The unknown revolution, 1917-1921 - Volin

Complete text of Volin's extensive work on the Russian Revolution, its usurping by the Bolsheviks and on workers' rebellions against the new dictatorship.

The present work is a complete translation of La Revolution Inconnue, 1917-1921, first published in French in 1947, and re-published in Paris in 1969 by Editions Pierre Belfond. An abridged, two-volume English translate of the work was published in 1954 and 1955 by the Libertarian Book Club (New York City) and Freedom Press (London). The present edition contains all the materials included in the earlier edition (translated by Holley Cantine), as well as the sections which were omitted (Book I, Part I and II, and some brief omissions later in the work, translated by Fredy Perlman). In the newly translated sections, Russian words are transliterated into English. However, in the sections which are reprinted from the earlier edition, French transliteration of Russian words was frequently retained in the English translation. As a result the present edition, a Russian word is frequently spelled in two different ways.

The text has been taken by from, and has undertaken a large number of corrections in spelling, although some errors resulting from scanning the book into text format still remain.

Volin The unknown revolution.pdf2.16 MB

Volin, 1882-1945 - Rudolf Rocker

A short biography of Russian anarchist, Vsevolod Mikhailovich Eichenbaum, commonly known as Volin, by Rudolph Rocker.

Vsevolod Mikhailovich Eichenbaum was born on August 11, 1882, in the district of Voronezh in Great Russia. So far as I know only one of his writings, a small booklet of Russian poems, was published under his real name, while all the others, and certainly his many articles and essays, were signed with his pseudonym. It is much easier to think and speak of him as Volin.
Both his parents were medical doctors, who lived in comfortable circumstances which permitted them to engage French and German governesses for the early education of their, children. So Vsevolod and his brother Boris had opportunity to become familiar with both languages from their early youth. Volin was able to speak and write French and German as fluently as his Russian mother tongue.
His first general education was received at the college in Voronezh. After he had finished his studies there he was sent to St. Petersburg to study jurisprudence. But all plans for preparation for his future life were interrupted by the critical situation which developed in Russia at that time. Volin became acquainted with revolutionary ideas as a student at the age of nineteen, and made himself notably useful in the labour movement from the year 1901.
In 1905, when the whole Russian Empire was under the spell of the great revolutionary upheaval which nearly overthrew the tyrannical Romanov rule, the young man from Voronezh joined the Social Revolutionary Party and took an active part in that uprising. And after the bloody suppression of the insurrection he, like so many thousands, was arrested. In 1907 a Tsarist tribunal's sentence banished him to one of the numerous places in Russia for political exiles. But he was lucky enough to find means of escape and went to France.
It was in Paris that Volin found a larger opportunity to study and weigh the various schools of the Socialist movement and the many-sided aspects of the social problem in general. He became associated with various libertarians, among them Sebastian Faure, the eloquent orator of the French Anarchists. And he made connections with the small circle of Russian Anarchists in Paris, with A. A. Kareline and his group, and other organizations of Russian exiles. Under the influence of his new surroundings it was inevitable that Volin gradually altered his political and social views, with the result that in 1911 he separated himself from the Social-Revolutionaries and joined the Anarchist movement.
In 1913, when the danger of armed conflict cast a shadow over all Europe, he became a member of the Committee for International Action Against War. This activity nettled the French authorities, and in 1915, when the battle-lines were being extended on the Continent, the Viviani-Millerand Government decided to put him in a concentration camp for the duration of the fighting. Warned in time, he was able, with the help of some French comrades, to escape to Bordeaux. There he shipped out as a storekeeper on a freighter bound for the United States.
In New York, Volin joined the Union of Russian Workers in the United States and Canada, a formidable organization with about 10,000 members which entertained ideas similar to those of the Confederation Generate du Travail (the General Confederation of Labour) in France in that period. Thus he found a rich field for his activities. And soon he was serving on the editorial staff of Golos Truda, The Voice of Labour, weekly paper of the Federation, and as one of its most gifted lecturers.
But in 1917, when the Revolution broke out in Russia, the whole staff of Golos Truda decided to leave for that country and to transfer the periodical to Petrograd. Arriving there, they got ready co-operation from the lately organized Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda Union. So it was easy to make arrangements for the publication of Golos Truda on Russian soil. Volin joined that Union and was immediately elected as one of the editors. During the early months the paper appeared as a weekly, but after the events of October, 1917, it became a daily.
Meanwhile the Bolshevik Government in Moscow had signed the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk by which the whole Ukraine was handed over to the German and Austrian occupation forces. For this reason Volin left Petrograd and joined a troop of libertarian partisans who went to Ukrainia to fight against the foreign invaders and their Russian supporters. Thus he found it possible to go to Bobrov and visit his family, which he had not seen since 1915, when he was compelled to leave France for America.
During ensuing months of comparative freedom in Russia, when other social movements beside the Bolsheviki still enjoyed opportunity to spread their ideas through their own publications and at public meetings, Volin was constantly busy in many fields. He took part in the work of the Soviet Department for Public Education and Enlightenment of the People, first in Voronezh and later in Kharkov. In autumn, 1918, he helped to build up the Anarchist Federation of the Ukraine, for a few months a potent organization, known by the name Nabat (Tocsin), which issued a great deal of literature. Besides its principal organ in Kursk, Nabat had regional papers under the same name in several parts of the Ukraine. Volin became a member of Nabat's Secretariat and of the editorial staff of its periodicals. And the Conference of that organization in Kursk entrusted him to work out a Synthetical Declaration of Principles which would be acceptable to all schools of libertarian Socialism in Russia and permit them to work together.
But all Nabat's plans for the future came to naught when in spring, 1919, the Soviet Government began to persecute the Anarchists by suppressing their papers and arresting their militants en masse. It was then that Volin joined the revolutionary army of Nestor Makhno. And Makhno had in that army also a special department to enlighten the people and prepare them for a new social order, based on common ownership of the land, home rule of communities, and federative solidarity. Volin soon became head of this department, and acted as such during the whole campaign against Denikin.
In December, 1919, the Military Revolutionary Council sent him to the district of Krivoi-Rog to oppose the dangerous propaganda of the agents of Hetman Petlura; but on his way he was stricken with typhoid fever and had to remain in the cottage of a peasant. Meanwhile Denikin's army was defeated, and shortly afterward there was a new break between the Soviet Government and Makhno's partisans. Still exceedingly ill, Volin was arrested on January 14, by military agents of the Moscow Government and dragged from one prison to another. Trotsky already had ordered his execution, and according to Volin, he escaped death then only by sheer accident.
March, 1920, saw him taken to Moscow, and he was a prisoner there until October, when he and many other Anarchists were released by virtue of a treaty between the Soviet Union and Makhno's army. Volin then returned to Kharkov, resuming his old activities and participating in continuing negotiations between the Lenin Government and a delegation from Makhno's forces. But the agreement reached by these contending parties was quickly broken by the Bolsheviks, and in November, scarcely a month after their release, Volin and most of his comrades were arrested again and confined in the Taganka prison in Moscow.
There was nothing against them except their libertarian views. Yet there can hardly be any doubt that except for a sudden tum of circumstance they all would have been liquidated in one way or another like so many thousands later. It was by a mere coincidence that their lives were saved.
In the summer of 1921 the Red Trade Union International held a Congress in Moscow. The delegates included representatives of some Anarcho-Syndicalist organizations in Spain, France, and other countries, who had come to ascertain whether an alliance with this new International would be feasible or not. They arrived in the capital just as the Anarchists in the Taganka prison went on a hunger strike which lasted more than ten days and was carried on to compel the authorities to explain publicly why they had been jailed.
When those delegates heard what had been happening they voiced a vehement protest, demanding the liberation of their Russian comrades. But it was only after the affair became an open scandal in the Congress that the Government consented to release the hunger-strikers, on condition, however, that they leave Russia. It was the first time that political prisoners were deported from the vaunted Red Fatherland of the Proletariat.
And the Soviet Government had the audacity to furnish those victims with passports taken from Czechoslovakian war prisoners en route to their homeland. When the deportees arrived at the German port of Stettin they gave the authorities their real names and pointed out that the passports given to them by the Bolsheviki actually were not theirs. Fortunately for them, Germany itself was then in the midst of a revolutionary situation, when many things could be done which were later impossible.
Though the commissar of the port had no legal right to let this group of about twenty remain on German soil, he sympathized with their plight and permitted them to send two of their comrades to Berlin to see whether they could find a friendly organization which would assume responsibility for their maintenance and good behaviour. When the two delegates appeared at our headquarters in Germany's capital, Fritz Kater, chairman of the Freie Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands, went with them to the Chief of Police and signed all necessary documents, so that within a few hours they had permission to bring the whole group to Berlin. They arrived by the end of 1921.
It was not an easy job to provide for such a number, but the German comrades did what they could. Especially was it hard to find places for the newcomers to live in, for the housing question in Germany after the first World War was simply abominable and remained one of the nation's greatest problems for many years. And our toughest task was to discover a spot where the Volin family of seven could all be under the same roof. The only shelter our committee could find for them at that time was an attic which could be heated.
It was then that I first met Volin and his comrades. Although only forty-one, he looked much older, for his hair and beard were almost white. But his energetic gestures and quick movements quickly corrected my initial impression. He was a genial and intelligent man with mild manners, thoughtful and courteous, and almost immune to outer circumstances and personal hardship. Having an unusual faculty for concentration, he could go on with his writing, apparently without difficulty, in the same attic where his whole family had to sleep, eat, and carry on their daily lives.
In fact, Volin did a great deal of useful work while in Berlin. He wrote, in German, a valuable pamphlet of eighty pages, entitled The Persecutions of the Anarchists in Soviet Russia. This was the first authentic and documented information to the outer world about what was then going on in Russia. He also translated Peter Arshinov's book. The History of the Makhnovist Movement, [Published by the Group of the Russian Anarchists in Germany, Berlin, 1923.] into German, and at the same time edited a Russian Magazine, The Anarchist Worker. Besides, he did extensive work for the German libertarian movement, lecturing and writing articles for our press.
Volin remained in Berlin for about two years, then received an invitation from Sebastian Faure to settle with his family in Paris, where living conditions in those days were much better than in Germany. Faure was occupied with the preparation and publication of his Encyclopedic Anarchiste and needed a man who was familiar with foreign languages as a regular contributor. So Volin found a challenging and engrossing field for his further activity. He wrote various articles for the new Encyclopedia, many of which were also published as special pamphlets in several languages. Too, he accepted an invitation of the Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour) in Spain to become editor of its French periodical in Paris, L'Espagne Anti-Fasciste.
But although his economic fortunes in France were notably more favourable than they could have been in Germany, he suffered a succession of misfortunes, of which the death of his wife under harrowing circumstances was the worst. Shortly afterwards he left Paris for Nimes, and a little later arrived in Marseilles, where he was caught by the second World War. After the Nazis invaded France, his position became more and more dangerous. Going from one hiding place to another, he was compelled to live amid constant tragedy and in dire misery.
When the war ended he returned to Paris, but only to enter a hospital, for he was afflicted with incurable tuberculosis and knew that his days were numbered. There he died on September 18, 1945. Many of his old friends followed him on his last journey, which led to the crematorium in the old cemetery of Pere-Lachaise. They mourned the loss of a dauntless comrade who had suffered much in his life, but who remained to the last a valiant fighter for a better world and the great cause of freedom and social justice.
Rudolf Rocker.
Crompond, N.Y.,
May, 1953.

Introduction: Essential Preliminary Notes

1. "Russian Revolution" can mean three things: either the entire revolutionary movement, from the revolt of the Decembrists (1825) until the present; or only the two consecutive uprisings of 1905 and 1917; or, finally, only the great explosion of 1917. In this work, "Russian Revolution" is used in the first sense, as the entire movement.

This is the only way the reader will be able to understand the development and totality of events as well as the present situation in the U.S.S.R.

2. A relatively complete history of the Russian Revolution would require more than one volume. This would have to be a long-term project carried out by future historians. Here we are concerned with a more limited project whose aims are: (a) to provide understanding of the entirety of the movement; (b) to underline its essential elements, which are largely unknown abroad; (c) to make possible certain evaluations and conclusions.

As the work progresses, it becomes increasingly broad and detailed. It is mainly in the sections dealing with the upheavals of 1905 and 1917 that the reader will find numerous details which have until now been unknown, as well as a large number of previously unpublished documents.

3. One problem should be constantly kept in mind: the difference between the general development of Russia and that of Western Europe. In fact, an account of the Russian Revolution should be preceded by a complete historical study of the country, or better yet, should be inserted into such a study. But such a task would be far beyond the limits of our subject. To remedy this situation, we will give the reader historical information whenever this seems necessary.

Book I: Birth, growth and triumph of the revolution (1825-1917)

Part I: The first fruits (1825-1905)

CHAPTER 1: Russia at the beginning of the 19th Century; Birth of the revolution

The enormous size of the country, a sparse population whose disunity makes it an easy prey for invaders, Mongol domination for more than two centuries, continual wars, varied catastrophes and other unfavorable factors caused the enormous political, economic, social and cultural backwardness of Russia in relation to other European countries.
Politically, Russia entered the 19th century under the rule of an absolute monarchy (the autocratic "Tsar") which was dependent on an enormous landed and military aristocracy, an omnipotent bureaucracy, an extensive and pious clergy, and a peasant mass consisting of 75,000,000 souls -- primitive, illiterate and prostrate before their "little father," the Tsar.
Economically, the country had reached the stage of a type of agrarian feudalism. Except for the two capitals (St. Petersburg and Moscow) and some cities in the South, the cities were hardly developed. Commerce and particularly industry stagnated. The economic base of the country was agriculture which supported 95% of the population. The land did not belong to the direct producers, the peasants, but was the property of the State or of large landed proprietors, the "pomeshchiks." The peasants, legally tied to the land and to the property-owner, were his serfs. The largest proprietors owned veritable fiefs, inherited from their ancestors who, in turn, had received them from the sovereign, the first proprietor, in exchange for services rendered (military, administrative or other). The "lord" determined the life and death of his serfs. He not only made them work as slaves; he could also sell them, punish them and make martyrs out of them (he could kill them without much inconvenience to himself). This serfdom, this slavery on the part of 75,000,000 people, was the economic foundation of the State.
It is hardly possible to talk of the social organization of such a "society." On top were the absolute masters: the Tsar, his numerous relatives, his slavish court, the high nobility, the military caste, the high clergy. On the bottom, the slaves: peasant-serfs in the countryside and the lower class people of the cities, who lacked all notions of civic life, all rights, all freedoms. Between the two, there were certain intermediate strata: merchants, bureaucrats, functionaries, artisans and others -colorless and insignificant.
It is clear that the cultural level of the society was not very high. Nevertheless, already for this period we have to make an important reservation: a striking contrast which we will again describe later, existed between the uneducated and poverty-stricken population of the cities and villages and the privileged strata whose education and training were quite advanced.
The serfdom of the masses was the plague of the country. A few noble-spirited individuals had already protested against this abomination toward the end of the 18th century. They had to pay dearly for their generous gesture. On the other hand, the peasants rebelled with increasing frequency against their masters. Besides local uprisings of a more or less individual nature (against one or another lord who went too far), the peasant masses gave rise to two extensive movements (the Razin uprising in the 17th and the Pugachev uprising in the 18th century) which, though they failed, created enormous problems for the Tsarist government and nearly overthrew the entire system. It should be noted, however, that these two spontaneous movements were directed mainly against the immediate enemy: the landed nobility, the urban aristocracy and the corrupt administration. No general idea of overthrowing the social system in its entirety and replacing it with another and more equitable system was formulated. By using treachery and violence, with the help of the clergy and other reactionary elements, the government succeeded in totally subjugating the peasants, even "psychologically," to such an extent that any movement of widespread revolt was rendered nearly impossible for a long period of time.
The first consciously revolutionary movement directed against the regime appeared in 1825 when, after the death of Alexander I, who left no direct heir, the crown, rejected by his brother Constantine, passed to his other brother Nicholas. Socially, the program of this movement aimed for the abolition of serfdom; politically, for the establishment of a republic or at least a constitutional regime.
This movement emerged, not from among the oppressed, but from the privileged classes. The conspirators, taking advantage of the government's preoccupation with dynastic problems, began to carry out the projects they had long been preparing. In the revolt which broke out in St. Petersburg, they were supported by some of the regiments in the capital. (At the head of the movement there were some officers of the imperial army.) The rebellion was defeated after a short battle at the Senate Square between the insurgents and the troops which remained loyal to the government. Several uprisings which had been planned in the provinces were nipped in the bud.
The revolt made a profound impression on the new Tsar, Nicholas I, and he personally supervised an extremely thorough investigation. The investigators sought and ferreted out even the most distant and platonic sympathizers of the movement. The repression, in its desire to be definitive and "exemplary," did not stop short of cruelty. The five principal instigators died on the scaffold; hundreds were imprisoned, exiled or condemned to hard labor.
Since the revolt took place in December, the participants came to be known as Decembrists. Nearly all belonged to the nobility or to other privileged classes. Nearly all had received professional training or higher education. Open-minded and sensitive, they were pained by the sight of a people weighed down by an arbitrary and unjust regime, by ignorance, poverty, and slavery. They took up the protests of their 18th century predecessors and translated them into action. What gave them the necessary impetus was largely the journey many of them had taken to France after the war of 1812, which made it possible for them to compare the relatively high level of civilization in Europe with the barbaric living conditions of the Russian population. They returned to Russia having made the firm decision to struggle against the backward political and social system which oppressed their countrymen. They rallied many educated individuals to their cause. Pestel, one of the leaders of the movement, even elaborated some vaguely socialist ideas in his program. The famous poet Pushkin (born in 1799) sympathized with the movement, although he did not join it.
As soon as the revolt was put down, the frightened new emperor, Nicholas I, pushed the despotic, bureaucratic and police rule of the Russian State to its extreme.
It should be emphasized that there was no contradiction between the peasants' revolts against their oppressors on the one hand, and their blind veneration of the "little father the Tsar" on the other. The peasant revolts, as we said earlier, were always directed against the immediate oppressors: the landowners ("pomeshchiks"), the nobles, the functionaries, the police. It did not occur to the peasants to look for the source of the oppression further, in the Tsarist regime itself, personified by the Tsar, grand protector of the nobles and the privileged, first and most highly privileged nobleman. To the peasants the Tsar was a type of idol, a superior being high above ordinary mortals, above their small interests and weaknesses, guiding the great destinies of the state. The authorities, the bureaucrats, and above all the priests (the "popes") did all they could to engrave this idea in the peasants' heads. The peasants finally accepted the legend, and later it became unshakeable. The Tsar, they told themselves, wants nothing but the well-being of his "children"; but the privileged intermediaries, interested in preserving their rights and advantages, stand between the Tsar and his people and keep him from knowing their misery. (The peasant masses were convinced that if the people and the Tsar could face each other directly, the Tsar, temporarily misled by the privileged, would see the truth, would get rid of his bad advisors and other dishonest people, and would deal with the sufferings of the tillers of the soil; he would free them from their yoke and would give to them all of the good land which by rights ought to belong to those who work it.) Thus, while sometimes revolting against their most cruel masters, the peasants waited with hope and resignation for the day when the wall separating them from the Tsar would be demolished and social justice would be re-established by the Tsar. Their religious mysticism helped them accept the period of waiting and suffering as a punishment and trial imposed by God. They resigned themselves to it with a primitive fatalism.
This outlook was extremely characteristic of the Russian peasant masses. It became even more pronounced during the nineteenth century, in spite of growing discontent and increasingly frequent individual or local acts of revolt. The peasants were losing patience. But the more impatient they became, the more fervently they waited for their "liberator," the Tsar.
This "legend of the Tsar" was a central characteristic of popular Russian life in the nineteenth century. Failure to take it into account will make it impossible to understand the events that follow. This legend clarifies certain phenomena which would otherwise be unexplainable. It goes a long way toward explaining the Russian paradox which we have already mentioned, a paradox which shocked so many Europeans, and which did not disappear until the outbreak of the 1917 revolution: on the one side are numerous individuals who are cultured, educated, advanced, who want to see their people free and happy, who are aware of the ideas of their time, and who struggle for the emancipation of the working classes, for democracy and socialism. On the other side are people who do nothing for their liberation (aside from a few minor and unimportant revolts), people who remain obstinately prostrate before their idol and their dream, people who do not even understand the gesture of one who sacrifices himself for them. Indifferent, blind to truth, deaf to all appeals, these people wait for the liberator Tsar just as the first Christians waited for the Messiah.1

CHAPTER 2: Repression, Violence and Failure; Development Continues (1825-1855)

The reign of Nicholas I lasted from 1825 to 1855. From a revolutionary point of view nothing striking characterizes these years. This thirty year period is nevertheless notable in several important respects.
Having ascended to the throne in the shadow of the Decembrist revolt, Nicholas I undertook to hold the country in an iron vice so as to squelch in the bud any expression of liberalism. He strengthened absolute rule to the limit and succeeded in transforming Russia into a bureaucratic and repressive state.
The French revolution and the revolutionary movements which subsequently shook Europe were nightmares for him. He undertook extraordinary precautionary measures.
The entire population was closely watched. The arbitrariness of the bureaucracy, the police and the courts no longer had any limits. Any expression of independence, any attempt to elude the iron fist of the police was ruthlessly repressed.
Naturally there was not even a shadow of freedom of speech, assembly, or association.
Censorship thrived as never before.
All infractions of the "laws" were punished with the utmost severity.
The Polish uprising of 1831 (drowned in blood with a rare ferocity), as well as the international situation, led the emperor to further accentuate the militarization of the country. People's lives were regulated as in barracks and severe punishment fell on anyone who tried to avoid the imposed discipline.
This sovereign well deserved the name: Nicholas the Fierce.
In spite of all the measures -- or rather because of them and their nefarious effects, which the Tsar in his blindness did not take into account -- the country (namely certain sections of the population) expressed its discontent at every opportunity.
The landed nobles, pampered by the emperor who considered them his main support, exploited the serfs with impunity and treated them abominably. The peasants became perceptibly irritated. Acts of rebellion against the "pomeshchiks" (lords) and against the local authorities reached alarming proportions. Repressive measures began to lose their effectiveness.
The corruption, incompetence, and caprice of the functionaries grew increasingly unbearable. Since the Tsar needed the support and the violence of the functionaries to "keep the people in line," he would hear nothing and see nothing. The anger of those who suffered from this state of affairs only grew more intense.
The vital forces of the society did not stir. Only the official routine, absurd and impotent, was allowed.
This situation was unavoidably leading toward the future decomposition of the entire system. Powerful only in appearance, the "regime of the knout" was rotten inside. The immense empire was already becoming a "giant with clay feet."
Growing sections of the population were becoming aware of this state of affairs.
The spirit of opposition against this impossible system was infecting the entire society.
It was in these circumstances that the magnificent evolution -- both rapid and important -- of the young intellectual stratum began.
In a country as large and prolific as Russia, youth were numerous among all classes of the population. What was their general outlook?
Leaving aside the peasant youth, we can observe that the more or less educated younger generations professed advanced ideas. Mid-nineteenth century youth did not readily accept the slavery of the peasants. Tsarist absolutism shocked them. The study of the Western world, which no amount of censorship could prevent (on the contrary, the censorship gave rise to a taste for forbidden fruit), stimulated their imaginations. The rise of the natural sciences and of materialism made a strong impression on them. It was during this same period that Russian literature, taking its inspiration from humanist principles, flowered and exerted a powerful influence on youth, in spite of the censorship, which it successfully circumvented.
At the same time, economically, the labor of the serfs and the absence of all freedoms no longer responded to the pressing needs of the time.
For all these reasons, intellectuals, particularly the youth, were theoretically emancipated toward the end of the reign of Nicholas I. The intellectuals were resolutely opposed to serfdom and absolutism.
It was during this period that the well-known nihilist current was born, a$ well as asharp conflict between conservative "fathers" and fiercely progressive "sons," a conflict superbly depicted by Turgenev in his novel, Fathers and Sons.
Outside of Russia a widespread and deeply rooted misunderstanding accompanies the word "nihilism," which originated some 75 years ago in Russian literature and which, due to its Latin origin, passed into other languages without being translated.
In France and elsewhere, "nihilism" is generally understood as a revolutionary political and social doctrine, invented in Russia where it has or had numerous organized adherents. People still speak of a "nihilist party" and of its members, the "nihilists." None of this is exact.
The term "nihilism" was introduced into literature and subsequently into the Russian language by the celebrated novelist Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) in the middle of the nineteenth century. In one of his novels Turgenev used this word to describe a current of ideas -- and not a doctrine -- which appeared among young Russian intellectuals at the end of 1850. The term caught on and quickly became part of the language.
This current of ideas had an essentially philosophic and largely moral character. Its field of influence was always limited since it never went beyond the intellectual stratum. Its standpoint was always personal and pacifist, which did not keep it from being animated by a generous spirit of revolt and guided by the dream of happiness for all humanity.
The movement which was set off by this current (if one can speak of a movement) did not go beyond the domains of literature and customs (moeurs). Any other type of movement would have been impossible under the regime of the time. However, in these two domains it did not hesitate to draw the logical conclusions which it not only formulated but also sought to apply individually as rules of conduct.
Within these limits, the movement paved the way for I an intellectual and moral development which led Russian youth toward some very broad and progressive conceptions. One result was the emancipation of educated women, an achievement of which late nineteenth-century Russia could justly be proud.
In spite of its strictly philosophical and individual character, this intellectual current, due to its humanistic and liberating spirit, carried the germ of later social conceptions which gave rise to a real revolutionary movement that was both political as well as social. "Nihilism" prepared the ground for this movement, which appeared later under the stimulus of European ideas as well as internal and external events.
Outside of Russia, the "nihilist" current is generally confused with the later movement which was led by parties or organized groups with a program of action and concrete goals. But it is only to the current of ideas which was a precursor of this movement that the term "nihilist" should be applied.
As a philosophical conception, nihilism was based on materialism and individualism, understood in their broadest, even exaggerated, sense.
Force and Matter, the famous work of Buchner (German materialist philosopher, 1824-1899), was translated into Russian, clandestinely lithographed, and thousands of copies were distributed despite the risks. This book became the Bible of Russian intellectual youth of the time. The works of Mole-schott, Charles Darwin and several materialist and naturalist authors also exerted a great influence.
Materialism was accepted as an unquestionable absolute truth.
As materialists, the nihilists engaged in an unrelenting war against religion and against everything which escapes pure reason or positive proof, against everything which is beyond material reality or beyond values with no practical use -- in short, against everything which is spiritual, sentimental or idealistic.
They scorned esthetics, beauty, comfort, spiritual enjoyment, sentimental love, fashion, the desire to please. They went so far as to completely reject art as a manifestation of idealism. Their great ideologist, the brilliant publicist Pisarev, who died in an accident when he was young, formulated (in one of his articles) his famous parallel between a worker and an artist. Pisarev held that any cobbler was infinitely more admirable ttyan Raphael, since the first produces useful material objects while the paintings of the second serve no purpose. In his writings, Pisarev fervently applied materialistic and utilitarian principles to dethrone the great poet Pushkin. The nihilist Bazarov in Turgenev's novel, says, "Nature is not a temple but a laboratory, and man is there to work."
When speaking of the "unrelenting war" waged by the nihilists, one must understand a literary and verbal war, and no more. Nihilism's activity was limited to a veiled propaganda of its ideas in journals and among intellectuals. It was not easy to spread this propaganda since it was necessary to take into account the censorship as well as the Tsarist police, which suppressed "foreign heresies" and all independent thought. The "external" manifestations of nihilism consisted mainly of dressing very plainly and behaving uninhibitedly. For example, nihilist women generally had short hair, often wore glasses to make themselves ugly and emphasize their contempt for beauty and stylishness, dressed in coarse clothing to defy fashion, walked like men and smoked in order to proclaim the equality of the sexes and demonstrate their contempt for the rules of convention. These extravagances did not in any way diminish the seriousness of the movement. The impossibility of any other type of "exteriorization" explained and, in large measure, justified them. In the realm of personal morality, the nihilists practiced an absolute rigorism.
But the main principle of nihilism was a form of specific individualism.
Originally a very natural reaction against everything which the Russia of that period suppressed, this individualism ended up by denouncing, in the name of absolute individual freedom, all constraints, obligations and obstacles, and all the traditions imposed on man by society; the family, customs, morals, beliefs, established conventions.
The complete emancipation of the individual, whether man or woman, from everything which might infringe on his independence or his freedom of thought: this was the basic idea of nihilism. It defended the sacred right of the individual to total liberty and to the inviolability of his life.
The reader can understand why this current of ideas is called nihilism. This term was used to describe the partisans of an ideology which accepted nothing (in Latin, nihil) of that which was natural and sacred for others: family, society, religion, traditions. When one asked such a person, "What do you admit, what do you approve in the environment which surrounds you and which claims to have the right and even the duty to control you?" he answered: "Nothing!" (Nihil). He was a nihilist.
In spite of its essentially indivualistic and philosophical character (it defended the freedom of the individual in an abstract manner rather than against the ruling despotism), nihilism prepared the ground for the concrete struggle against the real and immediate obstacle, for concrete political, economic and social liberation.
But it did not itself undertake this struggle. It did not even ask the question: "What can be done to actually liberate the individual?" To the very end it stayed in the realm of purely ideological discussions and purely moral achievements. The other question, the question of direct action for liberation, was posed by the next generation, during the period between 1870 and 1880. It was then that the first revolutionary and socialist groups were formed in Russia. Action began. But it no longer had anything in common with the "nihilism" of former days. Even the word was discarded. It remained in the Russian language as a purely historical term, a relic and souvenir of the intellectual movement of 1860-1870.
The fact that abroad people erroneously use the term "nihilism" to refer to the entire Russian revolutionary movement before "Bolshevism" and speak of a "nihilist party," is due to lack of knowledge of the real history of the revolutionary movements in Russia.
The outrageously reactionary government of Nicholas I refused to recognize either the real situation or the intellectual ferment. Instead, it defied society by creating a secret political police (the well-known Okhrana: "Security") and special corps of police to destroy the movement.
Political persecutions became a true scourge. We might remember that during this period the young Dostoyevsky was almost executed, and was imprisoned for belonging to a completely harmless study group inspired by Petraschevsky; that the first great Russian critic and publicist, Belinsky, barely succeeded in making himself heard; that another great publicist, Herzen, was forced to become an expatriate; not to mention accomplished and active revolutionaries like Bakunin.
All of this repression did not succeed in calming the agitation, the causes of which were too deeply-rooted. It succeeded even less in improving the situation. The Tsar's remedy was to strengthen the repressive and bureaucratic apparatus still more.
Concurrently, Russia was drawn into the Crimean War (1854-1855). This was a catastrophe. The vicissitudes of the war factually demonstrated the bankruptcy of the regime and the real weakness of the Empire. The "clay feet" gave way for the first time. (Naturally the lesson served no important purpose.) The State's political and social sores were exposed.
Nicholas I, defeated, died in 1855 as soon as the war was lost. Perfectly aware of the bankruptcy but unable to face up to it, he probably died of the moral shock. Some even insisted that he committed suicide by poisoning himself. This interpretation is highly plausible but there is no proof.
We must insist on a little known fact to help the reader understand what follows.
In spite of all the weaknesses and obstacles, during this period, the country made considerable cultural and technical progress.
Driven by inescapable economic necessities, "national" industry was born, simultaneously giving birth to a working class, a "proletariat." Large factories were established in several cities. Harbors were opened. Coal, iron and gold mines began to operate. Transportation networks were enlarged and improved. The first express railway was constructed, connecting St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Moscow, the two capitals of this immense country. This railway is an engineering marvel, since the region between these two cities is unsuited for this type of construction; the land is not firm and frequently consists of swamps and marshes. The distance between St. Petersburg and Moscow is about 600 versts (400 miles). From the standpoint of an economically rational construction, there could be no question of a straight route. It is said that Nicholas I, who took a personal interest in the project (the state was doing the construction), ordered various engineers to draw up and present blueprints with estimates. These engineers, taking advantage of the situation, presented the Emperor with projected routes which were extremely complicated, entailing numerous switchbacks, etc. Nicholas understood. Glancing briefly at the blueprints, he pushed them aside, took a pencil and piece of paper, drew two points, connected them with a straight line and said, "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line." It was a formal order, without appeal. The engineers had only to carry it out, which they did, thus accomplishing a genuine feat. It was a gargantuan task, accomplished at an unbelievable cost, causing devastating hardship for thousands of workers.
From its completion, the "Nicholayevskaya" (Nicholas's) railway has been one of the world's most remarkable railways: there are exactly 609 versts (405 miles) of track in an almost perfect straight line.
We should note that the emergent working class continued to retain close ties with the countryside from which it came and to which it returned as soon as the "outside" work was finished. Furthermore, as we have seen, the peasants, attached to the land of their lords, could not leave it permanently. Before they could be employed in industrial projects,, special arrangements had to be made with their landowners. The real workers of the cities -- at this time itinerant craftsmen -- were a very small contingent. Thus we are not yet dealing with a "proletariat" in the proper sense of the term. But the impetus for the creation of such a proletariat was already there. The need for reliable and regular laborers was one of the pressing economic reasons which demanded the abolition of serfdom. Two or three generations hence the class of wage laborers, the real industrial proletariat, no longer tied to the land, was going to appear in Russia, as it had elsewhere.
There were also great advances in the cultural realm. Well-to-do parents wanted their children to be educated and cultured. The rapidly growing number of high school and college students forced the government to continually increase the number of secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Economic and technical needs, as well as the general development of the country, also demanded educational establishments. At the end of Nicholas's reign, Russia had six universities: in Moscow, Dorpat, Kharkov, Kazan, St. Petersburg and Kiev (listed in the order of the dates of their founding) as well as several schools for advanced technical or special studies.
Thus the widespread legend that all of Russia at this time was uneducated, barbarian, almost "savage," is false. The peasant population under serfdom was indeed uneducated and "savage." But the inhabitants of the cities had no reason to envy the cultural achievements of their western counterparts, except in some purely technical realms. As for the intellectual youth, they were, in some respects, even more advanced than the youth of other European countries.
This enormous, paradoxical gap between the mentality of the enslaved population and the cultural level of the privileged strata has already been mentioned earlier.

CHAPTER 3: Reforms; Resumption of the Revolution \"The Failure of Tsarism\" and the Failure of Revolution; Reaction (1855-1881)

It was the son and successor of Nicholas I, Emperor Alexander II, who had to face the difficult situation of the country and the regime. General discontent, pressure from the progressive intellectual strata, fear of an uprising by the peasant masses, and finally the economic necessities of the period, forced the Tsar to give in and embark resolutely on a path of reform, despite the bitter resistance of reactionary circles. He decided to put an end to the purely bureaucratic system and to the absolute arbitrariness of administrative officers, and instituted far-reaching changes in the judicial system. Above all, he confronted the problem of serfdom.
From 1860 on, reforms followed each other in rapid and uninterrupted succession. The most important were: the abolition of serfdom (1861); the establishment of assize courts with elected juries (1864) which replaced the earlier State courts composed of functionaries; the creation (in 1864) of units of local self-administration in the cities and in the countryside (the gorodskoe samoupralenie and the zemstvo: forms of urban and rural municipalities), with the right of self-government in certain domains of public life (some branches of education, health, transportation, etc.).
All the vital forces of the population, particularly the intellectuals, turned toward the projects which were now possible. The municipalities devoted themselves enthusiastically to the creation of a vast network of primary schools with secular leanings. These "municipal" and "urban" schools were obviously under the surveillance and control of the government. Religious instruction was obligatory and the "pope" played an important role. The schools nevertheless enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy, the teaching staff being recruited by the "zemstvos" and the urban councils from among progressive intellectuals.
A great deal of attention was also devoted to sanitary conditions in the cities and to the improvement of transportation.
The country breathed more freely.
However, in spite of their importance in relation to the earlier situation, the reforms of Alexander II were very timid and incomplete in relation to the aspirations of the advanced strata and to the material and moral needs of the country. To be effective, to give the people a real impetus, the reforms would have to be accompanied by the granting of certain freedoms and civic rights: the freedom of speech and of the press, the right of assembly and association, etc. In this area, however, nothing changed. Censorship was scarcely less ridiculous. Speech and the press remained muzzled; no freedoms were granted. The emerging working class had no rights. The nobility, the landowners and the bourgeoisie were the dominant classes. Above all, the absolutist regime remained intact. (It was precisely the fear of changing the regime that led Alexander to throw the bone of "reform" to the people, while preventing him from carrying these reforms through to the end. Thus the reforms failed to satisfy the population.)
The conditions in which serfdom was abolished provide the best illustration of what we are saying. This constitutes the weakest point of the reforms.
The landowners, after struggling in vain against any change in the status quo, had to bend before the supreme decision of the Tsar (who reached this decision after long and dramatic vacillations under the energetic pressure of progressive elements). But the landlords did everything they could to make this reform minimal. It was all the easier for them to do this since Alexander II himself naturally did not want to infringe upon the sacred interests of his "beloved nobles." It was primarily the fear of revolution which finally dictated his gesture. He knew that the peasants had heard of his intentions and of the disagreements which surrounded this subject at court. He knew that this time their patience was really at an end, that they expected their liberation, and that if they learned of the postponement of the reform, the agitation which would follow could provoke a vast and terrible revolt. In his last discussions with the opponents of the reform, the Tsar expressed this well-known sentence which says a great deal about his real feelings: "It is better to give freedom from above than to wait until it is taken from below." Therefore he did everything he could to make this "freedom," namely the abolition of serfdom, as harmless as possible to the interests of the landed nobles. "The iron chain has broken at last," wrote the poet Nekrasov in a resounding poem. "Yes, it broke; one end hit the lord, but the other, the peasant."
To be sure, the peasants finally obtained individual freedom. But they had tp pay for it dearly. They received miniscule plots of land. (It was obviously impossible to "free" them without granting them plots of land which were at least large enough to keep them from dying of hunger.) Furthermore, in addition to having to pay taxes to the State over a long period, they were required to pay a large fee for the lands taken from the former landowners. It should be noted that 75 million peasants received little more than a third of the land. Another third was retained by the State. And almost a third remained in the hands of the landowners. This proportion condemned the peasant masses to a life of famine. They remained at the mercy of the "pomeshchiks" and, later, of the "kulaks," peasants who had, in one way or another, become rich.
In all his "reforms," Alexander II was careful to grant as little as possible: only the minimum necessary to avoid an imminent catastrophe. Thus the defects and the shortcomings of these "reforms" could already be felt by 1870.
The working population of the cities was defenseless against the growing exploitation.
The absence of any freedom of speech and of the press, as well as the absolute prohibition of all meetings with political or social content, rendered impossible all criticism, all propaganda, all social activity, the circulation of all ideas, in short, all progress.
The "people" were no more than "subjects" under the arbitrary power of absolutism which, while less ferocious than under Nicholas I, nevertheless remained intact.
As for the peasant masses, they remained beasts of burden reduced to the hard labor of feeding the State and the privileged classes.
The best representatives of the young intellectuals quickly became aware of this deplorable situation. They were all the more distressed because in this period countries in the West already had relatively advanced political and social systems. Around 1870, Western Europe was in the midst of social struggles; socialism had started its intense propaganda and Marxism had begun the task of organizing the working class into a powerful political party.
As before, the best publicists of the period continued to defy and circumvent the censors, who were neither well enough educated nor intelligent enough to understand the finesse and variety of the procedures (although Chernyshevski ultimately paid for his audacity by forced labor). The publicists succeeded in communicating socialist ideas to intellectual circles through magazine articles written in conventional styles. In this way they educated the youth, keeping them regularly informed of the movement of ideas as well as the political and social events abroad. At the same time they skillfully exposed the underside of the so-called reforms of Alexander II, their real motives, their hypocrisy, and their shortcomings.
Thus it is altogether natural that clandestine groups formed in Russia during this period, in order to struggle actively against this contemptible regime, and above all to communicate the idea of political and social liberation of the working classes.
These groups were composed of youth of both sexes who consecrated themselves, with a sublime spirit of sacrifice, to the task of "bringing the light to the working masses."
Thus was formed a vast movement of Russian intellectual youth who, in large numbers, left families, comforts and careers and threw themselves "toward the people" in order to enlighten them.
At the same time, terrorist activities against the main servants of the regime began. Between 1860 and 1870 there were several assassination attempts on the lives of several high government officials. There were also some unsuccessful attempts against the Tsar.
The movement ended in failure. Almost all the propagandists were arrested by the police (frequently on the basis of denunciations by the peasants themselves); they were imprisoned, exiled or sent to hard labor.2 The practical results of the movement were nil.
It became increasingly evident that Tsarism represented an insurmountable obstacle to the education of the people. It was necessary to go only one step further to reach the logical conclusion that, since Tsarism represents such an obstacle, it must be destroyed.
And this step was in fact taken by tattered and desperate youth whose primary goal was the assassination of the Tsar. Other factors also led to this decision. The man who had deceived the people with his so-called "reforms" had to be publicly punished. The deception had to be exposed before the vast masses; their attention had to be attracted by a dramatic and terrible act. In short, the elimination of the Tsar was to show the people the fragility, the vulnerability and the fortuitous and temporary character of the regime.
The "legend of the Tsar" was thus to be killed once and for all. Some members of the group went further: they held that the assassination of the Tsar could serve as a point of departure which, in the context of the general development, would end in revolution and the immediate fall of Tsarism.
The group, which called itself Narodnaya Volya (People's Will), after detailed preparations, executed the project: Tsar Alexander II was killed while traveling in St. Petersburg on March 1, 1881. Two bombs were thrown by terrorists at the imperial carriage. The first destroyed the carriage, the second mortally wounded the Emperor, removing both of his legs. He died almost immediately.
The act was not understood by the masses. The peasants did not read the journals. (They could not read at all.) Completely ignored, outsiders to all propaganda, fascinated for over a century by the idea that the Tsar wished them well but that his good intentions were thwarted by the nobility, the peasants accused the nobility of assassinating the Tsar to revenge itself for the abolition of serfdom and with the hope of restoring it. (The peasants found further proof for this in the nobility's resistance to their liberation and also in the compulsory payment of large fees for their plots of land, for which they blamed the intrigues of the nobility.)
The Tsar was killed. But not the legend. (The reader will see that twenty-four years later history itself destroyed the legend.)
The people did not understand and did not move. The servile press screamed about the "low criminals," the "horrible villains," the "imbeciles."
There was not much disorder at the court. The young heir Alexander, oldest son of the assassinated Emperor, immediately took power.
The leaders of the Narodnaya Volya party, those who organized and carried out the assassination, were rapidly found, arrested, tried and killed. One of them, the young Grinevetski -the very one who had thrown the bomb that killed the Tsar -- had himself been mortally wounded by the explosion and died on the spot. Sofya Perovskaya, Zheliabov, Kibal-chich (the famous technician of the party, who made the bombs), Mikhailov and Ryssakov were hanged.
Exceptionally extensive and severe measures of persecution and repression quickly reduced the party to complete impotence.
Everything "returned to order."
The new Emperor, Alexander III, greatly affected by the assassination, found nothing better to do than to return to the recently abandoned path of complete reaction. The totally inadequate "reforms" of his father seemed to him excessive, unfortunate and dangerous. He considered them a, deplorable mistake. Instead of understanding that the assassination was a consequence of their inadequacy and that they had to be broadened, he, on the contrary, saw in them the cause of the evil. And he took advantage of the murder of his father to oppose the "reforms" in every possible way.
He set out to distort their spirit, to counteract their effects, and to create obstacles for them through a long series of reactionary laws. The bureaucratic and repressive State regained its rights. Every movement, every expression of liberal thought, was stifled.
The Tsar obviously could not re-establish serfdom. But the working masses were condemned to remain more than ever in their condition as an indistinct herd, good for exploiting, and deprived of all human rights.
The slightest contact between the cultivated strata and the people again became suspect and impossible. The "Russian paradox," the unbridgeable gap between the cultural level and the aspirations of the higher strata and the somber and unthinking life of the people, remained intact.
Social activity of any type was once again prohibited. What survived of the timid reforms of Alexander II was reduced to a caricature.
Under these conditions, the rebirth of revolutionary activity was inevitable.
This was in fact what took place. But the form, as well as the very essence, of this activity was totally transformed by new economic, social and psychological factors.

