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Title:The political evolution of Vera Ivanovna Zasulich: populist, Marxist, socialist
Author(s):Wages, Bethany
Department / Program:Russian,E European,Eurasn Ctr
Discipline:Russian, E Eur, Eurasian St
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Vera Zasulich
Abstract:Late 19th century Russia grappled with the "woman question," or the proper role of women in society. Vera Zasulich, quite literally, shot herself into this conversation by firing upon General F.F. Trepov in 1878. However, the existing literature has not adequately addressed the political career which Zasulich made for herself amongst socialist giants like Georgy Plekhanov and Vladimir Lenin, and has not attempted to do so since 1984.This thesis addresses the issue of Zasulich's political development in the 1880s, 1890s and early 1900s with special attention to her growth as a political thinker as she wove her ideas through the stages of populism, Marxism, and socialism. Specifically examined are her journal articles, letters, and memoirs in order to show her thought process, understandings, and sometimes conflation of these principles. This thesis juxtaposes her ideas with those of Marx, Engels, Plekhanov, and Lenin—who were each arguably political geniuses in their own right—in order to reveal the connections and disparities between them. In her writings, one can see that Zasulich never fully places herself in one political camp. For her, her experience in politics was somewhat fluid, and was much more about maintaining alliances and friendships in order to hold the socialist party together. I argue that while Zasulich might not have ever fully represented the concepts of populism, Marxism, and socialism, she did add a level of humanity and moralism to these principles which gave the public a way to apply these political ideas to their real lives and in essence created her own brand of socialism. In fact, I argue that the most interesting trait of Zasulich is that she was not genius political theorist like Plekhanov and Lenin. She was certainly an intellectual individual and was highly respected by her comrades for her contributions to the party, but for the most part she was an average member of the socialist party. Zasulich is an example of an average socialist who was able to garner the respect of and hold her own among the political giants of her day.
Issue Date:2016-04-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Bethany Wages
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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