What might be termed the posthumous history of Makhaevism unfolded on two distinct though related levels. One was the development of the theory of the "new class," the concept that arose in certain Marxist, or ex-Marxist circles to explain the tumultuous changes occurring within the Soviet Union in the 1930's. Although it had no direct connection with Machajski's doctrines, the "new class" theory as applied to Stalin's Russia in many ways represented an extension of Makhaevism. The other level was the transformation of the Soviet social and political elite that took place from the First Five-year Plan to the Great Purge. While the "new class" theory failed to provide an adequate explanation of this phenomenon, other elements of Makhaevism shed some unexpected light on it - and may even, in fact, have made a modest contribution to its occurrence.
The contention that under Stalin a "new class" had usurped power in the Soviet Union had two basic sources. On the one hand, it expressed the apprehension that the revolutionary overthrow of the existing order, instead of abolishing hierarchical authority for good and all, would create a new ruling elite emanating from the revolutionaries themselves. This apprehension tended to be felt most keenly by ultraradicals, those revolutionary purists who believed that a whole new order of human relations was possible on the very morrow of the revolution. Its first major expression was Michael Bakunin's critique of the Marxists: as an ultra-revolutionary, Bakunin deeply distrusted the Marxist view that a new order of things required a more or less gradual unfolding of an historical process. Through Bakunin, this critique, and the underlying outlook which had generated it, became an integral part of the anarchist tradition. The second source was, of course, Marxism itself. While Bakunin was content to use the term new class in the general sense of a new ruling elite of former revolutionaries, it was Machajski who gave it a more precise Marxist formulation, even while disavowing both anarchism and Marxism. Defining the "new class" as the "intellectual workers," he specified its relationship to the productive process, its ideology, namely, socialism, and its place in the Marxist scheme of history as the would-be successor to the capitalists. In doing so, he stretched Marxist categories to the breaking point, as subsequent applications of the "new class" theory to the Soviet Union were to demonstrate.
After 1917, the developments described above replicated themselves in microcosm within the Soviet Communist party. The ultra-left wing elements of the party, with their abhorrence of hierarchy and privilege, harboured a vision of revolution and its possibilities similar to that of the anarchists; and when that vision clashed with reality, they naturally tended to cast their criticism of those they held to blame in Marxist terms. By the time the "new class" theory came to be applied to Stalin's men, however, it had taken on a life of its own, and its exponents were for the most part unaware of how much it owed to Machajski.
The suppression of opposition groups within the party after the Tenth Congress of 1921 did not put an end to the various warnings that a new ruling elite might be in the making. One of the most notable expressions of such a viewpoint in the twenties emanated not from a dissident but from one of the top leaders of the Communist party, Nikolai Bukharin. Bukharin had at one time been a Left Communist, and even after his embrace of the NEP and the official policies of the party he continued to voice some of the concerns of the party's left wing. On several occasions he warned of the possible "internal degeneration" of the revolution and the rise of a "new class" of exploiters of the workers. The threat stemmed from the low level of the proletariat's cultural development under capitalism. Because of the bourgeoisie's monopoly of education, the working class was unable to develop ideological, administrative, or technical leadership from its own ranks. Therefore, during its struggle against capitalism it had had to rely on members of the bourgeois intelligentsia, and even after becoming the ruling class it must make use, during a transitional period, of bourgeois technical specialists.From the necessity of depending on forces culturally more advanced than itself but socially hostile to it, the proletariat faced the possibility that the technical intelligentsia, the "new bourgeoisie" which had arisen under capitalism, along with a segment of the workers' own party, might turn into "some new class, . . . a new social formation."
