Varlam Cherkezishvili / Cherkezov

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JoeMaguire
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May 21 2010 15:23
Varlam Cherkezishvili / Cherkezov

Cross referenced this Georgian anarchist a few times. A close friend of the Kropotkin's he fled Russia in the early 20's with Goldman and Berkman and along with Rocker and Schapiro founded the Anarchist Red Cross. Short wikipedia entry for him, but no more.

Does anyone know anything further?

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Volin
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May 22 2010 16:03
wiki wrote:
Back in London, he rallied Kropotkin's position in defense of the Allies in World War I, and signed in 1916 the so-called Manifesto of the Sixteen.
wiki wrote:
With the October Revolution of 1917 he returned to Petrograd, and when Georgia obtained its independence in May 1918, he obtained a seat in the Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.

Bit of a controversial figure then?

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May 22 2010 21:13

He had a good criticism of Marxism/Bolshevism sketched out in 'Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution'. Was wondering why I hadn't heard of him before.

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May 22 2010 21:38

There are passing references to him in Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol 1 & 2; Living My Life. Goldman and likewise in Avrich's American Voices.

He met Kropotkin in 1876 and was involved with Freedom. He wrote many articles and wrote Let Us Be Just (London. Liberty. 1896); Pages of Socialist History: Teachings and Acts of Social Democracy (New York. 1902) and Concentration of Capital, A Marxian Fallacy. (London. Freedom Press. 1911). Again there is passing reference and a photograph in Freedom Centenary Edition: October 1886 to October 1986.

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May 24 2010 19:38

From the Russian encyclopedia "Political Parties of Russia" (1996):

Varlaam Nikolayevich Cherkezov (1846 – 1925) came from the family of an impoverished Georgian prince. He was educated at a Moscow military college, and in 1864 joined a secret revolutionary society. In 1865 he enrolled in the Petrovsky-Razumovsky Agricultural Academy, where he maintained contact with revolutionary circles. After the attempt of D. V. Karakozov on Alexander II in 1886 he was arrested for “knowing about and not reporting a conspiracy” and sentenced to eight months imprisonment with allowance for time already served. After his release he enrolled in St. Petersburg University where he was one of the organizers of a revolutionary circle. In the winter of 1868-1869 he abandoned his studies, moved to Moscow, and joined the circle of S. G. Nechaev which had connections with the Russian emigration and was attracted to the ideas of M. A. Bakunin. In the summer of 1869, fearing arrest, he left to work on the construction of the Vladikavkaz railway. In September 1969 he returned to Moscow where he played an prominent role in the Nechaev organization. On December 29 1869 he was arrested and on August 18 1971 at a trial of Nechaev’s followers he was sentenced to exile in Siberia. On November 26 1873 he arrived in Tomsk. He carried out active propaganda work among his fellow prisoners. His views evolved, and he became a proponent of organizing and propaganda work among the people, following the program of the Chaikovsky circle and Peter Lavrov. In January 1876 he escaped from exile to London, and from May 1876 collaborated in “Vpered” [Forward], organ of the Lavrovists, but soon broke with them and in the autumn of that year, after moving to Geneva, joined the Bakunists, who were publishing the journal “Obshchina” [Society]. He wrote a column in the journal about homeland affairs (“The Chronicle”), and participated in the Russian emigration colony – giving reports at meetings of emigrants. In Geneva he became a close friend of Kropotkin, who invited him to collaborate in the newspaper “Le Revolte”. Cherkezov joined the circle of anarchists headed by Kropotkin. In 1880-81 he worked in the Paris and Geneva sections of the Anarchist International, and took part in the congress of the Southern Federation in 1882. In December 1882, in connection with the London trial of anarchists and the arrest of Kropotkin, Cherkezov withdrew from revolutionary activity. In 1883-85 he eked out a living with temporary jobs in Austro-Hungary and Rumania. In 1885 he crossed illegally from Turkey into Georgia, arriving at the village of Mukhran Dushetskogo in Tiflis province, where he worked as a tutor for the children of Prince A. Mukhransky. But soon he fled abroad again. In 1892 he settled in London, taking part in the “Foundation for a Free Russian Press” and the Paris anarchist journal “Les Temps Nouveaux”, as well as the London anarchist weekly “Freedom”. In the latter publication he spearheaded the struggle against social democracy. Among his articles were “Pages of Socialist History” (1896) and “Forerunners of the International” (1899) which provoked discussions and disputes in Russian and European socialist circles. In these articles Cherkezov tried to prove that Marx and Engels based “The Communist Manifesto” on the ideas of V. Considerant, while Engels in his book “The Situation of the Working Class in England” lifted the work of the French socialist Buret. Both articles were published in Russian in a somewhat different form under the title “The Doctrines of Marxism” (1903-05). In the mid 1890’s he made an illegal trip to Georgia. A proponent of Georgian independence, he supported his position vocally and in published works; in 1907 he delivered a special declaration on this question at the Hague conference of the League of Peace. In the early 1900’s Cherkezov continued his struggle against revolutionary social-democracy. His work “Travels in Belgium”, published in 1900 in Tiflis under the pseudonym “V. Marvely”, contained sharp attacks on Marxist philosophy. In 1901 the radical-democratic newspaper “Kvali” at the request of Georgian Marxists published an article by G. V. Plekhanov attacking the anarchist critique of Marxism generally and the position of Cherkezov in particular. Cherkezov now lived permanently abroad, helping with the publications of the anarchist emigration, and contributing articles to the newspaper “Bread and Freedom” (from 1903). He carried on correspondence with a number of anarchist-emigrants. In 1903 in Paris Cherkezov opposed Lenin on behalf of the anarchists in a debate on the agrarian program of the SRs and social-democrats. In April 1904 he participated in the 1st Conference of the Georgian revolutionary group in Geneva, helped to draft the program of the Party of Socialist-Federalists of Georgia (PSF), and put together its central committee. In July 1906 he took part in the 2nd Conference of the PSF, and sat on the committee which drafted a new program for the party where he put forward anti-parliamentary and decentralist ideas. After the publication of the Manifesto of October 17 1905, Cherkezov returned to Russia, living for some time in Petersburg, then in Tiflis. Along with other Georgian anarchists (G. I. Gogelia, M. G. Tseretli) he took part in the publication of the first legal anarchist newspapers in the Georgian language: “The Call” (1906), “The Voice” (1906), and “The Worker” (1906). In June 1906 he emigrated again, settling in Great Britain. In 1908-13 he was accused by Georgian anarchists of nationalism, which resulted in his withdrawal from the movement, with the exception of carrying on a correspondence with Kropotkin. In 1912-16 he became the acting editor of a contemplated edition of the collected works of Bakunin in 10 volumes, writing a biography of Bakunin for the first volume (London, 1915). During World War I he endorsed “war to the end against German militarism.” In the spring of 1917 he returned to Russia, and soon left for Georgia, where he lived until the occupation of the country by the Red Army (February 1920). According to eye-witnesses, “the Soviet victory was a great tragedy for him.” In 1921 as a opponent of Soviet power he was again compelled to leave Georgia and travel to London. His last years were spent in poverty, constantly ill, but he continued work on his memoirs of the first years of his revolutionary activity in Moscow.

