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Title: Rudolf Schlesinger and his Role in the Development of British Soviet Studies
Issue Date: 30-May-2013
Publisher: University of Glasgow
Description: This paper will explore the different roles in which the description of Rudolf Schlesinger (1901-1969) as a trailblazer is appropriate, concentrating in particular on the part he played in establishing the academic discipline of Soviet studies in Britain. Schlesinger was a representative and leader of those workers and intellectuals who attempted to instigate unprecedented social change in Europe in the first half of the Twentieth Century in the name of Marxism. His participation in the newly emerging Austrian Social Democratic movement as well as his role as party activist, editor and writer in the KPD (German Communist Party) of the 1920s and work for the Russian Communists in 1930s Moscow would have made him, by his own estimation, a member of the revolutionary vanguard. In the latter part of his career, as a political commentator and Marxist theorist, Schlesinger also appears as a trendsetter or trailblazer. Having aided the evolution of theory within the KPD he spent his émigré life in post-war Britain, primarily employed by the University of Glasgow. Here he elucidated his own Marxist political theory, and wrote hundreds of articles and books on all areas of Soviet life and socialism; significantly developing Soviet studies as an academic discipline in Britain in the process. Schlesinger was also a member of the first generation of historians to critically engage with events in the Soviet Union. A colleague of historians such as E.H. Carr and I. Deutscher, Schlesinger co-founded and edited the respected journal Soviet Studies and lectured on the subject at Glasgow University.
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