The danger, as Bukharin described it, came from two directions. On the one hand, "a new class may arise, standing at the top of the heap, while the working class is transformed into an exploited class; a new bourgeoisie will arise, in part from the NEPmen, to use the Russian expression, and in part from the intelligentsia whom we are utilizing."On the other hand, even individuals of proletarian origin and with calloused hands, when separated from the mass of the workers by their position in organisational and administrative posts, might be assimilated by their more cultured colleagues and become part of "the embryo of a new ruling class."These were essentially the two components of the "new bureaucracy whose formation Machajski had warned of in 1918 and the dissident Bolsheviks had subsequently criticised. To ward off the first danger, Bukharin wrote, the workers must be educated in order to replace the old intelligentsia as quickly as possible. To prevent the second from materialising, this new workers' intelligentsia must be prevented from turning into a closed caste passing on its educational monopoly to its sons and grandsons. As Bukharin defined it, the problem was cultural and educational as much as economic: to preclude the rise of a "new class" it was necessary to erase "the contradiction between those who know and those who do not know "
As Stalin consolidated his power in the late twenties, critics outside the party began to express the growing conviction that the party had failed to resolve the problem Bukharin had identified and that a new class had in fact taken power in the Soviet Union. Gavriil Miasnikov, now in Western European emigration, continued the criticism of the party leadership that he had begun earlier in the twenties. In contrast to his previous attacks on the intelligentsia, he now directed his anger specifically against the party bosses, demanding a multiparty system and freedom of expression and political organisation for workers, peasants, and intelligentsia. In 1931, he published in Paris a booklet in which he contended that the Soviet Union represented a "state capitalist" order. By this, he meant something quite different from a socialist economy with capitalist elements, as Lenin had used the term in 1918. State capitalism signified "the bureaucracy organised into a ruling class, the bureaucracy standing at the head of production and the state." This bureaucracy disposed of all the resources of industry and, like the bourgeoisie before it, exploited the working class, which remained economically and politically enslaved. "The rule of the bourgeoisie has been replaced by the rule of the bureaucracy."
Ironically, the individual most responsible for fostering the idea that the Stalinists represented a new ruling class was Leon Trotsky, who consistently rejected just such a contention. Trotsky, of course, was quite familiar with Machajski's views and had once even argued about them with their author. Throughout the thirties, however, he continued to express disagreement with any new class" theory. In an article written in late 1933, he referred in passing to Machajski, and to Miasnikov as well (who had tried unsuccessfully to get Trotsky to write a preface for his booklet'), in order to dismiss the idea that the Soviet bureaucracy represented a new class of rulers and exploiters of the proletariat, comparable to the bourgeoisie before it. The bureaucracy, Trotsky insisted, lacked an independent position in economic production and distribution, and therefore could not constitute a class. Given the socialised nature of the Soviet economy, the proletariat remained the ruling class, as it had been since 1917, regardless of the political power and economic privileges enjoyed by the bureaucracy-privilege did not signify the existence of a class.
Trotsky elaborated on this position in his book The Revolution Betrayed, which was published in 1936. He rejected the notion that the Soviet economy constituted a form of "state capitalism." Since the means of production remained socialised, and there had been no reversion to private capitalism, the Soviet state remained a workers' state, albeit a "degenerated" one, in which the "dictatorship of the proletariat" prevailed.'Hence, the bureaucracy which had usurped political control from the proletariat, primarily as a consequence of Russia's backwardness, did not constitute a class. It was merely a ruling stratum or caste, of which Stalin was the creature and the tool.
The attempt to represent the Soviet bureaucracy as a class of "state capitalists" will obviously not withstand criticism. The bureaucracy has neither stocks nor bonds. It is recruited, supplemented and renewed in the manner of an administrative hierarchy, independently of any special property relations of its own. The individual bureaucrat cannot transmit to his heirs his rights in the exploitation of the state apparatus. The bureaucracy enjoys its privileges under the form of an abuse of power. . . . Its appropriation of a vast share of the national income has the character of social parasitism.Trotsky was very vague about where this bureaucracy came from, or what its social origins might be, merely hinting at its bourgeois or petty-bourgeois roots.It seemed to consist merely of faceless careerists, and Trotsky could therefore present it as a temporary or transitional phenomenon, a parasitic growth upon the socialist economy which a new proletarian revolution would sweep away.
