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Debate: Phoenix267 vs. adjensen: Who would have been a better leader for the Soviet Union?

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posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 02:46 AM
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Good evening everyone. Phoenix267 here to start off the latest debate. Adjensen and I will debate who would have been a better leader for the Soviet Union. I would be taking the side of Joseph Stalin. Who we all know took power and the rest is history. Adjensen role would be more tricky. Because she would take the side of Leon Trotsky who could have taken the leadership position in the Soviet Union and how she believes his leadership would have been better than Joseph Stalin.

A little back story of the two individuals. Stalin and Trotsky were both Bolsheviks who helped lead the party to victory during Russian Revolution and during the Russian Civil War helped install the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky had more power at the time while he was seen as Lenin's second in command. A similar way the Vice President of the United States can succeed the President. However, Joseph Stalin wanted power and this is where Stalin and Trotsky became rivals. Stalin was more of a doer. Where he did anything that would get his foot in the door to acquire leadership. Trotsky patiently waited for Lenin to pass and then inherit power. But Joseph Stalin out played Trotsky as Stalin was able to secure himself power and exile Trotsky from the Soviet Union and he was eventually killed by orders from Stalin.

Joseph Stalin became the leader during the 1920's. As during his reign the Soviet Union experienced many trials. Like other newly former countries there were more downs then ups. The Five Year Plans helped modernize the Soviet industry. They built canals, railways, etc to help transform the Soviet Union; the countries consider to be backwards compared to other countries; into more modern countries. Despite the hardships the people accepted the struggle and it helped the Soviet Union to absorb the Nazi assaults during WW2.

Collectivism was a success during Stalin's reign. Farmers were able to own the land to produce crops and factories were machinery to both help and modernize farming.

Taxes were considerably lower then Stalin's reign. Inflation in the USSR was 2.3% While he was the leader and in the United States it was 3.5% As the economy of the Soviet Union radically transformed it became one of the strongest in the world at the time of his death.

During the Second World War. The Soviet Union suffered a lot of losses. Despite the harsh leadership of Joseph Stalin was able to lead his people and the Red Army to help contribute in defeating the Nazis and other Axis Powers. The Allied victory during WW2 caused the Soviet Union to become a global super power. All this during the reign of Stalin.

Sources I used to help my opening post.
Source
Source 2
The book Greatest Rivals in History: When politics get personal by Joseph Cummings.




posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 02:30 PM
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I would like to thank my opponent, Phoenix267, for suggesting the debate topic and accepting my challenge, as well as the ATS Debate Forum for hosting, supporting and judging.

 

As my opponent points out, I have a difficult position in claiming that Leon Trotsky would be a better leader for the Soviet Union, because, in part, it will require some projection of alternate history. Much as "the clothes make the man," a position of power will have a deep impact on someone, and we cannot readily foresee what that might be.

On the other hand, there is sufficient historical data to demonstrate the unmitigated disaster that Josef Stalin imposed on the Soviet Union, so the argument may be distilled down to a theoretical Trotsky administration being somewhat less destructive to the general population, a point on which we begin.

 

Historically, there are three significant actions taken by Stalin which had significant negative impact on the Soviet people. I will deal with the first in this post, and the other two in follow ups.

 

On 23 August, 1939, after lengthy negotiations, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop signed the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Soviet Union turning its back on overtures by Britain and France to align against Germany.

(Molotov, seated, signs the treaty. Behind him is Ribbentrop, with Stalin to his left)

A week later, Germany, freed from concern of the Red Army, invaded Poland, instigating World War II. The Soviet Union, under terms of the "Secret Protocol", invaded Poland three weeks later, as Hitler and Stalin took their negotiated portions of the nation that stood between them.

(Hitler and Stalin bow to each other over a Polish body in this political cartoon. It is estimated that 66,000 Polish soldiers died defending their nation, as well as between 150,000 and 200,000 civilian casualties during the invasion by Germany and the Soviet Union. Source)

Carnage aside, it is generally held that Stalin's agreement with Hitler was a mistake -- by allowing Hitler to turn his complete attention to the Western Front, Germany was able to successfully invade most of the remainder of Europe. Had Hitler not reneged on the treaty and invaded the Soviet Union in June 1942, and the isolationist movement in the United States, combined with Hitler keeping Japan in check, resulted in the US staying out of the war, it is likely that Germany would have won the war and, following some period of acclimation, used their overwhelming position of power to subsequently invade their Soviet allies and sweep Communism from the face of the Earth.

