Having turned his attention to the intellectual workers, Machajski became convinced that Social Democracy's shift from revolutionism to evolutionism reflected not the changing circumstances of the proletariat under capitalism, as the Marxists claimed, but the changing position of the educated classes. Therefore, the critique of socialism embodied in his second essay ("Scientific Socialism," which became part 2 of The Intellectual Worker) and all of his subsequent writings differed radically from the approach he had taken in his first essay. He noted in his preface to part 2 that in the previous year (1899) a French Social Democrat, Alexandre Millerand, had accepted a ministerial post in the French government. Here was good evidence that a movement which not long ago had promised to abolish the class system was beginning to help run it.He now proceeded to rewrite the history of socialism, in Western Europe and in Russia, with the purpose of revealing how socialism served the intelligentsia as an instrument for enhancing its own position in the bourgeois economic and political system. In Lozinskii's more colourful language, there existed "a conspiracy of the contemporary socialist intelligentsia throughout the world," and the purpose of Makhaevism was to unmask the intelligentsia, "to lay bare to everyone its diabolically clever tricks, to reveal its exploitative class interest in the contemporary socialist movement."
Socialism as Machajski perceived it was in essence the product of a family quarrel between the "educated bourgeoisie" and the "bourgeois aristocracy," the latter being the big capitalists under the protection of the absolutist state.
Socialism of the past century was created by those middle strata of capitalist society who can hope for their own emancipation even without the destruction of the worker bondage, who can hope to attain a master's position for themselves in the bourgeois order. They are primarily the educated part of the bourgeoisie, and chiefly the professional intelligentsia. They are that part of privileged, ruling society which hopes to achieve its full sway if only absolutism be destroyed, i.e., the old, strong, centralised regime which usurps the growing national wealth; if only a sufficient degree of representative government be developed, with the help of which these future masters hope to restrain and limit the magnates to their own advantage.
As long as the educated bourgeoisie saw the possibility of achieving political reforms through its own efforts, its objectives remained democratic rather than socialist. It promised only "liberty, equality, and fraternity" after the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a democratic republic. Only when the old regime refused to give way sufficiently, and, at the same time, the manual workers had grown into a significant social force, did the intelligentsia become anticapitalist and turn to socialism. It now sought to draw the workers into its struggle by promising them the expropriation of the rich and the reorganisation of the economy once full democratic freedom was achieved.
As evidence that nineteenth-century socialism was basically a demand for political power by the educated bourgeoisie, Machajski cited the American case. In the United States, socialism had not developed because it had been unnecessary to combat absolutism.
in America, socialism did not manifest itself during the [nineteenth] century because absolutism had never existed there. The bourgeoisie, consisting of immigrants from the Old World, from the very start built its own state on a foundation of political liberty. But in each of the European countries where centralised state power had formed and concentrated over the centuries, there was a point at which it became obligatory for bourgeois educated society to declare itself socialist. This occurred when it became necessary to draw the working masses into the struggle with the absolute monarchical regime or with the remnants of the old sway of the nobility. In England, he believed, this point had been reached with the Chartist movement.To a greater degree than in England, however, the intelligentsia of France and Germany began to profess socialism. In Germany particularly, "the intelligentsia declared itself the implacable enemy of the capitalists and their economy."Moving further east, Machajski saw the political activity of the Polish nobility of Galicia before 1848 as an attempt to restore its undivided possession of the riches of Poland by upholding democracy and even socialism against the rule of the Austrian emperor. "Thus, by means of socialism, by means of socialist promises of full property equality among men, educated bourgeois society in all these Western European countries inveigled the working class into a struggle with the old regime, which offended these liberal gentlemen.
But their promises to the workers evaporated as soon as the absolutist state and capitalism began to open their doors to the intelligentsia. Once it was admitted to the spoils of capitalism, the intelligentsia shed its revolutionism and became a staunch supporter of the existing order.
As absolutism was destroyed or limited, and along with it the sway of the crudest and most ignorant magnates, the learned people of Western Europe increasingly secured and multiplied the fat incomes of masters, both in state service and in the whole capitalist economy. From the socialist enemy of the capitalists the intelligentsia turned into their best friend, a learned counsellor, the director of all bourgeois life. This unchanging history of the intelligentsia has been repeated in all the Western European countries in turn: a rosy socialist youth and then, once it has received a sufficient salary for a parasitic existence, a full and equal bourgeois life.
