Part III: After October

CHAPTER 1: The Bolsheviks in Power; Differences Between the Bolsheviks and the Anarchists

Struggle between the two concepts of the Social-Revolution -- the statist-centralist and the libertarian-federalist ideas -was unequal in the Russia of 1917. The statist conception won, and the Bolshevik government took over the vacant throne. Lenin was its undisputed leader. And to him and his party fell the task of liquidating the war, facing up to all the problems of the Revolution, and leading it onto the course of the real Social Revolution.
Having the upper hand, the political idea was going to prove itself. We shall see how it did this.
The new Bolshevik regime was in fact a government of intellectuals, of Marxist doctrinaires. Installed in power, claiming to represent the workers, and to be the only group that knew the correct way to lead them to Socialism, they expected to govern, above all, by decrees and laws which the labouring masses would be obliged to sanction and apply.
In the beginning that regime and its chief, Lenin, gave the appearance of being the faithful servants of the will of the working people; and of justifying, in any case, their decisions, pronouncements, and activities before the workers. Thus, for example, all the Bolsheviki's initial measures, notably the decree remitting the land to the peasants (October 26) and the first official step toward immediate peace (decree of October 28) were adopted by the Congress of Soviets, which gave the Government its approval. Moreover, Lenin knew in advance that these laws would be received with satisfaction by both the people and the revolutionary circles. Fundamentally, they did nothing but sanction the existing state of affairs.
The same Lenin considered it necessary to justify before the executive committee of the Soviets the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, which occurred in January, 1918. This • action of the October Revolution deserves to be described in detail.
As the reader already knows, the Anarchists, in keeping with their whole social and revolutionary conception, were opposed to the convocation of the Assembly. Here are the terms in which they developed their point of view on that issue in Golos Truda, [official organ of the Union for Anarchist Propaganda in Petrograd], No. 19, November 18/ December 1, 1917:

Comrade -workers, peasants, soldiers, sailors, and all toilers:
We are in the midst of the election for the Constituent Assembly. It is very probable that this will soon meet and begin to sit.
All the political parties-including the Bolsheviks-put the ultimate fate of the Revolution in the hands of this central organization.
In this situation we have the duty to put you on guard against two eventual dangers:
First danger: The Bolsheviki will not have a strong majority in the Constituent Assembly (or may even be in a minority).
In that case, the Assembly will comprise a useless, motley, socialo-bourgeois political institution. It will be an absurd talking shop like the "State Conference" in Moscow, the "Democratic Conference" in Petrograd, the "Provisional Council of the Republic," et cetera. It will become involved in empty discussions and disputes. It will hold back the real revolution.
If we do not want to exaggerate this danger, it is only because we hope that in this case the masses will once again know how to save the Revolution, with weapons in hand, and will push it forward on the right road.
But in relation to this danger we should point out that the masses have no need of a hullabaloo of this type, and ought to get rid of it. Why waste energy and money to create and maintain an inept institution? (While waiting, the workers' Revolution will stop once again!) What would be the good of sacrificing more strength and blood only to combat later "this stupid and sterile institution" in order to "save the Revolution" (how many times again?) and get it out of "a dead end"? That strength and those efforts could be employed to the greater advantage of the Revolution, the people, and the whole country at large, in organizing the labouring masses in a direct way and from the very bottom, alike in the villages, the cities, and in the various enterprises, uniting the [resultant] organizations from below, into communes and federations of free villages and cities, in a direct and natural manner. All that would need to be done on the basis of work and not of politics nor of membership in this or that party -- and this would lead later to regional unification. Likewise that strength and those efforts could and should be employed in organizing immediately and energetically the supplying of enterprises with raw materials and fuel, in improving means of communication, in organizing exchange and the entire new economy in general and, finally, in carrying on a direct fight against the remains of reaction, especially against the gravely threatening movement of Kaledin in the central region.
Second danger: The Bolsheviki will have a strong majority in the Constituent Assembly.
In such an event, having easily succeeded in overcoming the "opposition" and wiping it out without difficulty, they will become, in a firm and solid manner, the legal masters of the country and of the whole situation -- and masters manifestly recognized by "the majority of the population." That is precisely what the Bolsheviks want to obtain from the Constituent Assembly. That is what they need -- that the Assembly consolidate and "legalize" their power.
Comrades, this danger is much more important, much more serious than the first. Be on your guard!
Once their power is consolidated and "legalized," the Bolsheviks -- who are Social Democrats, that is, men of centralist and authoritarian action -- will begin to re-arrange the life of the country and of the people by governmental and dictatorial methods, imposed by the centre. Their seat in Petrograd will dictate the will of the party to all Russia, and command the whole nation. Your Soviets and your other local organizations will become, little by little, simply executive organs of the will of the central government. In place of healthy, constructive work by the labouring masses, in place of free unification from the bottom, we will see the installation of an authoritarian and statist apparatus which would act from above and set about wiping out everything that stood in its way with an iron hand. The Soviets and other organizations will have to obey and do its will. That will be called "discipline." Too bad for those who are not in agreement with the central power and who do not consider it correct to obey it! Strong by reason of the "general approbation" of the populace, that power will force them to submit.
Be on guard, comrades!
Watch carefully and remember.
The more the success of the Bolsheviks becomes established, and the firmer their situation, the more their action will take on an authoritarian aspect, and the more clear-cut will be their consolidation and defense of their political power. They will begin to give more and more categorical orders to the Soviets and other local organizations. They will put into effect from above their own policies without hesitating to use armed force in case of resistance.
The more their success is upheld, the more that danger will exist, for the actions of the Bolsheviks will become all the more secure and certain. Each new success will turn their heads further. Every additional day of achievement by Lenin's party will mean increasing peril to the Revolution.
Furthermore, you can already see this now.
Study carefully the latest orders and plans of the new authority. You can already now clearly see the tendency of the Bolshevik leaders to arrange the lives of the people in a political and authoritarian manner, by means of a center which imposes itself on them. You can already see them give formal orders to the country. You can already see that those leaders understand the slogan "Power to the Soviets" to mean power for the central authority in Petrograd, an authority to which the Soviets and other local organizations must be subjugated as simple executive organs.
This is happening now, when the Bolshevik leaders still feel strongly dependent on the masses and are obviously afraid of provoking disillusionment; it is happening now, when their success is not yet totally guaranteed and still depends completely on the attitude of the masses toward them.
What will happen when their success becomes a fait accompli and the masses accept them with enthusiastic and firm confidence?
Comrade workers, peasants and soldiers!
Don't ever lose sight of this danger!
Be ready to defend the real Revolution and the real freedom of | your organizations and your action, wherever you are, against the violence and the yoke of the new Authority, the new Master: the centralized State and the new imposters: the heads of the political parties.
Be ready to act in such a way as to turn the success of the Bolsheviks -- if these successes transform them to imposters -- into their graves.
Be ready to resuce the Revolution from a new prison.
Don't forget that only you may and can construct and create your new life by means of your free local organizations and their federations. If not, you will never see it. The Bolsheviks often tell you the same thing. All the better, naturally, if in the final analysis, they act according to what they say.
But comrades, all new masters, whose position depends on the sympathy and the confidence of the masses, speak sweetly in the beginning. In the first days, Kerensky also had a honeyed voice; the heart of gall is revealed later.
Observe and take note, not of words and speeches but of gestures and acts. And as soon as you discover the slightest contradiction between what these people tell you and what they do, be on guard!
Don't trust in words, comrades. Trust only in deeds!
Don't trust the Constituent Assembly, the parties, or the leaders. Have confidence only in yourselves and in the Revolution. Only yourselves -- that is, your local grass-root organizations, organizations of the workers and not of the parties, and then your direct and natural unification (along regional lines) -- only vow can be the builders and the masters of the new life, and not the Constituent Assembly, not a central government, not the parties nor the leaders!

And in an editorial headed "Instead of a Constituent Assembly," in the following issue of Golos Truda (No. 21, December 2/15, 1917), the anarchists said:

It is well known that we Anarchists repudiate the Constituent Assembly, considering it not only useless, but frankly harmful to the use of the Revolution. However, only a few are yet aware of the reasons for our point of view. And what is essential is not the fact that we oppose the Assembly, but the reasons which lead us to do so. But it is not through caprice, obstinacy, or the spirit of contradiction that we reject that Assembly.
Moreover, we do not confine ourselves to "purely and simply" rejecting it; we arrive at that rejection in a perfectly logical way. We believe, in fact, that in a time of social revolution, what is important for the workers is for them to organize their new life themselves, from the bottom, and with the help of their immediate economic organizations, and not from above, by means of an authoritarian political centre.
We reject the Constituent Assembly, and we offer in its place an entirely different "constituent" institution -- an organization of labour unified from below in a natural manner. We spurn the Assembly because we propose something else. And we don't want this other thing to be threatened by the Constituent Assembly.
While the Bolsheviks recognize, on the one hand, the direct class organization of the workers (in Soviets, etc.) on the other hand they preserve the Constituent Assembly, that inept and useless organization. We consider this duality contradictory, harmful, and exceedingly dangerous. It is the inevitable result of the fact that the Bolsheviks, as true Social Democrats, are generally mixed up in questions of "politics" and "economics," "authority" and "non-authority," "party" and "class." They dare not renounce the dead prejudices definitively and completely, for that would be like throwing themselves into water without knowing how to swim.
To get involved in contradictions is inevitable for people who, during a proletarian revolution, consider their principal task to be the organizing of power. To oppose this "organization of power" we would substitute for it "the organization of the Revolution."
"The organization of power" leads logically to the Constituent Assembly. "The organization of the Revolution" leads, also logically, to another building, where there simply would be no room for that Assembly, and where it would be strictly in the way. That is why we oppose the Constituent Assembly.

The Bolsheviks preferred to convoke the Assembly, having decided in advance to dominate it or dissolve it if its majority was not Bolshevist -- a possibility under the circumstances of the moment.
So that assemblage was called together on January i§ 1918. Despite all the efforts of the Bolshevik Party, in power for three months, the majority of the Constituent Assembly turned out to be anti-Bolshevik. This development fully confirmed the expectations of the Anarchists. "If the workers," they said, "tranquilly pursue their work of economic and social construction, without paying attention to political comedies, the great majority of the people will finally follow them, without any ceremony. And meanwhile they have on their backs this unnecessary worry."
Nevertheless, and despite the utter uselessness of this Asl sembly, the "work" of which was pursued in an atmosphere of dismal and general indifference (everyone felt, in fact, the weakness and futility of that institution), the Bolshevik gov--ernment hesitated to end its existence.
It required the almost fortuitous intervention of an Anarchist finally to dissolve the Constituent Assembly. That is another little known historical fact.
Fate decided that an Anarchist sailor from Kronstadt, by I name Anatol Jelezniakov, be appointed by the Bolshevik regime as commander of the detachment of guards in the Tauride Palace, where the 707 delegates to the Assembly met. 1
Throughout a long night the leaders of the various political parties made interminable speeches, which fatigued and ! exasperated the guard corps that was on duty. Hours of debate resulted in rejection of the Bolshevik platform by the Assembly majority. Then the Bolsheviki and the left Social Revolutionaries left the session after a threatening declarator) to the representatives of the right. But other speeches followed on various issues, and kept going until dawn. Finally lelezniakov, at the head of his detachment, entered the hall of deliberations and marched up to the rostrum. Addressing the chairman-Victor Tchernov, leader of the right. Social Revolutionary Party, the head of the guards said: "Close the session, please, my men are tired!"
Rankled and indignant, the chairman protested.
"I tell you that the guard corps is tired," Jelezniakov insisted, threateningly. "I ask you all to leave the Assembly Hall. And furthermore, there has been enough of this babbling! You have prattled long enough! Get out!"
The assemblage obeyed.
That morning, with knowledge that the delegates were scheduled to reconvene at noon, the Bolshevik government took advantage of the incident. It sent troops to occupy the meeting hall of the Constituent Assembly in the Tauride Palace, the soldiers being armed with rifles, machine-guns and two field pieces. And before the day ended, it issued a decree declaring the Assembly dissolved.
The nation remained indifferent.
Later the Lenin regime justified this act before the executive committee of the Soviets.
Thus everything had gone smoothly for the Bolsheviki -- until that day when the will of the Government entered, for the first time, into conflict with the will of the "governed," the people.
Then everything changed, in the face of a new German offensive.
After the October Revolution, the German Army which was operating along the Russian border remained inactive for some time. Its command hesitating, awaiting events, and maneuvering with a view to gaining the greatest possible advantage from the situation.
In February, 1918, feeling themselves ready, the Germans decided to start an offensive against Revolutionary Russia.
And now it became necessary for the Bolshevik Government to take a position. Any resistance was impossible, for the Russian Army would not fight. It was essential to find a solution of the situation. Such a solution would resolve, at the same time, the first problem of the Revolution-that of the war.
There were two possible solutions:
1. Abandon the front. Let the German Army venture into the vast territory in revolt, draw it into the depths of the country, in order to isolate it, separate it from its supply bases, make guerilla warfare against it, demoralize it, and disintegrate it, thus defending the Social Revolution -- a solution which had been successfully utilized in 1812, and which was always possible in a land as huge as Russia.
2. Enter into negotiations with the German command. Propose peace to them, negotiate further, and accept it whatever the conditions.
The first of those two alternatives was that of nearly all the workers' organizations consulted, as well as that of the left Social Revolutionaries, the Maximalists, and the Anarchists. They were of the opinion that only that way of acting was worthy of a social revolution; that it alone made it conceivable to hope, as a consequence, for the breaking out of revolution in Germany and elsewhere. In short, they felt that this course -- really impressive direct action -- would constitute, under existing conditions and in a country like Russia, the only correct method of defending the Revolution.
Golos Truda, in an editorial 2 entitled The Revolutionary Spirit, indicated the gravity of the problem as the German onslaught was pressed. It said:

Here we are at a decisive turn of the Revolution. It is a crisis which may be fatal. The hour which has struck is impressively clear and exceptionally tragic. The situation is finally plain. The question is in the process of being settled. In a few hours we will know whether or not the Government has signed the peace with Germany. The whole future of the Russian Revolution and the course of world events depend on this day, on this minute.
The conditions proposed by Germany are plain and without reservations.
The ideas of several eminent members of the political parties, and those of the members of the government, are already known. But there is no unity of opinion anywhere. There is disagreement among the Bolsheviks . There is disagreement among the left Socialist Revolutionaries] There is disagreement in the Council of People's Commissars, in thi Petrograd Soviet and in its Executive. There is disagreement among the masses, in the workshops, in the factories, in the barracks. And the opinion of the provinces is not yet known.

