Stalin’s attempts to remove any political factions that were pitted against him provide an iconic example of a totalitarian rise to power. These ambitions are summarized definitively in “Purges,” a document published in 1935. In this passage, Stalin’s prose reveals his feelings that the extant companions of Lenin in the Soviet Union constituted a threat to his own political prowess and thus needed to be eliminated by whatever means necessary to decimate their power and credibility with the general public.
Stalin accused figures such as Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Trotsky of “insincerity and duplicity” in their statements of allegiance to the state and claimed that they were responsible for numerous acts of subversion, most significantly “a villainous plot against the life of S.M. Kirov. (Stalin) The more poignant purpose of these accusations was to portray these Old Bolsheviks as enemies of the “common cause.” (Stalin) By extension, these opponents of Stalinism became the collective enemy of the public. Thus, by publishing “Purges,” Stalin attempted to simultaneously denounce the likes of the Old Bolsheviks and create a unifying “us against them” mentality amongst the Russian population. The administrative technique of “unification against a common enemy” is pervasive throughout history and is evident in countless examples of leadership beyond the political sphere. “Purges,” however, is one of the most archetypal instances of the usage of this tool.
Do you think that Stalin’s accusations of “insincerity and duplicity” against the Old Bolsheviks were a calculated act of propaganda or simply the product of paranoia? (Stalin)