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The proletariat of the dictatorship : workers on Lenin's Central Committee




Kerr, Leanne

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THE 'DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT' was the description given by the Bolsheviks to the regime established by the October Revolution in 1917. The title of this study is that term in reverse: the thesis examines members o f the Bolshevik dictatorship under Lenin who were both proletarian , and leaders. During the early post-revolutionary period in Lenin's Russia, political leadership was institutionalized in the Party Central Committee. From April 1917 until Lenin 's death in 1929-, eight Central Committees were elected, two in 1917 and one every subsequent year . Just over half of the total Committee members and candidates in this period were working-class Bolsheviks whose names have rarely been mentioned in historical accounts of the Revolution. The claim these worker - revolutionaries make on history has until now been forfeited in favour of more prominent leaders from upper and middle-class backgrounds. The thesis examines who the more obscure worker - revolutionaries turned Central Committeemen were, their backgrounds and careers both before and after 1917, and their role with in the elite. As former factory workers themselves, the Worker Central Committeemen had authentic claims to represent the proletariat in whose name they had agitated for , and won, the Revolution. As members of the working class they could make a special contribution to leadership, especially in the field of practical administration and the management of war - time, and then post Civil War industry. As members of the government, the trade unions, the economic administration and the military , the Worker Central Committeemen played a more prominent role than has hither to been explored. Although not theoreticians , some of them were influential in the resolution of various controversies which rocked the party in these years: the crisis over coalition government, the Brest Litovsk peace treaty , the Military Opposition, Democratic Centralism and the handling of the national minorities . The major debate of the period was how to balance the party's commitment to the working class with what was regarded under prevailing circumstances as the necessity for centralized control of industry. Although the Worker Central Committeemen had similar backgrounds and experiences, no two of them agreed on how best to manage the economy in the interests of the workers. Indeed, only a few of them - in particular the leader of the Democratic Centralists and one of the leaders of the Workers' Opposition - recognized the contradiction between what was best for the workers and what was in the interests of the party, and brought the latter to task over it .






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