Social Scientist. v 13, no. 144 (May 1985) p. 4.

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question in his mind was whether the Russian commune (obshchina) with its inherent socialist content could be the basis for bypassing capitalism in Russia.

Change in Marx's Attitude to Russian Radicalism

The period from 1867 to 1872 is extremely significant to any researcher on Marx. Quite a few crucial questions, which Marx raised in this period ^nd also tried to provide answers to, are of concern to us. This was also the period when his attitude towards Russian populism underwent a drastic change from one of indifference and rejection to interest and admiration. He had tried to understand the 'Russian socialism' of Alexander Herzcn even before the publication of the first German edition of Capital. He was not at all impressed by it; rather he considered it to be extremely vague and unreal 'romanticiam'. In the additional notes to the first German edition of Capital, Marx went so far as to say that Hcrzen, it appeared, had discovered 'Russian' communism not in Russia but in the books of the Prussian Minister Baron von Haxthausen and had prophesied the rejuvenation of Europe through the infusion of old blood, that is, the old commune.1 Marx was extremely critical of Hcrzen's theory of socialism which traced a special Russian quality in the commune that had the capacity to overcome the unhappy vicissitudes of capitalism of the West.

To Marx, at this time, the general theory of social development based on his historical materialistic premise was the only scientific law of social change which he expounded in his epoch-making work and other writings. As Walicki points out, Marx even expressed doubt in the idea of'originality' in 'Russian socialism', as he rather found Maurer's analysis of the German commune much more significant2 In a letter to Engels dated 14 March 1868, Marx wrote, 'The Russians now lose even the last traces of a claim to originality, even in this line. All that is left of them is, that they are still stuck in the forms which their neighbours have long since cast off..."3

By the end of the 1860s and the very beginning of the 1870s Marx began a rethinking about the entire Russian question. His opinion about the future potential of Russian commune also underwent a complete change. The emergence of radical ideas and revolutionary movement in Russia in this period engaged his attention increasingly and till the last days of his life, this was one of his main concerns. To have a thorough grasp of the ideas and events in Russia. Marx taught himself Russian in 1870-71. His seriousness in this matter can best be illustrated by Frau Jenny Marx's complaint to Engels in a letter in which she wrote that Marx had begun to study Russian with so much seriousness he that even did not bother to consult a doctor for his illness. It was almost a life and death question to him.4

Marx while reading Russian material gave particular attention to the w>rks of radical scholars and revolutionaries like N G Chcrnyshcvskii and

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