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Fables and the Russian Revolution. The Context of Animal Farm. What is a fable:. A fable is a brief story told in prose of verse to illustrate a moral. The characters are traditionally animals and the events present are unusual or supernatural.

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fables and the russian revolution

Fables and the Russian Revolution

The Context of Animal Farm

what is a fable
What is a fable:
  • A fable is a brief story told in prose of verse to illustrate a moral.
  • The characters are traditionally animals and the events present are unusual or supernatural.
  • Most common is the beast fable, in which animals talk and act like the human types they represent.
  • Fables are often satire.
what is satire
What is satire:
  • Satire can be described as the literary act of diminishing a subject by making it ridiculous and evoking attitudes of amusement, contempt, or scorn.
  • It differs from the “comic” in that comedy evokes laughter mainly as an end in itself, while satire “derides”; that is, it uses laughter as a weapon, and against something that exists outside of the work itself.
let us review marxist theory
Let us Review… Marxist Theory
  • Marxist theory asserts this material divide creates tension between the upper and middle classes (THE BOURGEOISIE) and the lower classes (THE PROLETARIAT)

Capitalism oppresses the proletariat, ultimately leading to…Revolution!

  • Marxist theory holds that the continuing conflict between the classes will lead to upheaval and revolution by oppressed peoples
  • This will form the groundwork for a new society where capitalism is abolished
  • According to Marx the revolution will be led by the working class under guidance of intellectuals
  • Once elite and middle class are overthrown intellectuals will compose a new society where everyone will own everything – socialism
  • The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were not the kinds of revolutions that the Russian populists or anarchists had predicted – massive uprisings of the peasant masses against lords and imperial officials – although peasant rebellion was an essential ingredient in both revolutions.
  • They did not correspond to Karl Marx’s prediction that a successful bourgeois revolution would be followed by a revolution undertaken by an industrial proletariat.
  • War played a catalytic role in both revolutions: shocking defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) fought in Asia, and the lengthening horror of the Great War that began in 1914.
the revolution of 1905
The Revolution of 1905:
  • Lenin believed that only a minority of workers would achieve consciousness and that these workers should join with intellectuals in a party that would direct the masses.
  • In 1903, Lenin and his followers became known as the “Bolsheviks”, or the “majority”, and their rivals were known as the “Mensheviks”, or the “minority”.
  • In January 1905, a strike by 100 000 factory workers brought St. Petersburg to a standstill. When the marchers locked arms and refused an order to disperse, a commander barked out the order to fire.
  • “Bloody Sunday” helped shatter the myth that the tsar was the Holy Father, the people’s friend, enacting evil policies because he was manipulated by selfish nobles and wicked advisors.
vladimir illich ulyanov lenin 1870 1924
Vladimir IllichUlyanov-Lenin-(1870 - 1924)
  • “Lenin was one of the leading political figures and revolutionary thinkers of the 20th century, who masterminded the Bolshevik take-over of power in Russia in 1917, and was the architect and first head of the USSR.”
leon trotsky 1879 1940
Leon Trotsky (1879 - 1940)
  • Trotsky was a key figure in the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, second only to Vladimir Lenin in the early stages of Soviet communist rule. But he lost out to Joseph Stalin in the power struggle that followed Lenin's death, and was assassinated while in exile.
joseph stalin 1879 1953
Joseph Stalin (1879 - 1953)
  • One of the most powerful and murderous dictators in history, Stalin was the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union for a quarter of a century. His regime of terror caused the death and suffering of tens of millions, but he also oversaw the war machine that played a key role in the defeat of Nazism.
the revolution of 19051
The Revolution of 1905:
  • With the bulk of the army fighting the Japanese in Manchuria, the Russian Empire seemed on the verge of collapse.
  • But a violent uprising in Moscow in December 1905 brought on a vigorous tsarist counter-revolution.
  • The Revolution of 1905 had ended in failure, but its memory could not be so easily effaced.
war and revolution
War and Revolution
  • Lenin took the war as a sign that capitalism might be ripe for what he thought was its inevitable fall.
  • Revolutionary organizations prepared a massive general strike for early January 1917, the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1905.
  • During January and February, almost half of the capital’s 400 000 workers went out on strike
  • Nicholas spent almost two full days aboard his private train, critical moments in the February Revolution. He learned that Moscow had fallen to insurgents.
  • Nicholas II abdicated on March 2, 1917.
  • A bourgeois provisional government took control, but Lenin still wanted the proletariat to have control.
