism is capitalism in reaction and crisis, social democracy - in stability. Both forms are the expression of capitalism and in this, SD is the "left" wing of fascism indeed.

Why was Stalin so harsh against SD? One needs to look no further than to the total inability of the German workers to do anything against Hitler and the national bourgeois, up until May 1945, when suddenly many Germans declared to be "communist" and Soviet "sympathizers". Oh yeah? Well, where were they before? Why the most effective assassination attempt on Hitler was carried out by his own circle, which was comprised of militarists and reactionary elements? Huh?
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Soviet cogitations: 585
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 12 Jan 2007, 19:46
Komsomol
Post 07 Feb 2007, 20:45
Quote:
Fascism is capitalism in reaction and crisis, social democracy - in stability.


Can't you just call it conservatism and liberalism so we can stop labeling things Fascist?
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