Past is prologue

A spectre is haunting Europe. The spectre of Communism.

Three questions to consider as we conclude our introductory unit on “Historical Legacies and Revolutionary Dreams” in advance of a detailed investigation of the Civilization of Stalinism proper:

1. To what extent did the attitudes held by the Westernizer and Slavophile schools of thought regarding Russia’s past shape their adherents’ respective understandings of what it meant to be “modern”? What, if any, common ground did members of the two groups share regarding their views of Russia’s future?

2. In his 1902 political pamphlet What is to be Done? Vladimir Lenin described a “party of a new type” the formation of which, he argued, was essential for leading the masses toward socialist revolution. What were the main features this “new” party? How closely did the “Bolshevik” faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) resemble it in 1903? October 1917? And on the eve of Lenin’s death in 1924?

3. Is it reasonable to argue that Lenin was a Marxist? Why or why not?