Aleksei Gastev

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Portrait of Gastev by Z. Tolkachev. From Gastev, Revolt of Culture, 1923.
Born October 8, 1882(1882-10-08)
Suzdal, Russian Empire
Died April 15, 1939(1939-04-15) (aged 56)
Kommunarka, near Moscow, Soviet Union
Web Wikipedia, Wikipedia-RU

Aleksei Kapitonovich Gastev (Алексей Капитонович Гастев; 1882-1939) was an early proponent of the scientific management of labour and an avant-garde poet.

Life and work[edit]

This section is sourced from Andrey Smirnov, Sound in Z: Experiments in Sound and Electronic Music in Early 20th-century Russia, London, 2013, pp 105-6.

Gastev was one of the most popular and outstanding proletarian poets of early post-revolutionary Russia. Gastev's influence on contemporaries and culture as a whole was considerable. As poet Nikolay Aseev described him in 1922 in his poem "Gastev": "Ovid of miners and metalworkers".[1] Among his numerous followers were composer Arseny Avraamov, producer, director and actor Vsevolod Meyerhold, physiologist Nikolai Bernstein and many involved in the "scientific organization of labour" (nauchnaya organizacia truda, NOT).

Born to a teacher and a seamstress in Suzdal, Russia, Gastev enrolled in the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, but was expelled after participation in a revolutionary meeting. Shortly after that Gastev was arrested and exiled to northern Russia. As a result of his exile, followed by emigration, in 1910-13 he spent three years working in the industrial factories of Paris, including at the Renault automobile factory.

After the October Revolution, Gastev returned to Russia. In 1918 he established a network of trade unions according to the model of the French syndicalists. "Each turner is a director of the machine tool", he constantly emphasized. "We put a resolute end to division into the so-called executive personnel and the personnel of management."[2] From its inception he had been the main ideologist of Proletkult.

Gastev was allegedly a personal acquaintance of, and in correspondence with, Henry Ford. Fascinated by Taylorism and Fordism, he led a popular movement for the "scientific organization of labour" which considered increasing automatization and standardization of workers' movements, language, and even thoughts as means for improving the efficiency of labour. He was convinced that his main artistic creation was CIT — the Central Institute of Labour which was founded in 1920 and supported by Lenin. In 1928 after an inspection of CIT laboratories the famous proletarian poet Maxim Gorky embraced Gastev and, referring to his departure from poetry, commented: "Now I understand why you have discarded fiction: the one is at the expense of the other."[3]

Meanwhile in 1921 at the All-Russian Scientific Management Conference, organized by Leon Trotsky, and held in Moscow, Platon Kerzhentsev, a Left Communist and the leading critic of Gastev, proposed an alternative to Gastev's work. It was a 'black mark' for Gastev. In totalitarian Russia in the 1930s Kerzhentsev became a leading theorist and organizer of scientific management in the country, based on the principles of vertical authority. The totalitarian State of the 1930s was opposed to the creation of an anarchical network of socially engineered Cyborgs with liberated minds. In 1938 Aleksei Gastev was arrested on false charges of 'counter-revolutionary terrorist activity' and sentenced to death by a fast trial; his institute was closed. On 15 April 1939 he was shot to death in the suburbs of Moscow.


Taken from Johansson 1983: 7-8.

