2. The radical tradition in Russia

Submitted by libcom on July 30, 2005

Radical thought is inseparable from the history of Russian socialism for many reasons. It was in Russia that the first socialist revolution broke out, one that saw the expression of a vigorous current of radical revolt. And yet this same revolution gave birth to a government which, while proclaiming its emancipatory mission, stifled every formulation of radicality beneath its pretensions to hegemony.

We tend to view the march towards revolution in Russia in terms of the irresistible rise of Marxist social democracy. In fact, the organized Marxist movement only made its appearance in tsarist Russia in the last decade of the nineteenth century. A rich radical tradition had existed prior to this. But Soviet historiography, or even the curiosity of the general public, has preferred to recall only certain aspects of this tradition: those which tend to fix Marxism in Russian soil and which accord the political philosophy of the Soviet State an honourable revolutionary past.

Nineteenth-century Russia was not lacking in currents of thought or revolutionary groups whose Jacobin inspiration would seem to link up, without any apparent break, with Lenin's Bolshevism. But a far more powerful tradition, one whose roots spread widely throughout the social soil of the Empire, had truly flourished for'half a century before being overwhelmed and deformed by the rise of ideologies based on power. An inventory of this tradition yields a rich harvest of elements of which the present revolutionary movement appears to be the direct heir.

This is not to say that historians have ignored the existence of Russian populism and pre-populism; several have produced admirable accounts. What interests us here, consequently, is not so much the turning up of new facts or theories as their reinterpretation in the light of the development of radicality, as we look back from the late 1970s.

Seen thus, the Russian revolutionary tradition emerges as something fundamentally different from Marxist-Leninist ideology; in this sense, we may speak of an alternative before its time. But, and this is the other side of the coin of its constructive thought, Russian socialism very early, from the 1850s on, developed a critique of Marxist and Jacobin ideologies, the perspicacity and foresight of which has lost nothing of its relevance to this day. This critique is all the more thoroughgoing in that the theoretical writings of the Russian revolutionaries clearly illustrate the relationship between power ideology and the intellectual class demonstrated by Bakunin. For we see that the evolution of the social composition of the Russian revolutionary movement is accompanied by a gradual transformation of the form and content of its ideology. The intelligentsia, starting out as no more than a marginal group, imperceptibly acquired the aspect and dimensions of the core of a power-hungry class; its socialism was consequently to take on an increasingly authoritarian and statist colouring. The evolution culminated in the emergence of social democracy and Leninism -class and ideology were now in perfect harmony.

As we have pointed out, the critique of State socialism was elaborated in advance. The consequences were projected on the basis of existing signs. The birth of organized Marxism in its social-democratic form was almost exactly contemporary with its radical contradiction, leaning heavily on anti-authoritarian tradition, though already witness to the concrete ambitions of the historic leaders. With Machajski we are still at the crossroads where Marxism, anarchism and revolutionary syndicalism meet. The most perceptive critique of the cruder aspects of Leninism as a power ideology came from within the organization.

The growth of Russian socialism in the nineteenth century

What strikes one today about Russian socialism in the first half of the nineteenth century is its modern, even relevant, aspect. And yet, it did not grow out of any Enlightenment philosophy or national movement in the arts and literature -- either of which might have served as a cultural background. It arose out of a combination of ideas directly imported from Western Europe and a tradition of very bitter social conflicts reaching back to the beginning of the eighteenth century.

At the start of the last century Russia was still a country with an agrarian economy (despite a certain industrial concentration in the Urals) in which peasants made up some ninety per cent of the population. The nobility and the clergy had a monopoly of access to culture, but the Church was entirely controlled by the Tsar ever since Peter the Great's reforms, while the nobility as a class was bound to the Tsar and his bureaucracy by common interests.

Leisured, unproductive and decadent, the nobility was concerned solely to preserve its privileges and to exploit its serfs.

At least that was the case with most of the nobility; under Catherine II the aristocracy had acquired a veneer of French and German culture, and it was considered good breeding to speak French while having no knowledge of Russian. But the seeds of opposition contained within French literature of that age were slow in flowering. Radishchev's Journey from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, the first far-reaching criticism of the existing order, only appeared in 1790. (1) But the shock that really stirred aristocratic circles was the France-Russian war, and the army's homecoming in 1815. The example learned from the countries traversed lent direction to the desire for change, giving rise to a reform movement among the officer corps and the landed upper aristocracy.

The first secret society was formed in 1816, and December 1825 saw the outbreak of the nobles rebellion, led by Pestel and Rileyev. The Decembrists were still reformists in the full sense of the term, filled with the ideas of the eighteenth-century French Enlightenment and rationalism.

A truly Russian socialism began to emerge in the 1830s and 40s. With a few exceptions, the first generation of revolutionaries was drawn from the ranks of the middle and upper nobility, and had been nurtured on German philosophy and contemporary French socialist thought. Above all, Hegel's philosophy left an indelible mark on these intellectuals now awakening to revolt. Before even the left Hegelians in the West, Russian socialists gave Hegel's system a progressive interpretation, and they were among the first to apply his dialectic and his phenomenology to politics. (2)

An entire generation (Belinsky, Herzen, Ogarev, Bakunin, Granovsky, etc.) derived the framework of its thinking from Hegel and Feuerbach, but it nonetheless looked to the French socialists for its critique of society and its historical analysis. Even in the Young Hegelians' interpretation, Hegelian thought was susceptible to purely idealist use -- to the sublimation of discontent in mere idealism. Herzen's and Ogarev's critique became social and revolutionary with the assimilation of Saint-Simonism. (3) At the end of the 1830s and the beginning of the following decade it was the turn of Fourierism to be propagated among this intelligentsia in revolt. (4) Herzen played a central role in the popularization of socialism in Russia; steeped in both Western thought and Russian tradition, he formulated the purest expression of anti-authoritarian socialism to date.

Herzen's great virtue was that he extracted from the utopian socialists (as they were later to be labeled) those elements which still seem to us to have been most valid. Conversely, he rejected all that was religious, mystical or retrograde in Saint-Simon, Fourier or Proudhon. What attracted him to Saint-Simon was the Frenchman's sense of history, of the succession of forms of society and State. He borrowed Saint-Simon's idea that the struggle between the haves and the have-nets, or exploiters and exploited, to use the latter's vocabulary, would surely take the place of the historical struggles of the past.(5) Similarly, Saint-Simon drew Herzen's attention to the situation of the 'poorest and most numerous class' and its likely fate as a result of the development of industrial civilization. Finally, an idea that constantly crops up in Herzen's writings and whose origins are to be sought in the works of Saint-Simon is that of palingenesis or social regeneration. He rid this term, however, of the mystical aura conferred on it by its author, and especially by disciples such as Enfantin, who attempted to build a new religion on the foundations of his master's doctrine. For Herzen, it was a question of the total renewal of society after centuries of oppression and injustice. This 'rebirth' would only be obtained through the revolt of those concerned, whose task it was to root out servitude and eliminate it entirely. In short, he was calling upon them to reinvent freedom.

His deep familiarity with all the systems of thought of his time led Herzen, like most of his contemporaries, to reject the communism of his age, from Cabet right through to Marx. By communism he meant any egalitarian doctrine that subjected man to a priori organization imposed on him by authoritarian means, whether Cabet's Icaria, or Louis Blanc's or Karl Marx's State. As opposed to these, socialism was taken to designate doctrines of association, far more attractive to the Russians. Thus, for example, Herzen recognized the validity of Louis Blanc's social classification in terms of bourgeois and proletarian, but rejected his cramped schema for the organization of labour. (6)

Similarly, if Fourierism aroused a great deal of interest in Russia, this was because it stood at the opposite extreme to the mechanistic communism of Cabet or Babeuf. Fourier enjoyed a great vogue during the 1840s as a result of a series of lectures given by Professor Poroshin at the University of Saint Petersburg, and thanks especially to Petrashevsky, who devoted himself to spreading Fourier's doctrines both through the columns of the 'Dictionary of Foreign Words Employed in the Russian Language' (vol. 2 was published in 1846) and in meetings held at his home between 1845 and 1849. Fourierism gained a great many adherents in Russia -- in the provinces as well as in Saint Petersburg and Moscow -- thanks to the Petrashevsky circle. There was even an (unhappy) attempt at founding a phalanstery in 1847.7 Neither Herzen nor Petrashevsky accepted Fourierist religiosity or its cosmogony. But Herzen did agree with the Phalansterian's criticism of bourgeois society, of the immorality of the exploitation to which it gives rise; in short, Herzen agreed with his outright moral condemnation of nascent capitalism as it was to be observed in Paris, Lyon or Marseille.

Above all, he shared with Fourier a vision of human happiness. Herzen derived his contempt for all formulae that reduce man to the dimension of producer, citizen or subject from Fourier's associative doctrines. He saw in Fourier a constant respect for the individual as a concrete being with desires and passions. And hence the need to provide for the satisfaction and fulfillment of his aspirations, so that he will not be crushed by 'objective law' and the institutions imposed from above and in which he is quartered.

This led him to adopt the feminist teachings of the period, both Saint-Simon's 'rehabilitation of the flesh' and Fourier's attack on monogamy; on reading George Sand he immediately approved her call for independence for women. (8)

One last French socialist was to influence Herzen and, through him, the entire Russian socialist movement -- Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Here again, he discriminated between what was stifling and retrograde in the writings of the illustrious Frenchman and his power of negation. He only became familiar with Proudhon's doctrine after he had emigrated, in 1847 -- in other words, at a moment when his own socialism was almost fully developed. He nevertheless borrowed Proudhon's critique of the authoritarian State, along with the fundamental notion that the order of society is not external to individuals; that it is not to be found in some institutional framework, but within individuals themselves, and that it is shaped by everyday life. (9) From Proudhon, also, he took the conception of socialism as the negation of the past and of the existing state of things, from economic contradictions to the existence of the State itself. He is very severe, on the other hand, with Proudhon's writings on the patriarchal family, on the submission of women to men and on peasant smallholdings. After years of friendly correspondence Herzen broke with Proudhon when the latter, having drawn steadily closer to the Empire, condemned the struggle of the Polish democrats for national independence.

Through Herzen, Ogarev and their generation of revolutionaries, an entire system of Western socialism penetrated Russia, purified of its authoritarian lapses, its fantasies and its mysticism. The following generation, which prepared the way for the movement of the 1860s, was itself imbued with this socialism. First among these was Tchernishevsky who, drawing his inspiration from Saint-Simon, Owen and Fourier, undertook a more sophisticated and more technical critique of industrial capitalism.

The influence of non-Marxist socialist thought was thus profound in Russia. And it left traces even after the emergence of social democracy, for it lies at the origins of all criticisms of authoritarian systems. But borrowings from Western thought represent only part of the Russian radical tradition; for Russia's own history of social conflict and the intellectual quality and the sense of freedom of the men who made it, count for a great deal.