(As we mentioned earlier: the opinion of the left Socialist Revolutionaries, as well as the opinion of the working! masses in Petrograd and in the provinces, subsequently turned out to be hostile to the s ?ning of the peace treaty with the German generals.)

The time limit of the German ultimatum is 48 hours. Under these conditions, whether one wants it or not, the question will be discussed! and the decision will be made in haste, and strictly in Government! circles. And that is what is most terrible . . .
As for our own opinion, our readers know it. From the beginning, we have been against the "peace negotiations." Today we are opposed! to signing the treaty. We are for immediate and intensive organization of partisan resistance. We consider that the Government's telegram asking for peace should be revoked: the challenge should be accepted andf the fate of the Revolution be put directly, frankly, in the hands of the proletarians of the whole world.
Lenin insists on signing the peace. And if our information is correct, a large majority will end by following him. The treaty will be signed.
Only the deep conviction of the ultimate invincibility of this revolution permits us not to take this eventuality too tragically. But this way of concluding peace would strike a major blow at the Revolution, weakening it, debasing it, distorting it for a long time, we are absolutely convinced.
We know Lenin's argument, especially from his article On Revolutionary Phrases. 3 But those arguments do not convince us.

Golos Truda then made a detailed criticism of Lenin's position, and offered an argument in opposition. It insisted that acceptance of the peace offered would slacken the Revolution, and render it for a long time feeble, anaemic, colourless. Acceptance of such a peace, it held, would warp the Revolution, bring it to its knees, clip its wings, make it crawl. "For," the periodical concluded, "the revolutionary spirit, the great enthusiasm for the struggle, the magnificent flight of the glorious idea of the deliverance of the world, will be taken from it. And as for the world -- its light will be extinguished."
The majority of the Bolshevik Party's central committee at the beginning pronounced itself in favour of the first solution. But Lenin was afraid of this bold decision. Like [any] dictator, he had no confidence in the action of the masses if they were not led by the chiefs and politicians by means of formal orders and behind-the-scenes machinations. He invoked the danger of death for the Revolution if the peace offered by the Germans was rejected. And he proclaimed the necessity of a "respite" which would permit the creation of a regular army.
For the first time since the advent of the Revolution, Lenin had to brave the opinion of the masses and even that of his own comrades. He threatened the latter, and declined all responsibility for what might happen. He declared that he would retire from the scene if his will was not carried out. His comrades, in turn, were afraid of losing "the great leader of the Revolution". They yielded. The opinion of the masses was deliberately trampled on. A peace was signed [on March 3, 1918]. 4
Thus, for the first time, "the dictatorship of the proletariat" won over the proletariat. For the first time, the Bolshevik power succeeded in terrorizing the masses, in substituting its will for theirs, in acting on its own, in disregarding the opinion of others.
The peace of Brest-Litovsk was imposed on the working people by the Bolshevist government. The people wanted to end the war in an entirely different way. But the Government took charge of arranging everything. It precipitated matters, forced events, and this broke the resistance of the masses. It managed to keep them quiet, to obtain their obedience, and their forced passivity.
Incidentally, I remember meeting, in those feverish hours, the well-known Bolshevik, Nikolai Bukharin, later executed in the course of the infamous Moscow purge trials. I had previously made ins acquaintance in New York, but until then we had never seen each other in Russia. Hastening through a corridor in the Smolny Institute building in Petrograd [seat of the Bolshevik government at this time] I observed Bukharin arguing and gesticulating in a corner amid a group of Bolsheviki. He recognized me and signalled. I went over.
Without preliminaries, and filled with emotion, he began complaining about Lenin's attitude on the question of peace. He lamented that he was in complete disagreement with Lenin, and emphasized the fact that, on this point, he was wholly in agreement with the left Social Revolutionaries, the Anarchists, and the masses in general. And he declared, with consternation, that Lenin would listen to nothing, that Lenin didn't "give a damn for the opinions of others", and that he sought to impose his will and his own mistake on everybody and terrorized the party by threatening to relinquish power. According to Bukharin, Lenin's mistake was fatal for the Revolution. And that frightened him.
"But," I said to him, "if you're in disagreernent with Lenin, you have only to say so and insist on it. All the more since you are not alone in this. And moreover, even if you were alone, you have, I suppose, the same right as Lenin to have an opinion, to express it, spread it, and defend it."
"Oh," he cut in, "you don't mean it. Think what that would mean. To fight with Lenin? That would lead automatically to my expulsion from the party. That would mean a revolt against all our past, against our discipline, against the comrades in arms. I would feel myself under obligation to provoke a split in the party, to pull out the other dissidents with me, and to create another party to struggle with Lenin's. You see, old man, you know me well enough: am I of sufficient stature to become a leader of a party and to declare war on Lenin and the Bolshevik Party? No, don't let us deceive ourselves! I don't have the makings of a leader. And even if I had -- No, no, I couldn't, I couldn't do that."
He was greatly excited, put his head in his hands, and almost wept.
Being in a hurry, and feeling that prolonging the discussion would be useless, I abandoned him to his despair. As we know, he later rallied to Lenin's thesis -- though perhaps only in appearance.
Such was the first serious difference between the new government and the people it governed. It was resolved to the advantage of the power which imposed itself. This was the first imposture. And it was only the first -- but the most difficult. From now on, things could go "by themselves". Having once encroached upon the will of the labouring masses with impunity, having once taken the initiative in action, the new power was, so to speak, a lasso around the Revolution. Later it would only have to tighten the noose, to force and finally habituate the masses to follow in its wake, to make them leave in its hands all initiative, submit completely to its authority, and reduce the whole Revolution to the proportions of a dictatorship.
That, in fact, is what happened. For, such, inevitably, is the attitude of all governments. Such, inevitably, is the course of all revolutions which leave intact the statist, centralist, political, governmental principle.
This course is a slope. And once [any group is] on that slope, the sliding occurs by itself. Nothing can stop it. At first neither the governing clique nor the governed perceive what is happening. The former (in so far as they are sincere) believe that they are fulfilling their role and carrying out an indispensable salutary work. The latter, fascinated, tightly gripped, and dominated, follow.
And when, finally, these two groups, and especially the latter, begin to understand their error, it is too late. It is impossible to go back, impossible even to modify anything. One is too deeply involved with the fatal slope [the downward momentum is too great]. And even if the governed cry out and take a stand againa the governing clique to make them climb back up this menacing slope, it is too late!