  • 1882 Born in Suzdal.
  • 1898 or 1899 Enters the Moscow Teachers' College.
  • 1900 Joins the Social-Democratic Party.
  • 1902 Expelled from the college. Arrested.
  • 1903 Sentenced to three years exile.
  • 1904 Flees to Paris. Pubhshes short story "The Accursed Question" in Geneva.
  • 1905 Professional revolutionary, active in the cities of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Kostroma and Jaroslavl'.
  • 1906 Delegate to the RSDRP's fourth congress in Stockholm. Arrested in Moscow. Sentenced to three years exile. Escapes to Paris. Returns to Russia in the fall.
  • 1907 Work and family life in Petersburg under assumed names.
  • 1910 Contributor to Zhizn' dlya vsekh. Moves to Paris.
  • 1913 Returns to Russia. Contributes to Pravda.
  • 1914 Arrested. Exiled to Narym for four years.
  • 1915 Flight to Tomsk and then to Novo-Nikolaevsk.
  • 1916 The poem in prose "Ekspress". Contributor to the newspaper Golos Sibiri.
  • 1917 Returns to Petrograd. Writes for several journals and newspa­pers. Elected general secretary of the All-Russian Metal­-Workers' Union.
  • 1918 First edition of Poeziya rabochego udara. To the Ukraine in the fall.
  • 1919 Appointed Commissar of the All-Ukrainian Art Soviet in Kharkiv.
  • 1920 Moves to Moscow. The beginning of the Central Institute of Labour (CIT).
  • 1921 Publication of Pachka orderov in Riga.
  • 1923 Fifth edition of PRU.
  • 1926 Sixth edition of PRU.
  • 1931 Becomes member of Communist Party.
  • 1932 Appointed chairman of the Soviet Bureau of Standardiza­tion.
  • 1934 Takes part in international congress on standardization in Stockholm.
  • 1936 Organizes training of Stakhanovites.
  • 1938 Arrested.
  • 1941 Officially declared dead on 1 October.
  • 1956 Rehabilitated.


