Friday, February 1, 2019

Russians’ Lack of Solidarity Means ‘Navalny Trade Union’ Will Fail, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 30 – Opposition leader Aleksey Navalny has created an online site at which Russian workers can compare their incomes with what Vladimir Putin has promised and thus learn how much they are not getting, but this self-described “Navalny Trade Union” will fail because it is based on appeals to egotism rather than solidarity, Sergey Shelin says.

            Navalny in a 17-minute YouTube appeal ( announced a new site,, to mobilize people by allowing them to see Putin is failing to meet his promises. The idea might be a good one elsewhere, but it won’t work in Russia, the Rosbalt commentator says (

            There are some simple reasons for that, but one fundamental underlying one, Shelin continues. The simple reasons include the absence of interest of Russians in such a site – only 2.1 million people viewed Navalny’s announcement, far fewer than expected and the fact that the regime didn’t promise higher wages for all but only higher ones on average for budget workers.

            Still, the commentator says, the idea might be a good one if it caused the authorities to be more careful in making promises and trying to fulfill them.  But it is going to falter in Russia for one simple reason: the absence of a sense of solidarity among Russians and the failure of such a site to promote solidarity as opposed to individual anger.

            Many Russians who do fall within the parameters of the government’s promises, Shelin says, are angry about that. Each and every one of them would like to be getting higher pay given that he or she were promised that. But such individual anger is not sufficient to spark “a collective struggle for their money.”

            Something more is required, something not present in Russia. And that can be seen by recalling the Solidarity movement in Poland.  That movement had as its “formal slogans” the struggle for pay, “but in fact [Polish workers] united and took risks for justice, freedom and to teach the powers a lesson.”
            “The word ‘solidarity’ here is the key one,” Shelin observes. It doesn’t exist in Russia, and a site that provides information about individual shortfalls will not by itself produce it. Indeed, such a site may have the effect of reinforcing this egotism rather than overcoming it. That is something that Navalny and his team appear to have forgotten.

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