CHAPTER 2: The Fatal Descent

To see what has since become of the Russian Revolution, to understand the real role of Bolshevism, and discern the reasons which -- again in human history -- transformed a magnificent and victorious popular revolt into a lamentable failure, it is necessary, clearly and ahead of anything else, to comprehend fully two truths, which, unfortunately, are still not yet widely enough known, and the misunderstanding of which deprives the majority of those interested of a true comprehension.
Here is the first truth:
There is an explicit and irreconcilable contradiction, an opposition between the true Revolution, which, on the one hand, tends to expand -- and could expand in an unlimited way to conquer definitively -- and on the other hand, the theory and practice of authoritarianism and statism. There is an explicit, irreconcilable contradiction, a struggle between the very essence of State Socialist power (if it triumphs) and that of the true Social Revolutionary process. The very substance of the real Social Revolution is the recognition and achievement of a vast and free creative movement of the labouring masses freed from all servile work. It is the affirmation and expansion of an immense process of construction based on emancipated labour, on natural co-ordination and fundamental equality.
At bottom, the true Social Revolution is the beginning of true human evolution, that is to say, a free creative ascension of the human masses, based on the vast and frank initiative of millions of men in all branches of activity. This essence of the Revolution is instinctively felt by the revolutionary people. It is more or less precisely understood and formulated by the Anarchists.
What results "automatically" from this definition of the Social Revolution (a definition which cannot be refuted) is not the idea of an authoritarian direction (dictatorial or other) of the masses -- an idea belonging entirely to the old bourgeois, capitalist, exploiting world -- but that of a collaboration to bring forward their evolution. And from it also flows the necessity of an absolutely free circulation of all revolutionary ideas and finally the need for undisguised truth, for free and general seeking of it, experimenting with it, and putting it into practice as an essential condition of a fertile action of the masses and of the complete triumph of the Revolution.
But the basis of State Socialism and delegated power is the explicit non-recognition of these principles of the Social Revolution. The characteristic traits of Socialist ideology and practice (authority, power, State, dictatorship) do not belong to the future, but are wholly a part of the bourgeois past. The "statist" conception of the Revolution, the idea of a limit, of a "termination" of the revolutionary process, the tendency to dam it, to "petrify" this process, and especially (instead of allowing the labouring masses all the possibilities for an adequate and autonomous movement and action) to concentrate once more in the hands of the State and of a handful of new masters all future evolution -- all that rests on old traditions of a circumscribed routine, on a worn-out model, which has nothing in common with the real Revolution.
Once this model has been applied, the true principles of the Revolution are fatally abandoned. Then follows, inevitably, the rebirth, under another name, of the exploitation of the labouring masses, with all its consequences.
Therefore, beyond doubt, the forward march of the revolutionary masses toward real emancipation, toward the creation of new forms of social life, is incompatible with the very principle of State power. And it is clear that the authoritarian principle and the revolutionary principle are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive -- and that the revolutionary principle is essentially turned toward the future, while the other is tied by all its roots to the past, and thus is reactionary.
The authoritarian Socialist revolution and the [true] Social Revolution follow two opposite procedures. Consequently, one must conquer and the other perish. Either the true Revolution with its vast free and creative flood, breaking definitely with the roots of the past, triumphs on the ruins of the authoritarian principle, or it is the authoritarian principle which wins, and then the roots of the past "strangle" the real Revolution, which no longer can be achieved.
Socialist power and the Social Revolution are contradictory elements. It is impossible to reconcile them, still less to unite them; the triumph of the one means the endangering of the other with all the logical consequences, in either case. A revolution inspired by State Socialism and which entrusts its fate to it, even if only provisionally or transitionally, is lost. It is started on a false course, on an increasingly steep slope, which leads straight to the abyss.
Here is the second truth -- or rather a logical ensemble of truths -- which completes the first and makes it more specific:
1. All political power inevitably creates a privileged situation for the men who exercise it. Thus it violates, from the beginning, the equalitarian principle and strikes at the heart of the Social Revolution -- which is largely inspired by that principle.
2. All political power inevitably becomes a source of other privileges, even if it does not depend on the bourgeoisie. Having taken over the Revolution, having mastered it, and bridled it, power is compelled to create a bureaucratic and coercive apparatus, indispensable to all authority which wants to maintain itself, to command, to order -- in a word, to "govern". Rapidly it attracts and groups around itself all sorts of elements eager to dominate and exploit.
Thus it forms a new privileged caste, at first politically and later economically: directors, functionaries, soldiers, policemen, et cetera -- individuals dependent on it, and accordingly ready to support it and defend it against all others, without caring in the least about "principles" or "justice". It sows everywhere the seed of inequality and soon infects the whole social organism, which, being more and more passive to the extent that it feels the impossibility of fighting the infection, becomes itself favourable to the return to bourgeois principles in a new guise.
3. All power seeks more or less to take in its hands the reins of social life. It predisposes the masses to passivity, and all spirit of initiative is stifled by the very existence of power, in the extent to which it is exercised.
The "Communist" power, which, in principle, has concentrated 1 everything in its own hands, is, in this connection, a veritable trap. I Puffed up with its own "authority" and filled with its pretended "responsibility" (with which, at bottom, it endowed itself), it is afraid of all independent action. All autonomous initiative imme-diately appears suspect [in its eyes] and threatens it; so it tries to I diminish and thwart any such action. For it wants to hold the tiller and to hold it alone. Initiative by anyone else seems to it 1 to be an invasion of its territory and its prerogatives. Such [independent motion] is insupportable to that power. And it is disregarded, rejected, and stamped out, or carefully supervised and I controlled, with a "logic" and persistence that is abominable and 1 pitiless.
The tremendous new creative forces which are latent in the masses thus remain unused. This applies as much to the field 1 of action as to that of thought. With respect to the latter, the "Communist" power has distinguished itself everywhere by abso- i lute intolerance, which can be compared only to that of the Holy Inquisition. For, on another plane, this power also has considered itself to be the only bearer of truth and safety, neither accepting nor tolerating any contradiction, or any way of conceiving or thinking other than its own.
4. No political power is capable of solving effectively the gigantic constructive problems of the Revolution. The "Communist" power which took over this enormous task and pretended to accomplish it, demonstrated itself, in this respect, to be par- [I ticularly inept. In fact, its pretensions consisted of wanting, and j being in a position, to "direct" the whole titanic activity, infinitely varied, of millions of human beings. To do this successfully, it would have had to be able to embrace at all times the incommensurable and moving immensity of life: to have been able to know everything, supervise everything, arrange everything, organize everything, lead everything. It is a question of an incalculable number of needs, interests, activities, situations, combinations, and transformations -- and therefore of problems of all kinds, in continual motion.
Soon, not knowing any more where to give leeway, the power ended by no longer embracing anything, arranging anything, or "directing" anything at all. And, in the first place, it showed itself absolutely powerless to organize effectively the disoriented economic life of Russia. This quickly disintegrated. Completely dislocated, jt floundered, in a disorderly way, between the ruins of the fallen regime and the powerlessness of the newly proclaimed system.
Under these circumstances, the incompetence of the ["Communist"] power [in Russia] led, in a short time, to an economic collapse. This meant the stopping of industrial activity, the ruin of agriculture, the destruction of all connections between the various branches of the [national] economy, and the destruction of all economic and social equilibrium.
Inevitably, this resulted, in the beginning, in a policy of constraint -- especially in relation to the peasants. They were forced, in spite of everything, to feed the cities. But that procedure proved ineffective, because the peasants had recourse to passive resistance, and poverty became the mistress of the whole country. Work, production, transport, and exchange were disorganized and fell into a chaotic state.
5. To maintain the economic life of the country at an endurable level, power has, in the last analysis, only constraint, violence, and terror as its agents. It resorts to these more and more widely and methodically. But the country continues to flounder in frightful poverty, to the point of famine.
The flagrant impotence of power to establish a healthy economic life, the manifest sterility of the Revolution, the physical and moral suffering created by this situation for millions of individuals, a violence which increased every day in despotism and intensity -- such are essential factors which soon fatigue and disgust the population, making it antagonistic to the Revolution, and thus favouring the recrudescence of anti-revolutionary spirit and movements. This situation incites the very numerous neutral or unconscious elements -- who up to now have been hesitant and rather favourable to the Revolution -- to take a firm stand against it. And finally it kills the faith of many of its own partisans.
6. Such a state of affairs not only diverts the march of the Revolution, but also compromises the work of defending it.
In place of having active social organizations (unions, cooperatives, associations, federations, et cetera) active, alive, healthily co-ordinated, capable of assuring the economic development of themselves against the danger of reaction (relatively mild under these circumstances) there exists, once more, a few months after the beginning of the disastrous statist practice, a handful of careerists and adventurers in power, incapable of "justifying" and substantially fortifying the Revolution that they have horribly mutilated and sterilized. Now they are obliged to defend themselves (and their partisans) against increasingly numerous enemies, whose appearance and growing activity are primarily the consequence of their own failure. Thus, instead of a natural and easy defence of the Social Revolution, which gradually affirms itself, one witnesses once more the disconcerting spectacle of failing power defending, by any means, and often the most ferocious, its own life.
This false defence is naturally organized from above, with the help of old and monstrous political and military methods "which have been proven", absolute control by the Government over the whole population, formation of a regular army blindly disciplined, creation of professional police institutions and of fanatical special bodies, suppression of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and especially of action, inauguration of a regime of repression and terror, et cetera.
It is a question, once more, of the training and brutalization j of individuals to obtain a wholly submissive force. With the abnormal conditions under which events occur, all these procedures rapidly acquire an aspect of violence and despotism. The decay of the Revolution continues apace.
8. The "revolutionary power" in bankruptcy inevitably runs up against not only enemies of "the right", but also opponents of the left, all those who feel themselves supporters of the true revolutionary idea which has sprained its foot, those who fight for it and who draw themselves up in its defence. These attack the power in the interest of the true Revolution.
But having tasted the poison of domination, of authority and its prerogatives, having persuaded itself and seeking to persuade the world that it is the only really revolutionary force able to act in the name of the "proletariat", believing itself "obliged" and "responsible" for the Revolution, confusing through an inevitable aberration the fate of the latter with its own, and finding pretentious explanations and justifications for all of its acts, the power neither can nor will admit its failure and disappear. On the contrary, the more it feels itself at fault and threatened, the more it sets about furiously to defend itself. It wants to remain master 0f the situation at any price. It even hopes, still and always, to "straighten things out".
Knowing perfectly that it is a question, one way or another, of its very existence, the power ends by no longer discriminating its adversaries: it no longer distinguishes its own enemies from those of the Revolution. More and more guided by a simple instinct of self-preservation, and less and less capable of withdrawing, it begins to strike, with a crescendo of blindness and impudence, in all directions, left as well as right. It strikes without distinction all those who are not with it. Tremblmg for its own fate, it destroys the best forces of the future. It stifles the revolutionary movements which, inevitably, have arisen once more. It suppresses en masse the revolutionaries and the simple workers guilty of wanting to raise the banner of the Social Revolution again.
Acting thus, fundamentally impotent, strong only through terror, it is obliged to conceal its hand, to deceive, to lie, and to slander, since it considers it a good idea not to break openly with the Revolution and to maintain its prestige intact at least abroad.
9. But while crushing the Revolution it is not possible to lean on it. Also it is impossible to remain suspended in the void, supported by the precarious force of bayonets and circumstances. Therefore, in strangling the Revolution, the power is obliged to insure itself, more and more clearly and firmly, with the aid and support of reactionary and bourgeois elements, disposed through expediency to be of service to it and to deal with it.
Feeling the ground slipping from beneath its feet, becoming more and more detached from the masses, having broken its last connections with the Revolution and created a whole privileged caste of big and little dictators, servitors, flatterers, careerists, and parasites, but impotent to achieve anything really revolutionary and positive, after having rejected and destroyed the new forces, the power feels obliged to consolidate itself, to make overtures to the forces of reaction. It is their company that it seeks more and more frequently and more and more willingly. It is with them that it gives ground, not having any other way of insuring its life. Having lost the friendship of the masses, it seeks new sympathies. It hopes that it can some day betray them. But meanwhile it becomes further involved every day in anti-revolutionary and anti-social activity.
The Revolution attacks it more and more energetically. And the power, with a fury all the more violent, helped by arms that it has forged, and by forces which it has drawn up, fights the Revolution. Soon the latter is completely defeated in this unequal struggle. It is at the point of death and disintegration. The agony ends in a corpse-like immobility. The slide has reached the bottom of the slope. [Here] is the abyss. The Revolution has had its day. Reaction is triumphant -- hideously painted, arrogant, brutal, bestial.
Those who have not yet understood these truths and their implacable logic have understood nothing about the Russian Revolution. And that is why all these blind men, the "Leninists", the "Trotskyists", and all their kind are incapable of explaining plausibly the bankruptcy of the Russian Revolution and of Bolshevism -- the bankruptcy which they are forced to admit. (We are not speaking here of the Western "Communists". They want . to remain blind).
Having understood nothing about the Russian Revolution, having learned nothing from it, they are ready to repeat the same sequence of evil errors: political party, conquest of power, government ("workers and peasants"!), State ("Socialists"), Dictatorship ("of the Proletariat") -- stupid platitudes, criminal contradictions, disgusting nonsense! It will be unfortunate for the next revolution if it re-animates these stinking corpses, if again it succeeds in dragging the labouring masses into this macabre game. It can only give rise to other Hitlers which grow in the decay of its ruins. And once more "its light will go out for the world".
Let us recapitulate the elements of the situation here:
The "revolutionary" government ("Socialist" or "Communist") is inaugurated. Naturally it wants full and complete power for -I itself. It is a command. (Otherwise what purpose has it?)
It is only a question of time until the first disagreement between the governors and the governed will arise. This disagreement crops up all the more inevitably inasmuch as a government, whatever it may be, is impotent to solve the problems of a great revolution, yet in spite of this, it wants to be right in everything, monopolize everything, retain for itself the initiative, the truth, and responsibility of action. This disagreement is always turned to the advantage of the rulers, who quickly learn to impose their authority by various means. And subsequently all initiative passes inevitably to these rulers, who become, little by little, the masters of the governed.
That accomplished, the "masters" cling to power, despite their incapacity, their inadequacy, their incompetency. They believe themselves, on the contrary, the only bearers of the Revolution. "Lenin (or Stalin), like Hitler, is always right". . . . "Workers, obey your leaders! They know what they are doing and they are working for you". . . . "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" ("so we can command you better".) But this latter part of the slogan is never uttered aloud by the "genial leaders" of the "workers' parties".
Thus, inch by inch, the rulers become the absolute masters of the country. They create privileged classes on which they base themselves. They organize forces capable of sustaining them, and defend themselves fiercely against all opposition, all contradiction, all independent initiative. Monopolizing everything, they take over the whole life and activity of the country. And having no other way of acting, they oppress, subjugate, enslave, exploit. They repress all resistance. They persecute and wipe out, in the name of the Revolution, everyone who will not bend to their will.
To justify themselves, they lie, deceive, slander.
To stifle the truth, they are brutal. They fill the prisons and places of exile; they torture, kill, execute, assassinate.
That is what happened, exactly and inevitably, to the Russian Revolution.
Once well established in power, having organized its bureaucracy, its Army, its police, having found the money and built a new State called "Workers'", the Bolshevik government, absolute master, took into its own hands completely the fate of the Revolution. Progressively -- to the extent that it increased its forces of demagogic propaganda, coercion, and repression -- the Government nationalized and monopolized everything, including speech and thought.
It was the State -- and therefore the Government -- which took possession of the soil, of all the lands. It became the true landlord. The peasants, as a mass, were little by little transformed, first into State farmers, and later, as will be seen, into veritable serfs. It was the Government which expropriated the works, factories, mines -- in short, all the means of production, communication, and exchange. And finally, it was the Government which became the sole master of the nation's press and of all other means of spreading ideas. All publications, all printed matter in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics -- including even visiting cards -- are produced, or at least rigorously controlled, by the State.
In short, the State -- therefore the [Bolshevik] government finally became the only repository of all truths [in the Russian domain], the sole proprietor of all material and spiritual goods therein, and the sole initiator, organizer, and animator of the whole life of the country, in all of its ramifications.
The 150,000,000 "inhabitants" were progressively transformed into simple fulfillers of the Government's orders, into veritabte slaves of the Government and its innumerable agents. "Workers, obey your leaders!"
All the economic, social, and other organizations, without exception, beginning with the Soviets and ending with the smallest-cells, became the simple administrative organs of the State enterprise, [forming in effect] a sort of "exploiting corporation of the State": organs wholly subordinated to its "central administrative council" (the Government), supervised closely by agents of the latter (the official and secret police) and deprived of all semblance of independence.
The authentic detailed history of this evolution, completed twelve years ago -- an extraordinary history, unique in the world-would require a volume in itself. We will return to it later in these pages to give some indispensable details.
The reader already knows that the stifling of the Revolution, with its disastrous logical consequences, inevitably incited a reaction more and more intense, and sustained by the elements on the left, who did not envisage the Revolution in the same way [as the Bolsheviki] and drew themselves up to defend it and enable it to progress. The most important of these refractory movements grew up in the ranks of the left Social Revolutionaries and among the Anarchists.
This rebellion of the left Social Revolutionary Party was that 0f a rival political and statist party. Its differences with the Communist Party and its disillusionment because of the disastrous results of the Bolshevik Revolution finally compelled it to oppose the Bolsheviks. Forced to leave the government in which it had collaborated for some time with [Lenin's party], it launched an increasingly violent struggle against it. Anti-Bolshevik propaganda, attempted uprisings, and terrorist acts were used.
The left Social Revolutionaries participated in the famous assassination in Leontievsky Alley. And they organized the assassination of the German General Eichhorn in the Ukraine and of the German Ambassador Mirbach in Moscow -- two violent demonstrations against the dealings of the Bolshevik government with that of Germany. Later they inspired some local uprisings, which were quickly put down. In that struggle they sacrificed some of their best forces.
Their leaders, Maria Spiridonova, B. Kamkov, A. A. Kareline, and others, as well as certain anonymous militants, behaved with much courage ia these occurrences. However, if the left Social Revolutionaries had achieved power, their actions inevitably would have been exactly like those of the Bolshevik Party. The same political system inescapably would have led to the same results.
Fundamentally, the left Social Revolutionaries rose up primarily against the hegemony and the monopoly of the Communist Party. They claimed that if power were shared equally by two or more parties, instead of being monopolized by a single one, everything would be for the best. In the nature of things, this was a distinct error.
The active elements of the laboring masses, who, having understood the reasons for the bankruptcy of Bolshevism, attempted a battle against it, knew this well. They only supported the left Social Revolutionaries in a very restricted way. Their resistance was quickly broken, and they did not create any great echo in Russia.
Resistance of the Anarchists, however, was in places much farther-reaching, despite a swift and terrible repression. Having as its goal the realization of the other idea of the Revolution, and having taken everywhere, in the course of events, an important place, this struggle and its vicissitudes merit the reader's full attention.
We must add that, deliberately distorted and later suppressed by the Bolsheviks, on the one hand, and by-passed by subsequent events on the other, this epic has remained unknown (except in interested circles), not only by the public at large but even by those who have more or less studied the Russian Revolution. Despite its importance, it remains outside of their investigations and their documentation. Rarely in the course of human history has an idea been so disfigured and slandered as Anarchism has been.
Generally, too, they are not even concerned with Anarchism. They exclusively attack "Anarchists", considered by all governments as "No. 1 Public Enemies", and everywhere presented in an exceptionally unfavourable manner. In the best cases, they are accused of being madmen, "plain crazy", or "half-crazy". More often they are portrayed as "bandits", "criminals", senseless terrorists, indiscriminate bomb-throwers. To be sure, there have been, and are, terrorists among the Anarchists, as there are among the followers of other political and social organizations and tendencies. But, precisely because they regard the Anarchist idea as being too seductive and dangerous to tolerate the masses becoming interested in it and understanding it, the governments of all countries and of all shades of opinion take advantage of certain acts of violence committed by Anarchist terrorists to compromise that idea itself, and they smear not only those terrorists but also all the militants, whatever their methods.
As for the Anarchist thinkers and theoreticians, they arc treated most frequently as "Utopians", "irresponsible dreamers", "abstract philosophers", or "extravagants", whose ideas are dangerously interpreted by their "followers", and as "mystics", whose ideas, even if they are beautiful, have nothing in common with real life, nor with men as they are. (It is claimed, on the bourgeois side, that the capitalist system is stable and "real", and on the Socialist side, that the authoritarian Socialist idea is not Utopian -- this in spite of the inextricable chaos and enormous social calamities, accumulated for centuries by the first, and in spite of the memorable bankruptcies "achieved" in a half century of application by the second).
Very often they simply seek to ridicule the [Anarchist] idea. po they not try to make the ignorant masses believe that Anarchism is a system "renouncing all society and all organization", according to vvhich "everybody can do what he likes"? Do they not say to the public that anarchy is synonymous with disorder, and this in the face of the real and inconceivable chaos of all the non-Anarchist systems that have been tried up to now?
That policy towards Anarchism, due primarily to its integrity and the impossibility of taming it (a technique which has worked very well with Socialism), in view of its refraining from all "political" activity, bears its own fruits: a mistrust, even a fear and general hostility -- or at least indifference, ignorance, and ingrained incomprehension -- which spring up wherever it appears. This situation long rendered it isolated and impotent. But for some time, slowly, and owing to the force of events and propaganda, public opinion has evolved in relation to Anarchism and Anarchists. The deception is beginning to be recognized. Perhaps the day is not far off when the vast masses, having understood the Anarchist idea, will turn against the "deceivers" (I had almost written "hangmen" 5 by taking an increased interest in the martyred idea and following a natural psychological reaction.
(Certain admissions and truths that the press was obliged to publish during the events in Spain [the civil war there], as well as certain other facts more or less well known already have produced a salutary effect and helped the libertarian idea to gain ground).
As for the Russian Revolution, the attitude of the Bolshevik government with regard to the Anarchists surpassed by far, in deception, slander, and repression, that of all other former and present governments. The role that the libertarian concept played in the Revolution and the fate that it met there will eventually be widely known, despite the customary stifling. For a fairly long period, that role was considerable.
The revelations, which have been accumulating, bit by bit, not only throw a new light on past and current events but also a bright light on the course to be followed. And they permit one to foresee and better understand certain important phenomena which, beyond any doubt, will occur in the course of happenings in the near future.
For all these reasons the reader has the right -- and even the duty -- to understand the facts which will be disclosed here. What was the activity of the Anarchists in the Russian Revolution? What exactly was their role and their fate? What was the real "weight" and what was the destiny of "this other idea of the Revolution" represented and defended by the Anarchists? Our study will answer these questions at the same time as it gives indispensable details about the true role, the activity, and the system of Bolshevism. We hope that this presentation will help the reader to orient himself in relation to serious current and future events.
Despite their irreparable retardation and their extreme weakness, despite also all sorts of obstacles and difficulties, and finally, notwithstanding the sweeping and implacable repression of which they were the object, the Anarchists were able, here and there, and especially after October, 1917, to win lively and profound sympathy. Their ideas achieved prompt success in certain regions. And their numbers increased rapidly, despite the heavy sacrifices in men, which were inflicted on them by events.
In the course of the Revolution the activity of the Anarchists exercised a strong influence. It had marked effects in the first place, because they were the only ones who opposed a new concept of the Social Revolution to the thesis and action of the Bolshevists, more or less discredited in the eyes of the masses -- and then, because they [the Anarchists] propagated and defended that concept, to the extent of their strength and despite inhuman persecution, with a disinterested and sublime devotion to the end, until a time when the overwhelming numbers, frenzied demagogy, knavery, and unprecedented violence of their adversaries forced them to succumb.
We should not be at all astonished by this [initial] success nor by its non-fulfilment. On the one hand, thanks to their integrated courageous, and self-sacrificing attitude, thanks also to their constant presence and action in the midst of the masses, and not in the "ministries" or bureaux; and thanks, finally, to the striking vitality of their ideas in the face of the practice of the Bolsheviki, which soon became questionable, the Anarchists found -- in every area where they could act -- friends and adherents. (One has the right to suppose that if the Bolsheviks, fully aware of the danger that this success represented to them, had not put an end, immediately, to the activity and propaganda of the libertarians, the Revolution might have taken a different turn and led to different results).
But on the other hand, their retardation in relation to events, the greatly restricted number of their militants capable of carrying on an extensive oral and written propaganda in an immense country, the lack of preparation of the masses, the generally unfavourable conditions, the persecutions, and the considerable loss in men -- all these circumstances limited drastically the extent and continuity of the Anarchists' work, and facilitated the repressive action by the Bolshevik regime.
Let us go on to the facts.
In Russia the Anarchists have always been the only ones who spread among the masses the idea of the true, popular, integral, emancipating Social Revolution.
The Revolution of 1905, with the exception of the Anarchist component, marched under such slogans as "democracy" (bourgeois), "Down with Tsarism!", "Long live the democratic Republic!". Bolshevism itself did not go farther at that time. Anarchism was then the only doctrine which went to the root of the problem and warned the masses of the danger of a political solution.
As weak as the libertarian forces were then, in comparison to the democratic parties, the [Anarchist] idea already had gathered around it a little group of workers and intellectuals who protested, here and there, against the snare of "democracy". True, their voices were sounding in the desert. But that did not discourage them. And soon a few sympathisers and a movement of sorts grew up around them.
The Revolution of 1917 grew and spread, in the beginning, like a flood. It was difficult to foresee its limits. Having overthrown absolutism, the people "made their entry into the arena of historical action".
In vain did the political parties try to stabilize their positions and adapt themselves to the revolutionary movement. Steadily I the working people went forward against their enemies, leaving behind them, one after another, the different parties with their "programs". The Bolsheviks themselves -- who formed the best organized party, the most ardent and determined aspirant to power -- were obliged to alter their slogans repeatedly to be able to follow the rapid development of events, and of the masses. (Remember their first slogans: "Long live the Constituent Assembly!" and "Long live workers' control of production!"
As in 1905 the Anarchists were, in 1917, the only defenders of the true and integral Social Revolution. They held constantly to their course, despite their restricted numbers, their financial weakness, and their lack of organization.
During the summer of 1917 they supported, both by word and action, the agrarian movements of the peasants. They also stood with the workers when, long before the October coup, the latter took over industrial enterprises in various places and tried to organize production on a basis of autonomy and workers' collec- f tivity.
The Anarchists fought in the front ranks of the workers' and sailors' movement of Kronstadt and Petrograd on July 3, 4, and 5. In Petrograd they set an example by taking over the printing houses in order that workers' and revolutionary journals should appear.
When, in that summer, the Bolsheviki displayed towards the bourgeoisie a more audacious attitude than the other political parties, the Anarchists approved this, and considered it their revolutionary duty to combat the lies of bourgeois and Socialist governments which called Lenin and the other Bolsheviks "agents of the German government".
The Anarchists also fought in the advance guard in Petrograd, Moscow, and elsewhere, in October, 1917, against the Kerensky coalition government [the fourth provisional regime]. It of course goes without saying that they marched, not in the name of any other power, but exclusively in the name of the conquest by the masses of their right to construct, on truly new bases, their own economic and social life. For many reasons which the reader knows, that idea was not put into practice, but the Anarchists fought, and to the end, alone for this just cause.
If, in this regard, there are grounds for reproaching them, it is only because they did not take time to reach an agreement among themselves and did not present, to a satisfactory degree, the elements of a free organization among the masses. But we know that they had to take account of their small numbers, their exceedingly slow concentration, and especially, of the absence of all Syndicalist and libertarian education of the masses themselves. Time was needed to remedy this situation. But the Bolsheviks, deliberately and specifically, did not allow either the Anarchists or the masses the time in which to overcome these retardations.
In Petrograd, it was again the sailors from Kronstadt, who, coming to the capital for the decisive struggle in October, played a particularly notable part. And among them were numerous Anarchists.
In Moscow, the most perilous and critical tasks during the hard fighting in October, fell upon the famous Dvintsi (the Dvinsk regiment). Under Kerensky, this whole regiment was imprisoned for refusal to take part in the offensive on the Austro-German front in June, 1917. It was always the Dvintsi who acted when it was necessary to dislodge the "Whites" (the Kadets, as they were known in that period) from the Kremlin, from the "Metropole", or from other sections of Moscow, and in the most dangerous places. When the Kadets, reinforced, resumed the offensive, it was always the Dvintsi who exerted themselves to the utmost to defeat them, during the ten days of struggle. All of [the Dvintsi] called themselves Anarchists, and marched under the command of two old libertarians, Gratchov and Fedotov.
The Anarchist Federation of Moscow, with a part of the Dvinsk regiment, marched first, in order of combat, against the forces of the Kerensky government. The workers of Presnia, of Sokolniki, of Zamoskvoretchia, and other districts of Moscow, went into battle with libertarian groups in the vanguard. Presnia's workers lost a fighter of great valor: Nikitin, an Anarchist worker, invariably in the front rank, was mortally wounded toward the end of the battle, in the center of the city. Several dozen other Anarchist workers also lost their lives in these struggles and lie in the common grave in Red Square in Moscow.
After the October Revolution, the Anarchists, despite the divergence of ideas and methods which separated them from the new "Communist" power, continued to serve the cause of the Revolution with the same perseverance and devotion. We should remember that they were the only ones who rejected the principle of the Constituent Assembly, and that when the latter became an obstacle to the Revolution, as they had foreseen and predicted, they took the first step towards its dissolution. Subsequently they fought with an energy and self-abnegation recognized even by their opponents, on all the fronts against the repeated offensives of reaction. In the defense of Petrograd against General Lavr G. Kornilov (August, 1917), in the fight against General Kaledin in the South (1918), and elsewhere, the Anarchists played a distinguished role.
Numerous detachments of partisans, large and small, formed by the Anarchists or led by them (the detachments of Mokrusov, Tcherniak, Maria Nikiforova, and others, without speaking for j| the moment of Makhno's partisan Army), and including in their ranks a great number of libertarians, fought in the South without rest from 1918 to 1920 against the reactionary armies. And isolated Anarchists were on all the fronts as simple combatants, lost among the mass of worker and peasant insurgents.
In places, the Anarchist strength quickly grew. But Anarchism lost many of its best forces in that fearful fighting. This sublime sacrifice, which contributed powerfully to the final victory of the Revolution, materially weakened the libertarian movement in Russia, then scarcely formed. And unfortunately, its forces being employed on the various fronts against the counter-revolution, the rest of the country was deprived of them. Meanwhile Anarchist activity and propaganda suffered notably.
In 1919 especially, the counter-revolution led by General Denikin, and later by General Wrangel, made still greater inroads into libertarian ranks. For it was primarily the libertarians who contributed to the defeat of the "White" Army. The latter was put to flight not by the Red Army in the North, but rather in the South, in the Ukraine, by the insurgent peasant mass, whose principal force was the partisan Army called Makhnovist, which was strongly impregnated with libertarian ideas and led by the Anarchist, Nestor Makhno. And as for revolutionary organizations, the libertarian groups of the South were the only ones who fought in the Makhnovist ranks against Denikin and Wrangel.
Here is a piquant detail: While in the South, the Anarchists, momentarily free to act, were heroically defending the Revolution, and paying with their lives, the "Soviet" government, really saved by this action, was furiously repressing the libertarian movement in the rest of the country. And as the reader will see, as soon as the danger in the South was ended, the repression also fell on the Anarchists in that region.
Likewise the Anarchists played a large part in the struggles against Admiral Alexander Kolchak in Eastern Russia and in Siberia, where they lost more militants and sympathizers.
Everywhere the partisan forces, including in their ranks a certain number of libertarians, did more of the job than the regular Red Army, and everywhere the Anarchists defended the fundamental principle of the Social Revolution: the independence and freedom of action of the workers on the march toward their true emancipation.

