Blood and Iron: Gastev’s Socialist Message

Aleksei Gastev takes values of strength and perseverance to new heights with his factory-oriented socialist poem, We Grow Out of Iron.” A laborer himself, Gastev knew full well the hardships found on the factory floor, and took advantage of his experiences to maximize the relatability of his poetic works. Drawing on the iron aesthetic of the workspace, Gastev’s verses support the rhythm of the piece exactly as the cross-beams he references support the factory. Between the beam’s demands for greater strength and the pouring iron blood of the workers, Gastev makes it clear that there is no strength without sacrifice.

In the latter half of the poem, the narrator of the work transcends mortal bounds, becoming one of the mighty beams supporting the factory and, through it, the industriousness of the Russian people.

The metaphor, while not particularly subtle, serves well to represent the blunt strength with which many viewed the socialist movement. Despite the difficulties, both social and economic, faced by Russia in the early twentieth century the industry workers were a powerful force for change once organized. The obvious fervor Gastev holds for his cause makes his ultimate death in Stalin’s labor camps all the more ironic.

One thought on “Blood and Iron: Gastev’s Socialist Message

  1. You make an interesting point about “no strength without sacrifice” in reference to the pouring iron blood of workers. I did not see the iron blood as from other workers based on the way that Aleksei Gastev wrote this piece. Gastev wrote “Fresh iron blood pours into my veins” without mentioning where the blood came from. Taken from context, the iron blood came directly from the iron in the factory itself. Although the blood was a small piece of the larger picture of unity, the idea of one among many can be seen as a sacrifice. A comrade sacrificed his individuality to become a part of a successful movement of many.
    You are correct that the metaphor of iron is far from subtle, however Gastev isn’t aiming for subtlety with this poem. This is a call to action; a boiling over of previously contained raw emotion. Gastev is not suggesting victory, he is proclaiming it.

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