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"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

GEORGE L. KLINE

1. Nietzsche and Marx


Nietzsche, like Marx, is a decisively post-Hegelian thinker. Both
thinkers place primary emphasis upon human history, although both -
in clear opposition to Hegel - stress future, not past, history. Students
of Nietzsche have sometimes been misled by his early essay, Yom
Nutzen und Nachteil der Historiefur das Leben (1874) - a title usually
translated simply as The Use and Abuse of History, but more accurately
as "On the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Historical Conscious-
ness for Cultural Vitality." The "disadvantage" which Nietzsche sees
in a hypertrophied historical consciousness is that the "dead" weight
of the past stifles present cultural creativity. But for Nietzsche such
creativity is not an end in itself; rather, it serves future history, en-
riching a cumulative culture which is in process of becoming.
The customary opposition of Nietzsche and Marx as individualist and
collectivist, respectively, is a dangerous half-truth. For Nietzsche no
individual has value or dignity except as a creator and "transvaluator"
of cultural values whose creativity serves future history, enriching a
public tradition of high culture. Individuals, for Nietzsche, have only
historically instrumental value; but their function is essential, since
they, and not committees or collectivities, create historical culture.
(Certain of the Russian "Nietzschean Marxists" denied the individual
nature of cultural creativity, asserting that historical collectives are
the true creators of art, science, and philosophy. See Sections 6 and 7
below.)
Marx assigns primary value neither to individuals nor to historical
culture, but to historical society. However, Nietzsche's culture-centered-
ness applies to both present and future, whereas Marx's society-
centeredness may be interpreted (although the texts are skimpy and
inconclusive on this point) as applying only to the historical present

F. J. Adelmann (ed.), Demythologizing Marxism


Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 167

and immediate future. Man-centeredness, in the sense of recognition


of the worth and dignity of the human individual, may apply to the
remote post-capitalist future. On this reading, one might say that, for
Marx, intrinsic value will accrue only to the unalienated, creative
individuals of future communist society. Until that time individuals
have only historically instrumental value: those who work to bring
about a communist society are to be respected as persons. Those who
refuse or fail to do so are to be treated as mere obstacles on the path
of historical progress.
Thus, one might say that Marx offers an ethically humanist, perhaps
even ethically individualist, ideal for the future, although he clearly
rejects ethically humanist, and ethically individualist, principles for
the present. Nietzsche does something very similar: he rejects ethical
principles as constraints upon free creativity in the present, and he
offers an ideal - aesthetic, to be sure, rather than ethical - of the crea-
tive individual of the future.
Both thinkers regard present, uncreative and conformist individuals
as having only instrumental value, as being valuable only in so far as
they serve to bring closer a future in which it will be possible for in-
dividuals to be nonconformist and truly creative. But, in Marx's view,
beyond a certain future date all individuals will be nonconformist and
creative. In contrast, in Nietzsche's view, even in the remote future,
only some individuals will be nonconformist and creative, while the
majority will remain, as before, conformist and uncreative.
Marx, in short, envisages an ultimate "levelling up" of human in-
dividuals; Nietzsche would insist that every levelling is a "levelling
down." On this point Marx appears to be more utopian than Nietzsche.
With respect to the ideal of the future, Marx is less remote from
ethical individualism than Nietzsche: The liberated, "de-alienated"
individuals of the communist future, Marx suggests - though he does
not state this explicitly - will, or may, have intrinsic, noninstrumental
value. But for Nietzsche even the ultimate t}bermenschen will not, as
individuals be ends in themselves, but only, or primarily, instrumentali-
ties for the enrichment of a high historical culture. In other words, for
Nietzsche the creators of future culture will themselves be future-
oriented, i.e., directed toward and valued in terms of their contribution
to, the high culture of their own historical future. 1
1 For a somewhat more detailed comparison of Nietzsche and Marx (together with
Kierkegaard) as "post-Hegelian," and allegedly "anti-Hegelian" thinkers, see my
article, "Some Critical Comments on Marx's Philosophy," in N. Lobkowicz, ed., Marx
and the Western World (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967),420-422.
168 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

