Norman Pereira’s essay on Stalin’s rise to power in the USSR was a cautious attempt to challenge consensus.
From the 1930s onwards, under the influence of Trotsky’s autobiography, even most anti-Communists subscribed to a condescending analysis of how Stalin had won the struggle against his great rival. Stalin was ill-educated, unintellectual and uninterested in ideas.
Stalin frequently judged that Europe was not yet ‘ripe’ for revolution.
Nevertheless he kept looking for chances to expand Communism beyond the Soviet frontiers, as he showed when he invaded Finland and the Baltic States in 1939- 40 and when the Soviets occupied Eastern Europe in the late 1940s.
Robert Tucker’s biography of Stalin, published in 1973, introduced the idea that Stalin was no mere administrator but a talented leader who could quickly make up his mind about policy and assemble a dynamic political team to carry it out.
The fact that his factional adversaries – Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin – denied this said more about their ineptitude and condescension than about Stalin.
His positions in communist power, his role as editor of the national newspaper, the factional disputes between left and right and his realistic approach contributed greatly to what was to become "the most ruthless autocracy" Russia had ever endured.
There is no doubt that Stalin's character contributed to his rise to power in Russia, in 1917.
Stalin was a mass terrorist with a gross personality disorder. But he was able to do what he did because he was also a leader of exceptional talent.
- Read the full text of Stalin and the Communist Party in the 1920s.