• The student understands the causes and consequences of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
  • Explain the causes of the Russian rebellion of 1905 and assess its impact on reform in the succeeding decade.
  • Explain the causes of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and analyze why the revolutionary government progressed from moderate to radical.
  • Explain Leninist political ideology and how the Bolsheviks adapted Marxist ideas to conditions peculiar to Russia.
  • Assess the effects of the New Economic Policy on Soviet society, economy, and government.
  • Describe the rise of Joseph Stalin to power in the Soviet Union and analyze ways in which collectivization and the first Five-Year Plan disrupted and transformed Soviet society in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Analyze the challenges that revolutionary Russia posed to Western governments and explain the impact of the Bolshevik victory on world labor movements.


Lesson 1: Understanding Why Marxism in Russia

Thoughts before starting the unit:

Before we begin I want to explain to you why this topic is so important, especially to many of you who were raised in either the U.S. or South Korea. When I was very young, I was indoctrinated as an American. By the time I was in kindergarten, I had fully memorized the national anthem and the pledge of alliance as a duty to my country. It was also explained to me that as a country we were superior to all others, and that we were in mortal combat with the evil USSR (Russia and her satellite states)--a battle of good vs. evil. The U.S. was always portrayed as a place of prosperity and liberty; Russia, a place of doom and gloom. But as I grew older, I started to ask myself why so many people were willing to be communist? Russia during the 1980's was an undisputed heavyweight in world politics and could only be challenged by the US. Things just did not add up in my head, so I decided to look into Russia and her political ideologies. What I found was truly inspiring; I was introduced to Karl Marx and Communism. As a teacher this is by far one of the hardest concepts to teach students. There are a couple of reasons why, (1) they have preconceived ideas that Communism has already failed so why study it, (2) they live in a capitalistic society and look at the other side uncomfortably, and (3) most students understand the basics and then just stop there. Most students will say something like "In a communist world everyone gets paid the same no matter what job they have!" With further examination of Marx's ideas we can see this is not the case. Today, I don't want you to think of communism in the modern world (North Korea or China), but instead I want us to explore what communism could be. Please keep an open mind for today's lesson. -Mr. Spivey

What did Russia look like politically, socially and economically in 1900?

As western Europe kept developing its societies through capitalism and democracy Russia decided to take a different path. The question then becomes which path did it take and why? Keep this question in mind when looking at the make of Russia during the early 1900's. Remember that this unit is called the Russian Experiment, it was the first attempt at something very auspicious.

During the 18th and 19th century, you have already learned that Europe had completely reinvented itself from a social, political and economic standpoint through such movements as the Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, Age of Revolution, Imperialism, and Industrialization. Although some aspects of these movements trickled into Europe's massive eastern neighbor, Russia looked more like Europe in the early 1700's. The following political cartoon emphasizes the social, political and economic situation in Russia in a nutshell. Sound familiar?

What is this cartoon saying about Russian Soceity?

Socially, as you can see from this illustration, Russia consisted of a hierarchy of groups with very few at the top and a vast majority at the bottom. Money and power rested largely in the hands of those at the top while those at the bottom survived on next to nothing. These groups are as follows:

Nobles and Bureaucracy
Russian Orthodox Church Officials
Military and Imperial Guard (Okhrana)
Peasants (formerly Serfs or slaves)

As you can see when you focus on the people at the bottom of this pyramid, they withered under the economic demands placed on them while those above them lived luxuriously. During harsh economic times, this inequality caused major social issues to erupt, which is why the Tsar made sure that he had a strong military and security force in place at all times. Maintaining power and the social structure was the paramount goal of everyone but the peasants, who had just recently been emancipated in 1861 under terms that really maintained their slavery for the next 50 years.

Economically, Russia did see some progress that would have resembled European industrialization. In cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow, peasants flooded in from the countryside to work in factories that began popping up with the rise of the Capitalist class. However, the size of Russia made a massive transformation from agrarianism to industrialization a slow process. The following report from a Russian economist serving the Tsar in 1900 illustrates this:

Economic System of Russia in 1900

Politically, Russia resembled an absolute monarchy with a strong authoritarian strain. Although there was a parliament consisting of the noble landowner class called the Duma, it rarely met, and its decisions were merely suggestions to the Tsar (or King as a Western Europe equivalent). Power rested squarely in the Tsar's hands, and he and his advisers established policy. When politically necessary, the Tsar would collaborate with the Russian Orthodox Church and military leaders, but overall, the Tsar dictated Russia's direction.

1. Compare the life in France before the French Revolution focusing factor of analysis with Russia by 1900.
2. Create one question per factor of analysis that you potentially want answered.

Your homework reading will clarify these ideas presented above.

Remember that guy Marx (and his friend Engels)?

This is a statue made in honor of Marx and Engels in Berlin, Germany

Now that you understand the situation that Russia found itself in, why was this such a great place to try and establish the ideas of Karl Marx into a reality? Let's quickly review some of his main concepts.

