To what extent was Stalin's personal paranoia the main reason for the purges?

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There is no single explanation for the Purges. Historians fail to agree on the extent to which Stalin was personally responsible and whether, if Stalin did have a large personal role in the Purges, the extent to which this was down to paranoia. Some Historians, look to the psyche of Stalin and point to his suspicious and distrustful nature as to the cause, others say they were a rational economic decision made by Stalin. These views focus of Stalin as the cause and form the intentionalist argument, led by historians such as Robert Conquest. Their argument is that Stalin was a totalitarian dictator who was the main planner and architect behind the purges. The structuralist school on the other hand believe that the situation was a consequence of Bolshevik theory. This school includs historians such as J. Arch. Getty and argues that Stalin’s personality is not sufficient to explain the scale and form of the purges. One key piece of evidence in favour of this is the Pravda article “dizzy with success” which suggests that the purges spiralled out of Stalin’s control. The Purges thrust the whole of Russia into a state of fear of what would happen to them. It affected all sectors of society and even a seemingly insignificant act could result in arrest. For example one woman was arrested for saying that Tukhachevsky, a high ranking military officer, was handsome after he was arrested. One key reason other than Stalin’s personal paranoia for the Purges was to cleanse the party of careerists, yet dissidents and doubters were also at risk. The purges have their origins in the situation in the communist party immediately after collectivisation. Many party members and leaders were critical of the violence and mass murders of the peasants during the collectivisation, and of Stalin’s leadership and brutal methods. Some believed that Sergei Kirov, party boss of
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