League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class

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The St. Petersburg League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class was a Marxist group in the Russian Empire. It was founded in St. Petersburg by Vladimir Lenin, Julius Martov, Gleb Krzhizhanovsky, Alexander Malchenko, P. Zaporozhets, A. Vaneye, V. Starkov and others in the autumn of 1895.[1] It united twenty different Marxist study circles,[2] but Lenin dominated the league through the 'central group'.[3] Its main activity was agitation amongst the workers of St Petersburg and the distribution of socialist leaflets to the factories there.[4]

In December 1895, six League members were arrested, Lenin among them. While in prison, Lenin continued to guide the work of the League. In 1896 several more, including Martov, were arrested. Those members of the group still at large however scored a great success organising a strike of the textile workers in St Petersburg in May 1896. This industrial action lasted three weeks and spread to twenty other factories in Russia in what became the greatest strike in Russian history up to that date.[5]

By the end of the 1890s the League was transporting its illegal literature through Finland and Stockholm. Transportation was organised by Hjalmar Branting, a Swedish Social-Democrat, Carder, a Norwegian Social-Democrat, and A. Weidel, a Swedish worker who settled in Finland for that purpose. But Garder's arrest in 1900 disrupted the arrangement and the route via Finland. A route running from Stockholm to Åbo and across the Russian frontier was restarted in 1901.[6]

Alexander Malchenko abandoned revolutionary politics after returning from exile in 1900. He was later arrested in 1929 as a counter-revolutionary and shot in 1930. Afterwards his image was airbrushed out of a 1897 photo of the seven leaders of the League until his posthumous rehabilitation in 1958.

With Lenin imprisoned the league fell under the control of the Economists (Marxists who wanted the workers to stick to economic demands only, with no political demands) through their paper Rabochaya Mysl (Workers' Thought), published 1897–1902. In the autumn of 1900, the League merged with the St. Petersburg Workers' Organisation.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tony Cliff (1986) Lenin: Building the Party 1893-1914. London, Bookmarks: 52-59
  2. ^ http://www.marxists.org/glossary/orgs/l/e.htm
  3. ^ Lenin: To G. V. Plekhanov
  4. ^ Tony Cliff (1986) Lenin: Building the Party 1893-1914. London, Bookmarks: 52-59
  5. ^ Tony Cliff (1986) Lenin: Building the Party 1893-1914. London, Bookmarks: 58
  6. ^ Lenin: TO F. I. DAN
  7. ^ Lenin: TO V. P. NOGIN

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