(German/Italian territories at the height of their dominance, 1942)

With that in mind, what would we anticipate that Trotsky's position would have been? Based on his long standing polemics against Hitler and Fascism (such as the 1939 text Hitler's Program,) it does not seem that he would have capitulated to Germany. It is far more likely that he would have agreed to the mutual pact offered by Britain and France, and in doing so, may well have delayed or even prevented World War II.


Once signed, the Pact was roundly denounced by Trotsky. He failed to find in it any of the virtues detected by some of his more recent epigones. The Kremlin "preferred the status quo, with Hitler as its ally" to any advances for the workers' movement. As for the rudely discarded 'People's Front', it had proved to be nothing but a "low comedy". Although unaware of the Pact's secret protocols, he correctly predicted that "in exchange for Poland, Hitler will give Moscow freedom of action in regard to the Baltic states". And in view of his earlier and repeated declarations on the subject, he was surely entitled to point out "since 1933 I have been showing and proving to the world press that Stalin is seeking an understanding with Hitler". Brushing aside apologists for Stalin's 'treason' (and they are amazingly still in business today), Trotsky damned the Pact as "a capitulation of Stalin before Fascist imperialism with the end of preserving the Soviet oligarchy". (Source)

In that, it appears clear that the mistake of Stalin, which led to millions of deaths in the 1940s, would not have been repeated under Trotsky. Of our three points, this one seems plainly to be in Trotsky's favour.



posted on Jun, 2 2013 @ 02:14 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Thanks for the reply and I would like to apologize for calling adjensen a "she." Where he has told me he is a man. My mistake.

Now back to the debate.

Adjensen mentioned one of the biggest failures of Stalin's reign of the Soviet Union. The non-aggressive act was signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. This allowed both countries to invade Poland and take what they wanted. In return Hitler used his military to invade the Soviet Union. Which put the Soviet Union in a pickle. Even with the great loss between the Axis, Allies, and centrist the Allies won the war at a great cost.

Yes, Trotsky and numerous Anarchist, Communist, and Socialist dislike Fascist with a passion. However, I feel that Leon Trotsky would have chose the similar path like Stalin and tried to make peace with Nazi Germany. To get the monkey off his back. When Lenin was still alive Leon Trotsky wanted have a world wide communist revolution. Where after the Russian Revolution Trotsky wanted to continue with the next battle. Joseph Stalin did share similar views. But with failed revolutions elsewhere around that time caused Stalin to want socialism in one country. With socialism in one country he could help strengthen the Soviet Union instead of trying to deal with other countries problems. If Leon Trotsky was to focus outward then the Soviet Union wouldn't have all the programs that both help modernize the new country and allow it to defend it's self from the Axis powers.

I also feel Leon Trotsky would never have gotten along with President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill because of him wanting to spread Communism across the globe. A lot of people could see President Roosevelt as a leftist of some type because of his programs and reforms during Great Depression. But Winston Churchill is another story. He hated both communism and socialism with a passion. You can see his speeches where he speaks out against the evil of socialism. You could never have allies fighting against the same enemy butt heads. Thankfully they sucked it up and agreed to work together. There was also fear of communism between the government in America. Former Vice President Henry Wallace who was Vice President during President Roosevelt's during his third term. Vice President Wallace was a very vocal person. Who was eccentric and would probably be consider a leftist. There were times when Henry Wallace was vocal against Prime Minister Churchill because of Churchill's belief of Anglo-Saxon superiority. There is also a speech by Vice President Wallace where he wanted to end colonialism and support a world wide revolution.


… The march of freedom of the past one hundred and fifty years has been a long-drawn-out people’s revolution. In this Great Revolution of the people, there were the American Revolution of 1775, The French Revolution of 1792, The Latin-American revolutions of the Bolivarian era, The German Revolution of 1848, and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Each spoke for the common man in terms of blood on the battlefield. Some went to excess. But the significant thing is that the people groped their way to the light. More of them learned to think and work together…


Henry Truman replaced Wallace and Who was more vocal against communism. When President Roosevelt died, Henry Truman succeeded him, and also was able to work with Stalin despite the straining relationship between the two countries.