CHAPTER 4: The End of the Century; Marxism; Rapid Evolution; Reaction (1881-1900)

After the failure of the Narodnaya Volya party's violent campaign against Tsarism, other events contributed to the fundamental transformation of the Russian revolutionary movement. The most important was the appearance of Marxism.
As is known, Marxism expressed a new conception of social struggle: a conception which led to a concrete program of revolutionary action and, in western Europe, to a working class political party called the Social Democratic Party.
In spite of all the obstacles, the socialist ideas of Lassalle and the concepts and achievements of Marxism were known, studied, preached, and clandestinely practiced in Russia; even the legal literature excelled in the art of dealing with socialism by using a veiled language. The well-known "large journals" reappeared with great enthusiasm; among their contributors were the best journalists and publicists of the time, who regularly analyzed social problems, socialist doctrines, and the means to realize them. The importance of these publications for the cultural life of the country cannot be exaggerated. No intellectual family could be without them. In the libraries, it was necessary to place one's name on a waiting list to obtain the latest issue. More than one generation of Russians received its social education from these journals, completing this education by reading all types of clandestine publications.
Thus Marxist ideology, basing itself solely on the organized action of the proletariat, came to replace the disappointed hopes of earlier conspiratorial circles.
The other important event was the increasingly rapid development of industry and technology, with all their far- reaching consequences.
Railway networks, other means of transportation, mining, oil drilling, metallurgy, textile and machine tool industries -- all of these productive activities developed with great strides, making up for lost time. Industrial regions sprang up throughout the country. The environment of numerous cities changed rapidly due to the new factories and the growing population of workers.
This industrial upsurge was supported by a labor force consisting of large masses of miserable peasants who were forced either to abandon their inadequate plots of land permanently, or to look for additional work during winter. As elsewhere, industrial development meant development of the proletarian class. And as elsewhere, this class began to furnish contingents to the revolutionary movement.
Thus, diffusion of Marxist ideas and growth of the industrial proletariat on which the Marxists depended, were the basic elements which determined the new situation.
Industrial development and the rising standard of living in general required in all fields educated people, professionals, technicians and skilled workers. The number of schools of all types -- official, municipal and private-increased continually j in the cities and the countryside; universities, special techni-j cal schools and other higher institutions, primary schools, professional courses, sprang up everywhere. (In 1875, 79% of the drafted soldiers were illiterate; by 1898 this figure had fallen to 55%.)
This entire development took place outside the framework of the absolutist political regime and even in opposition to it. The regime stubbornly held on -- an increasingly rigid, absurd and obtrusive carcass on top of the living body of the country.
Consequently, in spite of the cruel repression, the anti-monarchist movement as well as revolutionary and socialist propaganda became increasingly widespread.
Even the peasant population -- the most backward and the most oppressed-began to budge, prodded as much by the poverty and the inhuman exploitation as by the echoes of widespread agitation. These echoes were carried to the pea-i sants by the numerous intellectuals who worked in the "Zemstvos" (at the time these people were known as "zemstkii rabotniki": "zemstvo workers," by workers who had family ties with the countryside, by seasonal workers and by the agricultural proletariat. The government was powerless against this propaganda.
Toward the end of the century, two clear-cut forces confronted each other irreconcilably. One was the ancient force of reaction which consisted of the highly privileged classes who gathered around the throne: the nobility, the bureaucracy, the landowners, the military caste, the upper clergy and the nascent bourgeoisie. The other was the young revolutionary force which in 1890-1900 consisted mainly of the mass of students but which had already begun to recruit from among young workers in cities and industrial regions.
In 1898, the revolutionary current with a Marxist tendency created the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (the first social-democratic group, called "Emancipation of Labor," had been founded in 1883).
Between these two clearly opposed forces stood a third, which consisted mainly of representatives of the middle class and a certain number of "distinguished" intellectuals: university professors, lawyers, writers, doctors. It was a timidly liberal movement. Even though they secretly and very prudently gave support to revolutionary activity, these people had greater faith in reforms, hoping that under the threat of imminent revolution (as during the reign of Alexander II) the absolutist regime would grant large concessions, eventually leading to the establishment of a constitutional regime.
Only the peasant masses continued to remain outside of this ferment.
Emperor Alexander III died in 1894. His place was taken by his son Nicholas, the last of the Romanovs.
A vague legend claimed that the new Tsar professed liberal ideas. It was even said that he was disposed to grant "his people" a constitution which would seriously limit the absolutist powers of the Tsars.
Taking their desires for realities, certain liberal "zemst-vos" (municipal councils) presented the young Tsar with petitions in which they very timidly asked for some rights of representation.
In January, 1895, on the occasion of the marriage of Nicholas II, various delegations of the nobility, the military and the "Zemstvos" were ceremoniously received by the Tsar in St. Petersburg. To the great amazement of the municipal delegates, the new master, while accepting the congratulations, suddenly grew angry and, stamping his foot and shouting hysterically, called on the "zemstvos" to renounce their "crazy dreams" forever. This demand was immediately emphasized by repressive measures against certain "instigators" of the "subversive" attitude of the "zemstvos." Thus absolutism and reaction reaffirmed themselves once again, contemptuous of the general development of the country.

CHAPTER 5: The 20th Century; Hasty Development; Revolutionary Advance; Results (1900-1905)

The events and characteristics which we have just mentioned became even more pronounced at the beginning of the twentieth century.
On the one hand, instead of recognizing the aspirations of society, the absolutist regime decided to maintain itself by all possible means and to suppress not only all revolutionary movements, but also any expression of opposition. It was during this period that the government of Nicholas II diverted the growing discontent of the population by means of large-scale anti-Semitic propaganda followed by the instigation -- and even the organization -- of Jewish pogroms.
On the other hand, the economic development of the country continued at an accelerated pace. In a period of five years, from 1900 to 1905, industry and technology made an enormous leap. Petroleum production (at Baku), coal (at Donetz), and the production of metals, were rapidly reaching the level of other industrial countries. Roads and means of transportation (railroads, motor transport, river and ocean transport) were enlarged and modernized. Large construction plants employing thousands and even tens of thousands of workers rose or expanded on the outskirts of the large cities. Entire industrial regions sprang up or were expanded. For example, we can list the large Putilov factories, the extensive Nevsky shipyards, the large Baltic Factory, as well as others in St. Petersburg; industrial suburbs of the capital with tens of thousands of workers such as Kolpino, Chu-khovo, Sestrorech; the industrial region of Ivanovo-Voz-nessensk near Moscow; and several important factories in southern Russia: Kharkov, Ekaterinoslav and elsewhere. This rapid development was not well known abroad outside of interested groups. (There are many who, even today, believe that before the rise of Bolshevism, there was almost no industry in Russia; that industry was created entirely by the Bolshevik government.) Nevertheless, the development was considerable, not only from a purely industrial standpoint, but also socially. Industrialization brought about the rapid growth of proletarian elements. According to the statistics of the period, there were about three million workers in Russia in 1905.
At the same time the country made rapid advances inj cultural matters.
The education of adults was also progressing rapidly.
In 1905 there were about thirty universities and schools of higher learning in Russia, for men and women. Almost all these institutions depended on the State (except for a few that were supported by private municipal funds). Following an old tradition, but mainly as a result of the reforms of Alexander II, the statutes of the universities were quite liberal and allowed a great deal of internal independence (autonomy)! Alexander III and Nicholas II tried to diminish these. But every attempt of this type provoked major disorders. The government finally gave up such projects.
The professors of the universities and higher schools were chosen from among university graduates according to a specij fie procedure.
Almost all cities, even unimportant ones, had high schools ] and preparatory schools for boys and girls. The secondary schools were founded by the State, by individuals or by the "zemstvos." In all three cases the teaching programs were established by the State, and the teaching was perceptibly similar. The teaching of religion was obligatory.
The teaching staff of the secondary schools was recruited from the university community with minor exceptions. The program of studies leading to the diploma, which gave acces to the university, lasted eight years. Students who were uif prepared could spend a year in a preparatory class, in addition to the eight obligatory years.
The number of primary schools in the cities and in the countryside increased rapidly. Some were founded by th State; others by municipalities and "zemstvos." All of the were under the surveillance and control of the State. Primary education was free. It was not compulsory. The State naturally imposed the catechism in the primary schools. The men and women who taught in the primary schools had to have at least a diploma for four years of secondary school.
Evening courses for adults and some well organized "popular universities," which were well attended, functioned in all the large cities. Municipalities and particularly individuals devoted themselves to these institutions with great zeal.
The children of workers and peasants were obviously rare in the high schools and universities. The cost of this education was too high.
Nevertheless, contrary to a widespread legend, access to these schools was not forbidden either for the children of workers or the children of peasants. The majority of the students came from families of intellectuals from the liberal professions, functionaries, clerical workers, and from bourgeois families.
The fact that intellectual circles professed a credo which was at least liberal made it possible for a propaganda of fairly progressive ideas to take place outside of the school curriculum in numerous municipal and popular schools and institutions, in spite of police surveillance.
The lecturers of the "popular universities" and the teachers of the primary schools often came from revolutionary circles. Some directors, usually with liberal leanings, tolerated them. They knew how to "arrange things." In these circumstances the authorities were hardly able to oppose this propaganda.
In addition to schooling and conversation, education took place through writings.
An immense quantity of popular pamphlets, in general written by scholars or consisting of excerpts from the great writers, appeared on the market. These pamphlets dealt with all the sciences and analyzed political and social problems in a very progressive spirit. The official censorship was powerless against this mounting flood. The authors and publishers discovered numerous ways to deceive the vigilance of the authorities.
If we add the wide diffusion of clandestine revolutionary and socialist literature in intellectual and working class circles we will have a good idea of the vast movement of education] and preparation which characterizes the period between 1900 and 1905.
We have permitted ourselves to present certain details which are necessary for an understanding of the extent ana the progressive character of the revolutionary movements which followed. We should emphasize that this movement oil political and social aspirations was completed by a remarkable moral development.
Young people liberated themselves from all prejudices: religious, national, sexual. In some respects Russian avant garde circles had for a long time been more advanced than those in western countries. The equality of races and nations the equality of the sexes, free marriage (union libre), the negation of religion, were inherited truths in these circles; ini deed, they had been practiced since the time of the "Nihilists." In all these fields, Russian writers (Belinski, Herzen Chernyshevsky, Dobrolubov, Pissarev, Mikhailovsky) accorfl plished an enormous task. They taught several generation of intellectuals the meaning of total liberation, and they dil this in spite of the compulsory education with an opposite) content imposed by the Tsarist system of secondary educaj tion.
This spirit of liberation ultimately became an inalienable sacred tradition for Russian youth. While they submitted to the officially imposed education, young people got out frorfl under its rod as soon as they received the diploma.
"Do not go to the University!" shouted the bishop to our diocese when the diplomas were ceremoniously distributed among us, students graduating from high school. "Do not go to the University. Because the University is a den of rioters . . ." .(Where did he want us to go?) He knew what was happening, this honorable bishop. It was in fact the case that, with few exceptions, all young men and women who went to the universities became potential revolutionaries Among the people, "student" meant "rebel."
Afterwards, when they grew older, these one-time rebels broken by the problems and misfortunes of life, forgot anc often denied their first impulses. But something generally regained: a liberal credo, a spirit of opposition, and sometimes a living spark which was ready to burn on the first serious occasion.
Nevertheless, the political, economic and social situation of the working population remained unchanged.
Exposed to the growing exploitation of the State and the bourgeoisie, without any means of defense, lacking all rights to congregate, to be heard, to impose their demands, to organize, to struggle, to strike, the workers were materially and morally dissatisfied.
In the countryside, the poverty and dissatisfaction of the peasant masses continued to grow. The peasants -- 175 million men, women and children -- were abandoned and were considered a sort of "human herd" (corporal punishment was a reality for them until 1904, even though it had been abolished legally in 1863). A lack of general culture and elementary education; primitive and insufficient tools; the absence of credit or any other form of protection or aid; very high taxes; arbitrary, contemptuous and cruel treatment by the authorities and "superior" classes; continual parcelling of their plots as a consequence of the division of the land among new members of families; competition between the "kulaks" (wealthy peasants) and the landed gentry -- such were the varied causes of their misery. Even the "peasant community" -- the famous Russian mir -- was no longer able to support its members. Furthermore, the government of Alexander III and that of his successor Nicholas II did everything they could to reduce the mir to a simple administrative body, closely observed and policed by the State, a body whose primary purpose was to force the peasants to pay taxes and fees.
It was thus inevitable that socialist and revolutionary propaganda and activity should meet with a certain success. Marxism, spread clandestinely but energetically, found numerous followers, mainly among students, but also among workers. The influence of the Social-Democratic Party, founded ln 1898, could be felt in many cities and in certain regions, despite the fact that this party was illegal (as were all others).
The government's severity against militants became increasingly brutal. There were countless political trials. Measures of administrative and police repression savagely struck! thousands of "subjects." Prisons, places of exile and hard labor camps filled up. However, although the authorities! were able to reduce the activity and influence of the party! to a minimum, they did not succeed in stifling it, as they had succeeded earlier in stifling the first political groups.
After 1900, despite all the efforts of the authorities, the revolutionary movement grew considerably. Disorders among students and among workers became daily events. In facta universities were frequently closed for several months precisely because of political troubles. The response of students, supported by workers, was to organize resounding demonstrations at public places. At St. Petersburg, the square of the Kazan Cathedral became the classical spot for these popular demonstrations where students and workers gathered, singing revolutionary songs and at times carrying red flags. The government sent detachments of police and Cossacks on horses back to "clean up" the square and the neighboring street with swords and whips (nagaikas).
The Revolution began to conquer the streets.
Nevertheless, in order to give the reader an accurate idea of the general situation, we should make another reservation!
The picture we have just painted is accurate. But by referring only to this picture, without making major corrections, without referring constantly to the large totality of the country and the people, we will run the risk of exaggerate ing, and will end up making erroneous general evaluations which will not lead to an understanding of later events.
We should not forget that, out of the immense mass of more than 180 million people, the groups influenced by the intellectual movement we have described consisted of a very small stratum: In fact, it consisted of a few thousand intellectuals, mainly students, and the elite of the working claa of the large cities. The rest of the population: the innumeable peasant masses, the majority of the city inhabitants an even the majority of the working population, were still outside the revolutionary ferment, indifferent and even hostile to it. The members of advanced circles did increase rapidly from 1900 on the number of workers won to the cause grev continually; the revolutionary outburst also reached the increasingly miserable peasant masses. But at the same time, the vast mass of the people -- the mass whose activity alone determines major social changes -- retained its primitive outlook. The "Russian paradox" remained nearly intact, and the "legend of the Tsar" continued to dazzle millions of human beings. In relation to this mass, the movement in question was no more than a small and superficial ferment (only four workers took part in the Social-Democratic Congress in London, 1903).
In these conditions, all contact between those in front, who were way ahead, and the mass of the population, who remained way behind, was impossible.
The reader should constantly keep this in mind in order to understand the events that followed.
In 1901 revolutionary activity was enriched by a new element: alongside the Social-Democratic Par.ty rose the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. The propaganda of this party quickly met with considerable success.
The two parties differed from each other on three essential points:
1. Philosophically and sociologically, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party disagreed with Marxist doctrine;
2. Due to its anti-Marxism, this party elaborated a different solution for the peasant problem (the most important in Russia). While the Social-Democratic Party, basing itself solely on the working class, did not count on the peasant masses (it waited for their rapid proletarianization), and consequently neglected rural propaganda, the Socialist-Revolutionary Party hoped to win the Russian peasant masses to the revolutionary and socialist cause. The latter considered it impossible to wait for the peasants' proletarianization. Consequently it carried out large-scale propaganda in the countryside. The Social-Democratic Party's agrarian program anticipated nothing more than the enlargement of the peasants' Plots and other minor reforms, whereas the minimum program of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party included the complete and immediate socialization of the land.
3. Perfectly consistent with its doctrine, the Social-Democratic Party, counting on the action of the masses, rejected all terrorist activity and all political assassinations as socially useless. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party, on the other hand, attached a certain public utility to assassination attempts against high Tsarist officials who were excessively zealous or cruel. It even created a special body called the "combat organism," which was charged with preparing and carrying out political assassinations under the direction of the Central Committee.
Except for these differences, the short-term political and social programs ("minimum programs") of the two parties were almost the same: a bourgeois democratic republic which would pave the way for an evolution toward socialism.
From 1901 to 1905 the Socialist-Revolutionary Party carried out several assassination attempts, some of which had major repercussions. In 1902 the student Balmachev, a young militant of the party, assassinated Sipiagin, Minister of the Interior; in 1904 another Socialist-Revolutionary student, Sazonov, killed von Plehve, the well known and cruel successor to Sipiagin; in 1905, the Socialist-Revolutionary Kalayev killed the Grand Duke Serge, governor ("the hideous satrap") of Moscow.
In addition to the two political parties, there was also a small anarchist movement. Extremely weak and totally unknown by the population, it consisted of some groups of intellectuals and workers (peasants in the South) without permanent contact. There may have been two anarchist groups in St. Petersburg and about that many in Moscow (the latter were the stronger and more active), as well as groups in the South and West. Their activity was limited to a weak (though nevertheless extremely difficult) propaganda, some assassination attempts against overly zealous servants of the regime, and some acts of "individual revenge." Libertarian literature Was smuggled from abroad; this consisted largely of pamphlets by Kropotkin, who had himself been forced to emigrate after the collapse of the Narodnaya Volya, and had settled in England.
The rapid increase of revolutionary activity after 1900 alarmed the government. What bothered the authorities most was the fact that the propaganda was favorably received by the working population. In spite of their illegal and therefore difficult existence, both socialist parties had committees, propaganda circles, clandestine print shops and fairly numerous groups in the major cities. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party successfully committed assassinations the repercussions of which attracted a great deal of attention and even admiration. The government decided that its methods of defense and repression-surveillance, espionage, provocation, prison, pogroms-were inadequate. In order to draw the working masses away from the influence of the socialist parties and all other] revolutionary activity, it conceived a Machiavellian plan which was logically to lead to the government's mastery over the workers' movement. It decided to launch a legal, authorized workers' organization which the government itself commanded. It was thus going to kill two birds with one stone: on one side it would attract toward itself the sympathy, gratitude and devotion of the working class, pulling it away from the revolutionary parties; on the other side, it would be able to lead this workers' movement wherever it wanted, while keeping close watch on it.
There was no doubt that the task was delicate. It was necessary to attract workers into State organisms, calm their suspicions, interest them, flatter them, seduce them, and dupe them, without their being aware of it; it was necessary to pretend to satisfy their aspirations, eclipse the parties, neutralize their propaganda, and go beyond them -- especially with concrete acts. To succeed, the government would be obliged to go to the point of agreeing to make certain concessions of an economic or social order, while constantly keeping th workers at its mercy, manipulating them at will.
Such a "program" had to be executed by men in whom the government had absolute confidence, men who were cunning, skillful and experienced, who were familiar with the psychology of workers, who knew how to impose themselves on workers and win their confidence.
The government finally chose two agents of the politic; secret police (Okhrana), who were charged with the mission of carrying out this project. One was Zubatov, for Moscow; the other was a priest, chaplain in a St. Petersburg prison, Father Gapon.
The government of the Tsar wanted to play with fire. Before long it burned itself cruelly.

  • 1. There are analogies between this situation in 19th century Russia before the revolution of 1917, and that of France in the eighteenth century before the revolution of 1789. But naturally certain peculiarities are specifically Russian.
  • 2. The famous and monstrous trial of "the 193" was the climax of this repression.

Part II: The jolt (1905-1906)

CHAPTER 1: The Gaponist Epic; First General Strike

In Moscow Zubatov was fairly quickly unmasked. He was not able to accomplish a great deal. But in St. Petersburg the affair went much better. Gapon, very crafty, working in the shadows, knew how to win the confidence and even the affection of groups of workers. Genuinely talented as an agitator and organizer, he succeeded in setting up so-called "Workers' Sections" which he personally led and which he stimulated with his energetic activity. Toward the end of 1904 there were eleven of these sections, located in different areas of the capital, with a membership of several thousands.
Workers voluntarily attended these "Sections" in the evening to discuss their problems, listen to lectures, look at the newspapers. Since the entrance was rigorously guarded by the Gaponist workers themselves, the militants of the political parties could not easily get in. And even if they got in, they were quickly spotted and thrown out.
The St. Petersburg workers took their sections very seriously. Having complete confidence in Gapon, they told him about their misfortunes and their aspirations, and discussed ways to improve their situation, examining various methods of struggling against the bosses. Himself the son of poor peasants and having spent his life among workers, Gapon perfectly understood the psychology of the workers who confided in him. He was extremely good at pretending approval and genuine empathy for the workers' movement. Such was also his official mission, at least at the beginning.
The proposition which the government wanted to impose on the workers in their sections was the following: "Workers, you can improve your situation by applying yourselves to this task meticulously, within legal limits, in the context of your sections. To succeed you don't need to engage in politics. Concern yourselves with your concrete personal and immediate interests, and you'll soon be leading a happier life. Parties and political struggles, recipes proposed by bad shepherds -- the socialists and the revolutionaries -- won't lead you to anything worth having. Concern yourselves with your immediate economic interests. This is permitted, and it's only in this way that you'll really improve your situation. The government is very concerned about you and will help you." Such was the thesis that Gapon and his helpers, recruited from among the workers themselves, preached and elaborated in the sections.
The workers did not wait to respond to the invitation. They prepared an action. They developed and formulated their demands, with Gapon's agreement. In his extremely delicate situation, Gapon had to take part. If he failed to do so, he would immediately provoke discontent among the workers; he would certainly even be accused of betraying their interests and supporting the boss's side. He would lose his popularity. Even more serious suspicions would arise. If this happened, his work would be ruined. In his double game Gapon had above all else and at all costs to retain the sympathies he had known how to win. He understood this well and he acted as if he completely supported the workers' cause, hoping to .be able to retain mastery of the movement, manipulate the masses at will, direct, shape and channel their action.
But the opposite took place. The movement quickly went beyond the limits that had been assigned to it. It rapidly acquired unforeseen amplitude, vigor and momentum, burning all the calculations, overturning all the expectations of its authors. It soon became a veritable flood which carried Gapon with it.
In December, 1904, the workers of the Putilov factory, one of the largest in St. Petersburg, and one where Gapon had numerous followers and friends, decided to begin the action. With Gapon's agreement, they drew up and gave the managers a list of economic demands which were very moderate. At the end of the month they learned that the managers "did not believe it possible to consider these demands" and that the government was powerless to do anything about it. Furthermore, the managers of the factory fired some workers who were considered leaders. It was demanded that they be reinstated. The management refused.
The indignation and anger of the workers was immense, first of all, their long and laborious efforts had led to nothing. Secondly, and more importantly, they had been led to believe that their efforts would be crowned with success. Ga-pon himself had encouraged them, had filled them with hope. And here their first step along the good legal road had brought them nothing but a bitter failure which could in no way be justified. They felt tricked and morally they felt obliged to intervene in favor of their fired comrades.
Naturally their eyes turned toward Gapon. To save his prestige and his role, Gapon acted more indignant than anyone else and urged the workers to go to the Putilov factory to react vigorously. They did not hesitate. Feeling themselves safe, continuing to limit themselves to purely economic demands, protected by the sections and by Gapon, they decided, after several turbulent meetings, to support their cause with a strike. The government, trusting Gapon, did not intervene. It is thus that the strike at the Putilov factories, the first major strike in Russia, broke out in December, 1904.
But the movement did not stop there. All the Workers' Sections stirred and moved to defend the action of the Putilov workers. They very rightly understood the failure of the Putilov workers as a general failure. Gapon naturally had to side with the sections. In the evening he visited all of them, giving speeches everywhere in favor of the Putilov strikers and urg;ng workers to support them with decisive actions.
Some days passed. Extraordinary agitation shook the masses of workers of the capital. Factories emptied spontaneously. Without signal or sign, without preparation or leadership, the Putilov strike became a nearly general strike of the workers of St. Petersburg.
And it was a tempest. The strikers rushed en masse toward the sections, disregarding all formalities and rules, calling for immediate and impressive action.
In short, the strike alone was not enough. It was necessary to act, to do something: something large, impressive, decisive. This was the general feeling.
It was then that a fantastic idea was formulated, no one knows exactly how or where -- the idea of preparing a "petition" to the Tsar in the name of unhappy workers and peasants of all the Russias; the idea of a massive demonstration in front of the Winter Palace to support the petition; the idea of giving the petition to the Tsar himself through a delegation headed by Gapon, asking the Tsar to listen to the miseries of his people. However naive and paradoxical it might have been, this idea spread like wildfire among the workers of St. Petersburg. It unified them, inspired them, made them enthusiastic. It gave a meaning and a precise goal to their movement.
The sections, joining together with the masses, decided to organize the action. Gapon was charged with drafting the petition. Once again he agreed. Thus by force of circumstances he became the leader of a major, historical movement of the masses.
The petition was ready during the first days of January, 1905. Simple and moving, it exuded devotion and confidence. The sufferings of the people were elaborated with a great deal of feeling and sincerity. The Tsar was asked to turn to these sufferings, to agree to effective reforms and to see them carried through.
It is strange, but unquestionable, that Gapon's petition was an inspired and genuinely moving work.
The next step was to have the petition adopted by all the sections, to communicate it to the mass of the population and to organize the march toward the Winter Palace.
In the meantime a new factor came into play. Some revolutionaries belonging to the political parties (until this moment the parties had stayed away from "Gaponism") met with Gapon. Their main aim was to influence him to give his attitude, his petition and his action a style which was less "submissive," more dignified, more firm -- in short, more revolutionary. Circles of progressive workers also drove him in this direction. Gapon gracefully gave in. Some Socialist Revolutionaries established relations with him. In agreement with them, he changed his original petition, enlarging it considerably, and playing down its loyal devotion to the Tsar.
In its final form, the "petition" was the greatest historical paradox that ever existed. It was loyally addressed to the Tsar and it asked the Tsar to authorize, and even carry out, neither more nor less than a thoroughgoing revolution which would, in the last analysis, eliminate his power. In fact, the entire minimum program of the revolutionary parties was included in it. Among the urgent measures demanded were: complete freedom of the press, of speech, of thought; absolute freedom for all associations and organizations; the right of workers to join unions, the right to strike; some agrarian laws leading to the expropriation of the large landowners in favor of peasant communities; and finally the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly elected ofi the basis of a democratic electoral law. It was a blunt invitation to suicide. Here is the complete and final text of the "petition":

We, the workers of St. Petersburg, our wives, our children and our parents, old people with no resources, have come to You, Oh Tsar, to ask you for justice and protection.
We are reduced to beggars. We are oppressed, crushed under the weight of exhausting labor, drenched in insults. We are not considered human beings but are treated as slaves who must suffer their sad fate in silence. We have suffered all this patiently. But we are now being thrown to the very bottom of the abyss where only ignorance and despotism will be our lot. We are being smothered by despotism and by a treatment contrary to all human laws.
We can endure no more, Oh Tsar! The terrible moment has come when we would really rather die thati continue our unbearable sufferings. This is why we have stopped working and why we told our bosses that we will not return until they have granted our just demands.
We have asked for very little, yet without the little we have asked for our life is not a life, but a hell, an eternal torture.
Our first request asks our bosses to take full account of our needs, in agreement with us. And they have refused! We have been denied the very right to discuss our needs, under the pretext that the law does not recognize such a right.
Our demand for an eight hour day has also been rejected as illegal.
We have asked for participation in the determination of our wages; for arbitration in case of disagreement between us and the internal administration of the factory; for a minimum wage of a rouble a day for unskilled workers, men and women; for the suppression of overtime; for safety in the workplaces so that those who work there will not die of wind, rain or snow . . . We have also asked for care for the sick; we have also asked that orders given to us not be accompanied by insults.
All these demands have been rejected as contrary to the law. The very act of formulating demands has been interpreted as a crime. The desire to improve our situation is considered by our bosses as insolence toward them.
Oh Emperor! Those of us here number more than 300,000 human beings. And yet we are human beings only in appearance. In reality we have no human rights. We are not allowed to speak, to think, to meet for the purpose of discussing our needs, to take measures to improve our situation. Whoever among us dares to raise his voice in favor of the working class is thrown into prison or exile. To have a generous heart and a sensitive soul are considered crimes. To express feelings of fraternity toward the unfortunate, the homeless, the victimized, the fallen, is an abominable crime.
Oh Tsar! Is all this consistent with the commandments of God, through whose power you govern? Is life worth living under such laws? Would it not be preferable for all of us, Russian workers, to die, leaving the capitalists and the functionaries to live alone and enjoy their lives?
Lord, such is the future that awaits us. And this is why we are assembled in front of Your palace. You are our last hope; Do not refuse to help bring Your people out of the pit of outlaws where there is only misery and ignorance. Give Your people a chance, a means to realize their real destiny. Deliver them from the intolerable oppression of the bureaucrats. Demolish the wall that separates You from the people and call them to rule the country jointly with You.
You have been sent down here to lead the people to happiness. Yet bit by bit, happiness is taken from us by your functionaries, who give us only pain and humiliation.
Look over our demands with attention and without anger. They have been formulated, not for evil, but for good, for our good, Lord, and for Yours. It is not insolence that speaks in us, but awareness of the general need to put an end to the insupportable situation of today.
Russia is too enormous, its needs are too varied for her to be led by a government composed solely of bureaucrats. It is absolutely necessary for the people to participate in the government, because only the people know their needs.
Do not, therefore, refuse to help Your people. Tell the representatives of all the classes in the country to assemble without delay. Let the capitalists and the workers be represented. Let the functionaries, the priests, the doctors and the professors choose their delegates as well. Let each be free to elect whoever pleases him. To this end, allow the election of a Constituent Assembly under a system of universal suffrage.
This is our central demand; everything else depends on it. This would be the best and the only real balm for our open wounds. If it is not applied, our wounds will remain open and we will bleed to death.
There is no panacea for all our ills. Various cures are needed. We are going to list them now. We speak to you with sincerity, with open hearts, Lord, as to a father.
The following measures are indispensable.
The first group consists of measures against the absence of all rights and against the ignorance which marks the Russian people. These measures include:
Personal freedom and integrity; freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of thought in religious matters; separation of Church and State.
State-supported universal and compulsory education.
Ministers who are responsible before the nation; guarantees for the legality of administrative measures.
Equality of all individuals before the law, without exception.
Immediate release of all those imprisoned for their beliefs.
The second group consists of measures against poverty:
Abolition of all indirect taxation. Direct and progressive taxation of incomes.
Repeal of the fees for the purchase of lands. Low interest credit, gradual remission of the land to the people.
The third group consists of measures against the crushing of labor by capital:
Legal protection of labor.
The freedom of workers to establish unions for the purpose of cooperation and to regulate professional problems.
An eight-hour working day; restriction of overtime.
The freedom of labor to struggle against capital.
Participation of representatives of the working class in the preparation of a law on State insurance for the workers.
Minimum wages.
These, Lord, are our principal needs. Command their fulfillment. Swear to us that this shall be done, and You will make Russia happy and glorious, and Your name will forever be inscribed in our hearts, in the hearts of our children and of our children's children.
But if You do not give Your promise, if You do not accept our petition, we have decided to die here, on this square, in front of Your palace, because we have nowhere to go, nor any reason to be elsewhere. For us, only two paths are open: one leads to freedom and happiness, the other, to the grave. Point to one of these paths, oh Tsar, and we will follow it, even if it leads us to death.
If our lives become a holocaust for suffering Russia, we will not regret the sacrifice. We offer it with joy.

It is noteworthy that despite all the paradoxical elements of the situation that was created, the action which was being prepared was no more, for an informed observer, than the logical outcome of the combined pressure of various real factors; it was a natural "synthesis" of the various elements at play.
On the one hand, the idea of a collective demonstration before the Tsar was in essence nothing more than a manifestation of the naive faith of the popular masses in the Tsar's good will. (We have already described the hold which the "legend of the Tsar" exerted on the people). Russian workers, who had never broken their bond with the countryside, momentarily returned to the ancient peasant tradition by going to ask the "little father" for help and protection. Taking advantage of the unusual situation which was offered to them, roused by a spontaneous and irresistible outburst, they undoubtedly tried to point to the sore spot, to obtain a concrete and definitive solution. While expecting, from the bottom of their hearts, at least a partial success, they wanted most of all to know where they stood.
On the other hand, the influence of the revolutionary parties -- who could do nothing but stand aside, too powerless to stop the movement, not to speak of substituting for it a more revolutionary movement -- was nevertheless strong enough to exert some pressure on Gapon, obliging him to "revolutionize" his act.
In short the act was a bastard, but natural, product of the forces in play.
As for intellectual and liberal circles, they could do no more than passively observe the events as they unfolded.
The behavior and psychology of Gapon himself, paradoxical as they may seem, can nevertheless be easily explained. Originally no more than a clown, an agent in the pay of the police, he was swept along by the tremendous wave of the popular movement which drove him irresistibly forward. The movement ultimately carried him with it. Events placed him, despite himself, at the head of crowds who idolized him. Adventurous and romantic in spirit, he must have let himself be nursed by an illusion. Instinctively aware of the historical importance of the events, he probably drew himself an exaggerated picture. He could already see the entire country undergoing a revolution, the throne in danger, and himself, Gapon, supreme leader of the movement, idol of the people, carried to the summit of glory. Fascinated by this dream that reality seemed to justify, he finally gave himself body and soul to the movement he had started. His role as police agent ceased to interest him. He no longer even thought of it during the course of these feverish days, completely dazzled by the lightning of the enormous storm, completely absorbed by his new role, which must have seemed to him almost a divine mission. Such was probably the outlook of Gapon at the beginning of January, 1905. It is reasonable to assume that at this moment, and in this sense, he was sincere. At least that's the personal impression of the author of these lines, who met Gapon a few days before the events and saw him in action.
Even the strangest factor of all -- the silence of the government and the complete absence of all police intervention during the days of feverish preparation -- can easily be explained. The police could not read the thoughts of the new Gapon. They trusted him to the very end, interpreting his action as a clever move. And when the police finally did become aware of the change and the imminent danger, they could no longer stop or master the events that broke out. Somewhat disconcerted at first, the government finally decided to wait for the opportunity to wipe out the movement in a single blow. For a moment, having received no orders, the police didn't budge. We should add that this incomprehensible and mysterious fact encouraged the masses and raised their hopes. "The government doesn't dare oppose the movement; it'll give in," people commented.
The march toward the Winter Palace was set for Sunday morning, January 9 (old calendar). The last days were devoted mainly to public readings of the "petition" at the "sections." The same sequence was repeated almost everywhere. During the course of the day, Gapon himself or one of his friends read and commented on the petition to masses of workers who took turns filling the meeting places. As soon as the place filled, the door was closed and the petition was read; those present signed their names on a separate sheet and left the room. Another crowd of people who had patiently waited for their turn in the street filled the room, and the ceremony was repeated. This continued to take place in all the sections until after midnight.
What gave a tragic note to these last preparations was the supreme appeal of the orator and the crowd's solemn, grim oath in response to the appeal. "Comrade workers, peasants and others!" said the orator, "Brothers in misery! Be loyal to the cause and to the demonstration, all of you. Come to the square in front of the Winter Palace on Sunday morning. Your failure to do so will be treason to our cause. But come quietly and peacefully, living up to the solemn hour that strikes. Father Gapon has already warned the Tsar and has personally assured him that he will be safe among you. If you allow yourselves a misplaced act, Father Gapon will have to answer for it. You have heard the petition. Our demands are just. We can no longer continue this miserable life. That's why we're going to the Tsar with open arms, our hearts full of love and hope. All he has to do is receive us and listen to our request. Gapon himself will give him the petition. Let us hope, comrades, let us hope, brothers, that the Tsar receives us, that he listens to us and that he takes steps to satisfy our just demands. But, brothers, if instead of receiving us, the Tsar turns on us with guns and swords, then, my brothers, pity for him! Then we no longer have a Tsar. Then let him be damned forever, together with his entire dynasty! Swear, all of you, comrades, brothers, plain citizens, swear that then you will never forget his betrayal. Swear that then you will try to destroy the traitor in every way possible . . ." And the entire assembly, completely carried away, raised their hands and answered: "We swear!"
Where Gapon himself read the petition -- and he read it at least once at every section -- he added: "I, the priest George Gapon, through the will of God, free you in that case from the oath given to the Tsar, and I bless in advance whosoever shall destroy him. Because in that case we will no longer have a Tsar!" Pale with emotion, he repeated this phrase two or three times to the silent and trembling audience.
"Swear that you'll follow me, swear on the heads of your dear ones, your children!" "Yes, father, yes! We swear on the heads of our children!" was invariably the response.
On January 8, in the evening, everything was ready for the march. Certain intellectual and literary circles learned that the decision of the government had been taken: under no circumstances was the crowd to approach the Palace; if the crowd insisted, shoot without pity. In all haste, a delegation was dispatched to the authorities to try to prevent the shedding of blood. But in vain. All the orders had already been given. The capital was in the hands of troops armed to the teeth.
The rest is known. On Sunday, January 9, in the morning, an immense crowd composed mainly of workers (often with their families) as well as various other elements, began to move in the direction of the Winter Palace. Tens of thousands of people, men, women and children, starting out from all parts of the capital and its suburbs, marched toward the meeting place.
Everywhere they ran into curtains of troops and police who fired continuously at this human sea. But the pressure of this compact mass of people -- a pressure which continued to increase from one minute to the next -- was such that the crowd continued to move toward the palace anyway, and without pause, filling and congesting the streets around it. Thousands of people, dispersed by the shots, obstinately moved toward the goal, taking side streets and detours, moved by the impetus of the action, by curiosity, by anger, by the pressing need to cry out their indignation and their horror. There were many who continued, in spite of everything, to retain a spark of hope, believing that if only they could succeed in reaching the square in front of the Tsar's palace, the Tsar would come to them, would receive them and would mend everything. Others thought that, faced with a fait accompli, the Tsar could no longer resist and would be obliged to give in. Still others, the most naive, imagined that the Tsar was not aware of what was happening, that he knew nothing of the butchery, and that the police, after concealing the facts from the very beginning, were now trying to keep the people from coming into contact with the "Little Father." So they had to reach the Tsar at all costs . . . Furthermore, they had sworn to be there . . . And finally, Gapon was there; perhaps he had succeeded in reaching the Tsar . . .
In any case, waves of human beings broke through from every direction and finally invaded the immediate surroundings of the Winter Palace and entered the square itself. The government found nothing better to do than to shoot, to sweep away the disarmed, distressed and despairing crowd with rounds of fire.
It was a terrifying spectacle, a vision which could hardly be imagined, unique in history. Machine-gunned point blank, screaming with fear, pain and rage, this immense crowd, unable either to advance or retreat because its own size prevented all movement, received what was later called a "blood bath." Driven back slightly by each round, as if by a strong gust of wind, partly trampled, suffocated, crushed, the crowd formed again, over dead bodies, over the dying, over the injured, pushed by new masses who arrived, and continued to arrive, from behind. And new rounds of fire periodically sent a shudder of death through this living mass. This went on for a long time: until the adjacent streets finally emptied, and the crowd was able to escape.
Hundreds of men, women and children perished on this day in the capital. The authorities intoxicated the soldiers so as to dull their consciences and remove all their scruples. Some soldiers, completely mindless, installed in a garden near the palace, amused themselves by "shooting down" children who had climbed trees "to see better."
Towards evening, "order was reestablished." The number of victims was never known, even approximately. But what is known is that, during that night, long trains filled with corpses transported all these poor bodies outside the city; they were buried haphazardly in fields and forests.
It was also known that the Tsar was not even in the capital on that day. After having given a free hand to the military authorities, he had taken refuge in one of his summer residences: at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg.
Gapon, surrounded by carriers of icons and pictures of the Tsar, led a large crowd which moved toward the palace by way of the Narva Gate. As elsewhere, this crowd was dispersed by troops stationed at the very approaches to the Gate. He barely escaped. As soon as the first shots were fired, he lay flat on his stomach and did not budge. For a few instants people thought he had been injured or killed. But he was quickly carried off to safety by friends. His long hair was cut, and he was dressed as a civilian.
Some time later he was abroad, completely out of reach. Before he left Russia, he launched the following short appeal to the workers:

I, the pastor, curse all those, officers and soldiers, who in this hour massacred their innocent brothers, women, and children. I curse all the oppressors of the people. My blessing goes to the soldiers who give assistance to the people in their struggle for freedom. I release them from their oath of loyalty to the Tsar -- the traitor Tsar whose orders caused the people's blood to flow.

In addition, he prepared another proclamation which said:

. . . Comrade workers, there is no longer a Tsar! Today torrents of blood flowed between him and the Russian people. The time has come for the Russian workers to undertake the struggle for the liberation of the people without him. You have my blessing in this struggle. Tomorrow I will be in your midst. Today I am working for the cause.

These appeals were distributed in great numbers throughout the country.
This might be the best place for a few words about the fate of Gapon.
Saved by his friends, the ex-priest settled abroad. Certain Socialist-Revolutionaries took care of him. From now on his future depended only on him. He was given everything he needed to break with his past, to complete his education and to formulate his ideological position, in short to really become a man of action.
But Gapon was not made of such stuff. The sacred fire which once accidentally burned in his dark soul was in him nothing more than the fire of ambition and personal indulgence; the spark went out quickly. Instead of devoting himself to the work of self-education and preparation for serious activity, Gapon was content with inactivity, mother of boredom. Slow, patient work meant nothing to him. He dreamed of an immediate and glorious repetition of his ephemeral adventure. But in Russia events dragged on. The great Revolution did not come. His boredom grew. He finally turned to debauchery to try to forget. He passed most of his time in shady cabarets where, half drunk, in the company of prostitutes, he wept bitterly about his broken illusions. His life abroad disgusted him. The situation of his country tortured him. He wanted to return to Russia at any price.
So he conceived of the idea of writing to his government, asking for pardon and for permission to return in order to render his services again. He wrote to the secret police. He resumed his relations with it.
His former chiefs received his offer rather favorably. But before consenting they asked him for material proof of his repentance and his good will. Aware of his acquaintance with influential members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, they asked him to furnish precise information which would help them deal the decisive blow against this party. Gapon accepted the offer.
In the meantime, one of the influential members of the party, the engineer Rutemberg, Gapon's intimate friend, heard about the new relations between Gapon and the police. He mentioned the matter to the Central Committee of the party. The committee charged him (Rutemberg himself told about this in his memoirs) with the task of doing everything within his power to unmask Gapon.
Rutemberg had to play a role. He did this successfully and won the confidence of Gapon, who assumed that the engineer would voluntarily betray his party for a large sum of money. This was precisely what Gapon proposed to him. Rutemberg acted as if he accepted. It was agreed that, through Gapon, he would deliver to the police some very important party secrets.
They bargained about the price. This bargaining -- which Rutemberg feigned and purposely dragged out, while Gapon carried it out with the agreement of the police -- finally ended in Russia when Gapon as well as Rutemberg were able to return.
The last act of the play took place in St. Petersburg. As soon as he arrived, Rutemberg forewarned some workers who were Gapon's loyal friends; they refused to believe that he was a traitor; Rutemberg told them he could supply incontestable proof. It was agreed that the Gaponist workers be hidden at the last meeting between Gapon and Rutemberg, a meeting where the price to be paid for Rutemberg's "betray-al" was to be settled once and for all.
The meeting took place at a deserted villa not far from the capital. The workers, hidden in a room adjacent to the room where the meeting was taking place, were to remain in this room, without being seen, so as to be convinced of the real role of Gapon and to be able to unmask him publicly.
But the workers couldn't contain themselves. As soon as they were convinced of Gapon's treason, they burst into the room where the two men were talking. They threw themselves on Gapon, grabbed him and, despite his pleading (which was pathetic; he got down on his knees and begged for their pardon in the name of his past) killed him brutally. Then they put a rope around his neck and hung him from the ceiling. It was in this position that his body was accidentally found some time later.
Thus ended the personal epic of Gapon.
In his memoirs, which are largely sincere, Gapon tried-very awkwardly -- to justify in his own way his relations with the police before January 9, 1905. On this point he seems not to have told the whole truth.
As for the movement, it followed on its course.
The events of January 9 had enormous repercussions throughout the country. In the darkest corners of the land, the population learned with indignant stupefaction that instead of listening to the people who had come peacefully to the Palace to tell their miseries to the Tsar, the ruler had coldly given the order to shoot. Over a long period of time, peasants delegated by their villages went secretly to St. Petersburg with the mission of learning the truth.
Soon everyone knew the truth. It was only then that the "legend of the Tsar" disappeared. [i]
Another historical paradox! In 1881 some revolutionaries had assassinated the Tsar in order to kill the legend. It survived. Twenty-four years later it was the Tsar himself who killed it.
At St. Petersburg, the events of January 9 had the effect of enlarging the strike. It became a total general strike. On Monday, January 10, not a single factory or shipyard moved. A movement of muted revolt rumbled everywhere. The first great revolutionary strike of the Russian workers -- the strike of the St. Petersburg workers -- became an accomplished fact.
An important conclusion can be drawn from everything that precedes:
[i] Before the population could begin to understand the real nature of Tsarism, the totality of the situation and the real tasks of the struggle, they needed to live through a tangible and extensive historical experience. Neither propaganda nor the sacrifices of enthusiasts could have led to this result by themselves.

