The Politics of Crisis: Economy, Ethnicity, and Trotskyism in Belorussia

By Sloin, Andrew | Kritika, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Crisis: Economy, Ethnicity, and Trotskyism in Belorussia


Sloin, Andrew, Kritika


Following the expulsion of Lev Trotskii, Grigorii Zinov'ev, and Lev Kamenev from the party ranks during the 15th Party Congress in December 1927, the Belorussian Communist Party (KPB) undertook a sweeping campaign to wipe out vestiges of "Trotskyist" opposition in the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR). Across Belorussia, the KPB organized mass meetings to draw oppositionists into open debate and force them to recant their ideas or face expulsion. Records of these proceedings reveal an unmistakable pattern. In Minsk, 144 party members voted against or abstained from voting on a resolution supporting the expulsion of Trotskii and Zinov'ev from the party; of these, 116 were Jews. (1) In Vitebsk, Jewish party members accounted for 55 of 72 identified oppositionists. (2) In Bobruisk, 46 of the 49 party members opposed to the expulsion of the opposition leaders were Jews. (3) In total, some 326 party members in Minsk, Vitebsk, Bobruisk, and Gored' abstained from voting or voted against the expulsion of the opposition leaders and/or the theses supporting the Five-Year Plan and collectivization. Of these, 264 (81 percent) were Jews. Ultimately, of the 36 party members excluded from the KPB as particularly recalcitrant oppositionists, 23 were Jews. (4)

The marked concentration of Jews among the supporters of the United Opposition in Belorussia suggests two commonsensical explanations. First, it is possible that Jewish party members gravitated toward the opposition out of a sense of ethnic solidarity. Perhaps it was "natural" that in Belorussia, where Jews constituted half of the urbanized population and the most influential nontitular nationality, Jewish party members should have sided with the "Jewish" triumvirate of Trotskii, Zinov'ev, and Kamenev. (5) Second, antisemitism in the party mainstream may have driven Jewish members into the oppositional camp. Indeed, records of the anti-Trotskyist campaigns in Belorussia appear to lend credence to Trotskii's assertions that antisemitism played a critical role in the campaign against the opposition. (6) In either case, the prevalence of Jews in the opposition ranks seems to suggest a struggle defined by nationality. (7)

A radically different picture emerges, however, if one turns from the question of nationality to that of the occupations of the accused oppositionists. While students, teachers, clerks, bookkeepers, administrators, and white-collar workers (sluzhashchie) made up one-quarter of the identified oppositionists, workers "from the bench" (ot stanka) formed the vast bulk of Jewish oppositionists. Shoemakers (37) constituted the single largest occupational group among the accused, followed by sizable contingents of tailors and seamstresses (29), leatherworkers (26), and woodworkers and carpenters (25). A dozen bristle makers, eight typesetters, six housepainters, three locksmiths, and assorted joiners, bakers, brewers, slaughterers, milliners, furriers, mechanics, metalworkers, and unskilled laborers rounded out the ranks. (8) The high concentration of shoemakers, tailors, seamstresses, and leatherworkers among the opposition suggests a pattern familiar in the history of labor radicalism in Europe: the opposition seemed to draw its strongest support from industries resting on the fault line separating petty manufacturing from full-blown industrial production. (9)

The apparent dichotomy between occupation (a social category) and nationality (a category of constructed identity) embodied in the oppositionists of Belorussia reflects a dichotomy prevalent in studies of worker opposition in the Soviet Union. Social historians have generally stressed that worker opposition emerged as a direct response to the state-driven attempt to intensify the pace and scale of industrial production. (10) According to a recent variation, the opposition drew its primary support from workers who expressed their "class consciousness" by opposing the new Stalinist regime of industrial rationalization and forcible accumulation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Politics of Crisis: Economy, Ethnicity, and Trotskyism in Belorussia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.