Trotsky found himself on the horns of a cruel dilemma, both ideological and personal. To have denied that the Soviet Union, even under the aegis of the hated Stalin, remained a "dictatorship of the proletariat" would have called into question the validity of the October Revolution and the construction of the Soviet state, and thereby Trotsky's life work. But in order to uphold, in Marxist terms, the socialist character of the Soviet system under Stalin, Trotsky found himself depicting a ruling class (the proletariat) which did not rule, and a group of rulers (the "bureaucracy") who did not seem to belong to a class. It is difficult to refrain from accepting Robert McNeal's conclusion that "in a sense Trotsky struggled to avoid making a Marxist analysis of Stalinism."'
It was not Trotsky but some of his former adherents who cut this Gordian knot. Lacking the kind of commitment to the Soviet system that inhibited Trotsky, they began to argue that its rulers had in fact become a "new class" standing in the same exploitative relationship to the workers as the capitalist class it had replaced. The first was Bruno Rizzi, an Italian ex-Trotskyist whose book La Bureaucratisation du monde was published in 1939. Rizzi asserted flatly that the October Revolution had produced not the "dictatorship of the proletariat" but a new ruling class, the bureaucracy, a combination of state and party functionaries, technical experts, and intellectuals. According to Rizzi, the bureaucracy consisted of "officials, technicians, policemen, officers, journalists, writers, trade-union big-wigs, and the whole of the Communist party."The Soviet Union was neither a capitalist nor a socialist, neither a bourgeois nor a proletarian state: it was a local manifestation of a new and unanticipated phase of world-historical development, what Rizzi called "bureaucratic collectivism. Private ownership of the means of production was being eliminated, but only to be replaced by state control. Hence the capitalists were being ejected but were giving way to a new ruling class, the bureaucrats who administered the state. The "new class" differed from the capitalist class only in that it owned the means of production collectively rather than individually. Through its monopoly of political power, the bureaucracy as a class was able to exploit the proletariat, appropriate surplus value, and enjoy a privileged standard of living. Not socialism but bureaucratic collectivism was the historical successor to capitalism, and while it was most fully developed in the Soviet Union its growth was discernible in the fascist and even the democratic states of the West.
Max Shachtman and James Buruham, also ex-Trotskyists, were soon echoing Rizzi in the United States. Shachtman, like Rizzi, came to see the new Soviet social order as an example of bureaucratic collectivism." The Stalinist bureaucracy was a new ruling class, inimical both to capitalism and to socialism. Its appeal, Shachtman felt, was to those elements of the old middle classes who had felt threatened under capitalism and were thus attracted to anticapitalist movements: intellectuals, professionals, government employees, labour bureaucrats. They had little to lose from the abolition of capitalism and much to gain from a system that would overturn capitalism without imposing the egalitarian principles of proletarian socialism.
Burnham's The Managerial Revolution was probably the best-known formulation of the "new class" theory before the appearance of Milovan Djilas's The New Class. Burnham's book, written in 1941, differed somewhat from previous discussions of the "bureaucracy in stressing technical and organisational control as the source of political power, rather than vice versa. To Burn-ham it was the managers of modern industry who were supplanting the capitalists as the new ruling class. The crucial position of the managers stemmed from their monopoly of technical expertise, which was replacing private ownership as the source of economic power, and the intensifying trend toward state take-over of the means of production would ultimately bring them to political power. Burnham's theory was similar to Rizzi's in viewing the rise of "managerial society" as a worldwide phenomenon, an historical stage of post-capitalist development that Marx had not foreseen. Burnham's "managerial class," however, bore a considerable similarity to Machajski's "intellectual Interestingly, in the figure of Burnham another strand of the long intellectual history of the "new class" theory joined the element derived from Trotsky. Just two years after the appearance of The Managerial Revolution, Burnham published a bdok called The Machiavellians, a summary of the ideas of Michels, Sorel, Mosca, and Pareto (theorists with whom the Italian Rizzi may also have been familiar). Thus the sociological analysis of elite formation which these figures had pioneered at the turn of the century to some degree began to converge with the more strictly political perceptions of anarchists and Marxists.
