POLB92 FINAL EXAM NOTES
Understanding the Great Terror
● Bottom Up
○ Driven by denunciations. People were told to rule out enemies of the party (report on
neighbours etc.), which is out of elite’s control.
■ Could be used as revenge on a neighbour you hate etc.
● Also incredibly Top Down process
○ All controlled by Stalin. He was deeply aware of what was going on. Sending off villagers
to camps etc. Without Stalin, you would not have the Great Terror
The Red Terror
○ Actively promoted as a form of “social revenge” or punishment against bourgeoisie
○ Bolsheviks were under severe threat
○ Direct response of opposition (Cheka)
○ Targeted at real sources of opposition
○ If they were to stay in power, some form of Red Terror was necessary
The Great Terror
○ No serious regime opposition when it began. All of Stalin’s opposition was wiped out
already! What specific end could this possibly achieve?
○ Stalin as a paranoid maniac--He was not a good father! He abused his son.
○ Influence of culture (Georgian Culture)
■ Notions of honour and revenge (Stalin was thin skinned and easily offended)
● If someone hurt your honour, you have to avenge it.
■ Experience in seminary
○ BUT: Cannot just focus on Stalin! He cannot carry out murders himself, he needs the
support from his administration. How did he get 1000s of elite and state personnel to go
○ You need slave labour to build industrial projects
○ Mechanism of centralization
■ Increase atomization and distrust (Your own son, wives, husbands could turn you
in!) Who is an agent of the secret police? Makes it hard to organise opposition.
■ Undermine efforts to organize against Stalin
○ Terror and War Fears
■ Past repression created enemies -- 1.5 million former party members/repressed
Kulaks, therefore you have to repress even more so.
■ Efforts to eliminate the “Fifth Column”
● Nationalities that might support invasion.
● A sense that a war and invasion of Soviet Union was imminent
○ BUT: Also rational to do accommodate potential opposition. To get your enemies to support you. But what Stalin does with the Terror is create more enemies of the regime,
which strengthens the Fifth Column
Why did democracy fail?
○ Economical Development
■ Underdeveloped countries rarely democratize because the rural population has a
hard time mobilizing
● Why? They are less educated and more isolated from each other so they
cannot communicate easily.
● They were important in helping dismantle Tsar system, but they had hard
time mobilising for their own interests.
■ Russia was 80% peasant.
● They are unable to back up support for SRs, the Bolsheviks win because
they control the industrialized cities (minority of the population, but they
were better at mobilising).
■ Revolution creates highly polarized political atmosphere
■ Bolsheviks were just one of the socialist parties. You would think the other parties
could have defeated the Bolsheviks.
● But the Non-Bolsheviks feared counter revolution more than they feared
● Opposed to Bolsheviks but fearful of undermining the Socialist
■ Lenin wasn’t a democrat
● 1902 he wrote of the need for the maximum possible centralization of the
● Seeks power for the Bolsheviks, not Soviets
● Strong support for the Red Terror. Power = violent process.
● Voluntarist because this is all Lenin’s thought etc.
○ Party wasn’t that disciplined before the civil war
■ The people within the group publically announced that
they were going to seize power.
○ Party under Lenin lacks discipline
○ Before the civil war, no real discussion of secret police, terror.
● BUT He needed the impact of the Civil War, to really create
○ Militarizes the Bolshevik Party. Creates the sense that violence is necessary to their rule.
○ Creates Cheka
○ Creates a generation of highly paranoid, violent leaders
■ Became the support base for Stalin
How did Hitler Rise?
● Structural ○ Modernization (level of industrialization/urbanization)? Germany was very urbanized and
industrial--well developed economy and highly mobilized civil society.
○ Institutional rules?
■ Rule by decree. President had extensive powers, could appoint chancellor
without legislative majority. Can disband parliament without parliamentary
● If they cannot reach a majority then the president can just rule by decree.
■ Proportional representation → Fragmentation
● If you got any percentage of the vote, then you were in parliament. There
were 8 parties in government who have gotten under 5% of the vote.
This obviously promotes fragmentation!
■ If you’re afraid of your survival (paramilitary response between communists),
then you are much more likely to support an authoritarian leader to prevent bad
things from happening
■ Many middle class Germans were willing to support Hitler because at least he
was able to deal with the communists.
○ Great Depression
■ Over half the parliament consisted of people who were opposed to democracy
● Structure vs. Agency
○ Failure of democracy in 1933, democracy was very weak.
○ Was hitler’s rise to power in 1933 inevitable?
■ What was much more likely was a military coup. The military was very powerful
and tightly disciplined. The last Chancellor (Schleicher). The military didn’t
believe in global domination.
○ Appointment of Hitler
■ Hindenburg was an old geezer, but he was opposed to Hitler.
■ Papen convinces Hindenberg that Hitler could be controlled as a Chancellor, so