An Intellectual Biography of N.A. Rozhkov

Life in a Bell Jar


An Intellectual Biography of N.A. Rozhkov is the first English language study to follow Russia's most gifted and important historian to emerge from the school of V.O. Kliuchevskii through the transformative decades that bridged the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rozhkov's early philosophical influences are examined to explain his radicalisation from middle-class intellectual academic to Leninist-Bolshevik to Menshevik social-democrat. His Marxist-socialist beliefs landed him in gaol several times and eventually he was exiled to Siberia for a decade where he was able to refine his political worldview and develop his theory of historical development. Critical of Lenin and the 1917 revolution, he spent the last decade of his life being persecuted by the Bolshevik regime.

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Dr John González is an independent scholar and Director of the Rozhkov Historical Research Centre in New South Wales, Australia. In 2011 he became a member of the editorial board of the Bulletin of the Moscow State Regional University's History and Politics series. Previously he has taught history and politics at the University of Wollongong and has taught languages for the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. He has published many articles on various aspects of Russian history, translated a wealth of material from Russian and other languages and is currently preparing for publication English translations of several of Rozhkov's books. This is his first monograph.
"Gonzalez's biography, which includes twenty-four illustrations, a biographical chronology, and a list of Rozhkov's works, gives long-overdue attention to Rozhkov's place in the Russian revolutionary movement and Russian Marxist historiography." - Barbara C. Allen, in: The Russian Review, 2017, pp. 565-6
List of Illustrations xi
Note on Transliteration, Calendars & Translation xii
Abbreviations xiii
Map xvi

Prologue 1
1 The Formative Years (1868–1898): Rozhkov the Academic 11
Verkhotur’e and the Early Years 11
Rozhkov’s Family—His Parents and Siblings 12
The First Wave of Positivist Influence 14
Henry Thomas Buckle 15
Herbert Spencer 18
Avgust Liudvigovich Tochiskii 22
Faculty of History and Philology at Moscow University 24
Zinaida Petrovna Vovoiskaia 25
The Young Married Couple 26
V.O. Kliuchevskii 28
Rozhkov as Teacher and First Publications 29
Research under Kliuchevskii 31
Economic Materialism, Legal Marxism, Ziber and Marx 32
Kliuchevskii, Thesis and the Uvarov Prize 35
The Young Academic 37
The Success of Contemporary Sociology and History—A Second Wave of Positivist Influence 40

2 The Influence of Marxism (1898–1905): Rozhkov the Revolutionary 47
Rozhkov’s Interpretation of Marxism 47
His Doctoral Thesis, Marxism and Politics 48
The Importance of Psychology and Marxism 50
Marxism and the Psychology of the Individual 51
Textbooks and Educating the Public 55
The Success of Town and Village in Russian History and the Zemstva Lectures 55
The Moscow Pedagogical Society and Public Education 61
Teachers, Students and Academics Demand Change 64
A.A. Malinovskii-Bogdanov and Pravda 66
Geneva and 1905 67

3 Revolution and Prison (1905–1907): Rozhkov the Bolshevik 76
Rozhkov the Bolshevik and the Literary-Propagandist Group 76
Moscow University and 1905 77
Rozhkov and 1905 80
The Aftermath of 1905 86
First Meeting with Lenin 88
Svetoch—A Legal Bolshevik Newspaper 91
Rozhkov Arrested after Svetoch Inquiry 92
Rozhkov Goes Underground—Kuokkala, Grand Duchy of Finland 93
Secret Political Meetings and Important Personalities 97
Fifth Congress of the RSDLP in London 99
Rethinking the Revolution in 1907 102
The Fundamental Laws of Social Phenomena 106

4 Reflections from Butyrskaia Prison: Rozhkov the Intellectual
Incarcerated (1908–1910) 109
Rozhkov’s Arrest—1908 109
Prison Life, Letters and Labour 112
Psychology and History 115
Sibirevedenie and the Contemporary World in 1910 120
Hilferding and How Rozhkov came to Believe in Civilized Capitalism 123

5 Applying Theory to Practice: Rozhkov in Siberian Exile (1911) 128
The Fundamentals of Scientific Philosophy 128
Rozhkov’s Theory of Epistemology 132
Evolutionary Materialism not Dialectical Materialism 136
Rozhkov’s Theory of Energetics and Evolutionary Economism 139
Lenin and Rozhkov: Failed Attempts at Dialogue 144
Breaking with Lenin and the Bolsheviks: The Political Society for the
Protection of the Interests of the Working Class 150
Rozhkov and the Final Split between Bolshevism and Menshevism 155
Rozhkov’s “Liquidationism” in Nasha Zaria and Lenin’s Response—A Liberal-Labour Party Manifesto in Zvezda 157

