MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People



Avksentev, Nikolai (1878-1943)

Old and leading Right Wing member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Member 1905 Soviet and Executive Committee. A chauvinist in the War. Minister of Internal Affairs under Kerensky, August-September 1917. During the 1917 Revolution, Chairman, All Russian Soviet of Peasants' Deputies of the Democratic Conference and the "Preparliament" (Council of the Rebublic). On Ufa Directorate, expelled from Siberia by Whites. Emigrated 1919.


Aveling, Edward (1849-1898)

Aveling Edward Bibbens Aveling was a prominent English biology instructor and popular spokesman for Darwinian evolution and atheism. He later met and moved in with Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl Marx and became a socialist activist. Aveling was the author of numerous books and pamphlets and was a founding member of the Socialist League and the Independent Labour Party.

Early years

Edward Aveling was born on 29 November 1849 in Stoke Newington, the fifth of eight children of Rev. Thomas William Baxter Aveling (1815–1884), a Congregationalist minister, and his wife, Mary Ann (d. 1877), daughter of Thomas Goodall, farmer and innkeeper, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Aveling attended Harrow School, and in 1867 began to study medicine at University College London. He graduated with a BSc degree in Zoology in 1870. Aveling began teaching biology and lecturing in science at King's College London but was unable to advance due to his atheism and avowed leftist views. He subsequently on Anatomy and Biology at the London Hospital until 1882.

Aveling married the heiress Isabel Campbell Frank on 30 July 1872, but the marriage only lasted two years. The pair separated amicably. According to Aveling, the cause of the split was his wife's inability to abide by his atheist views, although wags whispered that Aveling had married her for her money.

Political career

In 1884, Aveling became the partner of Eleanor "Tussy" Marx, the daughter of Karl Marx, despite being the estranged husband of Isabel Frank, a status which remained until her death in 1892. Although his background was in biology rather than political economy, Aveling was thrust into the inner circle of British socialism through his personal relationship with Tussy.

Later in 1884, Aveling and Marx were both elected to the Executive Council of the Social Democratic Federation. This position proved temporary, because the couple separated from the SDF at the end of the year along with William Morris and Belfort Bax in the acrimonious split which formed the Socialist League.

In 1884, Frederick Engels enlisted Aveling to help in the translation of first volume of Karl Marx's Kapital. Aveling also achieved some small success as a playwright under the pen-name Alec Nelson.

In the autumn of 1886, Aveling and Marx toured and lectured the United States on behalf of the Socialist Labor Party. Upon their return, they wrote a book detailing the situation of the left-wing political movement and trade unions in the US for a British audience. They found the US populated by "unconscious socialists", people who shared socialist values but disclaimed socialist ideas. Aveling and Marx wrote:

The mass of American Workers had scarcely any more conception of the meaning of Socialism than had 'their betters.' They also had been grievously misled by capitalist papers and capitalist economists and preachers. Hence it came to pass that after most of our meetings we were met by Knights of Labour, Central Labour Union men, and members of other working-class organisations, who told us that they, entering the place antagonists to Socialism as they fancied, had discovered that for a long time pas they had been holding its ideas.

During his time in the Socialist League Aveling wrote and translated various socialist texts but nonetheless remained personally unpopular in the movement, the object of a steady steam of gossip and accusations.

In August 1888, the branch to which Aveling and Marx belonged separated from the anarchist-dominated Socialist League in favor of an independent existence as the Bloomsbury Socialist Society.

After leaving the Socialist League, Aveling became active in the Gasworkers' Union, for whom he served as an auditor.

Aveling was a founding member and was elected to the Executive Committee of the Independent Labour Party by the 1893 Conference which established the organisation. He left that group to rejoin the Marxist Social Democratic Federation in 1896, despite his long-standing personal and political quarrel with SDF leader Henry Hyndman.

Later life, death, and legacy

In 1897 Aveling left Eleanor and on 8 June that year secretly married an actress, Eva Frye, but returned to Eleanor when he was struck down with kidney disease. After nursing him for some time, Eleanor committed suicide mainly due to his infidelity. Aveling died four months later, on 2 August 1898, in Battersea of kidney disease. His body was cremated in Woking, Surrey, three days later.

Despite his prominence as a member of the fledgling British Marxist movement, no representatives of the Socialist or Labour movements were present at the funeral due to the widely-held belief that he was responsible for Eleanor Marx's suicide.

Aveling was also disliked by many of his contemporaries for his tendency to borrow money from everyone. A biographer of his wife wrote in 1976:

The truth is that in moral terms Aveling presented something akin to an optical illusion: looked at in one light, he could be seen as feckless, happy-go-lucky but fundamentally sound; in another, as an unmitigated scoundrel. What, however, could not escape notice from any angle was his infinite propensity to borrow money, which age could not wither nor — more surprisingly — custom stale. He might be cheated...so that resigning from the Secular Society he was loaded with debt. Yet this hardly accounts for his habit of borrowing from the rich, the poor and the positively indigent for trifling amounts — though sometimes cleaning them out — since he never at any time — and this in an age of ostentatious spenders... — lived in a style above that of any other middl-class socialist who had neither business interests nor inherited wealth.

It is not uncommon to come across individuals from whose company and a small sum of money one simultaneously parts. This compulsion to borrow is not easy to explain in those who are neither on their beam ends nor aspire to high living."

Although he had numerous relationships with women, Edward Aveling is not known to have fathered any children.

For more on his political activities see the biography on Eleanor Marx.

See also Edward Aveling Archive.