Plekhanov, Georgi Valentinovich

Plekhanov, Georgi Valentinovich

(gāôr`gē vəlyĭntyē`nəvĭch plyĭkhä`nəf), 1857–1918, Russian revolutionary and social philosopher. He was a leader in introducing Marxist theory to Russia and is often called the "Father of Russian Marxism." As a youth he joined the Populist organization Land and Freedom (see narodnikinarodniki
, Russian populists, adherents of an agrarian socialist movement active from the 1860s to the end of the 19th cent. Influenced by the writings of Aleksandr Herzen, the narodniki
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), but he broke (1879) with it because of his opposition to political terror. He left Russia in 1880 as a political refugee and spent most of his exile in Geneva, Switzerland. Turning to Marxist socialism, he became one of the chief founders of the League for the Emancipation of Labor (1883), the nucleus of the Russian Social Democratic Labor party, and in 1900 with V. I. LeninLenin, Vladimir Ilyich
, 1870–1924, Russian revolutionary, the founder of Bolshevism and the major force behind the Revolution of Oct., 1917. Early Life
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 began to publish the Socialist newspaper Iskra [spark]. In his writings Plekhanov took the view that conditions in Russia would not be ripe for socialism until capitalism and industrialization had progressed sufficiently. This opinion was the basis of Menshevik thought after the split (1903) of the Social Democratic Labor party into Bolshevism and MenshevismBolshevism and Menshevism
, the two main branches of Russian socialism from 1903 until the consolidation of the Bolshevik dictatorship under Lenin in the civil war of 1918–20.
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. Although Plekhanov still supported Lenin at the fateful party congress of 1903, he thereafter generally opposed Bolshevism. From this time until the outbreak of World War I, he occupied a largely independent position and attempted to reunite the two factions. Plekhanov supported Russia's participation in the war. After the outbreak of the February Revolution of 1917, he returned from exile and concentrated on rousing support for continuing the war and fighting the growing influence of the Bolsheviks. Following the October Revolution of 1917 and the triumph of Lenin, he retired from public life. Among his translated works are Socialism and Anarchism (tr. 1895) and Fundamental Problems of Marxism (tr. 1929).
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