“The confrontation with Russian Populism raised for them an important theoretical question: was it possible for socialism to win the Russia before Russian capitalism had achieved the Western level of development? Was it possible for socialist revolution to win in a backward country before the victory of socialism in the most developed countries of the West? Marx and Engels gave an answer to this question in 1882, in the preface to the Russian (Plekhanov’s) translation of ‘The Communist Manifesto’. This pronouncement , widely and differently commented on in Russia, reads as follows: “Now the question is: can the Russian ‘obshchina’ [peasant commune], though greatly undermined, yet a form of the primaeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of communist common ownership? Or on the contrary, must it first pass through the same process of dissolution such as constitutes the historical evolution of the West? The only answer to that possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development” (1)” [(1) ‘Communist Manifesto: Socialist landmark. A New Appreciation written for the Labour Party by Harold J. Laski together with the original text and preface, London 1948, pp. 108-9]  [Andrzej Walicki, The Controversy over Capitalism. Studies in the Social Philosophy of the Russian Populists, 1969]

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