Return to Syllabus


Study questions on Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment:  Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998)  

Week 2

Chapter 1, The Imperial Legacy, pages 19-39

How (towards what ends) did Plekhanov use/ take up the ideas of Marx? Suny notes three reasons that Marxism was attractive to Russian radicals—what are these reasons? (see pp. 20-21)

What seems to have characterized Lenin’s personality?

What were the main points made in Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? ?

Why did the RSDLP split in 1903?

How does Suny characterize Nicholas II?

What were the aims of Russia’s liberals before 1905?

How had industrial growth and the up-and down cycle of the capitalist economy effected Russian society in the 1880s-early 1900s?

What factors led to the 1905 Revolution? For Suny, what were the most important results of the 1905 Revolution?

Suny asks why support for tsarism eroded "so quickly in the last two decades of its existence," and says that historians are divided on this question. What are the two general "schools" of though on this question? Is Suny and "optimist" or a "pessimist"?

(Which argument strikes you as stronger?)

What characterized Russia’s foreign and domestic policy during the Stolypin era?

What does Suny mean when he discusses a "crisis at the top" and a "crisis at the bottom" of Russian society in 1911-14? What changes were occurring among the urban and rural lower classes? What evidence is there is growing labor unrest in 1911-1914?

How does Suny explain Russia’s decision to go to war in 1914?

What problems faced Russia in prosecuting the war? What kinds of problems did the war itself create (or aggravate)?

Why did the tsarist regime’s direction of the war effort further undermine support for tsarism?

What is Suny’s main point in this chapter?