It was Milovan Djilas, a former leader of the Yugoslav Communist party, who did most to popularise the concept of the "new class" with his book by that name, published in English in 1957. Apparently unfamiliar with Machajski's ideas,Djilas, like others before him, took Trotsky's criticism of the Stalinist bureaucracy as his starting point and carried it far beyond the limits Trotsky himself had set for it.Djilas maintained that the party bureaucracy in the Communist-ruled states of Eastern Europe was in fact the core, or base, of a new owning and exploiting class consisting of those who derived economic privileges from their administrative positions. In practice, the ownership privilege of the new class manifests itself as an exclusive right, as a party monopoly, for the political bureaucracy to distribute the national income, to set wages, direct economic development, and dispose of nationalised and other property."The book had a far-reaching impact,and with its publication the term new class became a commonplace description of the Soviet ruling elite.
As such, it has come to be used so broadly as to lose its explanatory value, often serving as little more than a polemical epithet or an ironical term for the privileged stratum of a professedly classless society.To the extent that it continues to be used as a serious analytical concept, it demonstrates how wise Trotsky was in objecting to the application of the term class to the Soviet leadership. A ruling elite whose position is derived from political or administrative power, or even from technical expertise, may exhibit certain analogies to a property-owning class, but it is by no means the same thing. What Trotsky could not, or would not, acknowledge was the possibility that Soviet developments had outstripped the ability of traditional Marxist concepts to contain them. The categories of "property," "class," and "ownership" had melted down in the crucible of the Russian Revolution, and Stalin's Russia represented a new social, economic, and political alloy whose components required new forms of analysis. Attempts to comprehend Soviet political and social stratification in terms of the traditional economic, universalist categories of Marxism have therefore proved abstract and sterile, while efforts by Marxist analysts to move away from those traditional categories have led them into distinctly non-Marxist conceptual realms
This theoretical impasse is hardly surprising, for what was occurring under Stalin's auspices in the 1930S had little to do with class change or class conflict in the Marxist sense. It had a great deal to do, however, with the Russian intelligentsia, a specifically Russian phenomenon which had eluded Marxist attempts to capture it in the past and which the theory of the "new class" failed to deal with adequately now.
The resentments expressed in the criticism of the "bureaucracy" or the "new class" that marked the decade or so after 1917 were directed against two overlapping groups who seemed to be entrenching themselves as a new elite, the "bourgeois specialists" and the new party bosses. They composed what Machajski in 1918 had termed a "new bureaucracy" of intelligenty and semi-intelligenty, the latter consisting of former revolutionaries who had now become state officials. With the consolidation of Stalin's power and the introduction of the First Five-Year Plan came a growing assault on this new elite.
Even under Lenin, it had been made clear that the remnants of the old intelligentsia who worked for the new regime were merely being tolerated, grudgingly and temporarily, until such time as a new intelligentsia, politically more reliable and socially less suspect, could be formed. As a Soviet work puts it, a bit more euphemistically, "the Communist party and the Soviet state, while making use of the old intelligentsia, at the same time had to resolve the task of forming a new, authentically popular intelligentsia from the ranks of the workers and toiling peasants, for whom the construction of socialism was a heartfelt and desired cause." There were two avenues open to the regime in creating "its own" intelligentsia. One was the expansion of educational opportunities for the children of workers and peasants, a process which, however, required at least an entire generation to complete. The other was the adoption of what came to be called vydvizhenchestvo, a crash program of "promoting" adult workers into courses of higher education or directly into responsible positions with on-the-job technical training. The First Five-Year Plan was accompanied by a massive expansion of this promotion policy. Precise figures are impossible to determine, but Western and Soviet estimates seem to agree that a million or so individuals were the beneficiaries of this policy. The leading proponent of the promotion policy was Stalin, who declared in a speech of June 23, 1931, that the Soviet Union had entered a phase of development at which "the working class must create its own productive-technical intelligentsia, capable of standing up for its own interests in production as the interests of the working class." "No ruling class," he added, "has managed without its own intelligentsia."