CHAPTER 2: The Birth of the \"Soviets\"

We now arrive at one of the most important aspects of the Russian Revolution: the origin and the initial activity of the "Soviets."
Another paradoxical fact: this is one of the least understood and most frequently distorted aspects of the Revolution.
In all that has been written to this day on the origin of the "Soviets" -- I do not only speak of foreign studies, but also of Russian documents -- there is a gap which the interested reader cannot fail to notice: no one has yet been able to determine precisely when, where or how the first workers' "Soviet" was formed.
Until today, almost all writers and historians, bourgeois as well as socialist ("Menshevik," "Bolshevik" or other) dated the origin of the first "Workers' Soviet" at the end of 1905, at the time of the October general strike, of the well known Tsarist manifesto of October 17 and the events which followed. 1 By reading the following pages the reader will understand the reason for this gap.
Some authors -- notably P. Miliukov in his memoirs-vaguely allude to a forerunner of the future "Soviets" at the beginning of 1905. But they fail to give any precise details. And when they try to give details, they are wrong. Thus Miliukov believes that he found the origin of the Soviets in the "Chidlovsky Commission." This was an official enterprise -- half governmental and half liberal -- which tried in vain to resolve certain social problems on the eve of January, 1905, with the collaboration of official delegates representing workers. According to Miliukov, one of the delegates, an intellectual by the name of Nossar, together with other delegates, formed a "Soviet" on the fringes of the Commission -- the first Workers' Soviet -- and Nossar became the moving spirit as well as president of this Soviet. This is vague. And more importantly, it is inaccurate. When Nossar appeared at the "Chidlovsky Commission," as we will show, he was already a member -- and also president -- of the first Workers' Soviet, which was formed before this "Commission" and had no connections with it. Similar errors have been made by other authors.
The Social-Democrats sometimes present themselves as the real instigators of the first Soviet.
The Bolsheviks often do their utmost to steal this honor from them.
All of them are wrong, being ignorant of the truth, which is very simple: not one party, not one permanent organization, not one "leader" gave birth to the idea of the first Soviet. The Soviet rose spontaneously, as the result of a collective agreement, in the context of a small, casual, and completely private gathering.1
The material the reader will find here has not been published before and constitutes one of the least expected chapters of the "Unknown Revolution." It is time to reconstitute the historical truth. This is made even more urgent by the fact that this truth is quite suggestive.
I hope the reader will excuse me for having to speak about myself. I was involuntarily involved in the birth of the first "Soviet of Workers' Delegates" which was formed in St. Petersburg, not at the end of 1905, but in January-February of that year.
Today I am probably the only person who can relate and date this historical episode, unless one of the workers who took part in the action at the time is still alive and able to tell the story.
I've wanted to narrate these facts on several previous occasions. Whenever I studied the newspapers -- Russian as well as foreign -- I always found the same gap: not one writer was able to tell exactly where, when and how the first workers' Soviet appeared in Russia. All that was known, all that has been known until today, is that this Soviet was born in St. Petersburg in 1905, and that its first president was a St. Petersburg legal clerk, Nossar, better known in the Soviet by the name of Khrustalev. But where and how did the idea of this Soviet originate? Why was it launched? In what circumstances was it adopted and put into practice? How and why did Nossar become the president? Where did he come from, what party did he belong to? Who were the people in the first Soviet? What function did it serve? All of these historically important questions remain unanswered.
We should emphasize that this gap is understandable. The birth of the first Soviet was a completely private event. It took place in a very intimate atmosphere, beyond the reach of all publicity, outside of any far-reaching campaign or action.
The reader can indirectly verify what I am saying. In the writings that treat this aspect of the Russian Revolution, the reader will find the name of Nossar-Khrustalev, mentioned almost incidentally. But he will also find something puzzling: no one ever says how or when this man appeared on the scene, why and in what circumstances he became president of the first Soviet. Socialist writers are visibly annoyed to have to speak of Nossar. They seem not to want to mention his name. Unable to be silent about this historical fact (which they would prefer), they mumble a few incomprehensible and imprecise words about Nossar and his role and then hasten to deal with the activity of the Soviets at the end of 1905, when Leon Trotsky became president of the St. Petersburg Soviet.
This discretion, this annoyance, and this haste can easily be understood. First of all, neither the historians nor the socialists (including Trotsky) nor the political parties in general have ever known anything about the real origin of the Soviets, and it is undoubtedly annoying to admit this. Secondly, even if the socialists learned the facts and wanted to take them into account, they would have to admit that they had absolutely nothing to do with this event and that all they did was to take advantage of it much later. This is why, whether or not they know the truth, they will try in every way possible to glide over this fact and to paint a picture favorable to themselves.
What has kept me from narrating these facts until now2 is above all a feeling of annoyance caused by the need to speak about myself. On the other hand, I have never had the occasion to write about the Soviets for the "general press," for which, furthermore, I don't write. As time passed I did not decide to end my silence about the origin of the Soviets, to fight against the errors and the legends, to unveil the truth.
However, one time, several years ago, disturbed by the pretentious allusions and lies in certain articles and journals, I| visited M. Melgunov, publisher of a Russian historical journal in Paris. I offered him, purely for the purpose of documentation, a detailed account of the birth of the first Workers' Soviet. My offer led to nothing: first of all because the publisher refused to accept, a priori, my condition that nothing be changed in my text; secondly because I learned that his journal was far from being an impartial historical publication.
Obliged to speak of the Soviets, I narrate the facts as they unfolded. And if the press -- historical or other -- is interested, it can find the truth here.
In 1904 I was engaged in cultural and educational work among St. Petersburg workers. I carried out my project alone, following my own method. I did not belong to any political party, although I was intuitively revolutionary. I was only 22 years old, and I had just left the University.
Towards the end of the year, I was instructing more than a hundred workers.
Among my students there was a young woman who, together with her husband, belonged to one of Gapon's Work-
11 should mention one exception I mentioned these tacts in a brief study of the Russian Revolution, published by Sebastien Faure in the Encyclopedic Anarchiste, under the word "Revolution." Afterwards Faure published a book with the title La veritable Revolution sociale, where he reprinted some of the studies that had appeared in the encyclopedia, including mine. But since the "general public" does not read libertarian literature. tnfj facts which were cited remained almost unknown. ers' Sections." Until then I had heard almost nothing about Gapon or his "sections." One evening, my student took me along to our neighborhood "section," eager to interest me in this work and in its founder. That evening Gapon himself was to attend the meeting.
At that time the real role of Gapon had not yet been determined. Progressive workers did not have complete confidence in his project -- because it was legal and emanated from the government -- but they had their own interpretation of it. The somewhat mysterious behavior of the priest seemed to confirm their interpretation. They believed that under the protective shield of legality, Gapon was actually preparing a vast revolutionary movement. (This is one of the reasons why many workers later refused to believe that the man had been a police agent. Once this role was definitely exposed, some of the workers who had been Gapon's intimate friends committed suicide.)
At the end of December, I met Gapon.
His personality fascinated me. On his part, he seemed-or wanted to seem -- interested in my educational work.
We agreed to see each other again and to talk at greater length, and for this purpose Gapon gave me his visiting card with his address.
A few days later the famous strike of the Putilov factory began. Soon after that, precisely on the evening of January 6, (1905) my student, filled with emotion, came to tell me that events were taking an extremely serious turn; that Gapon had set in motion an immense movement of the working masses of the capital; that he was visiting all the sections, haranguing the crowd and calling on them to gather on Sunday, January 9 in front of the Winter Palace to give a "petition" to the Tsar; that he had already written this petition and would read it and comment on it in our Section the following evening, January 7.
The news seemed highly unlikely to me. I decided to attend the Section the following evening,-wanting to evaluate the situation on my own.
The following day I went to the Section. A large crowd gathered, filling the room and the street, in spite of the intense cold. The people were serious and silent. In addition to the workers, there were people from various walks of life: intellectuals, students, soldiers, police agents, small neighborhood merchants. There were also many women. There were no guards ("service d'ordre").
1 went into the room. People were waiting for "Father" Gapon to come any minute.
It was not long before he came. He quickly made his way to the platform, through a compact mass of people, all standing and pressed tightly against each other. There might have been a thousand people in the room.
The silence was impressive. Suddenly, without even taking off his enormous fur coat which he only unbuttoned, making his cassock and his priest's silver cross visible, removing his large winter hat with a brusque and determined gesture, and letting his long hair fall, Gapon read and explained the petition to this large crowd who, from the first words, listened attentively and trembled.
In spite of his extremely hoarse voice -- he had been wearing himself out without pause for several days -- his slow speech, almost solemn but at the same time warm and visibly sincere, went right to the heart of all these people who responded deliriously to all his pleadings and appeals.
The impression he made was unforgettable. One felt that something immense and decisive was going to happen. 1 remember that I trembled with extraordinary emotion during the entire harangue.
When he had barely finished, Gapon stepped down from the platform and left in a hurry, surrounded by a few loyal followers, inviting the crowd outside to listen while the petition was read again by one of his collaborators.
Separated from him by all these people, seeing that he was in a hurry, absorbed and worn out by a superhuman effort and also surrounded by friends, I did not try to approach him. Furthermore, this would have been pointless. I had understood that what my student had told me was true: an enormous movement of the masses, a movement of exceptional importance, was being launched.
I went to the Section once again on the following evening, January 8. I wanted to see what was happening. And mainly I wanted to come into contact with the masses, to take part in their action, to give shape to my own conduct. Several of my students accompanied me.
What I found at the Section told me what I had to do.
First of all, I once again saw a crowd gathered in the street. I was told that inside a member of the Section was reading the "petition." I waited.
A few minutes later the door opened briskly. About a thousand people left the room. Another thousand rushed in. I went in with them.
As soon as the door was closed, a Gaponist worker sitting on the platform began to read the petition.
Alas! It was abominable. With a weak and monotonous voice, completely spiritless, without giving the slightest explanation or conclusion, the man mumbled the text in front of an attentive and anxious crowd. He finished his boring lecture in ten minutes. Then the room was emptied to receive another thousand people.
I had a brief consultation with my friends. We decided. I rushed toward the stage. Until that day I had never spoken in front of the masses. But I did not hesitate. It was absolutely necessary to change the manner of informing and educating the people.
I went up to the worker who was getting ready to do his duty once again. "You must really be tired," I told him. "Let me replace you ..." He looked at me with surprise; he was disconcerted. It was the first time he had seen me. "Don't be afraid," I continued. "I'm Gapon's friend. Here's proof." And I showed him Gapon's visiting card. My friends supported my offer.
The man finally gave in. He got up, gave me the petition, and left the platform.
I began reading immediately, then continued by interpreting the document, emphasizing particularly the essential passages, the protests and demands, being particularly insistent about the certainty that the Tsar would refuse.
I read the petition several times, until very late into the night. I slept at the Section together with some friends, on top of tables pushed against each other.
The following morning-the famous January 9 -- 1 had to read the petition one or two more times. Then we went out to the street. An enormous crowd waited for us there, ready to start out at the first sign. At 9 o'clock my friends and 1 lined up, arm in arm, in the first three rows, and, inviting the crowd to follow us, we set out toward the Palace. The crowd stirred and followed us in tight rows.
We obviously didn't reach either the square or the palace. Forced to cross the Neva, we ran into a wall of troops at the approaches to the so-called "Troisky" bridge. After a few ineffective warnings, the troops started to shoot. The second round was particularly murderous; the crowd stopped and dispersed, leaving about thirty dead and twice as many injured. It should be mentioned that many soldiers fired into the air; a number of windows in the upper stories of the houses facing the troops were shattered by the bullets.
A few days passed. The strike remained almost complete in St. Petersburg.
It should be emphasized that this enormous strike had broken out spontaneously. It was not launched by any political party, by any union apparatus (at that time there were none in Russia), or by any strike committee. On their own initiative and with a completely free impetus, the working masses left factories and yards. The political parties were not even able to take advantage of the movement by taking it over, as is their habit. They were completely bypassed.
Nevertheless, the workers soon confronted the question:
What to do now?
Poverty knocked on the door of the strikers. It had to be confronted without delay. On the other hand, workers everywhere asked how they should and could continue the struggle. The "Sections," deprived of their leader, found themselves crippled and nearly powerless. The political parties gave no sign of life. Nevertheless an organ which would coordinate and lead the action was urgently needed.
I don't know how this problem was posed and solved in other parts of the capital. Perhaps some of the "Sections,' were able to provide at least material aid to the strikers in their regions. As for the quarter where I lived, events took a specific turn. And as the reader will see, they later led to a generalized action.
Meetings of about forty workers of my neighborhood took place in my house every day. The police left us alone for the time being. After the recent events the police maintained a mysterious neutrality. We took advantage of this neutrality. We looked for ways to act. We were on the verge of making some decisions. My students and I decided to put an end to our study group and individually join the political parties so as to be active. All of us considered the events to be the beginning of a revolution.
One evening, about eight days after January 9, someone knocked at the door of my room. I was alone. A young man came in: tall, with an open and sympathetic manner.
"You're so-and-so?" he asked. When I nodded, he continued:
"I've been looking for you for a long time. Finally yesterday I learned your address. I'm George Nossar, a legal clerk. I'll get to the reason for my visit. On January 8 I listened to your reading of the petition. I could see that you had many friends, many relations with workers' circles. And it seems that you don't belong to any political party."
"That's right."
"Well, I don't belong to a political party either; I don't trust them. But personally I'm a revolutionary, and I sympathize with the workers' movement. But I don't have any acquaintances among workers. On the other hand I have extensive contacts with circles of bourgeois liberals who oppose the regime. So I have an idea. I know that thousands of workers, their wives and children are suffering terribly because of the strike. On the other hand, I know some rich businessmen who would like nothing better than to help these miserable people. In short, I could collect fairly large sums for the strikers. But the problem is how to distribute them in an organized, fair and useful manner. I thought of you. Could you and some of the workers you know take charge of receiving the sums I can bring, and could you distribute them among the strikers and the families of the victims of January 9?"
I accepted right away. Among my friends there was a worker who had access to his boss's cart, which he could use to visit workers and distribute relief.
I got together with my friends the following evening. Nossar was there. He had already brought several thousand roubles. Our action began right away.
After a while our days were completely taken up by this task. In the evening I accepted the necessary funds from Nos-sar, and prepared my schedule of visits. And the following morning, helped by my friends, I distributed the money to strikers. Nossar thus got acquainted with the workers who came to see me.
But the strike was ending. Every day some workers returned to work. At the same time, the funds were running out.
Then the serious question came up again: What to do? How to continue the action? And what form could it take now?
The prospect of separating for good, without trying to continue a common activity, seemed painful and senseless. The decision we had taken to individually join the party of our choice no longer satisfied us. We wanted something else.
Nossar regularly took part in our discussion.
One evening when there were several workers at my house, as usual -- Nossar was there too -- we had the idea of forming a permanent workers' organization: something like a committee, or a council, which would keep track of the sequence of events, would serve as a link amongall the workers, would inform them about the situation and could, if necessary, be a rallying point for revolutionary workers.
I don't remember exactly how this idea came to us. But I think I remember that it was the workers themselves who suggested it.
The word Soviet which, in Russian, means precisely council, was pronounced for the first time with this specific meaning.
In short, this first council represented something like a permanent social assembly of workers.
The idea was adopted. Then and there it was decided how the "Soviet" was to be organized and how it was to function.
The project grew rapidly.
The decision was made to tell workers in all large factories about the new creation and to proceed, still informally, to the election of officers of the organization which was named, for the first time, a council (Soviet) of Workers' Delegates.
Yet another question was asked: Who would direct the work of the Soviet? Who would head it and guide it?
The workers who were there unhesitatingly offered me this post.
Moved by the trust the workers expressed in me, I nevertheless turned down their offer. I told my friends: "You're workers. You want to create an organism that will deal with your interests as workers. Learn, then, from the very beginning, to deal with your problems yourselves. Don't commit your destiny to someone who is not one of you. Don't set new masters over yourselves; they'll end up by dominating and betraying you. I am convinced that in everything that has to do with your struggles and your liberation, only you yourselves will ever be able to reach real results. For you, above you, in place of you yourselves, no one will ever do anything. You should find your president, your secretary and the members of your administrative commission from among yourselves. If you need information or clarification on certain specific questions, in short if you need intellectual or moral advice which presupposes a certain amount of education, then you can turn to intellectuals, to educated people who should be happy, not to lead you as masters, but to give you their help without interfering in your organizations. They're obliged to give you this help because it's not your fault that you've been deprived of the necessary education. These intellectual friends could even attend your meetings -- but only as consultants."
I added another objection: "How could I be a member of your organization, not being a worker? In what way could I get in?"
In answer to this last question, I was told that nothing was easier. A worker's card would be found for me, and I would take part in the organization under another name.
I protested vigorously against such a procedure. I considered it not only unworthy of me and of the workers, but also dangerous and ill-fated. "In a workers' movement everything should be straightforward, honest, sincere."
But in spite of my suggestions, my friends did not feel strong enough to do without a "guide." So they offered the crat Trotsky, future Bolshevik Commissar, entered the Soviet and had himself nominated secretary. Afterwards, when Khrustalev-Nossar was arrested, Trotsky became president.
The example given by the workers of the capital in January, 1905, was followed by workers of several other cities. Workers' Soviets were formed here and there. Nevertheless, at that time their existence was temporary: they were quickly spotted and suppressed by local authorities.
On the other hand, as we have seen, the St. Petersburg Soviet continued to function over a long period. The central government, discredited after the events of January 9, and particularly after the major setbacks it underwent in its war against Japan, did not dare to touch it. For the time being it limited itself to the arrest of Nossar.
Furthermore, the January strike had come to an end because of its own lack of momentum. In the absence of a more extensive movement, the activity of the first Soviet was soon reduced to insignificant tasks.
The St. Petersburg Soviet was finally suppressed at the end of 1905. The Tsarist government got back on its feet, "liquidated" the last vestiges of the revolutionary movement of 1905, arrested Trotsky as well as hundreds of revolutionaries, and destroyed all the political organizations of the left.
The Soviet of St. Petersburg (which became Petrograd) reappeared at the time of the decisive revolution of February-March, 1917, when Soviets were formed in all the cities and major regions of the country.

NoteLenin, in his Works, and Bukharin, in his ABC of Communism, are perfectly right when they mention in passing that the "Soviets" were spontaneously formed by workers in 1905, but they fail to give details, and they give the impression that these workers were Bolsheviks, or at least "sympathizers."

CHAPTER 3: The Disastrous War; Victory of a Revolutionary Strike

The waves raised by the events of January 1905 were not to be calmed right away. This time the entire country had been jolted.
From Spring, 1905 on, the general situation of the Tsarist regime became increasingly untenable. The main reason was the bitter defeat experienced by Tsarist Russia in its war against Japan.
This war, which began in February, 1904, accompanied by a great deal of arrogance and carried out largely with the aim of stimulating nationalistic, patriotic, and monarchist feelings, was hopelessly lost. The Russian army and fleet were totally defeated.
Public opinion openly blamed the incompetence of the authorities and the degeneration of the regime for the failure. Not only masses of workers, but other strata as well, were rapidly seized by a growing anger and spirit of revolt. The effect of the defeats -- which followed one another in rapid succession -- was overwhelming. People could no longer contain their feelings: indignation knew no limits, and agitation became widespread.
The government, aware of its defeat, was silent.
Taking advantage of the situation, liberal and revolutionary circles began a violent campaign against the regime. Without asking for authorization, people practiced freedom of speech and of the press. It was a veritable conquest of "political freedoms." Journals of all tendencies, even revolutionary ones, appeared and were freely sold, without censorship or control. The government and the entire system were vigorously criticized.
Even timid liberals turned to action: they founded numerous professional unions: the "Union of Unions" (a type of Central Committee directing the activity of all the unions), the secret "Union of Liberation" (a political organization). They also rushed to formally organize a political party called the "Constitutional-Democratic Party." The government was constrained to tolerate all this, as it had already tolerated the January strike and the meetings of the Soviet.
Political assassinations followed each other at an accelerating rate.
Violent demonstrations, even serious uprisings, broke out in various cities. In some places people set up barricades.
In various provinces peasants rebelled, unleashing actual "jacqueries" (peasant revolts), burning castles, appropriating the land, chasing out or even assassinating the landowners. A Union of Peasants with a socialist program was formed. The enemies of the regime were becoming too numerous and too audacious. And, above all, they were right.
The military defeat of the government and its distressing "moral" situation do not explain everything. But they do explain the fact that it lacked the most important means for opposing the movement: money. Negotiations taking place abroad, mainly in France, for the purpose of securing a loan, dragged on endlessly because of lack of confidence in the Tsarist regime.
During the summer of 1905 serious troubles developed in the army and the navy. The well known revolt and epic of the battleship Prince Potemkin, one of the major units of the navy in the Black Sea, was the outstanding episode. The last rampart of falling regimes -- the armed forces -- began to break.
This time the entire country began to turn more and more resolutely against Tsarism.
In August 1905, giving way to various pressures, the emperor finally decided to recognize, post factum -- and, needless to say, hypocritically -- certain "freedoms." He also promised to convene a representative National Assembly ("Duma") with very restricted rights and on the basis of extremely narrow electoral procedures. Bulygin, Minister of the Interior, was charged with preparing and carrying out this election. But this highly timid step, belated and manifestly hypocritical, satisfied no one. Agitation and rebellion continued and this "Duma," called "Bulygin's Duma," was never formed. Bulygin was forced to "resign" (at the end of August), and was replaced by Witte, who had succeeded in convincing Nicholas II to accept more meaningful concessions.
Meanwhile, the inactivity and avowed impotence of the government encouraged the forces of opposition and the Revolution. From the beginning of October, people spoke of a general strike encompassing the entire country as the prelude to the final revolution.
This strike, which encompassed the entire country -- an immense strike, unique in modern history -- took place in mid-October. It was less spontaneous than the January strike. Long anticipated, prepared ahead of time, it was organized by the Soviet, the "Union of Unions," and mainly by numerous strike committees. Factories, yards, workshops, warehouses, banks, administrative offices, railroads and all other means of transportation, post offices and telegraph stations -- everything, absolutely everything, stopped completely. The life of the country was suspended.
The government lost its footing and gave in. On October 17 (1905) the Tsar issued a manifesto-the well-known "Manifesto of October 17" -- where he declared that he had solemnly decided to bestow on his "dear and faithful subjects" all political freedoms and to convene, as soon as possible, a type of representative council: the "State Duma." (The term Duma was borrowed from an earlier century when a Council of State or Chamber of Nobles [Boyars] was known as a Dumaboyarskaya: an institution called on to help the Tsar carry out his functions. Later, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the term Zemskaya Duma was used for assemblies of representatives from different classes, assemblies comparable to the Etats Generaux of the ancient French monarchy. Finally, in the period we're dealing with, "Gorodskaya Duma" meant "City Council," "gorod" meaning "city." The word "duma" means "thought.") According to the Manifesto, this Duma was being summoned to help the government.
It was, in short, a nebulous promise of a vague constitutional regime. Some circles took it seriously. An "Octobrist" Party appeared almost right away, and declared that it would accept, apply and defend the reforms announced by the Manifesto.
In actual fact, this act of the Tsar's government had two aims which had nothing to do with a "constitution":
1. To produce an effect abroad; to give the impression that the Revolution was over, that the government had regained mastery over the situation, and thus to influence public opinion, particularly the opinion of French financial circles, so as to revive the loan negotiations;
2. To deceive the masses, calm them, and bar the path toward Revolution.
These two goals were realized. The strike ended, the revolutionary elan was broken. The impression created abroad was completely favorable. It was seen that, in spite of everything, the government of the Tsar was still strong enough to quell the revolution. The loan was granted.
It should be obvious that the revolutionary parties were not duped by the venture. They saw the Manifesto as a simple political maneuver and immediately began to explain it to the working masses. The workers, moreover, were more than a little suspicious. They had ended the strike, to be sure, as if they had obtained satisfaction, as if they had confidence. But the fact that the strike ended was simply a sign that the Revolution lacked impetus and could not yet go further. There was no expression of real satisfaction. The population did not hasten to use its "new rights," being intuitively aware of their fraudulent character. This was quickly proved. In some cities, peaceful public demonstrations organized to celebrate "the victory" and the "new regime" promised by the Tsar were dispersed by the police and followed by Jewish pogroms -- while the walls announced the Tsar's "Manifesto."

CHAPTER 4: Defeat of the Revolution; Evaluation of the Jolt

Toward the end of 1905, the French bourgeoisie decided in favor of the loan, and high finance granted it. This "blood transfusion" saved the moribund Tsarist regime.
In addition, the government succeeded in ending the war with a peace treaty which was not overly humiliating.
From that point on, reaction took up where it had left off. Dangling a beautiful future before the eyes of the people, it fought and encircled the revolution.
The Revolution would in any case have died on its own. The October strike was its supreme effort and its highest point. What it needed now was to take a "breath," to "pause." Furthermore, it could count on rebounding later on, perhaps under the stimulus given to it by a left-wing Duma.
In the meantime, the freedoms which had been taken by the people and then promised post factum by the Tsar in his Manifesto, were thoroughly suppressed. The government again made the revolutionary press illegal, re-established censorship, proceeded to make mass arrests, liquidated all workers' or revolutionary organizations within its reach, suppressed the Soviet, jailed Nossar and Trotsky, and dispatched troops for the purpose of purging regions where major uprisings had taken place and to inflict exemplary punishments. The military and the police were reinforced throughout.
But one thing remained which the government did not dare to touch: the Duma, which was about to convene.
Nevertheless, the Revolution made two more jumps, in response to the intractability of the reaction.
The first was a new revolt in the Black Sea fleet, under the leadership of Lieutenant Schmidt. The sedition was repressed and Schmidt was shot by a firing squad.
The second episode was an armed insurrection of Moscow workers in December, 1905. It held out against the government's forces for several days.
To put an end to it, the government brought in troops from St. Petersburg and even called in artillery units.
While this insurrection was taking place, attempts were made to provoke a new general strike throughout the country. If this strike had taken place the insurrection could have been victorious. But this time, even though the preliminary organization was similar to that of October, the necessary impetus was missing. The strike was not general. The postal service functioned, as well as the railways. The government was able to transport its troops and retained control over the situation everywhere. There was no doubt that the Revolution was out of breath.
Thus at the end of 1905 the tempest "died down without having overthrown the obstacle.
But it did carry out an important, indispensable task' it swept and prepared the terrain. It left permanent marks in the life of the country and in the mentality of the population. We can now examine the final "balance-sheet" of the jolt. What do we find on the "credit side?" Concretely there was, first of all, the Duma. For the time being, the government was obliged to elaborate, for the Duma, an electoral law which was sufficiently broad to prevent excessively bitter or rapid disappointments It did not yet feel completely secure; it, too, had to 'breathe," to have a "pause."
The entire population expected a great deal from the Duma. The elections, set for the spring of 1906, called forth a feverish activity throughout the country. All the political parties took part in it.
The situation created by this state of affairs was paradoxical enough. While the parties of the left now spread their electoral propaganda openly and legally (the government could intervene only by making new regulations and by setting cunning traps), the prisons were crowded with members of the same parties, arrested at the time of the liquidation of the movement; speech and the press remained muzzled; workers' organizations were still prohibited.
This is only superficially a paradox. It can easily be explained. This explanation will also help us understand how the government foresaw the functioning of the Duma.
In spite of the fact that it had to grant its subjects a certain amount of freedom because of the elections, the government obviously did not interpret the Duma as an institution summoned to turn against absolutism. In the government's view, the Duma was to be no more than an auxiliary organ, purely consultative and subordinate, good for helping the authorities in some of their tasks. Although it was obliged to tolerate a certain amount of electoral agitation by the left-wing parties, the government had decided earlier that it would only allow a certain amount and that it would react against any attempt by the parties, the voters or the Duma itself to take a defiant attitude. Since in the government's view the Duma had nothing to do with the Revolution, the government was perfectly logical when it kept the revolutionaries in prison.
Another concrete fact, completely new in Russian life, was precisely the formation and the legality-even if only up to a certain point-of different political parties.
Until the events of 1905, there were in Russia only two political parties, both clandestine and more revolutionary than literally "political." These were the Social-Democratic Party and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.
The Manifesto of October 17, the few freedoms which followed it with a view to the electoral campaign, and, above all, the campaign itself, suddenly gave rise to a whole brood of legal and semi-legal parties.
Inveterate monarchists created the "Union of Russian People": an ultra-reactionary and "pogromist" party whose "program" called for the suppression of all the "favors promised under the pressure of criminal uprisings," including the Duma; and the total elimination of the last traces of the events of 1905.
Less fiercely reactionary elements: the majority of higher functionaries, large industrialists, bankers, nobles, businessmen, landowners, gathered around the "Octobrist Party' (called the "Union of October 17") which we have already mentioned.
The political weight of these two right wing parties was insignificant. They were the butt of jokes.
The majority of the rich and the middle classes, as well as intellectuals "of distinction," installed themselves in a large political party of the center, whose right wing was close to the "Octobrists," and whose left wing went so far as to express republican leanings. The program of the majority of the party called for a constitutional system putting an end to absolutism: the monarch would be retained, but his power would be seriously restricted. The party took the name "Constitutional Democratic Party" (abbreviated "Ca-Det Party.") It was also called the "People's Freedom Party." Its leaders were recruited mainly from among municipal big wigs, lawyers, doctors, people who practiced liberal professions, academics. Very influential and well placed, with access to considerable funds, this party engaged in extensive and energetic activity from the moment of its creation.
At the extreme left there were: the "Social-Democratic Party" (whose electoral activity, as we've already mentioned, was more or less open and legal, in spite of its bluntly republican program and its revolutionary tactics) and, finally, the "Socialist-Revolutionary Party" (except for its treatment of the agrarian problem, its program and tactics did not differ from those of the Social-Democratic Party) who, at the time of the Duma, and in order to be able to move freely, carried on electoral campaigns and presented candidates under the name of "Labor Party" (which subsequently became a separate party). It goes without saying that the last two parties represented mainly the masses of workers and peasants as well as the vast stratum of intellectual workers.
At this point we should furnish some details about the programs and ideologies of these parties.
Except for the political question, the most important point of the programs of all the parties was undoubtedly the agrarian problem. It urgently demanded an effective solution. The fact is that the peasant population had grown so rapidly that the plots of land granted to the emancipated peasants in 1861, inadequate already then, had been reduced, during a quarter of a century, as a result of continual division, to plots of famine. "We don't even know where to let a chicken run any more," the peasants said. The immense population of the countryside waited with increasing impatience for a fair and effective solution to this problem. All the parties were aware of its importance.
For the time being, three solutions were presented, namely:
1. The Constitutional Democratic Party proposed an enlargement of the plots by a transfer of some of the lands of large private owners and of the State to the peasants; the peasants were to pay gradually for the transferred land, with State aid, on terms set by an official and "fair" evaluation.
2. The Social-Democratic Party proposed a transfer pure and simple, without payment, of the land needed by the peasants. The land would constitute a national fund and could be distributed according to needs ("nationalization" or "municipalization" of the land).
3. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party presented the most radical solution: immediate and complete confiscation of all land in the hands of private owners; immediate suppression of all landed property (private or state); placement of all the land at the disposal of peasant collectives, under the control of the State ("socialization" of the land).
Before doing anything else, the Duma had to deal with this urgent and complicated problem.
We would like to deal briefly with the general ideology of the two parties of the extreme left in this period (the Social-Democrats and the Socialist Revolutionaries).
Already around 1900 a major divergence of views manifested itself at the heart of the Russian Social-Democratic Party. Some of its members, clutching its "minimum program," held that the coming Russian revolution would be a bourgeois revolution, relatively moderate in its results. These socialists did not believe it possible to jump, in one leap, from a "feudal" monarchy to a socialist regime. A bourgeois democratic republic, paving the way for rapid capitalist development which would lay the foundations for a future socialism -- this was their basic idea. A "social revolution" in Russia, was, in their opinion, impossible for the time being-
Many members of the party, however, had a different opinion. In their view, the next Revolution already had every chance of becoming a "Social Revolution," with all logical consequences. These socialists dropped the "minimum program" and prepared themselves for the conquest of power by the party and for the immediate and decisive struggle against capitalism.
The leaders of the first current were: Plekhanov, Martov, and others. The great creator of the second was Lenin.
The final split between these two camps took place in 1903, at the London Congress. The Social-Democrats with Leninist leanings had a majority. "Majority," in Russian, is "Bolshinstvo," and the partisans of this tendency were called bolsheviki (in English one would say "majoritarians"). Since "minority" is "menshinstvo," the others were called "men-sheviki" (in English, "minoritarians"). As for the two tendencies themselves, the first acquired the name of Bolshevism (tendency of the majority), the other the name of Menshevism (tendency of the minority).
After their victory in 1917, the "Bolsheviks" called themselves the "Communist Party," whereas the "Mensheviks" alone retained the title "Social-Democratic Party." The Communist Party in power declared "Menshevism" counter-revolutionary and wiped it out.
As for the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, it also split into two distinct parties: a party of Socialist-Revolutionaries "of the right" who, like the "Mensheviks," insisted on the need to pass through a bourgeois democratic republic, and a party of Socialist-Revolutionaries "of the left" who claimed, like the Bolsheviks, that the Revolution should be pushed as far as possible, ultimately to the immediate suppression of the capitalist regime and the establishment of socialism (a type of social Republic).
(In 1917 the Bolsheviks in power wiped out the right-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries as counter-revolutionaries. As for the left-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Bolshevik government at first collaborated with them. Later, when major disagreements arose between the two parties, the Bolsheviks broke with their former allies. Finally they outlawed and annihilated them.)
At the time of the 1905 revolution, the practical influence of these two dissident currents (Bolshevism and left-wing Revolutionary Socialism) was insignificant.
To complete our presentation of the diverse currents of ideas that made their appearance at the time of this revolution, we should point out that the Socialist-Revolutionary Party gave birth to a third tendency which, detaching itself from the Party, called for the suppression, during the revolution, not only of the bourgeois State, but of the State in general (as a political institution). This current of ideas was known in Russia by the name of Maximalism, because its partisans, having rejected the minimum program, broke with the left-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries and proclaimed the necessity of struggling immediately for the complete realization of the maximum program, namely for complete socialism, built on an apolitical foundation.
Thus the "Maximalists" did not form a political party. They created the "Union of Socialist Revolutionary Maximalists." This "union" published some pamphlets communicating its viewpoint. It also published a few periodicals, but these did not last long. It did not have many members, and its influence was negligible. It carried out mainly terrorist activities. But it did take part in all the revolutionary struggles, and many of its members died as real heroes.
By the totality of their ideas, the Maximalists were very close to anarchism. Maximalism did not in fact blindly follow the "Marxists;" it denied the usefulness of political parties; it vigorously criticized the State and political authority. Nevertheless, it did not dare to renounce political authority immediately and totally. It did not consider it possible to pass directly to a completely "anarchist" society. (Thus it made a distinction between "complete socialism" and anarchism.) For the intervening period it offered a "Workers' Republic" where elements of the State and of authority would be "reduced to a minimum" which, according to Maximalism, would assure their rapid extinction. This "provisional' retention of the State and of authority separated Maximalism from anarchism.
(Like all the currents of ideas which disagreed with Bolshevism, Maximalism was crushed by the Bolsheviks at the time of the 1917 revolution.)
As for anarchist and syndicalist conceptions (we will examine these thoroughly at a later point in our study), in this period they were nearly unknown in Russia.
Outside of Russia many people believe that, since Bakunin and Kropotkin -- these "fathers" of anarchism -- were Russian, then Russia must for a long time have been a country with anarchist ideas and movements. This is a serious misconception. Both Bakunin (1814-1876) and Kropotkin (1842-1921) had become anarchists abroad. Neither of them had ever agitated in Russia as an anarchist. Their works had also appeared only abroad until the 1917 revolution, often in a foreign language. Only a few excerpts from their works, translated, adapted or published especially for Russia, were imported clandestinely to Russia, with great risk and in very small quantities. Furthermore, the distribution of these few publications in the interior of the country was nearly impossible. Finally, the entire social, socialist and revolutionary education of Russians had absolutely nothing anarchist about it, and but for a few exceptions, no one was interested in anarchist ideas.
Syndicalism was altogether unknown (a few erudite intellectuals excepted), since no workers' movement existed in Russia before the 1917 revolution. It can even be assumed that the Russian form of workers' organization, the "Soviet," was hurriedly discovered in 1905 and taken up again in 1917 precisely because of the absence of a syndicalist conception and movement. There is no doubt that if a union apparatus had existed, it would have led the workers' movement.
We have already mentioned that some small anarchist groups existed in St. Petersburg, in Moscow, in the West and the South. That was all. The Moscow anarchists did take an active part in the events of 1905 and attracted attention during the armed insurrection in December.
(After 1917 the Bolsheviks crushed the anarchist movement as they crushed all other movements that did not agree with theirs. But they did not crush it with ease. The struggle between Bolshevism and Anarchism during the course of the 1917 revolution -- a tough, bitter struggle which is nevertheless almost completely unknown abroad, a struggle which lasted more than three years and in which the "Makhnovist" movement was the outstanding episode -- will be described in the last part of this work.)
Let us turn to the moral consequences, the psychological effects, of 1905. Their importance for the future was far greater than that of the few immediate concrete achievements.
First of all, as we've already pointed out, the "legend of the Tsar" disappeared. The vast masses became aware of the real nature of the regime and of the urgency of doing away with it. Absolutism and Tsarism were morally dethroned.
This is not all. The popular masses at last joined forces with all those who had for so long opposed this regime: the avant-garde intellectual circles, the left wing political parties, and revolutionaries in general. Solid and extensive contact was thus established between the progressive circles and the mass of the population. From now on this contact was going to spread, to deepen, to tighten. The "Russian paradox" had died.
Thus two capital achievements had been realized. On the one hand, there existed a material element on which an eventual revolution could "lean": this was the Duma. On the other hand, the moral obstacle which had barred the way to all extensive revolt, had broken down: the masses finally understood the malady and at last joined those in the front lines of the liberation struggle.
The ground was prepared for the next decisive revolution. This was on the "credit" side of the jolt of 1905.
Alas! The "liabilities" were just as heavy with consequences.
Unfortunately, the 1905 movement was not able to create a working class organization: neither a syndicalist organization or even a trade union. The right to organize was not won by the working masses. They remained without contact or organization.
The psychological consequence of this state of affairs was that it predisposed the working masses to become, in the next revolution, the unconscious prize of political parties, of their baneful rivalries, of their abominable struggle for power in which the workers had nothing to gain, or rather, had everything to lose.
Thus the absence, on the eve of the Revolution, of a workers' movement and a real workers' organization opened all doors to the predominance -- what am I saying? -- the future domination of one or another political party, at the expense of the real action and the real cause of the workers.
The reader will in fact see later that the enormous weight of this "liability" was going to be fatal for the revolution of 1917: in the end it was going to crush the revolution.
We should still say something about the personal fate of Nossar-Khrustalev, first president of the first Workers' Soviet of St. Petersburg.
Arrested during the "liquidation" of the movement (at the end of 1905), Nossar was tried, convicted, and exiled to Siberia. He escaped and sought refuge abroad. But like Gapon, he was not able to adapt to a new life, and even less able to undertake regular work. He did not, to be sure, lead a life of debauchery; and he did not commit any act of treason. But he dragged out his life abroad in disorder, poverty and unhappiness.
This went on until the 1917 revolution. As soon as it broke out, he, like so many others, rushed back to his country and took part in revolutionary struggles. He did not, however, play an important role.
We do not know what happened to him after that. According to a source that we consider to be above suspicion, he ultimately turned against the Bolsheviks and was shot by them.