the october revolution
The October Revolution
  • Late on October 24, 1917, the Mensheviks sent troops to hold the bridges over the Neva River.
  • But the next day, Petrograd residents disarmed military cadets sent to one bridge. About 12 000 young Red Guards launched the insurrection.
  • The provisional government simply collapsed before the insurrection after almost eight months of existence. The Bolsheviks now held power in Petrograd.
  • The revolutionary government, under Lenin’s leadership, seized banks, closed down newspapers, banned the Constitutional Democratic Party, and arrested some of its members, as well as arresting a number of Mensheviks.
the october revolution1
The October Revolution:
  • In January 1918, Lenin proclaimed the “Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited People”, which stated that the goal of the revolutionary government was “the socialist organization of society and the victory of socialism in all countries”.
the civil war
The Civil War
  • The Russian Civil War began when many generals raised armies to fight the Bolsheviks, the “Reds”.
  • On July 17th, Nicholas II and his family were brutally executed on the orders of the local soviet, an act evidently approved by Bolshevik leaders.
  • The Red Army defeated the largest White army, 150 000 strong in Ukraine during the summer of 1919 and turned back a final march on Moscow in October.
  • Victory in the Civil War heightened Bolshevik determination not to tolerate movements for national autonomy.
the soviet union
The Soviet Union
  • The ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ became that of the Bolsheviks
  • Marxist theory promised the ‘withering of the state’ once socialism had been constructed, and Lenin himself warned against the growing power of the bureaucracy, which he helped to create.
  • But the Soviet state did anything but wither.
  • The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was created in 1922.
the soviet union1
The Soviet Union
  • In the summer of 1918, the Bolsheviks took the name of the Communist Party, a name Lenin had favoured during the war as a way of more clearly differentiating the more radical Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks, their socialist rivals.
  • The Communist government did not implement rights of nationalities or tolerate workers’ self-management, two of the goals of many people who had helped to overthrow the tsarist autocracy. Now ‘workers control’ meant state control.
  • With the economy in near total collapse, Lenin recognized that Communist ideology, which called for the abolition of private ownership, for the moment would have to be sacrificed, and that market incentives would have to be put in place, perhaps for some time.
the soviet union2
The Soviet Union:
  • In March 1921, Lenin announced a “New Economic Policy” (NEP) which permitted private land ownership and trade of produce at market prices, although the state retained control of heavy industries.
the rise of stalin
The Rise of Stalin
  • In 1912, Lenin appointed Stalin to the Bolshevik Central Committee. Stalin considered himself a pragmatist who expressed the views of middle-ranking party officials and remained suspicious of intellectuals.
  • Lenin’s death in January 1924 led Stalin to step up his efforts to consolidate his power.
  • Stalin placed his own men on the Central Committee and made Party appointments throughout the Soviet state.
  • The Soviet Union now entered the long period of the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin.
the five year plans
The Five-Year Plans
  • In 1930, Stalin forced collectivization of agriculture – the elimination of private ownership of land and animals.
  • The Five-Year Plan would mark a complete abandonment of Lenin’s NEP, which Stalin believed would have allowed capitalism to be restored.
  • Stalin used the rhetoric of class struggle as a means of mobilizing effort, trying to turn workers against ‘bourgeois’ managers.
  • The first Five-Year Plan (1928-1933) led to a bloodbath in the countryside. Hundreds of thousands of peasants who refused to turn over their harvests, farm animals, or farms were killed.
the five year plans1
The Five-Year Plans:
  • The Five Year Plan actually ended in 1922 after 4 years and 3 months, with 62% of the peasants now working for the state in collective farms.
  • The second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937) relied less on the shrill rhetoric of class warfare, despite ongoing collectivization. Stalin relaxed the ideologically charged “class-war” campaign against ‘experts’ of bourgeois origins.
  • In the meantime, Stalin reinforced his dictatorship.
  • The Russian Revolution, which had begun as a quest for economic and social justice by intellectuals, workers, middle-class radicals, and peasants, as well as non-Russian nationalists, led to the dictatorship of the Communist Party.
  • Once the Bolsheviks seized power on behalf of the working class and poor peasants, they never relinquished it. They destroyed the once popular organizations that had embodied the aspirations of millions of people.
  • Then, under the rule of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union’s industrial capacity increased dramatically, but at a terrifying human cost.
  • More importantly, despite the call for an egalitarian society, class division remained a reality.