- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Stalinism Is Totalitarianism

Page 1 of 6



In a totalitarian state, the government is a single-party autocracy that controls every aspect of the lives of its peoples. This can be implemented through various tactics, such as use of a single ideology, strict control of economy and production, control of communication and use of armed forces and purges. Through Stalin’s use of various tactics to control the USSR, the statement “Stalinism is totalitarianism” to a large extent is an accurate reflection of Stalin’s role in the Soviet Union 1928-1941.

One of Stalin’s strategies to carry out totalitarianism in the USSR was through creating a new ideology. Though the revolution of Russia started out with Marxism-Leninism, Stalin’s rise to power led to he and his party sharing a radical communist ideology that transformed the government Lenin left behind. This was, at its core, similar to war communism, in its desire to ban of private trades, the seizure of land for the state, replacement of strict propaganda over criticism and public opinion through purges, its use of fear to coerce the people, its elimination of capitalist practice and its system of collectivism and industrialisation for the state. This demonstrates how Stalin’s ideology was one of authoritarianism and communism, which could control all aspects of Soviet society. Stalin said ‘We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced nations. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it or they crush us’[1] which demonstrates his totalitarian belief. Through Stalin’s authoritarian ideology, the statement “Stalinism is totalitarianism” to a large extent is an accurate representation of Stalin’s role in the Soviet Union 1928-1941.

Moreover, the tight control of the economic state of the USSR led the country into the introduction of collectivisation and industrialisation, essentially giving Stalin control of the Soviet State. Stalin’s use of industrialisation and collectivisation through the 5 year plans sped up the process of production in the Soviet state. His belief, “The outcome of the struggle will be determined by the proletarian class, the working class”[2], demonstrates his reliance on the working class for his production. Despite the famine in Ukraine in 1932-33, deportation of kulak households of 5 million people and use of slave labour of millions of workers and political figures that were against Stalin, the improvements in production between 1928 and 1937 were impressive. Coal went from 36 million tonnes to 130 million tonnes, iron from 3 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes, oil from 2 million tonnes to 29 million tonnes and electricity from 5,000 million to 36,000 million kilowatts[3]. Through his use of the 5 year plans, industrialisation and collectivisation, the statement “Stalinism is totalitarianism” is a valid representation of Stalin’s role in the Soviet society.

Similarly, Stalin implemented the use of purges and terror, through the use of secret police to control Soviet Society. Stalin used purges for various reasons, such as to ensure the government and its representatives stayed in his favour and to kill off citizens who disagreed with his ruling, thereby creating a controlled society under his dictatorship. In 1934, Kirov, the leader of the Communist Party, was murdered, perhaps on Stalin's orders with the NKVD. Stalin used this event to order massive purges by which anybody assumed to be disloyal. People who were suspected of disloyalty to Stalin were murdered, sent to prison camps, or put on public show trials at which they pleaded guilty to incredible crimes they could never have done. The Communist leadership was purged; 93 of the 139 Central Committee members were killed. The armed forces were also purged; 81 of the 103 generals and admirals were executed. The many Communist Party members were eliminated; about a third of its 3 million members were killed[4]. Photographs and history books were changed to remove even the memory of people who had been arrested. By the end of the 1930s, the Great Terror had spread to ordinary citizens who looked suspicious of differing opinions. Stalin himself says “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.”[5] As a result of purging, Stalin had complete control of the USSR, thereby making “Stalinism is totalitarianism” a justifiable statement.

Due to his extreme use of propaganda and banning free speech among all citizens, Stalin controls the view and opinions of his people. Stalin’s limitation of free speech and his push of propaganda allow him to manipulate labourers to work harder. The most noticeable change in Soviet social life in the 1930s was without a doubt the ‘cult of Stalin' that started around 1929. Outside of school, children typically joined youth groups such as the Octobrists, aimed for 8 to 10 year olds and the Pioneers for the 10 to 16 year olds. Similarly, teens from 19 to 23 usually joined the Komsomol. He used the party’s control of free speech to display Stalin as the 'Supreme Genius of Humanity' – the true successor to Lenin. His image also made a major impact during this time, as he began to appear in photos, paintings, on buildings and houses. In his honour, cities and towns were named. Children learnt to thank Stalin for their happy lives, learnt how to be good communists and in history, were taught about Stalin’s role in 1917 Revolution. Books were severely censored by the state, with Stalin ordering a new book called “A short history of the USSR” which had to be used in schools.[6]Also, to put emphasis on his role in the Revolution and Civil war, Stalin arranged for written history to be altered to favour him. An example of this is indicated by this new account of the Bolshevik takeover in 1917, that it was him who organised takeover and the one who planned the tactics to overcome the White armies. He says “The achievement and maintenance of the dictatorship of the proletariat is impossible without a party which is strong by reason of its solidarity and iron discipline. But iron discipline in the Party is inconceivable without unity of will, without complete and absolute unity of action on the part of all members of the Party.”[7], thereby demonstrating his perspective on achieving complete control over Soviet society, thus making the statement “Stalinism is totalitarianism” a reasonable depiction of Stalin’s role in the Soviet society.

Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2017, 02). Stalinism Is Totalitarianism. Retrieved 02, 2017, from

"Stalinism Is Totalitarianism" 02 2017. 2017. 02 2017 <>.

"Stalinism Is Totalitarianism.", 02 2017. Web. 02 2017. <>.

"Stalinism Is Totalitarianism." 02, 2017. Accessed 02, 2017.