Stalin and the success of the USSR

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Did USSR owe its ‘success’ to entirely to Stalin?

ie without Stalin, perhaps it may not last that long?

When the USSR was formed in 1922, Stalin was a lesser-known senior bureaucrat in the Communist Party. He didn’t become the omnipotent Stalin we know today until way into the 1930s…

The reason USSR became somewhat of a success has less to do with Stalin than it does with Czar Alexander II, who ruled between 1855 and 1881. Under Alexander II, universities (and especially science and engineering programs within them) received a huge boost. By the time the Bolsheviks took power, there was a relatively small, but still very powerful pool of scientific and engineering talent. Some members of that pool disagreed with the revolution from the outset and left the country (one famous example is Igor Sikorsky, the future founder of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation), others chose (or were persuaded, sometimes using unsavory means) to give the Bolsheviks the benefit of the doubt (Andrei Tupolev, who, incidentally, was Sikorsky’s classmate at the Imperial High School of Technology, went on to become the head designer of Soviet bombers and passenger aircraft).

With the talent of that caliber at its service (and with confiscatory taxation of the farmers to finance its endeavors), the Soviet government was able to pull off a major industrialization…

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