At bottom, these imports from Western culture served merely as a framework of thought for Russian socialism. The fabric of revolutionary aspiration is embedded in the history of modern Russia, and in the social conditions of the first half of the nineteenth century.

From the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onward, this history is characterized by increasing political centralization, together with the subjugation of foreign peoples. In the eighteenth century, the conquest of the surrounding territories to the east and the south-east was virtually completed, and the Tatars, the Tshouvashes, the Mordves and the Bashkirs were definitively annexed to the Empire. But this process did not go unresisted: Slav peasants rejecting servitude and foreign peoples clinging desperately to their independence rose in revolt, massacring nobles and officials, and briefly held up the inevitable process of subjugation. These bloody risings mark Russia's social history over a period of two centuries, and they still continued to erupt in the mid-nineteenth century; a semblance of social peace was only established with the abolition of serfdom in 1861.

The plainest result of these revolts was the perpetuation of insubordination and distrust of all forms of external authority and of bureaucracy in any form. On top of this, the foreign peoples managed to preserve a certain degree of independence even when their revolts were most bloodily suppressed. Thus, the various Cossack tribes guarding the eastern and southern borders (particularly against the Turks) received in return a form of local autonomy giving them the illusion that they had not submitted to the central government. (10)

The risings of Stenka Razin and Bolotnikov in the seventeenth century, and of Pugachev in the eighteenth, were merely the most massive and spectacular of an unbroken series of local risings. The Pugachev saga amounted to a veritable social war, in which subject peoples and Slav peasants allied in an attempt to overthrow the Tsarina (Catherine II) (11) But the immediate aim of these numberless revolts was to uproot and abolish the social power of the nobles, the great landowners.

Russia had not experienced the gradual rise of a bourgeoisie accompanied by changes in the social structure (disappearance of the vast estates in favour of peasant smallholdings and medium-sized estates) or in the political structure (evolution towards a constitutional regime), with the result that opposition to the autocracy could not be channeled into institutional outlets. The choice was: submission or revolt. Any challenge to the existing order, therefore, immediately took a radical turn, aiming to destroy the very foundations of authority.

The second tradition on which Russian socialism was nurtured and which to some extent constitutes its hardcore is that of the autonomous peasant village -- the mir. In the obshchina (community) each peasant was allocated a parcel of land commensurate with his capacity to cultivate it and with the size of his family. There was a periodic redistribution, and property was owned collectively, not individually. Finally, the mir peasant had the impression that he was his own master, or at least that he could appoint his own masters, and especially the starost, the elder who filled the role of mayor of the village. Even so, one should not be taken in by the legend (oligarchies very soon established themselves within the mir and came to dominate the administration of the community), but still, notions of self-government and collective ownership of property were very deeply ingrained in the Russian peasant mentality. And this perhaps explains why both the political authority of the central government and the social and economic authority of the baryn (landlord) appeared to him as illegitimate and a threat to his independence. In extreme cases the Russian peasant even preferred to flee in search of virgin land, out of the reach of officials and soldiers.

It was this historical reality, this secular spirit of insubordination that intellectuals were trying to rationalize in the 1830s and 40s. Although their socialism was expressed in terms borrowed from Western thought, it was nonetheless profoundly indigenous; better, it benefited from the observations and analyses of the French and German philosophers and of English reformers such as Robert Owen, while rejecting all pretence, and anything that contradicted its initial project.

The man who best expressed the principles of a radicality capable of existing in its own right by making use of the terms of Western discourse was undoubtedly Alexander Ivanovich Herzen (1812-70). Herzen was neither a builder of systems nor a constructor of schemas; he produced no doctrine that was entirely new to the Russian thought of his day. There is no such thing as 'Herzenism' in the way there is a 'Marxism', or a 'Fourierism'. Herzen's genius lay in his ability to express the latent ideas of his time; to gather the scattered reflections one could hear in many a Saint Petersburg or Moscow salon, into logical propositions. He was a positive sounding board for socialist ideas in Nicolas I's Russia. A remarkable prose stylist, he even went so far as to forge the political concepts of socialism in his own language, transposing them from the French and the German. (12) Far more than Bakunin (whose ideas only began to penetrate into Russia in the 1870s) he influenced several succeeding generations of revolutionaries, from the 1830s and 40s onward, through his articles in the 'Annals of the Fatherland', and his 'Letters from France and Italy'. Above all, it was through the Free Russian Press, founded in London in 1853, that he was to exercise an immense influence over the Russian intelligentsia, first through the columns of Polamaia Zvada, and then, from 1857 on, through Kolokol, which he edited with his friend Nicolas Ogarev. Herzen's direct influence spread over a quarter of a century, and it remained perceptible in populist thought until the 1917 Revolution.

For Herzen, the principal task of socialism was to construct a world in which human dignity and freedom would be preserved to the greatest possible degree. He insisted on the dignity of the individual above all else because it was singularly trampled on in tsarist Russia: there were neither laws nor customs to protect the individual from the arbitrary exercise of authority. The serf was entirely subject to the whims of his master, the noble to those of the tsar and his bureaucracy. In a land where the slightest criticism of the autocracy could earn its author ten years in prison or more, this demand for dignity occupied a central place in all social thought. (13)

These concerns led Herzen to reject all authority imposed from above or from outside the individual, and to place his faith in 'natural groupings'. No a priori institution, conceived in advance and in the abstract before being projected on to society, could lead to liberation. On the contrary, man found the conditions for fulfillment in the mir, or the artel (a kind of artisan community), in other words in voluntarily accepted associations, for it was only in an association of this kind that he could hope to be master of his own fate.

In his concern for man as a concrete being, with real needs and aspirations, Herzen highlighted those aspects of Western social thought that took account of the multi faceted nature of freedom; beginning with feminism, which he did not distinguish from socialism as such. The revolution was to go way beyond schemas providing for new institutions; for Herzen its goal was the transformation of the very structures of existence. (14) The most important of these were to take place within man's psyche: the humane and rational world he longed for could not be expected to spring forth, fully formed, from the theoretician's imagination. And Herzen, moreover, was sufficiently clear-headed to realize that this kind of socialism was unlikely to emerge in the foreseeable future. However idealistic his doctrine, it cannot be accused of utopianism, and it does not claim to be capable of immediate application. It is presented as a possibility, not as a scientific theory. (15) His pessimism towards the end of his life demonstrates the realism that characterized his thought: "One cannot free men in their external lives if they are not free within themselves." (16) He concluded that the nineteenth century would not see the birth of men possessing sufficient internal freedom to be able to spread this freedom throughout the social system. His contemporaries were living under despotic, or at best authoritarian regimes, and they were too deeply scarred by servitude to be capable of rebuilding anything other than systems that would oppress the individual. The new society can only be built by a new man, brought up in freedom. (17)

Herzen's doctrine of the State reveals the same realism. He early declared himself in favour of the suppression of central State power and of the institution of federalism and local autonomy. (18) But his negation of the State lacks the absolute and ideological force of Bakunin's views. He had no illusions as to the immediate historical possibilities of abolishing the State in practice. (19) But this in no way detracts from his critique of centralization, of 'external' authority and political power. He remained convinced that federalism alone could guarantee men's freedom; but, he added, it was for men themselves to implement it in practice. In all this he was not projecting abstract schemas into the future:

"... A republic that does not lead to socialism seems to us an absurdity; a socialism that tries to dispense with political freedom and equality before the law will rapidly degenerate into authoritarian communism.... Republicanism means freedom of conscience, local autonomy, federalism, the inviolability of the individual." (20)

What has dated least in Herzen's thought is precisely the radicality of his goals, made the more credible by his lack of illusion concerning the revolutionary possibilities of his age. Certainly, massive industrialization had not yet begun in his country and there was as yet no urban proletariat, with the result that it is tempting to label his socialism idealistic, tainted with pre-industrial romanticism (which is what E. H. Carr and to some extent M. Malia do). But it was precisely his position as a Russian aristocrat travelling throughout Europe that gave him an advantage over the French or German socialists. For, not having grown up and lived with capitalism, he never accepted its rationale; while Marx (but also Louis Blanc) studied the economy of his age in detail, forecasting its future evolution, thus working within the system and adopting its limits as his own, Herzen himself remained outside industrial capitalism all his life. And that despite the fact that he spent fifteen years in London....

Though a witness of industrial capitalism, he refused to have anything to do with it. Which is not to say that he did not understand it or that its logic escaped him. On the contrary, we have already noted his mastery of the economic critique of Fourier, Saint- Simon and Louis Blanc. Everything aroused his curiosity; he was a voracious reader, and talked incessantly with his great friend Ogarev, who himself took a deep interest in political economy. But it was because he understood Western capitalism that he rejected it, refusing to believe that it could evolve towards liberty. Bourgeois civilization disgusted him: for him it was incarnated in the character of the eighteenth-century Figaro, but a Figaro turned legislator. His conception of freedom was opposed both to the bourgeois world and to bourgeois revolutions. A few months' stay in Paris and Rome (in 1847-8) sufficed to convince him that bourgeois revolution could only transform society into a bourgeois society. Consequently, he stigmatized all ideologies arising out of it, perceiving the oppressive potential contained in them.

In Herzen's view, what characterized bourgeois-inspired ideologies of change was their scientific pretensions. Herzen himself was well-versed in the physical sciences of his age, having studied them at Moscow University, and having pursued them throughout his life. His own doctrine was based on a materialism that nonetheless left some room for conceptualization. (2l) But he went on to explore its limits: for him, science was incapable of predicting the future. And he looked upon all teleological theories, even scientific ones, as being of a metaphysical order: narrow determinism mutilates life, and is scandalously indifferent to means and consequences. He also rejected positivism, utilitarianism and pure materialism. The bourgeois revolutions of the nineteenth century seemed to him to have changed little: they conformed to contemporary revolutionary schemas, but they proposed neither to abolish the authority of the State nor to provide the individual with the means to run his own life. From 1848 onwards he was clearly convinced that the destruction of capitalist institutions was not enough -- a mentality thousands of years old would have to disappear from our social structures, from the family, private life and relations between individuals. (22)

As a result, we are called upon to place our trust in the creative powers of the masses, in their sense of freedom and in their imaginative potential. We should reject 'closed' systems which, even when they claim to be socialist, perpetuate the religious and authoritarian principles of the old world. All forms of evolutionism are oppressive, since they subject the individual to 'objective law'. For Herzen, the world is governed rather by the possible than by the inevitable, and the future depends upon the active will of men. In short, the revolution must go beyond ideology. Communism, seen as a closed and completed system, was liable to end up as nothing more than 'Russian autocracy stood on its head'. (23) And he went on to write, concerning all the narrow determinisms of his age:

"No, the paths of history are by no means fixed immutably. On the contrary, they change according to circumstances, the understanding and the energy of men. If the human personality is created by the environment and by events, the latter in turn are the product of human personalities, and they bear their stamp: there is reciprocal action between the two." (24)

This open-ended socialism, in search of total revolution, was also shared by many of his contemporaries, starting with Belinsky and Bakunin. It was to be transmitted to the following generations and incorporated in populism; later it was to survive in anarchism. But even in Herzen's lifetime it was watered down, transformed and shaped according to the tastes of the day. This was due to the emergence of a new generation of militants after 1860 whose socialist thought more closely reflected the social composition of the new revolutionary movement. Russian socialism evolved alongside social structures which were themselves in a period of transformation, and in this respect the early 1860s mark an important turning point.