CHAPTER 5: The \"Pause\" (1905-1917)

The twelve years -- exactly -- which separate the real revolution from its first attempt, the "explosion" from the "jolt," did not add anything salient from a revolutionary point of view. On the contrary, reaction flourished all along the line. We should nevertheless take note of some major strikes and of a rebellion in the Baltic Fleet at Kronstadt which was savagely repressed.
The fate of the Duma was the outstanding event of this period.
The Duma began its sessions in May, 1906, in St. Petersburg. Immense popular enthusiasm accompanied these first sessions. In spite of all of the government's machinations, the Duma came out against the government. The Constitutional Democratic Party dominated it by the number of its members and the quality of its representatives. S. Muromtsev, professor at Moscow University and one of the party's most distinguished members, was elected president of the Assembly. Left-wing deputies -- Social-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries ("Laborites") -- also formed an imposing bloc. The entire population followed the deliberations of the Duma with passionate interest. All hopes turned toward the Duma. People expected at least significant, effective and just reforms.
But from the very first contact, hostility-silent at first, but growing increasingly overt -- developed between the "Parliament" and the government. The government treated the Duma patronizingly, with undisguised contempt. It hardly tolerated the Duma. It refused to accept the Duma, even as a purely consultative body. On the other hand, the Duma itself tried to impose itself as a legislative, constitutional body. Relations between them grew increasingly strained.
The people obviously sided with the Duma. The government's position became unfavorable, ridiculous, and even dangerous. Nevertheless it did not have to fear an imminent revolution. The government knew this. Furthermore, it could count on the army and the police. So the government undertook a decisive measure. The new energetic minister, Stoly-pin, was put in charge. He used a projected "Appeal to the People," prepared by the Duma and having to do mainly with the agrarian project, as his pretext.
One morning the "deputies" found the doors of the Duma closed and guarded by troops. Army and police paraded in the streets. The Duma-known as the "First Duma"-was dissolved. An official decree announced and "explained" this action to the population. This happened in the summer of 1906.
Except for a long series of assassinations and a few isolated revolts, the most important being those of Sveaborg and Kronstadt (the second in a short period of time, the first having taken place in October, 1905), the country remained calm.
The deputies themselves did not dare to resist effectively. This fact can easily be explained. Resisting would mean turning to revolutionary action. But everywhere it was felt that, for the present, the revolution was powerless. (Furthermore, if this had not been the situation the government would not have dared to dissolve the Duma, particularly in this insolent manner. The government felt genuinely powerful and, at least for the time being, it was not mistaken.) The bourgeoisie was far too weak to dream of a revolution favorable to its interests. As for the working masses and their parties, at this point they did not feel ready to undertake a revolution.
Consequently the deputies submitted to the dissolution. The decree, furthermore, did not suppress the Duma, but announced new elections in the near future, based on somewhat modified rules. The "representatives of the people" limited themselves to launching a note of protest against this arbitrary act. To prepare this note in complete freedom, the ex-deputies -- mainly the members of the Constitutional Democratic Party-met in Finland (where they were protected by a certain independence of legislation in this part of the Russian empire), in the city of Vyborg, which is why the note was baptized the "Vyborg Appeal." Afterward they calmly returned home.
In spite of the innocuous character of their "revolt," they were nevertheless tried and convicted some time later by a special court and given light sentences. (They did, nevertheless, lose the right to be re-elected to the Duma.)
Only one deputy, a young peasant from the Department of Stavropol, the "Laborite" Onipko, did not resign. It was he who stimulated the uprising in Kronstadt. Seized on the spot, he was almost shot by a firing squad. Certain interventions and fears saved him. He was finally tried and sentenced to exile in Siberia. He succeeded in escaping and found refuge abroad. He returned to Russia in 1917. What happened to him later is unknown. According to some very reliable sources, he continued to struggle as a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party of the right, turned against the Bolsheviks and was shot by them.
Immediately after the dissolution of the "first Duma," the government revamped the electoral law, unscrupulously had recourse to other preventive measures and maneuvers, and summoned the "second Duma." Much more moderate in its gestures and significantly more mediocre than the first, this Duma was still "too revolutionary" for the government. It is true that, despite all the machinations, it still had numerous left-wing deputies. This Duma was in turn dissolved. This time the electoral law was significantly modified. Furthermore, the population soon lost all interest in the activity -or rather the inactivity -- of the Duma, except for rare moments when an exciting event or a stirring debate briefly attracted their attention.
The dissolution of the second Duma led to a third and finally a fourth Duma. This last Duma -- a completely docile instrument in the hands of the reactionary government-was able to drag out its bleak and sterile existence until the revolution of 1917.
As for reforms or useful laws, the Duma accomplished nothing at all. But its presence was not completely useless. The critical speeches of some opposition deputies, the position of Tsarism in the face of the burning problems of the hour, the very impotence of the "Parliament" to deal with these problems so long as the absolutist regime remained intact, all these facts continued to enlighten the vast masses of the population about the real nature of the regime, about the role of the bourgeoisie, about the tasks to be accomplished, about the programs of the political parties. For the Russian population this period was, in short, a long and fertile "experimental lesson," the only one possible in the absence of other means of political and social education.
Two parallel processes were the main characteristics of the period in question: on one side, the accelerated and definitive degeneration -- "decay" would be a better word-of the absolutist regime; on the other, the rapid growth of the consciousness of the masses.
The unquestionable signs of the degeneration of Tsarism were known abroad. The attitude and life-style of the Imperial Court were typical of those which generally preceded the fall of monarchies. The incompetence and indifference of Nicholas II, the cretinism and corruption of his ministers and functionaries, the vulgar mysticism which took hold of the "monarch" and his family (the well known episode of the priest Rasputin)~this ensemble of elements was not a secret to anyone abroad.
What was not as well known were the profound changes taking place in the psychology of the popular masses. Nevertheless, the spiritual condition of a man of the people in 1912, for example, no longer had anything in common with the primitive outlook of the same man before 1905. Increasingly vast layers of the population were becoming straightforwardly anti-Tsarist. Only the savage reaction, which prohibited all organization of workers and all political or social propaganda, kept the masses from giving a final shape to their ideas.
Thus the absence of striking revolutionary events does not in any way mean that the revolutionary process had stopped. It continued with undiminished intensity, under the surface, especially in people's thoughts and feelings.
In the meantime, all the vital problems remained suspended. The country had reached an impasse. A violent and decisive revolution became inevitable. Only the impetus and the weapons were missing.
It was in these conditions that the war of 1914 broke out. This war gave the masses the necessary impetus as well as the indispensable weapons.

  • 1. Lenin, in his Works, and Bukharin, in his ABC of Communism, are perfectly right when they mention in passing that the "Soviets" were spontaneously formed by workers in 1905, but they fail to give details, and they give the impression that these workers were Bolsheviks, or at least "sympathizers."

Part III: The explosion (1917)

CHAPTER 1: War and Revolution

Like the governments of other countries, that of Tsar Nikolai II succeeded in arousing, at the beginning of the European war in 1914, the whole gamut of evil instincts, animal passions, and wicked sentiments such as nationalism and chauvinism.
In Russia, as in those other lands, millions of men were duped, hypnotised, disoriented, and compelled to rush to the battle front like a herd of cattle to a slaughter-house, while the real problems of the hour were forgotten. And the few early "successes" attained by the Tsarist troops further kindled "the great enthusiasm of the people".
Nevertheless a special note was blended in this artificial and directed concert, an idea deeply implanted in the spirit was hiding behind this "enthusiasm". Very well -- the Army and nearly all the civilians reasoned -- we will fight and win. But the Government would better not deceive itself. When the war is over, we will present our bill. In return for our devotion and sacrifices, we expect a complete change in the regime. We will regain our rights, our liberties. Things will be different after the war.
And the soldiers whispered: "When the war is over we will keep our guns, at all costs".
But soon enough the situation in Russia was altered. A series of defeats began, and with them the unrest, the disillusionment, the rage of the people returned.
The war cost dearly, frightfully, in money and especially in men. Millions of human lives were sacrificed, to no purpose and with no compensation. Once more the Romanov regime demonstrated its incompetence, its rottenness, its weakness. Moreover, certain defeats which cost hugely in victims were unexplained, mysterious, suspect. All over the country there was talk.-ntrt-pnly of flagrant incompetence, but of criminal negligence, venality/of the authorities, espionage in the supreme command, the German origin of the dynasty and of several leaders, and of high treason in the Imperial Court itself. Members of the royal family were almost openly accused of sympathy for the Germans, and even of having direct dealings with the enemy. With little secrecy, and with anger and hatred, the Tsarina was called "the Boche". Alarming and sinister rumours spread among the masses.
At first the Imperial Court was not much disturbed. Later several measures were taken -- tardily and awkwardly. Being purely formal, they were ineffective, satisfied no one, accomplished nothing.
In an attempt to restore the morale of the troops and the people, Nikolai II personally assumed supreme command of the fighting forces, at least nominally. He went to the front. But this gesture did not change anything in the general situation, which was getting worse each day, and against which the Tsar, absolutely incapable and inactive, was powerless. Everywhere there was disintegration,-both in the Army and in the country at large.
In despair, several plots were fomented in liberal circles and even in the immediate entourage of the Tsar. One design of the plotters was to make the ruler abdicate in favour of a more "up to date" and popular monarch, for instance the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Nikolai, "to save the war and the dynasty", the impending fall of which was expected by all concerned.
They began by wiping out the evil monk Rasputin. But the conspirators hesitated about what to do next, and delayed, not being able to reach an agreement among themselves.
Things were at this stage when, brutally, the explosion in February, 1917, occurred.
It was not so much the military developments, nor the rumours of treason in the Royal Court, nor even the incompetence and unpopularity of the Tsar that set off this sudden detonation.
What made the people desperate and brought on the crucial blow was the complete disorganization of economic life, and of existence itself, throughout the country. "The disorganization is such," Minister Krivochein admitted, speaking of the administration and all the services of the State, "that it is like a lunatic asylum." And it was in this field that the impotence of the Tsarist government and the disastrous results of its conduct compelled the masses to take decisive action.
All the warring nations were suffering great economic and financial difficulties at this stage of the European conflict, because of the necessity of feeding and supplying the other needs of the millions of men on the far-flung battle-fronts, and at the same time maintaining the normal life of those countries. Everywhere this double task caused tremendous strain. But everywhere else -- even in Germany, where the situation was especially difficult -- it was accomplished more or less successfully. Everywhere except in Russia, where nothing had been foreseen, nothing planned in advance, nothing organized. 1
It must be added that the terrible effects of this total disintegration of power and the State would have manifested themselves even sooner, had it not been for the efforts of certain living forces in the empire, such as the Union of the Cities, the War Industries Committee, and others. Arising spontaneously, these organizations were able to provide to a considerable degree for the more pressing needs of the Army and the civilian populace.
The energetic and beneficial activity of these forces, as well as that of the zemstvos (provincial councils), the municipalities, et cetera, -- an activity which, we mast emphasize, was carried on in opposition to the laws and resistance of the bureaucracy -- also had a highly important moral effect. Every day, alike in the Army and in the country at large, one could clearly perceive, not only the total incompetence of Tsarism, but also the existence of elements perfectly capable of replacing it, and furthermore, the disgraceful way in which the dying Romanov regime, fearing those elements, impeded their action, thus pushing the whole nation toward catastrophe.
Every day the Army and the Russian people saw with their own eyes that it was these free anions and committees which, on their own initiative and with sublime devotion, assured production, organized transport, supervised supplies, and guaranteed arrival and distribution of rations and munitions. And every day, too, the Army and the people saw the government oppose this indispensable activity and hold it back, with no concern for the interests of the country.
This final moral preparation of the Army and the populace for the downfall of Tsarism and its replacement by other elements was exceedingly important. It completed the pre-revolutionary process. It gave the last touch to the preparatory work.
In January, 1917, the situation had become untenable. The economic chaos, the poverty of the workers, and the social disorganization of Russia were so acute that the inhabitants of several targe cities -- notably Petrograd -- began to lack not only fuel, clothing, meat, butter, and sugar, but even bread.
February saw worse conditions. Despite the efforts of the Duma, the zemstvos (provincial councils), the municipalities, the unions, and the committees, not only was the urban population doomed to famine, but the supplying of the Army became entirely defective. And at the same time a complete military debacle was reached.
By the end of February, it was absolutely impossible for the country, both materially and morally, to continue the war. And it was impossible for the industrial workers in the cities to procure supplies [to keep the factories going].
But Tsarism did not want to know anything about these realities. It persisted blindly now in running the old machine completely off its tracks. And it fell back, as usual, on repression, violence against those who were active, and the militants of the political parties.
It was the inability of the people to continue the war and endure conditions of famine, on the one hand, and the blind obstinacy of Tsarism, on the other, that brought about the Revolution, two and a half years after "the great enthusiasm".
On February 24 (Russian old style) disturbances began in Petrograd. Primarily provoked by the lack of provisions, they did not seem likely to become serious. But next day events took a sudden turn. The workers in the capital, feeling that the Russian people generally were in solidarity with them, extremely agitated for weeks, starving, and not even receiving any more bread, thronged the streets, demonstrated fiercely, and flatly refused to disperse.
Yet on this first day the demonstrations were cautious and inoffensive. In close-packed masses the workers, with their wives and children, shouted: "Bread! Bread! We have nothing to eat. Either give us bread or shoot us! Our children are dying of hunger. Bread! Bread!"
Besides the police, the Government sent detachments of mounted troops, Cossacks, against the demonstrators. But there were few troops then in Petrograd -- except unreliable reservists. So the workers were not at all frightened. They bared their breasts to the soldiers, held up their children, and cried: "Kill us all if you dare! Better to be shot than to starve to death!"
Finally -- and this was the key point of the episode -- nearly all of the soldiers, smiling, walked warily towards the crowd, without using their weapons, and ignoring the orders of their officers. And many of the latter were not particularly insistent. In some places the soldiers fraternized with the workers, going so far as to give them their rifles, getting off their horses, and mingling with the throng. Naturally this attitude of the troops encouraged the protesting workers.
Here and there, however, the police and the Cossacks did charge groups of demonstrators carrying red flags, and several of them were killed or wounded.
In the barracks of Petrograd and the suburbs of the capital, the garrison regiments still held back from taking the side of the Revolution. And the government held back from sending them to combat it.
But the morning of February 26 brought a notable new happening. By decree, the Government ordered the Duma dissolved.
This was a sort of signal that everybody seemed to have been waiting for before beginning decisive action. The news, known everywhere in the capital almost instantaneously, spurred on events. From that moment, the demonstrations took on the character of a strictly revolutionary movement.
Shouts of "Down with Tsarism!", "Down with the War!", and "Long live the Revolution!" rang from the milling crowd, whose attitude steadily became more determined and menacing. All over the city the demonstrators resolutely attacked the police. Several public buildings were burned, including the Court House. The streets bristled with barricades. Soon many red flags appeared. The soldiers still maintained a benevolent neutrality, but more and more frequently they mingled with the throng. The Government could depend on its troops less and less.
Now it hurled the whole police force of the city against the rebels. The police quickly formed detachments for mass attack. They installed machine-guns on the roofs of various houses and even in some churches, and occupied all strategic points. Then they began a general offensive against the rising masses.
During that whole day of February 26 the fighting was hot. In many instances the police were dislodged, policemen were killed, and their machine-guns silenced. But elsewhere they resisted fiercely.
Tsar Nikolai II, who was at the war-front, was warned by telegram of the gravity of the situation. Meanwhile the Duma decided to continue sitting and not yield to the order to dissolve.

CHAPTER 2: Triumph of the Revolution

The decisive action occurred on February 27, 1917.
From early morning, whole regiments of the Petrograd garrison, no longer hesitant, mutinied, left their barracks, arms in hand, and took over certain strategic points in the capital, after brief skirmishes with the police. The Revolution gained ground.
At a given moment, a dense mass of demonstrators, defiant and grimly threatening, and partially armed, assembled in Znamenskaya Square and in the vicinity of the Nikolaievsky railway station. The Government sent two cavalry regiments from the Imperial Guard, the soldiers it still could trust, as well as a strong detachment of police, both on foot and mounted. The troops were supposed to support and assist the police.
After the usual summons [warning the demonstrators to disperse], the police commander gave an order to charge the crowd. But now another last-moment "miracle" occurred. The officer commanding the Guard cavalrymen raised his sabre, and with a cry of "Charge the police!" launched his two regiments against them. In almost no time the latter were beaten, thrown back, overwhelmed.
Soon the last resistance of the police was broken. The revolutionary troops seized the Government arsenal and occupied all vital points in the city. Surrounded by a delirious multitude, the regiments drew themselves up, with flags unfurled, before the Tauride palace, where the Duma -- the poor Fourth Duma -- was sitting, and put themselves at its disposal.
Shortly afterward the last regiments of the garrison of Petrograd and its suburbs joined the movement. Tsarism had no more armed forces in the vicinity of the capital. The population was free. The Revolution had triumphed.
The events which presently followed are well known.
A provisional government, composed of influential members of the Duma, was formed and ardently acclaimed by the people.
The provinces enthusiastically joined the Revolution.
Some troops were hastily withdrawn from the front, and were sent by order of the Tsar to the rebel-held capital, but were unable to reach it. For the railroad workers refused to transport them further when they drew near the city. Then the soldiers refused to obey their officers and went over to the Revolution. Some returned to the front; others simply dispersed.
Tsar Nikolai himself, returning to Petrograd by railroad, had his train stopped at Dno station and then had it take him back to Pskov. There he was joined by a delegation from the Duma and by military personages who had joined the Revolution. He could do nothing but accept the situation. After some trifling negotiations he signed his abdication, for himself and his son Alexis This on March 2.
For a moment, the provisional government sought to present the throne to the ex-Emperor's brother, Grand Duke Michael But he declined the offer, declaring that the fate of the country and the dynasty should be put into the hands of a regularly con voked Constituent Assembly.
The front hailed the accomplished Revolution.
Tsarism had fallen. Formation of the Constituent Assembly was the order of the day. While waiting for it to be called, the provisional government became the official authority -- "recognized and responsible". The first act of the victorious Revolution was over.
We have recounted the facts of this February revolution in some detail in order to bring out in relief the main point:
Once more, the action of the masses was spontaneous, logically climaxing a long period of concrete experience and moral preparation. This action was neither organized nor guided by any political party. Supported by the people in arms -- the Army -- it was victorious. The element of organization had to be introduced -- and was introduced -- immediately afterward.
(In any case, because of the repression, all of the central organizations of the political parties of the left, as well as their leaders, were, at the time of the Revolution, far from Russia. Martov of the Social Democratic Party, Tchernoff of the Social Revolutionary Party, Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Losovsky, Rykov, Bukharin, et al., were all living abroad. It was not until after the February Revolution that they returned home).
Another significant point also emerges from these events.
Again, immediate and specific impetus was given to the Revolution by the absolute impossibility of Russia continuing the war -- an impossibility which naturally was intensified by the obstinacy of the Government. This impossibility resulted from the inextricable chaos into which the war had plunged the nation.

CHAPTER 3: Toward the Social Revolution

The provisional government formed by the Duma was of course strictly bourgeois and conservative. Its members, Prince Lvov, Gutchkov, Milioukov, and others (with the exception of Kerensky, who was vaguely Socialist) nearly all belonged politically to the Constitutional Democratic party; socially to the privileged classes. For them, once absolutism was overthrown, the Revolution was over. In reality it had only begun.
Now, they wanted to "re-establish order", ameliorate little by little the general situation in the country and at the battle-front, "push" the war more actively than ever, inspire it with new spirit, and especially prepare peacefully for the calling of the Constituent Assembly, which would establish the new fundamental laws of the nation, the new political regime, and the new form of government. Henceforth the people had only to wait patiently and prudently, like the good children that they were, for the favours which these new masters would grant them.
These new masters, the members of the provisional government, naturally saw themselves as good moderate bourgeoisie, who would use their powers like those in other "civilized" countries. And the political outlook of that regime did not go beyond a nice constitutional monarchy. At most some of its members perhaps timidly envisaged a very moderate bourgeois republic. The agrarian question, the question of the workers, et cetera, would be resolved by the future established government, in the manner of the "proven" western models.
In the last analysis, the provisional government was more or less sure of being able to utilize the preparatory -period for stalling, if need be, and for restoring the masses to calmness", discipline, and obedience, in case they should evidence too violently their desire to go beyond the limits thus proclaimed. It finally occupied itself with assuring, by behind-the-scenes manoeuvring, a "normal" election, which would result, at the desired moment, in a prudent and upright Constituent Assembly -- bourgeois, of course.
At this point it is pleasant to state that the "realists", the "established" politicians, the scholars, the economists, and the sociologists, were wrong in their calculations. The reality completely escaped them.
I recall attending, in New York, in April or May, 1917, a Russian lecture by an honorable professor who made an elaborate analysis of the composition and probable actions of the forthcoming Constituent Assembly. And I asked the respectable professor a single question: "What do you foresee in case the Russian Revolution goes beyond the Constituent Assembly?"
Disdainfully enough, and ironically, the eminent lecturer said, as his only reply, that he was a "realist" and that his heckler was "surely an Anarchist, whose fantastic hypothesis is of no interest to me." But the future soon demonstrated that the learned professor had masterfully deceived himself and that he himself was the "fantastic" one. In his two-hour speech he had neglected to analyze only one eventuality: that which actually took place a few months later.
Here I would like to add some personal reflections.
In 1917 the realists, the men of politics, the writers, the professors, both Russian and foreign, had, with few exceptions, superciliously and scornfully failed to predict the triumph of Bolshevism in the Russian Revolution. In our time, since triumphant Bolshevism is, and has been for a short period, historically speaking, an accomplished fact, many of those gentlemen are willing to recognize it, to take an interest in it, and concern themselves with it. They even recognize -- again deceiving themselves masterfully -- its "great positive importance" and "its complete world-wide triumph".
I am absolutely sure that, with the same "realism" and "clairvoyance", the same arrogance before and the same assurance afterward, these same gentlemen will fail lo predict in time, only to accept it after it happens -- the real and complete triumph of the libertarian idea in the world-wide Social Revolution.
That first provisional government certainly did not take account of the obstacles which confronted it. The most serious obstacle was the nature of the problems with which it had to deal before the calling of the Constituent Assembly. (And it never occurred to the Government leaders that the workers might not want to wait for the forming of the Assembly and that they were wholly within their rights [in taking that position].
First, the problem of the war.
Disillusioned and exhausted, the people continued that war against their will, or at the most, with utter apathy. For the Army was undeniably beaten, both physically and morally. On the one hand, the miserable conditions of the country, and on the other, the Revolution, had definitely upset it.
Two solutions were possible: to end the war, conclude a separate peace, demobilize the Army, and be concerned solely with domestic problems -- or attempt the impossible task of maintaining the battle-front, restoring discipline, "reviving" the morale of the Army, and continuing the war at any cost, at least until the Con stituent Assembly was called.
Obviously the first solution was unacceptable to a "patriotic' bourgeois government, allied to other belligerents and considering it a "national disgrace" to break that alliance. Furthermore, inas much as the Government was "provisional" it felt obliged to follow the [conventional] formula: "No important changes before the Constituent Assembly is called; it will have full right to make any decisions."
So the provisional government adopted the second solution But under the existing circumstances this was unrealizable.
This point must be insisted on, for generally it is not given enough emphasis.
The machine called the "bourgeois State" broke down in Russia in February, 1917. Its purpose and its activity had always been contrary to the interests and aspirations of the people. Since the latter, for the moment, had become masters of their own destinies, it could not be repaired and put back into working order. For it is the people who make such a machine run -- whether under compulsion or freely -- and not the governments. The broken apparatus could neither exercise nor re-establish rule by force. And the people no longer "marched" voluntarily toward goals that were not their own.
Hence it was necessary to replace the disabled apparatus with another one, adapted to the new situation, instead of losing time and strength in vain efforts to get it running again.
The bourgeois and nationalist government couldn't understand this. It insisted on maintaining both the "machine" and the evil heritage of the fallen regime, the war. On this account it was making itself increasingly unpopular. And with the machine [the bourgeois State] broken, \* was powerless to go ahead, to impose its war-like will.
This first problem of the hour, the most serious, the most immediate, was thus inevitably condemned to remain unsolved by the provisional government.
The second thorny problem was the agrarian question.
Russia's peasants -- who made up 85 per cent, of the population -- aspired to possess the land. The Revolution gave these aspirations an irresistible force. Having been reduced to impotence, exploited, and duped for centuries, the peasant masses no longer would pay attention to anything else. They needed the land, at all costs, and immediately, without protocol or ceremony.
Neither physically nor morally could Russia continue the war. Refusal of the Tsarist government to recognize that fact was the immediate cause of the Revolution. And so long as this impossibility continued, any government which failed to recognize it would, logically, fall like that of the Tsar.
To be sure, the provisional government hoped to be able to alter the situation, to end the chaos, reorganize the country, give it new energy. But these were illusions; neither the available time nor the state of mind of the masses would permit it.
Back in 1905, at the Peasant Congress called shortly after the Manifesto of October 17 (while the "liberties" still existed), in preparation for the calling of the Duma, numerous delegates had acted as spokesmen for the aspirations [of the rural masses].
"Any mention of redemption of the land revolts me," one of those peasant delegates declared. "They propose that we reimburse the enslavers of yesterday, who, even in our own day, aided by the functionaries, have made our life into an obstacle course. Haven't we already reimbursed them sufficiently by paying rent? It is impossible to measure the barrels of blood with which we have watered the soil. And that's not all; with their own milk, our grandmothers nursed the hunting dogs of these gentlemen. Isn't that redemption?
"For centuries we have been grains of sand blown by the wind. And they were the wind. And now we have to pay again? Oh, no. There is no need for diplomatic discussion. There is only one just way -- the revolutionary way. Otherwise they will fool us once more. Anything that speaks of 'redemption' is a compromise. Comrades, don't repeat the error of your fathers. In 1861 they [the enslavers] were cleverer than we, and they had us; they gave us only a little because the people did not take everything."
"We never sold them the land," peasants from the Orel regio protested. "Therefore we don't have to redeem it. Already we have paid enough by working for an inhumanly low wage. No, in no case will we pay a redemption. My Lord didn't get the land from the moon; his grandparents seized it."
"Redemption would be a flagrant injustice to the people," delegates from the Kazan district averred. "The people ought to receive a receipted bill of sale with the land. For, in fact, these gentlemen never bought that land. They confiscated it, to sell it later."
And other peasants told the eminent savant Nfikolai?] Ruba-kin, sometime between 1897 and 1906: "All these gentlemen -- Orlov, Demidoff, Balachoff -- got their land free from the Tsars and Tsarinas as presents. And now they want us to redeem i at such prices? That is not only injustice, it is open robbery
This explains why the peasants did not want to wait any longer [in 1917]. Nearly everywhere they were forthrightly expropriating the land, driving out any landlords who had not already fled. Thus they had solved the "agrarian question" in their own way and by themselves, without bothering about deliberations, machinations, and the decisions of the Government or the Constituent Assembly. And the Army, composed primarily of peasants, certainly was ready to support this direct action.
The provisional government was undecided whether to accept the situation or to resist it -- that is to struggle against the revolting peasants, and also, almost inevitably, against the Army as well. So naturally it adopted the tactic of waiting, hoping, as with the problem of war, to be able to arrange things by manoeuvring intelligently and skilfully. The Government spokesmen adjured the peasants to wait patiently for the Constituent Assembly, which, they said, would have the right to establish all law, and certainly would give full satisfaction to the peasants. But nothing came of this. These appeals were for the most part futile, and this tactic had no chance of success. For the peasants did not have the least confidence in the words of the "gentlemen" in power. They had been fooled often enough! And they felt strong enough now to take the land. To them this was only justice. If sometimes they hesitated again, it was only out of fear of being punished for the acts they were committing.
Too, the problem of the industrial workers was as insoluble by a bourgeois government as that of the peasants. The masses of those workers sought to obtain from the Revolution a maximum of well-being and of [the establishment of] rights to a minimum. Immediate and very serious struggles were foreseeable in this field of conflict. And by what means was the provisional government going to maintain its position?
Also the purely economic problem was exceedingly difficult, because it was closely related to the other problems, on the one hand, and moreover, coping with it could not be delayed. In the midst of war and revolution, with a chaotic situation in a disrupted country, it was necessary to organize production anew, as well as transportation, exchanges, finance, et cetera.
There remained, finally, the political problem. Under the existing circumstances there was no valid solution for it. The provisional government had of course assigned the task of calling the Constituent Assembly in the near future. But for a thousand reasons [attainment of] this task could not succeed. Above all, the government dreaded the opening of that Assembly. Contrary to its promises, its fondest hope was to postpone the Assembly as long as possible, and meanwhile it would seek the installation, through some fortunate turn of luck, of a "constitutional" monarchy. But presently other perilous obstacles arose.
The most serious was the resurrection of the workers' Soviets, notably the Petrograd Soviet. This had been re-established in the very first days of the Revolution -- by tradition, and also as in 1905, in default of other workers' organizations. True, at that moment the industrial workers were under the influence of the moderate Socialists, Mensheviks, and right Social Revolutionaries. But, all the same, their ideology and programme was absolutely contrary to the project of the provisional government, and naturally the moral influence and activity of the Petrograd Soviet soon began to conflict with that of the Government, to the detriment of the latter.
The Petrograd Soviet was a sort of second government for the country. It set the tone of all the vast network of provincial Soviets and co-ordinated their activity. Being thus supported by the working class of the whole country, it quickly became powerful. Also it steadily gained more and more influence in the Army. Before long the orders of the Soviets often carried far more weight than those of the provisional government. Under such conditions the latter was obliged to deal carefully with the Soviets.
It goes without saying that the Government would have preferred to fight them. But to take this action against the organized workers on the morrow of a revolution which had loudly proclaimed absolute freedom of speech, of organization, and of social action, was impossible. For on what real force could it depend to carry out that task? It had none.
Accordingly the Government was compelled to make the most of a bad situation, to tolerate its powerful rival, and even to "flirt"' with it. The provisional regime well knew the fragility of the sympathies it had among the workers and in the Army. It was keenly aware that in the first serious social conflict those two decisive forces indubitably would side with the Soviets.
As always it "hoped". It sought to gain time. But the presence of this second "directorate", unofficial, but threatening, and with which it had to deal, comprised one of the biggest obstacles that the provisional government -- official but powerless -- must surmount.
The violent criticism and vigorous propaganda by all the Socialist parties, and especially the extreme leftist elements (left Social Revolutionaries, Bolsheviks, Anarchists) also were not to be disregarded. For, naturally, the Government could not have recourse to repressive measures against freedom of speech. And even if it had dared do this, where were the forces to carry out its orders? It had none at its disposal.
Even a powerful bourgeoisie, organized and strongly entrenched, which already had withstood more than one combat with oppositional forces and possessing powerful material forces (police. Army, money, et cetera) would have been hard put to arrive at a satisfactory solution to so many problems and to impose its will and its programme in the face of the existing situation. And such a bourgeoisie did not exist in Russia. As a class conscious of its own interests, the capitalist class in that country was scarcely beginning to exist. Weak, unorganized, and without tradition or historical experience, it could hope for no success. Also it was not active.
So, representing "in principle" a hardly existing and inactive bourgeoisie, the provisional government was condemned to work in a vacuum. This was without doubt the basic cause of its failure.

CHAPTER 4: Toward a Socialist Government; The Poverty of Socialism

Thus the first provisional Russian government, essentially bourgeois, was rapidly and inevitably reduced to manifest ridiculous and fatal impotence. The poor thing did what it could to maintain itself: it manoeuvred, it temporized, it stalled. Meanwhile all the cardinal problems also were bogged down. Criticism of and then general anger against this phantom government increased from day to day. Soon its existence became insupportable. Scarcely sixty days after its solemn inauguration, it was compelled to give way, without a struggle, on May 6, to a so-called "coalition" government (with Socialist participation), whose most influential member was Alexander Kerensky, a very moderate Social Revolutionary, or rather "independent" Socialist.
Could this bourgeois-Socialist regime hope to achieve more satisfactory results than its predecessor? Certainly not. For the conditions of its existence and the impotence of its actions would necessarily be identical with those of the first provisional government. Obliged to rely on a powerless bourgeoisie, forced to continue the war, incapable of finding a real solution of the more and more urgent problems, attacked by the leftists, and surrounded by difficulties of all kinds at all times, this second provisional regime perished ingloriously like the first, and in almost the same length of time, stepping aside on July 2 for a third provisional government, composed primarily of Socialists, with a few bourgeois elements.
It was at this point that Kerensky, supreme leader of the third and subsequently of a fourth government (almost the same as its immediate forerunner) became, for a time, a sort of Duce of Russia, and the Social Revolutionary Party, in close collaboration with the Mensheviks, seemed to have emerged definitely as masters of the Revolution. One step further, and the country would have had a Socialist government which could have relied on very real forces: the peasantry, the mass of industrial workers a large section of the intellectuals, the Soviets, the Army, et cetera.
However, it accomplished nothing.
Upon its attainment of power the last Kerensky government appeared very strong. And, in fact, it could have become so.
Kerensky, a lawyer and a Deputy, enjoyed great popularity, both among the masses and in the Army. His speeches in the Duma at the outbreak of the Revolution scored memorable success. And his assumption of power aroused tremendous hopes throughout Russia. He could depend without reservation on the soviets -- and therefore on the whole of the nation's working class -- for at the moment the overwhelming majority of the delegates [the Soviets, factory committees, and the soldiers' committees] were Socialists, and the Soviets were entirely in the hands of right Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.
In the early weeks of the Kerensky ministry, it was dangerous to criticize its leader in public, so strong was the country's confidence in him. Several agitators learned this to their cost, while trying to speak against Kerensky in the public squares. There were even cases of lynching.
But to profit from all these remarkable advantages it was necessary that Kerensky fulfil -- and fulfil effectively, by deeds -- a single condition: the one recommended by Danton in days gone by. He must have audacity, still more audacity, and audacity all the time.
Well, this was precisely the quality that Kerensky completely lacked!
In the existing situation audacity for him properly meant: 1. Immediate abandonment of the war (the finding of some way to do this); 2. A decisive break with the capitalist bourgeois regime (that is, the formation of a wholly Socialist government); 3. Immediate orientation of the economic and social life of all Russia toward a frankly Socialist system.
All this would have been perfectly logical and "mandatory" for a government of Socialist persuasion, with a Socialist majority, and a Socialist leader. But no! As always, as they did everywhere, the Russian Socialists and Kerensky himself, instead of understanding the historical necessity and seizing the propitious moment to go forward and finally fulfil their real programme, remained prisoners of their bastard "minimum" programme which categorically required a struggle for a bourgeois democratic republic.
Instead of putting themselves candidly at the service of the working masses and their emancipation, the Socialists and Keren-sky, held captive by their own flabby ideology, could find nothing better to do than play the game of Russian and international capitalism.
Kerensky dared not abandon the war nor turn his back on the bourgeoisie, dared not base himself solidly on the working classes, nor even simply to continue the Revolution! And he dared not hasten the calling of the Constituent Assembly.
He wanted to continue the war! And at all costs and by whatever means!
What he did dare to do was, first, to institute a group of reforms in reverse: re-establishment of the death penalty and court-martials at the front, repressive measures in the rear. And finally, there was a long series of visits to the battle-front, and the making of speeches and inflammatory harangues which would, in Kerensky's opinion, revive the war-like enthusiasm of the early days of the conflict among the soldiers. He was aware that the war continued only through inertia. And he wanted to give it a new impetus with words and punishments, not taking any account the reality.
He orated so much that his title of Commander-in-Chief (he also was president of the Council of Ministers) was soon changed by the Russian public to Orator-in-Chief.
About two months sufficed to make Kerensky's popularity fall to the bottom, especially among the industrial workers and soldiers, who ended by jeering at his speeches. They wanted deeds, deeds of peace and social revolution. They also wanted the speedy calling of the Constituent Assembly. The obstinacy with which all the provisional regimes delayed that convocation was one of the reasons for their unpopularity. The Bolsheviks took advantage of this, promising, among other things, the calling of the Assembly as soon as they would come into power.
In short, the reasons for the failure of the Kerensky government were the same as those which brought on the collapse of the preceding regimes: the inability of the moderate Socialists to end the war; the lamentable impotence of this fourth government to solve the basic national problems; and its intention of imprisoning the Revolution within the limits of a bourgeois regimen.
Several circumstances and events -- the logical outcome of these fatal inadequacies -- aggravated the situation and precipitated Kerensky's downfall.
In the first place, the Bolshevik Party, having by this time assembled its best forces and thus possessing a powerful organization for propaganda and action, daily spread throughout the country, by means of thousands of orators and published articles, skilful, accurate, and vigorous criticisms of the policy, attitude, and activities of the Government (and also of all the moderate Socialists). It advocated immediately cessation of the war, demobilization, continuation of the Revolution.
It diffused with all its energy its social and revolutionary ideas. It repeated every day its promise to convoke the Constituent Assembly at once, and finally to resolve -- quickly and successfully -- all the problems of the hour if it was given power. Constantly it hammered, without let-up and without allowing itself to be intimidated, on the same nail: Power! "All power to the Soviets!" it shouted from morning to evening, and from evening to morning. Give political power to the Bolsheviki and everything would be fixed, resolved, realized.
Increasingly listened to and followed by the intellectual workers, the working masses in industry, and the Army, multiplying, with precipitous rapidity, the number of its adherents, and thus penetrating into all the factories and enterprises, the Bolshevik Party already had recruited by June, 1917, an imposing force of militants, agitators, propagandists, writers, organizers, and men of action. It also possessed considerable funds. And it had at its head a courageous central committee directed by Lenin. It carried on activity that was fierce, feverish, and fulminating, and it felt itself, at least morally, the master of the situation. Especially was this true because it had no rivals on the extreme left. The left Social Revolutionary Party, much weaker, could only figure as a satellite, the Anarchist movement was scarcely beginning; and as for the revolutionary Syndicalist movement, it was, as we know, non-existent.
Kerensky, feeling himself less and less secure, dared not attack the Bolsheviks resolutely, straightforwardly. He had recourse, in a desultory manner, to half-measures, which, while sufficient to defeat his opponent, gave it publicity, so that it won the attention, esteem, and finally the confidence of the masses. In the last analysis, these timid reactions strengthened the enemy instead of weakening it. And then, like many others, Kerensky did not see the danger. At that moment hardly anyone anticipated a Bolshevik victory. It is notable that even in that party itself, Lenin was almost alone in his certainty of winning and almost alone insisted that opportunity for preparing for an insurrection was at hand.
Finally Kerensky, pressed by the Allies, and hypnotized by his own dreams and probably by his own speeches, had the misfortune of launching, on June 18, his now famous offensive on the German front -- an offensive which failed miserably and struck a terrible blow to his popularity. And on July 3 an armed uprising against the Government, participated in by troops (and by sailors from the Kronstadt fortress) broke out in Petrograd, with cries of "Down with Kerensky! Long live the Social Revolution! All power to the Soviets!" This time Kerensky still could master the situation, though with difficulty. Nevertheless he lost the very shadow of his former influence.
Then an event occurred which gave him the coup de grace. Made desperate by the rising tide of the Revolution and by Keren-sky's indecision, a "White" general, Kornilov, brought from the front several thousand soldiers (mostly from Caucasian regiments- -- in effect colonial troops -- more easily duped and manipulated than others), deceived them about what was happening in the capital, and sent them to Petrograd under the command of another general who swore that he would "put an end to the bands of armed criminals and defend the Government, which is powerless to exterminate them."
For reasons which perhaps will someday be known specifically, Kerensky gave only feeble resistance to Kornilov -- a token resistance. The capital was saved only by the furious determination, the prodigious effort, and sublime spirit of sacrifice of the city's workers. With the aid of the Petrograd Soviet's left wing, several thousand of the workers armed themselves hastily and departed on their own initiative for "the front" against Kornilov. A battle, on the outskirts of the capital, remained indecisive.
The workers did not yield an inch of territory. But they left many dead on the field, and were not sure of having enough men and munitions for the next day. However, thanks to the quick and energetic action of the railroad and telegraph workers, assisted by soldiers' committees on the battle-line, Kornilov's headquarters were isolated from the front and from the whole country.
In the night, that commander's soldiers, surprised by the heroic resistance of [men who had been described to them as] "bandits, criminals, and idlers", and suspecting trickery, decided to examine the dead. They discovered that the bodies all had the calloused hands of bona fide industrial workers. Presently, too, a few groups of Socialists from the Caucasus who were then in Petrograd managed to get a delegation into Kornilov's camp. The delegates conferred with the soldiers there, told them the real situation, dispelled the myth of the "bandits", and persuaded them to abandon the fratricidal fight. Next morning, Kornilov's men, declaring that they had been deceived, refused to continue fighting against their brother workers and returned to the main front. The Kornilov adventure ended.
Immediately after this, public opinion accused Kerensky of secretly conniving with Kornilov. Whether true or not, this story was widely believed. Morally the situation spelled the finish of the Kerensky government and, in general, of the moderate Socialists. The way was open for a resolute offensive by the Bolshevik Party.
Then another event of major importance occurred. In new elections of delegates (to the Soviets, factory committees, and soldiers' committees) the Bolsheviks scored a crushing victory over the moderate Socialists. Thus that party attained full control of all working class and revolutionary activity. With the collaboration of the left Social Revolutionaries the Bolsheviks likewise gained wide sympathy among the peasants. They were now in an excellent strategic position for a decisive attack.
At this juncture Lenin conceived the idea of calling a Pan-Russian congress of Soviets, which would rise against Kerensky, overthrow him with the help of the Army, and inaugurate Bolshevik power. And preparations to carry out that plan began at once, partly in the open, partly in secret. Compelled to hide, Lenin directed the necessary operations by remote control. Keren-sky, while suspecting the danger, was powerless to avert it. Events moved swiftly. The last act of the drama was about to start.
It is fitting at this point to sum up certain outstanding elements in the Russian situation in that period.
All the conservative or moderate governments which officiate! from February to October, 1917, proved their impotence to solve under the existing conditions, the exceptionally acute problem with which the Revolution had confronted the people of Russia This was the principal reason why the nation threw out, one afte the other in the short space of eight months, the bourgeois con stitutional government, the democratic bourgeois government, an the two moderate Socialist governments.
Two facts especially marked this impotence:
1. The impossibility of the country continuing the war, and of any of the four governments cited ending it.
2. The urgency with which the people awaited the calling of the Constituent Assembly, and the inability of those governments to call it.
The insistent propaganda of the extreme left for immediate cessation of the war, for immediate summoning of the Assembly, and for the integral Social Revolution as the only way to safety, with other factors of less importance, animated the thunderous march of the Revolution.
Thus the Russian Revolution, which had broken out in February, as an uprising against Tsarism, rapidly outgrew the stages of a bourgeois political revolution, and of democratic and moderate Socialism.
In October, the road being cleared of all obstacles, the Revolution was set, effectively and completely, on a social revolutionary basis. And therefore it was logical and natural that, after the failure of all the moderate governments and political parties, the working masses should turn to the last party remaining, the only one which looked toward the Social Revolution without fear, the only one which promised, if it were given power, a speedy and happy solution for all the existing problems -- the Bolshevik Party.
The Anarchist movement, we must repeat, was still much too weak to have tangible influence on events. And there was no Syndicalist movement.
From a social point of view, the situation was as follows:
Three fundamental elements existed: 1. the bourgeoisie; 2. the working class; 3. the Bolshevik Party, acting as ideologue and "advance guard".
The bourgeoisie, as the reader knows, was weak. The Bolsheviki would not have too much trouble in eliminating it.
The working class also was weak. Unorganized (in the true sense of the word), inexperienced, and basically unaware of its true task, it could do nothing by itself in its own interests. It left everything to the Bolsheviks, who seized control of the action.
We will add a note here which anticipates developments somewhat, but which will enable the reader to follow and understand them better.
This inadequacy of the Russian working class at the beginning of the Revolution subsequently proved fatal to the whole Revolution. [Apropos of this] there was an evil debit left over from the abortive revolution of 1905-06; at that time the workers did not win the right to organize; they remained scattered. In 1917 they felt the effects of that fact.
[Consider the early course of the Bolshevik Party after it took control]. Instead of simply helping the workers to achieve the Revolution and emancipate themselves, instead of aiding them in their struggle, the role to which the workers assigned it in their thoughts, the role which, normally, would be that of all revolutionary ideologists, and which never [properly] includes taking and exercising "political power" -- instead of performing this role, the Bolshevik party, once in control, installed itself as absolute master. It was quickly corrupted. It organized itself as a privileged caste. And later it flattened and subjected the working class in order to exploit it, under new forms, in its own interest.
Because of this the whole Revolution was falsified, misled. For, when the masses of the people became cognizant of their danger, it was too late. After a struggle between them and the new masters, solidly organized and in possession of ample material, administrative, military, and police strength, the people succumbed. That bitter and unequal conflict went on for some three years, and for a long time remained practically unknown outside of Russia. The real emancipating revolution again was stifled, and by the "revolutionaries" themselves.
Let it be explained here that "political power" is not a force in itself. It is strong when it can base itself on capital, the arms of the State, the Army, the police. Lacking those supports it remains "suspended in the void", powerless, and unable to operate. The Russian Revolution has given formal proof of this. After February, 1917, the Russian bourgeoisie had "political power" in its hands, yet it was actually powerless, and its "power" fell by itself two months later. Following its bankruptcy it no longer possessed any real force -- neither productive capital, nor mass confidence, nor a solid State apparatus, nor an Army of its own. The second and third provisional governments fell in the same manner and for the same reason. And it is highly probable that if the Bolsheviki had not precipitated events, the Kerensky regime would have met precisely the same fate a little later.
Manifestly it follows that if the Social Revolution is in the process of taking over [a nation] (so that capital, land, mines, factories, means of communication, and money begin to pass into the hands of the people, and the Army makes common cause with the latter) there is no reason to be concerned about "political power" If the defeated classes attempt, in line with tradition, to form a government, what importance could it have? Even if they should succeed in that, it would be a phantom government, ineffectual and easily suppressed by the slightest effort of the armed people.
And as for the Revolution, what need has it of a "government" of "political power"? It has only one task to perform, that of advancing by the same course as the people, to organize itself, to consolidate itself, to perfect itself economically, to defend itself if need be, to extend itself, to build a new social life for the masses. Which has nothing to do with "political power". For all this is a normal function of the revolutionary people themselves, of their various economic and social organizations, their ordinating federations, their defence formations.
What is "political power" fundamentally? What is "political" activity? How many times have I posed these questions to members of left political parties without ever being able to obtain an intelligible definition or answer! How can one define "political" activity as an activity in itself, specifically useful for the community having a definite reason for existing? One can describe and define more or less precisely other activity -- social, economic, administrative, juridical, diplomatic, cultural. But "political" activity -- what is it? It is maintained that this term denotes exactly a central administrative activity, indispensable for a widely extended group: for a nation. But then does "political power" mean "administrative power"?
It is easy to see that these two ideas are not at all identical. Consciously or unconsciously, power and administration are thus confused (just as State and society are confused). The fact is that administrative activity is not separate -- cannot be separated -- from any branch of human activity; it is an integral part of it. It functions in all activity in so far as it is a principle of organization, of co-ordination, or normal centralization (to the degree that it is needed) federatively -- and from the periphery toward the centre.
For certain kinds of human activity, one can conceive of a general administration. In each field, or in a group of fields, the men possessing the ability to organize should normally exercise the function of organizers, or "administrators" -- a function which is simply a part of the whole activity of the field in question. These men, workers like the others, could thus insure the "administration of things" (contact, cohesion, equilibrium, et cetera) without having to establish a rigid political power as such. And "political power", like every other "thing apart", remains undefinable, because it does not correspond to any normal, real, concrete human activity. That is why "political power" becomes empty and falls of its own weight when the real functions are carried out normally, by their corresponding services. "As such", it cannot exist, for there is no specific "political" function in a human community.
A. A. Goldenweiser, a Russian jurist, recounts in his memoirs [Kievan Reminiscences, in Archives of the Russian Revolution, Vol. VI, pp. 161-303, [Moscow?] 1922.] that he lived during the Revolution in a city in the Ukraine which was in a notably unstable zone. In the course of events that city was left several times without "power", either White or Red. And with astonishment, M. Goldenweiser reports that during the whole period the people there lived, worked, and took care of their own needs as well as, or even better than, when there was "power." M. Goldenweiser was not the only one to mention that fact. What is surprising is that he was astonished at it.
Is it "power" that makes men live, act, and organize to satisfy their needs? In all human history, has there ever been a "power" which rendered society well organized, harmonious, and happy? History teaches us the opposite: human societies are -- to a degree that it is historically possible -- happy, harmonious, and progressive in periods when political power is weak (vide ancient Greece or certain periods in the Middle Ages) and where the people have been more or less let alone by it. And vice versa: a strong "political power" never gives the people anything but misfortunes, wars poverty, stagnation.
"Political" power took form in the evolution of human society for special historical reasons, which in our time no longer exist. We cannot concern ourselves here with this matter; it would take us too far from our subject. We shall confine ourselves to stating that fundamentally, for thousands of years, "power" has never produced anything but wars. All scholarly writings [on that theme] testify to this. And [recent decades in Russia have demonstrated] it in a striking manner.
It is contended that in order to "administrate" it is necessary to be able to impose, command, coerce. Thus a "political power" is a central administration of a large group (of a country) which possesses the means of coercion. But, in case of need, a popular administrative service, as such, can have recourse to measures of this sort, without having to set up a specific, permanent "political power", and even more efficiently than the latter.
Also it is argued that the masses are incapable of organizing themselves and of creating by themselves an effective administration. Farther on in this work the reader will find, I hope, ample proof to the contrary.
If, in the midst of a social revolution, the political parties want to amuse themselves by "organizing power" the people have only to pursue their revolutionary tasks, leaving the parties isolated; they will soon abandon this useless game. If after February, 1917, and especially after October, the Russian workers, instead of creating new masters, had simply continued their tasks, helped by all the revolutionists, defended by their own Army, and supported by the country at large, the very idea of "political power" soon would have disappeared.
In the pages which follow the reader will come upon various facts, publicly unknown until now, which will confirm this thesis.
We hope that the next revolution will travel the right road, and not let itself be misled by the political "palace revolutionists".

