key questions for discussion, week IV

Base your answers on Suny, the Hickey documents, and Kuromyia.  Be ready to refer to specific sources.


  1. What positions taken by the Bolsheviks in fall 1917 helped them (and the other left socialist parties) gain popular support?
  2. What were the most important differences between the approaches of the following Bolshevik leaders to the problem of how to take power in October 1917:  Lenin, Trotskii, Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev?
  3. Which strategy was actually closest to what actually happened in Petrograd in October 1917?
  4. Until the 1970s, most historians (in the West and in the Soviet Union) argued that the October Revolution was the result of Lenin's iron-willed leadership.  Since the 1970s, historians have made other arguments to explain how the Bolsheviks came to power--some stress that Lenin had "good luck" and things simply fell his way; some stress that the Bolsheviks and Left SRs had broad support among soldiers and urban workers, and some stress that the moderate socialists and Kerensky's government had so little authority that there was actually a vacuum of power (that the Bolsheviks then filled).  What do the authors we read for tonight argue and what evidence supports their various interpretations?
  5. Did the October Revolution in Moscow follow the exact same course of events as that in Petrograd?  What about other cities and regions?  How might we explain the different patterns of events by which the Bolsheviks/left socialist groups in the soviets took power from the Provisional government?
  6. The Bolsheviks/Communists came to power promising the they would end the war, turn land over to the peasants, give workers supervision over the factories, and call the Constituent Assembly into being.  Did Lenin's government actually do these things?  Explain!
  7. Why did Lenin's government disband the Constituent Assembly, and what were the consequences?  Was the disbanding of the assembly, for instance, the starting point of a one-party Communist dictatorship?
  8. Different historians date the start of the Russian Civil War differently--some say it started in October 1917, some say it started in January 1918, some say it started in March 1918, some say July 1918.  What argument could be made for each of these months as the starting point for the Civil War?