Using your understanding of the historical context, assess how convincing the arguments in these three extracts are in relation to the impact of Stalinism on people’s lives in Russia by 1941

http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/history/AQA-70421H-SQP-ADD.PDF

Using your understanding of the historical context, assess how convincing the arguments in these three extracts are in relation to the impact of Stalinism on people’s lives in Russia by 1941

Extract C

Fitzpatrick’s interpretation is that, Stalinism impacted on people’s lives because they no longer did anything as they had no control over their life, whilst they lived hard, fearful lives, especially in the countryside. Yet, despite this fear and passivity, the impact of Stalinism was not so great that urban citizens could not criticise the regime, instead they retained their right to voice their opinions.

Fitzpatrick’s interpretation is convincing to some extent. This is because Stalinism’s impact on people’s lives wasn’t so great as to restrict all opposition. Davies highlights the peak of Stalinist criticism after the 1940 Labour Code. At this point, there were speeches, rumours and strikes, and even leaflets titled “Down with the government of oppression, poverty and prisons”. Fitzpatrick is therefore convincing because Stalinism did not completely control people’s lives, and in fact impacted negatively because of their hard lives in poverty. For example, even by 1937, living standards were said to be lower than in 1928 (Lynch), thus showing the impact of Stalinism on people’s lives, was as Fitzpatrick convincingly argues, was to create harder lives with lower standards of living, which then gives rise to Stalinist criticism. Arguably, by 1941 this living standard would have fell even further, whereby government spending increased in defence, thus neglecting consumer goods and prices to prepare for the advent of war. However, Fitzpatrick is less convincing as Stalinism did not impact as negatively on people’s lives for all members of society. Even among ordinary citizens, Stalinism was not always criticised for its impact, as by 1939, Stalin had almost abolished illiteracy, with 94% literacy of 9-49 year olds in urban areas, whilst there was 86% literacy in the countryside. Thus, even in the countryside, Stalinism had a positive impact by educating the once illiterate peasantry, helping to provide them with more social mobility. Thus this shows that Fitzpatrick is less convincing as Stalinism did have some positive impact on people’s lives, but also fatalism and passivity was not necessarily encouraged because with education, peasants could finally change their way of life and choose to work in the city.

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2 thoughts on “Using your understanding of the historical context, assess how convincing the arguments in these three extracts are in relation to the impact of Stalinism on people’s lives in Russia by 1941

  1. Hey – thanks for posting this, just attempted it in a mock and found this really helpful to compare to my ideas! Just wondering if you have any interpretations or arguments related to extract B of the same question? I really struggled with that one and would love to know what you thought. Thanks, Elise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya Elise, I’ve had a read of the source, I remember doing this one in class, and below I’ve had a fresh look at it with some ideas. Hope this helps.

      I think that Thurston argues that the impact of Stalinism on people’s lives was less harsh and controlling for those urban workers especially, whose lives had the freedom in which to voice criticism of Stalinism, and that they can live their own lives, separate from any state direction.

      Overall, I find this less convincing because it’s very hard to argue that life was all sunshine and roses for all of society. But, workers would have comparably better lives than rural people in terms of standards of living.

      But there is some evidence that supports this…if you take a look at the Svodki, local reports on mood, you’ll find that this was a period full of criticism, from critical speeches, leaflets even titled “Down with the government of poverty and prisons”. There were also letters from workers condemning 1913 levels of standards of living. Take a look at this article: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=2493 which has some good facts and arguments to support this source.

      Also look at Stakhanovite movement: was this a way of empowering people’s lives, receiving more benefits to live more comfortably? Barber would argue: “It reanimated the Bolshevik spirit of mass participation”. Siegelbaum argues that the benefits were sparsely given, and where given, resulted in hostility and revolts that had to be put down.

      Like

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