Machajski regarded 1848 as the turning point in this process, and specifically the June Days of Paris. He returned to this episode again and again in his writings, for he considered it the great watershed in the relations between the intelligentsia and the workers, and in the development of socialism. The suppression of the workers by the forces of the newly proclaimed republic proved conclusively that the class struggle within capitalist society was deeper than the antagonism between capitalists and workers which the Communist Manifesto had depicted.
The aim of the "educated French bourgeoisie," whom Machajski identified as the instigators of the February Revolution, had been to wrest power and the wealth of France from Louis Philippe, "the king of the plutocrats." The bourgeoisie won the support of the workers by convincing them that universal suffrage would solve the problems of the proletariat. As in Russia later, the students and intellectuals fraternised with the workers and admitted them to their secret societies, which had as their goal the attainment of a democratic republic. Once the republic had been achieved, the bourgeoisie, to pacify the workers, "as a joke" created the national workshops to provide jobs for the unemployed. But then the chamber of deputies, elected by universal suffrage, assembled in Paris and voted to close the national workshops. The suppression of the workers' insurrection that followed the closing of the workshops showed once and for all the hollowness of the principles of political democracy. The June Days demonstrated that "democracy, the democratic republic, is just a reinforced prison for the workers, and the struggle for universal freedom is a bourgeois deception."
Machajski laid the blame for the June Days squarely on the intelligentsia, and particularly the socialists. The workers "were demanding only a very simple thing - security henceforth from hunger, from unemployment."But the socialists were no more prepared than the republicans to support this demand, for their plans called for the fulfilment of such goals only in the distant future, on the first day of the socialist order. The steadfast insistence of the workers on an immediate guarantee against starvation terrified not only the government and the liberal parties, but even the hitherto revolutionary circles of the socialists. As a result, the workers found arrayed against them not just the National Guard but "all of their allies of yesterday - the students, the intelligentsia, the parties and organisations in which the workers had so recently participated."Woe to June!' cried the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia, the students, as well as Cavaignac."
The June Days completely transformed the attitude of the intelligentsia toward the workers and ushered in a new phase of the history of socialism. Before 1848 the socialist intelligentsia of France, Germany, and Austria, in its struggle against the "feudals and plutocrats," had promised the workers an immediate end to capitalist tyranny. But the threat of an independent uprising of the workers, with its immediate, concrete economic demands, now came to haunt the consciousness of all revolutionary intellectuals.
The delicate task of utilising the workers' movement to elevate the intelligentsia to a more advantageous position within the bourgeois order, while at the same time restraining the workers' demand for the total destruction of that order, now devolved on Marxism.
Marxism became the predominant brand of socialism after 1848, Machajski explained, because it was best suited to defend the interests of the intelligentsia under the conditions of the later nineteenth century. Unlike those who renounced their socialist dreams, satisfied with the democratisation introduced in 1848, the Marxists demanded more and more concessions for the intelligentsia from the existing order. But two things had happened in 1848. First, the workers had indicated that they were not interested in the construction of a "new society" - the matter that was of central concern to the intelligentsia, which would rule it. Instead, the workers had shown their "unpreparedness" for socialism by demanding concrete and immediate improvement of their position. From that time on the socialists realised that they had to abandon their call for the immediate revolutionary transformation of society and concentrate on the long-term education of the workers to support the socialists' demands.
Secondly, the triumphant bourgeoisie after 1848 began to display a more generous attitude toward the intelligentsia. It realised that the reason for the latter's revolt was the concentration in a few hands of the wealth of the whole bourgeoisie, and that the intelligentsia's appetite for communism could be satisfied by admitting the intelligentsia into the ruling circles. Taking the "learned world" into its midst, the bourgeoisie made the further development of capitalism highly attractive, a prospect which rendered meaningless the old revolutionary plans of the socialists. Why destroy the capitalist order now? the socialists reasoned. Instead of eliminating the old middle classes, capitalism had created a huge new middle class in the form of the intelligentsia and had given it a privileged position. Not the overthrow of capitalism but its further development now became the task of the socialists.
The doctrines of Marxism proved flexible enough to take these circumstances into account. For Marxism taught that capitalism did not just rob the workers but performed a great historical mission as well: it inevitably prepared the way for socialism. Original "revolutionary" Marxism was able to transform itself without difficulty into the more modem "evolutionary" Marxism by stressing the positive side of capitalism, capitalism as a necessary stage in the development of socialism. Now it became the first duty of the socialist - and of the workers he schooled - to wait patiently for the fruit of socialism to ripen, for any attempt to pluck it too soon might damage it. With the benefits of capitalism now accruing steadily to the intellectual workers, who were growing richer and more numerous, capitalism itself was increasingly fulfilling the original "communist" aspirations of the intelligentsia. Socialism, Machajski charged, had become a screen behind which "the class of intelligentsia and its defenders, the socialists" promoted the further development of capitalism.
