Under the Banner of Marxism (journal)

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The monthly journal Pod Znamenem Marksizma (PZM) began in 1922. There is a translation of the titles of the first 8 volumes of PZM at http://libcom.org/library/under-banner-marxism

I admit that I myself only translated some articles after much encouragement from others, so I understand people's reluctance to seriously look into and discuss PZM. What titles are particularly interesting? Are the subjects in general interesting? Or is it just the average of what one expects of any Marxist journal? Are there any particular questions?


The reluctance is a bit of a

The reluctance is a bit of a mystery though...

Communists must control gravity!

In issue no.6 of 1934 the article called 'Neutrino hypothesis and conservation of energy' first mentioned the term graviton (in Russian the article is online here). Even the term neutrino was only months old (coined by Fermi). In physics they still struggle today with this old graviton problem; so in economics the journal is of relevance too. If you scroll down on the page of the index you see I listed some 9 translated texts, mostly dealing with theory of money. I like to hear what other topics that were discussed in the pages of this journal, which both Lenin and Trotsky placed such high hopes in (one can see the journal as the theoretical legacy of the soviet union), the comrades here would be interested in to explore further.


By the way, I find it strange that I had never asked myself before, what concretely were important magazines where communists held discussions. It seems pretty normal thing to know for a communist, yet very little did ask (no example of mention in left communist milieu). But that ignorance has no reason to continue to exist.

I'm sure there's a plethora

I'm sure there's a plethora of important debates and discussions in pre-1914/17 Vorwarts. It's where Luxemburg's economic theory was discussed at length and her Mass Strike theses, Pannekoek's Mass Action concept, etc. The journals of the Italian left in exile and in Italy (Promoteo, Bilan, Octobre), the Spartakists/early KPD journal Die Rohte Fahne, early Iskra, etc. are all full of such debate and reflection.

There is, but I suppose I

There is, but I suppose I mean in SU. The ignorance is a palpable mark of deep defeat (the index of the journal was published in the West only in the 1980s and it was not by a leftist publication).

(No subject)
what's the question?

What is it that you're trying to elicit? Do you want a discussion about which of the 1,000+ articles (very rough guess, from the first 8 years, though I see from the text that the magazine continued into the 1940s) from the list of contents should be translated? And, if so, questions such as 'by whom?' and 'when?' spring to mind. Are you offering to translate some more articles if people request them?

If you have an interest in a

If you have an interest in a specific topic or author you can find and bring up a title, e.g. by page searching a word in the translated index: http://libcom.org/book/export/html/30763

But I will try to help on any particular questions, and who knows, perhaps we can go on to a fruitful discussion.

For example, if you're interested in Luxemburg, there is a review of her book Coalition politics or class struggle, which I think is basically unknown in English. This is something we can discuss already. There is the well known series of articles by Bukharin. Then there is also the publication of a text of Luxemburg herself (as well as a couple by Pannekoek in late 20s, do you find that strange? don't be afraid to put it up for discussion). etc.

My question is perhaps, what are your intellectual interests? Or objectively, for the sake of mankind, what things deserve to be studied in depth?

The A.Mendelson articles on

The A.Mendelson articles on value-form look interesting (issue #'s 7-8).

Abram Mendelson, member of

Abram Mendelson, member of the rev. movement since 1904, year of death not given (means presumably shot in 30s), took position with his article "The concept of socially-necessary labour time as part of Marx's theory of value", in the debate on the meaning of SNLT on the side of the "economic" interpretation (according to a summary I found he was it seems the only or strongest proponent of such interpretation of SNLT). He believed social need (or the use-value) also was important in establishing SNLT. The other side was the "technical" interpretation of SNLT, whose proponents were Dvolaitski, Motylev, Goldenberg and Kovalevsky (the latter allowed for social need to play some part). They were said to focus on the first volume of Capital while Mendelson claimed to think in light of all volumes. They were unconvinced and believed Mendelson's interpretation opened the door to marginalism. Thank you Mhou for your comment, others are invited as well.

coming up with a list

I guess the problem in coming up with a list would be to know first off what was already published/traanslated and what isn't. If you're saying basically none of this work is translated, then I'd suggest Luxemburg, Lenin (surely all the Lenin has been traanslated already?), Trotsky, Pannekoek and Bukhrin are the priority, checking off what is published here as against catalogues of known works; then translating anything not known and making it available.


