By JEREMY LESTER
Debates on Hegemony in Russia and the West
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Extra resources for The Dialogue of Negation: Debates on Hegemony in Russia and the West
One of the first tangible consequences was, of course, the Emancipation Act of 1861. Restricted though it may have been in its real emancipatory effects, it did undoubtedly have major social consequences, which were in good part born out of its very restrictiveness. First of all, it without doubt aggravated conflicts which had long been in place between the nobility and the state. By the measures of the Act, the old authority of the landowners was considerably reduced as the peasants were now granted new entitlements over the land they cultivated.
The irony of Plekhanov’s emphatic conviction of the inevitability of universal laws of development applying to Russia in the same manner as they once applied to the West, was certainly not lost on many of his contemporaries. 8 Being ‘more Marxist than Marx’, however, was an accusation that Plekhanov was going to get used to. In his first major works in exile, Plekhanov’s primary task was to try to expose, once and for all, the fallacy of the exceptionalist standpoint amongst the opposition forces.
As Albert Camus wrote of this ‘proletarian of the gods’ who is both so powerless and rebellious: ‘At each of those moments when [Sisyphus] leaves the heights and gradually sinks towards the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. ’ The myth here, Camus argues, is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious: ‘Sisyphus … knows the whole extent of his wretched condition, it is what he thinks of during his descent. [Nevertheless the] 28 The Dialogue of Negation lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory.
The Dialogue of Negation: Debates on Hegemony in Russia and the West by JEREMY LESTER