In this fashion Machajski "unmasked" socialism as a campaign to emancipate not the proletariat but the intelligentsia. Socialism was the protest movement of the "army of privileged 'employees' of capital and the capitalist state, who find themselves in antagonism with the latter over the sale of their knowledge and therefore appear, at certain moments of their struggle, as part of the anticapitalist proletarian army, as a socialist detachment."Political democratisation was the means by which the intelligentsia made its peace with capitalism. As soon as it had achieved that goal it abandoned the economic protest of the workers, for the exploitation of the manual workers was as vital to the "owners of culture and civilisation" as it was to the owners of the land and factories. Western European Social Democracy was the ideological vehicle of the intelligentsia's accommodation to the existing order. "Science receives an honoured place and an appropriate salary, and the bourgeoisie rules the minds of the proletarians with the aid of science. This result is expressed in the determined aspiration of Social Democracy in the nineties to become 'the one party of order!""' Hence the evolution of Social Democracy to its present emphasis on legal tactics and the acquisition of political power reflected not the changing nature of capitalism or the improved position of the workers within it, but the evolving class interests of socialism's creator, the intelligentsia.
When he turned his attention to Russia, Machajski found the pattern of development he had discerned in Western European socialism recapitulated precisely in the history of the Russian socialist movement. In Russia, also, socialism had been generated by the friction between the intellectual workers, on the one hand, and the capitalist magnates and the absolutist state on the other. The conflict came to a head in the early 18705. In this era of nascent Russian capitalism, "educated society," swollen by increasing numbers of intellectual workers and disappointed by the failure of the reforms accompanying the emancipation of the serfs to democratise the political order, turned to the idea of using socialist revolution as an instrument against the big industrialists.
Russian educated society in the sixties dreamed of emancipating itself from the Asiatic regime in the same way that this was being done in the advanced countries of Western Europe: by means of a simple democratisation of the state in defence of the "rights of man," leaving the "social question" completely untouched. But in this period the antagonism between educated society and its plenipotentiaries, the capitalists, had already reached a high degree of intensity in the civilised world. Within a few years after the abolition of serfdom, this antagonism, this "capitalist contradiction," made itself felt in Russia, too. With the aid and protection of a strong government, the phase of "primitive accumulation" occurred here more rapidly than anywhere else, and innumerable kulaks arose. At the same time, the progress of capitalism was accompanied by the rise of numerous cadres of intelligentsia, of intellectual workers. Progressive society could not be content with the Asiatic regime and the sway of the kulak: too plain were the viands it was offered, and the kulak only inflicted insults on the intelligent. In the seventies, the progressive Russian intelligentsia in large numbers began to adopt Western European socialism.
In Machajski's view of Russian history, populism corresponded to the pre-1848 phase of Western socialism, the effort to achieve an immediate socialist transformation of the existing order. Western European socialism provided the Russian intelligentsia with a revolutionary device that might enable it to draw the people into its own struggle. "Western European socialism, which had reduced the proletariat's task from seizing the property of the possessing classes to transforming the mode of production, inspired the Russian socialists with the thought that all the West's misfortunes stemmed from the fact that people there laboured separately and not in associations."It became a cardinal tenet of populism that backward Russia had the opportunity to proceed immediately to the construction of an agrarian form of socialism based on the peasant commune, without having to endure the horrors that industrialisation was inflicting on the West. Therefore the populists argued that capitalism should not be allowed to develop in Russia, and later they maintained that because of the structure of the Russian economy it could not develop. As Machajski noted, Alexander Herzen had been deeply affected by the June Days of Paris, which he witnessed, and had determined that Russia must avoid the rise of a proletariat. But Machajski interpreted the populists' program of agrarian socialism as a desire to avoid not the spectacle of proletarian suffering, as the populists themselves claimed, but the spectre of proletarian revolution, the only kind of revolution that threatened to expropriate the entire bourgeoisie, including the intelligentsia. A non proletarian socialist revolution in the name of the peasant commune would permit the intelligentsia safely to mobilise a mass force for its own purposes.
