Workers' struggles and transformations of capitalism at industrial enterprises in Russia, 1985–2000
This dissertation offers an explanation of the economic transformations in Russia since the beginning of perestroika reforms to the present day. The focus is on one site of these transformations, the industrial enterprise. The three chapters trace changes in a subset of processes at the enterprises in relation to production, appropriation and distribution of surplus labor, thus constituting a class analysis.
The study shows that the transformations of capitalism at industrial enterprises in Russia have produced contradictory effects for economic growth, understood in this analysis as growth of surplus labor. On the one hand, the selected processes and their reforms can be viewed as attempts by state and private capitalists to raise the rate of exploitation of workers and thereby ensure the growth of surplus labor. On the other hand, the state capitalist processes immediately before perestroika, the reforms themselves, and then private capitalist transformations in the 1990s have also led to a sustained deterioration of living and working conditions of workers. This impact has provoked workers' resistance to and struggles against the different forms of capitalism, which have generated numerous negative consequences for surplus production at industrial enterprises in Russia.
The main conclusion is that capitalist exploitation and workers' struggles against it have played a crucial role in shaping the social transformations and crises in Russia of the last two decades. In this context the study explains the decline of industrial growth in the late 1970s and early 80s, the subsequent necessity of perestroika reforms, their failure and abandonment in the early 1990s accompanied by the collapse of the USSR, and the failure of private capitalist reforms to stimulate growth thereafter.
Overall, the net impact of capitalist class structures and their transformations on workers has been a break on economic growth in Russia. Immediate improvements in living and working conditions of workers, best achieved by changing the capitalist class structures of the enterprises, are necessary in order to stimulate and sustain economic growth unimpeded by the severe social cost of exploitation.