Vanguardism and the Revolution


In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels theorized that the inevitable progression of society would lead through a path of feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and end in communism. In 1901, fifty-three years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto, social-democrats in Russia were reflecting on the nature of a revolution to achieve the next step in society’s progression. This revolution was fraught with questions. How would the revolution happen? Who or what would be the catalyst for revolution? And what would the end goal look like? Many different parties came forth with their answers but could never find complete agreement with one another. It is in this ideological disarray that Vladimir Lenin would write What Is To Be Done. In it, Lenin would argue against the points of his “economist” contemporaries and assert his ideas of a political organization or party, separate from labor unions, to spread Marxism to the working class. Continue reading

Three Generations in Zlatoust


This photo by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, taken in Zlatoust, shows Andrei Petrovich Kalganov along with his son and granddaughter. Andrei Kalganov, age 72, is dressed in a caftan adorned with medals. Noticeably, Kalganov’s caftan contrasts with the attire of his son and granddaughter, both of whom are dressed in Western fashion. This aspect of the photo is eye catching as it displays the diffusion of Western culture in a westernizing Russia. I was intrigued by this photo as is depicted the spread of Western styles to Russia, even as far as the end of European Russia.

All three are employed by the Zlatoust Arms Plant, located in the raw material rich Ural mountains. The factory itself was founded by European experts, mostly from Germany, to produce steel products and weapons (Vershinin, 2015). The factory relied mostly on individual craftsmanship for the production of weapons. (Vershinin, 2015). As seen in the picture, Andrei Kalganov is shown wearing medals for mastery and excellency in his craft, leather sheathing saber scabbards (Three Generations). The plant continues to operate today. While the factory armed soldiers with sabers, lances and knives through its operational history, today the Zlatoust Arms Plant specializes in ornate weapons for both ceremonial and collector purposes (Vershinin, 2015).


Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergei Mikhailovich 1863-1944. “Three Generations. A.P. Kalganov with Son and Granddaughter. The Last Two Work in the Shops of the Zlatoust Plant.”WDL RSS. Library of Congress, n.d.<>. Accessed 21 Jan. 2017.

Vershinin, Alexander. Zlatoust: The Cutting Edge of Russia’s Steel Arms Production. Russia Beyond the Headlines. 6 July. 2015, Accessed 22 Jan. 2017.