The failure of the "going to the people" movement in the 18708 represented the negative response of the masses to the intelligentsia's plans, a Russian analogue of the June Days. When it became clear that the peasants were not attracted to the vision of a socialist transformation, the populists realised that they would have to be indoctrinated over a long period of time. At this point, however, the Russian socialist movement entered a new, Marxist phase. The Russian intelligentsia reached the same conclusion that Machajski had imputed to its Western counterpart: the fruits of Russian capitalism proved so tasty that the intelligentsia outgrew the fancies of its youth. Abandoning its plans for the immediate introduction of socialism, the intelligentsia realised, with the assistance of Marxism, that its real task was a political, or bourgeois revolution, and the further development of capitalism in Russia.The Russian Social-Democratic movement, which arose in the 1880s and 1890s, undertook precisely this task.
While the populists tried to hold back the proletarian movement by claiming the impossibility of capitalist development in Russia, the Marxists did the same on the pretext of Russian capitalism's underdevelopment. The Russian Social Democrats contended that because Russian capitalism was backward, further economic and political progress was necessary before socialism could be achieved. Marxism brought up to date and "Europeanised" the populists' attempt to ward off the occurrence of a proletarian revolution. Therefore it became the new ideology of the social force which had earlier clothed itself in populism: the intellectual workers, whose aim was to distribute the profits of capitalism more equitably among the various strata of bourgeois society.
The Russian Social Democrats realised that the proletariat offered the intelligentsia a more effective instrument for freeing itself from the tsarist yoke than did the peasantry. They believed that if they helped the workers wring some concessions from their employers, the workers in gratitude would help their educated mentors attain a constitution. The Russian Social Democrats hoped to profit from the successful experience of their counterparts in the West, where "all sorts of liberal parties of offended gentlemen in precisely this way have been rising to power on the backs of the workers for a hundred years."
Two developments persuaded the Russian intelligentsia that the Marxists' calculations were well founded: the evolution of European Social Democracy, with its insistence that an armed uprising of the proletariat was unthinkable and that Social Democracy must be the one party of order," and the growing success of the Russian Social Democrats in convincing the workers to turn against the autocracy and demand political reforms. In the 18908, therefore, Marxism grew steadily within the Russian intelligentsia, for it now felt the proletariat could be counted on to accomplish the bourgeois revolution - which was to be "the direct result of half a century of the socialist movement!"Thus the intelligentsia's long search for a revolutionary force that would enable it to "tear the incalculable and incalculably growing wealth of the huge empire out of the hands of a few tsarist generals, bureaucrats, dignitaries, and kulaks, and use it to nurture educated society as freely as in the West" seemed to have been crowned with success.
Although the Marxists were Machajski's principal object of criticism, he attacked all other schools of socialism in much the same terms. Like the Marxists, he regarded the landowning peasantry as part of the bourgeoisie, and he interpreted the peasant-oriented programs of the Socialist-Revolutionary party and the anarchist followers of Peter Kropotkin as evidence that these groups wished merely to ensure the continued existence of the bourgeois order. They maintained that if the Russian peasants were supported in their desire to take over the nobility's land, their communal traditions would lay the foundations for a socialist order. Machajski had no faith at all in those traditions. The peasants' ambition to acquire property bound them firmly to the existing order instead of turning them into its enemies. The very possession of land, which was a form of property, led to exploitation, whether the land be held by an individual peasant, an entire household, or a commune. The end result of any program of peasant socialism would be the creation of a strong rural bourgeoisie, while the plight of the landless rural proletariat would remain unchanged.
Machajski shared with the anarchists their repudiation of politics, but he felt that they had wilfully abandoned their own principles. He dismissed the French anarchosyndicalist movement as little more than a variety of legal trade-unionism.He found a similar tendency toward reformist accommodation with the existing order in the ideas of Kropotkin, who had expressed a positive attitude to political freedom as a means of educating the masses and encouraging co-operative principles.The anarchist movement was betraying its revolutionism and becoming merely another reformist current. "There is not a single anarchist theoretician who would firmly take the position that the emancipation of the working class is conceivable only as a violent act of revolt, the preparation of which requires a conspiracy hidden from the eyes of the law throughout the civilised world." There were some anarchist groups and individuals, he conceded, who, "when sudden major outbursts of the worker masses do occur, try to broaden them as much as possible and in this way achieve a workers' revolution," but they were only isolated instances.
In the end, Machajski found in the anarchists' hostility to the state merely an indication that they too, like the Social Democrats, represented a new ruling class seeking its own emancipation from the old regime. "The anarchists," he wrote, "declare war only on the oppression from the state which privileged society itself undergoes, which the Greek slaveowners suffered from the Macedonian emperors, the Roman patricians from their own emperors, the bourgeoisie and nobility of the Middle Ages from the absolute monarchs who began to infringe on their 'golden freedom."'They were little more than extreme liberals, their real goal being a check on the powers of the bureaucratic state over them. "The limitation of the old bureaucracy is a necessary task for all liberals, for all new masters, and every bourgeois revolution has its 'anti-state' slogans."
