Narodniks and Marxists: Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea

This course focuses on the problems of local socialism, after the 1881 expulsion of anarchists, from the point of view of a dual process of adaptation of the ‘social question’ – marxization through party-politics and ideological orthodoxy, and Romanian nationalization of Russian narodnicism. Usually, what happened in that period (1880s-1900s) is understood as a process of articulation or hybridization with the dominant local conservative ideological scheme: people from the left are seen as translating the local, Romanian, reflection on Westernization, in Marxist terms, but also as transforming Marx’s theory in an instrument for conceptualizing development gaps. I focus on the political, ideological, and theoretical problems that lead to the formation and quick dissolution of a Social Democrat Party: the complicated mixture of former anarchism with Narodnicism, Marxism, evolutionism, positivism, and neo-Kantianism; the seeming political and theoretical irrelevance of the local left and its alliances with the liberal bourgeoisie; the repressive action against the peasant revolts; and the new roles for intellectuals that were created in fin-de-siècle Romania.

I present two major characters from local fin-de-siècle left: one of them part of the first wave of social revolutionaries/ anarchists that arrived in Romania in the 1870s that became an orthodox Marxist: Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea; the other, a young member of the terrorist leaning organization of Narodnaya Volia from Odessa, that would become liberal and head of a large cultural and political local movement called poporanism.


  • Kitch, M. “Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea and Rumanian Marxism”, in Slavonic and East European Review 55, 1, (1975): 65-89.


  • Ornea, Z. Viața lui C. Dobrogeanu Gherea. Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1982;
  • Pipes, R (1964) Narodnichestvo: A Semantic Inquiry, Slavic Review, 23, 3, p. 441-458;
  • Scanlan, J (1984) Populism as a Philosophical Movement in Nineteenth Century Russia: The Thought of P. L . Lavrov and N. K. Mihkaijlovskij, Studies in Soviet Thought, 27, 3, p. 209-223.