CHAPTER 5: The Bolshevik Revolution

At the end of October, 1917, the climax drew near in Russia. The masses were ready for a new revolution. Several spontaneous uprisings since July (the one already mentioned in Petrograd, one in Kaluga, another in Kazan) and disturbances among both troops and civilians, were adequate evidence of this. From that time onward the Bolshevik Party saw itself in a position to avail itself of two real forces—the confidence of the great masses and a large majority in the Army. It went into action and feverishly prepared for a decisive battle which it was determined to win. Its agitation was furious. It put the finishing touches on the formation of workers' and soldiers' units for the crucial combat. Also it organized, completely, its own units and drew up, for use in the event of success, the composition of the projected Bolshevik government, with Lenin at its head. He watched developments closely and issued his final instructions. Trotsky, Lenin's right-hand man, who had returned several months earlier from the United States, where he had lived after his escape from Siberia, was to share a considerable portion of the power.
The left Social Revolutionists were collaborating with the Bolsheviki. The Anarcho-Syndicalists and the Anarchists, few in numbers and badly organized, yet very active, did everything they could to support and encourage the action of the masses against Kerensky. However, they tried to orient the new revolution away from the political course of the conquest of power by a new party, and to put it on the true social road, toward free organization and collaboration, in a spirit of liberty.
The ensuing course of events is fairly well known. We shall recount the facts briefly.
Having recognized the extreme weakness of the Kerensky government, won the sympathy of an overwhelming majority of the working masses, and having been assured of the active support of the Kronstadt fleet—always the vanguard of the Revolution— and of the majority of the Petrograd troops, the Bolshevik Party's central committee set the insurrection for October 25. The Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets was called for the same day.
In the minds of the central committee, this congress—the great majority of its delegates being Bolsheviks who supported their party's directives blindly—would, if need be, proclaim and uphold the Revolution, rally all of the country's revolutionary forces, and stand up to the eventual resistance of Kerensky.
On the evening of October 25 the insurrection came off, effectively. The congress met in Petrograd as scheduled. But it did not have to intervene.
There was no street fighting, no barricades, no widespread combat. Everything happened simply and quickly.
Abandoned by everyone, but holding fast to its illusions, the Kerensky government was sitting in the Winter Palace in the capital. It was defended by a battalion of the "elite" guards, a battalion of women, and a handful of young cadets.
Some detachments of troops won over by the Bolsheviki, acting according to a plan worked out jointly by the Congress of Soviets and the party's central committee, surrounded the palace and attacked its guards. This action of the troops was supported by some of the battleships of the Baltic fleet, brought from Kronstadt and drawn up in the Neva opposite the palace. Most notable was the cruiser Aurora.
After a short skirmish and a few cannon-shot from the cruiser, the Bolshevik troops took the palace.
Meanwhile, however, Kerensky had managed to flee. The other members of the Government were arrested.
Thus, in Petrograd, the "insurrection" was limited to a minor military operation, led by the Bolsheviks. Once the seat of government was emptied, the party's central committee installed itself there as conqueror. The overturn was virtually a palace revolution.
An attempt by Kerensky to march on Petrograd with some troops summoned from the front (Cossacks, and again the Caucasian division) failed—thanks to the vigorous armed intervention of the capital's working masses, and especially of the Kronstadt sailors, who quickly came to the rescue. In a battle near Gatchina, on the outskirts of Petrograd, a part of Kerensky's troops were beaten, and another part went over to the revolutionary camp. Kerensky fled and escaped abroad.
In Moscow and elsewhere, the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was attended with greater difficulty.
Moscow saw ten days of furious fighting between the revolutionary forces and those of reaction. There were many victims. Several sections of the city were heavily damaged by artillery fire. Finally the Revolution won.
In certain other cities also, the victory was gained only after intense struggle.
But the countryside, for the most part, remained calm, or rather, indifferent. The peasants were too much absorbed in their own local preoccupations. For some time they had been in the process of solving the "agrarian problem" for themselves. In any case, they could see nothing wrong in the Bolsheviks taking power. Once they had the land, and didn't have to fear the return of the pomestchiki, the big land-owners, they were nearly satisfied, and gave little thought to the occupants of the throne. They didn't expect any harm from the Bolsheviki. And they had heard it said that the latter wanted to end the war, which seemed perfectly just and reasonable to them. Thus they had no reason to oppose the new involution.
The way in which that revolution was accomplished illustrates very well the uselessness of a struggle for "political power". If, for one reason or another, such power is supported by a strong section of the populace and especially by the Army, it would be impossible to win against it, and therefore futile to attack it. But if, on the contrary, it is abandoned by the majority of the people and by the Army—which occurs in every genuine revolution— then it is not worth bothering with. At the slightest gesture of the armed people, it will fall like a house of cards. It is necessary to be concerned, not with "political" power, but with the real power of the Revolution, with its inexhaustible, spontaneous, potential forces, its irresistible spirit, the far-flung horizons it opens—in short, with the enormous possibilities it brings in its train.
However, in several regions, notably in the East and in Central Russia, the victory of the Bolsheviks was not complete. Counterrevolutionary movements soon appeared. They consolidated themselves, gained in importance, and led to a civil war which lasted until the end of 1921.
One of those movements, headed by General Anton Ivano-vitch Denikin, took on the proportions of an uprising which seriously threatened the power of the Bolsheviks. Starting from the depths of Southern Russia, Denikin's army almost reached the gates of Moscow in the summer of 1919.
Also very dangerous was another uprising launched by General Baron Peter Wrangel in the same region. And a third movement of White Russians organized by Admiral Alexander Vassilievitch Kolchak in Siberia was for a time conspicuously menacing. Marching with his army from his headquarters in Omsk westward to the Ural mountains, he vanquished the Bolsheviki in several battles.
Other counter-revolutionary rebellions were of less importance.
The greater part of these movements was partly supported and given supplies through foreign intervention. Some were backed and even politically directed by the moderate Socialists, the right Social Revolutionaries, and the Mensheviks.
On the other hand, the Bolshevik power had to carry on a long and difficult struggle in two directions—against its ex-partners, the left Social Revolutionaries, and against the Anarchist movement and ideology. Naturally, these leftist movements did not fight the Bolsheviks on the counter-revolutionary side, but, on the contrary, in the name of "the true Social Revolution", betrayed, in their opinion, by the Bolshevik Party in power.
Beyond question, the birth, and especially the extent and strength of the counter-revolutionary forces, were the inevitable result of the bankruptcy of the Bolshevik power, and of its inability to organize a new economic and social life for the Russian people. Farther on the reader will see what the real development of the October Revolution was, and also what were the means by which the new power had to impose itself, maintain itself, master the storm, and "solve" after its own fashion the problems of the Revolution.
Not until the end of 1922 could the Bolshevik Party feel itself completely—at least for a moment in history—master of the situation.
On the ruins of Tsarism and of the bourgeois-feudal system, it was now necessary to begin to build a new society.

  • 1. The reader should not be surprised it this weakness. He must realize that in Russia then the bourgeoisie -- weak, disorganized, and wholly dependent on the State -- had no initiative, ro real strength, and could play no organizing role in the national ecoiomy; that the industrial workers and the peasants -- serfs, with no voice aor rights -- were less than nothing in the empire's economic life and cared nothing for the Tsarist State; and that thus the whole mechanism, political, economic or and social, was in the hands of Tsarist functionaries. once the war disrupted this class and upset its obsolete machinery, everything went to pieces.

Book II: Bolshevism and anarchism

Part I: Two Conceptions of the Revolution

CHAPTER 1: Two Opposing Conceptions of Social Revolution

Our principal task herein is to examine and establish, to the extent of our ability, what is unknown or little known about the Russian Revolution.
We begin by emphasizing a fact which, without being ignored, is considered only superficially in the western world. This: In October, 1917, this revolution entered upon wholly new terrain -- that of the great Social Revolution. Thus it advanced on a very special route which was totally unexplored.
It follows that the subsequent development of the Revolution assumed an equally new and original character. Therefore, our account will not resemble any of the existing histories of that revolt. Its general appearance, the factors it comprised, its very language, will change, taking on an unaccustomed and singular aspect.
We go on to another fact which is less well known, and which for many readers will be unexpected. In the course of the crises and failures which followed one another up to the revolution of 1917, Bolshevism was not the only conception of how the Social Revolution should be accomplished. Without speaking of the left Social Revolutionary doctrine, resembling Bolshevism in its political, authoritarian, statist, and centralist character, nor of several other small similar currents, a second fundamental idea, likewise envisaging a full and integral social revolution, took shape and spread among the revolutionary circles and also among the working masses; this was the Anarchist idea.
Its influence, very weak at first, increased as events widened in scope. By the end of 1918 this influence had become such that the Bolsheviks, who did not allow any criticism, nor any contradiction nor opposition -- were seriously disturbed. From 1919 until the end of 1921, they had to engage in a severe struggle with the progress of this idea: a struggle at least as long and as bitter as that against reaction.
We underline at this point a third fact which also is not sufficiently known: Bolshevism in power combated the Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist ideas and movements not on the grounds of ideological or concrete experience, not by means of an open and honest struggle, but with the same methods of repression that it had employed against reaction: methods of pure violence. It began by brutally closing the centres of the libertarian organizations, by prohibiting all Anarchist activity or propaganda. It condemned the masses to not hearing the voices of the Anarchists, and to misunderstanding their programme. And when, despite this constraint, the Anarchist idea gained ground, the Bolsheviks passed rapidly to more violent methods, imprisonment, outlawing, killing. Then the unequal struggle between these two tendencies -- one in power, the other confronted by power -- increased, and became, in certain regions, an actual civil war. In the Ukraine, notably, this state of war lasted more than two years, compelling the Bolsheviki to mobilize all their forces to stifle the Anarchist idea and to wipe out the popular movements inspired by it.
Thus the conflict between the two conceptions of the Social Revolution and, at the same time, between the Bolshevik power and certain movements of the labouring masses, held a highly important place in the events of the period embracing 1919-1921. However, all authors without exception, from the extreme right to the extreme left -- we are not speaking of libertarian literature -- have passed over this fact in silence. Therefore we are obliged to establish it, to supply all the details, and to draw the reader's attention to it.
Here two pertinent questions arise:
1. When, on the eve of the October Revolution, the Bolsheviki rallied an overwhelming majority of popular votes, what was the cause of the important and rapid rise of the Anarchist idea?
2. What, exactly, was the position of the Anarchists in relation to the Bolsheviks, and why were the latter impelled to fight -- and fight violently -- this libertarian idea and movement?
In replying to these questions it will be found easy to reveal to the reader the true visage of Bolshevism.
And by comparing the two opposing ideas in action one can understand them better, evaluate their respective worth, discover the reasons for this state of war between the two camps, and, finally, "feel the pulse" of the Revolution after the Bolshevik seizure of power in October, 1917.
Accordingly we will compare, in a rough manner, the two concepts:
The Bolshevik idea was to build, on the ruins of the bourgeois state, a new "Workers' State" to constitute a "workers' and peasants' government," and to establish a "dictatorship of the proletariat."
The Anarchist idea [was and] is to transform the economic and social bases of society without having recourse to a political state, to a government, or to a dictatorship of any sort. That is, to achieve the Revolution and resolve its problems not by political or statist means, but by means of natural and free activity, economic and social, of the associations of the workers themselves, after having overtnrown the last capitalist government.
To co-ordinate action, the first conception envisaged a certain political power, organizing the life of the State with the help of the government and its agents and according to formal directives from the "centre".
The other conception conjectured the complete abandonment of political and statist organization; and the utilization of a direct and federative alliance and collaboration of the economic, social, technical, or other agencies (unions, co-operatives, various associations, et cetera) locally, regionally, nationally, internationally; therefore a centralization, not political nor statist, going from the central government to the periphery commanded by it, but economic and technical, following needs and real interests, going from the periphery to the centres, and established in a logical and natural way, according to concrete necessity, without domination or command.
It should be noted how absurd -- or biased -- is the reproach aimed at the Anarchists that they know only how "to destroy", and that they have no "positive" constructive ideas, especially when this charge is hurled by those of the "left". Discussions between the political parties of the extreme left and the Anarchists have always been about the positive and constructive tasks which are to be accomplished after the destruction of the bourgeois State (on which subject everybody is in agreement). What would be the way of building the new society then: statist, centralist, and political, or federalist, a-political, and simply social? Such was always the theme of the controversies between them; an irrefutable proof that the essential preoccupation of the Anarchists was always future construction.
To the thesis of the parties, a political and centralized "transitional" State, the Anarchists opposed theirs: progressive but immediate passage to the economic and federative community. The political parties based their arguments on the social structure left by the centuries and past regimes, and they pretended that this model was compatible with constructive ideas. The Anarchists believed that new construction required, from the beginning, new methods, and they recommended those methods. Whether their thesis was true or false, it proved in any case that they knew clearly what they wanted, and that they had strictly constructive ideas.
As a general rule, an erroneous interpretation -- or, more often, one that was deliberately inaccurate -- pretended that the libertarian conception implied the absence of all organization. Nothing is farther from the truth. It is a question, not of "organization or non-organization", but of two different principles of organization.
All revolutions necessarily begin in a more or less spontaneous manner, therefore in a confused, chaotic way. It goes without saying -- and the libertarians understood this as well as the others -- that if a revolution remains in that primitive stage, it will fail. Immediately after the spontaneous impetus, the principle of organization has to intervene in a revolution as in all other human activity. And it is then that the grave question arises: What should be the manner and basis of this organization?
One school maintains that a central directing group -- an "elite" group -- ought to be formed to take in hand the whole work, lead it according to its conception, impose the latter on the whole collectivity, establish a government and organize a State, dictate its will to the populace, impose its "laws" by force and violence, combat, suppress, and even eliminate, those who are not in agreement with it.
Their opponents [the Anarchists] consider that such a conception is absurd, contrary to the fundamental principles of human evolution, and, in the last analysis, more than sterile -- and harmful to the work undertaken. Naturally, the Anarchists say, it is necessary that society be organized. But this new organization should be done freely, socially, and, certainly, from the bottom. The principle of organization should arise, not from a centre created in advance to monopolize the whole and impose itself on it, but -- what is exactly the opposite -- from all quarters, to lead to points of co-ordination, natural centers designed to serve all these quarters.
Of course it is necessary that the organizing spirit, that men capable of carrying on organization -- the "elite" -- should intervene. But, in every place and under all circumstances, all those valuable humans should freely participate in the common work, as true collaborators, and not as dictators. It is necessary that they especially create an example, and employ themselves in grouping, co-ordinating, organizing, using good will, initiative, and knowledge, and all capacities and aptitudes without dominating, subjugating, or oppressing any one. Such individuals would be true organizers and theirs would constitute a true organization, fertile and solid, because it would be natural, human and effectively progressive. Whereas the other "organization", imitating that of the old society of oppression and exploitation, and therefore adapted to those two goals -- would be sterile and unstable, because it would not conform to the new purposes, and therefore would not be at all progressive.
In fact, it would not contain any element of a new society, inasmuch as it would only alter the appearance of the old. Belonging to an outdated society, obsolete in all respects, and thus impossible as a naturally free and truly human institution, it could only maintain itself by means of new artifices, new deceptions, new violence, new oppression and exploitation. Which inevitably would lead astray, falsify, and endanger the whole revolution. So it is obvious that such an organization will remain unproductive as a motor for the Social Revolution. It can no more serve as a "transitional society" (as the "Communists" pretend), for such a society must necessarily possess at least some of the seeds of that toward which it purports to evolve. And all authoritarian and statist societies possess only residues of the fallen social order.
According to the libertarian thesis, it is the labouring masses themselves who, by means of the various class organizations, factory committees, industrial and agricultural unions, co-operatives, et cetera, federated and centralized on a basis of real needs, should apply themselves everywhere, to solving the problems of waging the Revolution. By their powerful and fertile action, because they are free and conscious, they should co-ordinate their efforts throughout the whole country. As for the "elite", their role, according to the libertarians, is to help the masses, enlighten them, teach them, give them necessary advice, impel them to take the initiative, provide them with an example, and support them in their action -- but not direct them governmentally.
The libertarians hold that a favourable solution of the problems of the Revolution can result only from the freely and consciously collective and united work of millions of men and women who bring to it and harmonize in it all the variety of their needs and interests, their strength and capacities, their gifts, aptitudes, inclinations, professional knowledge, and understanding. By the natural interplay of their economic, technical, and social organizations, with the help of the "elite" and, in case of need, under the protection of their freely organized armed forces, the labouring masses should, in view of the libertarians, be able to carry the Revolution effectively forward and progressively arrive at the practical achievement of all of its tasks.
The Bolshevik thesis was diametrically opposed to this. In the contention of the Bolsheviki it was the elite -- their elite -- which, forming a "workers' government" and establishing a so-called "dictatorship of the proletariat", should carry out the social transformation and solve its prodigious problems. The masses should aid this elite (the opposite of the libertarian belief that the elite should aid the masses) by faithfully, blindly, mechanically carrying out its plans, decisions, orders, and "laws". And the armed forces, also in imitation of those of the capitalist countries, likewise should blindly obey the "elite".
Such is, and remains, the essential difference between the two ideas. Such also were the two opposed conceptions of the Social Revolution at the moment of the Russian upheaval in 1917.
The Bolsheviks, as we have said, didn't want even to listen to the Anarchists, still less to let them expound their thesis to the masses. Believing themselves in possession of an absolute, indisputable, "scientific" truth, and pretending to have to impose it immediately, they fought and eliminated the libertarian movement by violence from the time the Anarchist idea began to interest the masses -- the usual procedure of all dominators, exploiters, and inquisitors.
In October, 1917. the two conceptions entered into conflict, which became increasingly acute, with no compromise possible. Then, for four years, this conflict kept the Bolshevik power on the alert, and played a more and more significant part in the vicissitudes of the Revolution, until the libertarian movement in Russia was completely destroyed by military force at the end of 1921.
Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, and the lessons that it teaches, it has been carefully killed by the whole political press.

CHAPTER 2: Causes and Consequences of the Bolshevik Conception

It was, as is well known, the political, governmental, statist, centralist conception which won in Russia in 1917.
And at this point two preliminary questions arise which need to be clarified before we deal with the events there in that year.
What were the fundamental reasons that permitted Bolshevism to triumph over Anarchism in the Russian Revolution? How is that triumph to be evaluated?
The numerical difference between the two groups and the poor organization of the Anarchists is not enough to explain their lack of success. In the course of developments their numbers could have been increased and their organization improved. Violence alone also is not a sufficient reason. If the masses could have been won over to Anarchist ideas in time, violence could not have been used against that movement.
Moreover, as will be seen, the defeat could be imputed neither to the Anarchist idea as such nor to the attitude of the libertarians. It was the almost unavoidable consequence of a complexity of factors beyond their control.
Therefore let us seek to discover the essential causes of the repulse of the Anarchist concept. They are multiple. We will enumerate them, in the order of their importance, and try to judge their exact worth:
1. The general state of mind of the masses, and also of the cultivated strata of the population.
In Russia, as everywhere else, the State and the government seemed to the masses to be elements that were indispensable, natural, and historically established for all time. The people did not even ask if the State and the government represented healthy institutions.1 Such a question did not occur to them. Or if some one formulated it they began -- and often also ended -- by not understanding him.
2. This statist prejudice, almost innate, resulting from evolution and environment through thousands of years, thus becoming "second nature", was further reinforced -- especially in Russia, where Anarchist literature hardly existed except for a few clandestine pamphlets and leaflets -- by the press generally, including that of the Socialist parties.
We must not forget that the advanced youth in Russia read a literature which invariably presented Socialism in a statist form. The Marxists and the anti-Marxists disputed among themselves, but for both the State remained the indisputable basis of all modern society.
So Russia's younger generation never thought of Socialism except in a statist form. Except for a rare few individual exceptions, the Anarchist conceptions remained unknown to them until the events of 1917. Not only the Russian press, but all education in that country -- all the time -- had had a statist character.
3. It was for the reasons set forth above that the Socialist parties, including the Bolsheviks, had at their disposal, at the beginning of the Revolution, sizeable cadres of militants ready for action.
The members of the moderate Socialist parties already were relatively numerous at that time, which was one of the causes of the success of the Mensheviks and the right Social Revolutionaries. As for the Bolshevik cadres, they were then mainly abroad. But all these men [and women] quickly returned home and immediately set to work.
Compared with the Socialist and Bolshevik forces which were acting in Russia from the beginning of the Revolution on a wide scale and in an organized, disciplined manner, the Anarchists were only a handful of individuals without influence.
But it was not only a question of numbers. Renouncing political methods and goals, the Anarchists logically did not form an artificially disciplined political party for the purpose of conquering power. They organized themselves into groups for propaganda and social action, and later into associations and federations practicing free discipline. This mode of organization and action contributed to putting them, provisionally, in an inferior position in relation to the political parties. That, however, did not discourage them, for they were working for the day when the masses, having been made to understand -- by the force of events, reinforced by explanatory and educational propaganda -- the vital truth of their conception, it would be achieved.
1 recall that, when I returned to Russia from abroad and arrived in Petrograd in the early part of July, 1917, I was struck by the impressive number of Bolshevik notices announcing meetings and lectures in all parts of the capital and suburbs, in public halls, in factories, and in other gathering places. I didn't see a single Anarchist notice. Also I learned that the Bolshevik Party was publishing, in Petrograd and elsewhere, a daily paper of wide circulation, and that it had important and influential nuclei nearly everywhere -- notably in the factories, in the administrations, and in the Army.
And I observed at the same time, with bitter disappointment, that there was not in the capital a single Anarchist newspaper nor any oral Anarchist propaganda. There were, it is true, a few very primitive libertarian groups there. And in Kronstadt there were a small number of Anarchists whose influence made itself felt. But these "cadres" were insufficient to carry on effective propaganda, not only for advocating an almost unknown idea, but also for counteracting the powerful Bolshevik activity and propaganda. In the fifth month of a great revolution, no Anarchist newspaper, no Anarchist voice was making itself heard in the capital of the country. And this in the face of the almost unlimited activity of the Bolsheviki! Such was my observation.
It was not until August, and with great difficulty, that a little group of Anarcho-Syndicalists, consisting mainly of comrades returned from abroad, finally succeeded in starting a weekly newspaper, Golos Truda, The Voice of Labour, in Petrograd. As for oral propaganda, however, there were scarcely three or four comrades in that city capable of performing it. In Moscow the situation was more favourable, for it already had a libertarian daily, published by a fairly large federation, under the title of Anarchy. In the provinces Anarchist forces and propaganda were insignificant.
It was astonishing that in spite of this poverty, and such an unfavourable situation, the Anarchists were able to gain, a little later -- and nearly everywhere -- a certain influence, forcing the Bolsheviks to combat them with arms in hand, and in some places, for a considerable time. This rapid and spontaneous success of the Anarchist idea is highly significant.
When, on my arrival [in Petrograd], some comrades wanted to know my first impressions, I told them this: "Our delay is irreparable. It is as if we had to overtake on foot an express train, which, in the possession of the Bolsheviki, is 100 kilometres ahead of us, and is travelling at the rate of 100 kilometres an hour. We not only have to overtake it, but we must grab hold of it at full speed, hang on, get into it and fight the Bolsheviks, dislodge them, and finally, not take over the train, but, what is much more delicate, put it at the disposal of the masses and help them make it go. A miracle is needed for all that to succeed. Our duty is to believe in that miracle and work for its realization."
I may add that such a "miracle" occurred at least twice in the course of the Revolution -- first, in Kronstadt at the time of the uprising in March, 1921; and second, in the Ukraine [in the forward sweep of] the mass movement called Makhnovist. These two achievements, [are among the developments that] have been passed over in silence or distorted in the works of ignorant or biased authors. They remain generally unknown to the public.
4. Certain events of the Revolution, cited farther on, prove to us that despite the unfavourable circumstances and the insufficient number of Anarchist cadres, the Anarchist idea could have blazed a trail, or even won, if the mass of Russian workers had had at their disposal, at the very beginning of the Revolution, class organizations that were old, experienced, proven, ready to act on their own, and to put that idea into practice. But the reality was wholly otherwise. The workers' organizations arose only in the course of the Revolution.
To be sure, they immediately made a prodigious spurt numerically. Rapidly the whole country was covered with a vast network of unions, factory committees, Soviets, et cetera. But these organizations came into being with neither preparation nor preliminary activity, without experience, without a clear ideology, without independent initiative. They had no historical tradition, no competence, no notion of their role, their task, their true mission. The libertarian idea was unknown to them. Under these conditions they were condemned to be taken in tow, from the beginning, by the political parties. And later the Bolsheviks saw to it that the weak Anarchist forces would be unable to enlighten them to the necessary degree.
The libertarian groups, as such, could only be transmitters of ideas. In order that those ideas be applied to life, "receiving" sets were needed: workers' organizations ready to get these idea-waves, "receive" them, and put them into practice. If such organizations had existed, the Anarchists of the corresponding professions would have joined them, and given them their enlightened aid, advice, and example. But in Russia, those "receiving sets" were lacking, and the organizations which arose during the Revolution could not fulfil this purpose [with the needed swiftness]. The Anarchist ideas, although they were broadcast energetically by a few "transmitters", were "lost in the air" without being received effectively. So they had no practical results.
Under these conditions, in order that the Anarchist idea might blaze a trail and win, it would have been necessary either that Bolshevism didn't exist, or that the Bolsheviks acted as Anarchists -- or that the Revolution had left sufficient time to the libertarians and the working masses to permit the workers' organizations to receive that idea and become capable of achieving it before being swallowed up and subjugated by the Bolshevik State. This latter possibility did not occur, the Bolsheviki having swallowed the workers' organizations, and blocked the way for the Anarchists, before the former could familiarize themselves with Anarchist concepts, oppose this seizure, and orient the Revolution in a libertarian direction.
The absence of these "receiving sets", that is, of workers' organizations, socially ready to receive and carry out, from the start, the Anarchist idea, (and then, the lack of time needed to create such "receiving sets") -- this absence, in my opinion, was one of the principal reasons for the failure of Anarchism in the Russian Revolution of 1917.
5. Another factor which we will glance at, and the importance of which is not inconsiderable, despite its subjective character, could be added to the preceding one. It aggravated it and rendered it completely fatal to the Revolution.
There was a simple and speedy method available to eliminate the effects of the backwardness of the masses, to make up for lost time, to fill in the gaps. That was to leave the field free for the libertarian propaganda and movement, since, after the fall of the last Kerensky government, freedom of speech, organization, and action were definitely achieved by the Revolution.
Knowing of the absence of workers' organizations, and of a widespread libertarian propaganda and Anarchist knowledge before the Revolution, enables us to understand why the masses entrusted their fate to a political party and a power, thus repeating the fundamental error of previous revolutions. Under the existing conditions, the beginning was objectively inevitable. But subsequent developments were not in the least inevitable.
Let me explain.
A true revolution can only take its flight, evolve, attain its objectives, if it has an environment of the free circulation of revolutionary ideas concerning the course to follow, and the problems to be solved. This liberty is as indispensable to the Revolution as air is to respiration.2 That is why, among other things, the dictatorship of a party, a dictatorship which leads inevitably to the suppression of all freedom of speech, press, organization, and action -- even for the revolutionary tendencies, except for the party in power -- is fatal to true revolution.
In social matters, no one can pretend to possess the whole truth, or to be immune from self-deception. Those who do so pretend -- whether they call themselves Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, or anything else -- and who, once in power, destroy, on the strength of this pretension, other ideas, inevitably establish a kind of social inquisition. And like all inquisitions, they stifle all truth, all justice, all progress, life, man, the very breath of the Revolution. Only the free exchange of revolutionary ideas, the multiform collective thought, with its law of natural selection, can keep us from error and prevent us from going astray. Those who do not recognize this are simply bad individualists while pretending to be Socialists, collectivists, Communists, et cetera.
These truths are so clear and natural in our days -- I might even say evident -- that one is really uncomfortable in having to insist on them. It is necessary to be both blind and deaf, or of bad faith, to fail to understand them. Yet Lenin, and others with him, undoubtedly sincere, renounced them. The fallibility of the human mind. And as for those who blindly followed the "chiefs", they recognized their error too late. By that time the Inquisition was functioning at full steam; it had its "apparatus" and its coercive forces. And the masses "obeyed" as they were accustomed to, or were, once more, powerless to alter the situation. The Revolution was corrupted, turned from its course, and the correct way was lost. "Everything disgusts me so much," Lenin admitted to his comrades one day, seeing what was going on around him, "that, despite my illness, I would like to leave it all and flee." Had he understood?
If, once in power, the Bolshevik Party had, we won't say encouraged (that would have been too much to ask), but only allowed freedom of speech and organization to the libertarians, the retardation would have been quickly made up for and the gaps filled in. As will be seen, the facts prove this irrefutably. The long and difficult struggle which the Bolsheviks had to carry on against Anarchism, despite its weakness, alone permits one to conjecture the success that the Anarchists might have achieved if they had had freedom of speech and action.
But, precisely because of the initial successes of the libertarian movement, and because free Anarchist activity infallibly would have given rise to the idea that all political parties and all power were useless, which would have led to the Bolshevik Party"s elimination, the latter could not permit this liberty. To tolerate Anarchist propaganda would have been equivalent to suicide for the Bolsheviki. They did their best to prevent, then to forbid, and finally to suppress by brute force, any manifestation of libertarian concepts.
It is frequently contended that the labouring masses are incapable of achieving a revolution for themselves, freely. This thesis is particularly dear to the "Communists", for it permits them to invoke an "objective" situation necessarily leading to repression of the "wicked Utopian Anarchists". (Since the masses are incompetent, they say, an "Anarchist revolution" would mean the death of the Revolution). But this thesis is absolutely gratuitous. Let them furnish proof of such alleged incapacity of the masses. One can search history without finding a single example where the masses were really left to act freely (while being helped, naturally), which would be the only way of proving their incapacity.
This experiment never has been tried -- and for reasons easy to understand. (It would, however, be simple). For it is well known that that thesis is false, and the experiment would put an end to exploitation of the people and to authority, based, no matter what its form, not on the incapacity of the masses, but only on violation and deception. That is why, moreover, that eventually the labouring masses will be driven historically to take their liberty of action through a revolution, a true one -- for the dominators (they are always at the same time exploiters, or are in the service of an exploiting class) will never give it, no matter what their label.
The fact that they [the mass of workers] have always entrusted their fate, until the present, to parties, to governments, to leaders -- a fact that all the dominators and potential exploiters use to advantage for subjugating the masses -- may be explained by several circumstances which we don't have to analyze here, and which have nothing to do with the capacity or incapacity of the multitude. This fact proves, if one wishes, the credulity, the heedlessness, of the masses, their unawareness of their own strength, but not at all their incapacity, that is, the absence of that strength.
"Incapacity of the masses". What a tool for all exploiters and dominators, past, present, and future, and especially for the modern aspiring enslavers, whatever their insignia -- Nazism, Bolshevism, Fascism, or Communism. "Incapacity of the masses" There is a point on which the reactionaries of all colours are in perfect agreement with the "Communists". And this agreement is exceedingly significant.
Let the "capable" and infallible leaders of our time, permit the labouring masses, on the day after the coming Revolution, to act freely, while simply helping them where there is need. They will soon see whether the masses are "incapable" of acting without political protectors. We can assure them that the Revolution will then lead to another result than that of 1917, with its Fascism and unending war.
Alas, we know in advance that they never will dare such an experiment. And the masses again have a special task to perform : that of eliminating in full consciousness and in an opportune time, all the "aspirants", of taking the work into their own hands, and carrying it out in full independence. Let us hope that this time the task will be done.
Accordingly the reader will understand why the propaganda of Anarchist ideas, trying to destroy the credulity of the masses, make them conscious of their own strength, and give them confidence in themselves, was considered, at all times and in all countries, as the most dangerous. It has been repressed, and its protagonists pursued, with exceptional promptness and severity, by all reactionary governments.
In Russia this savage repression rendered the spread of libertarian concepts -- already so difficult under existing circumstances -- almost impossible up to the advent of the Revolution. Then the Anarchists were allowed a certain degree of freedom of action. But we have seen that under the provisional governments from February to October, 1917, the Anarchist movement still could not accomplish much. And as for the Bolsheviks, they were no exceptions to the rule. As soon as they achieved power, they undertook the suppression of libertarians by every means at their disposal: slanders, traps and ambushes, prohibitions, searches, arrests, acts of violence, destruction of meeting places, assassinations -- anything was acceptable to them. And when they felt that their power was sufficiently consolidated, they launched a general and decisive repression against the Anarchists. This began in April, 1918, and has never let up until the present. Farther on the reader will find details of this "feat of valour" by the Bolsheviki, almost unknown outside of Russia.
Thus Anarchist activity could only be carried on in approximate freedom for some six months. It is hardly astonishing that the libertarian movement did not have time to organize, to expand, to get rid of, in growing, its weakness and faults. All the more reason that it lacked time to reach the masses and make itself known to them. It remained to the end, shut up in a "closed vessel". It was killed in the egg, without being able to break the shell. (This was, objectively, not impossible).
Such was the second principal reason for its failure.
It is necessary to underline here the capital importance -- for the Revolution -- of what we have just stated.
The Bolsheviks wiped out Anarchism deliberately, aggressively. Taking advantage of the circumstances, and of their hold upon the masses, they savagely suppressed the libertarian idea and the movements which supported it. They did not let Anarchism exist, still less go to the masses. Later they had the impudence to maintain, for political reasons, that Anarchism had failed "ideologically", the masses having understood and rejected its "anti-proletarian doctrine". Abroad, all those who like to be fooled took them at their word. The "Communists" also pretend, as we have said, that since Anarchism, in opposing Bolshevism, did not have "objectively" any chance of steering the Revolution onto its course, it put it in danger and showed itself as being objectively "counter-revolutionary", and therefore had to be fought without softness. They took care not to say that it was precisely they who, very "subjectively", took away from the Anarchists -- and from the masses -- the last chance, the very real means, and the concrete possibility of success.
In wiping out the libertarian movement, in destroying the free movements of the masses, the Bolsheviki, ipso facto, stopped and stifled the Revolution.
Unable to advance further towards the real emancipation of the masses, for which had been substituted a dominating statism, inevitably bureaucratic and exploitive, and "neo-capitalist", the real Revolution inevitably had to recede. For all unfulfilled revolutions, that is to say, those which do not lead to genuine and complete emancipation of labour, are condemned to recede, in one way or another. History teaches us this. And the Russian Revolution confirms it. But those who don't want to listen or see, are slow to understand it.
Some persist in believing in an authoritarian revolution, while others end by despairing of all revolutions, instead of seeking for the why of the failure. Still others -- and these, alas, are the most numerous -- don't want to listen or look. They imagine that they will be able to "live their lives" away from and sheltered from the far-sweeping social backwaters. They are indifferent to the social whole, and seek to intrench themselves in their own miserable individual existence, unconscious of the enormous obstacle that they present, by their attitude, to human progress and their own real well-being. They believe anything and follow anything provided they are "left in peace". They hope thus to be able to "save themselves" in the midst of the cataclysm. A fundamental and fatal error and illusion. However, the truth is simple: so long as the labour of man is not free of all exploitation by man, no one can speak of real life, real progress, or real personal well-being.
For thousands of years three principal conditions have prevented the existence of free labour, and therefore "fraternity" and human well-being:
The state of technology -- man did not possess the vast forces of Nature of which he is now master.
The state of economic affairs which resulted from this -- the insufficiency of the products of human labour, and, as a consequence, an "exchange economy", money, profit; in short, the capitalist system of production and distribution, based on the scarcity of manufactured products.3
The moral factor, which, in its turn, followed the first two -- ignorance, brutalization, submission, resignation of the masses.
But for several decades the first two conditions cited have been greatly modified. Technologically and economically, free labour is now not only possible, but indispensable for the normal life and evolution of man. The capitalist and authoritarian system can no longer insure either one or the other; it can only produce wars. Only the morale is inadequate: accustomed for millennia to resignation and submission, the immense majority of men will not see the true path which is open before them; they still do not perceive the action which history imposes on them. As before, they "follow" and "submit", lending their enormous energy to acts of war and senseless destruction, instead of realizing that, under modern conditions, their free creative activity would be crowned with success. It will be necessary that the force of events, wars, calamities of all sorts, abortive and repeated revolutions, occurring without interruption, taking from them all possibility of living, finally will open their eyes to the truth and will consecrate their energy to real human action, free, constructive, and benevolent.
We must add, in passing, that in our time, the Revolution and reaction will, in the consequences, inevitably be world-wide. Moreover, in 1789 the French Revolution and the reaction which I followed it made resounding echoes and motivated important movements in several countries. If the Russian Revolution, continuing to march forward, had become the great emancipating revolution, peoples in other lands would have followed it presently and in the same direction. In that event it would have been, in fact and not just on paper, a powerful beacon lighting up the true path for humanity.
On the contrary, distorted, and stopped in full retreat, it served admirably the purposes of world reaction, which was awaiting its hour. (The great moguls of reaction are more perspicacious than the revolutionists). The illusion, the myth, the slogans, the trimmings, and the waste paper remained, but real life, which has no use for illusions, trimmings, and waste paper, pursued a wholly different route. Hence the reaction and its far-reaching consequences: Fascism, new wars, and economic and social catastrophes, became almost inevitable.
In this situation, the fundamental -- and well-known -- error of Lenin is curious and suggestive. He expected a rapid extension of the "Communist" revolution to other countries. But his hopes were in vain. However, fundamentally, he did not deceive himself: the true Revolution will "set fire to the world". Yes, a true revolution would have set the world afire. Only his revolution was not a true one. And that Lenin did not see. It was in this respect that he deceived himself. Blinded by his statist doctrine, fascinated by "victory", he did not and could not realize that it was a miscarried, strayed revolution; that it was going to remain sterile; that it could "set fire" to nothing, for it had ceased to "burn" itself; that it had lost the power of spreading, a characteristic of great causes, because it had ceased to be a great cause.
Could he see, in his blindness, that this revolution was going to stop, retreat, degenerate, give rise to victorious reaction in other countries after a few abortive uprisings? Of course not. And he committed a second error: He believed that the ultimate fate of the Russian Revolution depended upon its extension to other countries. Exactly the opposite was true: extension of the Revolution depended upon the results of the revolution in Russia.
These results being vague and uncertain, the labouring masses abroad hesitated, inquired, waited for details. But the information and other indicative elements became more and more obscure and contradictory. The inquiries and delegations met with no definite data. Meanwhile the negative testimonials [about what was happening among the Russians] accumulated. The European masses temporized, did not dare, were mistrustful or uninterested. The necessary spirit was lacking in them, and the cause remained in doubt. Then came the disagreements and the schisms. All this played into the hands of the reaction. It prepared, organized, acted.
Lenin's successors had to accept the evidence. Without perhaps discerning the true cause, they understood intuitively that conditions were not propitious for an extension of the "Communist" Revolution, but that there was a vast reaction against it. They understood that this reaction would be dangerous for them, for their Revolution, such as it was, could not be imposed upon the world. So they set feverishly to work preparing for future wars, henceforth inevitable. From now, this was the only course for them to follow. And for history, too!
It is curious to observe that, subsequently, the "Communists" tried to explain the lack of success and mistakes of the Revolution by invoking "the capitalist encirclement", the inaction of the proletariat of other countries, and the strength of world reaction. They did not suspect -- or did not admit -- that the weakness of the foreign workers and the spreading of the reaction were, to a large extent, the natural consequences of the false route on which they themselves had put the Revolution; and that, in diverting it, they themselves had prepared the road for reaction, for Fascism, and for war.
Such is the tragic truth of the Bolshevik Revolution. Such is its principal lesson for the workers of the world. Fundamentally, it is simple, clear, and indisputable. However, it is still neither established nor even known. It will become so in proportion to events, and as the free study of the Russian Revolution develops.
Let us not be deceived about the fate of the coming Revolution! It has before it only two courses: either that of the genuine Social Revolution which will lead to the real emancipation of the workers (and which is objectively possible), or, again, that of the political, statist, and authoritarian impasse, leading inevitably to a new reaction, new wars, and catastrophes of all sorts.
Human evolution does not stop. It blazes a trail through, over, or around any obstacles. In our day, capitalist, authoritarian, and political society completely forbids it in advance. That society must therefore disappear now, in one way or another. If again this time the people do not know how really to transform it and at the moment of the Revolution, the unavoidable consequence will be a new reaction, a new war, and terrible economic and social cataclysms; in short, the continuation of total destruction, until the people understand and act accordingly. For, in this case, human evolution will have no other way of blazing a trail.4
We mention finally an element which, without having the importance of the factors already cited, nevertheless played a notable role in the tragedy of the Russian Revolution. It has to do with "publicity" or demagogy. Like all political parties, the Bolshevik Party [now the "Communist" Party] used and abused such means. To impress the masses, to "conquer" them, it made use of display, publicity, and bluff. Moreover, it put itself, in any way it could, on top of a mountain so that the crowd could see it, hear it, and admire it. All this gave it strength for the moment.
But such methods are foreign to the libertarian movement, which, by reason of its very essence, is more anonymous, discreet, modest, quiet. This fact increased its temporary weakness. Refusing to lead the masses, working to awaken their consciousness, and depending on their free and direct action, it was obliged to renounce demagogy and work in the shadows, preparing for the future, without seeking to impose authority.
Such was its situation in Russia.
Here I would like to leave the field of concrete facts for a few minutes, and to attempt a short incursion into "philosophical" territory.
The basic idea of Anarchism is simple: no party, political or ideological group, placed above or outside the labouring masses to "govern" or "guide" them ever succeeds in emancipating them, even if it sincerely desires to do so. Effective emancipation can be achieved only by the direct, widespread, and independent action of those concerned, of the workers themselves, grouped, not under the banner of a political party or of an ideological formation, but in their own class organizations (productive workers' unions, factory committees, co-operatives, et cetera) on the basis of concrete action and self-government, helped, but not governed, by revolutionaries working in the very midst of, and not above the mass and the professional, technical, defence, and other branches.
All political or ideological grouping which seeks to "guide" the masses toward their emancipation by the political or governmental route, are taking a false trail, leading to failure and ending inevitably by installing a new system of economic and social privileges, thus giving rise, under another aspect, to a regime of oppression and exploitation for the workers -- therefore another variety of capitalism -- instead of helping the Revolution to direct them to their emancipation.
This thesis necessarily leads to another: The Anarchist idea and the true emancipating revolution cannot be achieved by the Anarchists as such, but only by the vast masses concerned -- the Anarchists, or rather, the revolutionaries in general, being called in only to enlighten and aid them under certain circumstances. If the Anarchists pretended to be able to achieve the Social Revolution by "guiding" the masses, such a pretension would be an illusion, as was that of the Bolsheviki, and for the same reason.
That is not all. In view of the immensity -- one might say the universality -- and the nature of the task, the working class alone cannot lead the true Revolution to a satisfactory conclusion. If it has the pretentiousness of acting alone and imposing itself upon the other elements of the population by dictatorship, and forcibly making them follow it, it will meet with the same failure. One must understand nothing about social phenomena nor of the nature of men and things to believe the contrary.
Also, at the beginning of such a struggle for effective emancipation, history necessarily takes an entirely different course.
Three conditions are indispensable -- in the following order of importance -- for a revolution to succeed conclusively.
It is necessary that great masses -- millions of persons in several countries -- driven by imperative necessity, participate in it of their own free will.
That, by reason of this fact, the more advanced elements, the revolutionists, part of the working class, et al., do not have recourse to coercive measures of a political nature.
That for these two reasons, the huge "neutral" mass, carried without compulsion by the far-sweeping current, by the free enthusiasm of millions of humans, and by the first positive results of this gigantic movement, accept of their own free will the fait accompli and come over more and more to the side of the true revolution.
Thus the achievement of the true emancipating revolution requires the active participation, the strict collaboration, conscious and without reservations, of millions of men of all social conditions, declassed, unemployed, levelled, and thrown into the Revolution by the force of events.
But, in order that these millions of men be driven into a place from which there is no escape, it is necessary above everything else that this force dislodge them from the beaten track of their daily existence. And for this to happen, it is necessary that this existence, the existing society itself, become impossible; that it be ruined from top to bottom -- its economy, its social regime, its politics, its manners, customs, and prejudices.
Such is the course history takes when the times are ripe for the true revolution, for true emancipation.
It is here that we touch upon the heart of the problem.
I think that in Russia this destruction had not gone far enough. Thus the political idea had not been destroyed, which permitted the Bolsheviks to take power, impose their dictatorship, and consolidate themselves. Other false principles and prejudices likewise remained.
The destruction which had preceded the revolution of 1917 was sufficient to stop the war and modify the forms of power and capitalism. But it was not sizeable enough to destroy them in their very essence, to impel millions of men to abandon the false modern social principles (State, politics, power, government, et cetera) and act themselves on completely new bases, and have done forever with capitalism and power, in all their previous forms.
This insufficiency of destruction was, in my opinion, the fundamental cause which arrested the Russian Revolution and led to its deformation by the Bolsheviki.5
It is here that the "philosophical" question arises.
The following reasoning appears quite plausible:
"If, truly, the insufficiency of the preliminary destruction prevented the masses from achieving their revolution, this element, in fact, over-rides and sweeps away everything, and explains everything. In this case, were not the Bolsheviks right in taking power and pushing the Revolution as far as possible, thus barring the way to reaction? Was not their action historically justified, with its methods and consequences?"
To that I reply:
In the first place, it is necessary to define the problem. Fundamentally, were the labouring masses capable of continuing the Revolution and building the new society themselves, by means of their class organizations, which were created by the Revolution, and with the help of the revolutionists?
The real problem is there.
If the answer is no, then one can understand why someone might try to justify the Bolsheviki,6 without, however, being able to pretend that their revolution was the true revolution, or that their procedure was justified where the masses were capable of acting by themselves. But if the answer is yes, then they are irrevocably condemned "without extenuating circumstances", whatever the circumstances and the momentary mistakes of the masses may have been.
In speaking of the insufficiency of destruction, we meant by that especially the evil survival of the political idea. This not having been nullified in advance, the masses, victorious in February, 1917, entrusted the fate of the Revolution subsequently to a party, that is to say, to new masters, instead of getting rid of all pretenders, whatever their label, and taking the Revolution entirely into their own hands. Thus they repeated the fundamental error of previous revolutions. But this erroneous act had nothing to do with the capacity or incapacity of the masses.
Let us suppose for the moment that there had been no one to profit from that error. Would the masses have been capable of carrying the Revolution to its final goal -- to effective, complete emancipation? To this question I reply categorically: Yes. I even maintain that the labouring masses were the only ones capable of leading it there. I hope that the reader will find irrefutable proof of that in this work. And, if this affirmation is correct, then the political factor was not in the least necessary for preventing reaction, continuing the Revolution, and bringing it to a successful conclusion.
2. Let us point out now that our thesis is confirmed by a significant fact, details of which will be given later. In the course of the Revolution, many Russians recognized their error. (The political principle began to fade). They wanted to correct it, to act themselves, to get rid of the pretentious and ineffectual guardianship of the party in power. Here and there they even set to work. But instead of being pleased with this, of encouraging them, or of helping them along that course, as true revolutionists would have done, the Bolsheviki opposed that tendency by unprecedented deceit, violence, and a profusion of military and terrorist exploits. Having discovered their error, the revolutionary masses wished to act themselves and felt that they were capable oj doing so. The Bolsheviks broke their spirit by force.
3. It follows, irrefutably, that the Bolsheviki did not "push the Revolution as far as possible". Retaining power, with all its forces and advantages, they, on the contrary, kept it down. And, subsequently, having taken over the capitalist property, they succeeded, after a fierce struggle against popular total revolution, in turning it to their own advantage, restoring under another form the capitalist exploitation of the masses. (Wherever men do not work under conditions of freedom, the system is necessarily capitalistic, though the form may vary).
4. Thus it is clear that it was not at all a question of justification, but only an historical explanation of the triumph of Bolshevism over the libertarian conception in the Russian Revolution of 1917.
5. It follows also that the real "historical meaning" of Bolshevism is purely negative. It is another lesson from experience, demonstrating to the labouring masses how not to wage a revolution -- a lesson which completely condemns the political idea. Under the conditions existing [in Russia in 1917] such a lesson was almost inevitable, but not at all indispensable. Acting in another manner (which, theoretically, would not have been impossible), the Bolsheviks could have avoided it. So they have no right to be proud of themselves, nor to pose as saviours.
6. This lesson also emphasizes other important points:
The historical evolution of humanity has reached a stage where continuity of progress requires free labour, exempt from all submission, from all constraint, from all exploitation of man by man. Economically, technically, socially, and even morally, such labour is, from now on, not only possible but historically indispensable. The "lever" of this vast social transformation (of which, through several decades, we have been experiencing the tragic convulsions) is the Revolution. To be truly progressive and "justified" that revolution must necessarily lead to a system in which human labour will be effectively and totally emancipated.
In order that the labouring masses may pass from slave labour to free labour, they must, from the beginning of the Revolution, carry it out themselves, in full freedom, in complete independence. Only on this condition can they, concretely and immediately, take in hand the task which is now imposed upon them by history -- the building of a society based on emancipated labour.
All modern revolutions which are not carried out by the masses themselves will not lead to the historically indicated result. So they will be neither progressive nor "justified" but perverted, turned from their true course, and finally lost. Led by new masters and guardians, again kept from all initiative and from all essentially free responsible activity, and compelled as in the past to follow docilely this '"chief" or that "guide" who has imposed himself on them, the labouring masses will revert to their time-honoured habit of "following" and will remain an "amorphous herd", submissive and shorn. And the true revolution simply will not be accomplished.
7. Of course it might still be said to me:
"Suppose for the moment that you are right on certain points. It is none the less true that, though the preliminary destruction was, in your opinion, insufficient, the total Revolution, in the libertarian sense of the term, was objectively impossible. Consequently what happened was, historically at least, inevitable, and the libertarian idea could only have been a utopian dream. Its utopianism might have put the whole Revolution in danger. The Bolsheviks knew this and acted accordingly. That is their justification."
The reader may have noticed that I invariably say: "almost inevitable". I use "almost" deliberately. From my pen this word takes on a special importance.
Naturally, in principle, the general objective factors outweigh all others. In the phase we are considering, the insufficiency of the preliminary destruction -- and the survival of the political principle -- would, objectively, lead to the accession of Bolshevism. But in the human world the problem of "factors" becomes exceedingly delicate. The objective factors dominate it, not in an absolute manner, but only to a certain degree, and the subjective factors play an important role.
What exactly is this role, and to what extent is it significant? VVe do not know. The rudimentary state of the sciences of man do not permit us to define [the two roles] precisely. And the task is all the more arduous in that neither of the two is fixed, but that both are, on the contrary, infinitely mobile and variable. (This problem is one of free will). How and to what extent does "determinism" prevail over the "free will" of man? Inversely: in what sense and to what degree does "free will" exist and how does it extricate itself from the hold of "determinism"? In spite of the researches of many thinkers we still do not know.
What we do know perfectly is that subjective factors hold an important place in human affairs -- to such an extent that sometimes they overcome the apparently "inevitable" effects of the objective factors, especially when the former are connected in a certain way.
Let us cite a modern example, striking and universally known.
In the war of 1914-18, Germany, objectively, should have defeated France. And, in fact, scarcely a month after the beginning of hostilities, the German Army was under the walls of Paris. One after another, the battles were lost by the French. France was "almost inevitably" going to be conquered. (If it had been, it would have been easy to say later, with a "scientific" manner, that this was "historically and objectively indispensable"). Then there occurred a series of purely subjective developments. They linked together and destroyed the effects of the objective factors.
Too confident of the crushing superiority of his forces and carried away by the enthusiasm of his victorious troops, General von Kluck, who commanded the Kaiser's Army, neglected to cover his right wing adequately -- this was the first purely subjective factor. (Another general, or even von Kluck at another time, might have covered that wing).
General Gallieni, military commander of Paris, observed this error of von Kluck, and proposed to Generalissimo Joffre that the uncovered wing be attacked with all the forces available, notably those of the Paris garrison. This was the second subjective circumstance -- for it required the discernment and the will of Gallieni to make such a resolution and risk such a responsibility. Another general -- or even Gallieni at another moment -- might have been neither so discerning nor so determined.
Joffre accepted Gallidni's plan and ordered the attack. This was the third subjective fact -- for it needed the good will and other moral qualities of Joffre to accept that proposal. Another generalissimo, haughty and jealous of his prerogatives, might have replied to Gallieni: "You are the commander in Paris. So tend to your own affairs and don't meddle in what is not within your province."
Finally, the strange fact that the discussions between Gallium" and Joffre were not intercepted by the German high command, usually well informed about what occurred on the French side, must also be added to this chain of subjective factors, a chain which led to the French victory and which was decisive for the issues of the war.
Themselves aware of the objective improbability of this victory, the French characterized it as "the miracle of the Marne". But it was not a miracle. It was simply a rather unusual event, unexpected and "imponderable", growing out of a group of subjective factors which overcame the objective elements.
It was in the same sense that I said to my comrades in Russia in 1917: "A 'miracle' is needed for the libertarian idea to overcome Bolshevism in this revolution. We must believe in this miracle and work for its realization."
By that I meant that only an unforeseen and imponderable play of subjective factors could militate against the crushing objective weight of Bolshevism. This did not occur. But what is important is that it could have occurred. And let us recall that it almost occurred twice -- once at the time of the Kronstadt uprising in March, 1921, and in the course of the severe fighting between the new authorities and the Anarchist masses in the Ukraine in 1919-1921.
Thus in the human world "absolute objective inevitability" does not exist. At any moment purely human, subjective factors can intervene and override [any such abstraction].
The Anarchist conception, as solidly and "scientifically" established as that of the Bolsheviks, (the latter conception also was treated as Utopian by its opponents, on the eve of the Revolution) exists. Its fate, in the course of the next revolution, depends on a highly complicated interplay of all sorts of factors, objective and subjective, the latter especially being infinitely varied, mobile, changeable, unforeseeable, and intangible -- a play, the result of which can never be "objectively inevitable".
Concluding on this point, I repeat that the insufficiency of destruction was the fundamental cause of the triumph of Bolshevism over Anarchism in the 1917 Russian Revolution. It goes without saying that this was the case, and that it is being discussed here because the play of various other factors did not efface either the cause or the effect. But it could have been otherwise. And who knows what subjective factors played a part in the triumph of Bolshevism?
To be sure, the discrediting in advance of the evil political chimera of authoritarian "Communism" would have assured, facilitated, and accelerated the realization of the libertarian principle. But in a general way, the insufficiency of this discrediting at the beginning of the Revolution did not at all signify the inevitable eclipse of Anarchism.
The complex play of various factors may have unexpected results. It may end by suppressing cause and effect. The political and authoritarian idea, the statist conception, might have been destroyed in the course of the Revolution, and this would have left the field free for the achievement of the Anarchist concept.
Like all revolutions, that of 1917 had two roads before it:
1. That of the true Revolution of the masses, leading directly to their complete emancipation. If this road had been taken, the prodigious enthusiasm and the definitive result of such a revolution would have effectively "shaken the world". Probably all reaction would have been impossible from then on; and all dissension among the social movements would have been prevented in advance by the force of the fait accompli. Finally, the ferment which followed the Russian Revolution in Europe probably would have led to the same definitive result.
2. That of the unachieved Revolution. In that case, history would have had only one way of continuing: retreat to world-wide reaction, world-wide catastrophe (war), total destruction of the existing society, and, in the last analysis, resumption of the Revolution by the masses themselves, actually achieving their emancipation.
In principle, the two roads were possible. But the totality of factors present rendered the second road much more probable. It was the second, in fact, that was followed by the 1917 Revolution.
But the first is the one that should be taken by the next revolution.
And now, our philosophical parenthesis concluded, let us return to the events [involved in all this].

