'Why is there no revolt?' The Russian Working Class and Labour Movement

David Mandel


'Why is there no revolt?' People sympathetic to Russian workers naturally pose this question when faced with accounts of impoverishment, mass unemployment, unpaid wages, wholesale dismantling of social programmes, the pillaging of national wealth and destruction of the country's human and economic potential, and an illegitimate government that has made contempt for the law the centrepiece of its policy. Russian workers have suffered tremendously over the past years of capitalist restoration, even if their situation was far from ideal to begin with. While they have resisted, the resistance has obviously been ineffective. This was unexpected by most observers, given that the working class formed the vast majority of the Soviet population, was relatively well-educated, socially quite homogeneous, concentrated in giant enterprises, massively organized in trade unions, thoroughly exposed to socialist ideas (if not reality), and enjoyed a standard of living well above Third World levels.

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