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I also like to have "Back in the USSR" by the Beatles playing in the background as students walk in!Students then use this framework to think through the main issues facing Russia directly after the Bolshevik takeover.Following his earlier talk with students on the subject of the 1917 October Revolution, Professor Orlando Figes of Birkbeck University answered questions from students at the International School of Toulouse on the topic of Lenin's rule of Russia 1918-1924.
The fact that these ideas have become a sort of neo-liberal ‘common sense’ is reflected in historians of revolution, who see the ideology of human emancipation as impossible to achieve and inherently leading to mass terror.
This tendency to reduce revolutionary terror as a symptom of ideology is reflected in the highly regarded work of Richard Pipes on the Bolshevik Revolution, and acts as an explanatory narrative for why the revolution led to the infamous red terror.
While many historians argue the Bolshevik Revolution was a coup, it is more accurate to view it as an alliance of the Bolsheviks and Left-SRs winning a political victory in the Soviets (mass democratic workers councils) to form a government.
Yet the actual revolution had only begun; it needed to be consolidated against counter-revolution and establish Soviet and eventually Bolshevik Party authority around the whole country.
A great simulation for approaching what can be a very complicated topic!
Best used Start the lesson by having this image of the 1917 Politburo on the screen.
Has the violence of democratic and communist revolutions been a product of these ideologies’ very ideals and content?
Modern ‘common sense’ seems to be very skeptical of revolution as having any potential progressive impact.
Similar claims are made about the French Revolution, enlightenment ideology, and the Reign of Terror by other historians like Francois Furet and Simon Schama.
For this essay the focus will be the Russian Revolution, looking at how historians have contextualized and understood as the causes of the terror and ruthless violence that occurred in the Civil War that raged from approximately 1918 to 1922.