Axelrod, Lubov

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AXELROD, LUBOV (Esther ; pseudonym Otodox ; 1868–1946), Russian revolutionary and philosopher. Axelrod was born in Dunilovichi (Lithuania). From the age of 16 she was a member of the Narodnaya Volya revolutionary organization, propagating its ideas in workers' circles and traveling around the country with illegal literature. In 1887 she was compelled to leave for France and later settled in Switzerland. In 1892 she turned to Marxism, joined the Osvozhdzenie Truda (Freedom for Labor) group, and became the closest adviser of its leader, P. Plekhanov. In 1900 she received her Ph.D. from Bern University and her thesis on Tolstoy was published in German in Stuttgart in 1902. She was one of the major contributors to the newspapers Iskra and Zaria. In 1906 she returned to Russia, and became the leading authority on Marxist philosophy (after Plekhanov). In the same year she published an anthology on the subject, criticizing Berdyaev, Struve, Kant, and others. In social-democrat circles, she earned a reputation as the defender of the "pure" Marxist philosophy. Probably because of this, she did not have to pay the price of being a member of the Central Committee of the Menshevik Party after the Bolshevik October Revolution of 1917, even after she sharply criticized Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. In the 1920s she lectured in various academic institutes. She published several books, but in the beginning of the 1930s she was included in the "makhanisty" group of philosophers, and banned from teaching, publishing, etc., and forgotten. When she had left Russia in 1887 she cut off all her ties with her rabbinical family and with Jewish life.

[Shmuel Spektor (2nd ed.)]