Abram Deborin’s “Philosophy of Mach and the Russian Revolution”

This essay – which is hard to find unless you look at the actual newspaper in which it appeared – was young Deborin’s contribution to the Menshevik critique of so-called ‘Machism’ (here it meant mostly Bogdanov’s philosophy but also Bazarov, Lunacharsky, Suvorov, Yushkevich, and some other figures + some left Bolshevik syndicalist tendencies).

This essay is mostly famous in that in 1930 it was unearthed by Emelian Yaroslavsky who pointed out its anti-Bolshevik ending and that, he argued, clearly demonstrated Deborin’s need to repent. Those who aren’t aware of the story can find it in this book (esp. chapter three where this episode is described). Deborin recently ‘won’ a battle against his philosophical rivals only to be crushed by a few Stalinist upstarts and disappear from the philosophical scene until 1960s (although he managed to survive and he was not ‘repressed’ like many of his students and colleagues).

Deborin republished this essay in 1922 as ‘Machism and Marxism’ and deleted the ending which in a way made this essay a bit toothless but preserved all of his main points – now it appeared to be an essay against Marxism’s enemies. But the original version would still haunt Deborin for a while…

This text came out in the newly established Menshevik newspaper called Golos sotsialdemokrata (The voice of the Social-Democrat) in April of 1908 (№4-5) on pages 3 to 12 (bottom part of the pages).

Link to a PDF (apologies for poor scan quality – this is from a microfilm and that’s the best quality I was able to find).

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