MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People


Louise Michel


Michel, Louise (1830-1905)

Born on May 29, 1830, in an austere castle called Vroncourt (Haute-Marne) where her mother, Marianne Michel, was a maidservant. Her father was reputed to have been Laurent Demahis, the owner’s son, but her father may have been the owner himself, Etienne-Charles Demahis. Anyway, her grandparents raised her as a Demahis, and she received a liberal education from them. Her grandfather had her read Voltaire, Rousseau, and the encyclopedists, and her grandmother taught her to sing and play piano. Louise Michel’s Mémoirs describe her early years as idyllic. In 1850, following her grandparents’ and father’s deaths, her stepmother drove her from the castle.

She was forced to look for a way to earn her own living. She chose to become an elementary teacher and so attended a teacher’s training academy in Chaumont. In 1852, after obtaining her diploma, she opened a private school in Audeloncourt, not far from Vroncourt. But many parents didn’t like her methods: she took her pupils outdoors so they could discover nature and she also taught them to sing the Marseillaise. These actions led to her repeatedly being called to the Préfet’s office for a reprimand. Later, together with her friend Julie Longchamp, whom she had met in Chaumont, she opened a girl’s school in Millières, where she taught for two years.

In 1856 she went to Paris, which always attracted her, to teach in a pension. Nine years later, she bought a private day-school in Montmartre. In this period she attended political meetings, where she met Théophile Ferré and his sister Marie, and became violently anticlerical. She also opposed the Second Empire. On July 12, 1870, along with 100,000 others, she went to the funeral of the journalist Victor Noir, who was killed by Pierre Bonaparte. Afterwards, in July, Napoleon III declared the war on Prussia. His troops were quickly overcome and he became a prisoner.

The Third Republic was proclaimed on September 4, and soon thereafter the Prussians lay siege to Paris. She tried to keep her school open and find food for her students. Her friend Georges Clemenceau, Mayor of Montmartre, helped her.
Louise Michel was very politically engaged in this period; she even created with friends Le Comité de Vigilance des Citoyennes du XVIIIème arrondissement [the Vigilance Committee of the eighteenth arrondissement]. When the bourgeois republic tried to forcibly disarm Parisians, it led to the proclamation of the Paris Commune on March 28, 1871. Louise Michel became an ambulance nurse and soldier, belonging to the Montmartre sixty-first battalion. She was everywhere where she could feel the danger. Finally, she surrendered on May 24 because the Versaillais – current name of the authorities who were refugees in Versailles – arrested her mother and threatened to kill her. Her mother was then released, and Louise Michel was incarcerated in Satory prison.

After having defended herself in court, on December 16, 1871, at the age of 41, she was condemned to be deported. While awaiting deportation to New Caledonia, Louise Michel and other prisoners from the Commune were imprisoned in Auberive (Haute-Marne). These included Beatrix Excoffon and Nathalie Lemel. On August 28, 1873, she embarked on the Virginie, arriving four months later at the fortress of Numbo, in the Ducos peninsula. Although life was difficult there, especially with respect to hygiene and food, she enjoyed it. When she was moved to West Bay, in May 1875, she came in contact with the native people and taught them to read and write. She even helped them withstand the French authorities. But she also assisted to their defeat. Later, in 1879, she left West Bay for Nouméa to become a teacher. In the years in exile she became more receptive to anarchist thoughts.

Following the general amnesty for Commune prisoners, she returned to France. At that time, her mother just had a paralysis attack. Louise Michel was triumphantly welcomed by 10 000 persons on November 9, 1880, at St Lazare station in Paris. In this period she attended many meetings in France and abroad, where she spoke about her struggle for Social Revolution and anarchism. While such meetings were expensive, Louise Michel viewed them as a way for the middle-classes to contribute to the workers.

On March 9, 1883, she and Emile Pouget led a demonstration of unemployed workers. She was arrested a month later and imprisoned in St Lazare. Again she defended herself at the trial, but was sentenced to six years in prison. She was transferred to the Clermont detention center (in Oise), which was strictly directed by Versaillais . However, in December 1884, she was authorized to join her mother’s bedside thanks to her friends Clemenceau, Rochefort and Vaughan. Her mother died on January 3, 1885. Louise Michel was released a year later, when she was 56.