6 The Siberian Road to the Duma: Rozhkov More Menshevik than
Bolshevik (1912–1917) 164
Realities of Political Exile—When Mensheviks Attack: A.S. Martynov 164
Rozhkov’s Reply: On Two Fronts 167
Rozhkov on Liquidationism 169
Martov’s Contribution: How it is Possible to be Wrong on both Fronts 173
Rozhkov Responds Again in Nasha Zaria 176
Lenin Continues the Polemic against Rozhkov: “He has not Understood Marxist Propositions” 181
Rozhkov’s Reply: Do not Allow Differences between Social-Democrats Destroy the Possibility of Teamwork 184
Exiles Respond to World War I: Siberian Zimmerwaldists 188
Rozhkov’s Pacifist and Anti-War Views 191
Rozhkov Reaffirms His “Social-Chauvinist” Views in
Sovremennyi Mir 194
Siberian Regionalism and the Authorities Threatened 197
The Voice of Siberia—The Need for a New Daily Newspaper 201
Last Months in Siberian Exile under Tsarist Rule 204

7 In Search of a Political Compromise (1917–1921): Rozhkov the Social-Democrat 206
Rozhkov’s Open Letter to the Moscow Conference of Bolsheviks 206
Rozhkov as Deputy Minister of Posts and Telegraphs in the
Provisional Government 210
The Politics of Agreement Challenged 214
The October Revolution: A Politician’s Critical View 218
The Russian Revolutions: A Historian’s View 220
A Year after the October Revolution: Rozhkov Writes to Lenin with Maxim Gor’kii’s Support 224
Rozhkov, Lenin and Martov Letters 230
Death of Zinaida Petrovna Vovoiskaia and Rozhkov’s First Arrest under Bolshevism 233
Letters from Gaol, Ia.S. Agranov, Lenin and Outside Efforts to Free Rozhkov 237
Rozhkov Sends another Letter to Lenin 240

8 There is No Compromise (1922–1927): Rozhkov under Bolshevik Surveillance 248
The Herzen Institute, Political Isolation and Lenin 248
The Machinations of Power: Rozhkov Arrested Once Again 253
Despite Appeals Rozhkov is Exiled to Pskov 259
Rozhkov on Russian Menshevism 262
More Letters to Zinov’ev 268
Life in Exile 273
The Last Years after Bolshevik Exile 275
Epilogue Rozhkov Rediscovered: A Review of the Major Literature since His Death 286
The Lunacharskii Letter 287
Pokrovskii and Rozhkovshchina 289
The Soviet Line on Rozhkov Established 292
A Fresh Look at Rozhkov: Volobuev 295
Stepanova, Chebotareva, Sheinfel’d, Hellie and Tarasova 297
The Rodina Letters, Iakovlev, Artizov, Shapiro and Andreeva 299
Makarchuk, Isachkin, Popov and Tikhomirov 301
Borisova, Leont’eva, Mikhailova and Filimonov 305
Ivanov, Korzun, Nechkhurin, Kocheshkov and Maidachevskii 309
Volobuev’s Latest Works 316


Works by N.A. Rozhkov 319

N.A. Rozhkov: A Chronology 342

Bibliography 344

Russian Sources 344

Non-Russian Sources 354

Index 368

List of Illustrations
1 View of Ekaterinburg in the late nineteenth century 42
2 Rozhkov’s young parents 43
3 Young Kolia standing with mum and younger brother 44
4 Rozhkov as a young student 45
5 Rozhkov the senior gymnasium student with his parents 46
6 Rozhkov as a young man 72
7 Rozhkov the teacher with his class of Cadets in Moscow 73
8 Rozhkov the academic circa 1900 74
9 Rozhkov’s first wife—Zinaida Petrovna Vovoiskaia 75
10 Police mug shot 18 May 1908 126
11 Police photo 18 May 1908 126
12 Visit portrait of Rozhkov taken in London in 1907 127
13 Rozhkov’s older parents 127
14 Nikolai and Zinaida in Siberian exile. He is at the right window, his wife is at the left window 244
15 Nikolai and Zinaida with other exiles at the entrance of a cave somewhere in Siberia 245
16 Nikolai (front—second from right) and Zinaida (front—second from left) with other exiles on a picnic 245
17 Exiles in Siberia—Rozhkov second man sitting front left, wife stands in the middle, Tsereteli sits second row right 246
18 With comrades in Chita. Rozhkov sits in the middle 246
19 A meeting In Siberia just before returning to Moscow, Rozhkov is in middle with Tsereteli to his left 247
20 Meeting of the first lecturers and staff of the Ural State University in Ekaterinburg in 1920. Rozhkov second from left. To his right sits
A.A. Gapeev and in the middle sits A.P. Pinkevich 247
21 Early photograph of Rozhkov’s Grave—Novodevich’e Cemetry 282
22 Rozhkov’s second wife—Maria Konstantinovna Pshenitsyna in 1925 283
23 M.K. Pshenitsyna in 1950 284
24 Rozhkov’s Grave today 285

All interested in the fields of Russian history, revolutionary politics, historiography and the evolution of historical thought. Post-graduate and undergraduate researchers in Russian social-democracy and Marxism-Leninism generally.
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