K voprosu o razvitii monisticheskogo vzglyada na istoriyu [i.e. English 'On the Question of the Monistic View of History'].

St. Petersburg, 1895. 8vo. In contemporary half calf with (vague) title to spine. Extremities with wear. Small stamp to top of right corner of title-page, otherwise internally fine. (4), 287, (1) pp.

The exceeding rare first edition of Plekhanov's (published under the pseudonym of Beltov) landmark work which was seminal in the spreading of Marxism in Russia. Today, it is considered one of most important theoretical works of Russian Marxism from that period. Lenin would later comment that Plekhanov's book "helped educate a whole generation of Russian Marxists", and Engels, shortly after the publication, wrote directly to Plekhanov congratulating him on the "great success".

Plekhanov is regarded as being the founder of Russian Marxism and its main theoretician. Due to his effort and present publication, Russian revolutionaries turned from the Narodniki (populists) movement fashionable in the 1860ies and 70ies to Marxism. The book was sold out immediately after publication and during the Soviet years it was translated into 12 languages and Russian author Mikhail Ivanovich Bulgakov referred to it as the 'The gospel of Russian Social-Democracy'.

With the present publication, Plekhanov provided the first creative application of Marxism to the analysis of economic conditions in Russia after the Reform and showed the immediate needs of the Russian revolutionary movement and the political tasks of the Russian working class. He laid bare the reactionary essence of the so-called socialist views of the Narodniks, which had nothing in common with scientific socialism.
"Marx tells us, he declared, that when a society "has got upon the right track of the natural laws of its movement" it can "neither skip the natural phases of its development nor remove them by legal enactment"; Russia, however, Plekhanov insisted, had not yet entered upon this disastrous track. Western Europe was forced to develop along capitalist lines because the village commune there had disintegrated in the struggle with feudalism; in Russia, though, the village commune had been preserved relatively intact."
Later he attacked the course for a socialist revolution, steered by Lenin. He held that the revolution in February 1917, being a bourgeois revolution, was to be the beginning of a long period of capitalist development in Russia. That was why he had a negative attitude towards the Great October Socialist Revolution, seeing it as a "violation of all the laws of history". " (Walicki, A History of Russian Though).

Engels commented in January 30, 1895 in a letter to Vera Zasulich that it had been published at a most opportune time. Tsar Nicholas II had just released a statement on January 29 that announced that it was fruitless for the locally elected district councils (Zemstvos), to agitate for any more democratic reforms in the Russian government. Nicholas II had decided to return Russia to the absolute Tsarist autocracy of his father, Alexander III. Under Nicholas II's re-initiation of absolute autocracy, the Zemstvos would become superfluous and basically be abolished. Engels expected this announcement would cause an upsurge in popular protest in Russian and Engels thought the timely publication of Plekhanov's book would augment that popular protest.

By the time of its publication, the author was in exile, banned from returning to Russia for 15 years. He wrote the book while staying in London, where he went after being deported from France in 1894 and it appeared legally in Russia under the pseudonym Beltov. Because of the censorship, Plekhanov gave the book, as he put it, the "purposely clumsy" name "monist" without indicating which conception of history-the materialist or the idealist- was meant.

Plekhanov's works served the dissemination of proletarian internationalism and the establishment of close ties between the revolutionary movement in Russia and in Western Europe, which is why Lenin pointed to the necessity of studying Plekhanov's philosophical works and insisted on them being republished and included in the "series of compulsory manuals of communism.

Order-nr.: 53227

DKK 30.000,00