First Essay Assignment: "The Rise and Fall of World Communism"

Now the old guard was used up.  The logic of history ordained that the more stable the regime became, the more rigid it had to become in order to prevent the enormous dynamic forces which the Revolution had released from turning inwards and blowing the Revolution itself into the air.”

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, “The Third Hearing,” part 3.

Do you agree or disagree with the implicit argument in the above quotation?  Take a stand on this question by drawing upon your readings from Cohen and ‘Z’ (and others) and your understanding of the issues involved in assessing this period in Soviet history.  Naturally, taking a stand presupposes that you can identify Koestler’s “implicit argument.”

To justify your own stand, keep in mind that your ability to persuade your reader is always dependent upon anticipating and rebutting the counterarguments that will be raised against you. Thus, you will need to specify what you are arguing against. Dare to argue!

Your essay should be no more than four (4), double-spaced pages (normal font; normal margins).  Use your readings, lectures, and discussion sections to back up your points concretely.  When referring to your readings, use an easy citation form (e.g., author and page). It is fine to use quotations if they are short, but indicate why you are using them. Quotations do not speak for themselves! Also, if you come to a point where you aren’t sure what you are saying, we will not be sure what you are saying either. Dare to explain yourself!

Finally, keep in mind the Protestant hymn: “’Tis a gift to be simple…”  Effective arguments are always simple and direct (e.g., “My argument is that….”).  Also, a good essay always flows from beginning to end with no interruption or loss of focus.  Caution:  If you suspect you are making two arguments, you are probably writing two different papers.  This assignment is only a single paper.  Finally, no equivocating:  You must choose one side over the other.  Dare to take a risk!

It's fine with me if you discuss this assignment with your classmates.  However, your essay must be absolutely, completely, irrefutably and unmistakably your own work.  Dare to think for yourself!

Your completed essay is due next Friday, February 25. Please hand it in to your TA.  Because of this assignment, we will not have discussion sections.  Thus, your TA will tell you how, when, and where to submit your paper. It is your absolute responsibility to make sure he receives it.