2. Nietzsche's Impact in Russia


From what has been said it should be clear that "Nietzschean Marx-
ism" is an intellectually respectable position. In fact, many of the
young Russian intellectuals who, at the turn of the century, were
attracted to Marxism were equally drawn to Nietzscheanism. But
before considering their attempts to synthesize Marx and Nietzsche,
let me say a few words about the historical impact of Nietzsche's
thought in Russia.
Nietzsche began to have an influence in Russia in the 1890'S, at about
the same time that he was becoming influential in Germany and
France. Like Kant in the 1880'S, Nietzsche in the 1890'S massively dis-
placed both the Hegelianism and the anti-Hegelian positivism that had
dominated European thought during the second and third quarters of
the nineteenth century.
The first study of Nietzsche's philosophy in Russian, by a Professor
V. Preobrazhenski, appeared in the Moscow journal Voprosy filosofii i
psikhologii in November 1892. It was followed in 1893 by three further
articles in the same journal (by Professors Astafiev, Grot, and Lopatin),
in 1894 by a Russian translation of Max Nordau's book "Degener-
ation" (Entartung), with two chapters on Nietzsche, and in 1898 by
translations of the Nietzsche commentaries of Riehl and of Simmel. The
Russian translation of Lichtenberger's La Philosophie de Nietzsche
appeared in 1901, that of Vaihinger's Nietzsche als Philosoph in 1902
with another edition in 1903, that of FouilIee'sNietzsche et l'immoralisme
in 1905. During the first decade of this century Russian authors pro-
duced a flurry of books2 and articles devoted to the literary, cultural,
and philosophical aspects of Nietzsche's work. Russian journals of
philosophy and theology published a number of articles on Nietzsche,
most of them sharply critical, by foreign as well as Russian authors.
Nietzsche was widely translated into Russian. Between 1895 and
I9IO virtually all of his works appeared in that language. Ten volumes
of his selected works were published in 1900. The complete works (edit-
ed by S. L. Frank and G. Rachinski) began to appear in 1908, but the
edition was interrupted by the First World War and never finished.
This is clear evidence of widespread interest in Nietzsche's thought.
But was Nietzsche only a fin de siecle fashion in Russia, a variation on
2 Two ofthe earliest, and most substantial of them, were: N. 1. Gerasimov, Nitsshean-
stvo (Nietzscheanism), (Moscow, 1901,) 207 pp.; Nikolai Avksentyev, Sverkhchelovek:
Kulturno-eticheski ideal Nitsshe (The Overman: Nietzsche's Cultural and Ethical Ideal),
(St. Petersburg, 1906), 267 pp.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

the theme of literary and cultural decadence? That he was something


more serious was testified to by widely different sources. Thus, N. K.
Mikhailovski's left-wing Populist journal Russkoye Bogatstvo acknow-
ledged, while deploring, the enormous interest and excitement aroused
by Nietzschean ideas, especially among young intellectuals. The
politically conservative newspaper M oskovskiye Vedomosti grouped
Nietzsche with Marx (and, interestingly enough, Tolstoy!) as source of
an intellectual poison which was corrupting the faith and morals of
Russian young people. One Russian critic declared as early as 1901 that
Nietzsche was already exerting a powerful influence upon Russian
thought, and could no longer be dismissed as a passing intellectual
fancy.S

3. "Nietzschean Marxism" in Russian


The Kantian revision of Marxism in Russia, represented by Ber-
dyaev, Bulgakov, and Struve, flourished between ca. 1896 and 1902.4
Nietzschean Marxism emerged in Russia in about 1903, mainly in
works published in the decade 1903-1912 by four talented young men:
Volski, Lunacharski, Bogdanov, and Bazarov. 5 Bogdanov, the oldest
of the four, was born in 1873; Volski, the youngest, in 1880. All of them
reached intellectual maturity shortly before the turn of the century.
These four thinkers were also distinguished among early Russian
Marxists by the fact that they were either creative writers, literary
critics, or excellent prose stylists. Their literary talent was genuine, if
minor; and Maxim Gorky - referred to by one Russian critic as "our
'home-grown Nietzschean' "6 - was for a time closely associated with
this group.
Lunacharski wrote poetry, plays, short stories, and sketches in addi-
tion to critical and theoretical works. Bazarov and Volski, who, so far

3 M. P. Nevedomski, Preface to the Russian edition of Henri Lichtenberger's La


Philosophie de Nietzsche, (St. Petersburg, 1901), i. Mikhailovski published two long, severely
critical articles on Nietzsche in Russkoye Bogatstvo for November and December, 1894.
They are reprinted inPolnoye sobraniye sochineni N.K. Mikhailovskovo (Complete works of
N.K. Mikhailovski), 4th ed., VII (St. Petersburg, 1909), cols. 923-976.
4 For an account of the Kantian Marxists, with special emphasis on (early) Berdyaev,
see my essay, "Leszek Kolakowski and the Revision of Marxism," in G. L. Kline, ed.,
European Philosophy Today (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965), esp. 132-134 and 140-
142; also my "Theoretische Ethik im russischen Friihmarxismus," Forschungen zur
osteuropiiischen Geschichte, Bd. 9 (1963), esp. 271-274.
There were no Nietzschean Marxists in Germany, although there were several
Kantian Marxists (Eduard Bernstein, Otto Bauer, Ludwig Quessel) and at least one
Darwinian Marxist (Karl Kautsky). German Marxists evinced little intellectual interest
in, and no ideological sympathy for, the thought of Nietzsche.
M. P. Nevedomski, in Lichtenberger, op. cit., cxx.
170 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

