While it had its roots in the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the Soviet political system developed into a form which retained some of its essential features until the very end under the leadership of Iosif Stalin in the 1930s. In the early years of the Cold War, historical treatments of the Stalinist system were dominated by the totalitarian model. This model posited a society which was rigidly controlled from the top-down, in which no area of life was autonomous, and in which a single ideology dominated not only politics, but culture, leisure and ideas in general. This model was later challenged by revisionist historians who looked at social forces and competing interests at the higher levels of politics as defining the system, which also provided the potential for radical change. Since the opening of the Soviet archives to scholars in the late 1980s, a wealth of studies which adhered to neither school revealed a degree of complexity and differentiation which even the revisionists had not envisaged .
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