In his so-called "testament" of Dec. 1922, Lenin surveyed the qualities of various party leaders as to their fitness to assume leadership of the party. In this document Lenin indicated that Stalin should not succeed him. With specific reference to Stalin’s rise to power and the domestic and foreign policies of Stalinist USSR analyze to what extent Lenin’s fears were well founded.

lenin.jpg
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
As a start to this post it would be wise to review over the letters written by Lenin to the Russian Congress about curtain changes to the Central Committee, also included in these letters Lenin commented on members of the Central Committee, especially Stalin. In the letters Lenin stated that the Central Committee was becoming split in half, all because of disagreements between Comrade Stalin and Comrade Trotsky. "I think that from this standpoint the prime factors in the question of stability are such members of the Central Committee (C.C.) as Stalin and Trotsky. I think relations between them make up the greater part of the danger of a split, which could be avoided, and this purpose, in my opinion, would be served, among other things, by increasing the number of C.C. members to 50 or 100."
In his letters Lenin discussed about members of the C.C. especially about Stalin. He stated that Stalin has much athority, as Secretary-General, and may not use it with sufficient caution. Lenin has noted that Stalin is rude, is tolerable in the midst and in dealing among Communists, but intolerable as the Secretary-General, and so should be replaced by someone who is "more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc"
"The Georgian [Stalin] who is neglectful of this aspect of the question, or who carelessly flings about accusations of "nationalist-socialism" (whereas he himself is a real and true "nationalist-socialist", and even a vulgar Great-Russian bully), violates, in substance, the interests of proletarian class solidarity, for nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice; "offended" nationals are not sensitive to anything so much as to the feeling of equality and the violation of this equality, if only through negligence or jest- to the violation of that equality by their proletarian comrades." Here Lenin states that Stalin really is a threat to proletarian interests and possibly a threat to the Communism Lenin hoped to create.
Lenin's Letters to Congress
In 1922 Lenin suffered from a stroke that incapacitated him. The likely successor would have been Trotsky but another analogy began to circulate among the Bolsheviks, comparing Trotsky to Napoleon saying that he is a threat to the revolution, as Napoleon was to the French revolution. The Communist Party was governed by a five-man politburo consisting of: Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev and Joseph Stalin. The Communists were supposed to be comrades, but Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev disliked Trotsky. Trotsky and his supporters complained (along with others) that the party was ignoring the industrial workers, who theoretically were the heart of the social revolution. Zinoviev and Kamenev claimed that Trotsky's complaints were "anti-Marxist deviations." Zinoviev even went as far as demanding Trotsky's arrest. Due to this clash between these men the C.C see Stalin as the only patient man of reason who had little interest in anything other than the revolution and the betterment of the working class. When Lenin became partially incapacitated from his stroke, Stalin clashed with him over the issue of nationalities within the Soviet Union - Ukrainians, Georgians, Byelorussians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, etc. Lenin wanted to spread communism to conquerable states but those states would be equal to the Union. Stalin wanted this but without this equality for the conquered states. Stalin called Lenin a "national liberal" and during his time pushing his position he clashed with Lenin's wife, Krupskaya, who was handling Lenin's affairs. She complained to Lenin that Stalin was rude to her and so he wrote a letter to congress saying that Stalin should be removed from his post as Secretary-General of the C.C because he is both rude and will likely abuse his power.
In a speech to industrial managers on February of 1931 Stalin gives the philosophy that if a person is weak, in this case Russia, it will be beaten and enslaved. So to prevent this beating and the possible destruction if Russia it must become stronger and "outstrip the advanced capitalist countries." This speech in a seance shows that Stalin is quite aggressive which may help to see why Lenin would be worried about him.
J. V. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, (Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953) pp. 454-458.
"The great modesty of the genius of the revolution, Lenin, is known. Lenin had always stressed the role of the people as the creator of history . . . and also the role of the Central Committee [of the Communist party] . . . . Lenin . . detected in Stal in in time those negative characteristics which resulted later in grave consequences. Fearing the future fate of the party and of the Soviet nation, Lenin made a completely correct characterization of Stalin, pointing out that it was necessary to consider the question of transferring Stalin from the position of the Secretary General [of the party] because of the fact that Stalin was excessively rude, that he did not have a proper attitude toward his comrades, that he was capricious and abused his power. . . . . The negative characteristics developed steadily and during the last years [Stalin died in 1953] acquired an absolutely insufferable character. . . . The negative characteristics of Stalin, which, in Lenin's time, were only incipient, transformed t hemselves during the last years into a grave abuse of power by Stalin, which caused untold harm to our party."

"It was during the period 1935 - 1937 - 1938 that the practice of mass repression through the government apparatus was born . . against the enemies of Leninism . . and subsequently against many honest Communists. . . . Stalin originated the concept "enemy my of the people." . . . this term made possible the usage of the most cruel repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality, against anyone who in any way disagreed with Stalin, against those who were only suspected of hostile intent, against those who had bad reputations. . . . In the main, and in actuality, the only proof of guilt used, against all norms of current legal science, was the "confession" of the accused himself; and, as subsequent probing proved, "confessions" were acquired through physical pressure against the accused. . . . many entirely innocent persons, who in the past had defended the party line, became victims. . . . The formula "enemy of the people" was specifically introduced for the purpose of physically annihilating such individuals."

"He [Stalin] discarded the Leninist method . . for that of administrative violence, mass repressions, and terror. . . . Mass arrests a nd deportations of thousands of people, execution without trial and without normal investigation created conditions of insecurity, fear and even desperation. . . . Lenin used severe methods only in the most necessary cases, when the exploiting classes wer e still in existence [a reference to the post 1917 civil war period] . . Stalin, on the other hand, used extreme methods and mass repressions at a time when the revolution was already victorious, when the Soviet state was strengthened, when the exploit ing classes were already liquidated and Socialist relations were rooted solidly in all phases of the national economy . . . Here we see no wisdom but only a demonstration of the brutal force which had once so alarmed V.I. Lenin. . . . ."