The beneficiaries of the promotion policy were of a social and cultural background very different from that of the old intelligentsia. (Whether the term intelligentsia should be applied to the former raises once again the historical ambiguities of the word in Russian usage, but clearly it was applied to them.) They were in most cases authentically proletarian but, like much of the Russian working class, often had only recently emerged from the peasantry; they had no educational or cultural ties to the pre-evolutionary past and its liberal values; they felt considerable loyalty to a system that was providing them with new opportunities for upward mobility; and they found Stalin a more congenial personality than most of the other top Bolshevik leaders. A prime example of this group was Nikita Khrushchev. Born in a peasant village, Khrushchev had gone to work as a metal fitter at a coal mine before the revolution. In 1929, at the age of thirty-five, he was sent to the Stalin Industrial Academy in Moscow to study metallurgy. In his background and his career he was typical of the "new men," even though he used the opportunity to move into the party apparatus rather than a managerial or technical post. His celebrated memoirs shed important light on the outlook of these men. On the one hand, they hint at a strong sense of self-identity by the provincial, poorly educated newcomers in opposition to the more sophisticated and solidly entrenched party leaders. In Khrushchev's description of the political line-up at the Industrial Academy in 1929, cultural cleavages seem to overshadow ideological divisions.
There was a group of us at the academy who stood for the General Line [i.e., Stalin] and who opposed the rightists: Rykov, Bukharin, and Uglanov, the Zinovievites, the Trotskyites, and the right-left bloc of Syrtsov and Lominadze. I don't even remember exactly what the differences were between Bukharin and Rykov on the one hand and Syrtsov and Lominadze on the other. Rightists, oppositionists, right-leftists, deviationists - these people were all moving in basically the same political direction, and our group was against them. We all came from the South - from the Donbass, from Dniepropetrovsk, and from Kharkov. Furthermore, we had all joined the Party after the Revolution. When someone's candidacy to a post in the academy organisation was proposed at a meeting, he had to go to the podium and say where he was from and when he had joined the Party. This made it easy for the Old Guard in the Party cell to recognise and vote down anyone who was likely to oppose them.On the other hand, when he heard Stalin speak, he heard not the crude ideological reductionism's scorned by the more polished party members, but a firm and clear-headed leader, "a man who knows how to direct our minds and our energies toward the priority goals of industrialising our country and assuring the impregnability of our Homeland's borders against the capitalist world."
The campaign to create a new intelligentsia occurred simultaneously with a wave of hostility against the old one. It was touched off by the Shakhty affair in the spring of 1928. In March of that year it was announced that a large group of coal-mining engineers from the town of Shakhty in the Donbass region were to be tried for sabotage in collusion with foreign powers. The case was given maximum publicity in the Soviet media, and it was made clear that the "bourgeois specialists" as a whole were under fire. Fifty Russians and three Germans were subsequently brought to trial in a public proceeding that featured confessions by some of the defendants and foreshadowed the "show trials" of the thirties. At the same time, the Shakhty trial rekindled anti-intelligentsia sentiment from below, and a wave of "specialist-baiting" ensued. According to a Soviet source, worker suspicion of the old specialists mounted, accompanied by denunciations and purges. "There were also individual cases of unfounded accusations of sabotage, with ensuing consequences."
The anti-intelligentsia themes sounded in the Shakhty affair continued to reverberate. The First Five-Year Plan was accompanied by the so-called cultural revolution, a radical wave of anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism amid the glorification of "proletarian" values in education, literature, and other areas of Soviet culture.Meanwhile, the pressure on the technical intelligentsia specifically continued with the trial of the so-called Industrial party in late 1930. This trial involved eight prominent technologists who were charged with plotting the overthrow of the Soviet government in collaboration with foreign agents.The campaign against the old technical intelligentsia is generally considered to have come to an end with Stalin's speech of June 23, 1931, which announced a new policy of reconciliation with the "bourgeois specialists" and condemned "specialist-baiting" (spetseedstvo).This was the same speech in which he reiterated the necessity for the working class to create its own technical intelligentsia. Thanks to the promotion policy, the formation of a "red" intelligentsia was well under way, and the regime, no longer entirely dependent on the "bourgeois" intelligentsia, could afford a more benign policy toward it.