The fundamental principle of radical thought in the 1830s and 40s -- of which Herzen was the most talented exponent -- and its irreducible core, lies in the notion that only criticism and destruction of the existing world are revolutionary. All constructive principles laid down in advance are liable, as one might say today, to be recuperated by the system.

This is also the most important aspect of the heritage handed on to the following generation, a generation that gave life to and lived through the populism whose foundations had been laid by Herzen, Ogarev and Bakunin. Only, this populism was irremediably and progressively evolving towards Jacobinism and 'organizing' systems. All the principles laid down earlier and all warnings were being swept aside by the rise of a new class, one which seized on socialist thought merely in order to turn it into an ideology in the image of its ambitions. It should be added, whatever may have been said to the contrary, that when Marxism took permanent root in Russia, in the 1890s, its appearance should not be seen as an intrusion. The entire evolution of Russian thought during the twenty years prior to this had prepared the ground for a system capable of taking over where Jacobinism had left off; a system that was superior in the eyes of the intelligentsia in that it now stood completely shorn of the populist elements that had weighed down home-grown socialism.

In order to understand the nature of this evolution it will be necessary to examine the transformation of social structures in Russia right through the nineteenth century. What is most striking in this evolution is the emergence of a class of intellectuals, the intelligentsia, which expressed the revolutionary project right up to its fulfillment in 1917.

Certainly, the intelligentsia as a class was not peculiar to Russia; its existence can be observed in all countries that have undergone capitalist development. But while in the West, in France or in England for example, it remained barely distinguishable from the capitalist bourgeoisie whose privileges it enjoyed, and from which it often originated, in Russia it quickly became a class of its own, for a native bourgeoisie in the economic sense only really arose at the beginning of the twentieth century. The latter had no institutional existence in the first place, as it had no status in a society still characterized by a feudal structure; (25) above all, it had no economic existence, since the land, and hence the capital capable of being invested, was in the hands of the nobility. But the latter was utterly unproductive: it lived a life of leisure, or else was in the service of the tsarist bureaucracy, but in any case it saved little. It was still less interested in the prospect of investing in industry or trade. The Urals had had to be industrialized on the orders of the tsar, who forced a number of rich merchants and ironmasters to set up workshops and factories at an indicated spot and to bring in the necessary machines and workers.

So there was no middle class in Russia with the classical entrepreneurial mentality found in Western economies. But the seeds of a middle class did exist, somewhere between the illiterate peasantry and the backward nobility, whose survival and well-being depended upon the transformation of the economy. However, the intelligentsia in Russia had no capital, with the result that it lacked a mercantile mentality -- it was unfamiliar with the notions of investment, productivity, unit costs, profits. Its level of education and its professional occupations (government or provincial bureaucracy, tertiary sector), on the other hand, meant that it acquired a technocratic, managerial outlook long before this developed in Western Europe.

The Russian revolutionary movement was largely identified with the mass of the intelligentsia, though its exact composition varied between 1830 and 1890. Between 1825 and 1860 we are dealing with a category made up of nobles and aristocrats even. The universities in any case were practically closed to commoners before Alexander II's reign, and the radical intelligentsia of the 1830s and 40s was drawn from the high landed aristocracy (there were a few exceptions, notably the commoners Belinsky and Nadezhdin). This feature also provides us with the key to the socialism of the first half of the nineteenth century, namely its essentially aristocratic flavour. That is, some of its fundamental characteristics were borrowed from the feudal mentality. It was profoundly radical, and entirely disinterested. Seeking neither fortune nor privileges, a Herzen could demand nothing short of the totality. Since he did not seek power, which he despised, he was the natural enemy of all power. Identifying with the immense mass of pariahs, these young aristocrats were hoping that the mass would accede to their level of consciousness at one bound. But above all, their position had made them acutely sensitive to the dangers lurking within all systems of 'plebeian' origin, and with a marvelously prophetic sense they unearthed the hidden ambitions of such systems.

However intransigent, this essentially aristocratic socialism was so above all in the content of its demands. And it can only be described as utopian insofar as it failed to perceive, or at least did so insufficiently, the impossibility of its immediate realization. Herzen, moreover, had no illusions on this point. On the contrary, his intransigence was perfectly justified, as subsequent history was to show, and the present generation of revolutionaries, one that has lived through the affluence of the highly industrialized countries, may very well end up making the Russian pre-Marxist project its own. (26)

On the other hand, this first generation of revolutionaries was anything but dogmatic where means were concerned. Placing their hopes in the autonomous activity of the peasantry (i.e. the immense majority of the oppressed of that period), they had no intention of deliberately stirring up its spontaneity. They perceived the minimal conditions of its true liberation, but they could hardly be said to have drawn up a timetable or an itinerary.

The generation of populists of the 1860s and 70s remained faithful to this programme where its goals were concerned, and its ideals were still the artel, federalism, the obshchina, the peasant revolution. While thoroughly steeped in Herzen's libertarian demands, the new generation was far more impatient for results. Tchernishevsky's articles in the 'Contemporary' were read avidly, while his 'What is to be Done?' (1863) became the gospel for this generation. Tchernishevsky straddled the two periods: he still admired Fourier and Saint-Simon while carefully studying political economy and applauding Louis Blanc's proposals for the organization of labour. He also thought that Russia could, and should, bypass a phase of bourgeois development, but at the same time he proposed State intervention to aid the establishment of peasants' and workers' cooperatives. Similarly, he was more confident than Herzen in the liberating potential of science. (27)

Already the first 'Zemlia i Volia' (land and liberty), a clandestine organization founded by Pmigres in London, but heavily influenced by Tchernishevsky, had raised the question of the need for intellectuals to guide the peasant movement (its programme dates from 1861). And the 'Young Russia' group, in its manifesto of the same name (1862), moved rather closer to Jacobinism, and sought to transpose the methods of Barbes on to Russian soil. The content of the projected revolution is still social, but it is taking on a distinctly political form, in the tradition of Robespierre and revolutionary dictatorship. (28)

Nihilism, which in fact was more of an intellectual fashion than a political movement, continued to flourish, accentuating these Jacobin and elitist characteristics after 1863 and the collapse of the hopes raised by attempts at reform. The nihilists were ferociously positivist, swearing by the exact sciences alone while despising everyone not versed in them. For them, salvation would come neither from the people nor from reforms, but only from the educated strata of the population -- of which they considered themselves to be the finest products. (29)

The 1860s also saw the first, shortlived, revolutionary groups organized into secret societies and favouring terrorism. Nechaev was a typical representative of these revolutionaries, admirers of the peasantry and its natural organizations while intoxicated with positivism and their own historical role. Nechaev was as influenced by Bakunin as he was by the Babeuf conspiracy; he dreamed of organizing the 'mental proletariat' and of imposing upon it a revolutionary committee whose power would not wither away after the revolution. (30)

But it was Tkachev who was to be the spokesman as well as theoretician of Russian Jacobinism. He made no bones about his belief in economic materialism, and he believed in the superiority of an egalitarian State, which would serve as the true architect of the social revolution. The advent of this State called for the constitution of a political force, as the masses were incapable of casting off their yoke unaided. It fell to the intellectual elite, therefore, to build up this force in the shape of a political party. (31)

Clearly, Tkachev had nothing to learn from Lenin or Trotsky: at least he set forth his project with perfect clarity, without concealing his view that it was for the intelligentsia, and more particularly its most advanced elements, to bring about the revolution in place of the masses.

Nevertheless, Tkachev's objectives and his class analysis show that he was still under the influence of populism: his egalitarian State was conceived as reproducing the autonomy of the obshchina. The struggle he envisaged was directed against the nobility, while the beneficiaries were to be the peasants rather than the workers.

All these voluntarist and narrowly political conceptions of the struggle germinated between 1860 and 1870. They resulted in the 'Go to the People' movement and, subsequently, terrorism. (32) 1863 saw the first pilgrimages to the countryside. Hitherto, the revolutionary movement, which had consisted mostly of students, had been entirely cut off from the people. But especially between 1869 and 1873 it was to discover the realities of Russian peasant life when hundreds, or thousands even, of intellectuals flocked to the villages. Occasionally they settled down to live among the peasants, but most of them returned to their cities disappointed. The peasant was ignorant, and could not even read the pamphlets the intellectuals brought with them; what is more, they discovered the peasant was deeply attached to the tsar and that his only quarrel was with the nobles. Finally, of course, it was impossible to attempt the slightest action because of the absolutist police regime; these migrations were invariably succeeded by massive arrests.

Revolutionary circles could not fail to draw their own conclusions. Before one could hope to educate the masses and convert them to socialism it was necessary to create the appropriate political conditions. It was imperative that the struggle be directed against the State. The doctrine of the second'Zemlia i Volia' flowed from this disappointment and the ensuing conclusion: for adherents it was no longer a question of waiting for the peasants to carry out their social revolution but to precede it. And while the content of the movement's demands remained populist, this content was already beginning to be overshadowed by the question of means: centralized organization, stirring up of revolts, planned terrorism. From 1877-8 onwards propaganda was supplanted by agitation and bomb outrages, shootings and so forth. In 1878 Vera Zasulich shot at Trepov, while 1881 saw the assassination of Alexander II.

One should not get the impression that this evolution took place without resistance and argument within the revolutionary movement. On the contrary, there was no lack of critics, from Herzen who accused the young activists of'Babouvism' and Bakunin who warned of the positivist dangers stalking the new generation, to Peter Lavrov, who held that the masses did not wish for a new government to replace the old one and that the revolution should come through the rising of 'natural' groupings. Inside Russia itself there were divergences between those who saw revolution as a spontaneous phenomenon - as a sort of generalized revolt -- and those who wanted to seize power through conspiracy and to use the State machine in order to bring about social change. (33)

One way and another, the 'lack of peasant response' hastened the inexorable march towards organization and 'political work'. The desire for efficiency was clearly visible among those members of 'Narodnaia Volia' who favoured terrorism and believed in the need for a people's party. Already, they were prepared to countenance the emergence of a State from the revolution. Indeed, the Russian intellectuals' thirst for efficiency grew unabated throughout the nineteenth century; while the early generations had concentrated their attention on problems of distribution, questions of production and organization came to preoccupy their successors in the 1870s and 80s.34 The intelligentsia was coming to feel responsible for the future of the Russian economy and for social evolution in general. Its desire to 'revolutionize' was coloured by the desire to do so with some precise end in view.