as I can determine, wrote no belles lettres, affected a brilliant, almost


Nietzschean, style in their philosophical writing. Bogdanov was
probably the least gifted in a literary way, but even he tried his hand,
with moderate success, as a novelist. He wrote a socialist utopian
fantasy, Krasnaya zvezda (The Red Star), and a science-fiction novel,
Enzhiner Menni (Engineer Menni).
Thus all of the Nietzschean Marxists were sensitive to the problems
of artistic creativity and freedom. It was natural that they should have
found in Nietzsche - philosopher-poet, "aesthete," and furious critic of
normative morality - a congenial support for their own revisions of
Marxism.
Like other Marxist revisionists (including the Kantian Marxists), the
Nietzschean Marxists centered their critical scrutiny and doctrinal
innovation in the two "underdeveloped areas" of classical Marxism:
ethics and epistemology. I shall concentrate on their views in ethics-
construed broadly enough to include social philosophy and the philoso-
phy of man. I shall not discuss their epistemological views - even though
all four of them wrote copiously on epistemology - for two reasons: (a)
in this area they were least original (a partial exception is afforded by
Bogdanov's socially-oriented "empiriomonism") and most submissively
dependent upon Western sources; (b) because their sources were not in
Nietzsche, but in the "empiriocritical" writings of Mach and Avenarius.
In contrast to their generally unimaginative appropriation of "em-
piriocritical" themes, their assimilation of Nietzschean themes was free
and constructive. Each of the four modulated and exploited Nietzsche-
an insights and distinctions in a different way. '
It is perhaps natural that admirers of Nietzsche should have been
nonconformists, that, far from constituting a homogeneous group, these
four thinkers should have been extremely free-wheeling in their ways
of combining Marx and Nietzsche. All of them followed Nietzsche in
rejecting deontological or normative (especially Kantian) ethics. All of
them were concerned to free the creative individual from the "tyranny
of the ought." They insisted that Marx's proletariat, like Nietzsche's
Obermensch, stands "beyond (bourgeois-Christian) good and evil."
All of them stressed free volition, desire, and creativity. But they
disagreed sharply on the question of whether volition and creativity
should take individual or collective forms. The more individualistic
(and hence more orthodoxly Nietzschean) among them were Volski and
Lunacharski; the more collectivistic (hence more orthodoxly Marxist),
Bogdanov and Bazarov. However, the "collectivism" of the last-named
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 17 1

- as opposed to the deontological or morally-obligatory collectivism of


later Leninists and Stalinists - was meant to be voluntary and non-
obligatory. The Nietzschean collectivists maintained that under
socialism individuals would/reely desire to subordinate their individual
creativity to the creativity of the collective. The Leninists and Stalinists
(including contemporary Soviet Marxist-Leninists) insist that individu-
als are, and will be, duty-bound to subordinate their interests to those
of the collective.
Ranged on a spectrum from most to least individualistic, the Nietz-
schean Marxists would stand: Volski, Lunacharski, Bogdanov, and
Bazarov. I shall consider them in that order. 7
But before doing so, I wish to make one further preliminary remark.
For the Nietzschean Marxists, as for Nietzsche himself, the rhetoric and
passion of their utterance is of its essence. One can paraphrase the
Kantian Marxists (or Kant himself) without serious loss of content; but
paraphrase of the Nietzscheans (or of Nietzsche) seems to me to entail
major loss. Hence, in what follows I shall frequently quote their words
in direct - if inadequate - translation. This will also permit a fairer
judgment of their strength, as well as their weakness, as writers. All
of them were romantics and, to a degree, utopians. Their prose at its
best is powerful and passionate; at its worst it is overblown and
sentimental.
4. Stanislav V olski
Volski's real name was Andrei Vladimirovich Sokolov. He was born
in 1880, and died around 1936, during the Stalin purges, in circum-
stances that have not yet been clarified. Expelled from Moscow
University in 1899, he was an active Bolshevik until March 1917, when
he broke decisively with Lenin. During the 1920'S and 1930'S he was
reduced to the role of literary popularizer and translator. But in 1909
he had published the longest and most systematic treatise on ethics
in the literature of pre-Soviet Russian Marxism. He called it The
Philosophy 0/ Struggle: An Essay in Marxist Ethics,S and described it

7 I have briefly surveyed the four Nietzschean Marxists' views on the question of the
individual person in my essay, "Changing Attitudes Toward the Individual," in C. E.
Black, ed., The Transformation of Russian Society: Aspects of Social Change Since I86I
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), 618-624. The views of Volski and Baza-
rov are sketched in my "Theoretische Ethik ... " (cited in fn. 4 above), 275-278. For con-
cise summaries of the philosophical - including epistemological - views of Volski,
Lunacharski, Bogdanov, and Bazarov, see my articles in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
ed. Paul Edwards, 8 vols. (New York: Macmillan & Free Press, 1967).
8 Filosofiya borby: opyt postroyeniya etiki marksizma, (Moscow, 1909). 3II pp.
172 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