The fateful intersection of the dual processes we have been tracing, the rapid promotion of a new, Soviet-trained intelligentsia and recurrent outbursts of hostility toward the old intelligentsia, occurred in the Great Purge of 1936-1938. The Great Purge decimated the old Russian intelligentsia, while at the same time consolidating the dominant position of the new Stalin elite. Many aspects of that bleak period remain shrouded in uncertainty, and at its height the Great Purger or, as it was called after the secret police chief then in power, the Ezhovshchina, swept away individuals from top to bottom of the Soviet social structure. There is little doubt, however, that aside from the army, which underwent its own separate purge in 1937, the two groups upon which the Ezhovshchina fell most heavily were the educated elite, on the one hand, and party officials on the other.A typical example of the stratum of Soviet society that was the main target of the purge is Eugenia Ginzburg. A journalist and teacher, with vast amounts of Russian poetry tucked away in her memory, she was a party member as well as the wife of an important provincial party official. She was both an intelligent in the traditional sense of the term and part of the entrenched post-revolutionary party elite, and her self-identification with these groups comes through as clearly in her memoirs as Khrushchev's sense of solidarity with the newcomers:
I had seen no men of this sort, our sort - the intellectuals, the country's former establishment-since transit camp. . . . The men here [in a Siberian prison-camp hospital were like us. Here was Nathan Stein-berger, a German Communist from Berlin. Next to him was Trushnov, a professor of language and literature from somewhere along the Volga, and over there by the window lay Arutyunyan, a former civil engineer from Leningrad. . By some sixth sense they immediately divined that I was one of them and rewarded me with warm, friendly, interested glances. They were just as interesting to me. These were the people I used to know in my former life.The assault on the country's "establishment," as Ginzburg puts it, was obviously the product of political decisions taken from above. The amount of support it received from below, and the degree to which that support was spontaneous rather than contrived, are impossible to measure, but it appears that such support was not lacking. Just as the Shakhty affair and the "cultural revolution" stirred up anti-intelligentsia sentiment from below, the Great Purge bore a certain "populist" flavour, drawing on long-standing grassroots grievances not only against the privileged specialists but against the entrenched party bosses, that "bureaucracy" which had for so long been an object of criticism. In J. Arch Getty's formulation, "Spetseedstvo, anti-bureaucratism, and class hatred re-emerged in strength against the backdrop of a full-blown spy scare."From the "cultural revolution" to the Ezhovshchina, the central authorities were able to draw on a reservoir of popular resentment against what was perceived to be a new privileged elite At the very least, the apparent willingness of the Soviet public to accept the most vicious and outlandish charges of "wreck-mg," treason, and service to foreign powers that were levelled against the purge victims suggests a considerable social and cultural distance between that elite and much of the rest of society.
If the Eugenia Ginzburgs were the chief victims of the Great Purge, the Nikita Khrushchevs were its chief beneficiaries. The Great Purge provided the opportunity for the new political and technical elite to move into positions of authority vacated by the purge victims. Although some members of this new elite themselves fell victim to the Ezhovshchina, on the whole it survived not only the Great Purge but Stalin himself, remaining in power at least through the Brezhnev era.
The precise relationship between this social change and the Great Purge must remain a matter of dispute. The two phenomena coincided, but whether by design or by accident, we cannot know. To regard it all as a deliberate plan on Stalin's part which he successfully carried out from 1928 to 1938 seems implausible; if Stalin had the kind of personal mastery over the country's political and social forces that such a plan required, he achieved it only at the end of this period, not at the beginning. It seems more reasonable to assume that the Great Purge, though it may have had its own political origins, gave Stalin the opportunity to promote more quickly a new intelligentsia which he had consistently fostered; with this new intelligentsia waiting in the wings, he could afford to dispense with the old, and the circumstances of the Great Purge permitted him to do so on a wholesale basis.
