Il'ia Chashnik, Kosmos (1925)

Studies on hysterical materialism

Three essays

Image: Il’ia Chashnik,
Kosmos (1925)


A brief overview of the recent series on hysterical materialism: its etiology, pathology, symptomology. Needless to say, these three studies represent a major contribution to the field of medical Marxism, and should aid in the production of new vaccines, remedies, and prophylactic techniques for the treatment (and prevention) of materialist hysteria.

Also, note well:

Masturbation is to eros what suicide is to thanatos.

Enjoy. Continue reading

Klutsis, Composition 1921

Hysterical materialism

An historical diagnosis

Image: Gustav Klutsis,
Composition (1921)


“Historical materialism,” Franz Mehring once wrote, popularizing the phrase, “approaches every section of history without any preconceptions.”

Hysterical materialism — it might be said, phrasing things quite oppositely — approaches any supposed “sectarian” with every preconception.

In explicating the former, historical materialism, Mehring was simply making public something that his friend and comrade Friedrich Engels had already communicated to him in private. The term, abbreviated “histomat” (after «истмат», a good Soviet portmanteau), referred to a general outlook and a methodology for interpreting social reality. Quite fittingly, Mehring sought to explain historical materialism’s emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century by applying the historical materialist method reflexively to itself. Continue reading

Plaksin, A Spectrum of Glass (1920)

Hysteria in Historical Materialism

A labile disorder (1995-2013)

Image: Plaksin, A Spectrum of Glass (1920)

Though one might point to any number of possible precursors, the advent of hysterical materialism proper only occurred with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. From this point forward, the phenomenon began to spread in earnest. Many factors contributed to its rise, overdetermining its eventuality, but at an etiological level the most approximate cause of hysterical materialism was the historic death of the Left in this moment. The Left had already by then been limping along for several decades, especially after “the century of Marxism” drew to a close around 1973. But the final breakup of the Bolshevik experiment brought an end to an age; the trauma of this loss proved too much  for some to handle. History having now ceased to take place, material reality itself became hysterical.

We thus at last come to hysterical materialism, and begin with a concrete case. Barely a century after historical materialism was first proclaimed, and only a few years after its seeming defeat, the germs of this new dementia found their way into a fledgling journal project dedicated to the doctrine’s renewal. As if History were playing a practical joke, the name of the journal where “materialist” hysteria became most firmly entrenched was none other than Historical Materialism. Over time some of its most notable editors and event planners came to be afflicted by this terrible illness, and to this day continue in its throes. To be sure, the vast majority of its contributors and fellow-travelers remain untouched by hysterical materialism, with outbreaks of so-called “mass hysteria” appearing far less frequently than its individual manifestations.

3. MATERIALYSTERIA Continue reading