The socialist parties of the non-Russian peoples of the empire fared no better at Machajski's hands. Adjusting the criticism of these parties that he had begun in his first essay, he no longer charged them merely with pursuing a misguided policy, the attainment of political freedom within national boundaries. The Polish Socialist party, with its goal of national independence for Poland, was really seeking the political emancipation of the Polish educated classes. Meanwhile, the Bund, the Jewish Social-Democratic party, was "drawing the Jewish workers into the struggle for the masters' rights of the Jewish intelligentsia." The educated strata of the minority nationalities had their individual quarrels with the tsar, but they all agreed that they would receive their own right to rule when the Russian intelligentsia had succeeded in curbing the tsarist government.
It was in these terms that Machajski analysed the 1905 revolution, which illustrated the difficulty of exploiting the workers' movement without permitting it to get out of hand. The intelligentsia needed the workers to exert pressure on the tsarist regime for political liberties, but at the same time it had to restrain the workers' own economic demands, the full satisfaction of which would undermine the privileges of the intelligentsia itself. The inability of the socialists to carry out this delicate managerial task, Machajski believed, accounted for the ultimate failure of this attempt at a "bourgeois revolution.
Writing in 1905, Machajski viewed the developing revolution as the culmination of the long conflict between the intelligentsia and the old regime. The tsar had refused to renovate his obsolete system of government, and instead of allowing "learned people" into the administration he had left everything in the hands of "ignorant generals, gendarmes, and priests." As a result, more and more of the educated bourgeoisie had in recent years gone over to the side of the revolutionaries. Now they hoped that the military defeat in the Far East and a nationwide uprising would force the tsar to stop "insulting" the educated and call on them to help him rule.
Bloody Sunday (January 9, 1905), when the workers of St. Petersburg came to the Winter Palace to petition the tsar, seemed to be evidence that the socialists could mobilise the working class to demand political reform. Bloody Sunday, he wrote, persuaded the educated bourgeoisie that the workers had at last ceased to believe in their old masters and were seeking new ones, new leaders and governors. Now even the most pacific "learned people" favoured an insurrection.
Since the ninth of January the whole educated bourgeoisie has been calling the workers to arms and to a violent revolution against the government. Not just the students of the secondary schools, not just the university students, but the most respectable gentlemen, professors, writers, engineers; not just that part of the bourgeoisie which constitutes the so-called professional intelligentsia, but the enlightened strata of the various small capitalists; not just this petty bourgeoisie but some of the large proprietors, zemstvo gentry, even real counts and princes.
Only the most naive individuals could maintain that all these groups were struggling for the emancipation of the workers. This was indeed a bourgeois revolution, he concluded, a revolution of the "white-hands" who were trying to establish their own rule over the Russian Empire.
At the end of 1907, Machajski took up the question of why the revolution had failed to overthrow the monarchy. In essence, he held that the promise which the intelligentsia saw in Bloody Sunday had not been fulfilled; in the end, the socialists had proved unable to muster the popular forces necessary for a successful political revolution. In part, it was because the working class as a whole had remained indifferent to the revolution's political objectives. The workers had not been tempted by the prospect of political freedom, "which promised them the free chatter of the intelligenty instead of bread."Only a revolution which promised them the satisfaction of their economic demands could have aroused their enthusiasm.
That, however, was precisely what the socialists wished to avoid, for they feared a workers' uprising for economic goals even more than a continuation of absolutism. In the midst of the revolution the intelligentsia had been seized with terror at the thought that its own position might be jeopardised by the complete destruction of the old order within which it had developed. There was no guarantee that the rebellious workers, having overthrown the autocracy, would then leave the "white-hands" in peace. Therefore in large part the revolution had failed because the autocracy found support not only in the classes closely tied to the old regime but in the educated bourgeoisie. Unpleasant as it might be to the "freedom-lovers," it turned out that the intelligentsia itself needed the autocracy.The Russian socialists had demonstrated that they were much too faithful and avaricious guardians of the existing order to want to submit it to a fundamental risk. Only a general economic strike that would have mobilised the workers in town and countryside alike, "the hungry millions of Russia," could have accomplished the complete overthrow of the old regime.The socialists themselves had helped to avert such a development, however, for any real threat to the stability of the bourgeois order threatened the economic interests of the class they represented.
