Vernacular Marxism: Proletarian Readings in Russian Poland around the 1905 Revolution

In: Historical Materialism
Wiktor Marzec Central European University Budapest

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The article seeks to fill a lacuna in Marxist scholarship concerning the actually-existing Marxism of politically-mobilised workers as an organic philosophy in its own right. To shed light on this issue, I investigate the reading-material which stimulated Marxist conversion and the accompanying intellectual invigoration of workers at the turn of the twentieth century in Russian Poland. For proletarian readers Marxism was the main political language, ushering them into the public sphere and allowing them to comprehend the emerging capitalist world. As a particular liaison of scientific knowledge and a practical political weapon, it allowed its adherents to redefine themselves and make political claims. Such a situational Marxism, drawing from but not reducible to the prevailing ‘orthodoxy’, allows one to see the latter as a socially diverse plethora of ideas.

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