key discussion questions, week VI
In preparing to discuss these questions, be sure that you consider evidence from Suny, chs. 6-8, chapter 3 in Kuromyia, and the intro to Siegelbaum. As always, be prepared to explain your answers and defend your positions with evidence from the readings.
1. What was NEP?
a. Why did the leadership implement these economic policies?
b. Did the NEP economic policies actually work?
c. Did Lenin consider NEP simply as a new economic strategy, or did he have a broader conception of what NEP "meant"?
2.What fundamental economic and social problems were emerging during the NEP period? For instance,
a. what sort of problems developed in the agricultural sector of the economy?
b. what sort of problems developed in the industrial sector of the economy?
c. what sorts of urban social problems seemed to be festering?
d. what sort of social class tensions seemed to be festering?
3. Besides economic programs, in what sense the Soviet regime trying to create a new kind of society in the 1920s?
a. what aspects of society was the regime trying to transform and how?
b. what tools did the regime use in its effort to create a new society/culture?
c. did the regime face any internal resistance in its efforts to transform society?
4. Were the power struggles within the party leadership in the 1920s only about personality conflicts between leaders, or were they tied to big policy questions?
a. what position did Lenin actually take on the leadership conflict in the last 2+ years of his life?
b. what alignments (alliances) characterized the various stages of the leadership struggle as it unfolded in the 1920s?
c. what was the debate over "socialism in one country" about, and what were Trotsky's main criticisms of the Stalin leadership?
d. what were the basic difference between Stalin's position on the economy and the positions taken by the "Left/Troskyite Opposition," the "Zinovievite Opposition," the "United Opposition," and the "Right/Bukharinite Opposition"?
e. how did issues of foreign policy debates factor into the power struggle within the Soviet leadership?
5. Why did Stalin emerge triumphant from the power struggle within the leadership?
a. what organizational advantages did Stalin have?
b. what major disadvantages did his opponents have (and what big errors did they make)?
c. what special skills (etc) did Stalin possess that helped him triumph over his rivals?
d. In 1929, was Stalin a "dictator"?
6. At the same time that the Stalin leadership began to break with NEP economic policies, it also launched what it called a "cultural revolution"
a. what was the point (the goal) of this "cultural revolution"
b. what sorts of policies did the cultural revolution involve?
7. In what ways did the goals of Soviet nationality policy change in the 1920s?
a. What were the basic goals of nationality policy in the mid-1920s, and what sorts of institutions were established to achieve those goals?
b. How did the basic goals of nationality policy change in the late 1920s?