Kurt Johansson: Aleksej Gastev: Proletarian Bard of the Machine Age (1983)

21 October 2013, dusan

This book attempts to give an outline of Aleksej Gastev’s life and works primarily up until 1920.

Aleksej Gastev (1882-1941?) belonged to the Russian proletarian intelligent­sia. He was an active revolutionary, a journalist with syndicalist leanings, a metal-worker and trade-union leader, and one of the best proletarian poets. In later years he became perhaps the most important champion of the Taylor system and scientific management in Russia; as the founder and leader of the Institute of Labour (CIT) in Moscow he trained hundreds of thousands of new workers for Soviet industry. In 1938 he fell a victim to the Stalinist terror.

Besides presenting his biography, the present study tries to trace the development of Gastev’s Utopian ideas about the creation of a New Man suited to the industrial society of the future. In his articles and poems the worker is so Intimately fused with machines that he adopts their rhythm and functional movements, himself becoming “mechanical”. One chapter is specially devoted to Gastev’s poetry, the collection Poézija rabočego udara (“The Poetry of the Factory Floor”). Four prose poems are analyzed in detail. These describe the future development of the proletariat, and also show how Gastev ‘s manner of writing gradually becomes a kind of “Taylorized” poetry, that has been strongly influenced by futurism.

Publisher Almqvist & Wiksell International, Stockholm, 1983
Stockholm Studies in Russian Literature series
ISBN 9122006141
170 pages


PDF (updated on 2013-12-8)

Raymond Aron: The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955/1962)

13 October 2013, dusan

First published in 1955, this political reflection seeks to show how noble ideas can slide into the “tyranny of secular religion”. It stresses how political thought has the responsibility of telling the truth about social and political reality – in all its imperfections and complexities.

Aron explodes the three “myths” of radical thought: the Left, the Revolution, and the Proletariat. Each of these ideas, Aron shows, are ideological, mystifying rather than illuminating. He also provides a fascinating sociology of intellectual life and a powerful critique of historical determinism in the classically restrained prose for which he is justly famous.

First published in French L’Opium des intellectuels, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1955
First published in 1955
Translated by Terence Kilmartin
Foreword translated by Lucile H. Brockway
Publisher W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1962
324 pages

Review (Rudolf Allers)

Wikipedia (in French)


Jodi Dean: The Communist Horizon (2012)

3 January 2013, dusan

Rising thinker on the resurgence of the communist idea.

In this new title in Verso’s Pocket Communism series, Jodi Dean unshackles the communist ideal from the failures of the Soviet Union. In an age when the malfeasance of international banking has alerted exploited populations the world over to the unsustainability of an economic system predicated on perpetual growth, it is time the left ended its melancholic accommodation with capitalism.

In the new capitalism of networked information technologies, our very ability to communicate is exploited, but revolution is still possible if we organize on the basis of our common and collective desires. Examining the experience of the Occupy movement, Dean argues that such spontaneity can’t develop into a revolution and it needs to constitute itself as a party.

An innovative work of pressing relevance, The Communist Horizon offers nothing less than a manifesto for a new collective politics.

Publisher Verso Books, 2012
Pocket Communism series
ISBN 1844679543, 9781844679546
256 pages

review (Samuel Grove, review31)
interview with the author (New Left Project)
lecture by the author (video, 79 min)

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