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Seminar 2

‘Socialism in one country’: The Soviet Union in the 1920’s

  • Why did Stalin win the power struggle after Lenin’s death?
  • Was the New Economic Policy a deviation from the ‘right path’ of Socialism? [debate]
  • How was everyday life in the 1920s like?



Bucharin, N.I., ‘Enrich yourselves’ [1925, excerpt, translation by Francis King], in N.I. Bucharin, Izbrannye proizvedeniya (Moscow, 1988), pp. 195-197.

Letter from peasant or Cossack Ivan Khomich from the Azov region, Don okrug to the local newspaper, Krasnoe Priazov’e. Copied and forwarded to V.M. Molotov from Rostov-on-Don 22 February 1927 [translation by Francis King]’, in: S.S. Kryukova (compiler), Krest’yanskie istorii: Rossiyskaya derevnya 20-ch godov v pis’makh I dokumentakh (Moscow, 2001), pp. 86-88.

Stalin, J.V., ‘The Results of the Work of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), May 1925’, in J.V. Stalin, On the Opposition (Peking, 1974), pp. 188-229 [based on J.V. Stalin, Works, Vol. 7 (Moscow, 1954), pp. 90-134] [please read chapters 4-6]

Essential Reading

Husband, William B., ‘The New Economic Policy (NEP) and the Revolutionary Experiment 1921-1929’, in: Freeze, Russia, pp. 263-290.

Recommended Reading

McCauley, Martin, Stalin and Stalinism (London, 2019), pp. 22-32 [Chapter 4: The new economic policy (NEP), 1921-1928]

Attwood, Lynne, Gender and Housing in Soviet Russia: Private Life in a Public Space (Manchester, 2010), pp. 40-60 [Chapter 2: The New Economic Policy)

Further Reading

Davies, R.W., The Socialist offensive. The collectivisation of Soviet agriculture 1929-1930 (London, Basingstoke, 1980), pp. 1-55 [= Chapter 1: ‘The peasant economy and the Soviet system’].

Hughes, J., Stalin, Siberia and the Crisis of the New Economic Policy (Cambridge, 1991).

Harris, James, ‘Stalin as General Secretary: the appointments process and the nature of Stalin’s power’, in Davies/Harris, Stalin, pp. 63-82

Smith, Jeremy, ‘Stalin as Commissar for Nationality Affairs’, in Davies/Harris, Stalin, pp. 45-62

Suny, Ronald G., The Soviet Experiment. Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (New York, Oxford, 1998), pp. 121-213 [= Chapter 5: ‘The Evolution of the Dictatorship’, Chapter 6: ‘Socialism in One Country’, Chapter 7: ‘NEP Society, Chapter 8: Culture Wars’].

The chapters on the 1920's in another good History of the Soviet Union, for example:

Kenez, Peter, A History of the Soviet Union from the Beginning to the End (Cambridge, 1999)


Hosking, Geoffrey, A History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (London, 1992)


Read, Christopher, The Making and Breaking of the Soviet System: An Interpretation (Basingstoke, 2001)


Service, Robert, A History of Modern Russia, From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, Mass., 2009)