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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 II: Workers and Work: Coercion and Incentives


Part >> Workers and Work: Coercion and Incentives 8=6EI:G Taiga Conditions: Kulak Special Settlers, Commandants, and Soviet Industry Lynne Viola The commandant’s power was unlimited in the taiga conditions of those times. I.S. Olifier, former special settler “I remember that, when the women were working and began to cry and the tears began pouring out, [they] would sing one of the couplets from the s exile years: ‘Sick of cold barracks, sick of bed bugs, sick of working in the Urals’ forests’.” This was one of Olifier’s childhood memories from his early life as a special settler in the Urals. He was twelve years old and watched as his mother and the other women worked day and night while the commandant stalked the village on horseback, whip in hand. Olifier and his family had been forcibly expropriated and expelled from their village as part of the Communist Party’s policy of the “liquidation of the kulak as a class” which accompanied the collectivization of agriculture during the First Five-Year Plan. Carried out mainly in and , the policy, known as “dekulakization”, aimed ostensibly to eliminate what the Communist Party considered to be the rural class enemy – the “kulak”, theoretically the prosperous peasantry, but in practice all manner of peas- ants, ranging from regime critics to sources of traditional village leader- ship. The policy, in effect, was both violent and arbitrary, “decapitating” the village’s leadership, weakening authority structures, and making the village more vulnerable to the incursions of the state. Dekulakization consisted...

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