The next five years were spent alternating between attending meetings or in prison. There was even an attempt on her life during a meeting in Le Havre, in 1888, when the extremist Pierre Lucas shot her, but she quickly recovered. In 1890, tired of the gossip and calumny against her, she moved to London. Five years later, her friend Charlotte Vauvelle, who came from the anarchist circle of London, joined her and became a very precious help in her movings. She began to teach again and to lecture. She also gave free lessons of French. As an anarchist, she agreed with the anarchists’ attempts in France. In the last ten years of her life, she traveled between London and Paris, participating in many political meetings and conferences. She also visited comrades in the Netherlands and Belgium. She died in Marseille on January 9, 1905, while on a lecture tour in the south of France.

Hélène Saudrais: http://www.iisg.nl/collections/louisemichel/

See Louise Michel Archive.



Michurin, Ivan Vladimirovich (1855-1935)

Russian agronomist and geneticist.

Michurin began experimenting in selective breeding of crops in 1875. In 1920, Lenin ordered People’s Commissar of Agriculture to organize research on Michurin’s achievements. In 1923, the Council of People’s Commissars recognized Michurin’s “fruit garden” as an institution of state importance and a selectionist genetic station was modelled on it.

Michurin made a major contribution in genetics, especially in pomology; he researched cell structure and experimented with artificial polyploidy, studied the aspects of heredity in connection with the natural course of ontogenesis and external influence, creating a whole new concept of predominance. He proved that predominance depends on heredity, ontogenesis and phylogenesis of the initial cell structure and also on individual features of hybrids and conditions of cultivation. In his works, Michurin assumed a possibility of changing genotype under external influence.

During the Lysenkoism campaign, Michurin was wrongly promoted, as a Soviet leader in theory of evolution, in an opposition to genetics.

See Ivan Michurin Archive.


Mikhailov, Feliks (1930-2006)

Studied at Moscow State University (Faculty of Philosophy), and completed post-graduate studies in Psychology. For some years, Mikhailov was Head of Department in one of Moscow Institutes and the head of the research laboratories in the Psychological Institute and the Academy of Sciences. It was the Faculty of Psychology at the Moscow State University who carried on the work begun by Lev Vygotsky, and Mikhailov was one of those who developed this work in the area of epistemology.

Currently, Mikhailov was a member of the Russian Academy of Education and has published in Russian, Bulgarian, Check, French, Estonian and English. See Riddle of the Self.


Mikhailovsky, Nikolai (1842-1904)

Developed the political theory of `critical populism', which looked to the Russian peasant commune to provide a form of small-scale democracy in opposition to the huge impersonal institutions of industrialism. Mikhailovsky opposed both the Russian terrorists and the Marxists; his writings had an influence in the Right wing of the S R party.

Ralph Miliband



Miliband, Adolphe (Ralph) (1924-1994)

Born of Polish-Jewish refugees in Brussels in 1924. His father, Sam Miliband, has been a member of the Red Army during the Wars of Intervention.

As the Nazis invaded Belgium, Miliband fled to England and settled in London, changing his name from Adolphe to Ralph and became a student on a course provided by the International Commission for Refugees at the Acton Technical College. While studying English History he became a Marxist and in October 1941 won a place at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE).

Miliband was active in a variety of left-wing groups and in January 1943 was elected Vice President of the LSE Students’ Union. At the LSE he was taught by Harold Laski who remained an influence on his thinking, a counterweight to his Marxism.

In June 1943 Miliband joined the Navy and saw action in the Mediterranean. In 1944 wrote an article on the class nature of the relationship between officers and men on board ship.

Miliband was demobilized from the Navy in January, 1946 and returned to the LSE to obtain a First Class degree in July 1947 and began his Ph.D. thesis on Radical Movement in the French Revolution.

While teaching in Chicago he witnessed McCarthyism in action. In June 1949 he became Assistant Lectureship in Political Science at LSE, teaching Comparative Government, the History of French Political Thought and the History of English Socialist Thought.

During this period Miliband became critical of Stalin and the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. He was particularly hostile to Stalin’s policy towards Tito. His main political friends were left-wing members of the Labour Party such as Michael Foot, Jo Richardson, Ian Mikardo.

Miliband joined with other left-wing historians such as E. P. Thompson, Raphael Samuel, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall and John Saville to launch two radical journals, The New Reasoner and the New Left Review and later played a prominent role in the publication of the Socialist Register.

In 1961 Miliband published Parliamentary Socialism: A Study of the Politics of Labour, ruthless criticising Labour for this subservience to parliamentarism and their opportunism. Miliband played an active role in the campaign against the Vietnam War.