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May 24 2010 19:52

A work in English which discusses Cherkezov's ideas is Marxism and the Russian Anarchists by Anthony D'Agostino (Germinal Press, San Francisco: 1977). D'Agostino doesn't think much of Cherkezov's sensational claims that Marx and Engels plagiarized "The Communist Manifesto" and Engels plagiarized "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844". Still, here is one of the comparisons set forth by Cherkezov:

"À Nottingham, sur 11,000 maisons dont se compose la villa, 7 à 8,000 sont construites dos à dos, sans moyens de ventilation, et n'ayant ordinairement qu'une seule fosse d'aisance, pour plusier maisons. À l'époque ou Nottingham fut visité par le cholera, on découvrit que beaucoup de maisons étaient placées sur des ruisseaux d'égouts, récouverts seulement par les planchers du rez-d-chaussée de ces maisons.
E. Buret, 1840

"In Nottingham there are in all 11,000 houses, of which between 7,000 and 8,000 are built back to back with a rear parti-wall, so that no through ventilation is possible, while a single privy usually serves for several houses. During an investigation made since, many rows of houses were found to have been built over shallow drains covered only by the board of the floor.
F. Engels, 1844

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May 25 2010 18:54

Thanks Karetelnik.

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Jul 8 2010 00:18

A book of Cherkezov writings was published in Russia this year, as part of a series of books by anarchists:

V. N. Cherkezov, "Forerunners of the International: Doctrines of Marxism" (Moscow, 2010), 208 pp.

The publisher's blurb says:

"The attention of readers is directed to this book by one of our thinkers who was a participant in the revolutionary movement -- the anarchist V. N. Cherkezov (1846-1925). The book is a collection of his works devoted to the critique of the ideology and tactics of the social-democratic movement. The author strives to debunk the cult of Marxism created by its publicists at the end of the 19th -- beginning of the 20th century. Rather than being the crowning achievement in the field of the social sciences, he sees the contribution of Marxists to the development of socialist doctrine as a perversion of the ideas of the founding fathers of contemporary socialism (St. Simon, Fourier, Proudhon, and the Narodniks) who were ideologically close to the anarchists."

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Mar 7 2011 23:51

There is a scan of Pages of Socialist History: Teachings and Acts of Social Democracy here.