CHAPTER 3: The Anarchist Organizations

Participation of the Anarchists in the Revolution was not confined to combatant activity. They also endeavored to spread among the working masses their ideas about the immediate and progressive construction of a non-authoritarian society, as an indispensable condition for achieving the desired result. To accomplish this task, they created their libertarian organizations, set forth their principles in full, put them into practice as much as possible, and published and circulated their periodicals and literature.
We shall mention some of the most active Anarchist organizations at that time:
1. The Union for Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda, which bore the name of Golos Truda, meaning The Voice of Labor. It had as its object the dissemination of Anarcho-Syndicalist ideas among the workers. This activity was carried on at first in Petrograd from the summer of 1917 to the spring of 1918, and later, for some time, in Moscow. That organization's paper, also called Golos Truda, began as a weekly and subsequently became a daily. And the organization also founded an Anarcho-Syndicalist publishing house.
Immediately upon taking power, the Bolsheviks set about impeding, in all ways, this activity in general and the appearance of that journal in particular. And finally, in 1918-19 the "Communist" government Uquidated the Propaganda Union organization completely, and afterward the publishing house also. All the members were either imprisoned or exiled.
2. The Federation of Anarchist Groups of Moscow. -- This was a relatively large organization, which in 1917-18 carried on intensive propaganda in Moscow and the provinces. It published a daily paper, Anarchy, of Anarcho-Communist tendencies, and it, too, established a libertarian publishing house. And it was sacked by the "Soviet" government in April, 1918, though some remains of that movement survived until 1921, when the last traces of the former Federation were "liquidated" and the last of its militants "suppressed".
3. The Nabat Confederation of Anarchist Organizations of the Ukraine. 6 -- This important organization was created at the end of 1918 in Ukrainia, where at this time the Bolsheviks had not yet managed to impose their dictatorship. It distinguished itself everywhere by positive, concrete activity, proclaimed the necessity for an immediate and direct struggle for non-authoritarian forms of social structure, and worked to elaborate the practical elements.
Playing a significant role with its agitation and extremely energetic propaganda, the Confederation aided greatly in the spreading of libertarian ideas in the Ukraine. Its principal paper was Nabat. It strove to create a unified Anarchist movement (based, theoretically, on a sort of Anarchist "synthesis") and to rally all the active Anarchist forces in Russia, without regard for [specific] tendency, into a general organization. And it did unify nearly all of the Anarchist groups in the Ukraine, incorporated some groups in Great Russia -- and tried to found a Pan-Russian Anarchist Confederation.
Also, developing its activity in the central coal-mining region, the Confederation entered into close relations with the movement of revolutionary partisans, peasants, and city workers, and with the nucleus of this movement, the Makhnovtchina. It took active part in the fighting against all forms of reaction: against the hetman Skoropadsky, 7 against Petlura, Denikin, Grigoriev, Wrangel, and others. In these struggles it lost nearly all of its best militants.
Naturally it attracted the wrath of the "Communist" power, but under the conditions existing in the Ukraine it was able to resist repeated attacks [from that direction]. Its final and complete liquidation by the Bolshevik authorities took place at the end of 1920, several of its militants being shot without even the semblance of a trial.
Apart from these three organizations of fairly large scope and of more or less widespread activity, there existed others of lesser importance. Almost everywhere in Russia, in 1917 and 1918, there arose Anarchist groups, movements, and tendencies, generally of slight import and ephemeral, but in places quite active -- some independent, others in co-operation with one of the three organizations cited above.
Despite some divergencies in principle and tactics, all these movements were in agreement on fundamentals, and performed, to the limit of their strength and opportunities, their duty to the Revolution and to Anarchism, and sowed among the laboring masses the seed of a really new social organization -- anti-authoritarian and federalist.
All eventually met with the same fate: brutal suppression by the "Soviet" authority.

