Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 November 2011
There has long been a lack of balance in the literature on the development of Marxism in Russia. On the one hand there has been an abundance of scholarly commentary and biography, and on the other a virtual absence (Lenin and Plekhanov excepted) of translated texts and source materials. It is obvious that, in seeking to redress the balance, no single volume could be comprehensive – the Russian Marxists were too numerous and too prolix for that. And yet there are certain texts whose centrality is undoubted. No one would, for instance, dispute that Plekhanov's The Tasks of the Russian Social Democrats in the Struggle against the Famine, Kremer's and Martov's On Agitation, the anonymous brochure The Working Day, Akselrod's The Present Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social Democrats, Takhtarev's Our Reality or Kautsky's The Driving Forces of the Russian Revolution were, in their differing ways, of cardinal importance. Commentators and biographers repeatedly return to them offering their rival interpretations and all the non-Russian reader can do is to select that interpretation that seems most cogent, for not one of the above texts has previously been translated into English. Nor is there anything by Blagoev, Brusnev or Fedoseev, none of the agitational leaflets of the 1890s, nor the May Day proclamations, available in translation. Of the sixty documents presented here only sixteen have previously been translated and even readers of Russian would struggle to obtain them.