The crucial step that Machajski took in the formation of Makhaevism was to claim that socialism embodied the interests not of the labouring classes whom it claimed to defend, but of the intelligentsia which had created it and propagated it. Did his theory have validity, and, if so, in what sense and to what degree? Machajski's analysis was seriously flawed by his search for strict Marxist answers to the questions he raised. Even after he had rejected Marxism as a political movement he continued to view the world through Marxist glasses. He looked only for the ideologically masked interests of economic classes, and this led him to conclude that socialism both in Western Europe and in Russia was merely a campaign by the class of intellectual workers, themselves a product of modern industry, for a larger share in the profits of capitalism through political democratisation. The most serious weakness in his theory was that the flowering of socialism in the nineteenth century did not coincide exactly with the rise of industrial capitalism and hence of the intellectual workers, either geographically or chronologically. Instead, the two phenomena overlapped and intertwined, but remained distinct - most of all, in Russia.
Machajski himself pointed this out in his account of the origins of socialism, though without acknowledging it as a problem that required explanation. First, he conceded the absence of socialism in the United States, a country where capitalism was well developed. Secondly, he discussed the rise of Russian socialism mainly as a phenomenon of the 18708, failing to explain the growing impact of socialism (of which he was well aware) as early as the 18405, on such individuals as Herzen and Bakunin - well before the post emancipation industrial boom began. Capitalism, and with it the intellectual workers, flourished in the United States while socialism did not, and socialism arose in Russia in the absence of either one. Machajski perceived the increasing commitment of the intelligentsia to socialism as one moved from west to east in mid-nineteenth-century Europe. Capitalism, however, did not grow in strength in this direction but, on the contrary, became relatively weaker.
At least one of Makhaevism's critics, Ivanov-Razumnik, perceived that Machajski's presentation of the American case involved a serious contradiction. If socialism was a revolt of the "intellectual workers" against "capitalist robbery," as Machajski claimed, then how could he attribute the absence of socialism in that capitalist land to America's freedom from absolutism?This is in fact the key to Machajski's theory of socialism. In his analysis the primary condition for the appearance of socialism is not really capitalism but absolutism. He cited a number of movements which, to one degree or another, partook of socialist ideas: English Chartism, French and German communism, the activity of the Galician Poles, and Russian populism. He attributed these movements to the more or less educated elements of European society who were dissatisfied with the hardships imposed on them by the regimes under which they lived. By no stretch of the imagination can capitalism be numbered among those hardships in all cases, nor can the supporters of these movements be considered intellectual workers in Machajski's sense of the term. The "hardship" they all endured was political or civil, not economic; it was a lack of political freedom and participation, not an overdose of capitalism.
Nowhere was this more striking than in the Russian intelligentsia's opposition to autocracy. Some of Machajski's own statements suggest that he realised this. He referred, for example, to "the hundred-year search of the liberal intelligentsia" in Russia for an effective weapon against the established order, a search culminating in the socialists' program for a "bourgeois revolution."What the intelligentsia had been seeking for a hundred years, from Radishchev and the Decembrists to the Social Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries was, to use Machajski's words, liberation from the "tsarist generals, bureaucrats, and dignitaries" -in short, from the oppressiveness of autocracy. In this sense Russian socialism was but the latest expression, though a highly radicalised one, of a campaign the Western-educated elite (or at least a segment of it) had been waging since the latter eighteenth century.
The contradictions and inconsistencies in Machajski's theory of socialism arose from his insistence on identifying the intelligentsia with the intellectual workers. In Russia these were two separate groups, and only toward the end of the nineteenth century were they beginning to overlap to any significant degree. An appreciable body of disaffected intellectuals with a growing interest in socialist ideas had emerged in the 1840s, and a revolutionary movement adhering to some of these ideas began to take shape in the 1860s; neither these developments nor the populists of the 18708 and the first Russian Marxists of the 188s, for all their hostility to capitalism, were the products of a capitalist economy. It was only in the 1890$ that a professional and managerial class in sizeable numbers began to appear on the Russian scene -and when it did, its members were not necessarily socialists, much less revolutionaries. Machajski's analysis suffered from his effort to fit the Russian intelligentsia and Russian socialism into the Procrustean bed of economic materialism. At the same time, this effort obscured the real value and originality of his theory: the realisation that the ultimate objectives of revolutionary socialism - the overthrow of autocracy and the socialist transformation of the economic order -precisely because they were objectives devised by the intelligentsia, might in fact diverge from the interests of the workers themselves. The potential divergence was not a narrowly economic one, however, as Machajski unquestioningly assumed. Under the old regime the educated elite, including even its wealthiest members, suffered from a lack of personal autonomy, freedom of expression, influence over the most vital decisions affecting its society. The ideals of socialism, reflecting the consciousness of their intelligentsia creators, who felt these frustrations most keenly, tended to be cast in sweeping terms of human liberation. In the words of Martin Malia, whose excellent biography of Alexander Herzen helps us to clarify Machajski's insight, "socialism, when stripped of all programmatic contingencies, is quintessential democratic protest against an old regime." Socialism represents the most extreme expression of such generalised protest, "of which the proletarian reaction against early industrialism, where it existed, is only a part."Allan Wildman, referring to a later period, also sees Russian socialism as essentially a reflection of the intelligentsia's own sense of alienation.
