“When Was Caesar Born?” Theory and Practice of Truth in Plekhanov and Bogdanov


  • Evgeni V. Pavlov Metropolitan State University of Denver
Keywords: Dialectical materialism, theory of knowledge, objective truth, dogmatism, scientific socialism, Russian Marxism

Abstract

Although political differences between various factions of the Russian Social­Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) have been studied quite extensively, theoretical debates about the nature of Marxism and the role such debates had in determining Party programs and strategic decisions remains in need of a more thorough engagement. One such theoretical discussion, the question of the nature of (absolute) truth, is the subject matter of the present essay. The primary debate was between Georgi Plekhanov, one of the most respected representatives of early Russian Marxism, and a group of theoreticians united around Alexander Bogdanov, an early collaborator of Lenin (until their break in 1909) and an author of several original theoretical works that attempted to challenge the established orthodoxy of Plekhanovite Marxism. The question of the nature of truth stood at the center of the debates between Plekhanov and Bogdanov. The ultimate challenge that Bogdanov threw to the representatives of (self­proclaimed) “orthodox Marxism” was the question of the ultimate nature of Marxist theory: Is Marxism a science or a faith? If it is a science, it must operate within a scientific theory of truth and, as is the case with any genuine science, continue to grow and adapt to the changing circumstances of research. If it is indeed a faith, a set of absolute truths revealed to one person (Marx) and passed on to his disciples in sacred texts and by appointed prophets, then it contains as much value as any other faith or superstition.

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Published
2017-11-05
How to Cite
Pavlov, E. V. (2017). “When Was Caesar Born?” Theory and Practice of Truth in Plekhanov and Bogdanov. Stasis, 5(2). Retrieved from http://stasisjournal.net/index.php/journal/article/view/15