“Not untypical was the relationship of Engels to the group of Russian Marxists in Switzerland. Pinning his hopes on a political revolution in Russia, on the overthrow of Alexander III, he failed to see why the Russian Marxists should isolate themselves from the Populist revolutionaries, from Lavrov and the remnants of the ‘Narodnaia Volia’. Aware of the enthusiastic support which Marx had given the ‘Narodovol’tsy’ before his death in 1883, Engels was not impressed by Plekhanov’s theory that only the proletariat organized in a separate party of its own could bring down the Tsarist régime. Ignoring the fact that his own open letter to Tkachev had supplied Plekhanov with many of his basic arguments, he explained in a letter of 1885 to Vera Zasulich why he was unimpressed by Plekhanov’s attack on the Populist revolutionaries. ‘Let us grant that these people [Tikhomirov and other ‘Narodovol’tsy] claim that they can seize power – but so what? Let them only open a breach in the dam and the current will soon rid them on their illusions… what is important in my opinion is that in Russia a jolt should be produced which will start the revolution. Whether the signal is given by one group or another, whether it takes place under one banner or another – that is not so important for me. Let it be a palace conspiracy. It will be swept away next day” (Perepiska, p. 251)” [Vladimir Akimov, a cura di Jonathan Frankel, Vladimir Akimov on the Dilemmas of Russian Marxism, 1895-1903. The Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. A Short History of the Social Democratic Movement in Russia, 1969]