  • 1. To avoid confusion, I will give some definitions here:
    I use the term State in its current and concrete meaning: a meaning that it has acquired at the end of a long historical evolution, a meaning which is perfectly and uniformly accepted by everyone: a meaning finally, which precisely constitutes the object of the whole controversy.
    Herein the State signifies a congealed political organism, "mechanically" centralized or directed by a political government supported by a complexity of laws and coercive institutions.
    Certain bourgeois. Socialist, and Communist authors and critics use the term State in another sense, vast and general, declaring that all organized society on a large scale represents a State. And they deduce from this that any new society, whatever it is, will "necessarily" be a State. According to them, we are fruitlessly discussing a word.
    According to us, they are playing with words. For a concrete concept, generally accepted and historically given, they substitute another, and they combat, in the name of the latter, anti-statist, libertarian, Anarchist ideas. Moreover, they thus confuse, unconsciously or deliberately, two essentially different concepts: State and Society.
    It goes without saying that the future society -- the real one -- will be society. It is not a question of the word, but of the essence. (It is probable that they [those authors and critics] will abandon a term which designates a determined and limited form of society. In any case, if the future good society is called a "State" it will thus give that term an entirety different meaning from that which is the subject of the controversy.) What is important -- and what the Anarchists maintain -- is that this future society will be incompatible with what is called a State at present.
    I take advantage of this occasion to remark that many authors are wrong in admitting only two definitions of the term accepted up to now: Either the State (which they confuse with Society) or a free disorganized assembly and a chaotic struggle between individuals and groups of individuals. Consciously or unconsciously, they omit a third possibility which is neither a State (in the concrete meaning indicated) nor a random gathering of individuals, but a society based on the free and natural union of all sorts of associations and federations: consumers and producers.
    There exists, therefore, not one but two essentially different anti-statisms. One, unreasonable, and consequently easily attacked, is allegedly based on the "free caprice of individuals. " (Who has advocated such an absurdity? Is it not a pure invention, created for the sake of argument?) The other is a-political, but is reasonably based on something perfectly organized, on the co-operative union of various associations. It is in the name of the latter form of anti-statism that Anarchism combats the State.
    An analogous observation also should be made about the term government. There are many who declare: "It will never be possible to dispense with men who organize, administer, direct, et cetera." Those who do these things for a vast social complex -- for a "State" -- form a "government" whether you like it or not. And they still pretend that it is only a discussion of words! They fall here into the same error. The political and coercive government of a political State is one thing; a body of administrators, organizers and, animators, or of technical, professional, or other directors, indispensable for the co-ordinated functioning of the associations, federations, et cetera, is another.
    So let us not play with words. Let us be precise and clear. Does one accept, yes or no, that a political State, directed by a representative, political, or other government, can serve a function in a true future society? If yes, one is not an Anarchist. If no, one is already one, for the most part. Does one agree, yes or no, that a political State, et cetera, can serve a transitional society on the way to true Socialism? If yes, one is not an Anarchist. If no, one is.
  • 2. Some individuals pretend that freedom of ideas is a danger to the Revolution. But from the moment that the armed forces are with the revolutionary people (otherwise the Revolution could not take place) and the people themselves control them, what danger could an opinion have? And then, if the workers themselves are guarding the Revolution, they will know how to defend themselves against any real danger better than an "extinguisher".
  • 3. Readers who wish to investigate the problem of modern economic evolution should consult especially the works of Jacques Duboin.
  • 4. See, in this connection, the author's Choses Vecues, a first brief study of the Russian Revolution, in La Revue Anarchiste of Sebastian Faure, [Paris?] 1922-24.
  • 5. All these ideas are developed more fully in my study mentioned earlier: Choses Vecues
  • 6. As the reader will see, I do not mean that in this case the Bolsheviks were justified. Those who would maintain that they were must prove that they did not have any other way of acting in order to prepare the masses, progressively, to achieve a free and total revolution. I am emphatically of the opinion that they could have found other methods. But I am not much concerned with that aspect of the question. Considering the thesis of the incapacity of the masses as being absolutely false, and considering that the facts set forth in this work prove it abundantly, I have no reason to envisage a situation which, to me, simply did not exist.

Part II: About the October Revolution

CHAPTER 1: Bolsheviks and Anarchists Before October

Here we find occasion to go back and review the respective positions of the Bolsheviks and the Anarchists prior to the October Revolution.
The position of the Bolsheviki on the eve of that revolution was characteristic.
It is well to recall, however, that Lenin's ideology and the position of his party had changed considerably since 1900. Aware that the Russian labouring masses, once started in revolt, would go far and would not stop at a bourgeois solution -- especially in a country where the bourgeoisie hardly existed as a class -- Lenin and his party, in their desire to anticipate and dominate the masses in order to lead them, ended by formulating an extremely advanced revolutionary programme. They now envisaged a strictly Socialist revolution. And they arrived at an almost libertarian conception of the revolution, with almost Anarchist slogans -- except, of course, with regard to the fundamental point of demarcation -- the taking of power and the problem of the State.
When I read the writings of Lenin, especially those after 1914, I observed a perfect parallelism between his ideas and those of the Anarchists, except for the idea of the State and power. This identity of understanding, recognition, and prediction seemed to me already very dangerous for the true cause of the Revolution. For -- I did not fool myself -- under the pen, in the mouths, and in the acts, of the Bolsheviks, all these great ideas were without real life, without a future. These writings and these words, fascinating and overpowering, would remain without serious consequences, because the subsequent acts [of the Bolsheviki] certainly were not going to correspond to their theories.
But I was sure that, on the one hand, the masses, in view of the weakness of the Anarchist movement, would blindly follow the Bolsheviks, and that, on the other hand, the latter inevitably would deceive the masses and mislead them into an evil course. For beyond any doubt they would distort and pervert their proclaimed principles.
That is what happened in fact.
In order to quicken the spirit of the masses, and gain their sympathy and confidence, the Bolshevik Party launched, with all the strength of its agitational and propaganda apparatus, slogans which until then had particularly and insistently been voiced by the Anarchists:
Long live the Social Revolution!
Down with the war! Immediate peace!

And especially:
The land to the peasants!
The factories to the workers!

The labouring masses swiftly seized upon these slogans, which expressed their real aspirations perfectly.
From the lips and under the pens of the Anarchists, those slogans were sincere and concrete, for they corresponded to their principles and called for action entirely in conformity with such principles. But with the Bolsheviks, the same slogans meant practical solutions totally different from those of the libertarians, and did not at all tally with the ideas which the words appeared to express. For the Bolsheviki, they were only slogans.
Social Revolution meant for the Anarchists a really social act: a transformation which would take place outside of all political and statist organizations, and all out-moded social systems -- both governmental and authoritarian.
But the Bolsheviks pretended to wage the Revolution specifically with the aid of an omnipotent State, of an all-powerful government, of dictatorial power.
If a revolution did not abolish the State, the government, and politics, the Anarchists did not consider it a social revolution, but simply a political revolution -- which of course might be more or less coloured by social elements.
But achievement of power and organization of "their" government and "their" State spelled the Social Revolution for the "Communists" [the label which the Bolsheviki adopted later].
In the minds of the Anarchists, social revolution meant destruction of the State and capitalism at the same time, and the birth of a new society based on another form of social organization.
For the Bolsheviks, social revolution meant, on the contrary, the resurrection of the State after the abolition of the bourgeois State -- that is to say, the creation of a powerful new State for the purpose of "constructing Socialism".
The Anarchists held it impossible to institute Socialism by means of the State.
The Bolsheviki maintained that it could be achieved only through the State.
This difference of interpretation was, as will readily be seen, fundamental.
(I recall big posters on a wall in Petrograd, at the time of the October Revolution, announcing lectures by Trotsky on The Organization of Power. "A typical and fatal error," I said to comrades, "for if it is a question of social revolution, one should be concerned with organizing the Revolution and not with organizing power.")
Respective interpretation of the call for immediate peace also was notably different.
To the Anarchists that slogan was a call for direct action by the armed masses themselves, over the heads of the governors, the politicians, and the generals. According to the anarchists, those masses should leave the front and return to the country, thus proclaiming to the world their refusal to fight stupidly for the interests of the capitalists and their disgust with the shameful butchery. Such a gesture, frank, integrated, decisive -- the Anarchists believed -- would produce an enormous effect upon the soldiers of the other nations, and might lead, in the last analysis, to the end of the war, perhaps even to its transformation into a world revolution. They thought that it was necessary, taking advantage of the immensity of Russia, to draw the enemy on, cut him off from his bases, cause his Army to disintegrate, and put him out of the fighting.
The Bolsheviks, however, were afraid of such direct action. Politicians and statists, they wanted a peace through political and diplomatic channels, the fruit of discussions with the German generals and "plenipotentiaries".
The land to the peasants! the factories to the workers! By these words the Anarchists understood that, without being the I property of anyone, the land should be put at the disposal of all those who desired to cultivate it (without exploiting anyone) and of their associations and federations, and that likewise the factories, works, mines, machines, et cetera, should be at the disposal of all the workers' productive associations and their federations . Methods and details of this activity would be regulated by those associations and federations, by free agreement.
But to the Bolsheviki this same slogan meant the nationalization of all those elements. For them the land, the works, the factories, the mines, the machines, and the means of transport should be the property of the State, which would permit the workers to use them.
Again, the difference of interpretation was fundamental.
As for the masses themselves, intuitively they understood all those slogans rather in the libertarian sense. But, as we have said earlier, the voice of Anarchism was relatively so weak that the vast masses didn't hear it. It seemed to them that only the Bolsheviks dared to proclaim and defend these glorious and just principles. This was all the more true in that the Bolshevik Party proclaimed itself every day on the street corners as being the only party struggling for the interests of the city workers and the peasants; the only party which, once in power, would know how to achieve the Social Revolution.

"Workers and peasants! The Bolshevik Party is the only one which defends you. No other party knows how to lead you to victory. Workers and peasants! The Bolshevik Party is your own party. It is the only party that is really yours. Help it to take power and you will triumph."

This leitmotif of the Bolshevik propaganda finally became an obsession. Even the left Social Revolutionary Party, which was much stronger than the small Anarchist groups, could not rival the Bolsheviks. However, it was then strong enough so that the Bolsheviki had to reckon with it and offer it, for some time, seats in the government.
Finally, it is interesting to compare the position of the Bolsheviks to that of the Anarchists, on the eve of the October Revolution, on the question of the workers' soviets.
The Bolsheviki expected to achieve the Revolution, on the one hand, through an insurrection of these Soviets, which were demanding "all power" for themselves, and, on the other hand, through military insurrection which would support the action of the Soviets (the whole proceedings of course under the immediate and effective direction of the party). The working masses had the task of vigorously supporting this action, In perfect accord with their point of view and their "tactics", the Bolsheviks launched the general slogan of the Revolution: "All power to the Soviets!."
As for the Anarchists, they were suspicious of this slogan and for good reason -- they knew well that that formula did not at all correspond with the real plans of the Bolshevik Party. They knew that in the last analysis the latter sought highly centralized power for itself. (That is, for its central committee and ultimately for its leader, Lenin, who, aided by Trotsky, as is now generally known, directed all the preparations for the taking of power).
"All power to the Soviets!" was therefore, in reality, according to the Anarchists, only an empty formula, subject to being filled later with any kind of content. And it was a false, hypocritical, deceptive formula -- for, the Anarchists declared, if "power" really should belong to the Soviets, it could not belong to the Bolshevik Party, and if it should belong to that Party, as the Bolsheviks envisaged, it could not belong to the Soviets.
That is why the Anarchists, while admitting that the Soviets should perform certain functions in the building of the new society, did not accept the formula without reservations. To them, the word power rendered it ambiguous, suspect, illogical, and demagogic. They knew that, by its very nature, political power could not really be exercised except by a very restricted group of men at the centre. Therefore this power -- the real power -- could not belong to the Soviets. It would actually be in the hands of the party. Then what did the formula "All power to the Soviets" truly mean?
Comment and doubts having to do with that theme were expressed by the Anarcho-Syndicalists in an editorial entitled Is This the End?, published in their weekly, Golos Truda. 1 Pointed questions were asked in that editorial.

"Will the eventual realization of the formula, All power to the Soviets -- rather the eventual taking of political power -- be the end? Wili this be all? Will this act accomplish the destructive work of the Revolution? Will it completely prepare the ground for the great social construction, for the creative spirit of the people in revolt? Will the victory of the 'Soviets' -- if it is achieved -- and, again, the 'organization of power' which will follow it, effectively signify the victory of labor, of the organized forces of the workers, the beginning of genuine Socialist construction?
Will this victory and this new 'power' succeed in leading the Revolution out of the impasse in which it finds itself? Will they manage to open new creative horizons for the Revolution, for the masses, for everyone? Are they going to point out the true course for the Revolution to constructive work, the effective solution for all the burning questions of the period?"

It would all depend, the Anarcho-Syndicalist organ contended, on what interpretation the conquerors put on the word power and their idea of the organization of power. It would depend, too, on the way in which the victory would be utilized by the elements holding power after that victory.
Plainly pessimistic, the editors of Golos Truda cited several circumstances vitally necessary to a just and equitable handling of the situation by the Bolsheviki. Only if certain factors existed, they averred, could the new crisis become the last one; only then could it signify the beginning of a new era. Those factors embodied five ifs:

"If by 'power' one wishes to say that all creative work and all organizational activity throughout the whole country will be in the hands of the workers' and peasants' organizations, supported by the armed masses;
If one understands by 'power' the full right of these organizations to carry on this activity and to federate to this end . . . thus beginning the new economic and social construction which will lead the Revolution to new horizons of peace, economic equality, and true liberty;
If . . . 'power to the Soviets' does not signify installation of lobbies of a political power . . . ;
If, finally, the political party aspiring to power . . . liquidates itself after the victory and yields its place effectively to a free self-government of the workers; and
If the 'power of the Soviets' does not become, in reality, statist power of a new political party."

But, the Anarcho-Syndicalists held, if "power" actually meant the activity of the authoritarian and political lobbies of the Bolshevik Party, lobbies directed by its principal authoritarian and political centre (the central power of the party and the State); if the; "taking of power by the Soviets" really meant usurpation of power by a new political party, for the purpose of reconstructing, by means of this power, from above and by that "centre", the whole economic and social life of the country, and thus resolving the complex problems of the moment and of the period -- then this new stage of the Revolution would not be the final stage either.
Golos Truda did not doubt for an instant, it stated, that "this new power" would neither begin nor understand the real Socialist construction, nor even satisfy the immediate essential needs and interests of the population. And it did not doubt that the masses would quickly become disenchanted with their new idols and be forced to turn to other solutions after having disavowed those new gods. Then, after an interval -- of uncertain length -- the struggle would of necessity begin again. This would be the commencement of the third and last stage of the Russian Revolution -- a stage which would be a Great Revolution in itself.

"This will be a struggle [the editorial continued] between the living forces of the creative spirit of the masses, on the one hand, and the Social Democratic power, with its centralist spirit, defending itself bitterly, on the other. In other words: a struggle between the workers' and peasants' organizations acting directly and on their own, taking the land and all the means of production, transport, and distribution, to establish, in complete independence, a really new human existence -- this on the one hand, and the Marxist political authority on the other; a struggle between the authoritarian and libertarian systems; a contest between two principles which have been battling for pre-eminence for a long time: the Marxist principle and the Anarchist principle."

And, the Anarcho-Syndicalist editors concluded, only a complete and definitive victory of the Anarchist principle -- the principle of the free and natural self-organization of the masses -- would spell a true victory for the Great Revolution.
They did not believe, they declared, in the possibility of achieving the Social Revolution through the political process. They did not believe that the work of new social construction, and the solution of the vast, varied, and complex problems of that time could be achieved through a political act, by the taking of power by the top or centre. "Those who live," they predicted, "shall see!

CHAPTER 2: Anarchist Position on the October Revolution

On the same day, the Union for Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda published a statement in Golos Truda in which it indicated clearly its position on the question of political power. It summed up the situation in two compact paragraphs:

"I. Inasmuch as we give the slogan 'All power to the Soviets', an entirely different meaning from that which, in our opinion, is given by the Social Democratic Bolshevik Party, 'called upon by events to lead the movement'; inasmuch as we do not believe in the broad perspectives of a revolution which begins with a political act, that is, by the taking of power; inasmuch as we do not support any action of the masses for political goals and under the control of a political party; and finally, inasmuch as we conceive of an entirely different way, both for the beginning and the subsequent development of a real social revolution, we do not support the present movement.
"2. Nevertheless, if the [proposed] action by the masses should commence, then, as Anarchists, we will participate in it with the greatest possible energy. For we cannot put ourselves out of touch with the revolutionary masses, even if they are not following our course and our appeals, and even if we foresee the defeat of the movement. We never forget that it is impossible to foresee either the direction or the result of a movement by the masses. Consequently, we consider it our duty always to participate in such a movement, seeking to communicate our meaning, our ideas, our truth, to it."

CHAPTER 3: Other Disagreements

Beside the great divergences of principle which separated the Anarchists and the Bolsheviks, there existed differences of detail between them. Let us mention the two most important incidental points of variance -- the question of the purported "workers' control of production" and that of the Constituent Assembly.
Contemplating the workers' problem, the Bolshevik Party prepared to begin [moving toward a solution] by instituting the so-called workers' control of production -- that is, the introduction of workers into the management of private enterprises.
The Anarchists objected that if this "control" were not to remain a dead letter, and if the workers' organizations were capable 6f exercising effective control, then they also were capable of guaranteeing all production. In such an event, private industry could be eliminated quickly, but progressively, and replaced by collective industry. Consequently, the Anarchists rejected the vague nebulous slogan of "control of production". They advocated expropriation -- progressive, but immediate -- of private industry by the organizations of collective production.
We want to emphasize, in that connection, that it is absolutely false -- I insist on this, because the false assertion, sustained by ignorant people and by those of bad faith, has been fairly widespread -- it is false, I say, that in the course of the Russian Revolution, the Anarchists knew only how to "destroy" and "criticize", "without being able to formulate the least positive ideas". And it is false that the Anarchists "did not themselves possess, and therefore never expressed sufficiently clear ideas on the application of their own conception". In looking through the libertarian press of the period [in Russia] (Golos Truda, Anarchy, Nabat, et cetera), one can see that this literature abounded in clear and practical expositions of the role and functioning of the workers' organizations, as well as the method of action which would, permit the latter, in! co-operation with the peasants, to replace the destroyed capitalist and statist mechanism.
What the Anarchists lacked in the Russian Revolution was not clear and precise ideas, but, as we have said, institutions able, from the start, to apply those ideas to life. And it was the Bolsheviks who, to achieve their own plans, opposed the creation and the functioning of such institutions.
The [Anarchist] ideas, clear and exact, were formulated, the masses were intuitively ready to understand them and to apply them with the help of the revolutionaries, intellectuals, and specialists. The necessary institutions were sketched out and could have \ been rapidly oriented toward the true goal with the aid of the same elements. But the Bolsheviki deliberately prevented the spreading of those ideas and that enlightened assistance, and the activity of the [projected] institutions. For they wanted action only for themselves and under the form of political power.
This complex of facts, specific and incontestable, is basic for ; anyone who seeks to understand the development and meaning of the Russian Revolution. The reader will find in these pages numerous examples -- chosen from among thousands -- bearing out my statements, point by point.
We come now to the other controversial issue mentioned -- the Constituent Assembly.
To continue the Revolution and transform it into a social revolution, the Anarchists saw no utility in calling such an assembly, an institution essentially political and bourgeois, cumbersome and sterile, an institution which, by its very nature, placed itself "above the social struggles" and concerned itself only, by means of dangerous compromises, with stopping the Revolution, and even suppressing it if possible.
So the Anarchists tried to make known to the masses the uselessness of the Constituent Assembly, and the necessity of going beyond it and replacing it at once with economic and social organizations, if they really wanted to begin a social revolution.
As seasoned politicians, the Bolsheviks hesitated to abandon the Constituent Assembly frankly. (Its convocation, as we have seen, occupied a prominent place on their programme before the seizure of power). This hesitation had several reasons behind it: Onthe one hand, the Bolsheviki did not see any inconvenience in having the Revolution "stopped" at the stage where it was, provided they remained masters of power. The Assembly could serve their interests if, for example, its majority were Bolsheviks or if the Deputies approved their direction and their acts. On the other hand, the masses were closely attached to [the idea of] the Assembly, and it was not prudent to contradict them in the beginning. Finally, the Bolsheviks did not feel themselves strong enough to risk furnishing a trump card to their enemies, who, recalling the formal promises of the party before the seizure of power, could cry Treason! and disturb the masses.
For, since the latter were not thoroughly curbed and subjugated, their spirit was on guard, and their temper was very changeable; the example of the Kerensky government still fresh in memory. Finally, the party decided on this solution: to proceed with the calling of the Constituent Assembly, while supervising the elections minutely and exerting maximum effort to make sure that the results were favourable to the Bolsheviki regime.
If the Assembly was pro-Bolshevik, or at least docile and without real importance, it would be manoeuvred and used for the ends of the government. If, however, the Assembly was not favourable to Bolshevism, the leaders of the party would observe closely the reactions of the masses, and dissolve the gathering on the first favourable occasion. To be sure, the game was somewhat risky. But counting on its vast and profound popularity, and also on the lack of power in the hands of the Assembly, which, moreover, was certain to compromise itself if it took a stand against Bolshevism, the risk was accepted. The events which followed demonstrated that the Bolshevik Party did not deceive itself.
Fundamentally, the promise of the Bolsheviks to call the Constituent Assembly as soon as they assumed power, was to them, only a demagogic formula. In their game, it was a card which might win everything at one toss. If the Assembly validated their power, their position would speedily and peculiarly be confirmed throughout the country and abroad. If the contrary should be the case, they felt that they had sufficient strength to be able to get rid of the Assembly without difficulty.

CHAPTER 4: Some Reflections

Naturally the popular masses could not recognize all the subtleties of these different interpretations. It was impossible for them -- even when they had made some contact with our ideas -- to understand the real significance of the differences in question. The Russian workers, of all the workers in the world, were the least familiar with political matters. They could not be aware either of the machiavellianism or the danger of the Bolshevik interpretation.
I recall the desperate efforts with which I tried to warn the city workers, in so far as it was possible, by word of mouth and by writing, of the imminent danger for the true Revolution in the event that the masses let the Bolshevik Party intrench itself solidly in power.
In vain I argued; the masses did not recognize the danger. How many times did they object in words like these: "Comrade, we understand you well. And moreover, we are not too confident. We agree that it is necessary for us to be somewhat on guard, not to believe blindly, and to maintain in ourselves a prudent distrust. But, up to the present, the Bolsheviks have never betrayed us. They march straightforwardly with us, they are our friends. And they claim that once they are in power they can easily make our aspirations triumph. That seems true to us. Then why should we reject them? Let us help them win power, and we will see afterward."
Unheeded, I pointed out that the goals of the Social Revolution could never be realized by means of political power. To doubting listeners I repeated that once organized and armed, the Bolshevik power, while admittedly as inevitably impotent as the others, would be infinitely more dangerous for the workers and Wore difficult to defeat than they had been. But invariably thos to whom I talked replied in this wise:

"Comrade, it was we, the masses, who overthrew Tsarism. It was we who overthrew the bourgeois government. And it is we who are ready to overthrow Kerensky. So, if you are right, and if the Bolsheviki have the misfortune of betraying us, and of not keeping their promises, we will overthrow them as we did the others. And then we will march finally and only with our friends the Anarchists."

Again in vain I pointed out that for various reasons, the Bolshevik State would be much more difficult to overthrow. But the workers would not, or could not, believe me.
All this, however, is not at all astonishing when in countries familiar with political methods and where (as in France) they are more or less disgusted with them, the labouring masses and even the intellectuals, while wishing for the Revolution, are still unable to understand that the installation in power of a political party, even of the extreme left, and the building of a State, whatever its label, will lead to the death of the Revolution. Could it be otherwise in a country such as Russia, which never had had the slightest political experience?
Returning on their battleships from Petrograd to Kronstadt after the victory of October, 1917, the revolutionary sailors soon began discussing the danger that might result simply from the existence of the Council of People's Commissars in power. Some maintained, notably, that this political sanhedrin was capable of some day betraying the principles of the October Revolution. But, on the whole, the sailors, primarily impressed by its easy victory, declared while brandishing their weapons: "In that case, since the cannons have known how to take the Winter Palace, they will know how to take Smolny also." (The former Smolny Institute in Petrograd was the first seat of the Bolshevik government, immediately after the victory.)
As we know, the political, statist, governmental idea had not yet been discredited in the Russia of 1917. And it still has not been discredited in any other country. Time and other historical experiences certainly are needed in order that the masses [everywhere], enlightened at the same time by propaganda, will finally be made entirely aware of the falsity, the vanity, the peril of the idea.
On the night of the famous day of October 25, I was on a street in Petrograd. It was dark and quiet. In the distance a feW scattered rifle shots could be heard. Suddenly an armoured car passed me at full speed. From inside the car, a hand threw a packet of leaflets which flew in all directions. I bent down and picked one up. It was an announcement by the new government to "workers and peasants" telling of the fall of the Kerensky government, and giving a list of the "People's Commissars" of the new regime, Lenin at the head.
A complex sentiment of sadness, rage, and disgust, but also a sort of ironic satisfaction, took hold of me. "Those imbeciles (if they are not simply demagogic imposters, I thought) must imagine that thus they have achieved the Social Revolution! Oh, well, they are going to see . . . And the masses are going to learn a good lesson!"
Who could have foreseen at that moment that only three years and four months later, in 1921, on the glorious days of February 25 to 28, the workers of Petrograd would revolt against the new "Communist" government? '
There exists an opinion which has some support among Anarchists. It is maintained that, under the prevailing conditions [in October, 1917], the Russian Anarchists, momentarily renouncing their negation of politics, parties, demagogy, and power, should have acted "like Bolsheviks", that is to say, should have formed a sort of political party and endeavoured to take power provisionally. In that event, it is asserted, they could have "carried the masses" with them, defeated the Bolsheviki, and seized power "to organize Anarchism subsequently".
I consider this reasoning fundamentally and dangerously false.
Even if the Anarchists, in such a contingency, had won the victory (which is exceedingly doubtful), that winning, bought at the price of the "momentary" abandonment of the basic principle of Anarchism, never could have led to the triumph of that principle. Carried away by the force and logic of events, the Anarchists in power -- what nonsense! -- could only have achieved a variety of Bolshevism.
(I believe that the recent events in Spain and the position of certain Spanish Anarchists who accepted posts in the government I thus throwing themselves into the void of "politics" and reducing to nothing the real Anarchist action, confirms, to a large extent, my point of view.)
If such a method could have achieved the result sought, if it were possible to fight power with power, Anarchism would have no reason to exist. "In principle" everybody is an "Anarchist" If the Communists, the Socialists, et al., are not so in reality, it is precisely because they believe it possible to arrive at a libertarian order by way of politics and power. (I speak of sincere people). Therefore, if one wants to suppress power by means of power and the "carried away masses" one is a Communist, a Socialist, or anything you like, but one is not an Anarchist. One is an Anarchist, specifically, because one holds it impossible to suppress power, authority, and the State with the aid of power, authority, and the State (and the "carried away masses"). Whenever one has recourse to such means -- even if only "momentarily" and with very good intentions -- one ceases to be an Anarchist, one renounces Anarchism, one rallies to the Bolshevik principle.
The idea of seeking to carry the masses along with power is contrary to Anarchism, which does not believe that man can ever achieve his true emancipation by that method.
I recall, in this connection, a conversation with our widely known comrade, Maria Spiridonova, animator of the left Social Revolutionary Party, in 1919 or 1920 in Moscow. (At the risk of her own life, she assassinated, in the old days, one of the most ferocious satraps of the Tsar. She endured tortures, barely missed death [by hanging], and remained imprisoned a long time. Freed by the Revolution of February, 1917, she joined the left Social Revolutionaries and became one of their pillars. She was one of the most sincere revolutionists, devoted, respected, esteemed.)
During our discussion. Maria Spiridonova told me that the left Social Revolutionaries believed in power in a very restricted form; a power reduced to a minimum, accordingly very weak, very humane, and especially very provisional. "Just the bare minimum, permitting it, as quickly as possible, to weaken, to crumble, and to disappear!"
"Don't fool yourself," I advised her. "Power is never a ball of sand, which, when it is rolled, disintegrates. It is, on the contrary a snowball, which, when rolled, increases in size. Once in power, you would do like the others."
And so would the Anarchists, I might add.
In the same connection, I remember another striking incident.
In 1919 I was active in the Ukraine. By that time the Russian masses already were keenly disillusioned about Bolshevism. The Anarchist propaganda in Ukrainia (where the Bolsheviks had not yet totally suppressed it) had begun to achieve a lively success.
One night some Red soldiers, delegated by their regiments, came to the seat of our Kharkov group and told us this: "Several units of the garrison here are fed up with the Bolsheviks. They sympathize with the Anarchists, and are ready to act. One of these nights they could easily arrest the members of the Bolshevik government of the Ukraine and proclaim an Anarchist government, which certainly would be better. Nobody would oppose it. Everybody has had enough of the Bolshevik power. Therefore we ask the Anarchist Party to come to an agreement with us, to authorize us to act in its name in preparing this action, to proceed to arrest the present government, and to take power in its place, with our help. We put ourselves completely at the disposition of the Anarchist Party."
Of course the misunderstanding was evident. The term "Anarchist Party" alone bore witness to it. These good soldiers had no idea of what Anarchism really meant. They may have heard it spoken of vaguely or attended some meeting.
But the fact was there. Two alternative solutions were available to us: either to take advantage of this misunderstanding, have the Bolshevik government arrested, and "take power" in the Ukraine; or explain to the soldiers their mistake, give them an understanding of the fundamental nature of Anarchism, and renounce the adventure.
Naturally we chose the second solution. And for two hours I set forth our viewpoint to the regimental delegates.
"If," I said to them, "the vast masses of Russia arise in a new revolution, frankly abandoning the Government and conscious that they need not replace it with another to organize their life on a new basis, that would be the proper, the true Revolution, and all the Anarchists would march with the masses. But if we -- a group of men -- arrest the Bolshevik government to put ourselves in their place, nothing basic is changed. And subsequently, carried along by the very same system, we could not do any better! than the Bolsheviki."
Finally the soldiers understood my explanations, and left swearing to work henceforth for the true Revolution and the Anarchist idea.
What is inconceivable is that there exist in our day "Anarchists" -- and not a few of them -- who still reproach me because we did not "take power" at that time. According to them, we should have gone ahead and arrested the Bolshevik government and installed ourselves in their place. They maintain that we lost a good opportunity to realize our ideas -- with the help of power. But that would have been contrary to our principles.
How many times have I said to an audience, in the midst of the Revolution: "Never forget that no one can do anything for you, in your place, above you. The 'best' government can only become bankrupt. And if someday you learn that I, Voline, tempted by politics and authoritarianism, have accepted a governmental post, have become a 'commissar', a 'minister', or something similar, two weeks later, comrades, you may shoot me with an easy conscience, knowing that I have betrayed the truth, the true cause, and the true Revolution."