CHAPTER 4: The Unknown Anarchist Press in the Russian Revolution

We have quoted earlier some editorials from Golos Truda, organ of the Union for Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda, showing the attitude of that organization toward the taking of power by the Bolsheviki, the peace of Brest-Litovsk, and the Constituent Assembly.
It is proper to supplement these with other quotations, which will give the reader details of the various points of disagreement between the Bolsheviks and the Anarchists, and [will be enlightening] on the position of the latter concerning the problems of the Revolution, and finally, on the very spirit of the two conceptions.
The Anarchist press in Russia during the revolutionary period being practically unknown 8 outside of that country, some of these extracts will provide distinct revelations [for many who read them in the following pages].
Golos Truda appeared first on August 11, 1917, five and a half months after the outbreak of the Revolution, and therefore with a long and irreparable delay. Nevertheless the comrades energetically set to work. The task was hard, for the Bolshevik Party already had won over the great majority of the working masses. In comparison to its activity and influence, those of the Propaganda Union and its [new weekly] were of little importance. Slowly and with difficulty the work progressed. There was hardly any place for it in the factories of Petrograd. Everybody there followed the Bolshevik Party, read its papers, saw only its interpretations. No one paid attention to a wholly unknown organiza-tion, to "bizarre" ideas that didn't resemble at all those which were spoken and discussed elsewhere.
However, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union quickly acquired a certain influence. Soon it began to be listened to. Its meetings rapidly succeeded in creating fairly strong groups in Petrograd itself and its suburbs -- in Kronstadt, Oboukhovo, Kolpin, et cetera. The weekly was successful; its circulation kept increasing, even in the provinces, despite all obstacles.
Under the existing conditions, the principal task of the Union consisted of intensifying its propaganda, to make itself known, and to attract the attention of the laboring masses to its ideas and its attitude toward the other social tendencies. The burden of this task fell mainly on its periodical, oral propaganda then being greatly restricted because of lack of means.
Three periods can be discerned in this organization's very short life: 1. Before the October Revolution; 2. During this second revolution; 3. After it.
In the first period, the Union fought simultaneously against the government of the moment (Kerensky's) and against the danger of a political revolution (toward which everything seemed to converge), and for a new social organization on a Syndicalist and libertarian basis. Each number of Golos Truda contained clear and definite articles on the way in which the Anarcho-Syndicalists conceived the constructive tasks of the Revolution to come. Such, for example, were a series of articles on the role of the factory committees; articles on the tasks of the Soviets, and others on how to resolve the agrarian problem, on the new organization of production, and on exchange.
In several articles -- and especially in its editorials -- the paper explained to the workers in a concrete manner, what the real emancipating Revolution ought to be, according to the Anarcho-Syndicalists.
Thus, in an editorial entitled "The impasses of the Revolution", in its initial issue, 9 Golos Truda, after reviewing the development of that revolt and analyzing the crisis through which it passed in August, 1917, declared that it conceived future revolutionary action in a way which did not at all resemble that of the Socialist writers. The organization for which it spoke, it said, was strongly opposed to the "programs" and "tactics" of the various parties and factions: Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, left Social Revolutionaries, right Social Revolutionaries, et al.

If it had been possible [the editors declared] for us to have raised our voice earlier, at the very beginning of the Revolution, in the first days and weeks of its free start, of its magnificent unfolding, and its ardent, unlimited aspirations, we would have immediately, from those first moments, proposed and defended methods and actions absolutely different from those preconceived by the Socialist parties. We are strongly opposed to the "programs" and "tactics" of all these parties and factions: Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, left Social Revolutionaries, right Social Revolutionaries, et cetera. We would have pointed out other goals for the Revolution. And we would have suggested other tasks for the toiling masses.
The long years of our work abroad were consecrated to propaganda for an entirely different array of ideas on the Social Revolution and its course. Alas, our thought did not penetrate into Russia, separated from other countries by a police barrier. Today our forces are rallying here. And we consider it our first duty, our most sacred task, to take up this work immediately in our own land -- at present the land of freedom . . . We must open new horizons for the laboring masses, must help them in their quest.

Golos Truda saw the Revolution then as temporarily blocked in an impasse, while the Russian masses were at rest, as if plunged in awkward reflection. And there must be action, it contended, so that this reflection would not remain sterile. The halt must be realized in such a way that the new revolutionary wave would find the masses further prepared, more conscious of the goals to be attained, the tasks to be performed, the course to follow. Everything humanly possible must be done so that the coming wave would not dissipate itself again in a start without results.
"From this moment," the editors averred, "we will point out the means of getting out of this impasse -- means of which the whole periodical press, without exception, does not say a single word."
In its second issue, 10 the Anarcho-Syndicalist organ asked a timely question:
"We are living in a critical period. The scales of the Revolution are in motion -- now slowly, now convulsively. They will continue this movement for some time. Then they will stop. Will the Russian workers know, in opportune time, while their scales are still oscillating, how to throw on their tray a new idea, a new principle of organization, a new social basis? It is on this that much -- if not all -- of the destiny and result of the Revolution depend."
Confidence in the ability of the country's masses to carry on effectively was voiced in an editorial headed "Questions of the Hour", in the third issue 11 of Golos Truda:

We say to the Russian workers, peasants, soldiers, revolutionists: Above all, continue the Revolution. Continue to organize yourselves solidly and to unite your new organizations: your communes, your unions, your committees, your Soviets. Continue -- with firmness and perseverence, always and everywhere -- to participate more and more extensively and more and more effectively, in the economic activity of the country. Continue to take into your hands, that is, into the hands of your organizations, all the raw materials and all the instruments indispensable to your labor. Continue to eliminate private enterprises.
Continue the Revolution! Do not hesitate to face the solution of all the burning questions of the present. Create everywhere the necessary organizations to achieve those solutions. Peasants, take the land and put it at the disposal of your committees. Workers, proceed to put in the hands of and at the disposal of your own social organizations -- everywhere on the spot -- the mines and the subsoil, the enterprises and establishments of airports, the works and factories, the workshops, and the machines.

Meanwhile the Bolshevik Patty oriented itself more and more toward it coup d'etat. It was fully aware of the revolutionary state of mind of the masses, and hoped to take advantage of it -- that is, to take power.
Criticizing that orientation, the editors of the Anarcho-Syndi-calist periodical commented further on the situation in its third issue. They said that a logical, clear, and simple solution was offered to those for whom they spoke, a solution which arose of itself, and which they had only to utilize, resolutely, boldly.

It is necessary [Golos Truda held] to decide and to pronounce the last word suggested by the very logic of events: We have no need of power. In the place of "power" there are the unified organizations of the toilers -- workers and peasants -- which should became "the masters of life". Supported by the revolutionary formations of soldiers, these organizations should not help someone to "take power" but take directly into their own hands the land and other elements and instruments of labor, establishing everywhere, on the spot, a new social and economic order.

The simple "natives" and the "cowards" would peacefully accept the new situation, the editors continued. The bourgeoisie -- remaining without soldiers and without capital -- naturally would remain without power. And the organizations of the workers, joined together, would put on solid feet, by common agreement, production, transport, and communications, exchange and the distribution of merchandise -- all on new bases, creating for this purpose, in line with actual necessity, the indispensable organizations of co-ordination and centers. Then -- and only then -- would the Revolution have conquered.
Moreover, Golos Truda maintained, while the struggle had the character of a quarrel between the political parties for power, and the laboring masses were dragged into these quarrels and divided by political fetishes, there could be no question either of the victory of the Revolution nor even of a really serious social reconstruction of life. And hope was expressed that the masses, driven by the very exigencies of life, would end by arriving at this solution, the elements of which were already sowed by the objective conditions of the time and the whole existing situation.
"It goes without saying," the editors concluded, "that we do not intend to be prophets. We only foresee a certain possibility, a certain tendency which may not develop. But, in the latter case, the present Revolution will not be the true Great Social Revolution. And then, the solution of the problem -- which we have just sketched out -- will fall to one of the future revolutions."
Finally, on the eve of the October Revolution, an editorial in Golos Truda said:

Either the Revolution will follow its course, and the masses -- after tests, misfortunes, and horrors of all sorts, after errors, delays, collisions, recoveries, new retreats, perhaps even a civil war and a temporary dictatorship, -- will finally learn to raise their consciousness to a level that will enable them to apply their creative forces to a positive activity of their own autonomous organizations, everywhere, on the spot. Then the safety and the victory of the Revolution will be assured.
Or. the masses will not yet learn to create in the cause of the Revolution their organizations co-ordinated and consecrated to the building of the new life. Then the Revolution will sooner or later be extinguished. For only these organizations are capable of leading it to complete victory.

The attitude of the Union for Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda at the very moment of the October coup d'etat has been sufficiently described in an earlier chapter. Let us recall only that, having expressed their reservations, the Anarchists participated aggressively in that revolution -- wherever it resulted in action by the masses (as in Kronstadt and Moscow) for reasons and for goals specified in the reservations themselves.
After the October Revolution, during the few months of its difficult existence, and though increasingly circumscribed by the Bolshevik government, 12 the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union followed from day to day the action of the latter and the march of events. Golos Truda, which appeared daily for three months, explained to the workers all the mistakes, all the misdeeds of the new power, developing, at the same time, its own ideas and indicating the way to apply them, in conformity with its point of view. Such a procedure was not only its right, but incontestably its strictest duty.
In a series of articles 13 the Anarcho-Syndicalist organ insisted on the necessity of immediate abandonment of the political methods of the dictatorship over the masses and allowing the working people freedom of organization and action.

1. From the beginning of the Revolution -- from the month of March -- [that publication commented] the laboring masses should have created everywhere their workers' organizations, class organizations, outside of parties, co-ordinating the action of those organizations and concentrating all of it on the only real goal to be attained: expropriation of all elements indispensable to labor and, finally, to the nation's economic life.
2. The educated, conscious, experienced men, the intellectuals, the specialists, should have, from the first days of the Revolution, preoccupied themselves not with political struggles and slogans, not with the "organization of power", but with that of the Revolution. All these men should have helped the masses in the development and perfecting of their organizations, helped them to employ their vigilance, energy, and activities for the preparation of a real Revolution, both economic and social. No one, at that moment, would have impeded them in this task.

In fact, Golos Truda argued, the peasants and the soldiers were in perfect agreement about this collective duty -- and the real Revolution would have advanced rapidly, by the correct route. It would, from the beginning, the editors declared, have sent its roots down deep, all the more in that the masses themselves, in a spontaneous drive, already had created a network of organizations, and it was only a question of giving this constructive task a certain amount of order and a higher consciousness. If, from the start, the Anarcho-Syndicalist audience was told, all the sincere revolutionists and the whole Socialist press had concentrated their attention, their strength, and their energy on that task, the course of the Revolution would have been different -- but that was precisely what had not been done.
Where Power begins, the Revolution ends, another article in the same periodical pointed out. 14 When the "organization of power" began, it asserted, the "organization of the Revolution" ended -- for the expression "revolutionary power" had as much sense as "warm ice" or "cold fire", meaning none at all.
If the Revolution is definitively put on the political road, in line with the recipe for "the organization of power", [that article continued], we will see what happens: As soon as the first revolutionary victory of the insurgent people (a victory so dearly won, precisely by reason of the same political methods) becomes an established fact, our "second Revolution" will stop. In place of the free and creative revolutionary activity of the masses every, where on the spot -- an activity indispensable for the consolidation and development of this victory -- we shall witness a disgusting "trafficking" around the power at the center, and, finally, an absurd "activity" of the new central "power" -- of a new "government of all the Russias".
The Soviets and the other local organizations will of course be subordinated to the central Soviet and the Government. They will become in fact the authority of the leaders of the [Bolshevik] Party, installed in the center. And in place of a natural and independent union of free cities and a countryside constructing the new economic and social life on their own, we shall see "a strong State center", and "a firm revolutionary power" which will prescribe, order, impose, chastise.
Nothing between those two possibilities was capable of being achieved, Golos Truda avowed -- either it would be like that or the authority would not exist. For (one read) phrases about "local autonomy" in the presence of a vigorous State power had always been, were then, and would be in the future, empty phrases.
But the workers were warned by the Anarcho-Syndicalist spokesmen that if they expected to get from the new power the Social Revolution, Socialism, abolition of the capitalist system, and their own real emancipation, they would be sorely disappointed -- because neither that power nor any other knew how to give all those [advantages] to the laboring masses. Then certain facts were set forth to prove that the Bolsheviki finally would end by degenerating and betraying the Russian people.
This meant, it was pointed out, that from Bolshevism to capitalism the front [facing the working masses] was one continuous, unbroken barrier, a result of the inevitable laws of political struggle.

