Labor Conflicts in Soviet Russia during “War Communism” and the NEP

By A.J. Andreev, Leonid L. Borodkin, Juri L. Kir’Janov


The paper deals with labor activism in the early Soviet Russia (1918–1929) a phenomenon practically unknown to specialists in Soviet social history. Needless to say that historical studies of strikes and other forms of mass workers' protest were forbidden in Soviet Union since 1930. In the 1990s, when “closed” sections of Soviet archives were opened, it became possible to get access to formerly secret archival materials on dynamics and structure of labor conflicts in the Soviet industry-both in the regional and branch dimensions. Publications of the 1920s add to this picture. It is surprising to discover that the level of labor activism was comparable to those of the 1890s–1910s (excluding years of revolutions). Most strikes and other labor conflicts had as their main reason workers’ dissatisfaction with their wages (like it was in the “calm” years before the Revolution of 1917). Therefore, we can conclude that there was no substantial gap in strike activities in 1917 (although the context of strikes was quite different).


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