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The communist dream inspired its believers with visions of human emancipation. Yet in nearly every case, from the Soviet Union to China, Hungary, North Korea, and East Germany, it led to the formation of dictatorships that deprived their populations of the most elemental freedoms.  Directly and indirectly, it also led to the destruction of lives and the deaths of millions of people.

17.  Tuesday, March 18

Film:  “The Inner Circle”

Meet at the Nanovic Institute during class time to see the first half of the film.  Meet at the Institute later to see the rest of the film.  Pizza on me!


18.  Thursday, March 20

Discussion:  The Roots of Stalinist Terror

For today’s meeting, our goal is to get inside the head of Koestler’s protagonist, Rubashev.  What is Rubashev like?  What drives him?  As you read Rubashev’s story, ask yourself what it would be like to interact with him.  Is he a “nice” person?

  • Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon:  Read at least the first half if not more.
  • Richard Pipes, Communism:   pp. 55-78

19.  Tuesday, March 25

Discussion:  The Roots of Stalinist Terror

  • Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon:  Complete this reading.
  • Video:   “Stalin, the Despot” (56 mins.):  WATCH

20.  Thursday, March 27

Discussion:  Today, we will look at one of the greatest human disasters of the twentieth century:  The Great Leap Forward.

Please arrive prepared to discuss different explanations for this tragedy.  I can see at least 5 contending explanations in our reading, maybe more.

  • Yang Jisheng, Tombstone (selections), a handout:  READ
  • Video:  “Great Leap Forward Summary”:  WATCH (only the first 60 minutes, although feel free to watch the rest of the video)

21.  Tuesday, April 1

Discussion:  The Authoritarian Personality

We will meet at the Nanovic Institute to see a film about Obedience.

  • Readings from Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin
  • “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”:  PRINT AND READ
  • In class video:  “Obedience”

Please make sure that you are fully engaged in the debate preparations for next Tuesday.  I will post the two sides on Sakai very soon!

22.  Thursday, April 3

NO CLASS:  I will be in Rome for a Nanovic Institute Conference


23.  Tuesday, April 8

Second Great Debate:

Arthur Koestler’s “Gletkin” is the inevitable result of Marx’s Communist Manifesto!






NOTE:  Please turn off and do not use your technology during class.  This includes electronic devices of any kind, such as laptops, NSA decoders,  i-Pads, cell phones, Kindles, video cameras, video games, or other personal digital devices.

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