by Ann Robertson
THE TEMPESTUOUS relation between Marx and Bakunin is a well known legacy of the history of western socialism. As co-members of the International Working Men’s Association, they seem to have devoted as much energy battling one another as their common enemy, the capitalist system, culminating in Marx’s successful campaign to expel Bakunin from the organization. While at times engaging in cordial relations, they nevertheless harbored uncomplimentary mutual assessments. According to Marx, Bakunin was “a man devoid of all theoretical knowledge” and was “in his element as an intriguer”, while Bakunin believed that “… the instinct of liberty is lacking in him [Marx]; he remains from head to foot, an authoritarian”.
by Jan Wacław Machajski
The following essay by the Polish revolutionary Jan Wacław Machajski (1866–1926) is part of a larger work, “Scientific Socialism”, written in 1900. Machajski refers to this work as a “brochure” although it is almost book-length; it is an extended critique of Volume II of Marx’s Capital.
by Paul Avrich
When the Short Course history of the Communist party was published in Pravda in 1938, it was accompanied by a decree which emphasized the role of the intelligentsia in the construction of Soviet society. The decree bitterly condemned the ‘Makhaevist’ belief that the intellectuals — party officials, factory and farm managers, army officers, technical specialists, scientists — were an alien breed of self-seeking men who had nothing in common with the worker at the bench or the peasant behind the plough. This hostile attitude towards the intelligentsia, declared the decree, was ‘savage, hooligan and dangerous to the Soviet State’.
A number of Pravda readers, puzzled by the strange expression ‘Makhaevism’, wrote to the editors asking them to explain it. (Some readers, it seems, confused ‘Makhaevism’ with ‘Machism’, the philosophy of the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, which Lenin had severely criticized thirty years earlier.) In a scathing polemic, Pravda replied that ‘Makhaevism’ was a crude theory which slandered the intelligentsia by branding them as the new exploiters of the workers and peasants; its adherents were ‘aliens, degenerates, and enemies’, whose slogan was ‘Down with the intelligentsia’. Vehemently denying that the intelligentsia constituted a new class of oppressors, Pravda asserted that the intellectuals and the toiling masses were ‘of one bone and one flesh’. Yet Pravda’s barrage of vituperation merely thickened the mist of confusion surrounding the term ‘Makhaevism’, which, by the 1930s, had become little more than a convenient epithet for intellectual-baiting. But what, in fact, was ‘Makhaevism’? Who was its originator, and what influence did he have during his lifetime?
by Marshall S. Shatz
A biography of Polish-born Jan Waclaw Machajski and account of his radical critique of the role of the intelligentsia in Soviet Russia’s political life which was known as Makhaevism.
Marshall S. Shatz, Jan Waclaw Machajski: A Radical Critic of the Russian Intelligentsia
Machajski and the group of ideas called Machaevism, which he brought together and defended from the turn of the century through into the Russian Revolution, played only a very minor rôle in the building of the Russian revolutionary movement. To this reviewer at any rate, the mention of his name merely stirred a vague memory of him being mentioned, although only briefly, by Trotsky in My Life when referring to some long forgotten debate among Tsardom’s Siberian exiles.