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Lewis Siegelbaum and Andrei Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life:  A Narrative in Documents (New Haven and London:  Yale University Press, 2000)


Weeks VI and VII

Introduction (pp. 1-27)

Do the authors think that Stalin's rule was based on terror alone?  Explain.

Why is Siegelbaum skeptical of analyzing Stalinism in terms of the opposition between  "The State" and "Society"?

What was/is the "totalitarian" interpretation of Stalinism?  How does Siegelbaum compare this to the "official" Soviet view?

How did social historians in the 1970s and 1980s alter the "totalitarian" interpretation?  Did they think that the regime lacked any social support?  Explain.  Did they think that the Stalinist state was monolithic?  Explain.

How were the documents for this book chosen and how is the book organized?  What were the editors' aims in selecting documents, and how are the documents related to the book's "narrative"?  What themes have the editors chosen to examine?

What types of sources have the editors included?  Why include letters to newspapers and to government officials?

What are "svodki" and what did they contain?

What other kinds of sources have the editors chosen to include in this book?

Of what limits (what caveats) must we be aware in using these categories of documents?  What can and can't letters tell us, for instance?  Is each of these documents "typical"?  can we assume that all relevant documents have survived and that these documents are representative?

Have the editors corrected spellings, etc, in these documents?  Explain.  What have the editors added to the documents?

What seems to be Siegelbaum's main conclusion based upon these documents?

What forms of resistance to the Stalin regime have historians been studying since they have gained access to previously closed archives?  For instance, what kinds of questions have historians asked about resistance to collectivization?  What kinds of questions have historians been asking about workers' resistance?

What other kinds of "resistance" do the editors say is demonstrated in the documents included in this book? 

Siegelbaum also discusses ways in which people deliberately accommodated (or adapted to and then used) the regime--what are some of these strategies?

What might be achieved by writing a letter of denunciation, and what were the risks>  What might the language of such letters tell us?

What might we learn from letters and records of meetings in which the Stalin Constitution was discussed?  How might people have used their own interpretations of the constitution for their own aims?

Does Siegelbaum think that these documents show that  peasant sensibilities had remained unchanged since the 1917 revolutions?  Explain. 

Were Stalin-era villages monolithic?  What kinds of divisions existed in villages (horizontal?  hierarchical?  occupational?  gendered?)

Was everyone who "adapted" to Stalinism following a "strategy" of "resistance"?  Or could people also have internalized the values of the system?

What does historian S. Kotkin mean by the term "socialist civilization"?  What does Siegelbaum mean by "stalinist self"?

Do the editors think that Stalin had planned the terror out of a "thirst for personal power"?  What other explanations of the terror exist? (see 8 of them, on pp. 22-23).

To what charge does Siegelbaum plead "not guilty" on page 25, and why does he say he is "not guilty"?

Do the editors consider the relationship between the Soviet state and its citizens to have been "one sided"?  Explain.

What does Siegelbaum see as the main point of this book?