Plekhanov, Georgy (Valentinovich)

Plekhanov, Georgy (Valentinovich)

biographical name

(born Dec. 11, 1856, Gudalovka, Russia—died May 30, 1918, Terioki, Fin.) Russian Marxist theorist. From 1874 he was active in the Populist movement and became a leader of the Land and Freedom group (1877–80). To avoid arrest, he went into a long exile in Geneva (1880–1917). In 1883 he founded the first Russian Marxian revolutionary organization, Liberation of Labour, which became the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (1898). In Socialism and Political Struggle (1883) and Our Differences (1885), he described a two-phase revolutionary scheme that influenced Russian Marxist thought. Followers in the 1890s included Vladimir Ilich Lenin. After the party split (1903), Plekhanov joined the Mensheviks but spent years trying to reunite the party. He supported the Allies in World War I and opposed the Bolshevik seizure of power. After returning briefly to Russia in 1917, he died in exile in Finland.

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