Interestingly enough, Makhaevism figured in the demise of the old intelligentsia. The introduction of the First Five-Year Plan, the promotion policy, and the "cultural revolution" coincided with a flurry of interest in Makhaevism. In 1928, the first volume of an anthology of non-Bolshevik political views was published in Moscow which reprinted chapter 5 from part 2 of Machajski's The Intellectual Worker. (It was a fairly innocuous section dealing mainly with the populists and legal Marxists.) In the same year, in Kremenchug, the still extant Evgenii Lozinskii published a little book in which he restated the essential elements of Makhaevism. Cautiously, he related them explicitly only to the Social-Democratic parties of the Second International and evaded the question of whether the Bolshevik regime represented the seizure of power by the intelligentsia.
Also in 1928 and in 1930 the journal Katorga i ssylka (Hard Labor and Exile) published two memoir articles by revolutionaries of plebeian origins who had been attracted to Machajski's ideas, B. A. Breslav and M. Vetoshkin; their comments seemed to suggest that anti-intelligentsia sentiment of the sort Machajski had espoused had something to be said for it.In 1929-1930, a criti-cal but informative history of Makhaevism by L. Syrkin was published in the journal Krasnaia letopis' (Red Annals) and then issued in book form in 1931.Finally, Baturin's 1926 Pravda obituary article on Makhaevism, "Pamiati 'makhaevshchiny'!" was reprinted in a collection of his writings in 1930.
Why was such attention being paid to Makhaevism at this time? In the highly charged political atmosphere of the First Five-Year Plan and the "cultural revolution," it seems unlikely that historical curiosity alone was at work. The contents of these publications, however, offer no clear explanation. Some were critical of Makhaevism, dismissing it, together with anarchism, as a retrograde "petty-bourgeois" ideology, while others found elements to praise in it. Was the resurrection of Makhaevism part of the intelligentsia-baiting of the time? Was it a defence against intelligentsia-baiting, an indirect attempt to condemn such sentiment by equating it with this discredited current of thought? Was it, perhaps, some of each, depending on the particular instance?
Much less ambiguous, and highly publicised, was the final reference to Makhaevism that appeared in this period. On November 15, 1938, as the Great Purge was drawing to a close, Pravda printed a lengthy Central Committee statement contain- mg a passage on the intelligentsia. The statement declared the Soviet intelligentsia that had arisen during the years of Soviet power "an entirely new intelligentsia," unique in the world. "It is yesterday's workers and peasants, and sons of workers and peasants, promoted into commanding positions." Despite the intelligentsia's importance, however, "a disparaging attitude toward our intelligentsia has not yet been overcome. This is a highly pernicious transferral onto our Soviet intelligentsia of those views and attitudes toward the intelligentsia which were widespread in the pre-Revolutionary period, when the intelligentsia served the landowners and capitalists." The Central Committee then condemned such "Makhaevist" attitudes as "savage, hooliganistic, and dangerous for the Soviet state," and declared that they must cease.
To drive the point home, three days later Pravda ran an article entitled "Answers to the Questions of Readers: What Is 'Makhaevism'?" The article took up three columns - an entire half-page of the newspaper. For the benefit of "readers" who had expressed puzzlement at the reference to Makhaevism in the Central Committee declaration, Pravda provided a fairly detailed account of its history and tenets, concluding, however, that Makhaevism's central principle could be reduced to the slogan "down with the intelligentsia." Quoting Stalin's speech of June 23, 1931, on the need for a more positive attitude toward the "bourgeois specialists," the paper declared that the party had always fought against the kind of specialist-baiting that Makhaevism encouraged. Furthermore, the article reiterated that the new Soviet intelligentsia, unlike the pre-Revolutionary intelligentsia, recruited its members chiefly from the workers and peasants. Socialist construction was creating a situation in which "the whole Soviet people will be thoroughly educated [ves' sovetskii narod budet splosh' intelligentnym]." Therefore the appearance of a "Makhaevist-hooligan attitude toward our Soviet intelligentsia" was scandalous and had to be condemned. This intelligentsia was "the salt of the Soviet earth," and those who scorned it could only be "aliens, degenerates, and enemies."The message was clear: whatever justification may have existed for anti-intelligentsia sentiment in the past, it was no longer to be tolerated now that the new Soviet intelligentsia was firmly in place. With the subject of hostility to the intelligentsia now closed, official interest in Makhaevism came to an end. Subsequent Soviet references to it tended merely to repeat the terms of abuse Pravda had heaped upon it.
