After Lenin’s death in 1924, everyone thought Trotsky, the brilliant leader of the red army would become leader, especially as Lenin left a Testament saying that Stalin was dangerous and a ‘grey blur’ and should be dismissed, but Stalin schemed his way into power, using his position as General Secretary as well as using a serious of ruthless political moves, devious tactics, the weakness of opposition, his own strengths, party weakness’ and factors out of his control.
Party weakness helped Stalin become head of state as the Politburo was divided into two halves. The left wing, Zinoviev, Trotsky and Kamenev, they wanted to end the NEP , new economic policy, where farmers were allowed to sell food on the open market and go for a rapid industrialisation, the right wing , Bukharin ‘the golden boy’ wanted to continue with the NEP and encourage peasants to become richer, allowing industry to grow at a normal rate.
This helped Stalin because of his central views that looked after both sides’ opinions, he changed his views depending on public opinion which consequently allowed him and helped him to build up support, although his job seemed unimportant with his central view he was able to move his supporters into key poison, thus further consolidating his power base as people where not suspicious of him.
Stalin used a number of tactics to gain control, he exploited his opponents making them admit errors publicly, this helped him as it made Stalin look like the better member of the party, he also made sure the public saw the photograph of himself and Lenin to try and show the people of Russia the support he gave Lenin when he was ill and to show his support from Lenin, which later turned out to fake. He also exploited favourite Trotsky by telling Trotsky the wrong data of Lenin’s funeral, this was a successful tactic because most people already disliked Trotsky as they believed he was to big-headed.
Missing Lenin’s funeral made him even more unpopular as many people believed it was disrespectful, consequently making Stalin’s support grow as he then had to deliver his passionate speech at Lenin’s funeral instead of Trotsky. Although Stalin’s devious tactics did significantly help him to become head of state there was still some factors out of his control which also helped him to get into power, the fact Trotsky was suffering from malaria like symptoms during this period helpt Stalin as it began to effect his position within the party and Stalin realised as it meant Trotsky’s full attention as not always on defeating Stalin.
It was somewhat luck also that the death of many rivals had been all at the right time, Yaakov Sverollov who was most likely to inherit the position of General Secretary before his death in 1919 it of meant that Stalin victory would of been impossible as he wouldn’t of been in such a high poison within the party, similarly the death of Dzerzhinsky, the head of the secret police Checka, he disliked Stalin, his death allowed Stalin to infiltrate his supporters into the political police and eventually use them against his opponents.
Stalin’s own personal strengths and characteristics played a great part in his overtaking, he was very methodical and when given a job would see it through, for that reason he was seen less high minded and more practical, as well the fact he was one of the few people who had a less strong background unlike most leading members meant he was seen as a very loyal member and one of the last people to cause splits in the party, many saw him as a non-threat but behind closed doors there stood a dangerous ruthless man who would do anything to protect and expand his power.
The weakness of opposition also helped Stalin come to power, the fact that Kamenev and Zinoviev as well as the public where alarmed by the arrogance by Trotsky it helpt Stalin as it meant they doubted if Trotsky was really the right person to become head of state as they thought he wouldn’t be able to help Russia , as well as Trotsky’s arrogance his ‘Bonapartist’ the spread of communism around the world also alarmed Russians and members within the party as they believed he was to radical and that is desire to spread communism around in a short space of time couldn’t ruin Russia and cause conflicts with other countries.
In conclusion party weakness’, Stalin’s own strengths, devious tactics, weakness of opposition and factors out of control all helped him become head of state, but you could be argued that the weakness within the party was most significant as was it was made easy for Stalin to have a centre view and change his opinion depending on which was most popular this was the biggest advantage as Stalin was always seen on the right side and meant that the public and other members of the party could see that he always made the right decision which lead them to believe that he was the best member to become head of state.