Leon Trotsky would have had a difficult relationship with the American government where in August 1934 he gave an interview for Liberty Magazine. The subject was if the United States was to go Communist. As I have mentioned before Leon Trotsky wanted to spread Communism worldwide. Despite the chance of failure if the revolutions would be crush. I just cannot imagine a relationship for the United States if the Trotsky would be the leader of the Soviet Union instead of Stalin. Because there would be no way for the United States to want to allying themselves with a man who would want to cause a revolution in their country. Prime Minister Churchill and other anti Communist leaders would agree because they couldn't trust him. Yes, Stalin was mistrusted. But he was boxed in his own country and was able to appeal to them to contribute in the war against the Axis powers. Which was they successful won against and shaped out history for both better and worse.

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posted on Jun, 2 2013 @ 06:41 PM
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With all respect, I do not believe that my opponent has sufficiently demonstrated that Leon Trotsky would have succumbed to the same strategic errors that Joseph Stalin did, which led to World War II. It is far more likely that Trotsky would have found a way to work with Britain and France, who were attempting to sway the Soviet Union into an alliance with them.

 

But now we turn to the second significant catastrophe visited upon the Soviet Union by Stalin, the Great Purge, which took place from 1936 to 1939. In December 1934, Sergey Kirov, head of the Communist Party in Leningrad, was shot and killed at his offices. Though generally believed now to have been killed on orders from Stalin, at the time, Kirov's death was the ignitor that spread death, torture and paranoia throughout the Soviet Union.

We'll examine the purge by dissecting its two parts.

 

Show Trials
There were three public show trials, held in Moscow, in which current and former Communist Party officials were accused of "Trotskyism" and treason, found guilty and summarily executed. This had the effect of removing all opposition to Stalin's rule by killing off the majority of the "Old Bolsheviks," cohorts of Lenin who were largely responsible for the 1917 revolution, and who could still lay some claim to leadership.

In addition, there was a secret trial held in the same time frame that was particularly destructive to the nation - the Case of Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization, also known as the Tukhachevsky Case, after Marshall Mikhail Tukhachevsky. This trial gutted senior Soviet military leadership, using the same method of trumped up evidence, pre-determined verdicts, and hasty executions. About 7% of military officers were purged in this trial, including 3 of 5 Marshals, 90% of Generals and 80% of Colonels (Source).

Combined with the 1941 Red Army purge, which resulted in the execution of dozens of Generals and other senior officers, the Soviet army had effectively been gutted by Stalin's paranoid witch hunt and power consolidation. When Germany invaded later that year, the Red Army was hardly able to respond, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths as the Nazis marched across the country. Stalin's eventual victory owed more to the weather than it did to military strategy, as he had murdered the strategens.

Nikolai Yezhov stands out as an example of the insanity of this era. A Bolshevik with Lenin, Yezhov rose in the ranks and was the head of the Soviet secret police (NKVD) when the Great Purge began. Yezhov persecuted the supposed enemies of Stalin with zeal, and over the course of the Purge, was responsible for the executions of hundreds of thousands of people.


In 1937 and 1938 alone at least 1.3 million were arrested and 681,692 were shot for 'crimes against the state'. The Gulag population swelled by 685,201 under Yezhov, nearly tripling in size in just two years, with at least 140,000 of these prisoners (and likely many more) dying of malnutrition, exhaustion and the elements in the camps (or during transport to them). (Orlando Figes The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, pg 234)

In the end, though, Yezhov found disfavour with Stalin, was arrested in 1939, tried, executed and wiped from the nation's history.

(Historical revisionism at work - Nikolai Yezhov becomes an unperson)

 

Crimes against the state
Paranoia extended beyond party members and the army. Railroad accidents were assumed to be due to sabotage, and a law was put in place to require responsible parties to be tried and sentenced within three days of the accident. A trial was held following a mining disaster in Kemerovo, and ten people were sentenced to death. The 1937 Census returned lower population figures than were expected - the Census was classified and those responsible for it were imprisoned. A law was passed that prevented peasants from leaving their collectives, effectively enslaving them. Quotas were established for arrests, trials and executions, regardless of merit. Spouses and children of executed prisoners were automatically sent to the Gulag. Being a citizen of another country became synonymous with being a spy - thousands were killed for no reason apart from being a German, Finn or Greek. (Source)

(Soviet forced labour - Construction of White Sea Canal)

 

Would Trotsky have instilled similar madness and evil on the country, were he in charge? Highly unlikely - in his response to the trials and laws, he notes that the equality of the revolution had been perverted by Stalin's new nobility - the gentry of the bureaucracy. (Source)



posted on Jun, 3 2013 @ 07:46 PM
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This is a great comeback adjensen. I'm impressed by your research. Yes, the deaths of numerous innocent people was wrong and a big thorn in Stalin's history. But Leon Trotsky shares the blame with his failures.

