Ed, the history teacher, has written that Marxism has nothing to do with Darwin. One indication he cites is the fact that Stalin persecuted Darwinist scientists.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia has some interesting entries on these subjects. This encyclopedia was produced in three editions, and it provides the official Soviet Communist Party position for the time it was published. I consulted the third edition, which was completed in the mid-1970s, in its official English translation.
The entry for “Darwinism” (volume 7, pp. 114-116) includes the following explicit denunciation of Lamarckianism:
Darwin explained by a materialist approach the expediency of organization in living things, in contrast to earlier attempts to create a theory of evolution on the assumption of the inherent capacity of organisms to change in response to external influences and to transmit those adaptive changes to their offspring. Thus, for the first time in the history of biology, he constructed a theory of evolution specifically guided by data obtained from economic practice.
It continues by showing the significance of Darwinism for Marxist ideology:
K. Marx and F. Engels and later V. I. Lenin fully appreciated the significance of Darwinism and considered it the natural-historical basis of dialectical materialism.
So, how was it that Stalin decided to purge Darwinists? The Encyclopedia is quite frank in describing the “erroneous, mechanistic views” of Trofim Lysenko, a politically influential geneticist. Despite Ed’s claim, the purge was not directed at “Darwinists.” Rather, it was directed against Mendelian geneticists and anyone else who disagreed with Lysenko, as part of a broader campaign by Stalin to subject every part of the Soviet government and Russian society to the direct control of the Communist Party. Stalin’s purges and totalitarian measures were part of an effort during the 1930s to modernize agriculture and reorganize it along socialist lines, in which the Encyclopedia blames Stalin for “mistakes and excesses.”
Lysenko’s scientific error was in promoting a form of Lamarckianism, and the main problem was that because of his political connections no one dared to actually judge his theories based on their practical results. Stalin and other leaders supported Lysenko on the assumption that his ideas were more in line with Marxist philosophy.