Lipotkin, Lazar (1891-1959) real name Eliezer Lazarev

Union of Russian Workers 1917

A short biography of Anarchist Lazar Lipotkin, active in Russia and the USA

The Russian Jewish anarchist Eliezer Solomonovich Lazarev was born in Odessa on the 18th November 1891. He became an anarchist communist at the age of fourteen. During the 1905 Revolution he had a leading role in the mass strike of secondary school students in Odessa and was arrested as a result.

In 1910 he emigrated to the United States and took an active part in the activities of the Union o Russian Workers, of the Federation of Anarchist Communist Groups of North America and Canada, of the Federation of Workers’ Unions of North America and Canada and of other groups. He operated under the name of Lazar Lipotkin and took an active part in editing and contributing to Russian anarchist exile publications in America. He was chief editor of Khleb I Volya (Bread and Freedom) organ of the Union of Russian Workers in 1919, and of Volna ( The Wave), organ of the Federation of Anarchist Communist Groups from 1920-1924. He later contributed to the anarchist paper Probuzhdenie.

At first Lipotkin was located in Detroit, where there was a large Russian anarchist community. He helped Volin when he visited Detroit on a speaking tour in 1917. He later moved to Rochester in New York.
He was a supporter of the Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists (1926) written by Makhno, Arshinov, Mett et al. He published an obituary of Makhno in Probuzhdenie in 1934.

He remained a harsh critic of the USSR all of his life. He wrote an analysis of the Soviet State where he wrote: "The general position of the officially named Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is such that it cannot be identified with either the socialist or the communist system. Socialism presupposes the socialization of all the means and instruments of production in the hands of society, the establishment of political freedoms and the equality of all members of society, and communism means the equality and self-government of labour communes and unions, the production and consumption of which are carried out according to the principle: "from each according to his ability, each according to his needs ". All of this does not exist in the USSR.”

He wrote the unpublished document Russkoye anarkhicheskoye dvizheniye v Severnoy Amerike. Istoricheskiye ocherki (The Russian anarchist movement in North America. Historical essays) which has been used as an important reference for recent studies of The Russian anarchist movement in America. A perceptive article by him on anti-fascism in Probuzhdenie in 1938 stated that: “we must conclude that the struggle of democracy against fascism does not correspond to the ideas and aspirations of true socialists and anarchists. Instead of the slogan "democracy versus fascism", it is necessary to put out the slogan: "the struggle of anarchism against capitalism", for only with the victory of anarchism will mankind be freed from dictatorship, fascism and other social disasters.”

Victor Lynn (Viktor Linko) in his account of Russian anarchists in America in Paul Avrich’s Anarchist Voices describes him as “nice, friendly”.

Nick Heath

Sources:

Dubovik, A, Limanov, K.:
http://www.s-a-u.org/history/anarhy/943-anarchist-chronograph-martch1.html
Avrich, P. Anarchist Voices (2005)
Lipotkin, L. Democracy, dictatorship and fascism: https://avtonom.org/.../l-lipotkin-demokratiya-diktatura-i-fashizm
Red Scare Scholarship, Class Conflict, and the Case of the Anarchist Union of Russian Workers, 1919:
https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.14321/jstudradi.11.1.0053.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Comments

syndicalist
Aug 19 2017 17:49

Interesting, thanks.

I've not heard of the "Federation o Workers’ Unions of North America and Canada" before.

Elsewhere on Libcom I posted two documents by the Federation of Anarchist Communist Groups of North America and Canada: "Our Position - Federation of Russian Anarchist Communist Groups of U.S. and Canada" - https://libcom.org/library/our-position And "Manifesto on the Russian Revolution" - https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Federation+o+Workers%E2%80%99+Unions+of+North+America+and+Canada&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8