It was fitting that Machajski's views were used for the last time in order to signal the definitive displacement of the old Russian intelligentsia by a new Soviet intelligentsia. The change in the country's elite that was being completed as the Great Purge drew to a close was actually more intelligible in Makhaevist than in Marxist terms. As Trotsky had recognised, it could not be explained in traditional Marxist "class" terms, but it was no less real for that. What was occurring was something startlingly akin to Machajski's "second revolution": upward mobility, through education, of men of authentic worker and peasant background.
In the fateful decade from 1928 to 1938, the awkwardness of the Russian intelligentsia's situation came back to haunt it. Despite the political radicalism of so many of its members, the intelligentsia's education had always set it apart as a privileged elite. Even after the revolution, the remnants of the old professional intelligentsia in the form of the "bourgeois specialists," along with the new party bosses - who, though in many cases they were at best semi-intelligenty, as Machajski termed them, did, after all, sit behind a desk - to a considerable degree continued to be seen from below as an extension of the old propertied and ruling classes. The elite which had entrenched itself after 1917 was largely of middle-class origin, tied to the old regime and to the West by virtue of its pre-Revolutionary education and culture, "bourgeois" in respect to its style of life. The attack on this establishment which began in 1928 may have been initiated by Stalin for his own purposes, but he was able to exploit popular sentiments that had their origin long before 1917. Worker-peasant Russia, having rid itself of the old rulers and property owners, now turned upon the equally alien and also privileged intelligentsia, passively accepting, if not actively participating in, its decimation, while supplying a new intelligentsia of plebeian origin to replace it.
This is not to suggest that the Makhaevist utopia had been achieved. The new men who came to power under Stalin used their position not to abolish privilege and establish equality for all, but to create new privileges for themselves. These former workers and peasants, unlike their champions in the old intelligentsia who were wont to project their own humanistic principles onto them, viewed the promises of the Russian Revolution in specific, down-to-earth terms. Their ambition was not to create a new world of abstract perfection but to better their own standing in the world as it existed. For all its failings and limitations, however, this new elite was more "democratic" in its origins and more accessible from below than the old. As such, and to the bewilderment of so many of the old intelligenty, it doubtless appeared to the labouring classes as a legitimate fulfilment of at least some of the promises the revolution had made.
It goes without saying that Stalin did not need Machajski to provide him with inspiration for any of his ideas or policies. If we take Makhaevism solely in its negative aspect, however, as an attack on the intelligentsia as a privileged and "exploiting" class, it is not entirely fanciful to accord Stalin one additional title among the many that were bestowed upon him: recognition as the greatest Makhaevist of them all, albeit an unwitting one. But if we take seriously the more visionary aspect of Makhaevism, that is, Makhaevism as one version of the intelligentsia's dream of universal freedom and equality to be achieved through the flames of popular revolution, then Machajski would scarcely have regarded Stalinism as the fulfilment of his hopes. He would have shared that disappointment with much of the rest of the old intelligentsia. For all his criticism of the intelligentsia, Machajski remained a member of it from beginning to end, sharing not only its aspirations and illusions but its deep ambivalence about itself and its rightful place in Russian life. Had he lived long enough, he would undoubtedly have shared also the fate that intelligentsia suffered at Stalin's hands.Previous Chapter Appendix
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