Discussion:
AHC: More Machajski-ism
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David Tenner
2018-05-17 07:05:29 UTC
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Can anyone see Machajski-ism triumphant it Russia--or for that matter
anywhere else? For what Machajski-ism was, see this explanation from S. V.
Utechin in *Russian Political Thought: A Concise History*:

***

"A systematic anti-intellectual syndicalist theory was worked out in 1898-
1900 by J. W. Machajski (1867-1927), a former Polish Social Democrat who
was at that time living in banishment in Siberia; his book The Brain
Worker, in which the theory is elaborated, appeared in Geneva in 1905.

"Machajski's theory was an attempt, starting from the basic conceptions of
orthodox Marxism, to find an answer to the question of the place occupied
in the social organism by the intelligentsia. In Machajski's view,
knowledge is a kind of means of production, and its possession by the
intelligentsia means that the latter is a separate social class. In the
process of production and distribution, the intelligentsia appropriates a
part of the surplus value; hence it is an exploiting class. This is the
main thesis of the Machajski-ist theory. The interests of the
intelligentsia are therefore opposed to the interests of the proletariat,
and the 'socialist' phraseology used by the intelligentsia is merely a
device in the struggle for its own interests. It wants to use the
proletariat for the socialization of the means of material production,
which would then be managed by the intelligentsia without interference
from the capitalists. But the intelligentsia does not want to 'socialize
knowledge'--the means of intellectual production; rather, they want to
preserve it in their own monopolistic possession. Thus socialism is the
'class ideal' of the intelligentsia, which wants to replace capitalists
and to concentrate in its hands all means of domination over the
proletariat. The proletariat, on the other hand, must strive to 'socialize
knowledge' by removing the inequality of opportunity for acquiring it, and
the practical way to this is the abolition of inheritance of any property.
The proletariat must also make it impossible for the intelligentsia to
appropriate surplus value--by a leveling of incomes. Everybody must
receive the same remuneration for his work.

Machajski-ist views on the organization and tactics that the proletariat
should adopt in order to achieve a revolution are basically syndicalist,
with the general strike as the chief weapon. It is interesting to note
that, until such a revolution, he expected the 'hungry masses' to be
tempted to use every opportunity to destroy as much as possible of 'those
cursed goods which they endlessly create and which are always taken away
by the masters,' and approved of such destruction. And the seizure of
power by the proletariat would be used for seizing the property of the
educated society, of the "learned world."

"Syndicalist tendencies were very much in evidence during the 1905
revolution, and syndicalist-minded people were prominent in forming trade
unions and Soviets of Workers' Deputies and in organizing the general
strike in October that forced Emperor Nicholas II to grant a constitution.
A specifically Machajski-ist organization was the Union of Unemployed in
St. Petersburg. The flooding in 1917 and after of the ranks of the
Bolshevik Party with large numbers of unskilled workers, soldiers,
agricultural laborers, and urban declasses greatly strengthened Machajski-
ism. Its ideas exercised influence on the thinking and behavior of a large
section of the Bolshevik Party after 1917, though it is not easy to
disentangle the purely Machajski-ist tendencies from the anarchist.
Machajski-ism was at the root of all the "intellectual-baiting"
tendencies. Moreover, it greatly influenced early Bolshevik legislation
and party policy, whatever the explanations given at the time for various
measures may have been. The first law on inheritance abolished inheritance
altogether and merely provided (as a temporary measure until the full
development of social-security schemes) for a limited use of an estate for
the maintenance of the unemployed relatives of the deceased. The attempts
to introduce a maximum salary for party members not exceeding the earnings
of a skilled worker were also, at least partly, due to the influence of
Machajski-ism, as was the policy of the resettlement of workers into the
houses and flats of the bourgeoisie and intellectuals, and vice versa. The
Machajski-ist cultural vandalism and nihilism were also characteristic of
the outlook of many party members.

