Jan Waclaw Machajski (1866-1926) is an exceedingly difficult figure to classify, in intellectual as well as political terms. Born a Pole, he repudiated the cause of Polish political independence early in his career in favour of proletarian internationalism. University educated, he made his mark on Russian history as a bitter critic of the intelligentsia and its role in Russian political life. Although he drew upon a number of the revolutionary currents that swirled through the Russian Empire in the early years of the twentieth century, he belonged to none of them and criticised all of them. One of the pillars of his social and political theory was Marxism, but he came to regard the Marxist movement as one of the greatest threats to the future well-being of the working class. The other pillar of his thought was anarchism, particularly its Bakuninist variant - so much so, in fact, that his doctrines have generally been treated as part of the history of anarchism. Yet he never acknowledged any influence of Michael Bakunin and denounced the anarchists just as roundly as he denounced the Marxists. He did not join any party but attempted instead, with little success, to create his own revolutionary movement called the Workers' Conspiracy.
This uncompromising sense of independence helps to account for his obscurity. Although his views on the intelligentsia were widely known, at least in general terms, little in the way of serious discussion of them took place during his lifetime; he had few adherents but many indignant critics. Even the term by which his doctrines were known contributed to the obscurity. Almost universally, they were referred to as makhaevshchina, formed from "Makhaev," a Russian corruption or misunderstanding of his name,coupled with the disparaging ending shchina.It might be translated as 'the notorious doctrines of Makhaev." Throughout this study I have chosen to use the term Makhaevism. It is essentially the name by which contemporaries knew this current of thought, but in a neutral form and without the negative associations of the Russian word; although it retains the corruption of its founder's name, it may prove less taxing for the English reader than the more accurate Machajskiism. In Russian, the disparaging label which its critics pasted on it doubtless helped to discourage serious analysis of just what it signified. It became simply a byword for hostility to the intelligentsia, and Machajski was relegated largely to the footnotes of Russian revolutionary history, usually in highly tendentious terms.
Why, then, should we be mindful of him? What is the justification for a detailed examination of his thought and his political activity? In part, it is the sheer originality of Makhaevism. Machajski adopted and adapted various elements of anarchism, Marxism, and syndicalism, but he put them together in a novel synthesis, with the intelligentsia as its centrepiece. Makhaevism was not simply a variation of some other doctrine but a unique creation. In turn-of-the-century Russia, where political life often seemed little more than a recapitulation of every idea and movement Western Europe had ever devised, this was an impressive intellectual achievement, and, as such, deserving of interest in and of itself.
The richness of this original doctrine in implications and suggestiveness makes it possible to treat it from a variety of perspectives. Paul Avrich, for example, has written on Machajski and his ideas in the context of the Russian anarchist movement .~ While he did not consider himself an anarchist, Machajski did share many salient points with the anarchists; in other respects, he emphasised and developed elements of anarchist belief which were latent in anarchism or remained unexamined by the anarchists themselves. A second, closely related aspect of Makhaevism is its contribution to the anarchist dialogue with Marxism, and it is from this point of view that Anthony D'Agostino has approached the subject. At least since Bakunin, anarchism had engaged in a prolonged critique of Marxian socialism - indeed, to some degree it fashioned its own identity in terms of its divergences from Marxism. Machajski both drew upon that anarchist view of the Marxists and made his own distinctive contribution to it. Yet a third possible approach to Machajski is in terms of the relevance of his ideas to the "sociology of intellectuals," the social, economic, and political role of intellectuals in the world today and their relationship to other classes. This was a concern of the late Alvin Gouldner, for example, who was familiar with Machajski's basic views.It is a subject that includes the concept of the "new class" as applied to the Communist rulers of Eastern Europe, but its broader implications transcend the historical or geographical boundaries of Eastern Europe, and some of its early roots go back to Makhaevism.
Thus Machajski and his doctrines have something of significance to say about anarchism, socialism, the "new class," the role of intellectuals in the modern world. All of these themes will be dealt with to some degree in what follows. What interests me most, however, in the history of Makhaevism, is what primarily interested Machajski: the Russian intelligentsia and its historical role in Russian life. For all the ideological and sociological suggestiveness of Makhaevism, Machajski himself was primarily a revolutionary (or a would-be revolutionary), and the focus of his attention was the intelligentsia's domination (or, again, would-be domination) of the socialist and labour movements in Russia. Therefore, whatever else it may have been, Makhaevism was above all a mordant critique of the Russian intelligentsia. Just as Marxism sought to lay bare the class nature and ideology of the bourgeoisie, Machajski set out to unmask the identity, class character, and ultimate aspirations of the intelligentsia, not only in Russia, but in Russia especially. This is the issue that gives Makhaevism its larger historical significance and elevates it above the status of a minor intellectual current or revolutionary sect; and this, I believe, is what constitutes the principal justification for a book-length study of the subject. That is not to say that Machajski's critique of the intelligentsia was correct - though often penetrating, it was in many respects far off the mark. Machajski is one of those historical figures who are more important for the questions they raise than for the answers they give. Machajski posed the issue of the Russian intelligentsia in bolder and more novel terms than any of his contemporaries. A critical examination and testing of his views against the historical reality of the intelligentsia is the central focus of this study, and it is hoped that the results will tell us as much about the intelligentsia as they do about Makhaevism itself.