The emergence of a Russian-style Jacobinism is the more significant in that it coincides with the constitution of an urban proletariat. There were 1,189,000 workers in 1879, and the first wave of strikes occurred in the 1870s (in Saint Petersburg, in the textile industry). (35) The populists agitated among the workers, profiting from this to 'contact' the countryside, with which the latter had remained in close touch. They also managed to convert a number of workers to populism, thus forming a worker elite which, little by little, was to become integrated into the intelligentsia.

But, significantly, the first workers' organizations also began to appear at about this time (the Southern Union of Russian Workers, the Northern Union of Russian Workers, etc.) which, while accepting the intellectuals' ideology (notably Bakuninism), mistrusted the latter and were sometimes even openly hostile. Some of them loudly expressed the wish that the organization of the proletarian masses be left to those primarily concerned (36)

This hostility found concrete expression notably in the refusal to distribute populist pamphlets among the peasants. But, despite this resistance, intellectuals were beginning to organize the workers: Axelrod, Shchedrin and Plekhanov were already active in this field. There were lively disputes between those who remained faithful to populist goals and who were hoping to be able to avoid a capitalist phase in Russia, and those - future social democrats, legal Marxists and left-wing liberals -- who thought socialism would result from the evolution of capitalism. The former looked to the countryside, the latter to the towns. However, both were attached to the political forms of revolution and were convinced of the need to guide the masses and to institute the socialist State before constructing socialism itself.

This evolution was virtually completed by the early 1880s, and a certain form of populism had been defeated. It was now only a matter of time before the intelligentsia organized itself along the most efficient lines, those closest-linked to the rationale of the rising capitalism. A Marxist group was formed in 1893 in Saint Petersburg which was to direct the workers' circles in the city, and the first congress of the social democrats was held in 1898. So it was Russian Marxism, finally, which provided the intelligentsia with its most appropriate ideological expression.

The gradual replacement of an open, non-authoritarian socialism by an ideology calling for organization and for the seizure of power on behalf of the people was no mere accident. It corresponded to the new composition of the revolutionary movement, which itself was the result of the slow transformation of Russian social structures. While in the 1830s and 40s the intelligentsia was identified with a section of the aristocracy (and thus can in no way be said to have been a class), in the following decades it increasingly drew its recruits from the ranks of the raznochintsy (declasse intellectuals). These originated in the clergy, the impoverished low-ranking nobility, the mieshchanstvo (a statutory category of townspeople : artisans, small shopkeepers); they had broken with their class of origin, and therefore had no status in the eyes of the law. These declasse intellectuals were doubly alienated from the system : they were not officially recognized as a social category and hence they did not constitute an organic part of Russian society.

Furthermore, they were acutely aware that their talents and energies were under-employed. They considered themselves utterly superior to all other classes (which is a feature of nihilism) but could find no way of asserting their superiority. The resentment they felt was so powerful that it constituted one of the driving forces of the entire revolutionary movement, but it also made them candidates for leadership of a system which was evolving towards industrial capitalism, in whose framework their professional and intellectual capacities could be profitably employed.

This, then, was the very opposite of the disinterested, generous socialism propounded by the pioneers of Russian radical thought: generally unconsciously, their socialism was gradually transformed into a doctrine founded on their eventual accession to power. This process was only completed around the end of the century, with the industrialization of Russia and the constitution of a true intellectual middle class, accelerated by the reforms of the 1860s: abolition of serfdom, creation of a provincial administration, reform of the judicial system. By 1897 the category of professional intelligentsia constituted a genuine social class representing some 500,000 persons. Of course, only the lower levels of this class opted for revolution, the 'high intelligentsia' remaining desperately conservative or else turning, at the beginning of the twentieth century, towards liberalism. (37)

The composition of the revolutionary movement evolved as follows: consisting almost entirely of aristocrats in 1830-40, it still contained a good many nobles (though from the lower ranks, the provincial, the impoverished and the modest gentry) in 1860-70, and it was almost entirely made up of commoners drawn from the lower strata of the intelligentsia in 1890-1900. (38)

The radical project's lapse into power ideology, resulting from the evolution of Russia's social structures in the nineteenth century, did not occur without resistance. But the radical alternative was now obliged to take refuge in the writings of sects or in the prophecies of isolated militants: but it continued to exist for all that, and its voice was only stifled with the conclusion of the civil war in the Soviet Union.

Marxism and power: an early critique

Before undergoing a long eclipse, Russian socialism, both populist and anarchist, had developed an early critique of statist systems of thought, and especially Marxism. As we have seen, Herzen was already speaking of Babouvism with respect to the slogans of the new generation of revolutionaries in the 1860s. And in truth Russian socialism in the 1860s and 70s was still divided between two traditions which did not yet appear to be contradictory, but which were subsequently to lead to utterly incompatible theories of revolution.

One of these traditions has its roots in German idealism, in Hegel's phenomenology and utopian French socialism, leading to a socialism that was aristocratic in essence and which later gave birth to populism or, more precisely, to one of its components.

The other tradition arises directly out of eighteenth-century French rationalism and the Great Revolution. While Fourier, and Herzen in his wake, profoundly mistrusted this Revolution, which had done no more than proclaim formal freedoms, the Jacobin and authoritarian socialists, on the other hand, took it as the guiding star in their theoretical heaven. It was the most consistent actors of the 1789 Revolution, those who wished to pursue the process through to its logical conclusion -- the Robespierres and the Babeufs -- who most profoundly marked the theoreticians of State socialism: Louis Blanc, Weitling, Barbils, Blanqui and, above all, Marx and Engels.

Jacobin socialism established itself very early and very rapidly in Russia (from 1860-5). Tkachev popularized it and adapted it to Russian taste, that is, by amalgamating it with the native populism. All subsequent populism was to share in this ambiguity (for example, 'Narodnaia Volia' which nevertheless, in 1885, called for a revolutionary party external to the mass of workers and peasants), which was only cleared up with the organization of a Marxist movement in the 1890s.

But while Marxism only entered Russia as an organized movement in the last decade of the nineteenth century, it was known to certain thinkers well before this. Tkachev, for example, made historical materialism his own, while Nechaev, after his break with Bakunin, turned to authoritarian communism, drawing inspiration from the Communist Manifesto. (39) Above all, a great many Russian exiles abroad, beginning with those famous students in Switzerland, had become thoroughly familiar with a system of thought which inspired one of the factions of the First International. At the same time, these students were involved in all the discussions with the populists then going on, as well as publishing journals and founding revolutionary groups.

In other words, the critique of Marxism was known in Russia well before any party was founded. Bakuninism had begun to spread in Russia from the 1870s onwards, whether directly or through his disciples. Bakunin was not the first to criticize Marx, but his criticisms were the most vigorous, and they are of interest to us more particularly because they form the basis of a type of thought perpetuated through anarchism, and because they are remarkably close to those which radicality expresses today. That is to say that one hundred years later, Bakunin's critique seems to us to possess a remarkably prophetic quality.

The Bakuninist critique centres around two main problems: the latent tendencies among the category of intellectuals, and the scientific pretensions of a social theory. The collusion of these two factors seemed to him to constitute the essence of State socialism. Certainly, Bakunin's thesis is not free of all confusion, and he does not distinguish clearly between the negation of the State in general and that of the Marxist State. Most important, he does not illustrate his arguments by means of an analysis of the economic structures of industrial capitalism and of their links with the evolution of social structures. His demonstration is a little abstract from this standpoint, and is reduced to a series of statements of a philosophical order. Nevertheless, these statements anticipate the future and, moreover, they were to have a profound influence on subsequent anarchism, and especially on Russian anarchism.

As for intellectuals, or 'savants' as Bakunin called them, they are imbued with a sense of their superiority as a result of their education. From this supposed superiority they conclude that their own future dominance as a class is not only necessary but inevitable. It is this class which 'in the name of its officially recognized erudition and its self-proclaimed intellectual superiority, believes itself destined to rule over the masses'. (40) It is this class which is going to appropriate the State for itself as projected in Marxist theory and thus dominate the masses. The class, then, represents a new aristocracy; and of all aristocracies, this is the most hateful and the most arrogant -- it is the last refuge of the spirit of domination. (41)

The Marxist State will signal the reign of the scientific intelligentsia. It will be based on a new hierarchy of real and fictitious savants, and society will be divided into a minority which dominates in the name of science, and the immense, uneducated majority. In this case, Bakunin warns, 'Beware of the ignorant masses'. (42)

For, and this is the second aspect of this critique, we are not dealing with just any tyranny: the one in question is going to claim that its justification lies in science. But science as such cannot predict the future, no more than it can legitimize a social regime. For Bakunin it is the action of men, their constant desire for liberation, and not intellectual schemas, which makes history. But intellectuals have seized upon scientific certitudes as though they were a new religion: their positivism is merely at the service of their political ambitions. The 'doctrinaire revolutionaries' see the revolution as opening up vast career prospects for their talents. (43) Believing they understand the true interests of the people better than the people themselves, they assume that their scientific knowledge places them above the people. (44)

Despite its prophetic foresight, Bakunin's analysis was never more than rudimentary; he clearly saw that the intelligentsia is the 'quintessence and the scientific expression of the bourgeois spirit and bourgeois interests' but does not pursue his reasoning any further than that. Notably, he failed to establish the class character of the intelligentsia (he spoke alternatively of caste, class, etc.) and, more especially, he failed to determine its function in the process of capitalist production. But he had initiated an analysis which was to be taken up by his disciples: in Russia it served to clarify the role and ambitions of social democracy. From this point of view, Bakunin was undeniably a precursor and he transmitted to the Russian anarchists at the beginning of the twentieth century a specific analysis of Marxism, an analysis dealing with the pre-dominance of intellectuals in the revolutionary movement and their political ambitions, along with a deep mistrust of scientific theories of social evolution. (45)

It must be said in Bakunin's defence that he did not have occasion to observe the rise of powerful political parties under the influence of Marxism. True, he had a foretaste of centralizing tendencies in the intrigues and manoeuvrings within the General Council of the International Working Men's Association (though he himself was not entirely innocent of all predilection for organization and authoritarianism!). Furthermore, German socialism, even its ideologically watered-down form, was to bear out more than one of his forecasts. Russian social democracy eventually took a rather different turn: all the centralizing and authoritarian potential of Marxism was realized to the utmost. It was against this that Bakuninist-inspired criticism hit out with all its might. From the point of view that concerns us here, namely the permanence of certain themes, this critique found a ferocious advocate in Machajski.

The man who so successfully polished up and publicized Bakunin's intuition was paradoxically neither a Bakuninist, nor even an anarchist. Jan Waclaw Machajski was born at Pinczow (in the Russian part of Poland) in 1867, and he died in total obscurity in Moscow in 1926. His petit-bourgeois origins, a petit bourgeoisie constantly threatened with proletarianization and prepared to stop at nothing to avoid it, provided him with an insider's knowledge of the poor intelligentsia. At the cost of immense effort and privation he managed to complete his secondary education and to get into a university. His fate might have been very different: he might easily have been obliged to seek work as a manual labourer in order to feed his mother and his brothers. So he had known both misery and the pride of those who escape it.

