Trade Unions and Their Development


Lenin’s views on the trade unions were that they were simply spontaneous movements that didn’t help to further the development of a “consciousness” amongst the workers.  This “consciousness” represented a driving force of the movement; the workers needed a higher purpose beyond just their present problems such as poor wages, long hours, and subpar working conditions but rather a vision of a nationwide revolution. This is why Lenin was not a huge supporter of the strikes during the 1890’s, because they weren’t intellectually driven, they lacked a true purpose.  This “conscious” was the only way that the workers could create a new political party and escape the shackles of their employers.  Because these trade unions lacked a “conscious” they were disorganized and as a result would be unable to further advance the revolution.

Lenin knew that these workers would need leadership in order to evolve from trade unions to a political movement. He also knew that in order for the Social Democratic Party to succeed they would need to recruit more young people into their ranks to be trained up by the older members.  Lenin knew that if he could gain the support of the young Russian people then he would be able to ensure the longevity of the Social Democratic Party.  However, one of the main issues that Lenin saw was that these workers would need to be able to understand the political issues of not just their own economic issues but rather all of Russia’s political issues.  This way would allow these workers to be able to comprehend the bigger picture which would inevitably lead to a revolution.

Lenin saw that once the working class could outgrow their trade union mindset that they would be able to lead the charge.  A united working class would become the wheels of change for Russia and this is what Lenin needed to happen.

Works Cited:

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Lenin, Vladimir I. “What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement.” N.p., n.d. Web.

Freeze, Gregory L. “Revolutionary Russia:1890-1914.” Russia: A History. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. 234-68. Print.

One thought on “Trade Unions and Their Development

  1. Lenin saw his Social Democratic party working side by side with the trade unions and eventually becoming the leaders of them. Trade unions where non-party organizations that helped move the masses. I think it is also important to remember that by using the trade unions Lenin could move the party towards the people and keep the class struggle towards the bourgeoisie, economists, and capitalism alive. It’s very interesting how Lenin saw the workers of Russia being such a big part of the future.

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