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Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution

Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution: Studies of the Russian Institute, Columbia University

Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 438
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  • Book Info
    Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution
    Book Description:

    Whereas most Soviet and American scholars of the Russian Revolution have emphasized the great leaders and the great events of 1917, Diane Koenker reverses this trend in a study of the Russian working class.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5569-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. List of Appendices
    (pp. xii-xii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. Note on Dates and Transliteration
    (pp. xv-xv)
  9. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  10. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    The epic-heroic aspects of the Russian Revolution have long commanded world attention. Lenin’s triumphant arrival at the Finland Station and his single-minded struggle to Leninize the Bolshevik party, Kerensky’s desperate escape across the Finnish border in October to rally the anti-Bolshevik forces, and the tragic fate of the Imperial family in their last refuge in remote Ekaterinburg have all captured the imagination of writers, scholars, and the reading public the world around.

    Whereas the appeal of the great leaders and great events of 1917 continues to generate excellent history,¹ the world remains in relative ignorance of the unheroic side of...

  11. ONE. Moscow 1917
    (pp. 12-42)

    An aerial photo of Moscow taken toward the start of the twentieth century shows a sea of low red-brick and yellow-stucco buildings, dotted by the onion-shaped domes of hundreds of churches. The ancient fortress of the Kremlin dominates the city center, the citadel’s red-brick walls surrounding the tall Ivan bell tower and cathedrals. Southwesterly along the river arise the massive golden dome of the Cathedral of the Resurrection, and beyond, the red bell tower of Novo-Devich’e monastery. The low profile of the city is broken by red factory smokestacks that stand side by side with the gold and green and...

  12. TWO. Life in the City
    (pp. 43-93)

    The Russian worker has long been characterized as a unique amalgam of rural peasant and urban worker, and the Russian labor movement has been interpreted in this light.¹ This stress on the Russian worker’s recent rural past tends, however, to minimize the role of the urban environment in shaping working-class culture, in producing an articulate, autonomous labor movement. The workers who made the revolution in Moscow, Petrograd, and other Russian cities were responding not only to national political and work-related economic grievances but also to the special problems of urban working-class life, and responding with a set of values (oblik)...

  13. THREE. Moscow in the 1917 Revolution
    (pp. 94-142)

    The city of Moscow, the historic capital of the Russian Empire, had long been second to St. Petersburg in political status and in the revolutionary movement. In 1917, Petrograd again set the pace, and Moscow, from the February days to the Soviet seizure of power in October, lagged behind. February street demonstrations occurred in Moscow only after the news arrived that the old regime in Petrograd had collapsed. Angry demonstrations in June in the capital, when workers and soldiers demanded radical solutions to the problems of war and political power, were echoed in Moscow only by hastily organized neighborhood rallies....

    (pp. 143-186)

    Regardless of political hue, the key word for all participants in the February revolution wasorganization. The outcome of events was still very much in doubt; and if a Constituent Assembly was widely conceded to be the only legitimate architect of a new regime, the immediate task was to preserve and protect the revolution until such an assembly could take place. The old institutions, whether Imperial State Council or local police, were bankrupt. Something had to replace them until a permanent and workable new system could be constructed. And some way had to be found to institutionalize, to channel, to...

  15. FIVE. Political Parties and the Working Class: THE EVOLUTION OF PARTY CONSCIOUSNESS
    (pp. 187-227)

    During much of the period between February and October, political partisanship, or affiliation with political parties, was a minor aspect of Moscow workers’ revolutionary experience. The three major socialist parties quickly emerged from the revolutionary underground and began to make their views known at the end of February, but the general spirit of revolutionary unity in Moscow diminished factional strife and encouraged instead an attitude of interparty cooperation. It was only in retrospect that the Bolshevization of the masses became an important historical problem in Moscow. The Soviet, trade unions, and factory committees all announced they would operate without regard...

  16. SIX. Dimensions of Political Attitudes: WORKERS’ RESOLUTIONS
    (pp. 228-268)

    From the fall of tsarism, the dominant form of revolutionary activity for most Moscow workers was the rally (miting). Before and after work, and during meal breaks, workers would gather in the courtyards of their factories to exchange rumors, listen to reports from their own leaders or to representatives from outside groups. During work hours, the meetings often continued, shop by shop, around work benches or at the communal samovar. During the first weeks of the revolution, some factories held daily, even twice-daily meetings, and throughout the year such factory meetings remained the workers’ most frequent contact with the outside...

  17. SEVEN. Dimensions of Political Attitudes: WORKERS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO POLITICAL CAUSES
    (pp. 269-292)

    Resolutions passed in factories, however valuable as indicators of political attitudes, are less satisfactory in measuring the degree of political commitment. Not only did the resolutions examined in Chapter Six emanate from a bare majority of the factory population, but the resolutions themselves were essentially voted in a passive way; they indicated opinions that provide much insight into the political mood of the Moscow work force, but they did not require subsequent action or commitment on the part of workers who voted for them.

    Workers’ contributions to political causes, on the other hand, required greater sacrifice, greater commitment. In a...

  18. EIGHT. Workers and the Strike Movement in 1917
    (pp. 293-328)

    With the democratic era ushered in by the February revolution, the role of strikes in Russian society changed dramatically. Prior to the revolution, the strike had functioned as an important outlet for the mass of grievances endured by Russian working men and women. Given the repressive nature of the tsarist regime, a strike that was ostensibly directed against the factory management rather than against the government served as the safest way for unhappy workers to express their discontent toward the system as well as the local situation.

    After the February revolution, however, the political context changed. Workers no longer needed...

  19. NINE. Moscow’s October
    (pp. 329-355)

    The month of October in Moscow offered little hope that the twin economic and political crises could be peacefully resolved. With winter closing in, shortages of food and fuel became even more threatening. Grain shipments continued to dwindle; the daily bread allowance was to fall to a meager half-funt (about eight ounces) again on October 24. The causes of such shortages were complex, but many workers felt that the government and its supporters deliberately sabotaged the economy in order to consolidate their own political and economic positions. This deep sense of suspicion and hostility underlay the development of the strike...

  20. Conclusion
    (pp. 356-367)

    The role of the Russian working class has hardly been minimized in existing studies of the 1917 revolution. Standard works on the subject agree that workers helped to spark the February revolution, that workers underwent a significant radicalization during the course of 1917, and that this radicalization contributed to the success of the soviet seizure of power in October. The assessment of the workers’ role has varied according to the perspective of the historian; “radicalized” workers have been heroes or unwitting villains, but none of the conventional histories has adequately explored or explained this process of radicalization.

    Consider three excellent...

  21. Appendices
    (pp. 368-386)
  22. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 387-410)
  23. Index
    (pp. 411-420)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 421-423)