The Russian Working Class

Both “We Grow out of Iron” by Gastev and “Chapaev” by Furmanov dealt with the feelings of the working class during the Soviet takeover of Russia.

“We Grow out of Iron” is a propaganda poem glorifying hard work, an idea that was spread throughout the Soviet Union.  While this poem could be dismissed as a piece of propaganda, it is more than that.  Gastev was from the poor, working class.  Without the breaking down of the class system, he would most likely have never been able to write his poetry.  It makes sense that Gastev would love and support the Soviet Union because communism gave him a chance to be more than just a worker.  Unfortunately, during Stalin’s perversion of communist ideology, Gastev was killed.  But under idealistic communism, Gastev flourished.

In “Chapaev,” the main character, Fyodor, is a member of the working class, just like the author, Furmanov.  As an urban worker, Fyodor is skeptical of Chapaev because he is a peasant.  While Fyodor admires Chapaev, he is unsure of the peasants’ commitment to the Soviet cause.  He believes peasants are more likely to switch sides spontaneously than the urban workers.  Furmanov highlights the distinctions between the rural peasants and urban workers even more when it is revealed that the middle-aged Chapaev only recently learned to read.  The story deals with many stereotypes held by the urban workers about the peasants, such as peasants are backwards and uncontrollable.

Both Gastev and Furmanov write about the experience of urban workers at the beginning of the Soviet Union.  Both these authors show urban workers at the heart of the political upheaval in Russia as one ideology replaced another.