The most famous writing of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is the The Communist Manifesto. This landmark work established a vision of a society that would erase social classes and provide economic resources to all regardless of family background, wealth, or ability. It was a utopian vision that many people around the world began to consider as they tried to address the impacts of industrialization, capitalism, imperialism and modern war. Before we see how Russia responded to and implemented Marxism, let's remember what he proposed, a utopia in four parts:

I. Marxist View of History: All societies have devolved into class struggle.
  • Aristocrats, Landowners and Guilds vs. Farmers/Laborers → Manufacturers vs. Workers
  • Manufacturers = Bourgeoisie (Oppressor) vs. Workers = Proletariat (Oppressed)
  • With bourgeois capital expansion, the Proletariat will expand in population.
  • Marx predicted that as capitalist Bourgeoisie fortunes rose, the Proletariat condiion would decline.
  • This would set up the Bourgeoisie downfall via a Proletarian revolution.

II. Communist Political Party
  • Communist objective: Abolition of private property and capitalism
  • Private property and capitalism keeps workers enslaved.
  • Bourgeois property or capital depends on unequal distribution.
  • To end exploitation, workers must abolish capitalism.
  • The Communist party seeks to unite workers under this cause and give them a political voice to organize.

III. Communism vs. Socialism
  1. Socialism looks to previous modes of social organization for answers to modern problems; Communists believe that modern difficulties are unprecedented and cannot be solved by history.
  2. Socialism does not recognize class conflict; Communism’s central premise relies on class conflict.
  3. Socialism does not endorse violent revolution; Communism posits that it’s the only way to fight bourgeois oppression.

IV. Communist Goals
  • Support all revolutions everywhere against the social and political order.
  • Raise the issue of property and abolition of capitalism within those revolutions.
  • Manipulate those revolutionary means to reach Communist ends.
  • "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!"

What would Marx's Communism look like in action? Ask him yourself.

(From “Chapter II: Communists and Proletarians”)

...The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.

These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in he hands of the state.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class; if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.

Essential Question: Why would this look desirable to people?

Assignment: You will first get into groups assigned to you. By the end of class you must be able to explain to me what a communist world would look like through the eyes of Marx. You are welcome to use other means of media to help explain your thoughts: for example a picture or a quick movie clip etc.

1. Read p. 1-14 in Russia in War and Revolution: 1900-1924 (Due next class)
2. "What would Marx's Communism look like in action? Ask him yourself." Due: B & C Blocks April 22, F Block April 23 and E Block April 26.
3. Bring Russia in War and Revolution: 1900-1924 and Stalin and the Soviet Union

Lesson 2: Live from the Russian Revolution

I. Reading Q&A

II. Russian Revolution Radio Podcast:

In groups, you will create a radio show based on the reading assigned to you below. The format will take on the form a news radio show much like NPR (clink on link for example, look for the streaming audio on the top left hand corner for an example) . For example, you will need a studio host, an on-site analysis, human witnesses, special guests (political, economic, cultural experts or even an actual person from the time period), etc. Each student is required to take part in the podcast. If you decide to get experts in the field such as a professor via a podcast make sure and cite your sources. We want both creativity and historical analysis with facts during the podcast. This will be an on-going project and will not be due until later on next week. An exact date will be given out soon.
Radio was the form of communication worldwide during this time period.

1. Read and analyze your section of the text as an individual. Once you are done deciphering your assigned work discuss your analysis with your assigned partner. The text and page numbers are listed below. You are always more than welcome to do additional research to make your radio shows more exciting. You can find your partners and topic within the class list below.

Class List:

WH Spivey B 2009-10
WH Spivey C 2009-10

WH Spivey E 2009-10
WH Spivey F 2009-10

Names in Group
Empire to 1905 p1-14 (Russia in War)

WWI to Provisional Government p15-21 (Russian in War)

Bolshevik Revolution p.22-32 (Russia in War)

Power Struggle p. 1-9 (Stalin)

Life Under Stalin p. 10-19 (Stalin)

Lenin, Vladimir (Sources will be supplied to you separately)

2. Look at your podcast reflections written during the Scientific Revolution podcast from last semester. Think about what you can do to take your podcast the extra mile.
WH Spivey B 2009-10
WH Spivey C 2009-10

WH Spivey E 2009-10
WH Spivey F 2009-10

3. Start to write your script. You will act out your radio show as though you are in Russia during that time period! Your script may be as creative and entertaining as you wish, but you must convey the main ideas of your section to your listeners. If they cannot comprehend the main themes of your section of the reading, then your podcasts will not be effective. When scripting out your podcast, please ensure that it meets this criteria. Also, make sure that it is an exchange between both speakers and not a monologue by one person, all members of the group MUST be involved.