as an investigation of the various forms in which the individual's


struggle with the natural and social environment expresses itself. The
position which Volski's book develops might be called a "pluralistic
ethical individualism."
Societies - Volski asserts - belong to individuals, serving them as
weapons or instruments in their struggle with the natural environment.
But in "bourgeois" society (based on what Volski calls "fixed" division
of labor) the individual is free to develop only within the narrow con-
fines of a specialty. He is self-alienated, conformist, myopic. The
bourgeoisie as a class imposes conformity, undercutting any originality
which its individual members might strive to attain.
In contrast, the future classless society (based on "variable" division
of labor) will be made up of nonconformist, self-determining individu-
als. In sharp opposition to the bourgeois, the proletarian of the future
will be unafraid of selfhood, hospitable to originality.
For the historical present, Volski admits, class solidarity and disci-
pline, which restricts individuality, is a tactical prerequisite to victory
in the class struggle. All classes use moral norms as instruments of
power. To be effective, class morality must be exclusive - valid only
for a given period of human history and for a specific class. The "intense
living morality of the [present] historical moment" has never appeared
before and will not appear again. 9 The temporary but essential function
of proletarian morality is to solidify and energize the proletariat. In
this sense, Volski asserts, moral altruism is an instrument of destruction
(of the old order), not creation (of the new). "For battle one must forge
a good sword and a good shield [Le., proletarian morality] - after the
battle is over, let them rust in the museum of the new man."lO All
obligatory norms, he insists, will eventually disappear. With the defeat
of capitalism, the individual, released from the "numbing pattern of
coercive norms" and the ethics of duty - "the inevitable companion of
bourgeois society" - will be free to make of himself an "integral, har-
monious personality."ll "The class," Volski writes, "sees in itself some-
thing to be eliminated, [in] the individual something to be asserted."12
The bourgeoisie, he declares, freed the individual in the hour of its
revolution (i.e., in 1789) only to enslave him in the hour of its triumph;
the proletariat commands the individual in the hour of its (future)
revolution only to free him in the hour of its triumph.
9 Ibid., 2.
10 Ibid., 9-10.
11 Ibid., 272, 37.
12 Ibid., 282.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA I73

The system of values created by free individuals in a classless society


will be wholly exempt from class sanction - or indeed any other supra-
individual sanction. In the process of creating such values, Volski adds,
the "socialization of methods [e.g., in science] is accompanied by an
individualization of goals."13 Science is purely instrumental; the indi-
vidual knows in order to desire more strongly. (This formulation is
borrowed from Lunacharski.) Ultimate goals or ideals are plural and
diverse, but the means of achieving them are single, a focus for the uni-
fied application of social energies. "The moral consciousness of the
struggling proletariat," Volski writes, "will sound not as a monotonous
church psalm [i.e., in unison], but as a powerful symphony of the most
varied instruments, combined in a single harmony by the forces of the
elemental storm of history, yet preserving the entire fulness and depth
of each individual self."14 However, the proletariat "is not the legislator
of mankind, but only the preface to mankind ... a transition, a purging
fire, the soil for a future harvest, an instrument for universally human
creation."15 In the remote future (Volski sometimes speaks of the future
of a thousand years hence) all men will be creative; genuine creativity
will permeate the "prose and poetry of life, placing its stamp upon all
manifestations of human thought."16
The ultimate moral ideals of socialism, Volski admits, can at present
only be dimly guessed at. Their shape is unclear. Yet, "precisely there,
in the hazy distances of the future, lies that which is most precious and
sacred for the individual. ... Only there is man proud, strong, bold and
fair; only there, in harmony of feeling and all-encompassing knowledge,
will grow the ruler of the universe, for whom our contemporary reality
serves as a mere pedestal."17
The dim present is linked to the radiant future by continuity of
struggle. "Struggle," Volski exclaims, "is the joy of being," and "social-
ism is freedom of struggle. Everything that increases struggle is good;
everything that diminishes it is bad."IS Such struggle is wholly unlike
the competition of bourgeois society; it is a competition not for what is
but for what ought to be. It is a clash of ideals and (cultural) values; its
source lies in the individual's sense of overflowing creative power.
Developing Nietzsche's insight that "enemy" means not "villain" but

13 Ibid., 300.
u Ibid., 15.
15 Ibid., 27 2 .
16 Ibid., 277.
17 Ibid., 12.
18 Ibid., 306, 302.
174 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

"opponent," Volski writes: I grant full freedom to the individual whose


ideal is inimical to mine; I strive to make him an "integral personality,"
and work with him to remove external impediments to our sharp and
clear collision. In struggling with me he enriches me. He enlivens my
highest value, pressing it eternally forward. He causes me to experience
"a great intensity of will, a great ecstasy, when the soul- winged with
a passion for victory - flies over the earth like a whirlwind, craving for
obstacles in order to destroy them. Thus he strikes sparks from me and
kindles a flame with which I set mankind afire. "19 "And if I should be
vanquished in this struggle," Volski exclaims, I want to recognize in
the eyes of my conqueror "the same passion, the same power, the same
great thirst for life, which inspired me."
"Of all those who surround me," Volski asserts, " ... the most pre-
cious, most essential is he with whom I struggle for life and death."20
He is both friend and enemy; I want both to vanquish and to preserve
him. To strengthen myself I must strengthen him and those like him.
"Such," Volski concludes, "is the morality of 'friend-enemies' - the
morality of the future."21
The future, in fact, was to be quite otherwise. Volski's book was one
of the Jast defenses of ethical individualism (on a secular foundation)
to appear in Russia. Leninists have been notably impatient with
"Nietzschean" revisions of Marxism, particularly those -like Volski's-
which bear a strongly individualistic stamp.

