A blog post

Why was the researcher Isaac Rubin killed?

Posted on the 20 February, 2013 at 5:10 pm Written by in Research

The excellent researcher, social economist Isaac Illitch Rubin died in Siberia, after many years of persecution from the Stalinist regime, in 1937. He died 48 years old. Why did that happen?

Cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaak_Illich_Rubin

Why did he die? Why was he persecuted?

Rubin were among those who thought one should read Marx, before making a judgement. One should not just be acquainted only with summaries of what Marx was supposed to be saying, like “matter is more important than ideas”.  His ideas should be judged scientifically, not just politically.

As official Marxism developed in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, during the 1920s and 30ies, it became more authoritarian. The usefulness of Marx’s texts became more important than their scientific truth.

Rubin was one of several researchers questioning this attitude. The official Marxism was aligning with the norms of a masculine upper class of industrial social development. The rules of the game were changing. Research debate within Marxism was followed by persecution.

The “masculinistic worker” saw the light of day – in the Sthakanovite worker movement of Stalinism.

Socialist art emphasized masculine musculature. It was a long time since Lenin, debating with Kollontay, had considered sexual reforms in Russia.

Rubin was first arrested in 1930. What followed was a nightmare of persecution.

The air was cold on the Siberian steppes. Isaac may have died, after seven years of persecution including torture, in 1937, just as he drew in the cold air.

Recommended reading:

Rubin,  Isaac Ilyich 1972: Essays on Marx’ Theory of Value. Black and Red Press, Detroit

Rubin, Isaac Ilyich 1978: Abstract Labour and Value in Marx’s System. Capital and Class 5, 107-139

Rubin, Isaac Ilyich 1979: A History of Economic Thought (Orig. 1929) Inks Links, London


See further: Socialist “Herrschaft” – Sosialismens herredømme

More on Stalinist misogyny:

Montefiore, Simon Sebag, 2004: Stalin – the Court of the Red Tsar. Phoenix, Orion Book Ltd. London

Documents the misogyny and contempt of weakness of the Soviet leadership headed by Stalin.

On how Stalinist repercussi0n hit men – persecution never before seen on the left, see further on Weissman, The Course is Set on Hope.