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3 Lenin as a Reader of What Is to Be Done?

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Chapter Summary

The claim that the thesis of consciousness from without, as formulated by Lenin in What Is to Be Done?, announces a significant theoretical innovation has been criticised on the grounds that he did not repeat it in his later writings, that he would soon repudiate it and that he would, in any case, disavow any theoretical intention in having put it forward. The comment, written by Lenin, summarised an article by the young Joseph Stalin in the journal of the RSDLP Caucasian League, a lengthy exposition and defence of the What Is to Be Done? account of spontaneity and consciousness against one of the many Menshevik critiques that followed in the wake of the Plekhanov piece. Lenin praised the 'splendid' way the article posed the problem of 'the introduction of consciousness from without' and qualified as 'ridiculous' the Menshevik denial of its thesis.

Keywords: consciousness; Lenin; Menshevik; Plekhanov; spontaneity



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