Plekhanov and the Iron Law of History

Plekhanov refused to accept that Lenin's coup in October 1917 was a Marxist revolution. To him it was an anti-Marxist revolution that violated history's economic laws. By Irene Coltman Brown.

The Russian exile Plekhanov made the study of Marxism available to the revolutionary movement in nineteenth-century Russia. Born in 1856 he came from a military family loyal to the Tsars. His father was severe and reminded one of his daughters of the old prince Bolkonsky in War and Peace but his mother encouraged him to admire those who fought for justice. Although he went to the St Petersburg military school Plekhanov rejected the army career planned for him and under the influence of Russia's radical modernisers trained to become an engineer.

As a young man he joined other intellectuals in the populist movement which had inherited from the Narodniks of the early 1870s the obligation to assist the peasantry to play their destined role as the builders of Russian socialism, but were now also turning to the urban workers in the growing city slums.

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