The primary commitment of the Social Democratic intellectual, like that of his Populist counterpart, had always been to the mystique of revolution itself, to the vision of a faultless society purged of the anomalies of the existing order in which the "intelligentsia" had no place. The workers' movement had always served him as a vehicle through which the world of values he rejected could be overthrown.
The proletariat's grievances against the harsh conditions of early industrial life could serve as one mode of expression of socialist values, but they were only an element of the broader and deeper rejection of the established order that socialism represented. Therefore socialism could appear in Russia long before either industrialisation or the proletariat, among gentry intellectuals like Herzen who bore no resemblance to Machajski's intellectual workers.
Machajski's theory implied, then, that socialism originated as an extreme form of liberalism, appearing with the greatest intensity in those countries where liberalism was an insufficient battering ram against the old regime. And it suggested that the evolution of socialism followed the course of political liberalisation more closely than the course of capitalism (although the two were intricately related). As Machajski observed, to his great displeasure, by the turn of the century the process of moderation was well under way in the West. With socialists occupying ministerial posts in France and leading a large and respectable parliamentary party in Germany, the Social Democrats were increasingly disinclined to raze to the ground a system which now offered them considerable scope and influence. (What Machajski refused to consider, of course, was that democratisation might be moderating the outlook of the workers as well, by granting them increasingly effective legal methods of improving their position.) The political reforms stemming from the 1905 revolution would help to determine whether Russian socialism was to follow the same path.
But what of the labouring classes, in whose name the socialists spoke? The early industrial workers, and in Russia the peasants as well, had no fewer or less severe complaints against the existing order than the intelligentsia did, and the stated objective of socialism was to satisfy those grievances once and for all. Machajski insisted, however, that the achievement of socialism would satisfy only the complaints of the intelligentsia, not those of the labouring classes. But it was not simply material interests that might diverge in the future (although Bakunin had pointed out that intellectuals were not inherently immune to the temptations of power and privilege). As Malia argues, while socialism embodied a quest for liberation, personal, social, and political, through a total remaking of the existing order, the masses were necessarily more concerned with the struggle for material survival and immediate, concrete improvement in their circumstances. They "want primarily to live, to achieve security, and ultimately to advance in terms of the situation in which they find themselves." Unlike the intelligentsia, "they are most vitally concerned with their own lot rather than with that of all mankind."The intelligentsia sought the creation of a new world in which the alienation it experienced so acutely could be resolved, one in which every individual would have the means and the freedom to develop his consciousness, to lead a fully human existence. The intelligentsia craved the definitive liberation of suffering man; the workers wanted improvements in the conditions of the deprived proletarian. These two sets of aspirations might come together long enough to bring down the old regime. Ultimately, however, the intelligentsia, on the one hand, and the workers and peasants on the other, might prove to have very different, and fundamentally incompatible, images in mind of the new order that was to arise with the overthrow of autocracy and capitalism.
Interestingly enough, the one Russian Social Democrat who was able to break out of the confines of Marxist dogma and realistically evaluate the intelligentsia's role in the history of socialism was Vladimir Ilich Lenin. In doing so, Lenin articulated a theory of socialism that was remarkably similar to Machajski's, though he drew precisely the opposite conclusion from it. In perhaps the most famous passage in all his writings, Lenin in What is to Be Done? (Chto delat'?) asserted that socialism originated not with the workers but with the intelligentsia, and that the workers, on their own, could never rise above a reformist, or "trade-union" level. It is worth quoting these familiar words against the background of Machajski's theory.