  • 1. Petrograd, October 20, 1917.

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.


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.

Part IV: Repression

CHAPTER 1: The Preparations

One notable task had been successfully performed by the "Soviet power": in the spring of 1918 it already had pushed the organization of its governmental and statist cadres -- cadres of police, the Army, and those of the "Soviet" bureaucracy -- fairly far. Thus the base of the dictatorship was created, sufficiently solid, and completely subordinated to those who had established it and who were maintaining it. It was possible to count on it.

It was with these forces of coercion, disciplined and blindly obedient, that the Bolshevik government crushed several attempts at independent action which were made here and there.

Also it was with the help of those forces, rapidly enlarging, that it ended by submitting the Russian masses to its fierce dictatorship.

And it was with those same forces, once it was sure of the unreserved obedience and passivity of the major part of the population, that it turned against the Anarchists.

During the revolutionary days of October, 1917, the tactics of the Bolsheviki with regard to the Anarchists boiled down to this: to utilize the latter to the maximum as elements of combat and "destruction", helping them, to the necessary degree (with arms, et cetera) but supervising them closely.

However, when the victory was achieved and power won, the Bolshevik regime changed its method.

Let us cite a striking example:

During the hard fighting in Moscow in October, 1917, the staff of the Dvintsi (the Dvinsk regiment, previously referred to) was installed in the quarters of the Moscow Soviet. In the course of events a Bolshevik "revolutionary committee' also was set up in Moscow and proclaimed itself "the supreme power". And directly the staff of the Dvintsi, known as [being composed of Anarchists], became the object of supervision, mistrust, and suspicion by that committee. A net of spies was spread around it. A sort of blockade impeded its movements.

Gratchov (an Anarchist who commanded the regiment) saw clearly that the Bolsheviks were concerned, not with the true Revolution, nor with the immediate problems of the new Russion nation, but only with rivalry and the taking of power. He felt that they were going to emasculate the Revolution and lead it to its ruin. A deep anguish seized him. In vain he asked himself how to seize and stop in time the criminal hand of the new power, ready to garrote the Revolution. And he conferred with several comrades who, alas, were powerless like himself.

For want of something better he had the idea of arming the workers as well as possible. He sent rifles, machine guns, and ammunition to several factories. Thus he hoped to be able to [help] prepare the masses for an eventual revolt against the new importers.

But Gratchov soon perished, and suddenly. Summoned by the Bolshevik authorities to Nishni-Novgorod "on military business", he was shot, under exceedingly mysterious circumstances, by a soldier who didn't yet know how to handle a rifle. Certain indications impel us to suppose that he was assassinated by a mercenary in the pay of the "Soviet" power.1

Later all the revolutionary regiments of Petrograd and Moscow which had participated in the fighting in October were disarmed by the Government. In Moscow the first regiment to be disarmed (by force) was that from Dvinsk. And soon afterward, throughout the country, all citizens, without exception, and including the workers and their organizations, were ordered, under penalty of death, to turn in their arms to the Bolshevik military authorities.

CHAPTER 2: The Discharge

In the spring of 1918 persecutions of the Anarchists by the Russian "Communist" government began in a general, systematic, and decisive way. The peace of Brest-Litovsk concluded, the Lenin regime felt itself sufficiently solid to undertake a fundamental struggle against its adversaries "on the left" -- the left Social Revolutionaries and the Anarchists.

It had to act methodically and prudently.

At first the Communist press, on orders from the Government, started a campaign of slander and false accusations against the Anarchists, growing more violent from day to day. At the same time, they actively prepared the ground in the factories, in the Army, and among the public, through meetings and lectures. Everywhere they sounded the spirit of the public. Soon the regime was certain that it could rely on its troops, and that the masses would remain more or less indifferent or powerless [in the face of drastic action against the leftist opposition].

Then, on the night of April 12, under a false and absurd pretext, [the quarters of] all the Anarchist organizations in Moscow -- and principally those of the Federation of Anarchist Groups in that city -- were attacked and sacked by troops and the police force. For several hours the capital took on the appearance of a city in a state of siege. Even artillery took part in the "action".

This operation served as a signal for the sacking of the libertarian organizations in nearly all the important cities of Russia. And as always the provincial authorities exceeded in zeal those in the capital.

Leon Trotsky, who for two weeks had prepared the blow, and who had carried out in person, among the regiments, an unbridled agitation against the "anarcho-bandits", had the satisfaction of being able to make his famous declaration: "At last the Soviet government, with an iron broom, has rid Russia of Anarchism."

Eternal and cruel irony of human history: Fifteen years afterward Josef Stalin used the same formula and applied the same "iron broom" against Trotskyism, to the great indignation of Trotsky.

I confess that I have felt some sentiment of satisfaction about this act of poetic justice.2

That first aggression, however, was only a timid beginning, a "sketch", a try-out.

The idea of Anarchism was not yet declared outside of the law. And it is true that a certain freedom of speech, and of the press, or rather, of the profession of faith, though very restricted, still remained possible. In a relative measure the libertarian organizations -- pale shadows of the past -- survived the "catastrophe" and resumed their activity.

Meanwhile the Bolshevik Party crushed the Social Revolutionary Party (as well as other leftist factions, the "Maximalists", et al). We will not concern ourselves much with this -- these struggles having had neither the same scope nor the same interest as that directed against the Anarchists. One might consider the duel between the left Social Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviki as a conflict between two political parties over the taking of power, which has only moderate interest for us.

We must mention, however, that, after having got rid, from the Government itself, of several members of the S.R. Party, the Communist Party made war on it without mercy. And by the end of the summer of 1918 the left Social Revolutionaries found themselves in the position of outlaws. Soon they disappeared as a party. Then, individually, their militants were tracked down all over the country and suppressed to the last man.

The tragic fate of the unfortunate Maria Spiridonova spells one of the most terrifying pages of this inhuman repression. Arrested, dragged from prison to prison, tortured mentally and perhaps physically, her days were ended in some filthy cell, if not in a cellar, by the bullets of the Cheka. (I lack precise knowledge about her death). And how many other militants of that party, whose only crime was to conceive differently the tasks and the course of the Revolution, had to undergo a like fate!

CHAPTER 3: Unrestrained Fury

In 1919-1920 the protests and movements of the Russian workers and peasants against the monopolistic and terroristic procedures of the "Soviet" power toward them were notably intensified. The Government, more and more cynical and implacable in its despotism, replied with increasingly accentuated reprisals.

Naturally the Anarchists again were body and soul with the deceived and oppressed masses in the open conflict. Supporting the workers, they demanded for them and their organizations the right to control production [of commodities] themselves, without the intervention of politicians. Supporting the peasants, they demanded for them independence, self-rule, and the right to deal directly and freely with the workers. In the names of both, they demanded the restitution of what the workers had achieved through the Revolution, and which had been "frustrated" by the "Communist" power, particularly the restoration of "a real free Soviet regime", re-establishment of "political liberties" for all revolutionary tendencies, et cetera. In short, they demanded that the gains of October, 1917, be returned to the people themselves -- to the free workers' and peasants' organizations.

Naturally, too, the Anarchists unmasked and combatted, in the names of these principles, both in writing and by word of mouth, the policy of the Government.

As they had foreseen, the Bolshevik regime ended by making war on them also. After the first major operation in that direction in the spring of 1918, the persecutions continued in an almost uninterrupted manner, taking on a more and more brutal and decisive character. And by the end of that year, several libertarian organizations in the provinces were sacked once more. Those which by chance escaped this were not permitted by the authorities to do anything.

In 1919, about the same time as the repression in Great Russia, persecutions also began in the Ukraine. (For several reasons, the Bolshevik dictatorship was installed there much later than elsewhere). In every area where the Bolsheviki set foot, the libertarian groups were liquidated, their militants arrested, their publications suspended, their bookstores destroyed, lectures forbidden.

It is unnecessary to say that all these measures were carried out by police, military, or administrative order, and were wholly arbitrary, without accusation, explanation, or any judicial procedure. The model for such action had been established, once and for all, by the, "precedent" instituted by Trotsky himself in the spring of 1918.

[Another fateful action] by Trotsky was his issuance, in the summer of 1919, of his now famous order No. 1824, declaring the so-called Makhnovist movement outside the law. Following that, Anarchists were arrested almost everywhere in Russia, at the same time as Nestor Makhno's partisans were. And very often they were immediately shot, simply on the order of a Red officer.

In the majority of cases, the suppression of the libertarian organizations was accompanied by acts of savage violence, and of senseless vandalism by the Chekists (Communist secret police) and the deceived, unnerved, or over-excited Red soldiers. The militants, men and women alike, were brutally treated, as "criminals". Their quarters were demolished, their books burned. It was a furious repression.

At the close of that summer, a general sacking of Anarchist organizations took place in the Ukraine. And by the end of the same year, there remained only remnants of an Anarchist movement in Russia.

[Here is an odd turn in Bolshevik history].

Early in October, 1920, the "Soviet" power, having need of the assistance of the revolutionary Makhnovist partisans in fighting Baron Peter Wrangel's "White" troops, effected an alliance with Makhno. According to the agreement on which that alliance was based, all imprisoned and exiled Anarchists were to have their freedom restored and be given the right to work openly in the Ukraine and anywhere in Russia.

Though naturally holding back on the fulfilment of that provision, the Bolsheviks had, however, to interrupt the prosecutions and release several militants. But as soon as Wrangel was defeated, the "Soviet" government treacherously attacked Makhno and again struck out violently at the libertarian movement in the Ukraine.

At the end of November, with Wrangel just vanquished, the authorities arrested in Kharkov many Anarchists gathered from many parts of Russia for a legal congress. At the same time, they tracked down libertarians all over the Ukraine, organizing a regular hunt, with beaters and ambushes, and taking as "hostages" parents, wives, and children -- as if they wanted to have revenge for the recent forced concession and to make up for lost time, seeking now to exterminate "the wicked race of Anarchists" down to the children.

To justify this disgraceful action, the Bolshevik regime explained its break with Makhno on the ground of so-called treason by the latter, and invented a fantastic "great Anarchist plot against the Soviet power".

The real story of this purported plot is fantastic and deserves to be told. Thus:

Several days before the decisive victory over Wrangel, when the defeat of the latter was no longer in doubt, the central telegraph station in Moscow ordered all the stations in the provinces to shut off their receiving apparatus, and accordingly not to take an urgent and absolutely secret message from Lenin, which was supposed to be received only by two other main stations -- the one in Kharkov and the other in Crimea.

This order was not obeyed by a libertarian sympathizer in charge of one of the stations in the provinces. And he took down the following telegram:

Determine the Anarchist strength in the Ukraine, particularly in the Makhnovist region.


Several days later another telegram was sent under the same conditions:

Exercise active supervision over all Anarchists. Prepare documents as much as possible of a criminal nature of which they can be accused. Keep orders and documents secret. Send the necessary instructions everywhere.


And after a few more days, the third and last laconic message:

Arrest all the Anarchists and incriminate them.


All these telegrams were addressed to Christian Rakovsky, then president of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukraine, and to other military and civil authorities.

On receipt of the third telegram, the sympathetic telegraphist warned an Anarchist comrade, who hastened to Kharkov to apprise the libertarians there of the repression in preparation. But he arrived too late: the action already had been taken. Nearly all of the Kharkov Anarchists, and also those who had come for the congress, were in prison. Their quarters were closed.

Such was the "plot" of the Ukrainian Anarchists against the Soviet power.

At the time of the agreement between the government "of the Soviets" and Nestor Makhno, the Makhnovist delegation [which negotiated it] had officially established the number of persons imprisoned or exiled and requiring liberation at more than 200,000. For the most part, these were peasants arrested en masse for sympathizing with the Makhnovist movement. We do not know how many conscious Anarchists there were among them. And we will never know how many persons, in this period, were shot or disappeared without leaving any trace, in the various local prisons, many of which were secret and unknown to the public.

During the Kronstadt uprising in March, 1921, the Bolshevik government made new mass arrests of Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists. Again they organized a sweeping man-hunt across the country, seeking to capture every remaining militant who dared raise his voice. For, contrary to the lies spread by the "Soviet" power, inside Russia and elsewhere, the Kronstadt revolt and the movements which accompanied it were strongly imbued with libertarian spirit.

Any mass movement -- a workers' strike, peasants' protests, or discontent among the soldiers or sailors, invariably had repercussions affecting the Anarchists. And after the Bolsheviki threw into prison individuals having no other connection with the libertarians except a community of ideas, or were relatives, or casual acquaintances. To admit openly having the same viewpoint as the Anarchists sufficed to send one to prison, from which one got out with difficulty, or generally not at all.

The circles of Anarchist youth were brutally suppressed in 1919 and again in 1921. These groups were engaged in teaching and studying communally, among other things, the Anarchist doctrine, with which it had most sympathy. The Bolshevik action was impelled simply by the desire to cut short the interest of the youth in libertarian ideas. Only the Marxian dogma remained acceptable [to the Government].

In the summer of 1921 the Soviet press announced that in the vicinity of Zhmerinka (a small city in the province of Podolia, in the Ukraine) 30 or 40 Anarchists living in that area and having connections in other cities in the Southern region, had been "discovered and liquidated" -- that is to say, shot. This bit of candor by the Bolsheviks was an extremely rare phenomenon, explainable only by assuming an intention of cautioning such youth and discouraging them from continuing their activity. The names of all those who perished thus never could be determined. But it was established that they included some of the best militants among the libertarian youth.

Around the same time, and again according to the Soviet press itself, the Lenin government imprisoned (and shot some of them) in Odessa, the members of a fairly large and important Anarchist group which, among other action, was spreading propaganda in Soviet institutions and circles (even in the Odessa Soviet and in the Bolshevik Party's local committee). That constituted, the party press said, the crime of "high treason".

Official dispatches stated that 92 Tolstoyan (absolute pacifist) Anarchists were shot up to the end of 1922, chiefly for refusal to serve in the Army. And many Tolstoyans languished in prison.

One of these good pacifists found himself one day face to face with J. Peters, the infamous executioner of the Cheka (secret Communist police) in one of the Offices of that force. Miraculously he was about to be set free. Waiting his turn, he was peacefully picking lice out of his heavy beard and throwing them on the floor. (In that period, lice were the most intimate friends of man in Russia. They were commonly referred to affectionately as semashki, from the name of Nikolai Semashko, People's Commissar of Public Health -- stinging but suggestive irony).

"Why do you throw them down like that instead of killing them?" the astonished Peters asked.

"I never kill living creatures."

"Oh," said Peters, highly amused. "That's funny, really. You let yourself be bitten by lice, bed-bugs, and fleas? I must say you are crazy, my friend. I myself have suppressed several hundred men -- bandits, that is -- and it didn't bother me at all."

He could not get over his amazement and kept looking curiously at the peaceful Tolstoyan, taking him surely for a harmless idiot.

I could continue this list of martyrs to great length.

I could cite hundreds of instances where the victims were drawn into snares to be shot, either after "interrogation" and torture, or even on the spot, sometimes in a field, or at the edge of a forest, or in a railway car at an abandoned station.

I could cite hundreds of cases of brutal and disgraceful searches and arrests, accompanied by violence and all sorts of torments.3

I could give a long list of libertarians, many of them very young, who were thrown into prison or exiled into unhealthy regions, where they died after extended and terrible sufferings.

I could tell of revolting cases of individual repression resulting from shameless informing, cynical treachery, or repugnant provocation.

The Bolsheviki suppressed men for upholding an idea if it was not exactly that of the Government and its privileged clique. They sought to suppress the idea itself, and to wipe out all independent thought. Also they frequently suppressed men who knew and who could reveal certain facts.

I shall confine myself to a few individual examples, particularly odious.

CHAPTER 4: The Case of Leon Tchorny and Fanny Baron

Thirteen Anarchists, held for no plausible reason in the Taganka prison in Moscow, inaugurated a hunger strike in July, 1921, demanding either to be arraigned or set free. This action happened to coincide with the gathering of the International Congress of Red Trade Unions (the Profinterri) in the capital city. A group of foreign Syndicalist delegates (mainly French) questioned the "Soviet" government about the strike, having learned of it, with full details, from the prisoners' relatives. The questioning also bore on other analogous cases, and even on the Bolshevik policy of repressing Anarchists and Syndicalists.

In the name of the Government, Leon Trotsky cynically answered: "We do not imprison the real Anarchists. Those whom we hold in prison are not Anarchists, but criminals and bandits who cover themselves by claiming to be Anarchists."

Well informed, the delegates did not give up. They carried their interrogations to the tribune of the Congress, demanding at least the setting free of the Anarchists confined in the Taganka bastile. That questioning caused a great scandal at the Congress, and forced the Government to give ground -- for it feared more serious revelations. It promised to free the thirteeen Taganka prisoners. The strike ended on the eleventh day.

After the departure of the delegates, and after letting the affair drag out for two months, during which it sought an adequate pretext for accusing the prisoners, still behind the bars of Taganka, of serious crime, and thereby get out of keeping its promise, the Government finally felt compelled to release the thirteen in September. And immediately it expelled all but three from the U.S.S.R.

In revenge (vengeance was a constant element in the Bolshevik repression), and especially to justify, before the foreign workers and their delegates, its terrorist procedures against "the so-called libertarians", the Lenin regime staged, a little later, a brazen frame-up against [some of the same group].

For purported "criminal" acts, and particularly for the alleged counterfeiting of Soviet bank notes, its agents shot, (naturally in secret, in the night, in one of the cellars of the Cheka, without the shadow of any judicial procedure) several of the most honest, sincere, and devoted Anarchists: the young Fanny Baron (whose husband was in prison), the well-known militant Leon Tchorny (whose real name was Tourtchaninoff), and others.

It was proven afterward that the libertarians who were shot had nothing to do with the specified "crimes". And it was proven also that the counterfeiting was done by the Cheka itself. Two of its agents, one named Steiner (but called Kamenny) and a Chekist chauffeur were introduced into libertarian circles, and at the same time into certain criminal hang-outs, in order to be able to show "'connections" between the two and build up a case against the chosen victims. The indispensable appearances established, the "case" was formulated, and made public.

Thus, to justify its other crimes, with the aid of a new one, the Bolshevik government sacrificed several more Anarchists and tried to sully their memory.

CHAPTER 5: The Case of Lefevre, Vergeat and Lepetit

Three French militants vanished without trace in another outstanding case. They were: Raymond Lefevre, Vergeat, and Lepetit, delegates to the Congress of the Communist International which took place in Moscow in the summer of 1920.

Raymond Lefevre, though a member of the Communist Party, repeatedly voiced gloomy sentiments at that time, and was fully aware of the false route his ideological comrades had taken. And Vergeat and Lepetit, both Anarcho-Syndicalists, openly displayed their anger, and did not conceal their criticism of the state of things in Russia. More than once, Lepetit, his head in his hands, said, while weighing the report he would have to make to his French Syndicalist comrades: "But what do I want to say to them?"

The Congress over, the three worked for several days and nights getting their notes and documents together. Then, repressive measures against them began when, on the eve of their return to France, they refused to hand over their dossiers to the functionaries of the Soviet power, who claimed to be in charge of carrying the documents to their destination. Lefevre even refused to trust his notes and papers to the Russian members of his party.

So the Moscovite politicians decided to sabotage the departure of the trio. Under false pretexts, they were not permitted to take the route which Cachin and the other Communist delegates followed, but for mysterious reasons the Soviet government arranged to "have them leave by way of the North".

Anxious to protect their mission, and believing themselves sufficiently protected by the presence of the Communist Lefevre, who was going to make the trip with them, Vergeat and Lepetit planned to go back to France in time to take part in a confederal Congress, at which they were supposed to present their reports.

Their Calvary began with a long and difficult trip from Moscow to Murmansk (Russia's extreme Northern port, on the Arctic Ocean), which was made under cruel conditions. "They are sabotaging us," Lepetit said with reason. On the train, troubled by the intense cold, and without warm clothing or food, they approached the Chekists who accompanied the convoy, asking them for what they absolutely needed. In vain they referred to their capacity as delegates, receiving this reply: "We are completely unaware that there are delegates on the train. We have received no orders on the subject."

It was only at the repeated insistence of Lefevre that they were given some food. Thus, suffering from many privations and expecting worse difficulties, they arrived in Murmansk. There they took refuge among friendly fishermen and awaited the fulfilment of the promise made in Moscow, the coming of a boat which would take them to Sweden.

Three weeks thus passed for them in restlessness and astonishment at not seeing the promised boat arrive. And they began to doubt the possibility of their reaching France in time to complete their mission.

Then Lefevre wrote a letter to a friend in Moscow. Not receiving a reply, he sent a second, and a third, all without result. Later it was learned that the three letters were intercepted and sent to Trotsky, who confiscated them. In the third one Lefevre gave a poignant description of their plight and announced their desperate determination to cross the Arctic Ocean in a fishing boat to get out of the land of the Soviets. "We are going to our death," he wrote.

They got together enough money to buy a boat. And despite the pleading of several companions and of fishermen on the coast, they embarked and went -- [beyond doubt] to their death, as Raymond Lefevre had said. For they were never seen again.

Definite proof of this assassination coldly arranged by Moscow does not exist -- or the persons who possess it keep it secret, for reasons easy to understand. Naturally the Bolsheviks deny it. But can one doubt it when one knows the firm and intransigent attitude of Vergeat and Lepetit while in Russia, the usual procedure of the Bolshevik government, the handicaps placed on their departure? And it must be remembered that Cachin and the other Communist delegates from France were able to make the return journey without difficulty and arrived in time to repeat to the Congress in Tours the lessons they had learned in Moscow.

In any event, we have related faithfully the authentic facts of that episode which eventually became known in Russia. We believe that they speak eloquently enough for themselves. The reader can judge.

CHAPTER 6: A Personal Experience

Let me tell here of an experience of my own, of a less tragic nature, but one which throws light on certain Bolshevik procedures worthy of being written up among the high exploits of State Communism. At the time of which I speak, this happening was far from unique in Russia. But since then it could not be repeated in a country wholly subjugated by its new masters.

In November, 1918, I arrived in the city of Kursk, in the Ukraine, to attend a congress of Ukrainian libertarians. In those days, such an assemblage was still possible in Ukrainia, in view of the special conditions in that region, then struggling against both the reaction and the German invasion. The Bolsheviki tolerated the Anarchists there, while utilizing and supervising them.

From the beginning of the Revolution, the laboring population in Kursk never had heard a lecture on Anarchism, the small local group not having the necessary strength, so that the few libertarian speakers went elsewhere. Taking advantage of my presence, the group proposed that I give a lecture on that subject, in a large hall. Naturally I accepted with joy.

It was necessary to ask for permission from the president of the local Soviet. He, an honest ex-worker, gave it to us readily. The precious document in hand, the hall was engaged two weeks in advance, and impressive posters were ordered a few days later and placed on walls. Everything was ready.

The lecture promised to be a great success for our ideas. Certain indications -- talk around the city, crowds reading the posters, requests for information to the local group -- left no doubt about the matter. Evidently the hall would be packed. Unaccustomed to such a response (for in Great Russia, by that time, no public lectures on Anarchism were possible) we felt a legitimate satisfaction.

Then, two days before the appointed date, the secretary of the sponsoring group came to see me, worried and indignant. He had just received a note from the president of the Bolshevik Com-mittee of Kursk (the real power there), informing him that "because of the holiday" the Anarchist lecture could not take place, and that he had so notified the custodian of the hall, which was now reserved by the Communist committee for a popular dancing party.

I hurried to the office of that committee, and had a stormy session with its president -- whose name, if I recall correctly, was Rynditch (or it may have been Ryndin).

"What is this?" I demanded. "You, a Communist, do not recognize the rules of priority? We obtained the authorization of the Kursk Soviet and engaged the hall two weeks in advance, precisely to be certain of having it. The committee must await its turn."

"I'm sorry, Comrade," he answered, "but the decision of the Committee, which is, don't forget, the supreme power in Kursk, and as such may have reasons of which you are ignorant and which supersede everything else, is irrevocable. Neither the president of the Soviet nor the custodian of the hall could have known in advance that the Committee was going to need the hall on that date. It is absolutely useless to discuss the matter, or to insist. I repeat, it is irrevocable. The lecture will not take place. Either hold it in another hall or on another date."

"You know very well," I said, "that it is not possible to arrange all that in two days. And then, there are no other halls large enough. Moreover, all the halls must already be taken for holiday parties. The lecture is out, that is all."

"I'm sorry. Postpone it to another date. You will lose nothing. It can be arranged."

"That would not be the same thing at all," I contended. "Alterations like this always injure the cause greatly. Then, too, the posters were expensive. Furthermore, I have to leave Kursk quickly. But tell me -- how are you going to manage on the evening scheduled for the lecture? It is my opinion that you are going to expose yourself to the resistance of the public, who certainly will come in large numbers to hear the lecture. The posters have been up for two weeks. The workers of Kursk and the surrounding country are awaiting it impatiently. It is too late to have notices of the change printed and posted. You will have difficulty imposing a dancing party on that crowd instead of the lecture which they will have come to hear."

"That's our affair. Don't do anything. We will take full charge of it."

"Therefore, fundamentally," I pointed out, "the lecture is forbidden by your committee despite the authorization by the Soviet."

"Oh, no, Comrade. We don't forbid it at all. Set it for a date after the holidays. We will inform the people who come to hear the lecture. That's all."

On this note we parted. I conferred with the local group and we decided to postpone the lecture until January 5, 1919. Accordingly we notified the Bolshevik Committee and the hall custodian. This change compelled me to delay my intended departure for Kharkov several days.

New posters were ordered. Beyond that, we decided, first, to let the Bolshevik authorities placate the public; and second, that I should remain in my hotel room that evening. For we surmised that a large crowd would demand, in spite of everything, that the lecture be given, and that finally, the Bolsheviki would feel obliged to yield. It was therefore necessary that the secretary of the group could summon me in case of need. Personally, I expected a great scandal, perhaps even a serious fracas.

The lecture had been scheduled for eight in the evening. Toward 8.30 I was called on the telephone. I heard the excited voice of the secretary say: "Comrade, the hall is literally besieged by a crowd which will listen to no explanations, and is demanding the lecture. The Bolsheviks are powerless to reason with them. Probably they will have to yield and the lecture will take place. Take a cab and come quickly."

A cab was at hand, and the trip was made speedily. From a distance I heard an extraordinary clamor in the street. Arriving at the scene, I saw a throng standing around the hall and cursing: "To the Devil with the dancing party! Enough of dancing parties! We are fed up with them. We want the lecture. We came for the lecture . . . Lecture! .. . Lecture .. . Lecture!"

The secretary, watching, hurried to meet me. With difficulty we pushed through the mass. The hall was being mobbed. At the top of the stairs I found "Comrade" Rynditch haranguing the crowd, which continually shouted: "Lecture! Lecture!"

"You did well to come," the Bolshevik committee head threw at me, angrily. "You see what is happening. This is your work."

Indignantly I said: "I warned you. You are responsible for all this. You took charge of arranging things. Well, go ahead! Fix things the way you want them. The best and simplest move would be to permit the lecture."

"No, no, no!" he shouted furiously. "Your lecture shall not take place, I guarantee."

I shrugged my shoulders.

Suddenly Rynditch said to me: "Look, Comrade: They won't listen to me. And I don't want to have to use force. You can arrange things. They'll listen to you. Explain the situation to them and persuade them to go away peacefully. Make them listen to reason. Tell them that your lecture has been postponed. It is your duty to do what I ask."

I felt that if the lecture did not take place then, it would never take place. Also I was sure that it was definitely forbidden, and that quite likely I would be arrested.

Unequivocally I refused to speak to the people who jammed the stairway. With a shake of my head, I told the committee head: "No, I will not speak. You wanted this. Get out of it yourself."

The crowd, aware of our dispute, cursed more loudly. Rynditch tried to yell something. Wasted effort. His voice was drowned in a tempest of shouting. The crowd felt itself strong. It was having a good time, closing ranks, packing the staircases even more tightly if that were possible, and the landing, and the foyer in front of the hall's closed doors.

Now Rynditch made desperate guestures and again appealed to me. "Speak to them, speak to them, or it will end badly."

An idea came to me. I signaled for silence to the people who surrounded us. Instantly they quieted down. Then, sedately, spacing my words, I said:

"Comrades, the responsibility for this highly regrettable confusion belongs to the Bolshevik Committee of Kursk. We engaged the hall first for the lecture, two weeks in advance. Two days ago the committee, without even consulting us, took possession of the hall to hold a dance tonight. (Here the crowd demanded at the top of their lungs: "Down with the dance! Let's have the lecture!") That compelled us to postpone our lecture to a later date.

"However, I am the speaker and I am prepared to give the lecture right away. The Bolsheviks have formally forbidden it this evening. But you are the citizens of Kursk; you are the public. It is up to you to decide. I am entirely at your disposal. Choose, Comrades -- either we postpone the lecture and go away peacefully and come back on January fifth, or if you want the lecture right now, if you are really determined, act, take possession of the hall."

Hardly had I spoken these last words when the crowd applauded joyfully and yelled: "Lecture, right away! Lecture! Lecture!"

And with irresistible force it pushed toward the hall. Rynditch was overwhelmed. The doors were opened. If not, they would have been forced. And the lights went on inside.

In a few moments the hall was filled. The audience, partly sitting, partly standing, calmed down. I had only to begin. But Rynditch climbed onto the platform. He addressed the audience: "Citizens, Comrades! Be patient for a few more minutes. The Bolshevik Committee is going to confer and make a final decision. They will communicate this to you directly. Probably the dance will not take place.'

"Hurrah!" the crowd shouted, carried away with joy over its apparent victory. "Lecture! Long live the lecture!"

They applauded again, happily.

Now the Bolshevik Committee retired to a nearby room to confer. Meanwhile the doors of the hall were closed, the audience patiently awaiting the decision. We supposed that this little comedy was being played by the Bolsheviki to save face.

A quarter of an hour passed.

Then, abruptly, the hall doors were opened, and a strong detachment of Chekist soldiers (special troops, a sort of State police, blindly devoted to the Lenin regime), rifles in hand, entered. Everyone in the audience, stunned, remained frozen in their places. Quickly, in an impressive silence, the soldiers poured into the hall, sliding along the walls, and behind the seats. One group remained near the entrance, with its rifles pointed at the audience.

(Afterwards it was learned that the Bolshevik Committee had first called upon the city barracks, asking that a regular regiment intervene. But the soldiers wanted explanations -- at that stage this was still possible -- declared that they, too, would like to hear the lecture, and refused to come. It was then that the committee summoned the Chekist detachment, which had been ready for all eventualities).

Directly the committee members reappeared in the hall. Rynditch announced their ruling from the platform in a triumphant voice.

"The decision of the committee has been made. The dance will not take place. Nor will the lecture. In any case, it is too late for either. I call upon this audience to leave the hall and the building with absolute calm and in perfect order. If not, the Chekists will intervene."

Indignant, but powerless, the people began to get up and leave the hall. "Even so," some muttered, "their party was spoiled . . . That wasn't bad."

Outside, a new surprise awaited them. At the exit, two armed Chekists searched each person and inspected his identity card. Several were arrested. Some were released next day. But others remained in jail.

I returned to the hotel.

Next morning the telephone rang. Rynditch's voice: "Comrade Voline, come to see me at the committee's office. I want to speak to you about your lecture."

"The date is set for January fifth," I said. "The notices have been ordered. Have you any objection?"

"No, but come anyhow. I must talk with you."

When I got there [Rynditch was not in sight. Instead] I was received by a Bolshevik, amiable and smiling, who said: "Look, Comrade: The committee has decided that your lecture shall not take place. You yourself are responsible for this decision, because your attitude yesterday was arrogant and hostile. Also, the committee has decided that you cannot remain in Kursk. For the moment, you will remain here, in our quarters."

"Ah, am I arrested then?"

"Oh no, Comrade. You are not arrested. You will only be kept here for a few hours, until the train leaves for Moscow."

"For Moscow?" I shouted. "But I have absolutely nothing to do in Moscow. And I already have a ticket for Kharkov,4 where I am supposed to go after the Congress here. I have friends and work to do there."

After a short discussion on this point, the Bolshevik said: "That's all right. You can go to Kharkov. But the train doesn't leave until 1 a.m. You'll have to stay here all day."

"Can I go to the hotel and settle my bill and get my valise?"

"No, Comrade. We cannot permit that."

" I promise to go directly to the hotel . . . And moreover, someone can accompany me." "It is impossible, Comrade, we regret. You can see that, he matter might get noised around. We don't want that. The order is formal. Give instructions to one of our comrades. He will go to the hotel and fetch your valise."

An armed Chekist guard already was stationed in front of my room door. I could do nothing.

A "comrade" brought the valise. Toward midnight another took me in a cab to the railway station and waited until I actually departed.

This unexpected journey was made under such painful circumstances that I fell sick en route. I was able to avoid pneumonia only because of the kindness of a fellow-passenger who put me up with friends in Soumy, a small Ukrainian city. There a competent doctor took good care of me. And a few days later I was in Kharkov.

On arrival, I wrote for our local weekly, Nabat -- forbidden a little later by the Bolshevik authorities because of its growing success -- an article entitled Story of a Lecture Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. In it I related in detail that whole unsavory adventure.

CHAPTER 7: The Final Settlement

After all that we have said about the nature of State Socialism and its inevitable evolution, the reader will easily understand the reasons which led this "Socialism" into a relentless conflict with the libertarian idea.

For an informed person there is of course nothing surprising or unexpected in the fact that the Socialist power in Russia persecuted Anarchism and Anarchists. This was foreseen by the Anarchists themselves (and as early as Mikhail Bakunin) long before the Russian Revolution, in the event that the latter should become statist and authoritarian.

Repression of the libertarian concept, persecution of its followers, and suppression of the independent movements of the masses: such are the inevitable consequences of the opposition between the true Revolution advancing and the statist principle, which, momentarily triumphant, does not accept this advance, does not understand the true Revolution, and opposes it.

The new government (if a given revolution has the misfortune to have one), whether it calls itself "revolutionary", "democratic" "Socialist", "proletarian", "Workers' and Peasants'", "Leninist", "Trotskyist", or whatever, is bound to resist the living forces of the true Revolution. This antagonism leads the power, with the same inevitability, to a more and more ruthless struggle, which it must justify with increasing hypocrisy, against the revolutionary forces, and, by this very fact, against the Anarchists, the staunchest spokesmen, supporters, and defenders of the true Revolution and its aspirations.

The triumph of Power in this struggle means, inevitably, the defeat of the Social Revolution, and therefore "automatically" the suppression of the Anarchists. So long as the Revolution and the Anarchist resist, the Socialist authority oppresses them, with mounting effrontery and violence. Monstrous deception and unlimited terror: such are its final arguments, such is the apotheosis of its desperate defense. Then all that is really revolutionary ends by being pitilessly swept away by the so-called "revolutionary" imposture, as being contrary to "the supreme interests of the Revolution" (O cruel irony!), as "criminal", and as "traitorous".

That was what could have been foreseen [in Russia], -- in the event that the statist idea triumphed -- and what was foreseen by some.

And that is what millions of people will eventually have to understand if they are to avert [a recurrence of] the failure, the bankruptcy, and the disaster of the Russian Revolution in the next revolution.

At present, as in the time of the Tsars, no libertarian movement, press, or propaganda exists in Russia, and for a long time none has existed. Anarchism is outside the law. The Anarchists there have been exterminated, [isolated, or run out] to the last man by all possible and imaginable methods. There are still some, scattered in the prisons and places of exile. But death has wreaked such ravages among them that very few remain alive.

A small number of Russian Anarchists who escaped the killings, banished from their native land or having fled, are in different countries in Western Europe and in the Americas. And if there still are conscious partisans of the libertarian idea in Russia, they are obliged to keep their thoughts to themselves.

The Committee to Aid Imprisoned and Exiled Anarchists in Russia, which functioned for long years in Germany, France, and the United States, collecting funds to send to the victims and publishing information bulletins on the repression, has been compelled to cease all activity, because relations with the few victims still alive have become impossible.

The epic of the extermination of the libertarian movement in Russia, which took place the day after [sic] the "Communist" revolution, is finished. Now it is history, [to which these pages are a contribution].

Most terrible among the aspects of this unique repression is that during it, along with the real Anarchists [who suffered extinction], hundreds of thousands of simple toilers -- industrial workers, peasants, and intellectuals -- who rose up against the Bolshevik imposture, were likewise annihilated, and the revolutionary idea itself, and indeed all free thought and action also became "history" in the land of nascent "Socialism".

CHAPTER 8: The Extinguisher

How is it that this frightful "history" is not known abroad? The reader will learn.

From the beginning, and through the years, the Bolshevik "government did its utmost to conceal its hideous deeds from the workers and revolutionaries of other countries, by systematically and brazenly deceiving them, employing the classical methods of silence, lying, and slander.

Its fundamental procedure has been that of all impostors in ail times: after extinguishing an idea and a movement, to extinguish their history as well. The "Soviet" press never has spoken of the struggles that Bolshevism had to wage against the liberty of the Russian people nor the means to which it had to have recourse to win. Nowhere in "Soviet" literature will the reader find the story of these facts. And when the authors of such literature cannot avoid speaking of them, they confine themselves to mentioning, in a few lines, that it was a matter of suppressing counter-revolutionary movements or the exploits of bandits. Therefore, who is going to verify the facts?

Another element that has been of great aid to the "Communist" regime in Moscow in the distortion of history is the effective closing of the frontiers. The events of the Russian Revolution unfolded, and are still unfolding, in an enclosed vessel. It has been difficult all along, if not impossible [for anyone not on the actual scene] to know what was happening. The press of the country, wholly governmental, was quiet about everything that had to do with the repression.

When, in the advanced circles of Europe, the question of the persecution of the Anarchists in Russia was raised, a few details of the truth having leaked out despite all restrictive measures, the Bolshevik government declared each time, through the mouths of its representatives and with exceptional aplomb, "What do you mean? The real Anarchists have full freedom in the U.S.S.R. to affirm and propagate their ideas. They even have their clubs and their press." And since no one was very much interested in the Anarchists and their conceptions, that reply sufficed. It would have required inquiry after inquiry to prove the contrary. And who thought of doing that?

Some renegades from Anarchism, patronized by the Bolshevik government, lent it valuable assistance. By way of proof, the regime cited the false statements of these ex-libertarians. Having repudiated their past and seeking to regain their virginity, they confirmed and testified to everything that was wanted of them.

The Bolsheviki liked also to quote the "tame" [renegades] called "Soviet Anarchists". These believed it wise and useful to adapt themselves to the situation and to Bolshevism -- "in order to be able to do something" prudently, secretly, behind the facade of "loyalty". This "tactic of protective colorations", however, could not succeed with the Bolsheviks, themselves familiar with all the techniques of anti-governmental struggle. Closely supervising these "camouflaged" Anarchists, shadowing them constantly, threatening them, and "taming" them adroitly, the authorities ended by using them to justify and even to approve -- "momentarily" -- all the proceedings of Bolshevism. The recalcitrants were imprisoned or deported. And as for those who truly submitted, they were put on show as "real" Anarchists, who "understand Bolshevism", in contrast to all the others, who were pictured as "false" Anarchists.

Or the Bolsheviks spoke [with seeming friendliness] of certain Anarchists who remained nearly inactive and who never touched on "sensitive" points. To create an illusion, they were permitted to retain some insignificant organizations, closely supervised. Some of them were authorized to reprint old inoffensive Anarchist works, historical or theoretical. And these "Anarchist publishing houses" were cited to demonstrate that the "real Anarchists" were not touched. Later all such "organizations" likewise were "liquidated".

Finally, a few extravagant "Anarchist" clowns who distorted Anarchism to the point of caricature were tolerated. The Bolshevik writers did not fail to cite them in order to ridicule the libertarian idea.

Thus the Lenin regime created a facade enabling it to conceal the truth from the Russian masses and from poorly informed people abroad. Subsequently, having made sure of the indifference, the naivete, and the slackness of "advanced" circles in other countries, the Bolsheviki didn't even bother to hide the truth. For the "advanced people" and the Russian masses would swallow anything!

This deceptive facade also permitted the Bolsheviks to make use of a weapon which, alas, is always effective: slander. On the one hand, they deliberately confused the Anarchists with "counterrevolutionaries", "criminals", and "bandits" On the other hand, and they maintained that in the midst of the Revolution the Anarchists could only babble, criticize, "fart around", put spokes in the wheels of the Revolution, destroy, provoke disorder, and pursue their own selfish interests. [These detractors] pretended that even when the Anarchists wanted to serve the Revolution, they were incapable of achieving anything correctly; that they had "no positive program"; that they never proposed anything concrete; that they were irresponsible dreamers, who didn't know themselves what they wanted; and that, for all these reasons, the "Soviet" regime was obliged to suppress them; such elements, it held, presented a grave danger in the course of a difficult revolution.

Because no one except those involved knew the truth, and no one else was in a position to examine the facts, this tactic succeeded. It served the Bolshevik government marvelously through the years, and was part of a whole system of deception in which the Bolsheviki were past masters.

