Behind the Urals


"Behind the Urals"
The United States that we live in makes it very hard for us to fathom what a struggling nation is like to live in. In the United States, we are socialized to believe that America is the most superior of all the countries and our prosperity will continue to grow. We are very fortunate to be born into a relatively high standard of living as a society, thus we cannot comprehend what it is like for countries trying to build societies from the bottom up. John Scott portrays this brilliantly in his book "Behind the Urals" as he examines individual people and their struggles as they worked in Magnitogorsk. These citizens worked in the most inhumane conditions, all with the intention to help their country develop under the new system of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had just gone through an entire turn around in their political, social, and economic spheres as they went from one extreme to another. The old Czarist government was always out to serve the rich landowners, while treating the peasantry as second-class humans rather than equals. However, when the Russian Revolution came to a head, and the Red Communists or Bolsheviks defeated the White Czarists, Russia was left with an entirely new system of thought in its government. This ideology viewed the working class and peasantry as the main citizens in their society, while the rich landowners were not nearly as powerful as they once were. Thus the workers of Magnitogorsk held a very important position as they had the responsibility to help the Soviet Union take flight as a country that could compete with other powerful countries of the world, all while working under the most inhumane conditions.
John Scott moved to the Soviet Union leaving the United States and in his eyes, its unsatisfactory capitalistic way of governing. Scott may have been aided in making his decision as he saw the United States slip into the Great Depression, a time when the conditions in America reached an all time low. He left his roots in the United States to begin a new life in a foreign country simply because he was disgruntled with American governing and was appealed to by the Soviet philosophy of governing. It tool Scott a tremendous amount of will and fortitude to leave behind everything he knew so well, to start a new life on the other side of the world. He showed his courage as he began his new life by starting a family, educating himself, and growing very successful. Scott knew exactly what he was doing, as after some reflection I could find no issue that I disliked in America so much that it would lead me to do what he did.
The first worker we are introduced to in "Behind the Urals" is a man named Koyla, Scott's roommate at his arrival in Magnitogorsk. He was depicted as a young, strong man and a hard worker that had a huge responsibility for his age. There are not many 22-year-old men that hold the position of foreman and have power over a sizable group of men. He was a strong leader that had one agenda and that was for the prosperity of his country. Koyla was very mature for his age as he showed leadership skills that very few men at his age possess. He seemed to be an intelligent man as he was going to school to become a technician in a setting that demanded a higher intellect level than the schools where the majority of the other workers educated. You will never find anyone Koyla's age, or any age, in the society that we live in today being asked to direct a group of workers under the conditions that he did. Koyla's work ethic and strong will can be somewhat traced back to his childhood and upbringing as it was too very demanding.
Another interesting character was the peasant who traveled for two weeks on foot with his cow. His story exemplifies the struggles that were taking place in both Europe and Asia. He, like John Scott but for different reasons, left his home, the famine, and unemployment to set out for the Soviet Union where jobs and food could be attained. Unfortunately, the peasant found nothing more than he left back home. He