After the Russian revolution in early the 20th century, the country was able to get lead of more than three-century dynastic rule. A new Russia was born when Joseph Stalin came into power in the 1920s. Stalin was able to motivate the masses to work together for a better tomorrow. As indicated in the countries motto during that time a central approach to industrialization was highly supported. The motto of the country “workers of all countries unite” encouraged workers from different areas of the world to unite and embrace Marxism (xv).
The soviet society:
Manufacturing plants were being built bigger than anywhere else was in the world. On the contrary, the American manufacturing industrial was at its knees. Firms were closing and many workers losing their only source of livelihood. The journey to the Soviet Union was only achievable through Europe. John used Berlin as the transit city to Russia where he secured a job as a welder. In Magnitogorsk, things were complicated. The town itself was disorganized, but one thing was apparent hope was in the atmosphere. Left, right and center there were constructions projects in progress. For sure, workers from across the world were united to build the nation. Everyone lived in the barracks, which were endless rows of buildings in some section of the town (xiv).
John Scott considers the twentieth century socialist development and industrialization process as a backward thing. First, the disorganization of the town with anger, improper living conditions as well as the absence of a sewerage system in an expansive area where the workers lived. The hope was in the citizen, yet they were deprived human dignity (125). This made the entire scenario look like the nineteenth century in the capitalist industrialization process. The primitive living conditions for the workers were a clear indication of challenges the country was facing and the price it had to pay for the infrastructural development. It is pertinent to note workers would even work for as long as sixteen hours a day, and this was without adequate food. The working conditions were made worse by the freezing temperature in the country.
The rapid development was evident from the changes that each plant would make to the economy. The Magnitogorsk plan was able to produce close to ten percent of the countries steel within a the first few years of its operation. The rapid industrialization attracted more firms to establish in the country as well as technocrats from other countries. The Soviet Union was developing many socialist cities where different amenities were provided in an organized manner to the masses. Some of the cities were known for all the wrong reasons. First, the cities were congested since they were mainly established close to manufacturing plants where the cities would serve as the base for thousands of workers working in the plants. The congestion was highly associated with poor living conditions. Moreover, the poor sanitation due to the absence of integrated sewerage system was a key challenge in these cities.
Food was also another issue with the price of food rising up such that workers were issued with food cards. According to the book during the winter of 1932 – 33, the ringers got no sugar, milk or meat (78). The poor sanitation was a causative agent of multiple diseases amongst the workers. It is pertinent to note that the actual intention for the socialist cities was to offer impressive services to the residents incorporating educational services, health services, as well as a court system. The cities were supposed to be cities of happiness. In some areas, the workers of the large factories were shortchanged when the said cities were never built. The workers continued to live in deprived conditions as the operations of the factory continued. The happiness of the future was never delivered to the factory builders and workers. The deteriorating state of the initial barracks contributed to a rise in crime as well as health complications.
The working conditions in the factories were poor, posing enormous threats to the workers. Basic personal safety precautions were not put into perspective. The author mentions that workers would freeze to death on site. An instance where they found one of the riveters dead explains the agony the workers were going through. Today it would be a riveter you little knew about, tomorrow it would be the welder you had a chat with the other day and the question would be what if it was me to be next (16).
The deprived conditions the workers worked in led to numerous resistance from the workers (125). When workers realized that they were being short changed demonstrations, were planned. The author captures one of those demonstrations where the diversity of the workers at the steel plant was a significant foundation for the multiple messages sent across. Workers revolutionary songs we done using a number of languages, but they all said one thing the workers were unhappy with the present conditions.
However, with the workers resistance the government applied brutal means to silence the workers. The government was keen to ensure that the burst furnaces, railroad, as well as the dams to be built. However, in most instances the government ignored the plight and the wellbeing of the builders. The foreigner specialist played an enormous role in the industrialization process since the locals were either untrained or semitrained. “Semi trained workers were unable to operate the complicated machines which had been erected. Equipment was ruined and men crushed. (137)” The communist party was the greatest beneficially of the industrialization process. The party was able to aggregate powerful networks during the process. During the 1936 - 1937, purge of foreigners the specialist foreigners were driven out of their jobs as the locals took up their roles. The chief architecture of the political repression was Joseph Stalin. During the purge of the communist party, which the writer clearly disliked the country had heavy police surveillance in all the activities across the country. “This organization was charged with surveillance of class enemies, the protection of political leaders against personal attacks, the discovery and prosecution of counter- revolutionary groups and spy rings” (84).
The Stakhanov movement contributed significantly to the enhancement of the living conditions for the workers across the country (165). The citizens were in the long run the beneficiary of the efforts of the foreigners who had helped the soviet establish some of the best infrastructural developments. The country had enormous mineral deposits, which would be useful to the development of the country. However, during the 1930s the country had inadequate material supplies, inadequate skilled workers, as well as food for the workers. The soviet bureaucracy was an outright disaster to foreigners who had built a life in the country (150).
Scott, John, and Stephen Kotkin. Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel. Bloomington [u.a.: Indiana Univ. Pr, 1990. Print.