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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2011

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Summary

It was in the period from the 1880s to 1905 that Russian Marxism emerged and developed its particular character and reputation. Its reputation in the international socialist movement for undiluted propriety in matters of Marxist theory and uncompromising militance in matters of practice was a product of its struggles and pronouncements of these years – its heroism in the battle with the Russian autocracy for political freedom and a better deal for the workers, its emphatic rejection of revisionism of all hues and its militant role in leading the revolution of 1905. It had also acquired a reputation that was the obverse side of its devotion to Marxist principle – it was thought to be hopelessly schismatic. By 1905–6 deep internal divisions had rent Russian Marxism and the broad lines of affiliation and opposition which were to characterise the movement in 1917 had already emerged. A large part of the explanation for the uniquely uncompromising character of Russian Marxism lies in the relationship of the Russian Marxists to their native labour movement. Almost everywhere else in Europe Marxism had to be grafted on to existing, and often powerful, labour movements. These movements had developed their own traditions of thought and organisation long before Marxism began to have an appreciable impact upon the European labour movement in the 1880s.

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Marxism in Russia
Key Documents 1879–1906
, pp. 1 - 38
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1983

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