You will say to us [the editors went on] that you will protest, that you will struggle for your rights, that you will rise up and act everywhere on the spot in full independence. Very well. But be prepared for your activities to be called "arbitrary" and "anarchic"; for the "Socialists in power" to assail you under this pretext, with all the strength of their "Socialist" authority; and, finally, for opposition from the classes of the population that are satisfied with the new government (classes to which it has given something), as well aS all those who have had enough of the Revolution and who only feel anger and hatred toward you.
In your struggle against Tsarism you had nearly the whole country with you. But in your struggle against Kerensky you already were more isolated.
If now you let the new power consolidate itself (and if events permit it), and if subsequently you have to combat this power, once it has become strong, you will not be more than a handful. They will wipe you out pitilessly as "madmen", as "dangerous fanatics", as "bandits" . . . And they will not even put a stone on your graves.

On the eve of the seizure of the Government by the Bolsheviks, Golos Truda dealt with the situation under the title, From Impasse to Impasse. 15 Therein it held that the only way to put the Revolution on the correct and proper course would be to renounce the consolidation of central political power.
"All power is a danger to the Revolution," that editorial set forth. "No power can lead the Revolution to its real goal. Nowhere in the labyrinths of political contrivance can be found the key which will open the promised door of the Temple of Victory."

Help the masses at once, everywhere on the spot, to create their own class organizations outside the parties [so the Anarcho-Syndicalist journal admonished its readers]. Help those organizations to form a harmonious whole, first locally, then regionally, et cetera, by means of Soviets representing such organizations: not authoritarian Soviets, but simply instruments of contact and coordination. Orient these organizations toward the only important goal -- that of their progressively taking over production, exchange, communication, distribution, et cetera. Begin thus, immediately, to organize the social and economic life of the country on new bases. Then a sort of "dictatorship of labor" will begin to be achieved, easily and in a natural manner. And the [people generally] will learn, little by little, to do it. . ..

Socialist and Anarchist methods of action were compared by Golos Truda in comment headed The Organization of the Revolution. 16
The Socialist parties were represented as saying: "To organize the Revolution it is necessary, before anything else, to take power in the State and organize this new power. With the help of it, the [nation's] whole economy also will pass into the hands of the State."
But, in contrast, the Anarchist position was indicated thus: "To organize the Revolution, it is necessary, before anything else, to take over the economy and organize it. By this means, Power and the State (recognized by the Socialists themselves as an 'inevitable' temporary evil) will be eliminated."
To take over the economy (the expansion of Anarchist procedure continued) meant taking possession of agriculture, industry, and exchange. Also it meant having control of all the means and instruments of production, labor, and transportation, the soil and sub-soil, the mines, factories, works, workshops; the stocks and the depots; the stores, the banks; the railways, the stations; the maritime and river transports; and all means of communication -- the postal, telegraph, and telephone systems.

To take power [Golos Truda averred] a political party is needed. For, in fact, it is a party which takes possession of power, in the persons of its leaders. That is why the Socialists incite the masses to organize into a party in order to support them at the moment of struggle for the seizure of power.
To take over the economy a political party is not indispensable. But indispensable to that action are the organizations of the masses, independent organizations remaining outside of all political parties. It is upon these organizations that falls, at the moment of the Revolution, the task of building the new social and economic system.
That is why the Anarchists do not form a political party. They agitate, either directly in the mass organizations or -- as propagandists -- in groups and ideological unions.

Concluding, the Anarcho-Syndicalist paper posed these fundamental questions: "How must one, how can one organize without power? By what rules must one begin? How must one proceed?"
It promised to answer the three queries in a precise and detailed way. And in fact it answered them in several articles which appeared before the periodical's suppression in the spring of 1918. 17
The latter part of 1917 was exceedingly hard for the Russian people, for the war continued to exhaust and paralyze the country. More and more tragic did the situation in the interior become.
Golos Truda dealt with the far-flung and grim national scene under the title What Must Be Done? saying:

The conditions of existence of the working masses grow worse from day to day. Poverty increases. Hunger is a permanent guest. Cold is there, but the problems of rent and heating are not solved. A very large number of factories are closing their doors for lack of means, fuel, and raw materials, and frequently the owners are in flight. Russia's railroads are in a lamentable state, and the economy of the country is totally ruined. . . .
A paradoxical situation is created.
At the top is the "workers and peasants'" government, the center invested with all power and possessing the strength to exercise it. The masses wait for solutions from [that regime]. It issues decrees, in which it says very well what the improvements should be, (and what it preconceives is well below the needs of the masses), but to the essential question, how to achieve them, it replies: "The Constituent Assembly!"
At the bottom everything remains as before. The masses groan with hunger -- but the speculation, gain, and disgusting commerce "under the table" continues in fine shape. The masses are impoverished -- but the shops (even the display windows) are filled with garments, meat, vegetables, fruits, and jams . . . And do not doubt that in the city there are a goodly number of objects of prime necessity.
The masses are poor -- but the banks are rich. The masses are thrown into the streets, factories close their doors, and it is impossible to "take in hand" the abandoned enterprises, because of lack of capital, fuel, and raw materials.
The countryside needs the products of the city. The city needs the products of the countryside -- but the situation is such that it is almost impossible to effect the exchange.

Criticizing the weak behavior of the Bolshevik government in the face of this disastrous condition, the Anarcho-Syndicalist organ proposed certain means which seemed to it to be the quickest, simplest, and most effective way of meeting the pressing first problem of the nation.
In several articles (What Must be Done?, Warning, and others) the editors of Golos Truda submitted for consideration by Russia's workers a concrete and detailed program of urgent measures. [This impressive program well deserves tabular listing here. It follows].

Requisition by the workers' organizations of products of primary necessity and organization of stock piles and depots of distribution -- to ward off famine;
Creation of people's restaurants;
Methodical organization of house committees (of tenants), street committees, and district committees, to cope with the insufficiency of lodgings, and at the same time to begin to replace landlords by collectives comprised of occupants -- in other words, immediate and progressive socialization of dwelling places;
Immediate and progressive requisition by workers' organizations of enterprises abandoned by their owners;
Immediate organization of public works, to undertake urgently needed repair work in the cities, on the railroads, and elsewhere;
Immediate confiscation of a part of the funds in the banks, to permit the development of the new collective production;
Resumption of regular relations between the cities and the countryside;
Exchange of products between the workers' organizations and the farmers.
Socialization of the railroads and all the means of communication;
Requisition and socialization of the mines as rapidly as possible to enable the immediate supplying (through the workers' organizations) of factories, railroads, dwelling houses, et cetera, with raw materials [and fuel].

The Bolshevik government was far from envisaging such measures, for they would have tended, necessarily, to diminish its role, relegate it to a position of secondary importance, speedily demonstrate its uselessness and finally go beyond it. It could not allow this.
Not wanting to trust the masses with anything, but not feeling itself strong enough yet to attempt anything decisive through political action, that regime let things drag along, confining itself meanwhile to timid and ineffectual economic remedies. Especially did it seek to provide for the most pressing necessities by political police and military procedures: disorderly requisitions, arbitrary and brutal, with the help of detachments of troops stirred up by the leaders (procedures which, among other consequences, had the effect of turning the countryside against the cities and destroying all its interest in the Revolution), repressions, violence, etcetera.
While protesting vehemently against the false course on which the Bolsheviks, according to the Anarchists, were putting the Revolution, and criticizing their system, the Anarchists were the only ones to advocate truly popular, truly Socialist, and at the same time, concrete measures, which would, they declared, orient the Revolution immediately toward the road of the real Social Revolution.
The Bolsheviks naturally paid no attention to them. And the masses, manipulated and subjugated by Bolshevism, could neither hear the anarchists nor take a stand on their own.
In this context, I will cite a complete article from Golos Truda (No. 18, February 13, 1918) devoted to a Bolshevik governmental decree curbing the freedom of the press. The article clearly delineates the position of the two opposed ideologies with reference to a concrete problem.

FALSE ROUTE

If one wants to note, from day to day, the facts and events proving incontestably that it is not possible to achieve the true Social Revolution "from above," one could fill dozens of newspaper columns with them . . . But we have other fish to fry at the moment, and we leave this task to the patient future historians of our Revolution. Without doubt they will discover in its archives abundant documentation demonstrating eloquently "how not to wage a revolution."
As for us, we have really had enough of repeating every day, that neither true freedom nor true emancipation of the world of labor, nor 'he true society, nor the new culture -- in short, that no real Socialist value can be achieved by means of a centralized "State apparatus" actuated by political power in the hands of a party. Is it not time to have done with this subject, in the hope that, tomorrow, life itself will make this truth (basically so simple) known with perfect clarity, to all the blind?
However, they are so numerous, these blind men.
Only a few days ago we had in our hands a resolution saying the following: While the Anarchist idea is the best, the most glorious, and the purest of ideas, the moment for its realization has not yet come. It is indispensable first to consolidate the ("Socialist") revolution that has been accomplished. "We are convinced," the resolution concluded, "that Anarchism will come and triumph after Socialism."
Such is the current banal conception of Anarchism!
To the good "citizen" Anarchism is either the bomb and pillage, horror and chaos, or else, in the best case, a beautifuldream, the paradise "after Socialism." For the good "citizen" does not understand Anarchism. He judges it on the basis of rumor. He is so naive, so credulous, the poor thing.
And the authors of the resolution don't understand it any better.
If one represents Anarchism as the attainment of an epoch in which one will live in a land of Cockaigne, then yes, its time has not yet come (and in this sense also, the time for "Socialism" has not yet arrived).
But if (as the authors of that resolution did) one looks on the problem from the point of view of the road toward emancipation, of the very process of the struggle for freedom, then it is absurd to imagine that in taking this road we follow another. Then one has to choose either one or another way.
Anarchism is not only an idea, a goal; it is, before anything else, also a method, a means of struggling for the emancipation of man. And, from this point of view, we maintain clearly, categorically, that the "Socialist" way (that of authoritarian and statist Socialism) cannot achieve the goals of the Social Revolution, cannot lead us to Socialism. Only the Anarchist method is capable of solving that problem.
The essential thesis of Anarchism as a method of struggle, as a way toward true Socialism, is just this: It is impossible to get to Anarchism and to freedom in general "through Socialism" or "after Socialism." It is not "through" Socialism that we may reach it. One cannot achieve Anarchism in any way except by going straight to the goal, by the direct Anarchist road. Otherwise one never will arrive.
It is impossible to achieve freedom by means of State Socialism.
Being supporters of the conquest of Socialism by means of a revolution from above, the "Socialists," in our opinion, have gone astray; they are on a false route. Either they will be forced to turn around and regain the correct route-just, straight, Anarchist -- or they will become involved and involve the whole Revolution in an impasse.
That is what Anarchism maintains. That is why it struggles against "Socialism" today. And that is what life is going to show the blind men presently. . .
We will not mention here all the various facts which have already reinforced our conviction. But we consider it necessary to concentrate on a single, striking fact.
We have just received a copy of the "Provisional rules concerning (fie manner of editing all printed matter, periodical or not, in Petrograd. "
We have always considered the implacable struggle against the bourgeois press the immediate task of the workers in time of social revolution.
Suppose then for an instant, dear reader, that this Revolution had followed, from its beginning, our Anarchist course; that the workers' and peasants' organizations had grown up and federated themselves into a class organization; that they had taken into their own hands the economic life of the country; and that they had fought, and in their own way, the opposing forces. You will easily understand that the press, as an instrument of the bourgeoisie, would have been fought by these organizations in an essentially different manner from that employed by our "Socialist" government in combating the "bourgeois" press.
In fact, is it the bourgeois press with which these "Provisional Rules" are concerned?
Read Articles 2 to 8 of these "rules" attentively. Read especially the paragraph entitled "Prohibition and Confiscation." You will have tangible proof that, from the first to the last article, these "rules" suppress, not the bourgeois press, but all vestiges of freedom of the press in general. You will see that it is a typical act, establishing the most rigorous censorship for all publications which have the misfortune of displeasing the Government, whatever their nature. You will discern that this act sets up a multitude of formalities and impediments that are absolutely useless.
We are convinced that the real Revolution of the workers would fight the bourgeois press with other methods. We are convinced that the true militants and men of action of the real Social Revolution would never have recourse to a censorship law: a banal, typically bureaucratic and authoritarian law; a law seeking to protect the existing government against all kinds of criticism or opposition, whether it comes from the right or the left; a law, finally, which introduces a whole series of superfluous and barbaric brakes, impediments, and obstacles from the point of view of freedom of expression.
We've said more than once that every path has its peculiarities. Glory to the gods! the "peculiarity" in question only affects Petro-grad so far. We hope that the revolutionary masses of the rest of the country are more awake than our decadent capital, and that they render futile the application of these "Provisional Rules" in the provinces.
We also hope that these provisional "rules" don't become definitive.

The Anarchists supposed that, the printing houses and all the means of application having been taken directly into the hands of the workers' organizations, the latter would refuse -- which would have been simple and healthy -- to print and publish counterrevolutionary writings. Thus, as in other fields, no political (gov-ermental, police, et cetera) action would be felt necessary and no censorship would develop.
It [seems almost] unnecessary to state that the "rules" in question were speedily extended to the whole country, and later served as the basis for laws dealing with the press which completely suppressed all non-governmental (non-Bolshevik) publications.
In the article headed The Immediate Tasks, the Anarcho-Syndicalist periodical offered detailed suggestions on the matter of solving various current problems. Its essential chapters included: Organization of Rationing, How to Resolve the Housing Question, Factories and Works, The Banks, The City and the Country, Raw Materials and Fuel, Transportation, and Public Works.
Naturally several articles were devoted to the peasant problem 18 by Golos Truda, as well as numerous editorials concerning the workers' problem. 19
To conclude these examples of published comment let me, as a curiosity, quote from an article in the same organ entitled Lenin and Anarchism. 20 Thus:

The "Socialists", swollen with sentiments of order, prudence, and circumspection, reproach Citizen Lenin constantly for his leanings towards Anarchism.
The replies of Citizen Lenin reduce themselves, every time, to the same formula: "Be patient. I am not yet altogether anarchistic."
The Anarchists attack Citizen Lenin because of his weakness for Marxist dogma. The replies of Citizen Lenin reduce themselves, every time, to the same formula: "Be patient, I am no longer altogether a Marxist."
We wish to say, finally, to all those who may be disturbed in their minds about this: Do not be disturbed. Don't expect anything. Citizen Lenin is not at all an Anarchist.

