Struve, Petr Berngardovich

Struve, Petr Berngardovich


Born Jan. 26, 1870, in Perm’; died Feb. 26, 1944, in Paris. Russian political figure, economist, and philosopher; chief exponent of legal Marxism.

The son of the governor of Perm’ Province, Struve graduated from the faculty of law of the University of St. Petersburg in 1895. During the 1890’s he was editor of the legal Marxist journals Novoe slovo and Nachalo. He attended the Fourth Congress of the Second International in 1896. After the First Congress of the RSDLP in 1898, the party’s Central Committee assigned to Struve the task of writing the Manifesto of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. Subsequently, Struve disavowed the manifesto and turned against revolutionary Marxism, especially against the doctrine of socialist revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat. His opposition to autocracy was founded in bourgeois liberalism, and his demands were for bourgeois democratic liberties. He was editor of the journal Osvobozhdenie from 1902 and one of the leaders of the Union of Liberation from 1903. In 1905 he became a member of the Central Committee of the Cadet party and headed the party’s right wing. He was a deputy to the Second State Duma in 1907 and editor of the journal Russkaia mysl’.

Struve opposed the October Revolution of 1917. During the Civil War of 1918–20 he was a member of the Special Conference under General A. I. Denikin and a member of General P. N. Wrangel’s government. After the defeat of the counterrevolution, he emigrated; he was editor of right-wing Cadet publications in Prague and Paris.

Until 1902, Struve defined his philosophical position as critical positivism. G. V. Plekhanov criticized him for neo-Kantian tendencies and for substituting evolutionism for dialectics. After 1902, Struve turned to a religious world view. In his article “The Intelligentsia and the Revolution,” published in the collection Vekhi in 1909, he counterposed education and self-education to the revolutionary reorganization of society.

In his works on the economic history of Russia (as in Critical Remarks on the Subject of Russia’s Economic Development, 1894), Struve argued against the Narodniki (Populists) and correctly asserted that Russia’s economic development would mirror that of Western Europe. He believed, however, that capitalism was beneficial for the masses as a whole. He denied the growing impoverishment of the peasantry and rejected the theory of labor value, surplus value, and pauperization of the proletariat. V. I. Lenin sharply criticized Struve’s views, calling them “the reflection of Marxism in bourgeois literature” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1, p. 347).


Lenin, V. I. “Ekonomicheskoe soderzhanie narodnichestva i kritika ego v knige g. Struve.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1. See also Index volume, part 2, p. 475.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964.