5. A. V. Lunacharski
Anatoli Vasilyevich Lunacharski (1875-1933) joined the Russian
Social Democratic (Marxist) Party in 1892. Because of radical political
activities in secondary school, he was not permitted to matriculate at a
Russian university. He attended lectures at Kiev University and at the
University of Zurich, where in 1894-1895 he studied under Richard
A venarius; this experience left him a permanent convert to the
"empiriocritical" epistemology.
Lunacharski returned to Moscow in 1897, was exiled to Vologda
(1899-1902), and spent several years between 1904 and 1917 in Western
Europe. He was the first People's Commissar for Education (1917-
1929). If he had not died a natural death in 1933, it seems likely that

19 Ibid., 30 9.
20 Ibid., 3 ID.
21 Ibid., 31 I.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 175
he would have shared the fate of other old Bolshevik intellectuals who
were purged during the late 1930's.
Lunacharski's ethical and social theory is essentially Nietzschean
and anti-Kantian. (His value theory, however, is essentially positivistic,
inspired mainly by Avenarius.) As a self-styled "aesthetic amoralist,"22
he rejects the categories of duty and obligation, stressing free creativity
and the unfettered "artistic" shaping of ends and ideals.
He was sarcastic about Kantian ethics, although he recognized it as
"the most profound moral system that the bourgeoisie [sic!] has pro-
duced."23 Kant, Lunacharski declared, would explain a hen's actions
in protecting her chicks by postulating that "there is in her a spark of
the divine fire, and this spark, through the categorical imperative,
causes her to act as every hen ought to act in her place."24
Lunacharski called his own ethical position an "aesthetics of prac-
tice" or "aesthetics of life." He avoided the terms 'ethics' and'morality',
which for him had a strong Kantian flavor. To be sure, he used the term
'aesthetics' in a broad and ullconventional sense, equivalent to "gene-
ral theory of valuation." "We acknowledge the aestheticians of life,"
Lunacharski declares, "the artists of life, the creators of ideals.
Nietzsche is a creator of ideals .... "25
Referring specifically to the relation between Marxism and Nietz-
scheanism, Lunacharski writes: "Rejecting morality, or rather acknow-
ledging in its place only a morale sans sanction ni obligation ... , some
Marxists find Nietzsche's critique of morality, and much in the positive
doctrines of the 'philosopher with the hammer' of great interest."26 The
French phrase, of course, is from Guyau - the title of his major work.
The only function of moral obligation, and hence of moral norms, for
Lunacharski is an instrumental one: to serve as a means for the richer
gratification of desire and the fuller manifestation of will, in a word,
to increase the "fulness of life" (polnota zhizni - probably a translation
of Nietzsche's FiJ,lle des Lebens).
"Nietzsche," Lunacharski wrote in 1903, "and all the other critics
of the morality of duty, have defended the autonomy of the individual

22 R. Avenarius: Kritika chistovo opyta v populyarnom izlozhenii A. Lunacharskovo


(R. Avenarius: Kritik der reinen Erfahrung, Expounded for the Layman by A. Luna-
charski), (Moscow, 1905), 206.
23 A. V. Lunacharski, Moral s marksistskoi tochki zreniya (Morality from the Marxist
Point of View), (Sevastopol, 1925), 14 .
< Ibid., 17.
2. " 'Problemy idealizma' s tochki zreniya kriticheskovo realizma" ("Problems of
Idealism from the Viewpoint of Critical Realism"), Obrazovaniye, NO.2 (1903), 136f.
26 Review of Periodical Literature: Obrazovaniye, No.2 (1904), 151.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

person, the individual's right to be guided in his life solely by his own
desires."27 He goes on to reject laws, norms, and even "universally
human ideals" as constraints upon the free individual.
Moral indoctrination, according to Lunacharski, can generate only
slaves. In contrast, "the aesthetic preaching of [individual] life-ideals
generates not new obligations. but new, higher needs."28 An ideal
should be regarded "not as categorically demanding, but as raising its
splendid (prekrasny) voice at the inner council of the impulses, and
emerging victorious ... by the power of immediate aesthetic emotion,
... "29 Lunacharski preaches not the "ideal above," but the "ideal ahead"
(in history), the ideal of the Vbermensch - the fulness of self-affirming
life, "whole, flourishing, triumphant, creative. "30
"We set no limits whatever," Lunacharski writes, "to the will to
power and love of the far-off [Nietzsche's Willezur Macht and Fernsten-
liebe], i.e., a striving to realize one's ideals in their broadest scope .... The
more grandiose the scope, ... the more self-sacrificingly the individual
person consumes his energies in the name of his ideals - the better."3i
Lunacharski opposes the attempt - by Bogdanov and Bazarov,
among others - to "transform the individual into a cell of the social
organism,"32 and speaks of a future social order which will provide "the
broadest foundation for an infinitely luxurious growth of the most
varied individualities." Yet his own preference for "macro-psychic"
(broad-souled) over "micropsychic" (narrow-souled) individualism
seems to impel him toward a "collectivist" view.
"The most wonderful word in human language," he writes, "is the
word 'we'." This "greater I" makes it possible for us to "rejoice in
victories which will be achieved a century after the death of the 'little
I,' to live the life of generations long dead, which also were a part of
the 'we', .... "33 The I of the macropsychic individualist, he writes, "is
identified with some broad and enduring 'we' ."34
Lunacharski's characteristic stress on the historical continuity of the
creators of culture links his ethics and social philosophy to his philoso-
phy of religion.
'7 " 'Problemy idealizma' ... ," 133.
28 Ibid., 142.
29 Etyudy (Studies), (Moscow, 1922), 250.
30 "Osnovy pozitivnoi estetiki" ("Foundations of Positivist Aesthetics"), in Ocherki
realistichcskovo mirovozZ1'cniya, ed. S. Dorovatovski and A. Charushnikov, (St. Peters-
burg, 1904), 13I.
al "'Problemy idealizma' .... " 136.
3. Etyudy, 255.
aa Ibid., 255, 256.
"' Lac. cit.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 177

