Assess the Importance of the Use of Force for the Establishment of Totalitarian Control

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The use of force and terror was instrumental in the establishment of a totalitarian state in the Soviet Union, however it was not the most important factor. To have totalitarian control is to have centralised control by an autocratic leader where the state controls every aspect of life and productive capacity of their nation. Stalin was not the first leader to use methods of force in order to gain power and leaders before him were not opposed to using violence as a means of control. One of Stalin’s biggest threats was resistance inside the party so he conducted multiple purges where he silenced people that had spoken out against him. Stalin’s terror was not limited to the party and extended and he condemned intellectuals for being “anti-Soviet”. During the 1917 revolution, there was little to no use of terror or force as it was a seemingly painless takeover. This is not to say that the Russian people were not accustomed to violence as many people still resented actions of the Okhrana during tsarist times and the mass executions and deportations that were carried out. The Russian people had also just been subjected to Lenin’s “Red Terror” which was a campaign of mass killings, torture and systematic oppression led by the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 140,000 people were killed in this campaign during the Russian Civil War. The Cheka was created by Vladimir Lenin to deal with threats to his new regime. It was led by Felix Dzerzhinsky and used to inflict the Red Terror, operating outside of the law and answering to no one. The Cheka was extremely important in allowing the Bolsheviks to establish their power and influence people’s view of their new government. It is speculated that the Bolsheviks would not have retained power for very long if it had not been for the workings of the Cheka during that time period as they
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