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A Dream Deferred

New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History


Edited By Donald Filtzer, Wendy Z. Goldman, Gijs Kessler and Simon Pirani

This volume brings together the latest work in Russian labour history, based on exciting materials from previously closed archives and collections. Sixteen essays, focusing on peasants and workers, explore the lives and struggles of working people. Ranging over a century of dramatic upheaval, from the late 1800s to the present, the essays are organized around three broad themes: workers’ politics, incentives and coercion within industrial and rural workplaces, and household strategies. The volume explores the relationship between the peasantry and the working class, a nexus that has been central to state policy, oppositional politics, economic development, and household configuration. It profiles a working class rent by divisions and defined not only by its relationship to the workplace or the state, but also by its household strategies for daily survival. The essays explore many topics accessible for the first time, including the motivations of women workers, roots of revolutionary activism, the revolutionary movement outside the great cities, socialist opposition to the Soviet regime, reactions of workers to Stalinist terror, socialist tourism, peasant families in forced exile, and work discipline on the collective farms.


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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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