For class today, our questions cover a wide range of all three of the readings. First, looking at the Fitzpatrick reading, we would like to discuss the differences between populism, socialism, Marxism and the Social-Democratic leaders. After that, why is Karl Marx so important and what made Russian communism different from other countries? Next, on page 41, it states that the Marxist party “broke the rules” by seizing power from the socialists. Do you agree with them or do you think this could be seen as hypocritical? Why? Lastly, for the Fitzpatrick reading, in comparison to serfdom, did the conditions of the peasants improve in regards to the Red Army vs. White Army? That is, did the peasantry prefer the Red or White Army? Why? Then from the next reading, we talk about Lenin and what he believes in. First on page 372 we ask about on what you think are the reason that the people do not want to get into revolts? Is it because they are scared of the punishment that they will receive? Then we ask what is your opinion on Lenin’s question of wiping out a dozen wise men or a hundred fools? Do you believe Lenin is correct to use the “Dozen wise men” over “a hundred fools”? that he talked about on pages 376-377 Finally, for the reading Imperial Russia, we ask Do you guys believe that there cannot actually be no revolution movement if there is no revolutionary theory? Why or why not? For the final reading in the first question we cover a quote in Leon Trotsky’s piece. Therefore, what do you make of this quote: “Consequently, comrades, militarization of labor, in the root sense indicated by me, is not the invention of individual politicians or an invention of our War Department, but represents the inevitable method of organization and disciplining of labor-power during the period of transition from capitalism to Socialism…” What are your opinions on Leon Trotsky and his beliefs? What do you think his motivations are? And then finally with Trotsky, based on this speech, what do you think Trotsky’s views on terrorism are? Do you think he is an anarchist?
In the chapter “In the Wake of Emancipation”, David Saunders explains the reforms of the 1860s. These include the military, church, education, courts, and the press. According to Saunders, the probable reasons for the Tsar halting the process of such reforms were most likely the grief over the death of his eldest son in 1865 followed by the assassination attempt in 1866, as well as his focus of “changing balance of power in Europe” due to Prussia’s victory over Austria in battle (Saunders 263-64). Further, Saunders states that while there is a possibility that Alexander could have been satisfied enough to cease his reformations, there could also be evidence that he “was not much of an innovator in the first place” (264). The argument against the tsar is something I find interesting, since according to Saunders, Alexander is also known as the “Tsar Liberator.” With this in mind, as well as what we as historians know to be the future of Russia, could it be possible that some of these views of the tsar only occurred after the end of the monarchy in Russia? While there were no doubt supporters as well as those who did not offer their support, could the latter have been brought about more after the fact? Or do you think that many of such opinions on these reforms as well as the leader that made them were of the times? Why or why not?