At university, Machajski became an intellectual and threw himself into politics. Following a nationalist phase, he proclaimed himself a social democrat. His Marxist education would appear to have been solid, and he showed a marked preference for political economy, even if his writings in this field are not exactly dazzlingly clear. Naturally enough prison and deportation to Siberia (1892-1903) earned him his wings as a fully fledged revolutionary -- as was almost inevitable given the vigilance of the tsarist police. After which he lived underground before emigrating in 1911, finally returning to Russia in April 1917. Machajski wrote his principal work in Siberia, and the rest of his life was devoted to expanding and correcting this work. (46)

The central theme recurring throughout his writings is that socialism is the ideology of a new class seeking power, the intelligentsia. Socialism presents itself in the form of a doctrine of liberation and expropriation. And it certainly did seek to expropriate the capitalists, but with the intention of taking their place in the seat of power.

The class of 'mental workers' includes all those who live by their technical or scientific knowledge. It is a category opposed to manual workers. White-collar workers, members of the professions as well as professional revolutionaries, all belong to this category.

The intelligentsia emerged as a class alongside the development of industrial society: it is linked to the process of industrialization in modern capitalist economies. But intellectuals are distinguished from entrepreneurs, bankers and shopkeepers (who, naturally, do not work with their hands) in that they have no capital available to them in the form of stockholdings, machinery or cash. They do, on the other hand, possess another perhaps just as valuable form of capital: their intellectual capital. This is their education, their years of study, paid for by the labour of the workers. (47)

In Machajski's view, the intelligentsia did not seek to destroy capitalism, but merely to take the place of the bourgeoisie. The latter was now so decadent that it was no longer able to feed its own slaves, nor even to defend its position as the dominant class. The new class of technicians, administrators and savants would institute a rational economy free from economic crises and unemployment. This class was familiar with the mysteries of modern economics and industrial management. It followed from this that the entire history of the nineteenth-century socialist movement was seen as that of a class in quest of power. Furthermore, Machajski was convinced that the capitalist bourgeoisie was diminishing in numbers, and thus flatly contradicted Marx's thesis concerning the increasing proletarianization of the middle and petit bourgeoisie. He believed, on the contrary, that the latter was constantly increasing in number, developing hand in hand with the rise of the industrial economy.

In order to achieve its ambition -- the seizure of power -- the new dominant class needed allies. As the enemy of the capitalist class, and seeking to grab hold of its State, it may have given the impression that it stood on the side of the proletariat. It may have appeared to be a revolutionary force, but this was only an appearance; it needed the workers in its struggle against its enemies. But in dispossessing the entrepreneur, the intelligentsia had no intention of throwing the engineer, the technician or the accountant out of the factory along with the boss. On the contrary, they were to remain at their posts and to maintain their wage differentials, while the workers would go on being exploited as before. This difference in income was not determined by any qualitative difference in the work accomplished, but by the class situation of the mental workers.

By fighting side-by-side with the intelligentsia for a political revolution the workers were quite simply preparing the ground for a new set of masters for themselves. Under cover of the struggle for national liberation (as in Poland), the parliamentary game or the demand for political freedoms, the intelligentsia was seeking to strengthen and extend the range of its privileges as well as to improve its economic situation. The struggle for political democracy provided the manual worker with nothing in return.

Marx, on the contrary, stated that the proletariat should constitute itself as a political class, electing representatives and entering the State institutions, for time was on its side. Economic evolution would exacerbate the objective contradictions of the capitalist system, leaving the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat wide open. But Machajski claimed that these Marxian predictions had turned out false. It was not true to say that the emancipation of the proletariat automatically lay at the end of the historical process.

What was true, on the other hand, was that the new class could only attain power when the economic conditions were ripe: which accounts for Marx's emphasis on the 'maturing process' of economic conditions. The enunciation of 'laws' of social evolution was not the social science of modern society, but its ideology. Its so-called scientific character served merely to mystify the workers by preaching patience to them and advising them to engage in long-term political struggle alongside the intellectuals. Once the latter had seized power, they would use Marxism as a drug to induce the workers to accept their new masters. In other words, Marxism was seen here as a religion: the heavenly empire was replaced by the end of exploitation - in some distant future; meanwhile, its role is to justify present oppression. (48)

The unbridled exploitation practised under the socialist regime would be explained and justified by 'objective laws', by the material necessities of the transition to full communism. The worker may be cast in the role of humanity's liberator, but in the meantime he is obliged to submit to the laws of historical necessity, which, in the final analysis, turn out to be no more than the laws of spoliation.

Machajski takes as his canvas the social history of the nineteenth century. He sees here the rise of a class possessing the attributes of all power-seeking classes: ideology, leadership, strategy. Does this mean that the emergence of the intellectual class obliterates the class struggle or nullifies the revolutionary praxis of the proletariat? Not at all. At certain points in time these classes have even united in a common struggle against capitalism. But the events of 1848 mark a decisive split between manual workers and intellectuals. The latter changed sides and turned against the workers, thereby showing their true colours, and their real interests. The intellectuals had glimpsed the spectre of revolution in 1848 and were frightened, for they had everything to lose. Thenceforth, socialism ceased to preach revolution, calling instead for reforms and political democracy. It shrank from forcing open a door it might never be able to close. From revolution and the classless society, its objectives were scaled down to political democracy, the collective ownership of industry and a hierarchical system. In other words, even if in the long term it continued to hope for economic and social transformations, it limited its short-term aims to the seizure of power. Which is why it has always tried to channel workers' revolts towards political demands that are of no benefit whatsoever to the workers themselves.

Thus, says Machajski, an attempt was made to divert the great workers' strike in Lodz in 1902. (49) The strikers were masters of the town for several days while the socialists proclaimed patriotic slogans, as if the workers had a fatherland of their own or were interested in the adoption of a political constitution. On the contrary, it was the intelligentsia which would have benefited directly from all these transformations: the national framework and public liberties suited it down to the ground, not to mention the fact that economies can be run more efficiently under a democratic regime.

The workers are drawn into a struggle which has nothing to do with them. Some of them -- the better-paid, hoping to rise in society -- join the ranks of the social democrats, having already become members of the intelligentsia and wishing to defend their own interests. The rest, the mass, would only benefit from a social and economic revolution, which can only be achieved by direct action at the base -- by means of economic strikes. This is precisely what happened in 1905, when these strikes broke out in direct contradiction to the wishes of the bourgeoisie and those of the socialists, who were calling for political revolution. But the workers have nothing to gain from swapping autocracy for an elected government. (50) Theirs is an economic struggle against the bourgeoisie.

On examination, the constructive aspects of Machajski's thought emerge as rather naive. He placed all his confidence in strictly economic demands; the only thing that counted in his view was the improvement of the worker's material conditions. He believed that, with growing income, the worker would inevitably pay for a more complete education for his children who, thus supplied with an 'intellectual capital', would themselves become white-collar workers. Having presented Marxism as a caricature of nineteenth-century scientific positivism, Machajski himself fell victim to the belief in the power of education and schooling to cure all the ills of society.

He does not deny the importance of the revolutionary organization in achievement of these goals, far from it. He dreamed of a universal workers' conspiracy, (51) which would stir up increasingly bitter strikes, ultimately culminating in a general strike. This would place the workers in a position to exert pressure on governments and employers to obtain equality of income with the intellectuals. (52)

We can see the extent to which Machajski adopted and developed Bakunin's critique of Marxism and the revolutionary intelligentsia -- without ever actually quoting his predecessor. He must at least have read Bakunin, if only during his time at Warsaw University, for Bakunin's writings were widely read by students in the 1880s. People have even tried to present Machajski as an anarchist or a revolutionary syndicalist; in fact, though, he was an isolated figure on the political scene of his time. Although he shared many of the ideas of contemporary revolutionary syndicalism, he totally disagreed with it over the central notion of the union, instead of the party, as the organ of the workers' interests. (53)

Similarly, and despite the fact that his thinking had several points in common with anarchism, he did not believe that the anarchists were prepared to work for the economic demands of the proletariat: they too were fighting for 'liberty', and thought of a general strike as nothing more than a peaceful demonstration.

Finally, Machajski rejected the position of the libertarians concerning the State for, in his opinion, it was useless to attack political power directly, since it was only a reflection of the economic structures of society. He thought, furthermore, that even an anarchist revolution would place the intelligentsia in power. (54)

He was an isolated figure with few disciples, and those who did follow him for a while ended up by leaving him for anarchism and, after the October Revolution, sided with the Bolsheviks. At least Machajski, on his return to Russia, had the bitter satisfaction of seeing his predictions come true, remarking that even after the disappearance of the capitalist bourgeoisie the workers did not have a government of their own, despite the fact that they were now free to elect their representatives. Power had devolved upon the intellectuals, and these were concerned with defending their own interests. (55)

But even his unfaithful disciples propagated his ideas, and these, it seems, enjoyed a certain vogue for a while. Novomirski, for example, took up Machajski's critique of the revolutionary intelligentsia, holding that the monopoly of knowledge was the greatest enemy of human freedom, and that the intellectual class possessing this monopoly had emerged at the same time as the State and property. (56) Curiously, Machajski even found a number of adepts within the ranks of the Bolshevik party, and the left opposition included at least two groups, after 1917, defending positions close to his own : the 'Workers' Truth' and the 'Workers Group' .

Machajski was influenced by Bakunin, as were, even more noticeably, the Russian anarchists, although he was not, properly speaking, an anarchist himself. Anarchism developed in the tsarist empire as a response to the generalization of an essentially urban industrial economy. The first groups consisted of workers and students, both these categories being directly affected by the recurrent cycles of crises and unemployment. Solidly organized groups were to be found as early as 1903, but it was in 1905-7 that these circles, originating in the western and south-western provinces of the empire, began to spread throughout all industrial centres and towns of any importance. A relative decline followed this brief flowering, due to a wave of repression in the wake of strikes and uprisings. Many anarchists chose to emigrate, and they continued their activities, centred around the publication of journals and propaganda pamphlets (New York, Paris and Geneva were the principal centres of exiled Russian anarchism). Russian libertarians returned en masse with the February and October Revolutions, throwing themselves body and soul into the immense revolutionary tidal wave sweeping over the country.

