Rabotyagi: Perestroika and After Viewed from Below, Interviews with Workers in the Former Soviet Union

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9780853458791: Rabotyagi: Perestroika and After Viewed from Below, Interviews with Workers in the Former Soviet Union
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Format Hardcover Publisher Monthly Review Press

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In Russian parlance, rabotyagi are ``working stiffs,'' and Mandel's 16 interviewees--men and women who are members of a weak labor movement in turmoil-ridden states--reinforce the author's hope for a transition to democratic socialism. The interviews took place from 1988 to 1993 and, though they lack extensive authorial interpolation, should interest experts on the Soviet and post-Soviet economies and recent regional history. A 1988 interviewee warns that despite perestroika , power remains ``in the hands of the party-state bureaucracy.'' A worker turned foreman during that period reflects on the foreman's uncomfortable position, caught between the irreconcilable demands of his superiors and workers. Another interviewee naively believes good workers will be rewarded under capitalism. Interviewed after the collapse of Communism, an activist fighting for workers' rights speaks nobly about his responsibility ``to accomplish what our grandparents failed in 1918 and 1919.'' Among post-coup interviewees, one warns presciently in 1992 of the possible rise of right-wing nationalists (and of Vladimir Zhirinovsky in particular). Mandel teaches political science at the University of Quebec at Montreal.

Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In Russian, rabotyagi means "working stiffs," as opposed to rabochii ("worker"). This is an important distinction, because Mandel (political science, Univ. of Quebec) is concerned with ordinary workers who do not conform to the heroic ideals of official Soviet dogma. From summer 1988 to summer 1993 Mandel interviewed workers, surveying their impressions of life in the moribund Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine. The opinions they offer are personal and without pretense. While a more systematic treatment can be found in Linda Cook's The Soviet Social Contract and Why It Failed (Harvard Univ. Pr., 1993), which examines the tacit agreement between the Soviet state and workers who traded economic security for political compliance, Mandel's volume is a purposeful (but admittedly unscientific) examination of what rabotyagi have thought of the momentous changes in the "worker's paradise." For academic collections.
- Joseph P. Parsons, Columbia Coll., Chicago
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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