After the successful Russian Revolution led by the Bolsheviks and Leon Trotsky was the leader of the Red Army. He promised minorities would be respected in their regions. However, the Red Army soon conquered independent Georgia (ruled by a democratically elected Menshevik government), Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Trotsky also supported a war with Poland as he lost the war. Like Stalin workers were killed because they failed to listen to management. In my opinion there were many ups and downs with both individuals. Joseph Stalin ultimately made history and Leon Trotsky had his shares of wins and loses; but was lost to history as a man expelled from the country he helped create.

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posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 06:29 PM
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Our final stop on the "Stalin Terror Tour" is the most horrific. In 1921, Lenin, recognizing the failure of the imposition of pure Communism on a non-Capitalistic economy, implemented the New Economic Policy (NEP), which allowed for minor privatization, particularly in the rural areas of the Soviet Union, establishing a "mixed economy." Though some saw the NEP as a sell-out on the part of Lenin, it significantly boosted production, and won support from many within the party, including Trotsky, who heartily endorsed the plan at the 1922 Comintern.

The NEP continued as official policy until Stalin defeated Trotsky, at which point the NEP was rejected in favour of collectivization. Part of the point of this new policy was intended to crush the Kulaks, a class of citizens who owned larger parcels of land (anything more than 5 acres,) and whom had been the primary producers of food under the NEP, as well as requiring food producers to sell, rather than consume, the food that they grew. By taking away privately held land and consolidating it into state farms, Stalin accomplished both at the same time.

In 1928, only 1% of land in the Soviet Union was collectivized, but Stalin's push in late 1929 drove that number up to 60%, in one of the largest land grabs in history. Stalin crowed about the achievement in "Dizzy with Success", an article in Pravda. What he declined to reveal, however, was the immense human cost of the act of state confiscation of what few assets peasants had to feed themselves and their families.

 

Holodomor is a Ukrainian word that means "murder by starvation", and is applied to Stalinist policies applied in response to peasant and Kulak objections to collectivization. In 1930, between one and two million Ukrainian Kulaks were exiled to labour camps in Siberia. Undermanned, the republic saw its grain quota raised by 40% in 1932, a number that ensured that the majority of crops would be confiscated by the Soviet government and famine in the Ukraine was inevitable.


Widespread starvation in Ukraine, the Kuban and the Caucasus. Dec. 14, 1932 Secret decree blames Ukrainization, national tendencies, for grain problems. The Ukrainian language is forbidden in the Russian republic. In Ukraine, the Ukrainian leadership is purged, gradually replaced by non-Ukrainians and Russification is brought in. January 22, 1933, Secret directive sent to Kharkiv to close the borders of Ukraine and Kuban from the rest of the USSR, to prevent starving farmers from searching for food. In 6 weeks, 220,000 arrested, many shot, sent to the gulag, 85% were sent home to starve. Red Cross, Cardinal Innitzer demand permission to send famine relief; Moscow denies famine and rejects relief. (Source)

In this, Stalin shows his sociopathic inhumanity -- not only does he deny the existence of famine, but he intentionally refused international aid.

(Population decrease in the Ukraine during collectivization and famine, some areas more than 25%)


Food is a weapon.

Maxim Litvinov, Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs


I can't give an exact figure because no one was keeping count. All we knew was that people were dying in enormous numbers.

Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers


A famine that came about without drought and without war.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

It is estimated that from six to ten million people died in these politically motivated, absolutely preventable famines.

(Chicago American front page 4 March, 1935)

 

Over the course of these three posts I have shown that Joseph Stalin was not merely a poor leader, but that he was one of the worst despots in history. Along with Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot, Stalin is noted in the history of the 20th Century as an inhumane dictatorial madman, whose excesses cannot possibly be seen as having been in the best interests of those he ruled over, certainly not the millions of human beings whose deaths he is personally responsible for.

Leon Trotsky, of course, is not without blame, but as a member of the Bolshevik intelligentsia, one can see that he at least rationalized better treatment of the proletariate, in whose name was undertaken the 1917 revolution. Where Stalin saw people in general as being either enemies or being subhuman, Trotsky lacked the paranoia and sociopathy necessary for those positions.

Though it remains an informed speculation, I think it is clear that Trotsky would have been a more humane and, thus, better, leader of the Soviet Union.



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