Stalin and many others were arrested. Kotkin himself deflates the importance of authorship: “Lenin’s dictation — however it was produced — comported with a widespread view of his [Stalin’s] own character. There were many apparatchiks who were against Stalin not merely because there were angling to take his place, but because they opposed his policies. Catalyst, a new journal published by Jacobin, is out now. Peasants were free. This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast. The Mensheviks decided that Lenin’s approach was disastrously un-Marxist only after they refused to recognize the leadership the London Congress had elected — Lenin, Martov, Plekhanov — rather than those members the Congress had not elected — Vera Zazulich, Alexander Potresov, and Pavel Axelrod. Kadet Duma liberal luminaries dominated it. Kotkin may well declare the October Revolution to have been the handiwork of a cabal of conspirators. By Stephen Kotkin July/August 2018 Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) honour guard uses a string to ensure members of the honour guard are standing in a straight line in Beijing July 7, 2014. In March 1917, the opportunity to seize or attempt to seize power came — and went — without Stalin doing anything power-hungry. Sunday speeches mentioned only voluntary collectivization and industrialization at some point in the future. Not so. Lenin’s line of argument persuaded Stalin; the Menshevik one did not. Bukharin, the party’s theoretician; Alexei Rykov, who was in charge of the economy; and the trade-union chief Mikhail Tomsky protested that Stalin would alienate the peasantry if he pursued his expropriations — a second edition of War Communism — for very long, inciting them to rise collectively against the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and ultimately overthrow it. It would take Stalin and his supporters eighteen months to grind down the Right Opposition, finally putting it to flight in the spring of 1929. Help Us Stick Around for Many More. But this was really illusory, in Kotkin’s view. When Stalin learned of the Menshevik-Bolshevik split in late 1903, he sided with Lenin. Nobody in late 1927, all through 1928, and through much of 1929, even contemplated — still less practically prepared for — forced collectivization and forced industrialization. Russian and Soviet studies are an ideological minefield, and few Marxists have been known to negotiate it successfully — in the United States especially. Kotkin’s teleology leads to incoherence. Review of Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928 by Stephen Kotkin (Penguin Random House, 2015). But why did the son of ex-serfs “succeed” while the big Saratov landowner came up short? It is a historiographically significant role because it puts to rest, inter alia, the shopworn, assiduously peddled myth that Bolshevism was a perennially “power-hungry” political movement, its leaders ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice once the balance of forces was favorable. This pivotal episode in Stalin’s life topples one pillar of the conventional wisdom that the two tendencies were constantly at each other’s throats on matters great and small. In this regard, if not in others, Kotkin is Stalin’s PR man. Nor does he dwell on the fact that Stalin did not genuflect before Lenin but could think for himself. See all books authored by Stephen Kotkin, including Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000, and Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878 - 1928, and more on ThriftBooks.com. An excellent student, he graduated in 1894 and moved to Tiflis to enroll in the Tiflis Theological Seminary, obtaining his degree in 1899. 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