I'm happy to start the process of making such a list.

That is important because for

That is important because for instance Trotsky's opening letter to the journal got unknowingly re-translated (and it seems yet again re-translated by Mehring Books!): http://platypus1917.org/2011/04/03/attention-to-theory-letter-to-the-editor-of-under-the-banner-of-marxism/

The only article from Bukharin that is not translated is I think "Bourgeois revolution and proletarian revolution" (Буржуазная революция и революция пролетарская).

There are many articles on, not by, Lenin or Luxemburg, e.g. in 1925 Thalheimer reviewed her Introduction to Political Economy (he was pro-Luxemburg). But it's not so much well-known writers as discussion and references to their work. There are of course some writings by Lenin published (e.g. On the question of dialectics) or Marx himself ("Moralising criticism and critical morality", and some of his letters).

I couldn't find the source of Pannekoek's articles even in a big bibliography of his (they must be older articles on philosophy, translated into Russian).

I tried to provide a link to all the available texts, but some ones I skipped, e.g. the very good Fragment from St-Fourier on trade (published by Engels).

I think I can really help more in further discussion if you're having certain topics in mind that you find interesting and trying to find titles about that.



Bukharin is surely important?

I see Issue 7-8, 61 Nikolai Bukharin: Bourgeois revolution and proletarian revolution


Yes, I think that's pretty important - probably.

Only one article by Bukharin,

Only one article by Bukharin, from the well-known writers that you listed, hasn't a non-Russian translation. So your selection mechanism is not optimal, but it is a challenge to think of what criteria to use recovering this theoretical treasure. Perhaps the way that I'm asking for discussion is off putting? Would it not be worse if we as today's marxists could not find a reason to look into that legacy?


I agree with you, d-man.

I agree with you, d-man. Honestly I'm pretty interested in several of the articles in the earlier issues (particularly related to SNLT, and Bukharin's work in that 1912-1920 period is pretty good), but find getting translation software to work is a challenge; every French or Italian article comes out garbled with Google Translate; I haven't tried a Russian translation to English but can't imagine it would do well.

I mean the challenge is to

I mean the challenge is to narrow down a list from all the good articles (a list is at the moment helpful for the sake of starting some discussion; translation we can see later). I selected e.g. this article, which in the first section discusses the SNLT of the value-form: http://libcom.org/library/international-exchange-law-value-conclusion-isaak-dashkovskij

You have to have some discriminating sense to chose an article which will be worth recovering (relying on the names of famous authors is not a good criteria).






It's not a problem for me to

It's not a problem for me to also search for interesting articles from 1930 onwards (if someone has a particular subject in mind).

I imagine the idea here on the board is the importance of learning through discussion, but on the other hand, if there is already material discussing a subject, then one could stand on the shoulders of giants. It seems that there is a sense of the little coherence in all these forum debates; every time someone new comes they seem to ask a familiar question debated countless times before, and so on. I think selecting articles from the journal PZM requires we have a general idea of the things we know that we don't know; to know definite questions that still need study.

Still voting for the Bukharin article...

...as it relates (I'd imagine from the title) to something I'm examining anyway, which is the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat. I seem to be involved at the moment in countless discussions about what the DotP is and how it might function. The recent debates in IR between the ICC and OpOp (IR 148 and 150) have been very stimulatating on this question I think, as has the latest issue of Revolutionary Perspectives, which publishes a series of letters between Damen and Bordiga relating to the discussions on the nature of the USSR.

Stalinism is still a dead weight on the consciousness of the working class - the identification of communism as the (failed) dictatorships of Russia and Eastern Europe, the identification of the dictatorship of the proletariat with the dictatorship of the party-with-the-red-flag. Examining the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of society in the transition between capitalist society and communist society, is a way to look at what an authentic vision of revolution is. I'd hazard that Bukharin's text would at least be an interesting contribution to that discussion.