And after a short analysis of Lenin's position in relation to the Revolution, the article goes on to state that he is right when he says: "We reject parliamentarianism, the Constituent Assembly, et cetera, because the Revolution has given rise to the Soviets." Yes, Golos Truda agrees, the Revolution gave rise, not only to the Soviets, but in general to a just and healthy tendency toward a class organization, outside of parties, a-political, non-statist -- and the welfare of the Revolution is wholly bound up with this tendency.

Citizen Lenin would be right [the Anarcho-Syndicalist journal continues] if he had recognized a long time ago, in the dawn of his youth, that the true Revolution should take precisely this course. But alas, at that time, he was a "pure Marxist".
And now? Oh, of course, the tendencies, more and more consciously Anarchist, of the masses, bother him. Already the attitude of the masses has forced Citizen Lenin to turn back to the old road. He is in the process of yielding, of bending. He was only going to keep "the State", "authority", "the dictatorship", for an hour, for a little minute, for "the transitional moment". And afterward? Afterward, there would be Anarchism, almost-Anarchism, "Soviet Anarchism", "Leninist Anarchism".
And the Marxists, filled with the spirit of method, wisdom, and mistrust, exclaimed in horror: "You see? You hear? You understand? It's terrible. Is this Marxism? Is this Socialism?"
But, great gods! Coudn't you foresee, Citizen Socialists, what Citizen Lenin would say when his power was consolidated and it became possible for him no longer to have to pay attention to the voice of the masses?
He then returned to his usual beaten path. He created a "Marxist State" of the most authentic kind. And at the solemn hour of complete victory, he will say to you: "You see, gentlemen, I am again a complete Marxist."
There remains a single question, the principal one: Will not the masses become, before that happy hour, "entirely Anarchist", and prevent Citizen Lenin from returning to complete Marxism?

I regret that I am unable to quote here several other texts from Golos Truda, from Anarchy (of Moscow), and from Nabat (of the Ukraine). For I do not have the necessary copies at hand, and under the conditions existing at this writing I cannot procure them. I can assure you, however, that, except for a few details and shades, the contents of all the serious libertarian periodicals in Russia in that period were [substantially] the same. And what has been quoted in the foregoing pages should suffice to give the reader a clear idea of the theses, the position, and the activity of the Anarchists [in Russia] during the Revolution.
It is fitting to add that the Anarchist Confederation of the Ukraine (Nabat), later suppressed by the Bolshevik power, organized, at Kursk and at Elizabethgrad, in November, 1918, and April, 1919, respectively, two congresses which accomplished considerable constructive work. They drew up a plan for libertarian action for the whole Ukraine, and their resolutions offered studious solutions for various burning problems of the hour.
The period between October, 1917, and the end of 1918 was significant and decisive. It was in the course of those months that the fate of the Revolution was decided. For a certain time, it oscillated between the two ideas and the two courses. A few months afterward, the die was cast -- and the Bolshevik regime succeeded in establishing definitely its military, police, bureaucratic, and capitalist (new model) State.
The libertarian idea, which more and more ran counter to it, was stifled.
And as for the vast laboring masses, they had neither enough strength nor enough consciousness to be able to say the decisive word.

