The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Plekhanov, Georgii Valentinovich (1856–1918)

  • M. Falkus
Reference work entry


Plekhanov was a major figure in the development of Marxist economic and political philosophy during the late 19th century. His importance springs from four principal sources. He was the first Russian intellectual to apply Marxist theory to Russian conditions. In so doing, he undermined the intellectual foundations of the Populists (Narodniki) and showed the relevance of Marxist economic determinism to Russia. Secondly, he exerted a profound influence upon the Russian revolutionary intelligentsia, persuading many of them to abandon Populism in favour of Marxism. Plekhanov was one of the founders of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Party. Thirdly, the originality and perception shown in Plekhanov’s own voluminous and wide-ranging writings show him to be an outstanding Marxist theoretician. Finally, the approval given Plekhanov’s writings by Marx and, especially, Lenin (despite their later disagreements) has assured Plekhanov of an honoured place in Soviet histories of the development of socialist philosophy. Indeed, Plekhanov was one of the two figures whose writings were specifically acknowledged by Lenin as leading to his own conversion to Marxism; the other was Marx.


Capitalism Lenin, V. I. Marxism Plekhanov, G. V. Socialism 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Falkus
    • 1
  1. 1.