There are not so many

There are not so many articles on dictatorship of the proletariat as such (perhaps it is too broad a term). There is an article (also translated in English, link provided in the index) by Stuchka called 'A materialist or idealist concept of law?' (1923, no.1). The anthology of Stucka's writings is very interesting (though google books only allows part to be viewed). In fact it was a defense of Stucka (against Paschukanis) in Il Partito Comunista that I read which lead me on this search for more info on the Soviet legacy (their article is in Italian, so you must copy it in e-translation; http://www.international-communist-party.org/Partito/Parti299.htm )

edit: On page 175 of the anthology of Stuchka he refers to the Bukharin article. The difference is that in a bourgeois revolution there are ready-made forms of capitalist relationships, while the socialist revolution, apart from a top layer of industry, does not inherit such ready-made relationships; Bukharin develops the point that only "after the conquest of power by the working class does there begin the real growth into socialism".). I think Stuchka is the most specific writer on the issue of courts, law, etc. during the transition period.

[btw I haven't found the latest issue of Revolutionary Perspectives online with the debate between Bordiga and Damen. In the debate of ICC with OpOp both sides can rely on Lenin  (the 'ambiguity' is within Lenin himself I think). I find the ICC position on non-idenitity of state and soviets is like Kautsky's (which Lenin critiqued in his pamphlet Renegade Kautsky). On the other hand Lenin argued for unions independent of the state.]

Also somewhat related to the 'nature of dictatorship of the proletariat' there are a couple of articles by Poznjakov called On primitive accumulation (On the question of the methodological formulation of the problem of primitive socialist accumulation). There are also Berztys's Essays on the theory of the soviet economy. I'm not sure if that is helpful to you. Anyone please bring up subjects of interest like Slothjabber did and if I can find something we can discuss more in depth.


The phrase "primitive

The phrase "primitive socialist accumulation" was coined by the decist Vladimir Smirnov (one of the leaders in Gosplan then). It was taken up by Preobrazhensky in Economics of the transition period (1920) and then rejected by Bukharin in 1926 mentioning how Lenin noted that the phrase was "extremely unfortunate" and that it is child's play to copy terms used by elders.

In 1928 Smirnov (in his letters to Radek, quite interesting btw) critiqued both Preobrazhensky and Bukharin (for their apologetic take on transition economics). Also, Smirnov defends as correct Lenin's term of 'state capitalism' (during NEP), against Preobrazhensky and Bukharin.

solid work as ever , d-man

Thank you,

I pulled up Plekhanov's piece on 'Thierry et la conception matérialiste de l'histoire' first, simply because 'a materialist view of history' was Marx's preferred description of the basis of his own theory of social development (and because talk of  'dialectical materialism' often springs up, though I don't think Marx himself ever used the term)

Fortunately I read French reasonably well, if very slowly - which actually is an added bonus....

I have always appreciated your links - especially to correspondence: one letter can inform in many ways. 

(e.g. Engels/Marx -quite a laddish exchange- when Engels was proof reading volume one of Capital: which resulted in the addition of a preface (in the first edition): an accessible prelude : or an extract from another I read once along the lines of :'Marx and I are partly to blame for the overemphasis some give to economics' explaining that they had to do so in the face of so many opponents at the time)

I will sign off with a paraphrase of Scott of the Antartic's famous last words;

'I am going to read now and may be sometime.....'





At least I am beginning to know ...........

How little I know ..

 'There is also nothing easier than to limit the “critique” of Hegelian philosophy of history to a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders because of its extreme idealism. This is often done by people who are themselves incapable of any consistent thinking – people who are not satisfied with the materialists because they are materialists; and who are not satisfied with the idealists because they are idealists, and are overly satisfied with themselves because their own world outlook is supposedly free from all extremes. Actually, their own outlook is nothing more than a completely undigested hash of idealism and materialism.' 

(Plekhanov 1891 lecture:The Meaning of Hegel ). 

I almost blushed at such an accurate description of A Simpleton. Being loud, confident and wrong may work fine in the Jazz Milieu but it will not suffice under the banner of Marxism. Apparently effortless clarity (and 'dialectical materialism' the term)   

Could you suggest a d-man 'top 10' of Plekhanov from there to 1907? Might as well go chronologically ?







(detail; perhaps Kautsky

(detail; perhaps Kautsky first used the term)

The early editor-in-chief of Under the Banner of Marxism, Ter-Vaganian, was a specialist of Plekhanov's writings:

As Ter-Vaganian's widow, Klavdiia Generalova, writes in 1988, "I turned to the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR with a request to find in their archives the nearly finished manuscript of the book about Pushkin written by my husband Vagarshak Arutiunovich Ter-Vaganian (1893-1936), as well as his "Bibliography of G. V. Plekhanov," a work of many years which was the continuation of the book published in 1923, "An Attempt at Plekhanov's Bibliography."

