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Article

The Birth of the Militant Self. Working-Class Memoirs of Late Russian Poland

East Central Europe. 2019. No. 46. P. 29-51.
Marzec W.

The 1905 Revolution was often considered by workers writing memoirs as the most
important event in their lives. This paper examines biographical reminiscences of the
political participation of working-class militants in the 1905 Revolution. I scrutinize
four tropes used by working-class writers to describe their life stories narrated around
their political identity. These are: (1) overcoming misery and destitution, (2) autodidacticism,
(3) political initiation, and (4) feeling of belonging to the community of equals.
All four demonstrate that the militant self cannot be understood in separation from
the life context of the mobilized workers. Participation in party politics was an important
factor modifying the life course of workers in the direction resonating with their
aspirations and longings. The argument is informed by analysis of over a hundred of
biographical testimonies written by militants from various political parties in different
political circumstances.