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Volski, Stanislav (1880–1936?)


Stanislav Volski was the assumed name of Andrei Vladimirovich Sokolov, the Russian Marxist journalist and philosopher. Volski studied at Moscow University but was expelled in 1899. He was active in the Bolshevik faction until March 1917, when he broke with V. I. Lenin. In 1909 Volski published the only pre-Soviet book-length treatise on Marxist ethical theory, but its "Nietzschean" individualism had little impact on the development of Marxism-Leninism. In the 1920s and 1930s Volski was reduced to the status of literary popularizer and translator. The date and circumstances of his death are still unknown.

According to Volski, class solidarity and discipline are tactically essential to victory in the class struggle, but all binding norms will vanish with the defeat of capitalism. Under socialism individuals will be "freed from the numbing pattern of coercive norms" and from the "idea of duty," the "inevitable companion of bourgeois society" (Filosofiya Borby, p. 272).

Volski saw societies as weapons that individuals use in their struggle with nature. Typically, in bourgeois societies (based on fixed division of labor), individuals are free to develop only within the narrow confines of their occupational specialties. As a result they are self-alienated, conformist, and myopic. But in socialist society (based on variable division of labor), harmoniously self-determining individuals will grow into unique selfhood as ends in themselves. Their absolute value as persons will not be a formal postulate or imperative, as was claimed by the Russian Kantian Marxists, but rather a goal to be achieved by free struggle and social creativity. In this process "the socialization of methods is accompanied by an individualization of goals" (ibid., p. 300). "Struggle," Volski declared, "is the joy of being," and "socialism is freedom of struggle; everything that increases struggle is good, everything that diminishes it is bad" (ibid., pp. 306, 302).

Assimilating Friedrich Nietzsche's insight that "enemy" means not "villain," but "opponent," Volski claimed that I should grant full freedom to the individual whose ideal is inimical to mine and that I should strive to make him an "integral personality," working with him to remove external obstacles to our sharp and clear collision. In struggling with me, he enriches me, enlivening my highest values. "Of all those who surround me, the most precious, most essential is he with whom I struggle for life and death." He is both friend and enemy, and we share the "morality of 'friend-enemies'the morality of the future" (ibid., pp. 310, 311).

See also Lenin, Vladimir Il'ich; Marxist Philosophy; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Russian Philosophy; Socialism.


Filosofiya Borby: Opyt Postroyeniya Etiki Marksizma (The philosophy of struggle: an essay in Marxist ethics). Moscow, 1909.

Sotsialnaya Revolyutsiya na Zapade i v Rossi (The social revolution in the West and in Russia). Moscow, 1917.

"Volski." In Bolshaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya (Great Soviet encyclopedia), 1st ed. Moscow, 1929. Vol. XIII, Cols. 6667.

George L. Kline (1967)

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