The purposes of this book are threefold. The first is to provide a comprehensive biography of Machajski and history of Makhaevism; no full-length study of the subject currently exists in any language. This includes an account of Machajski's life, to the extent that it can be reconstructed from the extremely sketchy and fragmentary historical record; a detailed exposition and critical analysis of the doctrines of Makhaevism; and the history of the various Makhaevist organisations and the role they played in the Russian revolutionary movement. Though but a small part of the political history of the Russian Empire in its last decades and the Soviet Union in its first decades, Makhaevism and its creator made a distinctive contribution to it, and their story deserves, finally, to be told.
The second purpose is to examine the identity and the historical significance of the Russian intelligentsia in the light of Machajski's views. By no means did Machajski invent anti-intelligentsia sentiment; instead, to a large degree he articulated and systematised a variety of critical or hostile currents which preceded or paralleled his own. The Russian intelligentsia was under attack from many quarters throughout its existence, and Makhaevism helps to illuminate the sources of these attacks and the forms they took. It is for this reason that I have carried the story of Makhaevism past Machajski's own death in 1926 and into the 1930s, for Stalin's Great Purge, with the massive toll it took on the old intelligentsia, marks the real terminal point of this theme. To deal with such a vast and amorphous subject as the history of anti-intelligentsia sentiment in Russia - which amounts, one might say, to an anti-history of the intelligentsia -I have had to rely largely on familiar, or at least previously used, sources, as well as the works of other scholars. While little of this information is actually new, it has generally been presented in another context: labour history, Social-Democratic or Communist party history, and so forth. When pieced together to serve as the immediate background of Makhaevism, however, it comes to be seen in a new and revealing perspective.
The third and final purpose is to identify Machajski's contribution to the history of the concept of the "new class." This is the term that began to be applied to the new Soviet ruling elite under Stalin in the 1930s, and in the 1950s was widely popularised in Milovan Djilas's famous book. It has a long ideological and political pedigree. Originating in the anarchist critique of Marxism, it was first articulated by Michael Bakunin. It was Machajski, however, who gave it a systematic formulation, elements of which can be found in subsequent versions of it whose authors were quite unaware of Machajski. Without attempting an exhaustive review of the voluminous literature on this subject, I shall try to excavate the original foundations of the idea of the "new class" and Machajski's contribution to its development. It is a minor but oddly satisfying irony of history that despite the almost total obscurity that ultimately enveloped him, his spirit continues to be invoked, albeit unwittingly, whenever this now commonplace term is uttered.
The analysis of Machajski's views which forms the core of this book originated as a doctoral dissertation at Columbia University under the supervision of Marc Raeff. It is my great pleasure to thank Professor Raeff for his unfailing courtesy, attentiveness, and critical insight, qualities which have made him justly renowned among those privileged to have been his graduate students. Professor Norman Naimark of Boston University kindly read parts of the manuscript and gave me the benefit of his considerable knowledge of Polish affairs. I owe a particularly great debt to Professor Paul Avrich of Queens College of the City University of New York, who has read this work in several different versions and has contributed numerous suggestions for improving it. The support he has given this project over the years has been unstinting, and it is deeply appreciated.
I wish to offer a word of posthumous thanks to Max Nomad, who, already well into his eighties when I was working on my dissertation, generously supplied me with material from his archive as well as pieces of his still sharp mind. While not always agreeing with what I had to say, he gave a young American graduate student an invaluable glimpse into the mentality and temperament of the Eastern European revolutionaries of the early twentieth century, with whom virtually all living links have now been severed.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of the International Institute of Social History (Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis) in Amsterdam for the kind assistance I have been given on my several visits there; and to Gabriel Grasberg and the reference staff of the Healey Library of the University of Massachusetts at Boston for the friendly and efficient service they have provided.
Dates of events within the Russian Empire and Soviet Union have been given according to the calendar in use there at the time: until early 1918 according to the Old Style or Julian calendar, which was twelve days behind the Western calendar in the nineteenth century and thirteen days behind in the twentieth; and thereafter according to the New Style or Gregorian calendar. Russian names and words have been transliterated into English in accordance with the Library of Congress system, slightly simplified. Exceptions have been made for a few figures well known to English readers by a conventional version of their names, such as Leon Trotsky and Maxim Gorky. Russian orthography has been modernised throughout the work. For Polish names, I have endeavoured to retain the Polish spelling for those individuals primarily active in Poland itself, while using a transliterated Russian version for those principally engaged in Russian movements or essentially Russified. In doubtful cases, I have tended to use the Russian form, since this work is focused primarily on Russian history.