New edition of this classic work. It contains basic writings on historical materialism by the founder of Russian Marxism. An invaluable resource for those seeking to broaden their understanding of Marxism and its intellectual history today. Plekhanov writes in a clear, direct manner. He outlines the basic trends in philosophy, showing how they shaped the thinking of Karl Marx and his close associate, Friedrich Engels. Of particular interest is Plekhanov’s assessment of the influence of the German philosophers Ludwig Feuerbach and Georg Hegel on Marx and Engels. In subsequent chapters Plekhanov provides an exposition of the historical materialist method, using a series of examples to demonstrate the manifold ways in which social being determines social consciousness. At the same time, he argues against a mechanical conception of the relationship between the economic base and the political superstructure of society. This book contains two appendices. The first, The Materialist Conception of History, is a reply to issues raised in a work by Italian Marxist Antonio Labriola. The second essay, The Role of the Individual in History, considers the relationship between historical necessity and human volition.
Fundamental Problems of Marxism
Basic writings on historical materialism by the founder of Russian Marxism. An invaluable resource for those seeking to broaden their understanding of Marxism and its intellectual history today.
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Georgi Plekhanov (1857-1918) is widely regarded as the father of Russian Marxism. Initially a partisan of the Narodniks—a populist movement oriented to the peasantry—Plekhanov ultimately broke with their perspective. He, along with a handful of other leading Russian Marxists, founded the “Emanicipation of Labor” group in Switzerland in 1883. Plekhanov, who lived in exile in Europe for much of his life, played a central role in the establishment of the Russian Social Democratic Party (RSDP) in 1898. In the split that occurred within the RSDP in 1903, Plekhanov sided with the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks, which coalesced under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. Plekhanov adhered to the view that because of Russia’s backwardness, any revolution that occurred in the country would be of a bourgeois-democratic character, despite the fact that working class would play a major role in the event. Having taken the side of Russian nationalism in World War I by calling for the defeat of Germany, Plekhanov opposed the coming to power of the Bolsheviks in 1917. Despite his position on this question, Plekhanov played a central historical role in the development of Marxism and made significant contributions to the development of Marxist theory. Plekhanov was a leading defender of the materialist view of history, which he elaborated in great detail in The Development of the Monist View of History. Over the course of his many writings he advanced a withering critique of Narodnism, produced an extensive analysis of the socio-economic development of Russia, and wrote valuable commentary on Marxist aesthetics.