Skip Navigation
Books for changing the world
The Workers' Opposition in the Russian Communist Party
Documents, 1919-30

The Russian Workers' Opposition in 1919-21 advocated trade union management of the Soviet economy and worker dominance of the Russian Communist Party's leading bodies. The Workers' Opposition in the Russian Communist Party: Documents, 1919-30 comprises the most complete set of articles, speeches, theses, memoranda, protocols, resolutions, letters, diary entries, and other documents pertaining to the activity of the Workers' Opposition group during its existence. It also includes materials from the Opposition's individual former members after the group itself dissolved and until its key members ceased their participation in dissenting political activities by 1930.

Most of the documents in this collection have never before been published in English and many have not been published in Russian. The material contained herein represents a major contribution to the documentary material of Soviet history.

  • "Over eight hundred pages of translated archival documents and editorial comment—this is a work of truly Herculean scholarship. Allen shows in fascinating and at times terrifying detail how, even before Stalin became General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party, the worker activists of the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary years were seen as a threat to the Party’s apparatus and had to be marginalised. It is a magnificent and ground-breaking study."—Geoffrey Swain, Professor Emeritus, University of Glasgow

    "Barbara C. Allen, author of the excellent biography of Aleksandr Shliapnikov, a leader of the Workers’ Opposition, has with this book reinforced her status as our leading expert on that group. For this volume, Professor Allen has translated and edited almost one-hundred documents to include speeches, diary entries, minutes, and correspondence. Many of them are published here for the first time in English, still others for the first time in any language (among them items from the archive of Russia’s Federal Security Service). They demonstrate that the Workers’ Opposition as a movement and as an idea within the Bolshevik Party challenged dominant principles of Soviet governance. In an introduction and in essays that precede each of this collection’s four parts, Professor Allen skillfully analyzes the evolving positions of the Workers’ Opposition as a collective and of its prominent members as individuals. Specialists will find an expansive biographical glossary and index exceptionally useful. In these pages, a history of the Workers’ Opposition and of the Bolshevik Party emerges that is replete with creativity, courage, conviction, imprudence, deceit, and tragedy." —Larry E. Holmes, author of Revising the Revolution: The Unmaking of Russia's Official History of 1917

    "This comprehensive, meticulously edited collection fills one of many gaps in published records of the bubbling cauldron of political debate in early Soviet Russia. Large parts of the Workers' Oppositionists' arguments—about the role that workers and their union organisations should play in a workers' state, and much more—have remained mostly inaccessible for a century, and now Barbara Allen has put that right. The collection extensively documents not only the group's brief legal existence in 1920-21, but also its adherents' critique of industrial and other policies throughout the 1920s.” —Simon Pirani, author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat and Honorary Professor at the University of Durham

    "Barbara C. Allen (La Salle University), l’auteure d’une remarquable biographie d’Aleksandr G. Shliapnikov parue en 2015, mérite de chaleureuses félicitations pour l’indéniable qualité de ses traductions du russe à l’anglais – un exercice qui requit une somme de travail absolument colossale et pour lequel étudiants et enseignants au niveau universitaire lui seront grandement redevables. Le plus grand mérite de cette collection de documents est de faire partager aux lecteurs les convictions, voire même la passion viscérale de ces opposants, en particulier leurs véritables cris du coeur en faveur de l’urgente nécessité de donner aux ouvriers un rôle prédominant dans les multiples comités du parti, d’introduire davantage de démocratie et de débats à l’intérieur d’un parti démoralisé et devenu languissant, de recentrer ce dernier sur l’essentiel – « We should conquer all difficulties only through the masses and together with them. All other paths lead to bankruptcy » (33 – A. G. Shliapnikov, 27 mars 1919) –, et de remplacer le plus tôt possible la nep en faveur d’une industrialisation à la fois rapide et menée sur une large échelle."J.-Guy Lalande in Labour/Le Travail

    ""Documentary collections inclusive of the Workers’ Opposition have appeared before, but nobody previously has had the determination, patience, and I dare say passion to put together a volume such as this. ... It contains some ninety-seven documents tracked down by Allen in six different archives, mostly Moscow-based but also in Kyiv." —Lewis Siegelbaum, H-Russia


Other books of interest