Courtesy Reuters

Organized Labor Under the Soviets

THE avowed purpose of the Bolsheviks in seizing power in Russia twenty years ago was the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship. It is true that Lenin's first objective was a world revolution, but when he discovered that Europe had other plans he gave his entire attention to the building of Socialism in one country. The Bolshevik slogan was "All power to the Soviets!" In these soviets the workers were to be in supreme command: the Russian Socialist Soviet Republics and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat became synonymous terms. And indeed for a short time the workers did dominate the political and economic scene. It was they who comprised the famous shop committees which had complete control of factories, mines and all other industrial enterprises, and which gave orders to engineers and executives.

But this intimate relation between the Communist dictatorship and Soviet labor did not last very long. Lenin soon discovered that in order to build the Socialist State he must have "strict unity of will," and that this could only be obtained by "subjecting the will of thousands to the will of one." [i] Thereafter the steadily increasing power of the One registers a corresponding decline in the power of the Many. Today the Soviet wage earner has no power whatever. Nevertheless, we still describe Communist Russia as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Even the most searching investigators of conditions in Russia do not take the trouble to portray for us the actual status of the Soviet worker in terms other than those of wages. Victor Serge [ii] and Sir Walter Citrine [iii] in their valuable books on Russia give very little information regarding the prestige of organized labor. They corroborate the Communist assertion that every Soviet wage earner belongs to a union, but they do not describe the rôle of the labor union in the whole Soviet scheme. Thus we find that when even the most loyal friends of labor discuss Russia they focus their attention on the political machinery, the

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