Essay # 1

A Violent Confrontation over Dinner

South Bend is not always the most exhilarating place to live, especially in the depths of a St. Petersburg-like winter.  To liven up my life, I invite two interesting people, V. I. Lenin and you, to my house for dinner.  At first, things are going quite nicely and the conversation is very civilized.  But then, I make a mistake:  I decide to argue with Lenin about State and Revolution.

“Vladimir Ilych,” I say, “I really like your image of the communist future and I am definitely for it.  Since we are all friends, however, I hope you don’t mind if I say that I am worried about your prescriptions in State and Revolution.  Frankly, if we did what you recommend, we wouldn’t get communism.  We would be certain to get tyranny instead!”

Lenin musters a bemused smile, but I can tell that his blood is boiling when he looks at me.  “Well, friend,” he says, “If we don’t follow my recommendations, we won’t get close to the blessings of communism at all.”

I don’t know what to say.  So, I turn to you and ask:  “Whose position is right?  Mine or Lenin’s?”

. Please respond to this question with one cohesive argument. Your essay should accomplish three objectives: 1) It should unequivocally state which of the two positions you support; 2) It should say what each position is about; and 3) It should clearly explain why you are choosing one position over the other.  Remember:  your goal is to persuade your reader that you are right.  Anyone who argues against you is wrong.  Don’t worry:  You won’t offend me if you take Lenin’s side!

Please note: You are writing one paper, not two. Make sure you are answering this question and not some other question that you wish I had asked. Keep counterarguments in mind the entire time you are writing. Draw upon evidence from your readings.  Be concise and to the point. Remember Orwell!

Requirements. Your essay should be no more than 5 typed, double-spaced pages (12 point font and regular margins) of incisive reasoning. It should have a carefully-chosen title.

Based upon our discussion about the challenges of great writing, I suggest that you begin this essay immediately. Then, put it aside.  Then, return to it and revise it.  And so on.  Would it be too much for me to request that you compose the five, best pages of prose that you have ever written in your life?

Your essay is due next Tuesday, February 23, by 9:00 a.m. Please email your response to me at You are responsible for getting your paper to me on time.

Good luck!

Lenin gestures