His other books include The State in Capitalist Society (1969), Marxism and Politics (1977), Capitalist Democracy in Britain (1982), Class Power and State Power (1983), Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism (1989) and Socialism for a Sceptical Age (1994).

He died in May 1994.

See Ralph Miliband Archive.



Miliutin, Y.

Central Committee member from 1912-1932, Commissar for Agriculture in the first Council of People's Commissars after the Revolution, and supported Stalin during the ultra-left collectivisation period c. 1929.


Mill, James (1773-1836)

Educated at Edinburgh University and at first a preacher. Joined the radical wing of the non-conformists and went to London where in 1808 he met Jeremy Bentham. He now abandoned Christianity altogether to become the most well-known publicist of utilitarian principles, set out for example in the Westminster Review founded in 1824. Worked also for the East India Company as head of the Examiner's Office with control of the Company's revenue. Applied many of Bentham's ideas to the sphere of economics.

John Stuart Mill


Mill, John Stuart (1806-1873)

English philosopher, logician and economist; early exponent of positivism and a follower of Hume. While holding that things did not exist outside of perception, Mill generally regarded the question of the existence of things outside of perception as a meaningless question to be given too much attention; Mill proposed induction as the only valid form of acquiring knowledge of perception, and belittled the role of deduction.

The eldest son of the British historian, political economist and philosopher James Mill, he was educated exclusively by his father, a strict disciplinarian. By the age of eight, he had read most of the Greek classics and made his own translation of many, read a great deal of history and started Latin, the geometry of Euclid, and algebra. By the age of 10 could read Plato and others with ease. About the age of 12, he began a thorough study of Scholastic logic, reading Aristotle in the original. In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Spending most of his time with his father, Mill acquired much of his father's opinions and methods. Jeremy Bentham was a family friend and the other principal influence of his ideas and at the age of 16, Mill established the Utilitarian Society.

From 1830-45, Mill contributed prolifically to a wide variety of journals and magazines on social, political, historical and literary questions and published a number of books and essays. During these years Mill also wrote his major works on logic and political economy. Auguste Comte was an influence here, but the main inspiration came from Isaac Newton, whose physics he took as a model of scientific exposition. He determined himself to compose a Logic in which due place would be given to Induction as opposed to deduction which was the principal focus of traditional expositions of Logic. A System of Logic was published in 1843 including an attempt to formulate a logic of the human sciences based on causal explanation conceived in Humean terms.

In 1844, he published the Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, much as a disciple of David Ricardo. He also studied the writings of early Socialists, but he never adhered to any element of socialism. In 1848, he published Principles of Political Economy, in which he had arrived at the conclusion that value could only be the average price of a commodity, and the search for an objective substratum of value was mistaken, proposing instead that political economy should in future concentrate its attention on price-formation rather than ‘value’. Thus although Mill did not succeed in making this step himself, he can be seen as an important precursor for the “Marginal Revolution” of Walras and Jevons. Around the same time, Mill advocated the creation of peasant proprietorships as a remedy for the disorder in Ireland.

For 20 years, from 1836 (when his father died) to 1856, Mill had charge of the British East India Company's relations with the Indian states. On the dissolution of the British East India Company, Mill was offered a seat in the new council set up to govern India, but he declined it and retired with a pension of 1,500 pounds. Mill's wife, Harriet Taylor died at this time and Mill sought relief by publishing a series of books on ethics and politics that he had partly written in collaboration with his wife. His Utilitarianism he published in 1861 to answer objections that his ethical theory was overly materialistic. Mill also now sharply distanced himself from Comte's “religion of humanity”.

In 1865, he was elected to Parliament for Westminster and took an active part in the passage of the 1867 Reform Bill and the reform of land tenure in Ireland, the representation of women, the reduction of the national debt and the reform of London government.

In 1867 he had been one of the founders, with his wife Harriet Taylor, Emily Davies, and others, of the first women's suffrage society, which developed into the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, and in 1869 he published The Subjection of Women, the classical theoretical statement of the case for woman suffrage. His last public activity was concerned with the starting of the Land Tenure Reform Association.