Whereas during the first few years after Lenin's death [in 1924] party congresses and Central Committee plenums took place more or less regularly, later, when Stalin began increasingly to abuse his power, these principles were brutally violated. . . Wa s it a normal situation when thirteen years elapsed between the eighteenth and nineteenth party congresses . . .Even after the end of the war [after 1945] a congress was not convened for more than seven years. . . during all the years of the patriotic war [i.e., World War II] not a single Central Committee plenum took place. . . . In practice Stalin ignored the norms of party life and trampled on the Leninist principle of collective part leadership. . . .

The commission [appointed to investigate Stalin's repression] has established many facts pertaining to the fabrication of cases against Communists, to false accusations, to glaring abuses of Socialist legality which resulted in the death of innocent pe ople. It became apparent than many party, Government and economic activists who were branded in 1937-38 as "enemies," were actually never enemies, spies, wreckers, etc., but were always honest Communists. . . . It was determined that of the 139 members an d candidates of the party's Central Committee who were elected at the seventeenth congress, 98 persons (70%) were arrested and shot (mostly in 1937-38) . . .

Very grievous consequences, especially in reference to the beginning of the war, followed Stalin's annihilation of many military commanders and political workers during 1937-41 because of his suspiciousness and through slanderous accusations. During th ese years repressions were instituted against certain parts of military cadres beginning literally at the company and battalion commander level and extending to the higher military centers. During this time the cadre of leaders who had gained military exp erience in Spain and in the Far East was almost completely liquidated. . . . Many such commanders perished in camps and jails and the army saw them no more . . .

Attempts to oppose groundless suspicions and charges resulted in the opponent falling victim of the repression. . . . In the situation which then prevailed I have talked often with Nikolai Bulganin. Once when we two were traveling in a car, he said: " It has happened sometimes that a man goesto Stalin on his invitation as a friend. And when he sits with Stalin, he does not know where he will be sent next, home or to jail." . . . . .

Note: I will analyse this soon

Khrushchev's Indictment of Stalin, Feb. 24-5, 1956


Lenin criticizing Stalin's power and defects:
Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated enormous power in his hands: and I am not sure that he always knows how to use that power with sufficient caution. Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealing among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky it is not a [minor] detail, but it is a detail which can assume decisive importance. (1)
There are two ways to interpret Lenin's testament. First, Lenin is concerned that Stalin has "concentrated enormous power in his hands", and as a result, Lenin is concerned that Stalin's "rudeness", uncooperative behavior and his inability to use "power with sufficient caution" will hinder his capability to rule as a Communist leader and ignore the proletariat.
During the Great Purge, Stalin's brutality and even paranoia is shown. Peasants were shot, died of famine, and were exiled to Siberian prison labor camps in the millions during the 1930s. Factory workers were shot or exiled to Siberian labor camps for failing to meet production targets assigned from above. Intellectuals were shot or exiled to Siberian labor camps for being insufficiently pro-Stalin, or for being in favor of the policies that Stalin had advocated last year and being too slow to switch.
Communist activists, bureaucrats, and secret policemen fared no better. More than five million government officials and party members were killed or exiled in the Great Purge of the 1930s as well. All of Stalin's one-time peers as Lenin's lieutenants were gone by the late 1930s-save for Leon Trotsky, in exile in Mexico, who survived until one of Stalin's agents put an icepick through his head in 1940.

Of the 1800 delegates to the Communist Party Congress of 1934, less than half were alive by 1939. (2)
During the 1932-33 Ukrainian famine, the death toll has been estimated between six million and seven million and this shows Stalin's ignorance of the proletariat just to achieve his goals. (3)
Furthermore, Stalin's show trials illustrate his brutality and how much power is concentrated in his hands to the extent that he can manipulate the system and make Trotsky look like the enemy of the state, even though Trotsky wants to uphold a purely Communist society. The assassinations of Kamenev and his former allies show that Stalin is intent on eliminating all opposition to achieve his authoritarian state.
The other way to look at Lenin's testament is that the tensions between Stalin and Trotsky which Lenin deems as a "detail which can assume decisive importance", might escalate to the point that the Communist Party becomes polarized and divided and there is a chance that a revolution can overthrow the Communist rule in Soviet Russia. Thus, Lenin is more concerned on the maintenance of Communist power than upholding the ideals of the proletariat.
Through the Great Purge and the scapegoating of Kulaks, Stalin was able to eliminate all his opposition and redirect public discontent and as a result, Stalin was able to rule for a long time and even maintain the Soviet Union through World War II. Stalin said that industrialization is a necessity because he thinks that unless the USSR should industrialize to make good this "lag [behind the capitalist states] in ten years. Either we do it or they crush us" (4). Through this collectivization and industrialization, Stalin was able to make Soviet Union, a force to be reckoned with during the war and the advantage of having supplies of grain won the war against the German invasion. Lenin is right that Stalin will ignore the proletariat as we have seen during the Great Purge, dekulakization and the Ukranian famine. However, through the purges, scapegoating and the industrialization of Russia, Stalin kept the Communist party in rule until his death, just like Lenin wanted.

(1) Lenin's Testament : http://www.historyguide.org/Europe/testament.html
(2) http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/Slouch_power4.html
(3) http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/ukra.html (Ukranian Famine)
(4) http://socialistworker.org/2003-2/462/462_08_Stalin.shtml