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Joseph Stalin 1879-1953 The man who turned the Soviet Union from a backward country into a world superpower at unimaginable human cost Stalin was born into a dysfunctional family in a poor village in Georgia Permanently scarred from a childhood bout with smallpox and having a mildly deformed arm Stalin always felt unfairly treated by life and therefore developed a strong romanticized desire for greatness and respect combined with a sharp streak of calculating cold-heartedness towards those who had maligned him He always felt a sense of inferiority before educated intellectuals and particularly distrusted them In 1922 Stalin was appointed to another such post as General Secretary of the Communist Partys Central Committee Stalin understood that cadres are everything if you control the personnel you control the organization He shrewdly used his new position to consolidate power in exactly this way--by controlling all appointments setting agendas and moving around Party staff in such a way that eventually everyone who counted for anything owed their position to him By the time the Partys intellectual core realized what had happened it was too late Stalin had his mostly mediocre people in place while Lenin the only person with the moral authority to challenge him was on his deathbed and incapable of speech after a series of strokes and besides Stalin even controlled who had access to the leader The General Secretary of the Party became the de facto leader of the country right on up until Mikhail Gorbachev Driven by his own sense of inferiority which he projected onto his country as a whole Stalin pursued an economic policy of mobilizing the entire country to achieve the goal of rapid industrialization so that it could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Capitalist powers To this end he forcefully collectivized agriculture one of the Bolsheviks key policy stances in 1917 was to give the land to the peasants collectivization took it back from them and effectively reduced them to
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