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Roman Rosdolsky

Roman Osipovich Rosdolsky (Ukrainian: Рома́н О́сипович Роздо́льський Roman Osipovič Rozdol's'kyj) (Lemberg, July 19, 1898 – Detroit, October 20, 1967) was a prominent Ukrainian Marxian scholar, historian and political theorist. Rodolsky's book The Making of Marx's Capital, became a foundational text in the rediscovery of Marx critique of political economy.[1] As well as influenced later scholars such as Moishe Postone.[2]


Roman Rosdolsky was born in Lemberg (Lviv) in Galicia, at that time in the Austro-Hungarian empire, now in Ukraine, and died in Detroit, MI (USA). Rosdolsky's father Osyp Rosdolsky was a Ukrainian theologian, philologist, ethnographer, and translator of some repute. Roman's uncle was Ukrainian composer Danylo Rosdolsky. Both Roman's grandparents were priests of the Greek Catholic Church and well-known supporters of the independence of the Ukrainian nation. Ivan Franko was a family friend.

As a youth, Rosdolsky was a member of the Ukrainian socialist Drahomanov Circles. He was drafted in the imperial army in 1915, and edited with Roman Turiansky the journal Klyči in 1917. He was a founder of the International Revolutionary Social Democracy (IRSD) and studied law in Prague. During World War I he founded the antimilitaristic "Internationale Revolutionäre Sozialistische Jugend Galiziens" (International Revolutionary Socialist Youth of Galizia). He became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Eastern Galicia, representing its émigré organization 1921-1924 and a leading publicist of the Vasylkivtsi faction of the Ukrainian Communists. In 1925, he refused to condemn Trotsky and his Left Opposition, and was later, at the end of the 1920s, expelled from the Communist Party.

In 1926-1931, he was correspondent in Vienna of the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, searching for archival materials. At that time, in 1927, he met his wife Emily. When the labour movement in Austria suffered repression, he emigrated in 1934 back to L'viv, where he worked at the university as lecturer and he published the Trotskyist periodical Žittja i slovo 1934-1938. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942, but survived internment for three years in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Ravensbrück and Oranienburg. While he was in prison, his son Hans Georg was born in January 1943. The family emigrated to the USA in 1947. Rosdolsky worked there as independent scholar, doing thorough research in the Detroit library. He published also under pseudonyms such as "Roman Prokopovycz", "P.Suk.", "Tenet" and "W.S.".

Rosdolsky is mainly known in the English-speaking world for his careful scholarly exegesis on Marx's Grundrisse, The Making of Marx's Capital. The collection of essays overturned many previous interpretations of Das Kapital. Yet he published much more, especially on historical topics. During his life, he corresponded with numerous well known Marxist writers including Isaac Deutscher, Ernest Mandel, Paul Mattick, and Karl Korsch. Mandel called Rosdolsky's work on the National Question the only Marxist criticism of Marx himself.

Main published works in English

Published writing in German

Writing in Italian

Writing in Polish

Writing in Ukrainian

About Roman Rosdolsky


See also