Talk:Georgi Plekhanov

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How did he die? cun 11:54, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Plekhanov vs. Lenin[edit]

Plekhanov initially supported Lenin at the second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903, which saw the emergence of the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. It was only afterwards that he came to believe that he had been present at the birth of a form of Russian Jacobinism, which for him presented the greatest danger to the progressive and Marxist path.

To understand Plekhanov's thought we have to go right back to his early political activities, all the way to Narodnik populism, a movement of intellectuals who believed that socialism would come to Russia on the backs of the peasants. The Narodniks came to the Russian countryside with the aim of educating the peasantry into a consciousness of both their power and their historical mission. Originally peaceful and didactic in purpose, the movement split in 1879 into two wings: the propagandists or Chorny Peredel (Black Reparation), and the terrorists or Narodnaya Volya (People's Will). The leaders of Narodnaya Volya, impatient with the slow rate of progress being made among the peasants, decided that it was necessary 'to give history a push.' Reacting against this, and against self-defeating terrorism, Plekhanov turned towards Marxism, as an explanation and a solution.

Marxism led Plekhanov away from peasant populism, to a belief that the development of new forms of capitalist production in Russia offered the only way forward, through bourgeoise liberalism to working-class socialism. History, in other words, had to move through distinct stages, and in accordance with a given set of economic laws. It could not be circumvented; it could not be 'pushed.' After 1903, with Lenin taking on something of the old Narodnaya Volya mantel, Plekhanov saw in him the making of a Russian Robespierre. He was also alarmed by the intransigence and intolerance of Leninist politics, going so far as to say that if Marx and Engels attended a Bolshevik meeting they would be attacked for their moderation. Leninism was based not on a broad-based movement of the working-class, but on a narrow and conspiratorial elite. Plekhanov attacked Lenin in the Socialist press, calling him an 'autocrat' who aimed at 'buraucratic centralism.' He further argued that Lenin's belief in a revolutuionary coup d'etat was a destructive fantasy, one that was essentially anti-Marxist.

After 1909 Plekhanov began to give shape to his ideas in his History of Russian Social Thought, unfinished at the time of his death in 1918. In essence, this was a warning to all Russian Marxists what would happen if any attempt was made to circumvent 'the iron law of history.' In Russia feudalism had developed along quite different lines from western Europe, and the dominant agency was always the state. Classes, even the aristocracy, stood in a relationship of dependence to a centralising autocracy. Bit by bit economic transformation, including the introduction of industrial capitalism, was changing the nature of Russian society; but the state remained very strong, poised between a 'western' and progressive future and a reactionary and 'oriental' past. The only way to break the power of Russian absolutism was to allow the development of a new European-style bourgeoisie. Capitalism, in other words, had to come before socialism.

His great fear was the Bolshevism, by ignoring the weakness of class development in Russia, would, in a premature seizure of power, merely inherit ancient and coercive forms of state authority. This was not a road to the future, but a retreat to the past; to new forms of oriental despotism; to a new and more terrible style of Tsarism. Clio the Muse 03:05, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Plekhanov did not oppose Bolshevism worrying about "coercive forms of state authority," but because they were skipping Marx's two-stage theory of revolution, the first stage being the establishment of a bourgeois parliament, which would grant political rights for workers and allow the building of a revolutionary class conscious, etc. You seem to introduce "coercive" thing in order to anarchize him. Plekhanov was prolific in his assaults on anarchist squeamishness about authority. AECwriter 05:19, 2 March 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aecwriter (talkcontribs)

The tiresome exaggeration of Plekhanov's differences with Lenin and the Bolsheviks[edit]

It seems to be a mantra for some that Plekhanov had a virtually continuous political and philosophical antagonism to Lenin. This is a fiction. Perhaps the strongest evidence of this is Plekhanov's support for retaining the existence of a working class political party of the kind that Lenin belonged to and led. From 1909 to 1912, well after the split and Plekhanov's falling off to Menshevik views, the founder of Russian Marxism nevertheless took issue with those who wished to liquidate the Bolshevik party that Lenin had founded.

Plekhanov went through a complicated evolution of views as happens with many outstanding intellectuals. Characterizing his views, as some have here, by an unrelenting hostility to Lenin, viewing Lenin as a prospective Jacobin, etc., etc., without any evidence to back up such claims regarding Plekhanov's views is highly misleading.

This tiresome exaggeration appears in the Wikipedia entry on Plekhanov in the form of an alleged nom de guerre that Plekhanov used. No evidence is called up to substantiate this claim that Plekhanov used the non de plume of Volgin, no text is named in which this name is used, nor is any evidence called up to substantiate the claim that this name was deliberately chosen to contrast Plekhanov's views with the views of Lenin. It could well be that this claim is simply a fiction - made up to substantiate a pre-existing prejudice. Plekhanov had a variety of fake names that he used to get around the book-burning censors of the Tsarist autocracy.

Furthermore, it seems rather curious that Plekhanov's widow would spend the last 20 years of her life administering the Plekhanov Library, after having arranged the donation of her late husband's belongings, his desk, etc., etc., to the hands of a regime that was allegedly so anathema to him.

Georgi Plekhanov, having been compelled to flee Russia in 1880 after being faced with increasing persecution by the Tsarist autocracy, did not return to his home for 37 years. He was infected by reformist views about socialism, views which were unfortunately prevalent in Europe at the time, and he also did not have the kind of close contact with the illegal revolutionary movement in Russia that some others, particularly Lenin, had. It is no slur against the memory of Plekhanov to note that it was Lenin that was destined to develop Marxist theory beyond the point that the father of Russian Marxism brought it to, and this makes the respect and veneration of Plekhanov by the Communists, and others, perfectly sensible. Plekhanov, despite his errors, deserves all the accolades and honours heaped upon him by the Russian Communists for his outstanding service to the working class and the cause of socialism. He lived up to the heroic example of the Russian revolutionary democrats before him - the very people whose examples inspired him. Georgi Plekhanov (talk) 05:37, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

COI claim =[edit]

The page has been flagged for COI concerns. However, despite the fact that is has been so flagged for approximately three months, there is no discussion of the issue whatsoever on this talk page. I think that that discussion really ought to have appeared at the time of flagging if not, ideally, before ... and at the dead least, within a week after flagging. Three months of silence, in my opinion, justifies removal. If anyone wishes to reinstate the flag, I expect to see support for the move on the talk page. --7Kim (talk) 23:19, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Layout and Format[edit]

Eurrgh its awful. Just a block of text! Needs to be changed (talk) 00:27, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

Major reworking[edit]

I have been hashing away at things, trying to simplify the article's readability. Hopefully I haven't gored too many oxen in the process... Carrite (talk) 18:50, 19 September 2010 (UTC)