April 9, 2017

Myth: Lenin was opposed to Stalin

A common myth originating with Kruschev's 20th party meet was that Lenin was opposed to Stalin and desired him expelled from the party.

Here is Lenin's text Kruschev referred to:

"Сталин слишком груб, и этот недостаток, вполне терпимый в среде и в общениях между нами, коммунистами, становится нетерпимым в должности генсека. Поэтому я предлагаю товарищам обдумать способ перемещения Сталина с этого места и назначить на это место другого человека, который во всех других отношениях отличается от тов. Сталина только одним перевесом, именно, более терпим, более лоялен, более вежлив и более внимателен к товарищам, меньше капризности и т. д."

"Stalin is too coarse, and this deficit, although manageable in relations between ourselves, communists, becomes unbearable in the status of General Secretary. So I recommend comrades to think of moving Stalin away from this position and appoint in his place someone who differs from Stalin in only one area, namely, greater patience, greater loyalty, better manners, less outbursts and etc."

No individual differs from another individual "in only one area"- thus it is clear Lenin was simply suggesting Stalin become more patient and learn better manners.

Considering Lenin was even more viciously critical towards the other major Bolshevik leaders, charging Trotsky with "чрезмерно хвастающего самоуверенностью", "over-the-line arrogant self-confidence", calling him a "Judas" and a "non-Bolshevik". Kamenev and Zinoviev were alleged to have made mistakes "not by accident".

Stalin on October 23, 1927 responds to Lenin's criticism:

"Да, я груб, товарищи, в отношении тех, которые грубо и вероломно разрушают и раскалывают партию... Я на первом же заседании пленума ЦК после XIII съезда просил пленум ЦК освободить меня от обязанностей генерального секретаря. Съезд сам обсуждал этот вопрос. Каждая делегация обсуждала этот вопрос, и все делегации единогласно, в том числе и Троцкий, Каменев, Зиновьев, обязали Сталина остаться на своём посту. Что же я мог сделать? Сбежать с поста? Это не в моём характере, ни с каких постов я никогда не убегал и не имею права убегать, ибо это было бы дезертирством. Человек я, как уже раньше об этом говорил, подневольный, и когда партия обязывает, я должен подчиниться...

"Yes, I am rude, comrades, in relation to those who rudely destroy and fragment the party. I on the very first meeting of the Central Committee after the 13th Party gathering [when Lenin criticized Stalin's rudeness] asked the Central Committee to relieve me of my responsibilities as General Secretary. The Committee discussed this question. Each delegation discussed this question, and all delegations unilaterally, including Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, obliged Stalin to remain on the post. What should I have done? Run away from my post? This is not in my character, from no posts have I ran away, nor do I have a right to run away, as this would be mean being a deserter. I am a person, as I talked about before, answer to the party, and when the party asks, I must follow through."

Lenin even earlier called Stalin "the magic Georgian", surprised that the son of a cobbler was able to write such intelligent prose on subjects of great importance.

Thus, it is clear the myth that Lenin did not want Stalin to take power is bogus- in fact, out of all the possibilities, Stalin was both the closest ideologically to Lenin as well as his most liked comrade.