Georgi Plekhanov

Our Differences


Originally published in early 1885. [1]
This version from G. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical works, Vol.1, Moscow n.d., pp.122-399.
Translated by R. Dixon.
Transcribed by Omar Pie & Robert Cymbala.
Corrected & marked by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.



1. The book Our Differences was written by Plekhanov in the summer of 1884 and published at the beginning of 1885 in the third volume of the Library of Modern Socialism. It was the second big theoretical work of the Emancipation of Labour group, following Socialism and the Political Struggle. The significance of this work was rated very high by Engels in his letter of April 23, 1885, to Vera Zasulich. (Cf. Correspondence of Marx and Engels with Russian Political Figures, Russ. ed., 1951, pp.308-11.)

An interesting reaction to the publication of Our Differences was a letter of the Petersburg workers’ group called Blagoyevtsi (after Blagoyev), one of the first Social-Democratic groups in Russia, to the Emancipation of Labour group. The letter dates to 1884 or 1885 and is kept in the Plekhanov Archives. In it the workers wrote:

“If this book does not induce people to adhere to the opinions of our group (though examples of this have already been observed), there can be no doubt that it provides a mass of material for the criticism of the Narodnaya Volya programme, and a recasting of that programme is positively necessary for the struggle. If possible, send us large numbers of this pamphlet ...”

Plekhanov himself attributed particular significance to this book as a most important stage in the ideological fight against Narodism. Ten years after its publication he made two attempts to publish under the same title, as a second part of this book, his new works directed, this time, against liberal Narodniks, Mikhailovsky, Vorontsov and others. But as both these works were published legally, Plekhanov, in order not to reveal their author, was obliged to give them other names, The Development of the Monist View of History and Justification of Narodism in the Works of Mr. Vorontsov (V.V.). Later fighting the Epigoni of Narodism, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Plekhanov again proposed to give the same title to a book directed against them. But this book was never completed and was published in the form of several articles in Iskra, in 1903 under the title Proletariat and Peasantry (Cf. Iskra Nos.32-35 and 39.)

Like other early works of Plekhanov published in the eighties and nineties, Our Differences was not republished until 1905 and became a bibliographical rarity. In 1905 it was republished in Vol.I (the only one published) of the Geneva edition of his Works.

The text published in the present edition has been checked with the first edition and with the first volume of the Geneva edition of Plekhanov’s Works.

Last updated on 16.10.2006