to syllabus

Study Questions on R. G. Suny, The Structure of Soviet History:  Essays and Documents (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2003).  Week III, pp. 3-6, 22-32, 32-45.

pp. 3-5 (Chapter 1 intro):

Be prepared to explain the difference (according to Suny) between the interpretations offered by "social historians" of 1917 and those offered by Richard Pipes.

What new trends in writing about 1917 emerged in the 1970s? 

According to Suny, how has historical thinking about the nature of social class changed since the 1970s?  How have new "linguistic" and "cultural" approaches to history effected writing about 1917?


pp. 22-32:  Kolonitskii, "Antibourgeois Propaganda"

Does K think that the revolutionary culture was entirely "new"?  Explain.

According to K, why is understanding socialist party ideology and propaganda so important to understanding the 1917 Revolution? 

Who does K identify as the most significant target of propaganda and censorship by Soviet institutions in March-October 1917?

What does K think the moderate socialists and Bolshevik propaganda had in common?

What is K's point about the influence of socialist (moderate and radical) anti-bourgeois propaganda (in their newspapers, party platforms, etc) on popular (mass) consciousness?

What were some of the symbolic manifestations of the influence of the socialist subculture?

Were the socialist political parties the only organizations that issued "anti-bourgeois" messages in 1917?  Explain.

What is some of K's evidence that socialism had become "fashionable" in 1917?  And what is his point about the impact of this "fashion" on attitudes towards the "bourgeoisie"?

Did the "counter-propaganda" of business leaders effectively reject the anti-bourgeois tone set by the socialists?  Explain.

In what ways did ordinary people understand the category "bourgeois"?  Was there one clear meaning for this term?  Why is that important?

How did ordinary people use the label "bourgeois" in social-cultural conflicts and disputes in 1917?

Was the term "bourgeois" understood by most people primarily as an label denoting economic status?  What else did it come to mean?  For instance, why did it imply about a person's ethics?

Did socialists only label non-socialists as "bourgeois"?  Explain.

How did political factions (etc) use the idea of "bourgeois enemies" to bolster their own particular position on the war?

Did the socialists (moderates and radicals)--and most of the population--think that the "bourgeoisie" was part of the "democracy"?  Expain.  What were the implications for freedom of the press and censorship?

Explain what K means when he says that popular political consciousness in 1917 was "quasi-religious."

In K's view, how was this quasi-religious consciousness linked to antibourgeois consciousness?  Why was the "bourgeoisie" perceived as "diabolical"?

Did the Bolsheviks invent the idea that "hidden" "bourgeois" enemies were "plotting" against the Revolution?  Explain.

Again, back to the first question (sort of)--does K think that this antibourgeois sentiment in Russia was entirely new in 1917 or was entirely a product of socialist propaganda?  Explain.

What is Kolonitskii's thesis?


PP. 32-45. 

Documents related to Order No. 1 (pp. 32-35).

Also, be prepared to discuss the basic differences between the way Rodzianko explained the genesis of Order No. 1 and the way that the Petrograd Soviet's Executive Committee explained the order's origins.  What is Rodzianko's main point?  What is the Soviet Executive's main point?

Be prepared to discuss what Order No. 1 actually "said" and why this was important.  In what ways does it reveal popular support for a "leveling" of society, for instance?


Kerensky's Statement in the Soviet on 2 March 1917 (pp. 35-36).

What point was Kerensky trying to get across in this speech?  How did he explain his decision to join the government?

What impression do you get of Kerensky the politician from this description of his speech?


Tseretelis Speech on Returning from Exile (pp. 36-38).

How did Tsereteli define the revolutionary coalition? 

How did he explain the relationship between the Provisional government and the proletariat?  Between the government and the Soviet?

Why is that important to understanding the moderate Menshevik position and to understanding the idea of "dual power" in Spring 1917?


Lenin's "Tasks of the Proletariat" (April Thesis) (pp. 38-41).

Be prepared to explain the ten major points of Lenin's April Thesis.  How did his thesis points relate to the main social tensions in Russia in 1917?

How did Lenin justify his rejection of the Provisional government and his call for Soviet power in April 1917?


Tsereteli and Lenin's Exchange...3-4 June 1917 (pp. 41-43).

In a few words, sum up the positions that Tsereteli and Lenin took on the question of state power at the First Congress of Soviets.  In particular, how did Lenin define the difference between the Bolshevik approach to "democracy" and that of the Mensheviks?


Report of the Commissar from Kovno, 14 June 1917 (pp. 43-45).

What picture does this report paint of the government's authority in the countryside?

What picture does it paint of peasant aspirations?

How does this commissar think is responsible for peasant radicalism?

How would you fit this document into Wade's discussion of the deepening of the revolution in the countryside?