One cannot really claim that Russian anarchism is the direct heir to a single tradition such as populism or Bakuninism, for example. Its origins are complex and manifold but, and this is worth noting, the movement arose spontaneously in working-class circles in response to a capitalism that was advancing by giant strides, trailing with it its cohort of misery, injustice and exploitation. Unlike the Marxists or the populists, then, the anarchists were not a group of intellectuals looking for recruits for the revolution but small circles of workers resolved to take action. Thus, the libertarian movement was practical before it became theoretical. Entirely concerned with problems of action (strikes, raids, terrorism), it clashed violently with social democracy, accusing the latter of temporizing and of intellectualism. (57)

There was no question, at this stage at least, of discussing the class nature of Russian Marxists; certainly anarchist revolutionaries suspected the latter of harbouring political ambitions, but they made no advance on Bakunin's analyses. Their criticisms were aimed more at tactical questions: parliamentarianism (participation in the Duma), non-violent means of struggle (propaganda, organization) in preference to revolutionary violence. (58)

Paradoxically, the spokesmen for the radical analysis of the Marxist movement were to be found within the social-democratic movement itself. This developed slowly at leadership level from the 1880s onwards. The forerunners, Axelrod, Plekhanov and Zasulich, were former populists who had broken with a certain revolutionary past. Simultaneously, they discovered the writings of Marx and Engels and the workers' movement which was beginning to organize in the course of the 1870s. These early theoreticians of Russian social democracy were also propagandists and leaders: they were to be seen on the occasion of strikes, playing the role of adviser (not always heeded) and 'guide' to the workers in the big cities. Having lost their faith in the revolutionary potential of the peasant masses, they convinced themselves, with the aid of Marxism, that the industrial proletariat was the historic instrument of the revolution.

Marxism in the Russia of the 1890s was divided into two fundamental tendencies: that which, on the one hand, drew a clear distinction between the economic struggle of the proletariat and the political struggle of the revolutionary intelligentsia and, on the other hand, the tendency which sought an interpenetration of the two tasks. The economists (as their opponents called them) considered themselves no less Marxist than the social democrats, and their analyses coincided in a number of points. To begin with, they both shared a conception of history in which industrial capitalism figures as an irresistible trend which, sooner or later, would sweep aside all traces of feudalism. Both also agreed in assigning the proletariat the central role in the capitalist phase: as producers they are the true architects of industrialization, but as employees they are fated to be the victims of bourgeois exploitation. And certainly both Lenin (the sworn enemy of economism -- see the biting sarcasm of his What is to be Done!) and Martinov had no doubt that the inevitable development of capitalism necessitated a certain number of social evils, the fruits of an 'objective' and ineluctable process. (59)

The economists, however, believed that the class struggle par excellence lay in the spontaneous economic struggles of the proletariat. For them, the political activities of the radical intelligentsia should merge with the political activities of the liberal opposition: the social revolution could not result from a political struggle against the autocracy. The social democrats, with Lenin foremost, favoured on the contrary giving priority to the political struggle insofar as economic demands irremediably degenerated into trade unionism, i.e. a form of syndicalism perfectly compatible with the bourgeois order.

From 1900 onwards, the hardline social democrats led a ruthless struggle in the columns of Iskra against the economists, whose theories were identified with Bernsteinian opportunism. Alongside this, the editorial board of the firstlskra (Lenin, Plekhanov, Axelrod, Zasulich, Potressov, Martov) developed a conception of the party that was diametrically opposite to that of the economists: a hierarchized party composed of professional revolutionaries working underground, with a centralized organization, and whose aim would be to lead the workers' struggles. That is, in Lenin's conception the proletariat should not only be confined to trade union-type demands, but it should throw its entire weight behind the political struggle against tsarist rule. This view is expressed with greatest vigour in the articles Lenin wrote for Iskra (1900-3), in his pamphlet What is to be Done! (1902), and in his speeches to the Social Democrats' Congress in 1903.

It was at this point in the discussion that a number of voices were raised within the social-democratic movement and even among the small group of émigres centred around Iskra. These voices were perfectly qualified to criticize Lenin's faction since they belonged to activists with first-hand experience of the way in which these conceptions were incarnated in the everyday practice of social-democratic organization. This critique was rather more pertinent, and less abstract than that put forward by the Rabochaia Mysl economists. (60)

What is interesting from the point of view of radical theory is that this critique poses the crucial problem of the nature of Russian socialism -- a struggle for power for a single class or a struggle for the liberation of the proletariat -- and in so doing places itself at the extreme limits of Marxism. It nevertheless remains within the bounds of the social-democratic movement, refusing from the outset to step beyond the limits. Neither Axelrod nor Trotsky nor Rosa Luxemburg had any quarrel with the conception of the party or with that of the vanguard essential to the class struggle. This is why -- as we shall see for Rosa Luxemburg -- this dual position (critical and conformist) was to lead to a number of ambiguities and even contradictions. And this was not the last time a lucid and pitiless analysis of the party would lead Trotsky to contradict himself; a quarter of a century later he himself was to fall into the same trap.

The Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party held in 1903 (formally the second) gave rise to a reexamination of the aims and characteristics of Russian socialism. Antagonisms were exacerbated by the factional in-fighting which dominated the entire congress, in the course of which Lenin managed to maintain control of the party's organs by a margin of a few votes. This brazen struggle for power within the party, before it even existed formally, aroused the indignation of a number of delegates not yet reconciled to the cold Machiavellianism of the committee men. Later, when the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks had constituted two entirely distinct factions -- if not to say parties -- theoretical compliments began to be exchanged through the medium of codified invective ('opportunism', 'factionalism', 'rightism', 'revolutionarism','Blanquism', etc.) rather than with the support of any fundamental analysis. At this point there was no further disagreement concerning objectives, namely the seizure of power on behalf of the party. The divergences concerned historical tactics, the Mensheviks placing their trust in the spontaneous organizations of the proletariat, infiltrating them if necessary, while the Bolsheviks recognized no organizations other than those subordinated to their own apparatus. The former were somewhat sceptical about their chances of ever coming to power (which earned them a reputation for 'half-heartedness' among the workers); the latter, on the contrary, pushed their voluntarism to the point of adopting the programme of their sworn enemies (the revolutionary socialists), provided the masses accorded them their much-needed support in the march towards the conquest of the State.

However, in 1904 the camps were not yet clearly and definitively delimited, and the reaction to the Leninist conception of the party arose spontaneously. True, German social democracy, at the time the most powerful, was hardly a model of 'democratism', but at least it 'had' the masses, and its centralism was concealed behind the existence of hundreds and even thousands of officials which gave the party the illusion of a constant exchange between the base and the summit. Lenin's theses (and already his practice!), by contrast, shocked people with their dogmatism: here was a party made up of a few thousand intellectuals and a handful of workers, most of whom were no longer involved in the productive process, pretending not merely to the leadership of the masses but also to the monopoly of theoretical reflection. It was a strictly hierarchized and centralized party, demanding rigid discipline from its members, and presenting itself as the proletariat's guide, presuming in advance to approve or condemn this same proletariat's struggles. It would have raised a laugh if a certain number of people had not perceived tendencies in it which, on the contrary, called for the utmost gravity.

Their critique was the more clearcut in that they saw before them the concentrate, the essence of social democracy or, more precisely, a social democracy which only existed in essence. In attacking it, these heretics were really hitting out at all forms of State socialism, even if this was not clear to them, whether later or at the time.

In conditions prevailing in tsarist Russia, what could be the meaning of a political struggle? asked Axelrod. Above all this struggle was democratic-bourgeois in character, that is to say it aimed at replacing the feudal monarchy with the reign of the capitalist bourgeoisie. The Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party was engaged in precisely this struggle, and Lenin's conceptions merely accentuated the 'left- wing bourgeois' character of the Party. (61) For, far from drawing inspiration from the masses and going to them to learn about proletarian reality at first hand, Lenin's followers set themselves up as their leaders. But in its social composition, however, the RSWDP was undeniably a bourgeois party, and if the workers supported it and followed its line it was because of the lack of a Western-style liberal bourgeois party on the Russian political scene. For the time being, then, the party was an organization run by the revolutionary intelligentsia, and Lenin's ultra-centralism was likely to perpetuate this state of affairs. There was a great danger, Axelrod pointed out, that the existing party organization and its policies would lead to the emergence of a bourgeois revolution and that alone. He then wondered whether the ideological wrapping (the Party's revolutionary programme) did not conceal an objective content whose fundamental principles remained within the framework of radical democracy.

Axelrod further suspected that what he termed Lenin's organizational utopia (centralism, bureaucracy, the conspiratorial nature of the organization) incarnated a bourgeois ideology. Leading the masses directly, under the tutelage of the Party, into the struggle against the autocracy, he wrote, could only result in the seizure of power by the radical bourgeoisie. He inevitably drew a parallel with the French Revolution of 1789, when the Jacobins, drawing support from the clubs and the sociétés populaires, faithfully carried out the policies of the bourgeoisie. (62) In short, behind the elite of professional revolutionaries drawn from the intelligentsia, Axelrod dimly perceived a 'general staff' ready to use the proletarian masses in order to carry out its own revolution, a revolution that would hoist it to power. But the mystique of the Party, of a social-democratic movement whose role is to educate the proletariat, was too powerful for him to be able to follow his line of reasoning through to its logical conclusion. He himself scarcely believed his own warning when he wrote that history might very well play the same trick on the Russian socialists as it played on the French revolutionary bourgeoisie, by dressing up the bourgeois content of the movement in the ideological clothes of radical democracy.

When Trotsky examined the consequences of the decisive congress held in August 1903 he was no less apprehensive. He declared flatly that the workers' movement must eventually transform itself into a 'process of proletarian self-determination.' (63) If this did not happen, he added, Russian social democracy would be seen to have been a historical mistake. But, what was actually going on in AD 1904? The party of the revolutionary intelligentsia was in the process of substituting itself for the proletariat, elaborating its own private theory of revolution, and was attempting to bend the reality of class struggle to this theory. But, Trotsky wrote, history simply does not permit this kind of substitution; the proletarian theory of political development cannot replace a politically developed proletariat. Revolutionary consciousness cannot come to the masses from the outside. It can only come from the objective conditions of their existence. Lenin's party resembled the classical capitalist factory, where a minority gives the orders and the great majority is merely invited to jump to it.

Trotsky went on to situate Lenin in the Jacobin tradition which, he said, represents 'the maximum degree of radicalism a bourgeois society is capable of producing'. (64) It was this underlying Jacobinism which led the Bolshevik leader to believe that the preparation of the proletariat for dictatorship was purely a question of organization; in point of fact, though, his organizational ideas lead to a dictatorship over the proletariat. For lacobinism, like Blanquism, is a bourgeois ideology aiming at nothing more nor less than the construction of a power apparatus.