The faith of the active human being," he declared in 1904, "is a faith in future
mankind; his religion is an aggregate of those feelings and thoughts which makp.
him a co-participant in the life of mankind, a link in the chain which stretches
toward the overman (sverkhchelovek = Nietzsche's Vbermensch), toward a
beautiful and powerful creature, a perfected organism .... 3

I cannot enter here into further discussion of the Promethean "reli-


gion of God-building (bogostroitelstvo)" which Lunacharski elaborated
and Gorky celebrated during the decade before 1917.36 Such a position,
though it has roots in Hegel, Feuerbach, and early Marx, is essentially
more Nietzschean than Marxist. It was brusquely repudiated by Lenin
and his followers.

6. A. A. Bogdanov
Bogdanov, whose real name was Alexander Aleksandrovich Malinov-
ski (1873-1928), was trained in psychiatry at Kharkov Medical School,
served as an army surgeon during the First World War, and was one
of the founders (in 1926) of the Moscow Institute for Blood Transfusion.
(He died as the result of a transfusion experiment performed upon
himself under conditions which suggest suicide.) He became a Marxist
in 1896 and divided his mature energies between Bolshevik politics
and the elaboration and popularization of Marxist economics, philoso-
phy, and sociology. He is probably best known for his neo-Machian
"empiriomonist" theory of knowledge and experience, a position vio-
lently attacked by Lenin in Materialism and Empiriocriticism (1909).
Bogdanov shares with Bazarov, his fellow collectivist among the
Nietzschean Marxists, a basic doctrinal tension. Both are genuinely
concerned to free the individual from the constraints of coercive norms
and binding obligation; yet they proceed to dissolve the "emancipated"
individual in an impersonal social collective.
Bogdanov recognizes the positive function of norms, even coercive
norms, in social organization. Without them, he writes, society "would
disintegrate, like a human organism deprived of the regulative, unify-
ing activity of its [central] nervous system."37 Without norms, econo-
mic exchange would degenerate into relentless mutual robbery;
competition would become a physical annihilation of competitors; class

35 "Osnovy ... ," 181.


36 It is discussed at some length in Ch. 4 of my Weil Lectures, which will be published
in 1968 by the University of Chicago Press under the title Religious and Anti-Religious
Thought in Russia.
37 "Tseli i normy zhizni" ("The Goals and Norms of Life"), 1905; reprinted in a
collection of Bogdanov's essays called Novy mir (The New World), (Moscow, 19 20), 54.
178 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

struggle would take the form of "a cruel and bloody intraspecific war. "38
However, norms - as "forms of life" - are of two radically different
kinds. Bogdanov calls them, respectively, "coercive norms" (normy
prinuzhdeniya) and "expediency norms" (normy tselesoobraznosti). It
might be less misleading to call them "sanctioning" and "instrumental"
norms, respectively. In any case, they correspond to the Kantian cate-
gorical and hypothetical imperatives.
All norms are "organizing adaptations for the social life of human
beings."39 The organization of social life involves regulation and adjust-
ment of its various manifestations. Such regulation may be either coer-
cive or non-coercive, i.e., effected by expediency norms that merely
specify which means are best adapted to achieving a given (freely
chosen) end. Their form is: "If you desire x, you must do (or choose) y."
Coercive norms, according to Bogdanov, compel without giving
reasons or analyzing relevant conditions; they are rigid, inflexible,
exempt from criticism. In contrast, expediency norms are non-coercive,
flexible, open to criticism. Their model is the technical or scientific rule.
"Norms of external compulsion," Bogdanov writes, "prescribe man's
very goals, or at least the limits of those goals. Expediency norms leave
the choice of goals open .. ,,"40
Bogdanov considers expediency norms to be widely accepted in
science and technology, but not yet accepted in social, political, or
economic relations. The contemporary capitalist system, he wrote in
1905, "is sustained wholly by coercive norms. The [coercive legal]
norms of property and contractual subordination comprise the soul of
capitalism."41
Socialism, Bogdanov insists, will put an end to the "great fetishism"
of coercive norms. Socialist society will be governed entirely by ex-
pediency norms. The general goal for which such norms will stipUlate
specific means is the "maximum of life" for society as a whole, coin-
ciding with a maximum of life for each of its members. Under socialism
man will be not an embryonic but a developed being, not a fragmented
but an integral being.42 In his essay of 1906 entitled "The Integration
of Man" - at the head of which he placed the Nietzschean epigram,
"Man is a bridge to the overman" - Bogdanov sketched the collectivist