CHAPTER 5: Some Personal Experiences

Certain personal experiences, chosen from among thousands like them, will serve as illustrations to make the particular nature of this period in Russia more understandable.
One evening near the end of 1917, in Petrograd, two or three workers from the former Nobel oil refinery (it had employed about 4,000) came to the meeting place of our Union and told us the following:
The refinery having been abandoned by the owners, the workers there decided, after numerous meetings and discussions, to operate it collectively. They had begun to take steps toward this end, and, among other moves, had addressed themselves to "their government" (the Bolshevist regime), asking for aid in the realization of that project.
But the Commissariat of the People at Work informed them that unfortunately it could do nothing for them under the prevailing conditions. It could get them neither fuel nor raw material nor orders nor clientele, nor means of transport, nor money for operating expenses.
So the workers prepared to get the plant going again through their own efforts, hoping to find what they needed to continue production and insure an adequate market.
Now the workers' committee at the refinery had been advised by the Commissariat of Work that inasmuch as its case was isolated and since a large number of enterprises were in an analogous position, the Government had decided to close all these establishments and to lay off the workers, giving them two or three months' wages, and to wait for better times.
However, the workers of the Nobel refinery did not agree with the Government. They wanted to continue work and production, being certain now of success. They told the Government so. The Bolshevik regime answered with a categorical refusal, declaring that as director of the whole country and responsible to that whole, it could not allow each plant to act according to whim, for this would end in inextricable chaos; that, as a government, it was obliged to take general action; and that, so far as operations in the Nobel plant were concerned, the action could be only to terminate them.
Called together by the plant committee in a general assembly, the workers objected to this decision. Then the Government proposed a new general meeting, where its representatives could come and definitively explain the true sense of the ruling and the necessity for its application.
The workers accepted that proposal. And it was thus that some of them who had relations with our Union came to tell us about the situation, and to ask that we send a speaker to the meeting to expound the point of view of the Anarchists -- for at that time this was still possible. The men at the plant, they said, surely would be glad to hear our opinion, so as to be able to compare the two theses, choose the better one, and act accordingly.
I was chosen as the delegate to that gathering, and was the first of those from outside to arrive. In a huge room the majority of the plant's workers were assembled. On an improvised platform in the center their committee sat around a table awaiting the appearance of the members of the Government. The attitude of the mass of toilers was grave, reserved. I took a place on the platform.
Soon the representatives of the Government arrived very "officially" and very solemnly, with shining brief cases under their arms. There were three or four of them, Mikhail Shlyapnikov himself, Commissar of the People at Work, as their leader.
He spoke first. In a dry official tone he repeated the terms of the Government's decision and expatiated the motives which led to it. He ended by declaring that that decision was positive, irrevocable, without appeal, and that, if they opposed it, the workers would commit a breach of discipline, the consequences of which would be serious both for themselves and for the whole country. A glacial silence greeted this speech, except for some applause clearly Bolshevist.
Then the chairman announced that certain workers in the Nobel plant wished also to know the point of view of the Anarchist on the question at issue, and that, inasmuch as a spokesman for the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union was present, he would give him the floor.
I got up. The members of the Government, stupified, (obviously they had not expected this), looked at me with unconcealed curiosity, mixed with irony, unease, and spite. What happened then has remained faithfully engraved in my memory, it was so typical, instructive, and encouraging to my convictions.
Addressing the big audience of workers, I said to them in substance as follows:
"Comrades, you have been working for years in this plant. You wish to continue your free work here. You have a perfect right to do this. It is perhaps even your duty. In any case, the manifest duty of the Government -- which calls itself yours -- is to facilitate this task, to sustain you in your resolution. But the Government has just repeated to you that it is impotent to do it, and therefore it is going to close the plant and lay you off; this in spite of your decision and your interests. I declare before everything that from our point of view -- I speak in the name of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union -- the impotence of the Government (which calls itself yours) is not a reason to deprive you of your bit of bread honestly earned."
A salvo of applause greeted me.
"On the contrary," I continued, "those men, whether they call themselves members of the Government or anything else, ought to have congratulated you on your initiative, encouraged you, and said to you as we say to you: 'Seeing the impotence of the authorities, you have only one recourse, and that is to manage for yourselves and fight your way out by your own strength and means'. Your Government should add that, as such, it will do all within its power to assist you.
"As for me, I am not a member of the Government, nor do 1 wish to be -- for no government, you see, is capable of doing what is necessary for you, nor of organizing human life in general. So I shall add another thing. I ask you one question: Have you the strength and the means to try to continue the work? Do you think you can succeed? Could you, for example, create among your ranks small, active, mobile working units, some of which would occupy themselves with getting fuel, some with finding raw material, others with the question of delivery by railroad, and still others with clientele and orders?
"Everything, comrades, depends upon such action. If you can create what is necessary, if you think you can succeed, you have only to go to it, and the Government ('your Government') certainly ought not to find anything inconvenient in all this. On the contrary------.
"We, the Anarchists, are sure that the workers themselves, having various relatives, [at least] a few in all parts of the country, and understanding thoroughly the elements essential in their work -- especially when there are 4,000 of you -- will solve the problem much more simply and quickly than the Government. We think, then, that you have only to create mobile working units, bringing together men capable because of their knowledge, aptitude, and contacts, to act energetically and with success. Once their mission is finished, these working units would cease to exist and their members would rejoin the mass of workers in the plant. What do you think of that?"
Unanimous and prolonged plaudits were my answer. And at the same time several voices shouted: "Yes! Yes! Exactly! . .. We have prepared everything necessary . . . Yes, we can go on. We have considered the question for weeks."
"Attention, comrades," I went on. "You are lacking fuel. The Government has given up furnishing you with any. Without fuel the Nobel plant cannot run. Will you be able to get it for yourselves by your own means?"
"Yes, yes," a man responded. "There are fifteen men at the plant, all ready and organized to go into the countryside. Each one, through his contacts, will easily find the right sort of fuel for the plant."
"And to bring that fuel here?"
"We have already been in conference with the comrades on the railroads. We shall have cars and everything necessary. One of our groups is taking care of that."
"And as to the market?"
"No difficulty, Comrade. We know the clientele of the plant 3nd we can readily dispose of the products."
I glanced at Shlyapnikov and the others. They were rolling their eyes terribly, and nervously tapping the table with their finger-tips.
"Well, my friends," I continued, "Under these circumstances our Anarchist advice is simple: Act, produce, go to it! However, one word more. It goes without saying that you will not act as capitalist bosses -- no? You are not going to exploit the workers? You are not going to constitute yourselves as a corporation and sell shares?"
They laughed. And immediately some workers got up and said that of course all work would be done in a collective manner in perfect camaraderie, and only in order to be able to live. The plant committee would watch over the economy of the enterprise, the receipts would be divided equitably, and by common agreement, if there was an excess of receipts, it would form an operating fund. "And," they concluded, "if we commit acts contrary to the solidarity of the workers, we give the Government carte blanche to penalize us. In the opposite case, it has only to let us alone and to have full confidence in us."
"All right, my friends," I finished in turn, "you have only to get going. I wish you good courage and good luck."
A thunder of applause ensued. Extraordinary animation, replacing the previous torpor, now reigned in the big hall. On all sides the audience acclaimed our joint conclusion, and no longer paid any attention to the Government representatives, who sat glued to their chairs, immobile, their features drawn.
Shlyapnikov whispered something into the ear of the chairman, who shook his bell frantically. Finally calm was re-established. Then Shlyapnikov spoke again.
Coldly, although visibly angry, measuring his words and accompanying them with the gestures of an Army general, he asserted that, "as a member of the Government", he had nothing to change, nor to add to what he had said. Nor would he retract any part of it. He repeated that the decision of the Government to close the Nobel refinery was final.
"You yourselves put us in power," Shlyapnikov said. "You voluntarily, freely, entrusted us with the destinies of the country. You had confidence in us and in our acts. You, the working class of the country, wished us to take care of your interests. So it's for us to know them, to understand them, to watch out for them. It goes without saying that it's our task to busy ourselves with the true general interests of the working class and not with those of this or that little fraction. We can't act -- a child could understand this -- in the interest of each separate enterprise. It is logical and natural to elaborate and establish plans of action for the whole of the nation, for both the workers and the peasants.
"These plans must safeguard the interests of the whole. The contrary, that is, to take or tolerate measures favoring a particular group, would be ridiculous, and contrary to the general interests of the people, and criminal toward the working class in its entirety. Our inability to solve immediately the various complex problems of this moment is transitory. It can be explained by the terrible actual conditions, after the evils we have lived through, the chaos we hardly have emerged from. The working class ought to understand this and be patient.
"The present situation does not depend on our wishes. It was not made by us. We all suffer from its painful and fatal consequences. They are the same for everybody, and will be for some time to come. So the workers must manage like everyone else, instead of looking for privileges for special groups. Such an attitude would be essentially bourgeois, egoistic, and disorganizing. If certain workers, pushed by the Anarchists, those petty-bourgeois wreckers par excellence, don't wish to understand, so much the worse for them! We have no time to waste with backward elements and their leaders."
And Shlyapnikov ended up by saying, in an aggressive menacing tone:
"In any event, I must warn the workers of this plant and also the Anarchist gentlemen, those professional wreckers, that the Government can change nothing in its carefully considered decisions; one way or another, it will make them be respected. If the workers resist, so much the worse for them! They will simply be laid off by force, and without indemnity. The most recalcitrant, the leaders, enemies of the proletarian cause in general, will expose themselves besides, to consequences infinitely graver. And as to the Anarchist gentlemen, let them take care! The Government cannot tolerate their mixing in affairs that are none of their business, nor their inciting honest workers to disobedience. . . . The Government will know how to penalize them, and will not hesitate. Consider it said!"
That speech was received with extreme reserve.
After the meeting, the plant workers surrounded me, indignant, outraged. They had caught the deceitful note of Shlyapnikov.
"His speech was clever but false," they said. "In our case it is not a question of a privileged position. Such an interpretation betrays our real thought. The Government has only to let the workers and peasants act freely throughout the country. Then it will see: things will speedily reorganize themselves, and we'll come to an agreement to the satisfaction of everybody. And the Government will have fewer worries and fewer excuses to make."
Always in such cases the same two conceptions were manifested and opposed -- the government-statist conception and the social-libertarian conception. Each had its reasons and its arguments.
What made the workers indignant were the threats against them and us. "A Socialist government should have recourse to other means to get at the truth," they contended. But they had no illusions about the outcome of the conflict. And, in fact, a few weeks later, the Nobel plant was closed and the workers laid off, all resistance being impossible against the measures taken by the " workers'" government against the workers.
Here is a memory with a different scene:
In the summer of 1918, after a sojourn at the revolutionary front against Germany, in the Ukraine, I revisited the little town of Bobrov, province of Voronezh, where my family lived.
The members of the local Bolshevik committee, all young people, knew me personally and knew of my ability as a teacher in adult education. They proposed that I organize the educational work of that region. At that time such undertakings bore the name of Proletcult, meaning Proletarian Culture.
I accepted on two conditions: 1. That I should receive no sort of remuneration, so that I could preserve full independence in methods and action; 2. That the complete independence of my educational activity was to be strictly maintained.
The committee accepted, and the town Soviet naturally confirmed this action. Then I called the first meeting of the new institution thus created, sending out a large number of invitations and notices to the labor unions in Bobrov, to [workers and peasants in] the surrounding villages, and to the intellectuals in that area.
On the evening of the meeting I found myself before some thirty sedate, distrustful, almost hostile individuals. Instantly 1 understood: these people had expected a standard meeting, a Bolshevik "commissar" with dictatorial gestures, revolver in his belt, giving orders and commands to be obeyed to the letter.
But this time these good folk met with something entirely different. Speaking to them as a friend, I gave them to understand at once that it was a question, in our work, of their own initiative, of their spirit, of their will and energy. I assured them that any intention to command, dictate, or impose anything at all upon them was completely foreign to me. And I invited them to establish, [of their own volition] and to the best of their ability, sound educational and cultural work in the region centering around Bobrov.
Then, addressing myself to their good will, and to their natural capacities, I specified, at the same time, my own role: a friendly and effective helper in the drawing up of plans and programs, and in recruiting a teaching force; with suggestions and advice from me based on my knowledge and experience. Too, 1 sketched out a rough scheme of what we could accomplish, if we worked together with all our hearts. An exchange of views, wholly free, followed my speech. And a certain amount of interest was awakened among the audience.
At least a hundred persons came to the second gathering in Bobrov, with the atmosphere much more friendly and confident. But I needed three or four meetings for the ice to be completely broken and mutual confidence fully established. Since my deep sincerity was beyond doubt and as the task seemed to everybody concerned interesting and achievable, a keen sympathy grew up among us all, and a great enthusiasm developed in some.
Then began a feverish activity, the scope and effects of which quickly surpassed all my expectations. Dozens of men, coming from the bosom of the people, and often scarcely educated themselves, were so eager about the project and set to work with such ardor and dexterity, and with such a richness of ideas and resulting achievements, that soon I had only to combine and co-ordinate their efforts, or to prepare for more important and larger accomplishments.
Our meetings, always public, and at which the entire audience was at liberty to contribute ideas and efforts, began to attract the peasant men, and even the peasant women, from villages some distance from Bobrov. Our work was talked about throughout the whole region, and on market-days those educational meetings invariably attracted a highly picturesque crowd.
Presently an excellent people's theatrical troupe was organized and made ready to give roving performances, chosen with method and taste.
Quarters for us were quickly found and equipped for all our needs. Furniture was repaired like new, broken windows replaced, school supplies (notebooks, pencils, pens, ink, et cetera) unearthed in no time, whereas formerly their absence constituted a serious handicap. Such were the first steps in the new educational project. A library was instituted, the first gifts of books came in, and evening courses for adults began.
But the local authorities sent their reports to the Center, [by that time] in Moscow. Thus [the higher-ups] learned that I was acting according to my own free will, without bothering about "instructions" or "prescriptions" from above; and that we all were working freely, without submitting to the decrees and orders from Moscow which, for the most part, were not at all applicable in our region or were even totally inept.
One fine day I began to receive "from down there", through the intermediary of the Brobov Soviet, huge packages stuffed with decrees, prescriptions, rules, formal orders, programs, projects, and plans -- every one completely fantastic and absurd. I was instructed to hold strictly to the text of all this stupid waste paper, these impossible and unrealizable orders.
I leafed through all that "literature" and continued my activity without thinking any more about it.
That was followed by an ultimatum: either submit or get out. Naturally I chose the latter alternative, knowing that submitting and applying the instructions from Moscow inevitably would kill the work we had undertaken. (I ask the reader to believe that the work in itself interested me; I concentrated loyally on my professional duties, without any mention of my Anarchist ideas, it was not at all a question of any sort of "subversive" propaganda, and this question was never brought up in the orders addressed to me. The Center simply would not allow anyone not to follow its regulations blindly).
It was over. After a moving farewell meeting, where everyone felt that the work just coming into being already was compromised, I left Bobrov.
My successor, a loyal servitor of Moscow, followed the Center's instructions to the letter. Some time afterwards, [all of the adult students and other participants in the educational enterprise] deserted, and the school, which a short time before had been full of life, disappeared. And a few months later, this Proletarian Culture project failed lamentably all over the country.
Like the workers in the Nobel oil refinery in Petrograd, those in various enterprises in several cities and industrial regions wished to take certain measures on their own, either to keep going works that were threatened with being closed, or to assure and organize exchange with the countryside, or to cope with some difficulty or other: to improve defective service, resolve unsettled situations, correct mistakes, fill in gaps. But systematically and everywhere, the Bolshevik authorities prohibited the masses from all independent action, although they themselves were most often incapable of acting effectively and opportunely.
Thus, for example, the soviet of the city of Elizabethgrad (in Southern Russia), having confessed itself powerless to solve certain local economic problems of great urgency, and its bureaucratic procedures offering no hope of success, the workers of several plants requested of the president of that soviet authorization to deal with those problems themselves, to create the necessary organizations, and to group around them all the city's workers to make sure of an effective outcome. 21 In short, to act under the control of the soviet.
But as everywhere else those who made this proposal were severely reprimanded and threatened with penalties for their "disorganizing" tactics.
At the approach of winter, several other cities lacked fuel, not only for the operation of industries but also for heating homes.
In Russia, dwellings were always heated with wood. In the forested parts of the country, which were very numerous, getting in a supply of fuel in opportune time -- usually toward the end of summer -- was very simple. Before the Revolution the owners of large firewood depots often hired the peasants in the neighboring villages to cut down the trees and move the fallen sections either to the nearest railroad or to the depot itself. In Siberia and regions in the North, this custom was universal. After the annual harvest, the peasants, free from all work in the fields, willingly undertook this task, for very low wages.
After the Revolution, however, the city Soviets, transformed into administrative organs by the will of the Government, were formally charged with the necessary provisioning. Therefore it was up to them to deal with the peasants. And this was all the more necessary because the owners of the forests and firewood depots were not to be found, and the railroads functioned badly.
But because of their bureaucratic slowness -- a disease typical of all official administrations -- the Soviets almost never managed to achieve this task in time to meet the need.
The propitious moment having come, the workers and inhabitants of the cities offered voluntarily to go and deal with the peasants and assure the delivery of the wood. Naturally the Soviets refused, invariably describing this gesture as "arbitrary" and "disorganizing", and claiming that the provisioning of fuel would be done by the official units of the State, the Soviets, according to a general plan set up by the central government.
As a result, either the cities remained without fuel or it was bought at fantastically high prices, the work having become exceedingly difficult and the roads being almost impassable after September, because of rain and mud. Often the peasants flatly refused to undertake this job in that season, even for high wages, not being tempted much by the paper rubles issued by the Bolsheviks. Then they were compelled to do it by military order.
I could fill dozens of pages with analogous examples, taken at random from all fields. The reader has only to vary and multiply by himself those which I have mentioned: he never could go beyond the truth!
Everywhere in Soviet Russia and in all things the same phenomenon appeared -- production, transports, exchange, and commerce fell into an inconceivable chaos. The masses were denied any right to act on their own initiative. And the "administrations" (soviets and others) were constantly bankrupt.
The cities lacked bread, meat, milk, vegetables. The countryside lacked salt, sugar, industrial products. Clothing rotted in the warehouses in the cities. And in the provinces no one had anything to wear.
Disorder, negligence, and impotence reigned everywhere and in everything. But when those interested wanted to intervene so that they might energetically solve all these problems, nothing could be done about it. The Government intended to "govern". It would not tolerate any "competition". The slightest manifestation of an independent spirit of initiative was called "a breach of discipline" and was threatened with severe penalties.
The grandest conquests, the most beautiful hopes of the Revolution, were in the process of disappearing. And the most tragic aspect was that the Russian people, on the whole, were not aware of it. They "let matters alone", confident in [the ability of] "their" government and in the future. The Government utilized the time it needed to set up an imposing coercive force, blindly obedient. And when the people understood [what had happened], it was too late.
These personal experiences and observations confirmed factually our fundamental ideal: that the true Revolution cannot be accomplished except by means of the free activity of millions of interested working people themselves. Once the Government mixes in, and takes the place of the people, the life of the Revolution leaves it; everything stops, everything retreats, everything has to be begun again.
Let no one say to us that the Russian people "didn't want to act", nor that "they had to be compelled by force" to act "for their own good in spite of themselves". All that is sheer invention. During a great revolution, the people ask for nothing better than to act. What they have need of is the disinterested help of experienced revolutionaries, of educated men, specialists, technicians. The truth is that the castes, the groups, and the men desirous of power and privileges, stuffed with false doctrines and mistrusting the people, in whom they have no confidence, prevent the people from acting, and, instead of helping them, seek to govern them, to lead them, and exploit them, in a different way. And to justify themselves, they create the myth of their "powerlessness". So long as the people, that is. the laboring masses, of all countries do not understand this and do not veto the reactionary aspirations of all these elements, all revolutions will end in failure and the effective emancipation of Labor will remain an empty dream.
We have just said that the Russian people were not precisely aware of the mortal peril which confronted the Revolution.
It was natural, however, that, under the new conditions created by the Bolshevik government, the criticisms by and the ideas of the Anarchists, calling for freedom of initiative and action by the toiling masses themselves, found an increasingly wide echo among the country's population.
It was then that the libertarian movement began to achieve rapid success in Russia. And it was then that the Bolshevik regime, more and more disturbed by that success, decided to employ against the threatening Anarchism means approved by all governments -- an implacable repression, reinforced by ruse and violence.

  • 1. As in many other circumstances, the Bolsheviks tried, for a long time, to distort the facts concerning Jelezniakov. They claimed, in their press, that he had become-or that he always had been a Bolshevik. It is understandable that the contrary troubled them.
    At the time of Jelezniakov's death (he was mortally wounded in a battle with the "Whites" in central Russia) the Bolsheviks asserted, in a note that appeared in lzvestia, that on his death bed, he declared that he was in agreement with Bolshevism. Since then they have said squarely that he was always a Bolshevik.
    All this, however, is false. The author of these lines and other comrades knew Jelezniakov intimately. When he left Petrograd for the front, taking leave of me, and knowing that as an Anarchist he could expect anything from the Bolsheviki, he said to me, word for word: "Whatever may happen to me. and whatever they may say of me, know well that 1 am an Anarchist, that i fight as one, and that whatever my fate, 1 will die an Anarchist. "
    And he entrusted to me the duty of demolishing, if need be, the lies of the Bolsheviks. I am here performing that duty.
  • 2. No. 27, February 24, 1918.
  • 3. In Pravda, No. 31.
  • 4. That treaty took from Russia "territories equal in size to approximately eighteen provinces".
  • 5. The words in French are bourreurs and bourreaux -- one of Voline's rare puns. -- Translator's note.)
  • 6. Nabat in Russian means Tocsin, or Alarm.
  • 7. In past centuries hetman was the title of the elected leader of the independent Ukraine. Installed in power by the Germans, Skoropadsky appropriated this title.
  • 8. Voline's text in French reads "totally unknown outside of Russia". The word totally has been changed to practically above because some copies of Russian Anarchist publications did reach Russian emigres in the United States in that period, having been smuggled in by emissaries of the underground. Particularly, specimens of such literature found their way to the headquarters of the Union of Russian Workers in New York City.
  • 9. August 11, 1917.
  • 10. Golos Truda, August 18, 1917.
  • 11. August 25, 1917.
  • 12. To give an idea of the way in which the Government acted during these few months let us cite certain of its practices. Master of electric current, it cut off, nearly every morning around 3 o'clock, the line that fed the Union's printing shop. The current returned around 5 or 6 o'clock (or did not return at all). Thus the paper could not appear until 9 or 10 o'clock, when all employed persons being at work, no one could buy it. Also, the newsboys were jostled, chased, and sometimes arrested on false pretexts. At the Post Office up to 50 per cent, of the copies of Golos Truda were deliberately "lost". In short, it was necessary to struggle constantly against sabotage by the Bolshevik authorities.
  • 13. Those articles in Golos Truda were: And Afterward?, October 27, 1917; The Second Revolution, November 3/16; and The Declaration and Life, November 4/17.
  • 14. The New Power, in Golos Truda, November 4/17, 1917.
  • 15. No. 15, November 6/19, 1917.
  • 16. No. 16, November 7/20, 1917.
  • 17. Golos Truda, No. 19, November 18/December 1, 1917. Other notable articles or editorials in that publication which deserve mention here are The War, The Famine, and The Last Stage, in No. 17, November 8/21, 1917; Warning, in No. 20, and The Immediate Tasks, in No 21.
  • 18. The Peasant Job, in No. 22, and others.
  • 19. The Workers' Course, in No. 7 of the daily Golos Truda; The Workers' Task, in No. 11; The Workers' Congress (no date nor serial number given), and others.
  • 20. Golos Truda, No. 5, December 19, 1917/January 1, 1918.
  • 21. In 1918-1919 this was still possible.