Explain why there was no clear succession to Lenin in 1924.

6 June 2016

Explain why at the time of Lenin’s death there was no obvious successor to lead the USSR? (12) Although Lenin’s death was relatively expected, there was still a lot of confusion over who would succeed him to lead the USSR. There are a number of reasons to why this occurred but there are still disputes about who Lenin wanted to succeed him and why he didn’t leave someone who he thought would be best for the job in charge of his beloved USSR. Despite Lenin having preferences, nobody was aware of these preferences due to his testament not being publically shown – nevertheless, Lenin’s testament left no clear indication of whom he wanted to take over his reign. In his testament he clearly insinuates that none of the men leading the chase were capable of his role as they all leading Communists showed weaknesses.

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For example, Lenin knew Trotsky was an obvious contender for power once he died, however Lenin also understood that Trotsky had personal downfalls and he had no real and secure fan-base. It was clear to Lenin that Trotsky was good at organisation due to the Red Armies triumph during the civil war, however Lenin questioned Trotsky’s ability to rule and lead the USSR. The fact that Lenin’s Testament was never shown was very lucky to one contender, Stalin, as in that Testament, it stated how Lenin did not want Stalin to succeed him due to reasons such as, Stalin arguing and disrespecting Lenin’s wife.

The Testament not being publicised was a huge factor as to why there was no obvious successor to lead the USSR at the time of Lenin’s death as if it was shown, candidates such as Stalin would have been knocked of their stage and would no longer be a rival for power; thus making less contenders, consequently and easier and shorter struggle to find Lenin’s successor. In the USSR at the time of Lenin’s death there was no voting system for power.

Although the Communists were the party destined to lead the USSR and there was no dangerous rival for their authority, the fact that there was no voting system, left a dent in works as by having rivals for power within the same party would cause huge divisions between the left-, centre and right-wing of the Communist party.

To conclude, another consisting factor as to why there was no obvious successor to Lenin was the fact that there was no voting system within the USSR, as by having one, the people would have been able to vote for their preferred leader, instead of a battle between leading Communists such as Stalin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Zinoviev and Kamenev. Lenin had a huge ego. Some argue that his self-confidence was the main factor as to why there was no clear successor to him; Lenin viewed himself as practically flawless, and during his reign, his possible successors did not help themselves, as they all showed weaknesses.

Trotsky showed Lenin how he was a powerful leader when it came to the Red Army, but showed weakness in his political power, although he was a very smart man, Trotsky made no attempt to build a power base. Lenin witnessed Stalin have high and lows throughout, but ultimately decided to g against Stalin in his Testament, which, if published would have ruined Stalin’s political career. All other rivals for power also showed weakness which led to there being no clear successor, due to Lenin believing that no contender could complete the correct Marxist theory as he could, and could solve Russia’s problems. Lenin was a dictator, not a King, he didn’t rule the nation by birthmark or descent, he worked hard to get where he was.

Due to the fact that no one could easily succeed him like they could from a royal family – the leading Bolsheviks had to choose the candidate they saw fit for the job, and seeing as Lenin didn’t leave his preferred successor, the Bolsheviks were left to decide. There was no obvious successor to Lenin at the time of his death because, firstly, Lenin did not feel that any of the leading contenders were capable enough of taken control of the USSR, this was evident in his Testament, although that did state that he did not want Stalin to take of succeed him.

Secondly, there was no voting system, which meant that there was no outright leading candidate through which the people of the USSR chose. Thirdly because all rivals for power had weaknesses so Lenin could not choose, despite his Testament having no clear indication to whom he wanted to take over, the fact that it was no published helped other candidates such as Stalin, so if it was published, it may have helped distinguish a leading contender for leadership of the USSR.a

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