Labour Policy in the USSR, 1917-1928

Labour Policy in the USSR, 1917-1928

Labour Policy in the USSR, 1917-1928

Labour Policy in the USSR, 1917-1928


In the following pages the evolution of Soviet labour policy is traced, solely on the basis of official documents, from the first attempts to put Bolshevik theory into practice, through the subsequent modifications and retractions to the final form achieved towards the beginning of the first Five Year Plan. During this crucial period from 1917 to 1928 the basic structure of Soviet labour policy was built up, and there has been no essential modification of it since that time.

The fundamental problem confronting every society is the organization of its labour force, which, if social progress is to be achieved, must be made progressively more productive. In what way do Soviet methods of disciplining, and increasing the productive capacity of, the industrial labour force differ from those obtaining elsewhere? Does the Soviet industrial worker occupy a higher social position than his counterpart in the West, and have a greater power of 'co-determination', or even a decisive voice in industrial affairs? The answer to these questions emerges clearly from this study, which it is hoped will contribute to an understanding of the nature of Soviet society.

The study includes an appendix giving a summary of all the relevant decrees issued during this period. These are referred to by their consecutive numbers in the text. The decrees are listed in chronological order of their adoption (which did not always coincide with the date of publication), except where this is unknown, when the date of promulgation is used. Decrees not directly relevant and which have not been summarized are referred to under the numbers given in the Soviet collection of laws (e.g. SU 1917, 1-10). All dates before February 1918 are old-style dates, i.e. thirteen days behind the Western calendar.

The sources referred to in footnotes are frequently given in an abbreviated or simplified form, but full details will be found in the bibliography appended. The quotations from Lenin are taken throughout from the third Russian edition of his works.

I should like to thank Miss Violet Conolly for reading the study and giving her advice. I am much indebted to Mr E. H. Carr for his kind encouragement, and to Miss Hermia Oliver for her patience and understanding in the exacting task of preparing the typescript for the press. Acknowledgement is also made to the libraries of the British Museum, the London School of Economics, the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, and the International Labour Office in Geneva. I finally wish to record my thanks to my husband, Hugo Dewar, for his untiring help and advice.

M. D.

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