Barbara Allen

May 25 2017

Alexander Shlyapnikov and the Russian Metalworkers in 1917

Alexander Shlyapnikov reacted to the revolutionary events of 1917 with both caution and radicalism. A proponent of a radical stand of opposition to the Provisional Government in February-March 1917,  he was edged away from a central role in the Bolshevik party by more senior moderate Bolsheviks who returned from Siberian exile. He then immersed himself in the economic struggle of summer 1917, organizing the Metalworkers’ Union through his work on a wage-rates agreement (tariff). His trade-union work may have moderated his political stance for a time, but the inability of wage-rates negotiations to address fundamental inequities may have frustrated him with moderation and made him more eager for the triumph of soviet power. Thus, he and other Metalworkers’ Union leaders helped bring the Bolsheviks to power in October 1917, but Shlyapnikov favoured a coalition government of socialist parties represented in the All-Russian Soviet.

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