New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History
Edited By Donald Filtzer, Wendy Z. Goldman, Gijs Kessler and Simon Pirani
Part I: Workers and Workers’ Politics, 1880-1941
Part > Workers and Workers’ Politics, - 8=6EI:G Non-Party Workers’ Organizations in St Petersburg and the Provinces before and during the First Russian Revolution Nikolai V. Mikhailov The Russian workers played an absolutely vital role in the social move- ments and revolutionary events of the first years of the twentieth century. There is a striking contrast between their activity – which was organized and decisive, with strong displays of solidarity – and the largely unsuccess- ful attempts by the present generation of Russian workers to rebuild mech- anisms capable of defending their interests under the conditions of a market economy. Modern workers are more educated and enlightened, and have much greater political rights and freedoms, but their protest actions at times look simply impotent compared to movements that took place a century ago; they have lost the strength, the organization, and the ability to close ranks that were characteristic of their distant forebears. The study of the history of the pre-revolutionary Russian workers’ movement has always been accompanied by a danger: workers’ voices were not heard by modern researchers. Instead, they heard the voices of those who aspired to represent workers’ interests – the intelligentsia, the politi- cians, the industrialists, and the government. I proceed from the assumption that workers had their own conceptions and ideas, distinct from the thoughts ascribed to them by the educated lay- ers of society. Even the socialist phraseology of the revolutionary intelli- gentsia, when taken up by workers, expressed original ideas, different from those of the...
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