The journal republished his Socialism and the Political Struggle, which among other things rejects the charge of "occidentalism” against Marx and Engels (also quoting M&E: “If the Russian revolution,” they say, “becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting-point for a communist development.”) and listing some future scenarios of the revolution that seem to have become true (in chapter 3 the passage on 'conspirators').

Another important work by Plekhanov is 'History of Russian Social Thought' (translated but not online afaik).

His polemics against the liquidators (of the underground) are not translated into English. A short piece I read is On A. Pannekoek’s Pamphlet (which was translated into Russian), but I haven't read enough of Plekhanov's work to make recommendations.

Lenin said; "you cannot hope to become a real, intelligent Communist without making a study—and I mean study—of all of Plekhanov’s philosophical writings, because nothing better has been written on Marxism anywhere in the world." The journal published a couple of issues devoted entirely to Plekhanov.



Thanks .. and as I read last night

With the same conviction as Lenin, in your quote above, Plekhanov said - in the cited anniversary lecture on Hegel :

''The idealistic philosophy of Hegel contains the best, the most irrefutable proof of the inadequacy of idealism. But at the same time it teaches us consistency in thinking. He who will devotedly and conscientiously pass through this severe school will forever acquire a healthy aversion to eclectic hash."

I think -in  tune with one of your earlier posts (and Newton) - I will skive off 'severe school' and stand on Georgi's 'giant shoulders' :@-


This is also relevant to the connundrum you bring up re the ICC's forum - in which I am a 'guest' if you like- wanting to welcome and not intimidate , develop and yet educate: but it patiently-if frustratedly- must repeat  "2+2 = 4" discussions" (some of which I am very glad of !..but...).

I am re-reading Ferro's Pt II of 'October Revolution" alongside the new explorations, and I pondered this afternoon that reading just one chapter of it - added to respect for the fact that it took ten years of research and composing - should restrain anyone from writing 'Lenin was wrong!!' in bold in a dialogue box.

It ain't that simple, as well you know. 



There are some articles on

There are some articles on Hegel (e.g. an essay by Lassalle, who was an orthodox Hegelian), but I think not enough to live up to the task Lenin envisaged for this journal; "Taking as our basis Marx’s method of applying materialistically conceived Hegelian dialectics, we can and should elaborate this dialectics from all aspects, print in the journal excerpts from Hegel’s principal works, interpret them materialistically and comment on them with the help of examples of the way Marx applied dialectics, as well as of examples of dialectics in the sphere of economic and political relations, which recent history, especially modern imperialist war and revolution, provides in unusual abundance. In my opinion, the editors and contributors of Pod Znamenem Marksizma should be a kind of “Society of Materialist Friends of Hegelian Dialectics”."

Regarding your interest in correspondence, there was a review of Marat's letters (which are available on googlebooks I'm sure), or of Luxemburg's letters to Louise and Karl Kautsky, and some other letters. But I referred to a document with letters by the decists (only Smirnov's letters to Radek I haven't translated).

I would not have bothered to look up Marat's letters for instance if it wasn't for the reference in this journal. The journal contains many of these useful references (e.g. to Blanqui's article on fatalism, not sure but perhaps from his Critique sociale, which looks like a very interesting anthology anyways...).




There were several articles about psychoanalysis. Here are some titles:

(1923, 1&4-5) Konstantin Kornilov: Modern psychology and marxism

(1923, 11-12) Bernard E. Bichovsky (bio.): On the methodological foundations of Freud's psychoanalytic teachings

(in the same issue) A review of Vasily Yakovlevich Struminsky's Psychology

(1924, 1) K. Kornilov: Dialectical method in psychology

(1924, 8-9) Vladimir Jurinec: Freudism and marxism

(1924, 12) A. Zalkind: Nervous marxism or pathological critique

 I. Vajnstein: Marxist psychology or pathological marxism

(1925, 7) N. Karev review of 'Lyster Jameson and the league of 'Plebs'. Essay on marxist psychology'

