Early life[ edit ] Rubin became a revolutionary during the Revolution of , when he was 19 years old. He first joined the Jewish Bund and later the Mensheviks. He withdrew from politics in , devoting himself to the academic study of Marxian economics , and in he joined the prestigious Marx-Engels Institute as a research assistant. Prior to his arrest, Rubin also published books on the history of economics and contemporary economics, as well as editing an anthology of classical political economy.
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If we take money, the most complex and most concrete aspect of these concepts, and by examining the concept of money make the transition to exchange value, as the more general concept underlying money; if we then move from exchange value to value, and from value to abstract labour, we are moving from the more concrete to the more abstract concept, i.
But, Marx says, however necessary the use of the analytical method is in the first stage of scientific enquiry, it cannot satisfy us in itself, and it must be complemented by another method. Once we have traced the complex phenomenon back to its basic elements by means of analysis, we have to take the opposite direction and, starting from the most abstract concepts, show how these develop to lead us on to more concrete forms, more concrete concepts.
In our case, this progression from the simpler concepts to richer and more complex ones would be the movement from abstract labour to value, from value to exchange value and from exchange value to money.
Elsewhere he terms it the dialectical. I hope we can also agree to describe the first method as the analytical, and the second which includes both the analytical and the synthetic method as dialectical. Marx indicates that he considers the dialectical method to be the only one which solves scientific questions satisfactorily.
Accordingly, we have to subject the problem which interests us, the question of the relationship between labour and value, to investigation not only by the analytical method, but by the dialectical as well.
Marx gives many examples to show in what respect the analytic method is inadequate. I should like to quote three examples here. But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour time by the magnitude of that value.
The difficulty lies, not in comprehending that money is a commodity, but in discovering how, why and by what means a commodity becomes money. Finally, at a further point while discussing religion, Marx repeats the idea which he has stated before, that it is obviously much easier to discover by analysis the core of the curious religious conceptions, than conversely, it is to develop from the actual relations of real life the corresponding forms of those relations. The latter method is the only materialistic and consequently the only scientific one Capital I p.
Everything that was told to the audience was engineered in advance, so this sensational revelation was inserted to order. Summoned on that very night before the Politburo, Riazanov had a violent exchange with Stalin. To anybody who knew the policy of the Socialist International and the character of its leaders, Fritz Adler, Vandervelde, Abramovich, Otto Bauer, and Bracke, the fabricated charge was utterly and grotesquely implausible.
If it had to be admitted as true, Riazanov deserved to die as a traitor, but they merely exiled him Was there then no basis of truth at all in the trial of the "Menshevik Center"?
Nikolai Nikolavevich Sukhanov Himmer , a Menshevik won over to the Party, a member of the Petrograd Soviet from its inception in , who had written ten volumes of valuable notes on the beginnings of the Revolution and worked in the Planning Commissions with his fellow defendants Groman, Ginsberg, and Rubin, did have a kind of salon, in which talk between intimates was very free and the situation in the country as of was judged to be utterly catastrophic, as it undeniably was.
It must be emphasized that for practically three years between and , the new totalitarian regime maintained itself by sheer terror, against all rational expectations and with every appearance, all the time, of imminent collapse. Rubina, Memoir undated This is what I learned from my brother. When he was arrested on December 23, , he was charged with being a member of the "Union Bureau of Mensheviks. When the investigator read this statement, he tore it up right there.
A confrontation was arranged between my brother and Lakubovich, who had been arrested earlier and had confessed to being a member of the "Union Bureau. After that confrontation, the charge that Rubin was a member of the "Union Bureau" was dropped. Soon after, my brother was transferred to Suzdal.
The circumstances of that transfer were so unusual that they were bound to inspire alarm and fear. On the station platform there was not a single person; in an empty railroad car he was met by an important GPU official, Gai. Then Gai declared that he would give him forty-eight hours to think it over. The examination at Suzdal also failed to give the investigators the results they wanted.
Then they put Rubin for days in the kartser, the punishment cell. My brother at forty-five was a man with a diseased heart and diseased joints. But my brother endured this torture too, and left the kartser with a feeling of inner confidence in himself, in his moral strength Then he was put in the kartser for a second time, which also produced no results. At that time Rubin was sharing a cell with lakubovich and Slier.
When he came back from the kartser his cellmates received him with great concern and attention; right there they made tea for him, gave him sugar and other things, and tried in every way to show him their sympathy.
Telling about this, Rubin said that lie was so amazed: these same people told lies about him, and at the same time treated him so warmly. Soon Rubin was put into solitary confinement; in those circumstances he was subjected to every kind of tormenting humiliation. He was deprived of all the personal things he had brought with him, even handkerchiefs. At that time he had the flu, and walked about with a swollen nose, with ulcers, filthy. The prison authorities often inspected his cell, and as soon as they found any violation of the rule for maintaining the cell they sent him to clean the latrines.
Everything was done to break his will They would wake him up, wear him out with all sorts of interrogations, jeer at his spiritual strength, call him the "Menshevik Jesus. His feeling of inner rightness was so strong that it helped him to endure that frightful ordeal. The next night, January , they took my brother to the cellar again. This time a young man who looked like a student was there. When they turned to the student with the words, "You will be shot because Rubin will not confess," the student tore open his shirt at the breast and said, "Fascists, gendarmes, shoot!