38 Ibid., 55.
39 Lac. cit.
40 Ibid., 70.
n Ibid., 56 .
.. "Sobiraniye cheloveka" ("The Integration of Man"), (1906); reprinted in Navy
mir, 40.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 179

ideal. "Integrated man," master of the "monism of science," will be


freed from both coercive norms and functional specialization.
And his creativity will be collective. "The most revolutionary task
in history," Bogdanov declared in 1920, "is to move from ... individual
to collective creation."43 Earlier Bogdanov had asserted that all great
cultural achievements were in fact collective; that Faust was not the
individual creation of Goethe, or the theory of evolution the individual
discovery of Darwin. Both men merely placed the final touches on an
extended collective effort.44
Future socialist society will be a recurrence, "in higher form," of that
primitive communism in which "individual interest was not separated
from collective interest ... , man was organically fused with the whole,
with the group or commune, as cells are fused togetherin living tissue."45
In such a society the individual, "being conscious of himself as an
integral part of a greater whole, living a life continuous with its life, ...
will lose the very idea of egoistic, narrowly individualistic ends. At the
same time, the coercive norms which regulate the conflict of those ends
will become superfluous."46
Bogdanov denies that his Nictzschean-Marxist cultural collectivism
entails the elimination of individual differences. "In the collective each
[individual] supplements the others .... But he can supplement them
only to the extent that he is unique and ... independent."47
However, Bogdanov's science-fiction novel The Red Star suggests
that individual differences will be reduced to a bare minimum. His
idealized Martians - who have enjoyed collectivist "socialism" for
several generations - are almost identical in physical appearance. It is
difficult to distinguish their sexes. (Masculine and feminine names are
indistinguishable.) The earthling-hero lives and works with a Martian
doctor for several months before he discovers that she is a female; when
he does, he promptly falls in love with her !48
It is in this work of 1908 that Bogdanov gives sharpest expression
to the distinction between a Nietzschean morality of free desire and a
Kantian morality of duty. The hero contrasts his wife's "Kantian-
43 Preface to v. o. Likhtenshtadt (Lichtenstadt), Gete (Goethe), (Petrograd, 1920), iv.
44 Padeniye velikovo Jetishizma ("The Fall ofthe Great Fetishism"), Moscow, 1910, 46.
Bogdanov adds that on "socialist Mars" - the "Red Star" of his science-fiction novel-
monuments are erected only to historical events, whereas before the advent of socialism
Martians, like earthlings, erected monuments to individuals. (Krasnaya zvezda, origin-
ally published in 1905; reissued Moscow, 1923, 86.)
U "Tsely i normy zhizni," 90.
48 Loc. cit.
47 "Ideal vospitaniya" ("The Ideal of Education"), 1915; reprinted in N ovy mir, 135.
48 Krasnaya zvezda, 73, S3, 10Sf.
180 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

Marxist" views with his own "Nietzschean-Marxist" position: "She


went into the revolution under the banner of duty and sacrifice, I under
the banner of free desire .... For [her] proletarian ethics was sacred in
itself; I considered it a useful adaptation, necessary to the working
class in its struggle, but transient, like the struggle itself and the life-
system which generated it.. .. I held that ... socialist feeling, which
makes people comrades in work and joy and suffering, will develop in
complete freedom only when it throws off the fetishistic wrapping of
all morality."49
Little wonder that Bogdanov has found no favor with Leninists and
Stalinists busy erecting the vast structure of interlocking "coercive
norms" of their self-proclaimed "socialist law" and "communist ethics"!

7. V. A. Bazarov
Bazarov, whose real name was Vladimir Aleksandrovich Rudnev
(1874-1939), was trained as an economist. Though less involved in
politics than either Bogdanov or Lunacharski, he was prominent in the
Bolshevik faction between 1904 and 1907. After 1922 he worked as an
economist in the Soviet State Planning Commission, publishing tech-
nical papers until the late 1920'S. He was arrested in 1930, and died,
presumably in a forced-labor camp, in September 1939.
Bazarov, in 1904, launched an attack upon normative ethics which
has few parallels in the West, apart from Nietzsche himself, and can be
compared only to the later revolt of Shestov and Berdyaev among
Russian thinkers. His first essay in ethics bears the characteristic title
"Authoritarian Metaphysics and the Autonomous Individual."50 Baza-
rov admits only instrumental norms, norms which serve as "means for
attaining the joys of life." Non-instrumental norms are for him "meta-
physical" and "authoritarian." He lashes out at "sodden, dull, self-
satisfied moral systems through which life appears in the most desolate
light.. .. Life, it may be, appears a hopelessly vulgar thing precisely
because it is viewed through the dim glass of moral norms .... To seize
life's mystery, one must revolt against norms as such .... "51 What we
need, Bazarov declares, is a rejection of law itself, a Brutus of crime,
an ascetic, "saintly" criminal, like Raskolnikov (the hero of Dostoyev-
ski's Crime and Punishment).
49 Ibid . 8f.
0 "Avtoritarnaya metafizika i avtonomnaya lichnost," in Ocherki realisticheskovo
mirovozzreniya (the volume cited in footnote 30 above).
61 Na dvafronta (On Two Fronts). (St. Petersburg. 1910). 105. (This is a collection
of previously published polemical essays with a new preface.)
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA 181

