Stalin Takes the Place of the Bourgeoisie

After reading about Stalin’s rise to power and his style of ruling the USSR, I could not help but wonder if he essentially replaced the bourgeoisie as the new “exploiting” party.  In Stalin’s Soviet society, the proletariat appeared to have a lesser say in government affairs than they did under the previous Russian monarchy.  Stalin even stated that political power does not ultimately come from the people but from government officials through his quote, “The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.”  In consequence, the Russian people replaced a monarch that was imposing beneficial reforms and listened to the voices of his people for a controlling dictator.  Additionally, Stalin industrializes Russia just as the bourgeois would have, and imposes tough demands on the working people that they cannot meet under his Five Year Plans.  In the process of industrialization, Stalin harms the poor peasant through collectivization measures and nearly brings Russia back to the days of peasant communes that the rural laborers fought so hard to eradicate from Russian society in the years prior to Stalin’s ascendancy to political dominance.  I cannot help but question whether or not the Russian people made any gains as a result of the 1917 Revolution, because while Stalin is responsible for Russia’s large-scale industrialization, he is also responsible for food shortages and and increased government control of all aspects of daily life in the USSR.  Do you feel that Stalin benefited our harmed Russia?  Was Stalin just exploiting Russians in a different way than the previous ruling class did, or did he fulfill the requirements of a socialist state in the sense that he served his people’s needs?

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3 Responses to Stalin Takes the Place of the Bourgeoisie

  1. Carrigan Miller says:

    Stalin, in a lot of ways, exploited everyone. It could be said that him and the other rulers of the party became a class unto themselves. The question, of course, is why. What purpose do Stalins actions serve? The totally overbearing quotas of the Five Year Plans seem to be in opposition to the basic ideals of communism. Someone would say at this point that Stalin would only have his best interests at heart, but there could be arguments against this. My argument is that the purges and the Five Year Plans were part of Stalin’s plan of “tough loving” Russia, or preparing them for Communism. The purges were to make sure that not just Stalin would remain in power, but Communism wouldn’t be fought against. The Five Year Plans were to make sure the country could support itself once Stalin stepped down. I’m not sure if I believe this, but it’s a suggestion, and an interesting thought.

  2. sweiswasser2015 says:

    Joe, I think there is a lot of merit to your argument and much to be considered to answer your question. What particularly grabbed my attention was your idea that Stalin had absolute power and exploited the lower class. This, in my opinion, reveals one of the major flaws of Marxist communism: the transition into communism provides a platform for power hungry socialists like Stalin to continue to exploit the proletariat. Marx explains that in order to develop into a communist society, the proletariat will have to rise to power to redistribute land. This period can best be described as socialism. However, what Marx did not consider is the probability that this “short” period of socialism would involve a single dictator, hungry for power and money. Therefore, one of the most apparent flaws of Marxist communism is the idea that it provides an easy platform for dictators to rise up and exploit the proletariat for personal interest. It can therefore be argued that perhaps in a Stalinist society, the bourgeoisie is ruled by a single ruler, which is aforementioned in your post Joe.

    To further answer your question as to whether he fulfilled the needs of the people, I think that it is evident, from Stalin’s Five Year Plans and unrealistic production quotas, that Stalin used economic reform (like the Five-Year Plans) and mass murder to gain personal control and improve his reputation in the world. This idea is particularly evidenced by the fact that although production quotas were not met after the first Five-Year war, Stalin continued to announce that they were. This is yet another example of Russia attempting to “prove themselves” to the world and show their “modernization” and success.

  3. Madison says:

    While Stalin’s 5-year programs helped industrialize Russia’s economy, the programs were a set back for Russia in many ways. Stalin’s regime suppressed experimentation of Russian culture. Creativity in art, literature, and music was limited because the arts had to incorporate socialist realism. The development of the sciences and liberal arts was limited because all progress was confined to be under the Marxist beliefs. By grouping peasants together in collective farms to work the land, Russia had almost reverted back to serfdom. Religion was repressed as well. While Stalin formed a socialist state, the formation did not necessarily help the people in the way it might have been intended.

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