Already in 1903, Trotsky published a pamphlet comparing Lenin with Robespierre and laying bare Lenin's struggle for power within the party. (65) He went further still in 'Our Political Tasks' and accused Lenin's friends of using Marxism as an ideological veil to hide their bourgeois-revolutionary Jacobin) role, with which these said friends had become perfectly reconciled. The democratic intelligentsia had adopted Marxism because it provided them with a theoretical base for their struggle for political emancipation. (66) This gave rise to the illusion that it was the social democrats' task to liberate the Russian people, as a certain (Leninist) committee in Odessa proclaimed. Which led Trotsky to comment:

"the Odessa Committee has evidently rejected the little notion that the liberation of the people can only come from the people itself as a vestige of 'suivisme'. Long live the Odessa Committee, the people's 'liberator', which has already liberated the workers of Odessa from the task of having to liberate themselves! Only one wonders in what way the Odessa Committee's slogan [Long live social democracy, the Russian people's liberator] is better than the promises of the old 'people's heroes', and what reason we have to believe that the 'fighting organization' will really obtain freedom for the people." (67)

In Rosa Luxemburg's case, however, this was no longer a question of tactical criticism, soon to be corrected or retracted. One cannot deny her a certain logic, and a great deal of perseverance, in the defence of her theses. Throughout her career as a social-democrat activist she maintained her hostility towards a certain conception -- which today we might term bureaucratic -- of the party and of revolutionary organization in general. But if Rosa Luxemburg's qualities lay in her obstinacy, and in her fidelity towards a theory of spontaneity that was ultimately to become identified with her, her critique never attained the radicality of a Trotsky. This was because Rosa Luxemburg's entire life was devoted to the social-democratic movement; outside of this universe neither her activities nor her militant thought were conceivable. Trotsky, on the other hand, was extremely independent-minded. It was no mere accident that he avoided all factions until 1917, and even then he only joined the one he thought most effective. This independence gave him the freedom to vent his violent reactions on every and any concept, however orthodox. But there was another side of the coin; once his anger was past, once his prophetic thunderbolts had been hurled, he was capable -- when enjoying ministerial power -- of keeping silent when he should have spoken up. Rosa Luxemburg, with her limitations and her quest for orthodoxy and a spiritual family, could be tempted by nothing outside what she believed to be the truth.

Rosa Luxemburg's principal theoretical concern, from The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Union to her final 'Speech' on the programme of the young German Communist Party then in formation, was to reconcile organization, the necessity of a vanguard with the autonomous proletarian dynamic. Perhaps the reason why some people have been attracted to 'Luxemburgism' is that it attempted to reconcile two irreconcilables, resulting in a 'lame synthesis" In truth, it is not easy to show that the impulses of the masses and their revolutionary practice are both spontaneous and dependent upon a social democracy 'which alone is capable of unleashing this energy and shapes it as a decisive factor in political life'. (69) Nevertheless, the fundamental role which Rosa Luxemburg assigned to their autonomous activity led her to condemn severely parties such as the RSDWP which ignored this aspect. And if she failed to perceive Marxism's role as a mystifying ideology with regard to the ambitions of the intelligentsia, she did believe that the latter's organizational conceptions were incompatible with the ultimate aims of socialism. For her, the existence of an all-powerful central committee ruling over the masses could only amount to the projection, in practice, of pure and unalloyed Blanquism. This seemed to her to stem from Lenin's own definition of the social democrat: 'a Jacobin indissolubly linked to the organization of the proletariat henceforth-conscious of its class interests'. (70)

Thus, the kind of discipline practised by Lenin was typically that of the bourgeois State. the central committee controlled the workers, whereas the reverse would have been the case in the Marxist conception of the revolutionary struggle. (71) Too much centralization was liable to place excessive power in the hands of the intellectual leaders of the social-democrat movement, enabling them to further their ambitions. Rosa Luxemburg thought that only the autonomous action of revolutionaries could foil the designs of an ambitious intelligentsia, only too likely, on the morrow of the revolution, to acquire rapidly a bourgeois class content. In other words the dictatorship, as Lenin first conceived and later practised it, was more akin to the Jacobin dictatorship advocated by the Blanquists than to that of the proletariat in its struggle against the bourgeoisie. In these conditions, asked Rosa Luxemburg, will the masses not simply have served as a rung on the ladder to power for a handful of intellectuals? For a dictatorship on the lines of Jacobin hegemony? (72)

The criticisms advanced by Rosa Luxemburg, who was thoroughly familiar with the European social-democratic movement, beginning with the RSDWP,(73) raise a fundamental question concerning the social character of (future) Bolshevik power. In 1918 she urged that the proletariat's duty was to set up a class dictatorship, which she opposed to that of a party or of a tiny minority governing in the name of the class. But, like Trotsky later, she reasoned in terms of mistakes, errors, of abuses and even ambitions of certain misguided intellectuals. Her analysis stopped there. Like most Marxists of her generation, she could hardly conceive of socialist revolution without the party's education, inspiration and leadership. She would have liked to change the relationships within the party, to establish a (mythical) fluidity between the leaders and the masses. It seemed to her quite evident that any spontaneous uprising by the proletariat could only be elementary and that it would have to ally itself with a group of theoreticians, tacticians and propagandists capable of channeling this revolutionary activity towards social revolution.

In these conditions it is difficult to see how she could have touched on the question of the social character of the 'leaders': if these had their own revolutionary objectives corresponding to their class existence, then their interests would never coincide with those of the proletariat and they would never be in a position to lead the latter towards its goal. And yet, the 'alliance' between intellectuals and workers seemed indispensable, the fusion of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary energy being as much a dogma for Luxemburg as for her contemporaries. One can see the vicious circle in which she was trapped in spite of herself. From the moment she refused to recognize that the proletariat has a complete existence for itself, and hence is fully autonomous, she could not deepen her analysis to the point of penetrating beyond appearances: an intelligentsia capable of being deceived by bureaucratic leaders but which, in any case, is irreplaceable as the vital catalyst in the transformation of social relations.

Any critique that does not reassess the problem of social democracy in its entirety is trapped, right from the outset, within the same vicious circle. However far this critique was developed, whether by Axelrod, Trotsky or Luxemburg, it never aimed at anything beyond, at best, the substitution of one set of leaders for another or, failing that, the improvement of the existing leadership.

Criticism from within developed as far as it possibly could, and with an astonishing degree of lucidity, right from the time of the first congress (1903) and the discussions then taking place concerning the Leninist line. All the vices of bureaucratism, appointments from above, manipulation of congress delegates, were roundly condemned; and the arrogance, intolerance and stifling discipline of Leninism were shown up indignantly. As was to happen later, from 1920 onwards, the only solution that the best and most disinterested among the social democrats could come up with involved no more than a change of 'political line', increased democracy' or more real 'contact' with the masses. A clear understanding of the situation as a whole -- of the narrow interdependence that existed between the interests of the intelligentsia, their social and economic role in a capitalism made up of large units and bureaucratic methods, hierarchy, intolerance and contempt for the masses -- was denied even the most perceptive of the social democrats.

We have seen that the pre-populist period of Russian socialism was rich in warnings and prophecies. We have also observed that radicality, while almost entirely cut off from the realities of political struggle, was nonetheless preserved in a number of tiny circles, or even in the writings of isolated individuals.

Populism, in the strict sense of the term -- the movement that began with the 'Go to the People' campaigns -- introduced a period of activism, but it led to an impoverishment of radical thought. The rise of the intellectual class parallel to the development of industrial capitalism in Russia highlighted the problem of organization. This was resolved the moment Plekhanov, Axelrod and others went to 'help' the workers conduct their strikes. The practical problem was dealt with before the theoretical one: it was only afterwards that people began to codify and conceptualize their habit of placing themselves at the head of the proletariat.

When former populists began spreading Marxism in Russia and later, in exile, teaching Marxism to apprentice revolutionaries, all they were doing by this time was to drape the intelligentsia in those famous ideological vestments mentioned by Marx, whose function was not merely to mystify the proletariat but also to conceal their true situation from them. A struggle for the hearts and minds of the intelligentsia itself then ensued. Torn between liberalism, constitutionalism and the various forms of Marxism (legal, economist, social-democrat) or even reluctant to abandon populism, the different fractions of the intelligentsia made their choices according to their precise position within the middle classes, their temperament and historical optimism or fatalism. This was what the in-fighting that took place within this class in the course of the 1890s was about: all were agreed, however, that the principal objective was the emancipation of the working class. Alongside the 'struggle for the liberation of the working class' group (Leninist) we find the 'workers' self-liberation group (economist) while 'Workers' Thought' was akin to 'Workers' Newsletters'. The problem was whether the political struggle should be carried on parallel to workers' demands or in alliance with the proletariat; was one to be satisfied with a parliamentary regime (the liberals' position) or should one start preparing the battle for socialism straightaway (the social democrat's position)?

The historical vision of all concerned imperatively assumed the development and the flowering of capitalism with all its consequences (and here they began to shift away from populism, which preferred to skip the urban industrial phase). (74) The first point on which the social democrats began to drift away from the economists, the legal Marxists, etc., concerned the need to draw the proletariat into the political struggle against the tsarist autocracy or, to use their opponents' paraphrase, against the tsarist police.

But, if drawing the proletariat into a task that, historically, fell to the bourgeoisie constituted an initial rallying cry around the social-democratic standard, the manner in which this 'alliance' was to be concluded inevitably provoked fresh divergences, this time inside the movement.

Following a period of realignment inside the intelligentsia, a battle for partisan loyalty broke out, in which the working class was intimately involved. This stage was inaugurated around 1903, and it witnessed the splitting of the social democrats into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. But no-one dreamed for a moment of calling upon the workers to umpire the quarrel which, both in name and in the final analysis, concerned their own liberation! The combat was fought out with the intelligentsia's own esoteric weapon -- theoretical argument. And this is only right when one considers that what was at stake was the bourgeois revolution and hence, in the first place, the destiny of the intelligentsia as a class.

Machajski showed this very clearly when he predicted that socialism would usher in the reign of the new bourgeoisie -- the mental workers. His critique, when set alongside those of Axelrod, Trotsky and Luxemburg, illustrates this remarkable phenomenon, namely that even before the 1905-7 revolution, organized Marxism was being brought face to face with its ultimate objectives. On the one hand, Machajski winkled out the class dimension of the Marxist intelligentsia; on the other hand, the internal critique of the social-democratic movement, having shrewdly perceived the autonomous nature of all proletarian liberation, went utterly astray regarding the historical significance of the social-democratic movement.

It was only after the Bolshevik Revolution that the radical critique once more became free to develop beyond this stage. This was because while, prior to this, all judgments and analyses were founded solely on the dream of power, power was achieved in 1917 and thenceforth became a reality. Predictions that had earlier been couched in terms of underlying tendencies could now at last give way to the examination of an historical incarnation : the Soviet State.


1 For the evolution of social thought in Russia before 1850 we have A. Herzen's well-informed and highly lucid account, Du développemnt des idees en Russie (London, 1853, published in French). See also P. Pascal's rather more philosophically committed Les grands courants de In pensee russe contemporaire (Lausanne, 1971).

2 Thus Bakunin, in an article in Deutsche Jahrbucher (1842), under the pseudonym Jules Elysard.

3 M. Malia, Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism (Cambridge, Mass., 1961), p. 99.

4 G. Sourine, Le fouriérisme en Russie (Paris, 1936), passim.

5 R. Labry, Alexandre Ivanovir Herzen (Paris, 1928), ch. 1.

6 ibid.

7 Sourine, op cit., pp. 58-9.

8 Cf. Isaiah Berlin's introduction to A. Herzen, My Past and Thoughts, 4 vols (London, 1968).

9 R. Labry, Herzen et Proudhon (Paris, 1928), p· 39·

10 It is worth adding that a distinct social differentiation grew up among the Cossacks under the shelter of this autonomy: the masters on the one hand; farmers, fishermen and soldiers on the other.

