V.I. Lenin

Materialism and Empirio-criticism

Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy


Preface to the Second Edition

With the exception of a few corrections in the text, the present edition does not differ from the previous one. I hope that, irrespective of the dispute with the Russian “Machians,” it will prove useful as an aid to an acquaintance with the philosophy of Marxism, dialectical materialism, as well as with the philosophical conclusions from the recent discoveries in natural science. As for A. A. Bogdanov’s latest works, which I have had no opportunity to examine, the appended article by Comrade V. I. Nevsky gives the necessary information.[1] Comrade V.I. Nevsky, not only in his work as a propagandist in general, but also as an active worker in the Party school in particular, has had ample opportunity to convince himself that under the guise of “proletarian culture”[2] A. A. Bogdanov is imparting bourgeois and reactionary views.

— Vladimir Lenin. 2nd September, 1920.


[1] V. I. Nevsky’s article “Dialectical Materialism and the Philosophy of Dead Reaction” was published in 1920 as an appendix to the second edition of the book Materialism and Empirio-criticism.

[2] A. Bogdanov put forward the idea of “proletarian culture” as early as 1909, by which he meant that the proletariat should elaborate its “own” culture in contradistinction to that of the past.

After the October Socialist Revolution Bogdanov and his fellow-thinkers adopted the so-called proletarian cultrual-educational organisations (Proletcult) as the field of their activities. With the aid of this convenient rostrum, they began actively to propagade anti-Marxist views, virtually denied the importance of the cultrual inheritance of the past, and endeavoured “by laboratory methods” divorced from life to create a culture for the proletariat, counterposing the latter to the rest of the working people and above all to the peasantry.

Lenin waged a consistent struggle against the separatism and sectarianism of the Proletcult and against the anti-Marxist views of its ideologists. In 1920 the Central Committee of the Party adopted a special decision on subordination of the activities of the Proletcult to the People’s Commissariat for Education. In the twenties, the Proletcult organisations began to decline and in 1932 they ceased to exist.