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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

USSR Rouble-I

1 Rouble: Frederick Engels
frederick engelsFrederick Engels or Friedrich Engels was the foremost propounder of Socialism, along with Karl Marx. USSR being a known socialist country, it is little wonder that USSR has released commemoratives on these two personalities.

Friedrich Engels, the eldest son of a successful German industrialist, was born in Barmen on 28th November 1820. As a young man his father sent him to England to help manage his cotton-factory in Manchester. Engels was shocked by the poverty in the city and began writing an account that was published as Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). He also made friends with the leaders of the Chartist movement in Britain.

In 1844 Engels began contributing to a radical journal called Franco-German Annals that was being edited by Karl Marx in Paris. Later that year Engels met Marx and the two men became close friends. Engels shared Marx's views on capitalism and after their first meeting he wrote that there was virtually "complete agreement in all theoretical fields". Marx and Engels decided to work together. It was a good partnership, whereas Marx was at his best when dealing with difficult abstract concepts, Engels had the ability to write for a mass audience.

While working on their first article together, The Holy Family, the Prussian authorities put pressure on the French government to expel Karl Marx from the country. On 25th January 1845, Marx received an order deporting him from France. Marx and Engels decided to move to Belgium, a country that permitted greater freedom of expression than any other European state.

Friedrich Engels helped to financially support Marx and his family. Engels gave Marx the royalties of his book, Condition of the Working Class in England and arranged for other sympathizers to make donations. This enabled Marx the time to study and develop his economic and political theories.

In July 1845 Engels took Karl Marx to England. They spent most of the time consulting books in Manchester Library. During their six weeks in England, Engels introduced Marx to several of the Chartist leaders including George Julian Harney.

Engels and Marx returned to Brussels and in January 1846 they set up a Communist Correspondence Committee. The plan was to try and link together socialist leaders living in different parts of Europe. Influenced by Marx's ideas, socialists in England held a conference in London where they formed a new organisation called the Communist League. Engels attended as a delegate and took part in developing a strategy of action.

Engels returned to England in December 1847 where he attended a meeting of the Communist League' Central Committee in London. At the meeting it was decided that the aims of the organisation was "the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms, and the establishment of a new society without classes and without private property".

Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet together. Based on a first draft produced by Engels called the Principles of Communism, Marx finished the 12,000 word pamphlet in six weeks. Unlike most of Marx's work, it was an accessible account of communist ideology. Written for a mass audience, The Communist Manifesto summarised the forthcoming revolution and the nature of the communist society that would be established by the proletariat.

The Communist Manifesto begins with the assertion, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Marx and Engels argued that if you are to understand human history you must not see it as the story of great individuals or the conflict between states. Instead, you must see it as the story of social classes and their struggles with each other. Marx and Engels explained that social classes had changed over time but in the 19th century the most important classes were the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. By the term bourgeoisie Marx and Engels meant the owners of the factories and the raw materials which are processed in them. The proletariat, on the other hand, own very little and are forced to sell their labour to the capitalists.

Marx and Engels believed that these two classes are not merely different from each other, but also have different interests. They went on to argue that the conflict between these two classes would eventually lead to revolution and the triumph of the proletariat. With the disappearance of the bourgeoisie as a class, there would no longer be a class society. As Engels later wrote, "The state is not abolished, it withers away."

The The Communist Manifesto was published in February, 1848. The following month, the government expelled Engels and Marx from Belgium. Marx and Engels visited Paris before moving to Cologne where they founded a radical newspaper, New Rhenish Gazette. The men hoped to use the newspaper to encourage the revolutionary atmosphere that they had witnessed in Paris.

Engels helped form an organisation called the Rhineland Democrats. On 25th September, 1848, several of the leaders of the group were arrested. Engels managed to escape but was forced to leave the country. Karl Marx continued to publish the New Rhenish Gazette until he was expelled in May, 1849.

Engels and Marx now moved to London. The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel the two men but the Prime Minister, John Russell, held liberal views on freedom of expression and refused. With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty.

In order to help supply Karl Marx with an income, Engels returned to work for his father in Germany. The two kept in constant contact and over the next twenty years they wrote to each other on average once every two days. Friedrich Engels sent postal orders or £1 or £5 notes, cut in half and sent in separate envelopes. In this way the Marx family was able to survive.

Other books published by Engels include The Peasant War in Germany (1850), Anti-Dühring (1878) and the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) .

Karl Marx died in London in March, 1883. Engels devoted the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx's writings. This included the second volume of Das Kapital (1885). Engels then used Marx's notes to write the third volume that was published in 1894.

Friedrich Engels died in London on 5th August 1895.

1 Rouble: M.Y.Lermontov
USSR 1 rouble M.Y.Lermontov
Mikhail Lermontov(1814-1841) was born in Moscow. His mother, Maria Mikhailovna Lermontova, an heiress to rich estates, belonged to the prominent Stolypin family. She died of consumption in 1817. Yuri Petrovich Lermontov, his father, was a poor army officer. After the death of Maria Mihkailovna, he left his son's upbringing to Yelizaveta Alexeyevna Arsenyeva, his wealthy grandmother. In the new home Mikhail became the subject of family disputes between his grandmother and father, who was not allowed to participate in the upbringing. Lermontov received an extensive education at home, but it included doubtful aspects: in his childhood he was dressed in a girl's frock to act as a model for a painter.

