The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Stalin, Josif Vissarionovich (original name Djugashvili) (1879–1953)

  • Michael Ellman
Reference work entry


Stalin was ruler of the USSR (1929–53), leader of the international Communist movement (1929–53) and an important theoretician of Marxism-Leninism. A russified Georgian, his parents were born in serfdom. He was a professional revolutionary from the end of the 19th century, a Central Committee member from 1912, and General Secretary of the Central Committee from 1922. After Lenin’s third stroke (March 1923) he was one of the triumvirate which succeeded to supreme power in party and state. He defeated the other triumvirs in 1925, Trotsky in 1927 and Bukharin in 1928. He organized mass collectivization in 1929–32 (and hence caused, directly and via the subsequent famine, several million deaths) and mass arrests and mass expansion of the concentration camp system in 1937–39 (and hence was responsible for a large number of additional deaths prior to the outbreak of the war). He led the USSR in the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet-German war, 1941–45) and hence was responsible both for the early defeats and also for the subsequent victories. He imposed Soviet-style socialism on Eastern Europe after World War II. His plans for a new wave of arrests and intensified terror were prevented by his death (March 1953). He established leader worship, unconditional obedience to Moscow, intellectual sterility and anti-Americanism throughout the international Communist movement. At the twentieth congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1956) his theoretical legacy was publicly criticized and in a closed session his liquidation of loyal party leaders in the 1930s, and poor military leadership at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, were severely criticized. In 1961 his policies were severely criticized at the twenty-second congress of the Soviet Communist Party. He was publicly revered in China under Mao.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Ellman
    • 1
  1. 1.