(1926, 3&4-5) V. Struminsky: Marxism in contemporary psychology

(1926, 4-5) Alexander Luria: Principle questions of contemporary psychology

K. Kornilov: Mechanistic materialism in contemporary psychology (reply to V. Struminsky)

(1926, 10-11) I.D. Sapir: Freudism and marxism

(1927, 7-8) Vladimir Maksimovich Borovskij: Metaphyics in comparison with psychology

(1927, 9) V. Borovskij: Comparative psychology and Freudism

(1927, 10-11) K. Kornilov: Current state of psychology in the USSR

(1929, 7-8) Wilhelm Reich: Dialectical materialism and psychoanalysis

I. Sapir: Freudism, sociology, psychology (Apropos W. Reich's article 'Dialectical materialism and psychoanalysis')


I'm sure the latter two articles were also published in German. As was the article by Jurinetz, which is online here. He exposes the absurdity of the Freudian school well.

For an ecstatic, if little informative, review of the book by Henry Lyster Jameson (member of Plebs' League) see here. I haven't found the book online though.


The Reich article is

The Reich article is available in English from a number of sources. The article about "Nervous Marxism" seems interesting, as are any that deal with clinical psychology in the early soviet period.

Aron Zalkind's views are

Aron Zalkind's views are mentioned eg in Naiman's Sex in public (p.127); according to Zalkind, capitalists had used sex as a new opiate to replace the increasingly ineffective narcotic of religion: "The striving for social interaction, - for class organisation and class struggle, weakens if it is deflected by sexual hypnosis, by the extremely diverse temptations of contemporary art and of everyday life."

Apparently he wrote also '12 Commandments for the Sexual Revolution of the Proletariat':

1. Sexuality should not develop too early

2. Sexual abstinence before marriage

3. Renounces sex on the basis of pure physical attraction

4. Sex should only result from ‘deep and complex feeling’

5. Sex should be infrequent

6. Partners should not be changed too often

7. Relationships should be monogamous

8. Every sex act should be committed with the awareness that it might lead to the birth of a child

9. Sex partners should be selected on the basis of class

10. No jealousy

11. No sexual perversions

12.  In the interests of the revolution, it is the duty of the proletariat to intervene in the sex lives of others

I guess the response by Vajnstein (Marxist psychology or pathological marxism) objected to this kind of asceticism; probably very few defended Zalkind (certainly not today).


Btw, in The American economic review there was a (1920) review of a book called The psychology of Bolshevism, which has this scientific gem: Bolshevism is a composite of the following characteristics: "Exaggerated egoism, extreme intolerance, intellectual vanity, hypercriticism, self-
indulgence, craving for mental and emotional excitement, excessive dogmatism, hyperbolic language, impulsive judgment, emotional instability, intense hero-worship, propensity for intrigues and conspiracies, rapid alternation of extremes of exaltation and depression, violent contradictions in tenaciously held opinions and beliefs, periodic, swift, and unsystematic changes of mental attitude."



d-man wrote:

Btw, in The American economic review there was a (1920) review of a book called The psychology of Bolshevism, which has this scientific gem: Bolshevism is a composite of the following characteristics: "Exaggerated egoism, extreme intolerance, intellectual vanity, hypercriticism, self-
indulgence, craving for mental and emotional excitement, excessive dogmatism, hyperbolic language, impulsive judgment, emotional instability, intense hero-worship, propensity for intrigues and conspiracies, rapid alternation of extremes of exaltation and depression, violent contradictions in tenaciously held opinions and beliefs, periodic, swift, and unsystematic changes of mental attitude."

Sounds more like the psychology of any fascist movement, but to the extent that Stalinism was "red fascism" maybe it makes some sense projecterd forwarda about a decade.

Soviet materials

This PZM journal is now online (link in the original post). Translations so far from PMZ are listed here. Avialable online is also the Communist Academy's journal (translated index for 1922-29, and this journal is OCR'd, so copy-paste of text into google-translate is easy): https://libcom.org/library/journal-communist-academy

(These journals, along with Bolshevik, can be also downloaded as torrents).

How best to make this material available to an English audience? Composing just a list of "greatest hits" for a volume with translations, is not the way to go about it. A presentation by subject matter is better. So a volume on money is in preparation (but then there is no reason to limit it solely to specific Soviet journals). I thought maybe further volumes would be good about international trade, about credit, and so on. "Philosophy" seems to me too general a subject.