See: John Stuart Mill Archive


Millerand, Alexandre (1859-1943)

French socialist renegade who achieved notoriety as the first socialist ever to enter a bourgeois government, which he did in 1899. This gave rise to the condemnation of parliamentarism at the Amsterdam Congress of the Second International in 1904 and the unification of the French Socialist Party on the basis of opposition to participation in bourgeois governments. As Prime Minister in 1920 Millerand formed a coalition (the 'Bloc Nationale') and gave support to the Polish Whites against Soviet Russia in that year. He was President from 1920 to 1924 when he resigned through the opposition of the Left Bloc which had come to power.

Kate Millett


Millett, Kate (1934-)

Born to a middle-class Irish-Catholic family in Minnesota, Kate became active in the Women's Movement at an early stage after being active in the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement. At the age of 17 she attended the University of Minnesota and graduated magna cum lauda in English and went to Oxford University where she received first class honours. Her thesis, written for Columbia University formed the basis for Sexual Politics, to become the most authoritative work of Radical Feminism.

In 1961, she travelled to Japan to exhibit her sculptures, and met the artise Fumio Yoshimura who was to become her husband. She has taught widely at Colleges in the U.S.

C. Wright Mills


Mills, C. Wright (1916-62)

American sociologist, born in Waco, Texas, studied at the Univ. of Texas and the University of Wisconsin (Ph.D., 1942) and spent the remainder of his life as a professor at Columbia University. A controversial figure, Mills advocated a comparative world sociology and criticized intellectuals for not using their freedom responsibly by working for social change. For his part, despite a professorial chair and his books more widely read than any of the genre, he was a frenetic pamphleteer and agitator.

His social theory was influenced by both Marx and Weber. His best-known book is The Power Elite (1956), explained the power structure of postwar American society in terms of the “power elite” which came to be known as the ‘military-industrial complex,’ each serving each others’ needs for the production and use of military spending. Mills’s other books include White Collar (1951), in which he discussed the propertyless middle-class whose loyalty maintained the position of the ruling elite, The Sociological Imagination (1959), Listen, Yankee (1960), and The Marxists (1962).

In The Marxists, he wrote that political philosophy had to encompass not only an analysis of society and a set of theories of how it works but “an ethic, an articulation of ideals.” It followed that intellectuals should be explicit about their values and that research work should be supplemented by blunt writing that was meant to both inform and mobilise.

Mills coined the term “New Left” with the open letter he wrote in 1960 entitled Letter to the New Left arguing for a move away from focus on labour issues, towards more “humanist” issues such as alienation, anomie, authoritarianism, and other ills of the modern affluent society.

See C. Wright Mills Archive.


Milyukov, Pavel Nikolayevich (1859 - 1943)

Professor of History Moscow University. Member 3rd and 4th Dumas. An organiser and leader of the Cadet Party. After the February Revolution, Milykov became Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Provisional Government. He was a social-chauvinist during WWI, who sent on behalf of the provisional government a letter to the Allied governments that Russia was prepared to continue the devastating war to a "victorious end." Anti-Bolshevik 1918-19. Emigrated to Paris.

He was removed from his position in April, 1917, as a result of mass workers' and soldiers' demonstrations against the continuation of war. In August, 1917, Milyukov supported Kornilov's opposition to the provisional government. Following this failure, Milyukov left Russia, later to assist the White Armies that invaded Russia the following year.


Mishra, Hiranand

Joined Bolshevik Leninist Party of India in Calcutta. Editor, Spark, 1946. Delegate, Bolshevik Leninist Party of India conferences, 1947 and 1948. Central Committee, BLPI, 1947-48. Entered SP with BLPI, 1948. Bengal Executive Committee, SP. Central Committee, RCPI, elected 1960. Author: Stalinism. What it Means (1956) and East European Crisis of Stalinism (1957).

Compiled by Charles Wesley Ervin


Mitra, Chitta (1929-1976)

Born in Calcutta. Participated in Quit India movement while still a teeanger. Joined Bolshevik Leninist Party of India after WWII. Known affectionately as “Chittada” [elder brother Chitta]. Entered SP with Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, 1948. Joined SP (Loyalists), 1952. Earned doctorate in history; joined faculty of Kalna College, Kalna (Burdwan District). Arrested for activities with the Sanyukta Durbhiksha Pratirodh [United Famine Resistance Committee], 1953. Joined Samyukta Socialist Party. Joined Socialist Workers Party, 1968. Editor, Vishwa Biplab [World Revolution] and the fortnightly Socialist Karmi . Translated and published Trotsky’s writings in Bengali. Author: A Notebook of Socialism (ca. 1967), Bishwa Biplabi Trotsky [World Revolutionary Leon Trotsky] (1971), andChaturtho Antarjatiker Itibritto [Story of the Communist International] (1970), Upendranath Roy translated Bishwa Biplabi Trotsky into English and Chaturtho Antarjatiker Itibritto into Hindi (Kamyunist Antarashtriya ki Kahani ).