Poeziya rabochego udara, 1918; 1923, HTML.
Kako nado rabotat?, 1922; 1972, PDF, HTML.
Yunost, idi!, 1923.
Vosstanie kultury, 1923.
  • as A. Odinoky (А. Одинокий), Proklyatyy vopros: Belletristicheskiy rasskaz [Проклятый вопрос: Беллетристический рассказ], Geneva: self-published, 1904, 24 pp. (Russian)
  • Poeziya rabochego udara [Поэзия рабочего удара], Petrograd: Proletkult, 1918, 152 pp, edition of 10,000; 2nd ed., Petrograd: Proletkult, 1919, 48 pp, edition of 15,000; Kharkiv: Vseukrainskoye otdeleniye iskusstv Narkomprosa, [1919], 216 pp; 3rd ed., Saratov: Proletkult, 1921, 60 pp, edition of 3,000; 5th ed., Moscow: VTsSPS, 1923, 204 pp, edition of 5,000; 6th ed., Moscow: VTsSPS, 1926 [stated 1925], 218 pp, edition of 5,000; Moscow: Sovetskiy pisatel, 1964, 308 pp, edition of 10,000; repr., Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya literatura, 1971, 304 pp, edition of 20,000, HTML; facsimile of 1919 ed., St Petersburg: Svoe izdatelstva, 2013, 48 pp. bib. A collection of poems. (Russian)
  • Industrial'nyy mir [Индустриальный мир], Kharkiv: Vseukrainskoye otdeleniye iskusstv Narkomprosa, 1919, 82 pp. (Russian)
  • Pachka orderov [Пачка ордеров], Riga, 1921, 8 pp, HTML. A collection of poems. (Russian)
    • Ein Packen von Ordern, trans. Cornelia Köster, Ostheim/Rhön: Peter Engstler, 1999. (German)/(Russian)
  • Kak nado rabotat': Osnovnyye pravila, razrabotannyye Tsentralnym institutom truda [Как надо работать: Основные правила, разработанные Центральным институтом труда], Odessa: Odesskiy gubprofsovet, 1921, 16 pp; Perm: Gosudarstvennoye iz-vo Permskogo gubernskogo upravleniya, 1921, 18 pp; new ed. as Kak nado rabotat: Stati [Как надо работать: Статьи], Arkhangelsk: Iz-vo Arkhangelskoy gubernskoy sovetskoy partiynoy shkoly im. Lenina, 1922, 22 pp. (Russian)
  • Nashi zadachi [Наши задачи], Moscow: TsIT, 1921, 20 pp. Reprint from the journal Organizatsiya truda, 1. (Russian)
  • Pravomerno li sushchestvovaniye pedagogicheskoy linii v NOTe. Doklad na 1-y Vserossiyskoy konferentsii po NOT. 2/XIII [Правомерно ли существование педагогической линии в НОТе. Доклад на 1-й Всероссийской конференции по НОТ. 2/XIII], 1921. (Russian)
  • Pervaya Moskovskaya initsiativnaya konferentsiya po normalizatsii tekhniki upravleniya 21-23 sentyabrya 1922 g. [Первая Московская инициативная конференция по нормализации техники управления 21-23 сентября 1922 г.], Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Byuro Normalizatsii pri NKRKI, 1922. (Russian)
  • Stachka: Instsenirovka V.F. Pletneva, Moscow: Moskovskiy komitet R.K.S.M., 1922, 16 pp. (Russian)
  • Kak nado rabotat'. Kak izobretat [Как надо работать. Как изобретать], Moscow: TsIT, 1922, 48 pp; 2nd ed. as Kak nado rabotat. Prakticheskoye vvedeniye v nauku organizatsii truda [Как надо работать. Практическое введение в науку организации труда], Moscow: VTsSPS, 1924, 116 pp; 3rd ed., exp. & rev., Moscow: VTsSPS, 1927, 200 pp, edition of 3,000; Moscow: Ekonomika, 1966, 472 pp, edition of 21,000; 2nd ed., Moscow: Ekonomika, 1972, 478 pp, edition of 30,000, cover by I.N. Shevtsov, PDF, HTML, HTML, HTML; 3rd ed., Moscow: Librokom, 2011, 480 pp. (Russian)
  • Yunost', idi! [Юность, иди!], Moscow: VTsSPS, 1923, 72 pp, edition of 10,000. Cover by O. Deyneko; illustr. I. Spinel, O. Deyneko, A. Makeev. (Russian)
  • Vosstanie kultury [Восстание культуры], Kharkiv: Molodoy rabochiy, 1923, 44 pp. (Russian)
  • Vremya [Время], Moscow: TsIT (Orga-biblioteka TsIT 1), 1923, 40 pp. (Russian)
  • Novaya kulturnaya ustanovka [Новая культурная установка], Moscow: TsIT (Orga-biblioteka TsIT 3), 1923, 48 pp; 2nd ed., Moscow: VtsSPS-TsIT (Orga-biblioteka TsIT 3), 1924, 48 pp. (Russian)
  • Snaryazheniye sovremennoy kultury [Снаряжение современной культуры], Kharkiv: Gosudarstvennoye izdatel'stvo Ukrainy, 1923, 40 pp. With an essay by Lunacharsky, "Novyy russkiy chelovek" [Новый русский человек]. (Russian)
  • Rubka zubilom (pedagogicheskaya instruktsiya) [Рубка зубилом (педагогическая инструкция)], Moscow: TsIT, 1923. (Russian)