Lermontov studied ethics, politics, and literature, but was expelled in 1832 for disciplinary reasons. He then went to St. Petersburg and graduated from the cadet school in 1834 with the lowest officer's rank of cornet. He was stationed in the same town with a Hussar regiment of the Imperial Guards.

From his position in the Hussars and with his early devotion to writing, Lermontov observed the social life of the wealthy. By 1832 he had already written two hundred lyric poems, ten long poems and three plays. His first verse narrative, KHADZHI ABREK, appeared in 1835. MASKARAD (1836), considered Lermontov's best drama, centers around a bracelet, mistaken identities, and jealousy. At the end a faithful wife is poisoned with ice cream by her husband. The play was first produced by V.E. Meyerhold in St. Petersburg on the eve of the Revolution in 1917. Later Lermontov's melodrama inspired Aram Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite (1944).

In 1837 Lermontov gained wider recognition as a writer. After Alexandr Pushkin was killed in a duel, he published an elegy, SMERT POETA. In it he finds, behind the blind tool of destiny, arrogant descendants "of fathers famed for their base infamies / Who, with a slavish heel, have spurned the remnants / Of nobler but less favoured families!" And Lermontov continues prophetically: "Before this seat your slanders will not sway / That Judge both just and good... / Nor all your black blood serve to wash away / The poet's righteous blood." The poem was enthusiastically received in liberal circles, but annoyed the autocratic Tsar Nicholas I. Lermontov was arrested and exiled to the Caucasus, where he with several of the members of the Decembrist anti-Nicholas I revolt.

Due to the influence of his grandmother, Lermontov was permitted to return to Petersburg. However, Lermontov's attitude toward contemporary state of affairs did not become less critical. "There was something ominous and tragic in Lermontov's appearance," said Ivan Turgenev later, "his swarthy face and large, motionless dark eyes excluded a sort of somer and evil strength, a sort of pensive scornfulness and passion." . . . . The words, "His eyes did not laugh when he laughed," from A Hero of Our Time, etc., could really have been applied to himself."

A Hero of Our Time has been characterized as the first Russian novel of psychological realism. It consists of five separate stories linked by a common hero, Grigorii Pechorin, who is young, intelligent and feels his life empty. In the foreword Lermontov writes: "A Hero of Our Time, my dear sirs, is indeed a portrait, but not of one man; it is a portrait built up of all our generation's vices in full bloom." The book involves three narrative levels, which do not follow chronological order. The first tale, 'Bela,' introduces an unnamed narrator. He tells a story, in which Pechorin steals a Circassian princess, Bela. She loves Pechorin, who after some time starts to spent his time on hunting trips. Finally she is murdered by a vengeful Circassian. In 'Maksim Maksimych' the narrator acquires Pechorin's papers. Pechorin starts his journey to Persia, tells that "I doubt whether I shall return, nor is there any reason why I should." He dies upon his return. In 'Taman' Pechorin is nearly drowned in a wretched provincial town. He has witnessed at night strange doings of local smugglers and a young girl, working for them, tries to kill him in a boat. Pechorin manages to hurl the girl into the sea. In 'Princess Mary' Pechorin asks "why it is that I so persistently seek to win the love of a young girl whom I do not wish to seduce and whom I shall never marry. Why this feminine coquetery? Vera loves me better than Princess Mary ever will. Were she an unconquerable beauty, the difficulty of the undertaking might serve as an inducement..." Pechorin has no desire to marry the Princess. In a duel he kills Grushnitsky, who has been his friend and loves the Princess. The last story, 'Fatalist' has Pechorin speculating on whether fate or change rules human existence. One of Pechorin's friends, Vulic, had earlier played Russian roulette; he survives the game but bets are made was the pistol loaded - it was. Vulic is killed on his way to home by a drunken Cossack by a sabre. "After all this, one might think, how could one help becoming a fatalist?"

During this creative period he wrote such masterpieces as The Novice, The Cliff, Argument, Meeting, A Leaf, and Prophet. In 'Clouds' (1840) the poet contrasted the clouds "free both to come and go, free and indifferent" to his fate in exile. 'The Dream' (1841) anticipated the poet's death in that remote country: "In Daghestan, no cloud its hot sun cloaking, / A bullet in my side, I lay without / Movement or sound, my wound still fresh and smoking / And drop by drop my lifeblood trickling out."

Lermontov's best-known poem, The Demon (1842), about an angel who falls in love with a mortal woman, reflected the poet's self-image as a demonic creature. The melancholic Demon, exiled from Paradise, wanders on Earth, past hope of making peace again. At night he visits Tamara who says: "Come, swear to me to leave behind / All evil wishes from this hour". The Demon promises: "You are my holy one. This day / My power at your feet I lay. / And for your love one moment long / I'll give you all eternity." His kiss like deadly poison kills Tamara, who is saved by her martyr's pain: "She suffered, loved, laid down her life - / And Heaven opened to her love!" The Demon curses his dreams of better things - "Alone in all the universe, Abandoned, without love or hope!..." Lermontov drafted the sorrowful and self-accusing poem first at the age of 14.

Because of a duel with the French ambassador's son, Lermontov was again exiled, this time to Tenginskii Infantry Regiment on the Black Sea. The regiment was almost permanently engaged on active service and for his courage Lermontov gained the admiration of his fellow officers. However, serving in the front prevented him from writing. Pretending to be ill, Lermontov returned to the health resort of Pyatigorsk, near Moscow and joined the social life of the town. He quarrelled with Major N.S. Martynov, an old acquaintance of the family, and was killed in 1841, at the age of 27, in a duel.

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