Key discussion questions, Week V

In preparing to discuss these questions, be sure that you consider evidence from Suny, chs. 4-5 and Kuromyia chs 2-3.


1. What is Suny’s main point about the relationship between class struggle and nationalism:

    a. before 1917

    b. during 1917

    c. during the Civil War?

NOTE:  In preparing to discuss this, be sure that you can refer to evidence regarding at least 3 different nationality groups.


2.  Suny argues that there were "five easy steps" that led the Bolsheviks towards dictatorship.

    a. what were these "5 steps"

    b. what other evidence (besides Suny) do we have in our readings that explains the transformation of the revolutionary government into a one-party dictatorship?


3. In 1917, the soviets were considered "democratic" institutions.  Explain:

    a. what "democratic" meant in the context of 1917

    b. if by 1921 the soviets were still "democratic" (in the sense that the term was used in 1917)


4. Historians of the Civil War era have long debated if the economic measures taken by the Bolsheviks in 1918-1921 were prefigured by Marxist ideology (were the Bolsheviks following a clear "plan"), or if these measures were ad-hoc responses ("reactions") to the crises that confronted them from moment to moment. Based upon what you have read

    a.  how would you resolve that debate?

    b. what is your evidence?

5. Some historians (like Sheila Fitzpatrick) have argued that during the Civil War a militaristic culture evolved in the Bolshevik Party (culture meaning a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices), so that many Bolsheviks believed that problems were best solved by the use of force.  Based upon what you have read:

    a. would you agree with this? 

    b. what is your evidence?

6. By early 1921 the Bolsheviks had defeated the White Armies and the foreign intervention had come to an end.  Did that mean that the Bolshevik [Communist] regime had eliminated all opposition and had the full support of

a. workers? (what is your evidence?)

b. peasants (what is your evidence?)

c.  soldiers?  (what is your evidence?)


7.  Lenin was sometimes described as the "dictator" of Soviet Russia.   Based upon what you have read:

a. what was the basis of Lenin's power and authority during the Civil War?

b. was there any opposition within the Communist Party to positions taken by Lenin? (if so, give specific examples.)

c. what steps did Lenin take in 1921 to limit and control internal dissent within the Communist Party?

c. is the use of the term "dictator" an accurate way to describe the nature of Lenin's power and authority?


8.  What was NEP?