The Fate of Marxism in Russia

 Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov (1856-1918) was the patriarch of Russian Marxism. In 1917, he fiercely opposed the October Revolution. In 1922, his former disciple, Vladimir Lenin, wrote a paean to Plekhanov calling him the most influential Marxist of his lifetime. Yet, neither Lenin, nor Trotsky took seriously Plekhanov’s anguish regarding the birth of a totalitarian regime pretending to express the will of the proletariat. In 1924, Vagarshak Arutyunovich Ter-Vaganian (1893-1936) published a comprehensive biography, comprising almost 700 pages, specifically devoted to the development of Plekhanov’s socio-political views.

In 1920, Ter-Vaganian started to work at the Marx-Engels Institute , which was headed by one of the most authoritative scholars of the history of international social democracy and Marxism of his time—D. B. Ryazanov. Vaganian served as editor of the theoretical journal, “Under the Banner of Marxism.” Acknowledging the interest that Ter-Vaganian had shown for the works of Plekhanov, Ryazanov created a Plekhanov Department at the institute and employed Ter-Vaganian to prepare the 24-volume collected works of the founder of Russian Marxism. One intermediary result of the studies Ter-Vaganian undertook was his work “An Attempt at a Bibliography of G. V. Plekhanov,” which appeared in 1923. A new, expanded edition of this book was prepared in the early 1930s, but it was not published because, by that time, Stalin had adopted a hostile attitude toward Plekhanov. In 1936 Ter-Vaganian was among the defendants in the first Moscow Trial and was sentenced to death along with Zinoviev and Kamenev…

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