Edexcel AS exam revision – Bolshevik consolidation of power 1917-24

When the Bolsheviks “came to power” in October 1917 it was by no means obvious that they would survive. Having proclaimed the new era of Soviet power and socialist revolution, the writ of the new regime barely operated outside the major cities and it faced the basic challenge of either establishing control over the existing machinery of government, or creating a new one.  Continue reading

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Edexcel AS exam revision – the February Revolution and the fall of Tsarism

Toppled statue of Alexander III

The fall of the Tsarist regime in 1917 is a pivotal moment in this course – all the previous developments since 1881 can be seen to have led up to this event. It is thus a little surprising that the examiners have not set many questions on this topic. Continue reading

Hobsbawm’s Age of Revolution – The World in the 1780s

Hobsbawm‘s opening chapter is a dazzling survey of the world (specifically, the European world) on the eve of the “dual revolution”. He sketches out the forces and relations of production and shows how intellectual and political structures and developments derived from this economic base. This is a dynamic picture of a world in flux and on the brink of revolutionary change – poised between old forces and new, dynamic elements and static, governed by a political order rendered obsolete by economic change. In short, this is a magnificent application of the method of Karl Marx to elucidate, to understand, and to explain. Continue reading

Introducing the Communist Manifesto

The Manifesto of the Communist Party, first edition, 1848

Disclaimer: I make no claims for the profundity or originality of what follows. This post derives from a seminar for sixth form students and is intended to provide some basic context and raise a range of questions.

The Manifesto of the Communist Party is the most widely read political pamphlet in history and one of the most famous texts ever written. It is also an obvious starting point for the student seeking to explore the thought of Marx and Engels, and to understand the world communist movement. Continue reading

Liberal Tsarism? Part II

Bolt from the blue

“…liberal pressure for further reform could be expected to gather momentum. Meanwhile, the military power of the State remained sufficient to maintain order while the beneficial medicine of socio-economic development consolidated the bases for a western-style pluralist democracy. ‘Then, as a thunderbolt, came the terrible catastrophe of 1914, and progress changed into destruction.'(Pavlovsky)” Continue reading