Khrushchev’s life was framed around Stalin. From their first meeting in 1925 until the completion of his memoirs shortly before his death, Khrushchev analysed and re-analysed his relationship with Stalin. This is the story of how a pre-revolutionary labour activist, one who flirted with Trotskyism, became a convinced Stalinist, was first mesmerised and then appalled by the personality of Stalin, and in the process of rejecting Stalin, rejected Stalinism as well, reintroducing towards the end of his rule debates about the role of the party in the economy that had not been current since the early 1920s. Khrushchev’s evolution as a Stalinist was not untypical. He was a legal labour activist before the revolution; he did not join the revolutionary underground but preferred to be with the masses, organising at the work place, distributing literature, running a workers’ retail co-operative. During 1917 he was a classic member of the revolutionary “sub elite”, the middle rank activist who spread the word and served on a local soviet. As with many such activists, who favoured labour militancy, opposed the war, criticised the Provisional Government and welcomed the formation of the Soviet Government in October 1917, it was the civil war which forced them to identify fully with the Bolshevik Party rather than Bolshevik policies.
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