"The Machajski-ist trend was fashionable in the party, despite halfhearted
reproofs from the party authorities, until 1936, when Stalin declared that
the intellectual-baiting by the Machajski-ists must no longer be applied
to the new Soviet intelligentsia."

https://archive.org/stream/russianpolitical00utec#page/160/mode/2up/

***

BTW, there is as far as I know only one full-length biography of Machajski
in English: Marshall S. Shatz, Jan Waclaw Machajski: A Radical Critic of
the Russian Intelligentsia and Socialism (Pittsburgh: University of
Pittsburgh Press 1989) available online at
https://libcom.org/history/jan-waclaw-machajski-radical-critic-russian-intelligensia-socialism-marshall-s-shatz
Shatz has to deal with the unpleasant fact that Machajski at times came
close to being an apologist for the Black Hundreds:

"The unemployed were not the only dry social tinder Machajski saw waiting
to be ignited. He devoted some attention to the "dark" elements of the
Russian towns, those subterranean strata of the urban population whom a
Marxist might have termed the "Lumpenproletariat" and an ordinary citizen
might have regarded simply as hoodlums. For example, he chose to regard
the Black Hundreds, the protofascist street gangs which appeared during
the 1905 revolution, as representatives of the "hungry masses," protesting
against a revolution which promised them meaningless political rights
instead of relief from their economic distress. "Thus a political
revolution inevitably, by its own hand, paved the way for the Black
Hundreds from the starving Russian masses to arise against it. A bourgeois
revolution could give these people nothing; at least in the Black Hundreds
they sometimes had rich aliens' [Jewish? Machajski used the term
*inorodcheskie*] shops at their disposal." For the same reason the "well-
dressed preachers of the socialist ideal" were set upon by "people in
rags," as Machajski chose to characterise the perpetrators of pogroms
against *intelligenty*.

"He drew a curious analogy between the Black Hundreds and the Galician
peasant uprising of 1846. A half century earlier, he wrote, the Polish
nobility of Galicia had demanded political rights from the Austrian
government, and the Austrians in response instigated an uprising of the
Galician peasants against their "freedom-loving masters." That the
Galician peasants were incited by a reactionary government did not change
the fact that "the peasants were fiercely venting their anger on their own
predators." Similarly, the Russian intelligentsia was struggling for
political freedom while the Black Hundreds were set upon it by the tsarist
authorities, but this did not alter the fact that "the Black Hundreds are
killing their masters, who, not satisfied that they live by robbing the
workers, use the struggle of the workers to intensify their parasitism."

"In light of such statements it is hardly surprising that Machajski was
accused of sympathising with the Black Hundreds, but this charge requires
considerable qualification. He probably had few qualms about their
methods, and he could shed no tears at the thought of *intelligenty* and
shopkeepers being victimised. Machajski was a revolutionary, however, and
his aims could have little in common with those of the monarchist Black
Hundreds. Nor is there any evidence in his writings of the anti-Semitism
that inspired the Black Hundreds. Machaiski's wife was a Russian Jew, and
some of his followers were Jewish. Furthermore, recognising that anti-
Jewish pogroms were sometimes instigated by provocateurs, he claimed that
the kind of general strike he advocated was actually the best way to avoid
them, for it united people of all races and nationalities in an act of
working-class solidarity..."
https://books.google.com/books?id=dViVOLRmrPsC&pg=PA95
https://libcom.org/library/chapter-4-socialisation-knowledge

Anyway, even leaving aside this aspect of Machajski's thought, the obvious
problem with a Machajski-ist nation is that it would very likely be
defeated both economically and militarily by a state that recognized that
experts were necessary, and that to get them to work efficiently you had
to pay them more (something Soviet Russia soon realized)...

(Machajski died in Moscow in 1926; no doubt he would have been shot if he
had lived a decade or so longer, thus sharing the fate of so much of the
intelligentsia that he despised but was part of.)
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Pete Barrett
2018-05-17 13:48:43 UTC
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Post by David Tenner
Can anyone see Machajski-ism triumphant it Russia--or for that matter
anywhere else? For what Machajski-ism was, see this explanation from S. V.
***
....
Post by David Tenner
***
....
Anyway, even leaving aside this aspect of Machajski's thought, the
obvious problem with a Machajski-ist nation is that it would very likely
be defeated both economically and militarily by a state that recognized
that experts were necessary, and that to get them to work efficiently
you had to pay them more (something Soviet Russia soon realized)...
(Machajski died in Moscow in 1926; no doubt he would have been shot if
he had lived a decade or so longer, thus sharing the fate of so much of
the intelligentsia that he despised but was part of.)
Have you considered posting to alt.history.future? Some of the anti-
intellectual trends in recent years suggest that might be the place for
it!

(For what it's worth, the closest I can think of is the Cambodian regime
of Pol Pot, or perhaps China during the Cultural Revolution. In both
cases, the anti-intellectual movement was being manipulated by people who
were intellectuals themselves, so might not count. If Pol was serious in
his anti-intellectualism (Mao wasn't), that would make him and the Khmer
Rouge leadership similar to Machajski. Neither experiment lasted long.)
--
Pete BARRETT
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