We said that there could not be Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers [in the Russian strikes of the nineties]. That consciousness could only be brought to them from outside. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own efforts, is capable of developing only trade-union consciousness, i.e., a realisation of the necessity of joining together in unions, fighting against the employers, striving for passage by the government of necessary labour legislation, etc. The doctrines of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophical, historical, and economic theories that were elaborated by the educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intelligentsia. The founders of contemporary scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, by their social status themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. Similarly, in Russia, the theoretical doctrines of Social Democracy arose entirely independently of the spontaneous growth of the labour movement; they arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of ideas within the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. With these words, Lenin took a subtle but significant step beyond the usual Marxist conception of the intelligentsia's relationship to the working class. It is not simply that the intelligentsia, by virtue of its education, is able to articulate the proletariat's own consciousness of the historical necessity of socialism, casting it in precise "scientific" language and thereby serving, to use Marx's term, as the proletariat's "ideologists." In Lenin's formulation, socialism is a product of the intelligentsia's consciousness, not that of the workers, and the intelligentsia has to instil it in the working class, which otherwise would fail to understand the need for carrying out to the end the revolutionary transformation of the existing order and the attainment of socialism. To be sure, What Is to Be Done? goes on to urge the creation of a party of workers, not just of intelligenty, but these are to be carefully schooled workers who have been raised to the intelligentsia's level of "socialist consciousness." For good reason, the passage quoted above is often considered to be the very foundation of "Leninism," for it asserts the principle of the leadership role of the "vanguard party," Lenin's most distinctive contribution to Marxism as well as the core of the future Soviet political system.
Needless to say, Lenin believed that only with the fulfilment of the socialist program would the true interests of the working class be realised, something which the workers' economic struggle by itself could never hope to achieve. Machajski, by contrast, believed that the goals of socialism served the interests only of the intelligentsia by deflecting the workers' direct attack on economic inequality, which alone could alter the inferior position of the working class. In short, Lenin placed his revolutionary hopes on the "consciousness" of the intelligentsia, while Machajski placed his on the "spontaneity" of the workers. Both, however, perceived the critical difference - along with the possibility of tension, and even of conflict - between them.
This inevitably raises the question of whether Lenin might have been familiar with Machajski's views, the earliest expression of which antedates the composition of What Is to Be Done? by at least a year or two. The answer, to the extent that it can be determined, appears to be no. To be sure, Lenin could have learned of Machajski's views by this time. Lenin had been exiled to Siberia from 1897 to January 1900, returning then to European Russia until he went abroad in July 1900. This was just about the time Machajski's Siberian essays were beginning to circulate. Although Lenin's place of exile was considerably to the west and south of Machajski's location, he had extensive contacts with other exiles, and we have seen how quickly Machajski's hectographed pamphlets spread through the far-flung exile colonies. It is possible that through these contacts the pamphlets could have reached Lenin either before or after he went abroad.
There is no evidence in Lenin's writings, however, that such was the case. We know that Trotsky told Lenin about Machajski's essays upon reaching London after his escape from Siberia (see above, p.22), but that was not until the autumn of 1902, and What Is to Be Done? was published in March of that year. The first mention of Machajski in Lenin's writings dates from December 1902-January 1903. In a preparatory document for the upcoming Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Party, Lenin listed a number of issues that he felt should be reported on at the congress, including relations with non-Social-Democratic opposition groups; among the groups whose views and whose attitude toward the Social Democrats ought to be discussed he listed, without further comment, the makhaevtsy.It is of interest that Makhaevism at this early point in its history had already gained sufficient recognition for Lenin to feel it merited a going-over at the Second Congress - but aside from putting the Makhaevists on his list, he says not another word about them. The second - and last - reference to Makhaevism in the fifty-five volumes of Lenin's collected works does not occur until 1921, when Lenin uses the term as an epithet against the Workers' Opposition.These two passing mentions indicate that although Lenin had heard about Makhaevism by late 1902, either from Trotsky or from some other source, he attached little importance to it. Given Lenin's tendency to attack, defame, and, if possible, destroy those with whom he disagreed, it would have been out of character for him to maintain silence about someone he considered to be a serious ideological opponent or rival. For his part, Machajski ignored Lenin as completely as Lenin ignored him. He scarcely mentioned Lenin in his writings before the 1917 revolution, and when he did it was clear that he saw little to distinguish him from other Russian Social Democrats - a serious misperception, to be sure, but one that he shared with a great many of his contemporaries.
The striking similarity of Machajski's and Lenin's views on the origins of socialism, therefore, seems to have been a case of parallel but independent development. This in itself, however, is worthy of note. That both a leading proponent of Russian Marxism and one of its most vehement critics felt it necessary to assign such importance to the intelligentsia affirms once again the intelligentsia's crucial role in Russian socialism, in the Russian revolutionary movement, in Russian life.