4. For homework over the next week, your group will need to finish both the script and the podcast. Podcasts are expected to be anywhere from 3 to 4 minutes in length, NO LONGER! If you want to include commercials, opening music, or other forms of radio media you are totally welcome to. You have done a lot of the leg work and now is the time for you and your partner to have fun with this. Use all the time that has been allocated to you for this project wisely. Remember that we are looking for quality and not necessarily quantity.

5. You will upload your podcast and it will be used as review material for the rest of the class. Quality is of the utmost importance and this assignment will be worth 50 points. If there are any questions please ask your teachers.

Read p. 15-21 in Russia in War and Revolution: 1900-1924 (Due next class)
Podcast Due: B & C Block April 27th, F Block April 28 and April 30th

Lesson 3: Spreading the Word of Communism

I. Reading Q and A

II. Presentations: Reflections of a Communist World (Each group has 1 minute to present information.)

III. Tools to Persuade and Motivate-- Propaganda

Competition for Russia: With the Russian Tsar out of power, competition for political power was in full forces as differing political opinions started to crawl out of the woodwork of a repressed civilization. As we have studied before, the ideas of conservativism, liberalism and radicalism will be a theme once again. One form of media that started to establish itself was the use of posters that were made to convince the majority of the population of a particular point of view about competing political ideologies, also known as propaganda. Here is an example of some Russian propaganda during the the Russian Revolution, approximately mid to late 1910's.

Russian Revoluton Propaganda Poster `Lets work, but gun is ready!`

Check out more propaganda here: http://fbuch.com/posters.htm & http://www.internationalposter.com/country-primers/soviet-posters.aspx

Art Analysis of Propaganda
Pick one of the propaganda pieces from the website above and answer the following questions:
What is the message that this poster is trying to get out to the Russian people?
Do you find this piece of propaganda to be compelling? Why or why not?
If you were to make a propaganda poster what elements of this poster would you keep? What would you leave out? Why?

IV. Russian Revolution Podcast Work Time

Read p. 22-31 in Russia in War and Revolution: 1900-1924 (Due next class)

Lesson 4: Psychoanalysis of Lenin

I. Reading Q&A
II. Psychoanalysis of Lenin

To this day Lenin is still one of the more dynamic people in recent history. He is a man that is both loved and hated by millions all over the world. To start of today's lesson I want you to quickly think about (refer to your reading) what was the vision of Lenin? Was Lenin a power monger or was he sincere about creating a better Russia?

Lenin on a Couch!

1. Students will be broken up into psychologist teams.
2. Create questions on what you want to know about Lenin.
3. Watch video "Intro to Psychology" by Mr. Izzy!

4. Teams will revisit questions edit and create more
5. Watch video: Vladimir Lenin: Voice of Revolution (A&E Biography Series)

Video Break Down
Intro: 0:20- 1:53
Childhood 3:12-8:34
Young Adulthood 10:18-12:39*
Exile 15:20-17:58
Bloody Sunday 18:16-19:36*
Relationship and Love 20:40-21:23
WWI and March 1917 Revolution 23:12- 25:44
Lenin, Germany and Finland Station 26:42-27:48
Overthrow of the Provisional Government 31:43-35:19
World Revolution? 37:08-41:44

6. Text research by using primary sources, textbook(s) and readers. Create more questions.

7. Conduct the psychoanalysis with Lenin with the goal of (a) Get basic background information, (b)what is he concerned about? , and (c) Finding the root and motivations behind the actions of Lenin?

A. Each team will ask one question to Lenin.

B. Each question will have a MAX of one follow up. Students are expected to take notes. YOU MUST WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING THE PATIENT SAYS! (This is an order from Mr. Izzy!)

C. Rotate till questions exhaust or repeat themselves.

D. In groups analyze information and answer "Was Lenin a power monger or was he sincere about creating a better Russia?" While figuring out this question download the graphic organizer. Fill out the chart organizing your finds with "evidences" that would side with either a)power monger or b) sincere revolutionary.

Assessment: Debate!
Was Lenin a power monger or was he sincere about creating a better Russia?

Homework: Read "Stalin and The Soviet Union" p.1-11

Lesson 5: Stalin's Russia

Is the American veiw of Stalin too tough? Lets explore!

I. Life Under Stalin's Rule: The Purges
II. News and Media in the USSR under Stalin:
1. Write an article in the point of view that was dictated by Stalin and the Communist Party.
2. Write an article on what life is really like in Russia by secretly telling each other your secret information.

A. Stalin and The Soviet Union p. 12-19 (Due next class)
B. Listen to student produced podcasts leaving feedback. You will listen to two, including a) the one directly above you and b) your pick. (Due next class)
1. In comparison to your podcast what did you like about your colleague's podcast?
2. In comparison to your podcast what can use improvement?
3. Does the podcast have a strong thesis? Does the podcast have enough evidence to support the thesis?
C. Write your "Stalin's Truth" vs. Reality article due next Monday by 3:15