In the early 20-ies in the poetry of Mayakovsky clearly marked the satirical direction. Having printed two poems at the same time: “The last page of the Civil War” and “On rubbish”, the poet passes from the glorification of the courage of the Red Army to the denunciation of philistinism and bureaucracy in Soviet society. The pathetic line of “The Last Page.” Becomes a kind of epigraph of the poem “On rubbish”.
With these words, Mayakovsky begins a major conversation on the topic of shortcomings, which, in his opinion, are not compatible with the socialist reality, but perfectly coexist in it. The poet’s anxiety is caused by the dangerous tendency of introducing a philistine into the state apparatus:
Satirical motifs were clearly heard in both the Mystery-Buff and the poem “150,000,000.” But if before the satire of Mayakovsky was turned against external enemies, now the poet is transferring “fire to himself,” to our internal shortcomings. Perfect knowledge of the object of satire ensured the accuracy of its entry, whether it was a question of major negative phenomena of Soviet reality or of “trifles”. “The poem about Butcher, about the woman and about the all-Russian scale” already in the name itself brings together, seemingly incommensurable phenomena. This is necessary for a satirist to make the Soviet leaders understand the political significance of “trifles”.
The humorous description of the adventure of a woman who made her way to the Yaroslavl station with a cart and fell into a pit on Myasnitskaya Street in the night raises the problem of the disdainful attitude of local authorities to the interests of ordinary citizens who suffer from street disruptions and other such “trifles”. Quite naturally in this case, their attitude to the leaders. Therefore, the author fully justifies the injured woman who, “climbing from floor to floor, top and me and the authorities wing.” Here the satirist also feels his responsibility for these shortcomings, not separating himself from the authorities. Thus, the everyday satirical poem by Mayakovsky actually continues the theme that emerged in the conversation about “rubbish”, where it was a question of those who, occupying a significant state post, covered the Soviet form with alien or hostile content. Mayakovsky tears off the mask from the dangerous
inner enemy of the young Soviet state – philistinism.
Mayakovsky saw in modern life another terrible evil – bureaucracy, which sprouted in all spheres of state activity, hindering the development of the Soviet state. So the poet decided for one of the themes that later went through all his work. This theme is devoted to the poem “Prozadedavshies”, which is a satirical generalization of a close-up. The story of a fantastic incident in a Soviet institution where “half of the people are sitting” reveals the broadest scale of bureaucratization of the state apparatus, causing horror, resentment and excitement of the lyric hero. But the fantastic is not even in this wild mystical picture, but that it does not surprise the secretary in the slightest.
The satirist was shocked by the Olympic calm of the secretary, for whom, like for “comrade Ivan Vanych,” such a life is familiar and acceptable. It was necessary to change what has become the usual “our way of life.” This goal, which faced the Soviet satirist, forced him to turn to dramaturgy to make the evil more visible and concrete, embodied in a comic scenic act. Two of his most popular comedies – “Bedbug” and “Bath” – are devoted to fighting bureaucracy.
The narrowness of the outlook, the miserable philistine taste, the desire for material goods characterize the hero of Mayakovsky’s play “Bedbug”. “The former worker, the former party member,” Peter Prisypkin under the influence of the Nepmen elements, degenerates into the bourgeois philistine Pierre Skripkin. The playwright offers the reader and viewer to look at this type of modern philistine from the future. For people of the communist tomorrow, Skripkin is as harmful an insect as a bug, which by its presence poison and empowers the environment. Such violins become even more dangerous, having settled in state institutions, because they use the power given to them for evil. If such a harmful insect, like a bug, can be slammed or put in a cage with the inscription “Oblivnikovus vulgaris”, then the victorious and optimistic of “Bani” represent a real threat to society, because in their power to prohibit an important and useful discovery, to leave needy people without help, to sow seeds of flattery and discord around them, to create the appearance of stormy activity in complete idleness. Bureaucracy is dangerous because, doing nothing itself, it actively prevents people from working creatively, inventing, trying to improve life.
The poet was using the means of satire to fight against “webs of nepotism, patronage, red tape”, sycophants, flatterers, who serve in silence in “no matter, but persons”. Mayakovsky ridiculed the cowardly narrow-minded leaders, who could not make a step without indicating the authorities. Satire Mayakovsky “mowed” “rubbish”, helped the reader to see more clearly the numerous shortcomings in society and in themselves and, as far as possible, fight them, critically referring to their actions.
Thus, the satirical works of the poet educated the reader, teaching him to be principled and active. Satyr Mayakovsky helps us and today to fight against bureaucrats and sycophants, philistines and reinsurers. Without getting rid of these shortcomings, we will never come to a free democratic society, to a life worthy of man.