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At the start of the 1930s Stalin launched a wave of radical economic policies, which completely overhauled the industrial and agricultural face of the Soviet Union. This came to be known as the 'Great Turn' as Russia turned away from the near-capitalist New Economic Policy. The NEP had been implemented by Lenin in order to ensure the survival of the Communist state following seven years of war (1914–1921, World War I from 1914 to 1917, and the subsequent Civil War) and had rebuilt Soviet production to its 1913 levels. However, Russia still lagged far behind the West, and the NEP was felt by Stalin and the majority of the Communist party, not only to be compromising Communist ideals, but also not delivering sufficient economic performance, as well as not creating the envisaged Socialist society. It was therefore felt necessary to increase the pace of industrialisation in order to catch up with the West.

Fredric Jameson has said that "Stalinism was [...] a success and fulfilled its historic mission, socially as well as economically" given that it "modernised the Soviet Union, transforming a peasant society into an industrial state with a literate population and a remarkable scientific superstructure."[5] Robert Conquest disputed such a conclusion and noted that "Russia had already been fourth to fifth among industrial economies before World War I" and that Russian industrial advances could have been achieved without collectivisation, famine or terror. The industrial successes were far less than claimed, and the Soviet-style industrialisation was "an anti-innovative dead-end", according to him.[6]

According to several Western historians[citation needed], Stalinist agricultural policies were a key factor in causing the Soviet famine of 1932–1933, which the Ukrainian government now calls the Holodomor, recognizing it as an act of genocide. However, there is still considerable debate in other countries as to whether or not the famine can be recognized as genocide.[citation needed]


After Stalin's death in 1953, his successor Nikita Khrushchev repudiated his policies, condemned Stalin's cult of personality in his Secret Speech to the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956, and instituted destalinisation and relative liberalisation (within the same political framework). Consequently, most of the world's Communist parties, who previously adhered to Stalinism, abandoned it and, to a greater or lesser degree, adopted the positions of Khruschchev.

A few of the notable exceptions were North Korea under Kim Il-sung, the People's Republic of China, under Mao Zedong, the Albanian Party of Labour under Enver Hoxha, the Communist Party of Indonesia, certain sections of the Communist Party of Vietnam, and the Communist Party of New Zealand. In countries where the local Communist Party sided with the CPSU under the leadership of Khrushchev, various groupings of dissident party members left to begin pre-party formations based on their specific interpretations of Marxism-Leninism. This process accelerated as the 1960s progressed into the 1970s, eventually leading to what was called the New Communist Movement in various countries.

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