Compiled by Charles Wesley Ervin


Miquel, Johann (1829-1901)

In his youth a communist, in the 1860s became the leader of the National Liberals, the party of the big bourgeoisie in Germany. From 1890 to the end of his life he was Prussian Minister of Finance.

Vinod Mishra


Mishra, Vinod (1947-1998)

Born on 24 March 1947 at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, Vinod Mishra devoted his entire life to the communist movement in India. His early years were spent in the labour colonies of Kanpur, then a thriving industrial city and a major centre of working class activism and left politics. After completing his post-graduation in Mathematics, he joined the Regional Engineering College at Durgapur, West Bengal in 1966 in the faculty of mechanical engineering. It was here that he became actively involved with the Indian Communist Movement of the '60s (popularly termed as the Naxalbari uprising) that challenged the official policies followed by the Indian government in relation to the prevailing food crisis of the times, unemployment, poverty, corruption and general misrule by the Congress ministry.

Sharp ideological debates over the programme and political agenda to be followed by the Communist parties intensified during this period leading to the birth of the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) from the Communist Party of India (CPI) and then the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) under the aegis of Charu Mazumdar. It is hardly surprising that by 1969, young Mishra decided the future course of his career as a professional revolutionary and became a "whole-timer" (full time activist) of the newly formed CPI-ML. He waged an active struggle in the revolutionary movement of the times, led armed struggles in the countryside, served a term in jail, suffered from bullet injuries, kidney ailment and other physical complications owing to the difficulties of a more than decade-long underground life in Bihar, eastern U. P., Delhi and West Bengal trying to reorganize the party from the setback it had suffered. He was elected as General Secretary in 1975 and he worked untiringly to re-organize the party, to initiate new forms of peasant and working class struggles, to recognize the need for (open) mass movements and mass organizations (considered taboo in the initial Naxalite framework that believed in the theory of armed struggle) and to unite the communist revolutionaries of India.

His important theoretical contributions are his writings on party organization building, collective leadership and political unity, understanding the peasant question and land reform, united front practice, fighting metaphysical thinking and ideas of perfectionism, conceptualizing the people's front, theorizing on caste, class and gender issues in the Indian context and a series of writings on the specific politico-economic conditions of struggle in Bihar.

Vinod Mishra died on the 18 December 1998.

Further Reading: Vinod Mishra Reference Archive


Mita (Amakasu), Sekisuke (1906-1975)

Born in Shimane prefecture, Sekisuke Amakasu entered Kyoto Imperial University in 1927, enrolling in its Faculty of Philosophy. At university, he soon moved to the left, towards materialist philosophy, and it was there that he met the young and influential materialist philosopher Jun Tosaka. In the later half of the 1930s, Amakasu joined Tosaka’s Materialist Study Group, which was formed in 1932 and would serve as one of the last strongholds for leftwing intellectuals in the latter half of the 1930s. During the mid-Thirties, Amakasu wrote two books: Geijutsu ron (Theory of Art) and Heegeru he no michi (The Road to Hegel). In January 1940 he was arrested under the Peace Preservation Act, and spent the year in prison. Immediately following the war he was primarily engaged in criticism of the Japanese idealist philosophers Nishida and Tanabe, taking an active role in organizations aligned with the Japanese Communist Party, such as the Association of Democratic Scientists. Upon becoming a professor at Osaka City University in 1952, his primary field of interest shifted from philosophy to political economy. It was at that time that he also changed his family name from Amakasu to Mita. In his study of Marxist political economy, Mita carried over his interest in philosophy, particularly the ideas of Hegel, concentrating above all on Marx’s method in Capital. Works from this later period include Kagaku ron (Theory of Science) and Shihon-ron no hōhō (Method of Marx’s Capital). Juiet Mitchell


Mitchell, Juliet (1940-)

New Zealand-born British feminist, best known for her book Psychoanalysis and Feminism. Freud, Reich, Laing and Women (1974) which tried to reconcile psychoanalysis and feminism at a time when many considered them incompatible. She is currently a fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge

See Juliet Mitchell Archive.