Bazarov's own ethics of "hedonistic amoralism," with its principle of


the "free harmonizing of experience," is a curious blending of Avenarius
and Nietzsche. The hedonistic amoralist undertakes "to order his
psyche in such a way that new values ... may be conjoined to the old
with minimum friction: the principle of harmonization of given hedon-
istic values should at the same time clear the way for a transvaluation
of all values."52 Bazarov's kind of hedonism, as he makes clear, is quite
distinct from both utilitarianism, on the one hand, and "orgiastic
Dionysian impulse," on the other.
Here Marx and Nietzsche would concur: their highest good is not the
security-oriented life of passive enjoyment, but the freedom-oriented
life of active creation. To create is to risk, even to court, pain and loss.
"Socialism," Bazarov declares, "is higher than capitalism, not because
it eliminates suffering, but because it eliminates the suffering which
degrades .... "53
Ethical individualism, for Bazarov (as for his fellow-collectivist
Bogdanov), is reactionary, although in earlier periods it had been a
source of social progress. In bourgeois society the individual is formally
supreme, but factually empty and impotent - a mere "theoretical
construct," generated by the institution of private property.
In the socialist society of the future emphasis will fall upon a new
"sobornost,"M upon "objective, immediately-social creativity, in which
the very notion of 'the individual' and his interests will be extinguish-
ed ... "55 The "impenetrable horizontal and vertical partitions which ...
destroy the meaning of collective life-building [zhiznestroitelstvoJ for all
men ... " must and will be eliminated. "Only socialism is creating the
sword with which, at last, the multifarious 'I's' - those 'money-
changers in the temple' of universally-human impersonal creativity" -
will be driven out.56
At the present time, Bazarov admits, "the single, universally-human
world, a world which is immediately objective, i.e., not walled off into
the miserable little cells of self-sufficient individualities, can only be
prefelt, detected only as a tendency of development." But in fact the
intimacy of lovers offers only a "pale 'preimage' ... , a faint hint of that
52 "Avtoritarnaya metafizika ... ," 275, 236.
53 Na dva franta, xiv.
54 Bazarov here uses Khomyakov's term, which may be translated as 'conciliarity,'
i.e., "organic (religious) togetherness." Presumably the sobornost which Bazarov has
in mind will be "new" in the sense of being both secularized and focussed upon cultural
creativity.
5. N a dva franta, 141.
5. Ibid., 164, 61.
182 "NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

fusion of all human souls which will be the inevitable result of the
communist order. "67
At only one point does Bazarov's collectivism appear to verge to-
ward the "normative" or "deontological." He asserts that "artists of
disorderly individual searching" will be replaced by "artists in schools
which move by plan [planomerno] toward their goal. "58 This "movement
according to plan" suggests an element of coerciveness, or at least
normativeness, which in general is foreign to Bazarov's thinking. Its
relevance to the politics of Soviet art is too obvious to require comment.
More characteristic (and more Nietzschean) is Bazarov's claim that
socialism "will liberate the spirit of cultural creativity, will create for
the first time the possibility of a 'pure,' self-sufficient culture, not sub-
ordinated to the extrinsic interests of individuals or groupS."69
Bazarov's collectivism frankly excludes any recognition of the in-
trinsic worth and dignity of the human individual. "It really is an
astonishing thing," he exclaims, "because, for purposes of zoological
and certain other classifications, it is convenient to refer to me and to
another given individual by the same term, 'man' ... that 'man' as such
should become the highest task of my life, that I should be obliged to
recognize a practical [i.e., moral] universal validity between myself
and every empirically given human being."60 Later, emphasizing the
collectivism and solidarity of the proletariat as a class, Bazarov added:
"The recognition of the 'individual person' as an absolute principle has
always been, and will always be, alien to the proletariat."61
Marx would have had no quarrel with this statement; nor would
Nietzsche (except for the reference to the proletariat). But, since Trot-
sky's embarrassingly candid avowals (in Terrorism and Communism,
1920), Marxist-Leninists have been too hypocritical to admit that they,
like Bazarov, repudiate in principle the absolute - or even the intrinsic
- value of the individual human person.

8. Conclusion
Russian "Nietzschean Marxism" as a more or less coherent intellec-
tual force lasted little more than a decade. Any amalgam of Nietzsche
and Marx, is, of course, beset by tensions: on the issue of individual
67 Ibid., 140.
68 Ibid., 164.
69 Ibid., 208.
80 Ibid., 269.
81 Ibid., 141.
"NIETZSCHEAN MARXISM" IN RUSSIA

versus collective creativity, elitism versus egalitarianism, etc. But, as


I noted at the beginning, there are also many doctrinal links between
Nietzsche and Marx.
However, contemporary Soviet Marxism-Leninism owes much more
to Engels and to Lenin than to Marx himself. And both Engels and
Lenin were highly allergic to Nietzschean ideas. (Marx died in 1883,
before Nietzsche's major works had appeared; how he would have
reacted to them we can only guess.) The Engels-Lenin bias explains
why Nietzsche is almost entirely neglected by Soviet philosophers, and
why, when he is mentioned at all, he is dismissed with standard epi-
thets: "petit-bourgeois," "obscurantist," "reactionary."
The main reason for the disappearance of Nietzschean influence in
Soviet Marxism after 1917, I think, is the emphasis (flatly unacceptable
to Lenin and his followers) which all four of the Nietzschean Marxists
placed upon unfettered desire, free struggle, and genuine cultural
creativity - whether individual or collective.