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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Emancipation of Labor formed in Russia, Sept. 25, 1883

Soviet stamp in honour of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Georgi Plekhanov, 1956

From USSR Magazine, September 1963:

"September 25, 1883...the first Marxist organization, the Emancipation of Labor, was set up in Russia. Headed by 26- year- old Georgi Plekhanov, it consisted of five people. At the time the working-class movement in Russia was taking its first steps and needed a progressive theory.

The Russian revolutionaries found that theory in the teachings of Karl Marx.

The members of the group translated and distributed the major writings of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels -The Communist Manifesto; Socialism, Utopian and Scientific; Wage-Labor and Capital, etc. “The final goal of the proletariat," wrote the members of the group, “is the replacement of the old social system by a new one - communism. The preliminary condition for this is the creation of a revolutionary workers' party, the overthrow of czarist autocracy, and the seizure by the proletariat of political power.” Developments in Russia confirmed that this goal was right and realizable."

During WWI Plekhanov supported the Russian war effort which brought him into conflict with Lenin and the Bolsheviks who wanted not just revolution but an immediate end to the war. After the Great October Socialist Revolution Plekhanov was hostile to the new government and died in Finland in 1918 of tuberculosis.

Despite this break, the Soviet Union and the CPSU held Plekhanov in very high esteem and honoured his memory in many ways, from stamps like the one above to monuments and naming streets, schools and institutes after him across the USSR.

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