11 Cf. P. Pascal, Le révolte de Pougatchev (Paris, 1971).

12 Because he enunciated the ideas of his age rather than enclose them within a grand design, Herzen left no single work containing the quintessence of his thought. His socialism emerges gradually in his writings. In French, Le monde russe et la révolution (Memoires d'A. Herzen) (Paris, 1860-2); Lettres de France et d'ltalie (Geneva, 1871). In English, My Past and Thoughts, op. cit.; From the Other Shore (London, 1856), are among those to be consulted. The most complete Russian edition after M. K. Lemke's, Polnoe sobrane socinenij i pisem, 22 vols (Petrograd, 1915-25), is now the Sobranie socienij v tridcati tomah, 34 vols (Moscow, 1954-66).

13 Herzen himself was to experience the full rigour of this arbitrariness, subjected to imprisonment, depor-

tation and exile. Cf. %. H. Carr, The Romantic Exiles (London, 1949; Ist edn 1933). Carr rather tends to

exaggerate the romanticism in Herzen's thought and certainly overdoes his 'lordly' suffering.

14 E. Lampert, Studies in Rebellion (London, 1957), p· 238.

15 Malia, op. cit., p. 410.

16 Herzen, From the Other Shore, p. 240.

17 Berlin's introduction to My Past and Thoughts.

18 In the IXe Lettre de France et d'ltalie (1849).

19 From the Other Shore.

20 The Bell (Geneva), no. 2, repr. In Lemke, op. cit., vol. 20, pp. 131-5.

21 Lampert, op. cit., pp. 196ff.

22 Malia, op· dt., p. 132.

23 Cited by Lampert, op. cit., p. 233.

24 'Letters to an Old Comrade', cited by R. Labry, Alexandn Ivanovit

Hmm, op. dt., p. 395.

25 It could acquire status by registration with the guild of merchants, whose upper strata really did constitute an industrial and merchant bourgeoisie; but in 1845 this category included no more than 1,800 persons. This class only began to take on some numerical importance with the industrial revolution at the end of the century. See R. Portal, Les slaves (Paris, 1965), p. 186.

26 There is no paradox in the fact that the most radical theorists today have resuscitated the aristocratic mentality in its most ludic and most disinterested form. See R. Vaneigem, Treatise de savoir vivre ci I'usage des jeunes ginerntias, Paris 1%7, p. 81.

27 F. Venturi, Roots of Revolution: a History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia (New York, 1966), p. 138ff. The first edition was published in 1952 under the title, II populismo russo. The American edition is slightly more complete.

28 ibid., p. 297.

29 Cf. A. Coquart, Dmitri Pisarev (1840-1868) et I'idiologie du nihilisme russe (Paris, 1946).

30 Narodnaia rasprava, no. 2, cited by Venturi, op. cit., p. 383-4.

31 Venturi, op. cit., ch. 16.

32 By an ironic twist of fate, it was Ogarev who had given the signal for the 'Go to the People' movement in an article published in Kolokol (the Bell), in 1861. Both he and Herzen believed that the peasantry was the repository of revolutionary dynamism, and that inspiration should be drawn from that class.

33 Venturi, op. cit., ch. 21.

34 A. Gerschenkron,'The Problem of Economic Development in Russian Intellectual History of the Nineteenth Century', in E. I. Simmons (ed.), Continuity and Change in Russian and Soviet Thought (Cambridge, Mass., 1955).

35 Portal, op. dt., p. 282.

36 Venturi, op. dt., p. 539

37 G. Fischer, Russian Liberalism (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), pp. 49, 61. It is interesting to note that there were numerous contacts between liberals and Marxists to begin with. They originated from the same class and they shared a common objective (power), but they differed over the question of means: the Liberals were to opt for reformism, applying a strategy which devolved upon the social democrats in Germany.

38 Of the 425 revolutionary agitators arrested in 1877-8 and considered as 'criminal', 147 were nobles, 90 were clergymen, 58 sons of officers, 54 came from the mbhfhanstvo, 11 were soldiers and 65 of peasant origin. See Venturi, op. dt., p. 595.

39 ibid., p. 383-4.

40 M. Bakunin, bansl. from Etatisme et anarchie neiden, 1%7; Ist edn 1873), P· 234.

41 Article in L'Egalite (27 luly 1869), and repr. in M. Bakounine, Oeuvres (Paris, 1895-1911), vol. 5, p· 129. See also Article 8 of the Programme of the Slav Section of Zurich, repr. As appendix to Etatisme et annrchie.

42 Oeuvres, vol. 4, p. 476-7.

43 Etatisme et anarchie, p. 319.

44 Narodnoe delo (September 1868), cited by Venturi, op. cit., p. 432.

45 P. Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Frinceton, N.J., 1%7), pp. 19, 92.

46 The Russified form of his name is Makhaev; his doctrine is designated by the term makhaeushchina, along with the movement it inspired. The first two sections of this work were written in Siberia in 1898 and 1899, the third being written in Geneva. The work as a whole was printed in Geneva under the title Umstvnnyj rabocij (The Mental Worker) in 1904-6 and signed with the pseudonym A. Volskij. The first two sections were also published in St Petersburg in 1906. A new edition was published in the USA (New York-Baltimore) in 1968 by Inter-Language Literary Associates. The first section, the most interesting, is entitled 'The Evolution of Social Democracy'; the second, 'Scientific Socialism'; the third (I) 'Socialism and the Workers' Movement in Russia' and (II) 'Socialist Science as a New Religion'. Machajski also published pamphlets and two reviews. Most of his papers are deposited in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. His thought has been popularized in the West by Max Nomad: cf. Aspects of Revolt (New York, 1961), esp. ch. 5.

47 In an unpublished manuscript entitled The Bankruptcy of Socialism in the Nineteenth Century', Machajski points out that he is speaking of the professional intelligentsia, paid on a salaried basis, as opposed to those living off rents or profits.

48 In his preface to 'The Mental Worker' Machajski even draws a parallel between Christ and Man, stating that both of them expressed the people's yearning for liberation (p. 43 of the 1968 American edn).

49 Bilans burzuazyjnej revolucyj rosyjskiej (Geneva, 1909: Max Nomad Foundation at IISH, Amsterdam).

50 Burzuaznaja revolucija i rabocoe delo (n.p., 1905: Max Nomad Foundation at IISH, Amsterdam).

51 'Rabocij Zagovor'.

52 Max Nomad attributes dictatorial ambitions to Machajski within the proposed conspiracy (Aspects of Revolt, end of ch. 5). There is nothing, however, to corroborate Nomad's suspicions, which he only made public after thirty years' silence! Against this view see M. S. Shatz, Anti-intellectualism in the Russian Intelligentsia (mimeo., New York, 1963: Certificate of Russian Institute, Colombia University), p. 75.

53 Cf. A. d'Agostino, 'Intelligentsia Socialism and the "Workers' Revolution": the Views of J. W. Machajski', International Review of Social History, vol. 1, xiv (1969), pp. 74-5.

54 Burzhuaznaja revolucija i raboochoe delo, op. cit., and M. S. Shatz, 'The Makhaevists and the Russian Revolutionary Movement', International Review of Social History, vol. 2, xv (1970).

55 Rabocaja revolucija, no. 1 (single issue) (Moscow, June-July 1918). Machajski wrote every page of this journal himself in May 1918.

56 Novomirski, Cto takoe anarhizm (n.p. [Geneva], 1907), ch. ix. Among Machajskist writings (those more or less faithful to his ideas) we should mention: E. I. Lozinskij, Ctoie takoe nakonec, intelligencija! (What, in the Final Analysis, is the Intelligentsia?) (St Petersburg, 1907); and K. Orgeiani (G. Gogelija), Ob intelligenni ('On the Intelligentsia') (London, 1912).

57 Avrich, op. dt., p. 19.

58 It was the 1917 Revolution and the resulting persecution which led the anarchists to develop their analysis of Bolshevism or, rather, of the Soviet State, as we have seen in ch.

59 1. H. L. Keep, The Rise of Social Democracy in Russia (Oxford, 1963), p. 39. There was very little differentiation between 'economists' and social democrats before the beginning of the twentieth century. The publication of Credo by Prokopovitch and Kuskova was to put an end to this state of affairs. It is worth noting that it was the 'legal Marxist', Struve, who drew up the party programme for the First Congress of the RSDWP (1898).

60 Who did not hesitate to predict that 'though today they[Leninists] might man the barricades, tomorrow they might well occupy the judges seats'. Cited by Keep, op. cit., p. 61.

61 P. Axelrod, 'Ob"edinienie rossijskoj sodaldemokratij i eja zadaci' ('The Unification of Russian Social Democracy and its Tasks) in Iskra, nos 55, 57 (15 December 1903, 15 January 1904).

62 ibid.,Axelrod refers to the passage in the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte in which Marx writes: 'lts gladiators (the spokesmen of bourgeoisie) found the ideals and the forms, the means of self-deception, they needed, that they might hide from themselves the bourgeois limitations of the struggle in which they were engaged. .. .' (London, 1926. p 25).

63 L. Trotsky, Nos taches politiques (Paris, 1971), p. 20. Significantly, Trotsky never authorized the reprinting of this pamphlet in his lifetime. Although it was first published in Geneva in 1904 (in Russian), a revealing pointer to the ideological development of the extreme left lies in the fact that the French translation was only published in the wake of the events of May 1968.

61 ibid., p. 189.

65 L. Trotsky, Rapport de la délégation siberienne (Paris, 1970), passim.

66 Nos taches politiques, p. 35.

67 ibid., p. 144, n. 7. Those who have followed Trotsky's career as a member of the Council of People's Commissars will surely savour this text, written in 1904. It was not the last time Trotsky elaborated a critique whose bitter irony would be later illustrated by history. 68 D. Guérin, Rosa Luxenburg et la spontanéite révolutionnaire (Paris. 1971), pp. 424.

69 Cited by Guerin, ibid.

70 V. Lenin, Un pas or avant, deux pas en arriére (Moscow), p. 210: In this passage, the author replies to the criticisms of Axelrod contained in the Iskra article mentioned. Italics are those of the original text.

71 Article by R. Luxemburg in Neue Zeit (1904). An English translation is available under the title 'Leninism or Marxism' in R. Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1961).

72 ibid., and R. Luxemburg, La révolution russe, in Oeuvres, vol. 2 (Paris, 1969), p. 85 (the latter text was written in September-October 1918).

73 She was active in the Polish (SDKRL) and the German parties, but she also maintained close links with the Russian party -- of which the Polish party was an integral part from 1906 to 1912.

74 G. Fischer in Russian Liberalism, op. cit., rightly insists on what the liberals and the social democrats had in common: both held an evolutionary view of history completely lacking in the liberal bourgeoisie in the West (cf. ch. 3,'Third Force').