The shooting of Dorodnov made a shattering impression on my brother. Returning to his cell, he began to think. My brother decided to start negotiations with the investigator; these negotiations lasted from February 2 to 21, The charge that Rubin belonged to the "Union Bureau" had already been dropped in Moscow, after the confrontation with Lakubovich. Now they agreed that my brother would consent to confess himself a member of a program commission connected with the "Union Bureau," and that he, Rubin, had kept documents of the Menshevik Center in his office at the Institute, and when he was fired from the Institute, he had handed them over in a sealed envelope to Riazanov, as materials on the history of the Social Democratic movement.
Rubin had supposedly asked Riazanov to keep these documents for a short time. In these negotiations every word, every formulation was fought over. Repeatedly the "confession" written by Rubin was crossed out and corrected by the investigator. And Rubin agreed to tell the whole story about the mythical package. My brother told me that speaking against Riazanov was just like speaking against his own father.
That was the hardest part for him, and he decided to make it look as if he had fooled Riazanov, who had trusted him implicitly. My brother stubbornly kept to this position in all his depositions: Riazanov had trusted him personally and he, Rubin, had fooled trustful Riazanov.
No one and nothing could shake him from this position. His deposition of February 21 concerning this matter was printed in the indictment and signed by Krylenko on February 23, The deposition said that Rubin handed Riazanov the documents in a sealed envelope, and asked him to keep them for a while at the Institute. My brother stressed this position in all his statements before and during the trial.
At the trial he gave a number of examples which were supposed to explain why Riazanov trusted him so much When he and the other defendants got to another room, Krylenko said to Rubin: "You did not say what you should have said.
After the recess I will call you back to the stand, and you will correct your reply. I will again repeat what I said. Everyone interested in the case could not understand why there was so much spite and venom in this characterization. Rubin set himself the goal of doing everything in his power to "shield" Riazanov At the trial the possibility of defining in this way his position with respect to Riazanov gave Rubin a certain moral satisfaction.
But these legal subtleties made little sense to anyone else. Politically Riazanov was compromised, and Rubin was stricken from the list of people who have the right to a life worthy of man. Rubin himself, in his own consciousness, struck himself from the list of such people as soon as he began to give his "testimony. When, sick and tortured, he was put into the sleigh, he remembered, in his words, how self-assured and internally strong he had been when he came to Suzdal, and how he was leaving morally broken, destroyed, degraded to a state of complete hopelessness.
Rubin understood perfectly well that by his "confession" he had put an end to his life as an honorable, uncorrupted worker and achiever in his chosen field of scholarship. But that was not the main thing; the main thing was that he was destroyed as a man. Rubin understood perfectly well what repercussions his confession would have. Why had Rubin borne false witness against himself? Why had he also named Riazanov?
Why had he violated the most elementary, most primitive concepts of human behavior? Everyone knew with what mutual respect these two men were connected, Rubin and Riazanov. Riazanov who was considerably older than Rubin, saw in him a talented Marxist scholar who had devoted his life to the study and popularization of Marxism. Riazanov had trusted him unreservedly; he himself was bewildered by what had happened. Here I want to recount an episode, a very painful one, the confrontation between Rubin and Riazanov.
The confrontation took place in the presence of an investigator. Rubin, pale and tormented, turned to Riazanov, saying, "David Borisovich, you remember I handed you a package. My brother right then was taken to his cell; in his cell he began to beat his head against the wall. Anyone who knew how calm and self-controlled Rubin was can understand what a state he had been brought to. Rubin, sentenced to five years, was subjected to solitary confinement.
The others, who received terms of ten, eight, and five years, were placed several men to a cell. Rubin remained in solitary confinement throughout his imprisonment. During his confinement he continued his scholarly work. Rubin became sick in prison, and lip cancer was suspected. In connection with this sickness, in January, , he was taken to Moscow, to the hospital in Butyrskaia Prison. While in the hospital Rubin was visited twice by GPU officials who offered to make his situation easier, to free him, to enable him to do research.
But both times Rubin refused, understanding the price that is paid for such favors. A year later, in , Rubin was released on a commuted sentence, and exiled to the town of Turgai, then an almost unpopulated settlement in the desert.
Aside from Rubin there were no other exiles there.
If we take money, the most complex and most concrete aspect of these concepts, and by examining the concept of money make the transition to exchange value, as the more general concept underlying money; if we then move from exchange value to value, and from value to abstract labour, we are moving from the more concrete to the more abstract concept, i. But, Marx says, however necessary the use of the analytical method is in the first stage of scientific enquiry, it cannot satisfy us in itself, and it must be complemented by another method. Once we have traced the complex phenomenon back to its basic elements by means of analysis, we have to take the opposite direction and, starting from the most abstract concepts, show how these develop to lead us on to more concrete forms, more concrete concepts. In our case, this progression from the simpler concepts to richer and more complex ones would be the movement from abstract labour to value, from value to exchange value and from exchange value to money.
Essays on Marx's Theory of Value
Isaak Illich Rubin