Mykolaiv V. O. Sukhomlynskyi National University
The article investigates the diaspora historical writing of the Ukrainian postwar
working class (1946–1965). The author found that the Ukrainian diaspora
paid considerable attention to the study of the Ukrainian SSR working class in
the post-war period. Ukrainian emigre scholars managed to present the objective
history of the Ukrainian working class in the first two post-war decades and
correctly identified vital elements and conceptual foundations of the narratives
in the “mainland” Ukrainian historical science in the 1990s.
Emigrant scholars identified the resource-based, unfinished nature of the
Ukrainian SSR economy as a result of the union’s central policies. It resulted in
the lower level of Ukrainian workers’ wages compared with those in Russian SSR,
mainly due to the latter employment in high-tech industries.
The diaspora scholars assessed the socialist competition and its derivative
forms as top-down party directives, eventually reduced to formal rituals in the
postwar period. The contradiction of socialist competition lay in the fact that the
ordinary working class was discouraged from participating in it, while the chosen
members and enterprises got boosted.
One of the key themes of the Ukrainian diaspora historical science was an
explanation of the nature of the social system of the USSR. In contrast to the official
Soviet ideology, emigrant scholars qualified it as “pure” capitalism. In their
opinion, its only distinctive feature from the Western “classical” capitalism was
the nationalization of the main economic structures and, thus, the establishment
of a new form of state capitalism. In this system, the state was an exclusive owner
of the production means, although, in reality, the owner was the party and modern
nomenclature. According to the diaspora historiography, this resulted in cognitive
dissonance between the Soviet propaganda, which proclaimed worker’s ownership
to the means of production, with the actual dare situation of working-class
and a totalizing injustice.
Diaspora scholars associate the deployment of a large number of Russian
workers in the reconstruction of the Ukrainian industry with the attempt to Russify,
first of all, the cities of the Ukrainian SSR. In the same way, they explain the lack of access of rural residents to Ukrainian cities, their resettlement to the republics
of Central Asia, and the introduction of a passport system. The resettlement
of Russian workers to the territory of the Ukrainian SSR is also associated,
according to diaspora scholars, with the growing negative tendencies for increasing
hidden unemployment among local Ukrainian workers. It is interpreted
as one of the manifestations of national discrimination of Ukrainians, which led
to organizational disunity and ideological demoralization of Ukrainian workers.
Keywords: Ukrainian SSR, Working Class, Industry, Postwar Reconstruction,