  • Professionalnyye soyuzy i organizatsiya truda [Профессиональные союзы и организация труда], Leningrad: Leningradskiy gubernskiy sovet professionalnykh soyuzov, 1924, 88 pp. (Russian)
  • Trudovye ustanovki (metodika obucheniya) [Трудовые установки (методика обучения)], Moscow: TsIT, 1924, 24 pp. (Russian)
  • Trudovye ustanovki (struktura, analiz, obosnovaniye, kursy) [Трудовые установки (структура, анализ, обоснование, курсы). Часть 1], Moscow: TsIT, 1924, 302 pp; new ed., Moscow: Ekonomika, 1973, 344 pp, edition of 50,000; 3rd ed., Moscow: Librokom, 2011, 344 pp. (Russian)
  • Formirovaniye rabotnika (zavod po proizvodstvu rabochey sily): Doklad (avtoreferat) [Формирование работника (завод по производству рабочей силы): Доклад (автореферат)], Moscow: TsIT, 1924. (Russian)
  • Materialy po organizatsii Instituta Truda [Материалы по организации Института Труда], Kharkiv, 1924. (Russian)
  • Ot narkomata kontrolya k narkomatu organizatsii [От наркомата контроля к наркомату организации], Moscow: Tipografiya NKRKI, 1925, 16 pp. Reprint from the journal Khozyaystvo i upravleniye 7, 1925. (Russian)
  • Ustanovka proizvodstva metodom TsIT (Organicheskoye vnedreniye) [Установка производства методом ЦИТ (Органическое внедрение)], Moscow: VTsSPS - TsIT, 1925, 52 pp; Moscow: Krasnyy proletariy, 1927, 148 pp, edition of 2,000. Reprint from the journal Organizatsiya truda 3. (Russian)
  • Planovyye predposylki. Formalnyy analiz rezolyutsii Plenuma TSK VKP(b) ot 6-0/IV-26 g [Плановые предпосылки. Формальный анализ резолюции Пленума ЦК ВКП(б) от 6-0/IV-26 г], Moscow: NKRKI SSSR, 1926, 116 pp. (Russian)
  • Rech v preniyakh po otchetu TSK i TSB sektsii na VIII Vsesoyuznom syezde soyuza rabochikh metallistov [Речь в прениях по отчету ЦК и ЦБ секции на VIII Всесоюзном съезде союза рабочих металлистов], Moscow: TsK VSRM, 1928. (Russian)
  • Rech v preniyakh po dokladam Narkomprosov na VIII Vsesoyuznom syezde soyuza rabochikh metallistov [Речь в прениях по докладам Наркомпросов на VIII Всесоюзном съезде союза рабочих металлистов], Moscow: TsK VSRM, 1928. (Russian)
  • Normirovaniye i organizatsiya truda (Obshcheye vvedeniye v problemu) [Нормирование и организация труда (Общее введение в проблему)], Moscow: VTsSPS, 1929, 120 pp, edition of 5,000. (Russian)
  • Organizatsiya proizvodstva kak nauka [Организация производства как наука], Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1929, 312 pp. (Russian)
  • Funktsionalnaya partitura: Metodika podgotovki tokarey mashinostroitelnykh na tokarno-vintoreznykh stankakh sredney velichiny: Kniga 1 [Функциональная партитура: Методика подготовки токарей машиностроительных на токарно-винторезных станках средней величины: Книга 1], foreword N. Bakhrakh, Moscow: TsIT, 1930, 8 pp, edition of 2,000. Reprint from the journal Organizatsiya truda 2-3 (Apr-Sep 1930). (Russian)
  • with Natan Bakhrakh, Raboty TsIT po rekonstruktsii mashin-orudiy (Tezisy k I nauchno-issledovatel'skoy konferentsii po mashinostroyeniyu) [Работы ЦИТ по реконструкции машин-орудий (Тезисы к I научно-исследовательской конференции по машиностроению)], Moscow: NKTP, 1932, 12 pp. Reprint from the journal Organizatsiya truda 5-6 (May-Jun 1932). (Russian)
  • Metodologicheskiye predposylki razrabotki, obosnovaniya i klassifikatsii standartov [Методологические предпосылки разработки, обоснования и классификации стандартов], Moscow: Standartizatsiya i ratsionalizatsiya, 1933, 72 pp. (Russian)
  • Poeziya rabochego udara; Kak nado rabotat'; Prakticheskoye vvedeniye v nauchnuyu organizatsiyu truda [Поэзия рабочего удара; Как надо работать; Практическое введение в научную организацию труда], intro. S. Kirsanov, 2nd ed., Moscow, 1972, 478 pp. (Russian)


Kurt Johansson, Aleksej Gastev: Proletarian Bard of the Machine Age, Log, PDF.



  1. N. Aseev, Stihotvorenia i poemi, Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1967.
  2. A. Karpichev, "Nestandartni Gastev" [Non-standard Gastev], Standarti i kachestvo 9, Moscow, 2004. Trans. Andrey Smirnov.
  3. Ibid.

See also[edit]