Volgin, Viacheslav Petrovich
Born June 2 (14), 1879, in the village of Borshchevka, now Khomutovka Raion, Kursk Oblast; died July 3, 1962, in Moscow. Soviet historian and public figure; academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AN SSSR, 1930). Member of the CPSU since 1920.
From the late 1890’s, Volgin participated in the revolutionary student movement. During 1897-1908 (with interruptions because of repeated arrests and exile) he studied at Moscow University, first in the physics and mathematics department and later in the history and philology department. Volgin’s first scholarly work, which was on the German workers’ movement, was published in 1906. In 1908 he wrote the research work A Revolutionary Communist of the 18th Century. (Jean Meslier and His Testament), which was published in 1919. During World War I (1914-18) he was an active contributor to M. Gorky’s Chronicles. In 1918, Volgin participated in the organization of the Socialist Academy (subsequently the Communist Academy) in Moscow. Between 1919 and 1930 he was a professor at Moscow State University, and from 1921 to 1925, rector of the university. During 1919-29, Volgin was a member of the State Learned Council, and from 1921 to 1922 he was vice-chairman of the Chief Committee of Vocational and Technical Education of the People’s Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR. Volgin was one of the organizers of the Institute of History of the Russian Association of Social Scientific Research Institutes, the Institute of History of the Communist Academy, and the Society of Marxist Historians. From 1930 to 1935 he was permanent secretary and from 1942 to 1953 vice-president of the AN SSSR.
Volgin founded a new branch of history—the history of socialist and communist ideas before Marx. He was the first to present a profound Marxist analysis of the intellectual heritage of the major representatives of the social thought of the past (J. Meslier, Morelli, G. Mably, G. Babeuf, H. Saint-Simon and B. P. Enfantin). He made a great contribution to the scientific history of socialist thought by introducing the concept of egalitarianism and applying it in a concrete historical analysis of subjects such as J. J. Rousseau and the Jacobins. Equally important is Volgin’s scientifically based classification of theories, with a clear distinction between socialist and communist theory. His many years of research on the history of the development of social thought in France in the 18th century enabled him to present a new picture, original in its interpretation, of the development of an ideological struggle in France before the Great French Revolution.
Volgin was editor of several scholarly periodic publications and historical anthologies. He founded and from 1947 was editor of the multivolume series Forerunners of Scientific Socialism, which is still published. Volgin was also chairman of the Group for the Study of the History of France of the Institute of History of the AN SSSR. He was a deputy to the second and third convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR. Volgin was awarded the Lenin Prize (1961), three Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and a medal.
WORKSSen-Simon i sen-simonizm, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1925.
Ocherki po istorii sotsializma, 4th ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.
Istoriia sotsialisticheskikh idei, parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1928-31.
Sotsial’nye i politicheskie idei vo Frantsii pered revoliutsiei (1748-1789). Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
“Pekker.” In the collection Istoricheskie zapiski, vol. 25, Moscow, 1948.
Razvitie obshchestvennoi mysli vo Frantsii v XVIII veke. Moscow, 1958.
Frantsuzskii utopicheskii kommunizm. Moscow, 1960.
REFERENCESIz istorii sotsial’no-politicheskikh idei: Sb. statei: K 75-letiiu akad. V. P. Volgina. Moscow, 1955.
Manfred, A. Z. “K vos’midesiatiletiuu V. P. Volgina.” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1959, no. 4.
A. Z. MANFRED