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Stalinism is a term for a brand of political theory and the political and economic system implemented by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. Hannah Arendt described the system as totalitarian and this description has become widely used by critics of Stalinism.

Table of contents
1 Stalinism as political theory
2 Economical and political Stalinsm
3 Related articles

Stalinism as political theory

The term "Stalinism" is sometimes used to denote a brand of communist and socialist theory, dominating the Soviet Union and other countries in the Soviet sphere during and after the leadership of Stalin. The term used in the Soviet Union and by most of those who uphold its legacy, however, is "Marxism-Leninism". This reflects the fact that Stalin himself was not a theoretician, but was a communicator who wrote numerous books in language easily understood, and, in contrast to Marx and Lenin, made few if any new theoretical contributions. Rather, Stalinism is more in the order of an interpretation of their texts to fit the changing needs of society, as with the transition from "socialism at a snail's pace" in the mid-20s to the forced industrialization of the 5-year-plans. Sometimes, however, the compound terms Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, or teachings of Marx/Engels/Lenin/Stalin, are used to show the heritage and succession. At the same time, many people who profess Marxism today or Leninism today view Stalinism as a perversion of their ideas; Trotskyists in particular are virulently anti-Stalinist, considering Stalinism a counter-revolutionary policy using Marxism as an alibi.

The cornerstones of Stalin's theory were:

Economical and political Stalinsm

The term "Stalinism" was first used by Trotskyists opposed to the regime in the Soviet Union, particularly to attempt to separate the policies of the Soviet government from those they regard as more true to Marxism. Trotskyists argue that the Stalinist USSR was not socialist, but a bureaucratized degenerated workers state that is, a non-capitalist state in which exploitation is controlled by a ruling caste which, while it did not own the means of production and was not a social class in its own right, accrued benefits and privileges at the expense of the working class. Stalinism could not have existed without the prior overturning of capitalism by the October revolution, but it is notable that Stalin himself played no active part in the October revolution, advocating a policy of collaboration with the Provisional Government rather than seizing power, and contributed little to the defence of revolutionary Russia between 1917 and 1920.

Building on and transforming Lenin's legacy, Stalin expanded the centralized administrative system of the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s. A series of two five-year plans led to a massive expansion of the Soviet economy. Large increases were seen in many sectors, especially coal and iron production. Society was brought from a position decades behind the West to one of near economic and scientific equality within thirty years. Some economic historians now believe it to be the fastest economic growth ever achieved.

Because of the prestige and influence of the successful socialist revolution in the Soviet Union, revolutions throughout the 20th century that abolished capitalism tended to follow the model of socialism as developed in the USSR, both politically and economically. After Stalin's death in 1953, Stalin's successor Nikita Khrushchev repudiated his policies and condemned Stalin's cult of personality at the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956 and instituted a process of destalinization and minor liberalisation. Consequently, most of the world's communist parties that had previously adhered to Stalinism abandoned it and adopted the moderately reformist positions of Khruschchev to a greater or lesser degree. The most notable exception was the People's Republic of China, which under Mao Zedong grew antagonistic towards the new Soviet leadership's "revisionism", resulting in the Sino-Soviet Split in 1960. China subsequently pursued the ideology of Maoism independently; Albania took the Chinese party's side in the Sino-Soviet Split and remained committed to Stalinism for decades thereafter under the leadership of Enver Hoxha.

Some historians draw parallels between Stalinism and the economic policy of Tsar Peter the Great. Both men desperately wanted Russia to catch up to the western European states. Both succeeded to an extent, turning Russia temporarily into Europe's leading power.

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