The Russian Proletariat at the End of the 19th and Beginning of the 20th Centuries – Revolutionary Vanguard, Hegemon, or Marginal Actor?

 
PIIS086904990011527-1-1
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Occupation: Professor
Affiliation: Saint-Petersburg State University
Address: Mendeleevskaya liniiya, bld. 5, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia
Journal nameObshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost
EditionIssue 3
Pages97-119
Abstract

Due to a low cultural level, the workers could not play the role of the revolutionary vanguard and hegemon in the revolutionary movement. But they became easy prey for radicals and revolutionaries, who mobilized the proletariat as a solution for their political program. The proletariat’s radicalism and aggressiveness had demographic and psychological origins–unfavorable gender, age, and family structure and a state of frustration. There were six times as many men as women; the age profile was slanted in favor of youth; almost half of men and two-thirds of women were not married. Because of the imbalance of the sexes, workers were preoccupied with sex, angry, and dissatisfied with life because in a country where family and children were highly valued, many people had neither one nor the other. In a situation where the satisfaction of fundamental, basic needs was a real impossibility, workers developed a conflictual, negative emotional state of frustration–dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear, irritation and even despair, which often manifested as aggressive behavior directed against a real or imaginary source. As frustrated people they easily involved themselves in political protest movements, becoming easy prey to various political and religious prophets, who sympathized with them and promised a quick change in their lives for the better, if they would follow their principles and appeals.

KeywordsRussian proletariat; estate composition of workers; gender and age structure; labor movement; complaints; strikes; Russian Revolution of 1917; manipulation of public opinion; Bolsheviks
Received14.09.2020
Publication date17.06.2017
Number of characters911
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