Wiktor Marzec: Working Class Political Memoirs of the Late Russian Poland
Class, Nation, Revolution – Work-Centered Life and the Militant Self on Tsarist Bordelands.
Working Class Political Memoirs of the Late Russian Poland
This paper examines political participation around the 1905 Revolution as a conjunctural moment reconfiguring the proletarian self. I scrutinize workers’ intellectual pursuits and relationship between the work-centered life context, militant biography and making political claims. The Revolution is often remembered as an axial event structuring the biography, rebuilding the relational interconnectedness of the self, politics, work and the life course of the writing subjects. The troubled process of leaving behind a repetitive work-centered life, in the direction of a self integrated into political pursuits, is a principal focus of this contribution.
The argument is informed by analysis of biographical testimonies written by proletarian militants from various political parties in different political circumstances. The corpus of ca. 111 narratives of different size allows for a broader, typological analysis across boundaries of political milieus and respective memory cultures. Autobiographical writings are seen as multi-layered narratives recollecting the change of the self and carrying along accumulated transformations and experiences. I investigate the forms of emplotment structuring the biography, and in the same practical typifications used by narrators to structure their life course, both in the retrospective writing and in living their lives of politicized autodidacticism.
During the analysis I narrow down the scope so as to sift the layers in proletarian writing such as general narrative constrains, working-class musters, the role of pluralization of the political sphere with rivaling social and national claims, and the impact of the 1905 upsurge. The result is a panoramic insight into the background for political mobilization, canonized stages of the proletarian biography and impact of revolution for working-class lives and writing across political affiliations, from the far left internationalist socialism to the right-wing factory nationalism. While the interconnectedness of class struggle and national liberation prefigures the patterns present among anti-colonial revolutionaries, the future turbulent trajectories of the narrators and their politics of writing allow for a broader view on the political biography/memory in 20th century Eastern Europe.
|Wiktor Marzec, is a Ph. D. Candidate at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the Central European University in Budapest and social science editor of the journal “Praktyka Teoretyczna / Theoretical Practice”.|