All the revelations about their ruthlessness, more and more numerous and precise, in the libertarian press or elsewhere abroad, were methodically and cynically refuted with the same stereotyped arguments. The mass of the workers, the advance-guard intellectuals of all countries, dazzled by the false renown of "the first Socialist republic", accepted all the nonsense of its "genial leaders", and, letting themselves thus be royally "rolled", cared very little about the revelations of the Anarchists. Vanity, fashion, snobbery, and other secondary factors played their parts in this general indifference.

Finally, the most prosaic personal interests also contributed [to the sweeping imposture]. Among others, how many famous writers, in all countries, deliberately closed their eyes to the truth that they know perfectly well. The "Soviet" government had need of their names for publicity purposes. In return, it assured an advantageous market for their works, perhaps the only one. And those poor men carried out this tacit bargain, salving their consciences with the excuses and justifications inspired by their new patrons.

CHAPTER 9: The Deception of Visiting Delegations

Here we must devote some paragraphs to a special procedure of "skull-stuffing" utilized by the "Soviets" on a vast scale -- the systematic deception of foreign workers' delegations.

The facts are clearly known. One of the "clinching arguments" of the Bolsheviks to disprove unfavorable revelations about their administration of the affairs of Russia and its satellites, consists in calling upon the testimony of delegations sent to the U.S.S.R. by organizations, factories, or institutions of various other countries. After a stay of a few weeks in "the land of Socialism" such delegates, almost without exception, have called everything that was said abroad to the discredit of the "Soviet" regime "lies and slanders".

In the beginning the "trick of the delegations" was infallible. Later it lost its efficacy. For some time now it has been almost abandoned. On the one hand, events rushed on and this little game was by-passed. On the other hand, it was finally widely realized in the outside world that under the conditions surrounding their visits, the delegations visiting the "Soviet" Union could not discover the truth at all [about what was happening in that domain], even if they were sincere and impartial.

A strict and fast-moving program, formulated in advance and well regulated, was imposed on them from the moment of their arrival. Knowing neither the language, nor the customs, nor the real life of the population, they were "assisted", which actually meant manipulated, by the governmental guides and interpreters. They were shown what the "Communist" government wanted them to see, and were told what it wanted them to believe. And the visitors had no means of approaching the population to study its way of living objectively and exhaustively.

All that is now more or less accepted [by workers' organizations and interested individuals in the democratic countries].

But it is pertinent to record here another fact apropos of that situation which still remains unknown to the public and which says a great deal about the state of things in the U.S.S.R.

The Committee to Aid Imprisoned and Exiled Anarchists in Russia, some Syndicalist organizations, and some well-known militant individuals, among them the late lamented Erich Muhsarn of Germany and Sebastien Faure of France, repeatedly proposed to the Bolshevik government that it allow a real delegation to enter Russia -- a delegation constituted in complete independence and composed of militants of differing tendencies, including "Communists".

With that proposal its sponsors submitted the following conditions to the "Soviet" government: 1. Free and unlimited stay, until the delegation itself considers its mission completed; 2. Freedom [and facilities], to go anywhere that the delegation may deem indispensable to the interests of its mission, including prisons, places of exile, et cetera; 3. The right to publish the facts, impressions, and conclusions of the delegation in the advance-guard press abroad; 4. An interpreter chosen by the delegation itself.

Obviously it would have been entirely to the interest of the Bolshevik regime to accept such a proposal -- if it was sincere, if it had nothing to hide, if it was not concealing unadmissible truths. A favourable report on the "Soviet" Russian scene by such a delegation would have put an end to all equivocation. Any [real] Socialist government, any "Workers' and Peasants' government" (supposing for the moment that such could exist) would have received that kind of delegation with open arms. It even would have wished for it, suggested, requested it. The testimony and approval of a delegation making its observations under the indicated circumstances would have been decisive, irresistible, irrefutable.

But that offer was never accepted. The "Soviet" government turned a deaf ear to it every time.

The reader should reflect well upon this fact. For the disapproval of such a delegation also would have been irresistible and definitive. The results of the proposed inquiry would have been catastrophic for the good name of the "Soviet" regime, for its whole system, for its whole cause.

But no one abroad budged. The grave-diggers of the Revolution could sleep quite soundly and ignore the attempts to make them admit the terrible truth: the failure of the Revolution as an outcome of their methods. The blind and the bought of all countries marched with them.

Revealing the truth [about these things] -- unknown, we are sure, to almost all of our non-Anarchist readers -- we are fulfilling an imperative duty. Not only because the truth must some day appear in all its effulgence, but also -- and especially -- because this truth will render an inestimable service to everyone who wants to be informed, who is sick of being eternally the dupe of criminal impostors, and who, finally, strengthened by the truth, can act in the future with full knowledge of the situation.

The story of the repression in the U.S.S.R. is not only suggestive and revealing in itself; it is still an excellent means of making known the fundamentals, the concealed "underside", the true nature of authoritarian Communism.

In this respect, we have only one regret -- that of being able to tell this story only in an incomplete way.

Let us cite one more recent example, which illustrates effectively the manner in which the Bolsheviki and their servitors deceive everyone.

This pertains to a work by a certain Emilian Yaroslavsky, a notorious Bolshevik: a book entitled History of Anarchism in Russia, which appeared in 1937, in Spanish and in French, for the purpose of counteracting the eventual success of the libertarian idea in Spain and elsewhere

We brush aside the fantastic "information" on the origins of Anarchism, on Bakunin, on Anarchism in Russia before 1917, and on the attitude of the Anarchists toward the war that began in Europe in 1914. A reply to these myths perhaps will appear one day in the specifically Anarchist press. What interests us particularly here are the descriptions, in that volume, of the libertarian movement in the course of the Revolution of 1917.

Yaroslavsky takes care not to speak of the real Anarchist movement. He tarries long over fringe movements which had nothing to do with Anarchism. He is much concerned with Anarchist groups, publications, and activities of secondary importance. Carefully he notes the weak points and malignantly shows the deficiencies in order to feed his bad faith. And he lingers especially with the "remnants" of the movement: with those unfortunate "remains" which, after the liquidation of the bona fide libertarian organizations, desperately and vainly knocked themselves out in their efforts to maintain some appearance of action.

Those remnants were the lamentable and impotent waste of the former Anarchist movement that had been extinguished. Henceforth they could not do anything serious or positive. Their semi-clandestine "activity", supervised and impeded, was not at all characteristic of the libertarian movement in Russia. And in all countries, and in all periods, these left-over pieces of organizations which had been destroyed by the force of the State, subsequently dragged out a sterile and pointless existence until they were completely exhausted. Deviations, inconsequentialities, splits, inevitably occupied their whole semblances of life, for which of course they can hardly be reproached, since all possibility of healthy activity had been taken away from them.

It is about this debris that Yaroslavsky tells us, while pretending to speak of the real Anarchist movement. He mentions the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union of Petrograd and its journal, Golos Truda, only once, in passing, and then only because he finds something about it to falsify. He speaks neither of the Moscow Federation nor of the periodical Anarchy. And when he devotes a few lines to the Ukrainian Nabat, it is also to distort the facts.

If this author had been honest, he would have dwelt primarily on those three organizations and quoted their press. But he knows very well that such impartiality would ruin his assertions, and thus be contrary to the whole purpose of this work. And he omits everything which incontestably would prove the serious basis, positive meaning, and influence of the Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist movement in Russia during the 1917 Revolution.

Yaroslavsky does not breathe a word about the persecutions, the repression, the violent suppression of that movement. For if he told the truth about those onslaughts it would wreck his lying thesis. According to him, the Anarchists, in 1917, were "against the Socialist and proletarian Revolution". His contention is that the libertarian movement extinguished itself, by reason of its unpopularity and its impotence.

The reader knows that this version is exactly the opposite of the truth. It was precisely because that movement evolved and grew quickly in Russia, winning support and widening its influence, that the Bolsheviks hastened to stamp it out in the seed, by means of the most commonplace violence, by the brutal intervention of their soldiers and police.

But if Yaroslavsky admitted the truth, he would upset the whole structure of his book. So he lies, confident of the ignorance of his readers, and of the absence of any contradiction.

If I have permitted myself to linger over this example, it is because that manner of presenting things is typical of "Soviet" propaganda. All the Bolsheviks' workers on Anarchism in Russia proceed exactly in the same way and are as alike as drops of water. The order comes from above. The Bolshevik "historians" and "writers" have only to follow it. It is necessary to destroy the libertarian idea at all costs. It is a work done to order and well paid. It has nothing to do with the historical truth which we are now in the process of revealing.

CHAPTER 10: Bolshevik \"Justice\"

It remains for us to cast a quick glance at the administrative and judiciary procedures of the Bolshevik regime during that period.

Moreover, these procedures, essentially, have hardly changed at all. If, in our days, they are less frequently employed, it is because all those who were subjected to them in the past have been exterminated. But still, fairly recently, the same principles and measures have been applied to the "Trotskyists", to the anti-Stalinist old Bolsheviks, to functionaries fallen into disgrace: officers, policemen, and others.

As we have stated, there exists in Russia a political police system which works in secret, which has the right to arrest people secretly, without any formal arraignment, to try them secretly without witnesses or lawyers, to condemn them secretly to various penalties, including death, or to renew their detention or exile for as long as it may see fit.

This is a cardinal point. The hateful regimen applied to prisoners and exiles -- we will insist upon this statement despite all the denials by foreign "delegates" deceived or bought -- is only an aggravated circumstance. Even if the life in the Russian prisons had the humanitarian character ascribed to it by the officials and their acolytes, it would not be any less true that honest workers could be arbitrarily removed [from their homes or jobs], thrown into prison, and deprived of the right to struggle for their cause, simply on the simple decision of some functionaries.

During the period with which we are especially concerned, that omnipotent police force was called the Cheka, an abbreviation of its complete Russian name: Chrezvytchainaya Kommissia, Extraordinary Commission. The Cheka was established at the end of 1917, on Lenin's initiative, by a nucleus of Communist militants who had proven themselves in the struggle against Tsarism and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of the central committee of the Russian Communist Party.

At that time the Communists justified the existence of this institution and the special features of its functioning by [pointing to] the necessity of acting swiftly against the numerous plots [so they alleged] threatening the Revolution. Later this argument lost its value. The Cheka could no longer use it. For a new problem had to be dealt with -- that of defending the Power against the Revolution.

In 1923 the change of the secret police force's title to that of G.P.U., also an abbreviation, altered only a few aspects of its practices. And subsequently nothing was changed, except the individuals at the top. The names of three are fairly well known abroad -- Djerzinsky, creator and animator of the Cheka, who died suddenly, or who, according to some, was executed while on duty by order of Stalin; Yagoda, executed as a result of a famous "trial"; and Yejov, his successor, who mysteriously disappeared.

The Cheka never issued reports on its activities, neither to the workers at large, nor to their "representatives". Those activities were always pursued with the greatest mystery. Information was supplied to the Cheka by a vast network of secret agents, of which a sizeable part was recruited from the former Tsarist police. And the Cheka also took advantage of the duty imposed on all Communists to help the "revolutionary" police by giving information, denunciations, et cetera.

The despotism, the abuses, the crimes perpetrated in the dungeons of the surpasses all imagination. We cannot take time to enumerate them here; this particular subject deserves a volume by itself. The future historian will be horrified when the archives are opened and give forth their terrible human documentation. Readers will find edifying examples in certain available books.

In that period, tribunals and public trials for political cases did not exist. Even today such trials are exceptional. Then the Cheka conducted them exclusively.

As a rule, arrests were without appeal. And [at first] the sentences were not published. Later, occasionally, in a few lines, limited mention of oral trials before the police was made in the press. These references showed only that a case had been put on the calendar and that a given sentence was imposed. Reasons for the sentence were never stated.

Sentences were carried out by the Cheka itself. If the verdict was death, the prisoner was taken from his cell, and usually executed by a revolver bullet in the back of the neck at the moment when, followed by a Chekist executioner, he was descending the last step of a staircase leading to the cellar. Then the body was buried secretly. It was never returned to the prisoner's relatives. Frequently the latter heard of the execution of their kin only indirectly -- by the refusal of the prison administration to receive food that they brought for him. The classic phrase was of gem-like simplicity : "So-and-so no longer appears on the prison records." This could mean transfer to another prison or exile. If it was death, the formula was the same. No other explanation was permitted. It was up to the relatives to make enquiries elsewhere to learn exactly what had happened.

Exile always administrative, meant deportation to the most distant and barren parts of the vast country: either to the warm and marshy regions, extremely unhealthy, in Turkestan, or to the extreme North, in the terrible regions of Narym or Turukhansk. Often enough the Government "amused itself" by sending exiles first to Turkestan and then suddenly transferring them to the far North, or vice versa. It was an indirect but certain way of sending them into the other world.

The correspondence between the Aid Committee and the libertarians exiled to the North revealed the physical and moral horror of the "life" of these victims. Arriving at their destination, they were henceforth isolated from the world. Such destinations, in several instances, were forgotten towns and villages whose inhabitants lived by hunting or fishing. Mail came only once or twice a year. Hundreds of these settlements comprised only four or five huts lost in a desert of ice and snow.

Those exiles suffered all the illnesses of malnutrition, cold, and inactivity -- scurvy, tuberculosis, heart and stomach diseases. Life was a slow torture and death came as a deliverance.

The prisons where the libertarians, the Syndicalists, the "oppositionists", the simple workers, peasants, or other citizens who had rebelled or were merely suspects, were confined, were never visited by the foreign delegations. Such visiting groups usually were conducted through Sokolniki, Lefortovo, and certain sections of Butyrki -- that is, they were taken to the Moscow prisons where the counter-revolutionaries, speculators, and common-law prisoners were kept. Sometimes these were persuaded to call themselves "political prisoners" and to praise the prison administration by promises of a reduction of their sentences.

Some delegations were allowed to visit the prison for Social Democrats in Tiflis, in the Caucasus. But certain other prisons were never visited by foreign delegations or individual travelers -- notably, the camp at Solovki, often mentioned in the foreign press, but remaining mysterious; the Suzdal prison (a former monastery, transformed), the "political isolator" of Verkhne-Urals, that of Tobolsk, or that of Yaroslav. One could add numerous prisons and many concentration camps scattered throughout the country. All have remained totally unknown to the naive, or the interested, who [were led] to give, on their return from a "study" trip in "the first Socialist nation", favorable reports on "the new prison regime created by the U.S.S.R.".

And Romain Rolland says that he was able to discover the existence of administrative justice in "Soviet" Russia.

The unleashed repression, the violence against the people, the terror -- these made up the crown of the Bolsheviks' work, of their "soviet" regime.

To justify all this horror, they invoked the interests of the Revolution. But nothing could have been more false, more hypocritical, than this attempted justification.

The Anarchists have been exterminated in Russia, they can exist there no longer, simply because they defended the very principles of the Social Revolution, because they struggle for the real economic, political, and social freedom of the people.

The revolutionaries in general, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have been annihilated in Russia by a new authority and by a new privileged caste, which, like all authorities and all privileged castes in the world, have nothing of the revolutionary spirit, and maintain themselves in power only by the thirst to dominate and exploit in their turn. Their system is supported by ruse and violence, like any authoritarian and statist system -- necessarily dominator, exploiter, and oppressor.

The "Communist" statist regime is only a variety of the Fascist regime. It is high time that the workers of all countries understood this, that they reflect upon it, and that they learn profitable lessons from this terrible negative experience.

Moreover, current events are contributing powerfully to this result, and coming events will contribute further to them. As I write these lines, in December, 1939, Bolshevism finally is in the process of going outside of its frontiers, out of its Russian "cage". One will see it at work in due time. I have not the slightest doubt of the nature of the final judgement.

These events will contribute equally, I hope, to a better understanding of the present work and its revelations. And I also hope that this book will enable the reading public to understand certain facts better.

Among other things, it is in the light of these revelations that one can understand the rise of Josef Stalin. As a matter of fact, Stalin did not "fall from the moon". Stalin and "Stalinism" are simply the logical consequences of a preliminary and preparatory evolution, itself the result of a terrible mistake, of an evil deviation of the Revolution.

It was Lenin and Trotsky -- that is to say, their system -- which prepared the ground for and gave rise to Stalin.

To all those who, having supported Lenin, Trotsky, and their colleagues, today fulminate against Stalin, it must be said: They reap what they sowed!

It is true that logic is not the province of everyone. But let them correct their aim at least, before it is too late.

Fifteen years ago an Anarchist in touch with the facts, wrote certain words -- fine, vigorous, and just. These:

Here are the facts which demonstrate the eternal authoritarian monstrosity. May they make recoil in horror those who venture blindly into the way of dictatorship, whether it be in the name of the vast sublime ideal, or the most logical formula of sociology. May they especially, on the eve of events which might lead to a revolutionary situation, be impelled to take all precautions, not only to avoid the traps in which the Russian Anarchists were caught and slaughtered, but also be capable, in the revolutionary hours, of opposing practical conceptions of production and distribution of goods to those of the Communist dictators.

Later, a little before his death, the Anarchist convictions of the man who wrote those words gave way. In a moment of madness, he approved of Bolshevism.

Happily, if men, generally weak and inconsequential beings bend, deform themselves, and pass away, the truths, which they formerly proclaimed, remain.

  • 1. The circumstances connected with the death of the Anarchist Durruti to Spain in 1936 pointedly recall the Gratchov case.
  • 2. These lines were written before the assassination of Trotsky.
  • 3. The author of this work was one of those subjected to violence by the Bolsheviki.
  • 4. Kharkov is about 150 miles South of Kursk, while Moscow is some 300 miles North of the latter city.

Part V: The Bolshevik State

CHAPTER 1: Nature of the Bolshevik State

By the end of 1921, the Communist power felt itself completely master of the situation. At least it could consider itself safe from any immediate danger. Its enemies and opponents, both external and internal, and of both the right and the left, were now no longer able to combat it.

From 1922 onward, it could devote itself entirely to dotting its i's and crossing its t's and consolidating its State.

On the one hand the present Russian State is, in its fundamental aspects, a logical development of what was founded and established in 1918-1921. The subsequent modifications were merely repairs, or the completion of details. We will specify them as they come up.

The Bolshevist State has now existed for 20 years.

What exactly is the nature of that State?

What are its bases, its structure, its essential elements?

It is called the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, for which the abbreviation is U.S.S.R. It pretends to be a "proletarian" or "workers' and peasants' " State. It claims to exercise a "dictatorship of the proletariat". It flatters itself as being "the Workers' Fatherland" and the rampart of Socialism and the Revolution.

How much of this is true? Do the facts and the actions of that State justify these declarations and pretensions?

A rapid examination of the Bolshevik picture will enable an adequate reply to this question.

I say rapid examination. In fact, a detailed and more or less complete study of the prevailing Russian State would call for a volume in itself. That is not the purpose of the present work. And after what has gone before in these pages, a general glance will suffice. We will assemble and complete what we have begun.

At this point I want to apprise the uninitiated reader that there now exists in France a rich literature in the form of books, pamphlets, and magazine and newspaper articles which give a fairly exact idea of the structure, functioning, and spirit of this "Soviet" State.1 Through several years numerous works have appeared which show clearly the true character of that State, the real nature of its government, the situation of the laboring masses there, the precise condition of the economy of the U.S.S.R., its culture, and other aspects. These works bring to light the back-stage aspect and the hidden underside of the Bolshevik regime, its mistakes, its "secret illnesses".

To be sure, the authors of this literature did not seek to get to the bottom of the problem, to reveal the causes and the consequences of the "Soviet" State's decline. They make no mention of that "other flame", the libertarian idea, its role, and its fate, in the Russian Revolution. To them, as to so many other countries, that is all unexplored territory. They do not offer any solution. But they give the facts sincerely. Thus they make known the false route taken by the "Communist" government since the Revolution, and prove irrefutably its bankruptcy.

Generally these studies provide an abundant and precise documentation.

Here, however, we will confine ourselves to a general "view of the whole". This will be sufficient for our immediate purpose. For it is the general character of this State which especially interests us, to the extent that it illuminates events during and after the Revolution.

We have said earlier that the primary concern of the Bolshevik Party in power was to nationalize all the activity and all the life of Russia, in fact, everything that could be nationalized. It was a question of creating a regime which in modern terminology is called totalitarian.

Once in possession of an adequate coercive force, the party and the Government employed it to the utmost in performing this task. And it was specifically to this end that the "Communist" power created its immense bureaucratic apparatus. It ended by forming a widespread and powerful caste of "responsible" functionaries, which today constitutes a highly privileged stratum of some 2,000,000 individuals. Effective mistress of the country, the Army, and the police, that caste supports, protects, venerates, and flatters Stalin, its idol, its "Tsar", the only man considered capable of maintaining "order" in the U.S.S.R., and of safeguarding its privileges.

Little by little the Bolsheviki nationalized, monopolized, "totalitarianized", easily and quickly, the whole Russian administration, the organizations of industrial workers, peasants, and others; finance; the means of transport; the sub-soil and mining, external commerce and heavy internal commerce, big industry, and land and agriculture, teaching, education, and culture in general, the press and literature, art, science, sport, recreation, and even thought, or at least all of its manifestations.

Nationalization of the workers' organizations in Russia— Soviets, unions, shop committees, and other groups—was the easiest and the most rapid. Their independence was abolished. They simply became administrative and executive cogs of the party and the Government.

The Bolshevik Party was led skillfully. The workers did not even realize that they were in the process of being hamstrung. Inasmuch as the State and the Government were now "theirs", it seemed natural to them not to detach themselves from it. They regarded it as normal that their organizations should fulfill functions in the "workers'" State and carry out the decisions of the "comrade commissars".

Soon no autonomous act, no free gesture, by those organizations was permitted. They ended by becoming aware of their error. But then it was too late. When certain workers' organizations, impeded in their actions and restless, feeling that "something was wrong in the Soviet realm", began to show discontent and sought to regain a little independence, the Government opposed them with all its energy and all its trickery. In the first place, it immediately imposed penalties. In the second, it tried to reason with the discontented ones.

"Since," it said to the workers, with the most natural manner in the world, "we now have a workers' State in which the workers exercise their own dictatorship and in which everything belongs to them, this State and its organs are yours. Then of what "independence" can there be a question? Such demands are nonsense. Independence from what? From whom? From yourselves? Since the State now is you!

"Not to understand this means not to understand the Revolution that has been accomplished. To oppose this state of things means to oppose the Revolution itself. Such ideas and movements cannot be tolerated, for they can be inspired only by enemies of the Revolution, of the working class, of its State, its dictatorship, and of the workers' power. Those among you who are still ignorant enough to listen to the whispering of these enemies and who lend an ear to their wicked suggestions because everything is not yet perfect in your young State, are committing a veritable counter-revolutionary act."

Needless to say, all those who persisted in protesting and in demanding some independence were pitilessly crushed.

The most difficult thing to achieve was the complete appropriation of the land, and the suppression of the individual cultivator. As we know, it was Stalin who effected this transformation some years ago. Periodically the situation again grows serious and complicated. The struggle between the State and the mass of peasants continues under new forms.

Inasmuch as everything that is indispensable to the labor and activity of man—in other words, everything that is, in the largest sense of the term, capital—belongs to the State in Russia, that country is an example of integral State capitalism. State capitalism : such is the economic, financial, social, and political system of the U.S.S.R., with all of its logical consequences and manifestations in all spheres of life—material, moral, and spiritual.

The correct designation of this State should not be U.S.S.R., but U.S.C.R., meaning Union of State Capitalist Republics.

Economically, this means that the State is the only real owner of all the riches of the country, of the whole "national inheritance", of all that is indispensable for millions of men and women to live, work, and act. This includes, we must emphasize, all gold, all money-capital, both national and foreign.

This is the most important thing. It must be understood before all else. The rest follows.

CHAPTER 2: Situation of the Workers

Socially, the basis of the system in the domain ruled by Stalin lies in the following facts:

As in all other countries, the worker in the U.S.S.R. is an employee. But he is a State employee. The State is his only employer. Instead of having thousands of "choices", as is the case in the nations where private capitalism prevails, in the U.S.S.R. (the U.S.C.R.) the worker has only one. Any change of employer is impossible there.

It is pretended that, this State being a "Workers' State", it is not an employer in the usual sense of the word. The profits it realizes from production of commodities do not go into the pockets of capitalists, [so the Stalin regime asserts], but in the last analysis, serve the interests of the workers, returning to them in forms other than money.

Subtle as it may sound, this reasoning is purely theoretical. The "workers' State" is not directed2 by the workers themselves, (workers can direct production themselves only in an entirely different social system, never in a modern centralized State), but by a very large stratum of functionaries in the pay of the Government, which itself forms the center of a solid group, detached from the masses of toilers, and acting on its own. It is said that it is "answerable" to the workers. This is another abstraction. The reality has nothing in common with the formulas.

Ask any worker in the U.S.S.R. -- if he be a simple, real worker -- in what form he gets any advantage out of the profits realized by the State above his wages. He won't even understand you; he knows nothing about it. The only thing he knows is that he gets his meager wage, always inadequate, and that he has all the difficulty in the world in subsisting on it. He knows also that there are many people in the "Soviet" Union who live "agreeably" (as Stalin has said), richly, luxuriously.

Ask him if he can bring pressure to bear on those who are purportedly "answerable" to the workers, if he can criticize them, call them to order, eliminate them, replace them. He will understand you still less. What he knows is that he has only to carry out the orders of his chiefs "who know what they are doing", and that the least criticism of them would cost him dearly. Those chiefs are imposed on him by the Government and are answerable only to it. As for the Government, it is infallible, and unassailable : its answerability is a myth.
Let us see a little of the real situation of the worker in the U.S.S.R. Does it differ essentially from that of the workers in the countries where private capitalism flourishes?

As everywhere else, the worker in Stalin's domain is obliged to present himself, on payday, at the paymaster's window in the establishment where he is employed, to get his wages. These wages are paid to him by a functionary, the paymaster of his only boss, the State.

That functionary makes up his payroll according to the wage scale decreed by the Government. He withholds from the wages whatever the State-employer considers it necessary to withhold: so much for Red Aid, so much for bonds ("free", but compulsory, a Soviet sophism), so much for foreign propaganda, so much for the national lottery (another "free" but compulsory institution). He pays the worker exactly as does any other paymaster, employed in any other shop in any other country. Naturally the workers in the U.S.S.R. have no knowledge of what the State gains from his wages, nor what the State does with those gains. "That's the Government's business", and the worker hasn't the slightest intention of getting mixed up with that problem.

But in a country where private capitalism prevails, the worker, if he is dissatisfied, can quit his employer and look for another. He can change his shop, go where he likes, do what he pleases.

All this is impossible in the U.S.S.R.. where there is only one employer, owner of all the factories. Conforming to the latest laws, the worker hasn't even the right to "ask for his time" and quit the factory where he is employed, on his own. For that he must have the authorization of the management. And this management is made up of functionaries who, for a long time, have replaced the factory committees. Thus the worker is attached to his place of work in the manner of a serf or a slave.3

If the Russian worker leaves a factory without a special authorization written on his compulsory identity card, or if he is fired, he cannot work anywhere else without re-authorization. No factory director, functionary of the same State-employer, can hire him, under pain of severe penalties.

Under these conditions, the State-employer can do with the worker what it likes. It treats him like a slave. The worker is obliged to accept everything that is thrust upon him: he has neither a choice of employer, nor means of defense (his labor union being in the hands of the government-employer and pretending not to understand that a union member can defend himself "against his own government"), nor any way of existing except at the end of his tether. Unless he "untangles" himself somehow.

And he cannot complain nor make himself heard, the press also being in the hands of "his government", speech belonging to it, and meetings not being permitted except on official order. In a country as large as Russia, the best method of "getting untangled" has always been vagabondage. This practice has not changed. Thousands and thousands of ex-workers there, having quit their jobs "irregularly", and finding themselves on the outs with the authorities, have revived the old tradition and have taken to the roads. They form a significant mass of unemployed of which the Soviet press naturally does not speak.

The laws in the U.S.S.R. concerning workers in general and factory work in particular are extremely harsh. Tens of thousands of toilers languish and perish in the prisons and places of exile for the sole reason of having broken them.

And the work is difficult. -- Except in the large centers, the hygienic conditions in the shops are deplorable, the general surroundings impoverished. Nearly everywhere, too, there is hard labor at piece-work and the Taylor system is applied.

Prevalence of "stakhanovism" throughout the Soviet Union testifies to this. (The reader will find other testimonies and irrefutable proofs of what we say about labor conditions there in various other works.4)

The truth about stakhanovism is not well enough known outside of the Russian domain. That term comes from the name of a miner, Alexei Stakhanov, chosen by the Bolshevik authorities for the purpose of a vast campaign to intensify the output of the workers. It was a question, for the magnates of "Soviet" neo-capitalism of applying in the U.S.S.R. the principle of the Taylor system [gleaned from the United States] without using the term and without the appearance of its having been instigated by the Government.

One day Stakhanov made, spontaneously, it was asserted, a sensational declaration to his bosses, claiming that he had discovered a new principle of organizing the work of mining coal which enabled the increasing of production by x times. Immediately the Government "became interested" in the discovery, found it useful, made a big stir about it, and undertook a far-flung campaign to introduce the new method everywhere in Russia.

In fact, however, Stakhanov, inspired and pushed by the Bolshevik Party, had only "discovered" America. His "new" method was only an old device which had just made its first appearance across the Atlantic: to be specific, the assembly line [the speed-up, as used in the Ford automobile and other industrial plants] adapted to Russian conditions. But the "stage setting" [given to Stakhanov's prodigious daily output of coal] and the far-reaching publicity which it got made of it an extraordinary and fortunate discovery. The boneheads and the simpletons abroad took it all very seriously.

That "discovery" became the special business of the State-employer. It permitted it to hope for a general raising of the workers' output. Then it impelled the Government to form a privileged stratum among the workers, a formation which was exceedingly helpful to governmental need for heightened production -- the privileged ones being, generally, competent leaders of men, and thus could be used to facilitate manipulation of the toiling masses. And finally, in certain circles, it enhanced the prestige of the government-employer.

The new efficiency system was inaugurated by means of intense publicity in the press, on posters, and in speeches at public meetings. Stakhanov was proclaimed a "hero of labor", rewarded, decorated. His system was applied in other branches of industry. Everywhere jealous "rivals" set about imitating him and even surpassing his output. All these individuals were ambitious to distinguish themselves, to "rise from the ranks", to "arrive" -- naturally to the detriment of the workers as a whole, they being forced to submit to a new speed-up, that is, to increased exploitation, under the supervision of the "heroes". The latter rose on the backs of the others. They obtained advantages and privileges to the extent that they succeeded in applying the system and dragging along the masses. The "emulation" of the stakhanovists among themselves accordingly gave rise to superstakhanovism.

Soon the mass of workers understood the real meaning of the innovation. Powerless to oppose this "super-exploitation by any general movement, they manifested their discontent by numerous acts of sabotage and vengeance, even going so far as to assassinate over-zealous stakhanovists. It became necessary for the government to resort to extremely severe measures to repress the anti-stakhanovist movement. Moreover, the enterprise shortly ended in nothing. Once the bluff was seen through, all that remained was a sort of workers' opportunism which no longer played a really effective role in production.

The "nationalized" worker in the U.S.S.R. is at least in principle a modern slave. On condition of being docile and zealous, he is fairly well maintained, insured by his "lord", rewarded with a paid vacation, et cetera. Nevertheless this, in reality, is a matter here of only a tightly restricted part of the working class. That class is divided into several categories. The difference in their conditions of life ranges from ease to poverty, through all intermediary stages. The favors go only to the workers "worthy of them". To be well-paid, to have vacations and other advantages it is necessary to deserve them, to detach oneself from the crowd, to "climb".

The overwhelming majority of the workers in the Soviet Union endure a miserable existence -- especially the unskilled, the day-laborers, the domestics, the small employees, and, in general, the mass of average workers. Others, skilled and specialized, privileged slaves, have a relatively "good" life, and form a sort of "workers' aristocracy".

Most frequently, the latter distrust and repulse their unfortunate class comrades. The struggle for existence is bitter in the U.S.S.R. So much the worse for the victims. Let them take care of themselves. If one concerns himself with them, he soon becomes a victim himself. But the skilled and privileged worker, the true stakhanovist -- worthy disciple of the famous Stakhanov, first worker-careerist -- is ambitious for higher and higher positions. He has hopes of rising, some day, out of the ranks of the slaves, to become himself a functionary, some kind of a chief, perhaps a director.

He must do everything possible to rise. He demeans himself; he does four men's work; he trains the youths who will replace him in the shop; he makes himself noticed everywhere he can; he is always in agreement with the authorities and he emphasizes that; he is a candidate for the Party; he flatters and curries favor here, he covers himself there. But, ahead of everything else, it is necessary that he never become involved with those below him, nor with those on his own level. The struggle is hard in the Soviet Union.

The stakhanovist workers are primarily "pace-setters", whose role is to demonstrate by example to the mass of workers that it is possible to intensify production. They are highly paid and are given advancements, especially the superstakhanovists, who are the "aces" of stakhanovism. Their role is to show the proletarian masses that if they work well they can "attain" a comfortable and even "agreeable" life. (Again, Stalin's word).

In the majority of instances, once a new output-record has been established in a factory, it is impossible for a stakhanovist to remain there; the other workers will not let him live. Generally the authorities take care of such a faithful servant. Usually he is sent to a sanitarium, where he sojourns "comfortably" for several months -- after which he is called to an administrative post in Moscow or some other large city, where he has a stylish villa at his disposal and where he lives an "agreeable" life, getting a salary and enjoying prerogatives in proportion to the services he has rendered. His career is made. He is now a functionary. He has risen from the ranks. He has "arrived".

By all such procedures -- stakhanovism, superstakhanovism, classification in various categories of wages, et cetera -- the "Communist" government manages effectively to divide and control the working masses. It creates, at the same time, a privileged stratum which is obsequiously devoted to it, which keeps the "herd" on the alert, and which serves as a buffer between the masters and the slaves.

Thus the practices employed by the new masters -- the "Communists" -- toward the working class remain what they always were: to divide and dominate. And the consoling word spoken by the master to the "herd" also is eternal: "Workers, do you want to get ahead? Well, that depends solely on yourselves, for any capable man, who is diligent and applies himself, can become 'someone'. Those who do not succeed, the failures, have only themselves to blame."

According to the meticulous and objective calculations of the economist E. Yurievsky, taken from the statistics of the Government of the U.S.S.R., out of some 18,000,000 workers in 1938, there were about 1,500,000 (8 per cent.) of ex-workers and privileged workers: stakhanovists and superstakhanovists, et al.

It is of course understandable that the Government should encourage and reward this careerism from which it gains such huge profits and which, incidentally, it never calls by that name. Instead the competition in speed-up is lauded as "noble emulation", "honorable zeal in the service of the proletariat", and the like. There is a decoration "for zeal". And there is even a whole stratum of "decorated workers" -- ordenonostsi. From the most "worthy" of these elements, the Government creates a sort of new "Soviet" nobility, and also a new State-capitalist bourgeoisie: determined and solid supporters of the regime in the Kremlin.

And it is to all such climbers that Stalin, their supreme chief, refers, when he says in some of his speeches: "Life among us becomes always more agreeable, more cheerful."

The herd in the Soviet Union remains the herd, as everywhere else. And as elsewhere, the Government possesses "sufficient means to keep it at its mercy, tranquil and subdued".

It is contended that its methods prepare the ground for "real Communism".

We have asked ourselves whether the lot of the worker in the U.S.S.R. is preferable to that of the worker in the countries where private capitalism continues. But the real problem is not that. It is more precisely this: Is such a state of affairs compatible with Socialism? Or is this, at least, the dawn of it? Can such an organization, such a social background, lead us there?

The reader is invited to answer these questions himself -- and others as well -- when he reaches the end of this book.

CHAPTER 3: Situation of the Peasants

Four successive periods must be distinguished.

At first, seeking to gain and consolidate the sympathies of Russia's vast laboring masses and the Army, the Bolshevik government practiced a "laissez faire" policy toward the peasants. And the peasants -- as the reader knows -- began to take the land, the landlords either being in flight or having been driven out long before the October Revolution. The Lenin regime had only to approve this state of affairs.5

"By themselves, the soldiers stopped the war, while the peasants took over the land and the workers the factories," we are told by Paul Milioukov, well-known Russian historian and writer, and ex-Foreign Minister of the first provisional government. "Lenin had only to sanction the accomplished fact to make sure of the sympathies of the soldiers, the peasants, and the workers."6

There is much truth in this statement of the bourgeois leader, although he is wrong not to take any notice of the influence of the activity and propaganda of the revolutionists. With this reservation, his testimony is particularly interesting. Milioukov always was a keen observer and interpreter of Russian life. He held a post which permitted him to obtain sound information. Finally, he had no reason to diminish the role of the Bolsheviks. (We should note in passing that this testimony is very suggestive, not only in regard to the worker and peasant problem during the war, but also to the problem of war).

Notice [is pertinent here] to all who, intentionally or through ignorance, contend that the Revolution was achieved, not by the masses, but by the Bolsheviki. Here is a point to underline: That fundamentally, the October Revolution, like the one in February, was accomplished by the masses, of course with the help and sup. port of revolutionists of all schools. The masses were ready f0r the new revolution; they achieved it from day to day, everywhere at the moment. That is what is important; that is what it means to "accomplish a revolution". As for the Bolsheviks, they performed a purely political act in taking power. That inevitably had to occur in the course of this popular revolution on the march. By their political act, the Bolsheviki stopped the real Revolution, and caused its deviation.

They claim that if they had not taken power, the counterrevolution would have regained control and the Revolution would have been defeated. That assertion is gratuitous. The Bolsheviks were able to seize power because the vast masses were for the Revolution. The "masses" mainly were the [industrial] workers, the peasants, and the soldiers. With the workers taking over the factories, the peasants seizing the land, the revolutionaries helping both, and the soldiers being partisans of the Revolution, what [possible] force -- without industry, without funds, without help, and without an army -- could have stopped it? Foreign intervention? Who knows what would have been the situation and the attitude in other countries if the Russian Revolution had taken the course visualized by the Anarchists? Who knows what the consequences would have been? At that moment, the two theses should have been debated publicly. The Bolsheviks preferred to suppress the other, and the world has been suffering the consequences for a quarter of a century.

The statement [by Miloukov], among others, confirms the fundamental thesis of the Anarchists. They had maintained, in fact, that when the essential and favorable conditions would come into being, the masses would be perfectly capable of achieving the Revolution themselves, with the aid and support of the revolutionaries. They add (and this is the essential point of their outlook) that after the victory, the Revolution should follow the same course -- free action of the masses, supported by the free action of the revolutionaries of all schools, without any political party, having eliminated the others, installing itself in power, imposing its dictatorship, and monopolizing the Revolution.

Therefore, in the beginning -- in the first period -- Lenin did not bother the peasants. It was for this reason, among others, that the latter supported him, thus leaving him the time necessary to consolidate his power and his State. At that stage it was even said -- especially abroad -- that the peasants were the ones who had gained the most from the Russian Revolution, and that the Bolsheviks, despite the Marxist doctrine, were obliged to base themselves, not on the working class but on the peasant class.

But later -- in the second period -- to the extent that the State strengthened itself and in the measure that the cities, their provisions exhausted, turned their attention to the country, Lenin began to close the circle around the peasants more and more.

If the workers in the cities and the industrial regions had had, through their independent and active organizations, freedom of initiative and action, they certainly would have established direct and fruitful economic contact with the peasants for production and exchange. One can be sure that such contact between the free producers of the cities and the country would have led to alliances and finally to a practical and satisfactory solution of this basic problem of the Social Revolution -- that of the relations between the two classes of toilers, between the two essential branches of the national economy.

But, look! The workers and their organizations had no freedom of action, no freedom of initiative. And likewise the peasants had neither. Everything was concentrated in the hands of the State, of the Government. It alone could act, venture, resolve.

Under these conditions, naturally everybody awaited its decisions.

The peasants who, at the direct suggestions and proposals of the workers certainly would have done, on their own initiative, long before and in a natural way, spontaneous and simple, what was necessary for the cities, now did not move, while the Government -- which was there for that purpose -- did not make its intentions known.

By its presence and its very functions, a government interposes itself between the two strata of workers and separates them. Automatically, it prevents them from conferring, since it takes charge of intervening between the two as an intermediary, an arbiter.

Therefore Lenin intervened. Naturally, as a Marxist dictator he understood nothing of the real situation. He explained the indifferent attitude of the peasants, not as an inevitable consequence of the application of false governmental principles, but as a manifestation of their "egoism", their "petty-bourgeois mentality", their "hostility to the cities".

He acted brutally. Through a series of decrees and ordinances, he called upon the peasants to turn over the greater part of their harvest to the State. That summons was supported by the armed forces and the police. This was the period of requisitions, of impositions, of "armed expeditions", in short, of "war Communism". The military violence was thrust upon the peasants in order to take from them all that the State needed.

The peasants were forbidden to sell their products. Around the railroads, on the highways, and around the cities, "barricades" were set up to prevent such selling, which the State called "speculation". Thousands of peasants and other "citizens" were arrested and some of them were shot for violating those [anti-sales decrees]. It should be unnecessary to say that it was primarily the poor wretches who were carrying a sack of flour to a city for the sole purpose of enabling themselves to increase their daily sustenance, or else the peasants who came to help their famished relatives or friends, who were caught. The real big-time speculators easily "forced" the barricades by greasing palms. Once more, in a statist system, the reality mocked the "theory".

Soon this policy led to serious disturbances. The peasants opposed the violence with fierce resistance. They hid their wheat; they reduced their crops to the proportions strictly necessary to satisfy their own needs; they killed their livestock, sabotaged the work; they took a stand against the perquisitions and requisitions here and there; they assassinated more and more frequently the "commissars" in charge of these operations.

Now the cities found themselves threatened with famine, and no improvement in the situation could be envisaged. The workers, undergoing bitter privations, understanding more and more the true reasons for this failure, and seeking to save the Revolution, began to be seriously disturbed. And part of the Army showed itself fairly disposed to support this mass movement. (It was then that there arose, in March, 1921, the great uprising in Kronstadt). The situation became critical.

Believing that the State, that is to say, all the forces of support and coercion, were insufficiently consolidated to impose its will upon the country at any cost, Lenin retreated. Soon after Trotsky's "victory" over Kronstadt, he [Lenin] proclaimed the famous N.E.P., the "New Economic Policy".

The N.E.P. marks the third period in the evolution of the agrarian problem. It was "new", however, only in relation to the pitiless rigor and the military measures of the preceding period. It simply provided some degree of relaxation. The pressure was let up a little to satisfy the bellies of the peasants and to appease their spirits. The "new policy" granted them a certain amount of liberty in disposing of the product of their labor: notably to sell a part of it freely in the open market. The barricades were eliminated. Small traders benefited from some "liberalities". Individual property recovered some rights.

But, for a thousand reasons, the N.E.P. did not change anything basic. It did not constitute a solution. It was a half-measure, vague and doubtful. To be sure, it cleared the atmosphere a bit. But it created, at the same time, an aspect of irresolution and disorganization. Speedily it led to confusion and contradictions heavy with consequences, both in the economic field and in the life of the country in general.

Moreover, the equivocal and unstable situation which it brought about represented a decided danger to the government's security. Having made concessions, the Bolshevik regime admitted a certain weakness. This indirect admission raised the hopes of the bourgeois circles. It gave a new impetus to forces and elements whose activity and spirit could quickly become seditious and even perilous for the regime. This was all the more true in that the sympathies for the masses for Bolshevism had been greatly weakened since 1917, which the Government knew very well. The eventual reawakening of the bourgeois appetites among some elements of the peasantry appeared particularly serious.

The members of the Bolshevik Party and the privileged strata already formed in the new State, and fairly influential, were afraid. They insisted that it was necessary for the government to put an end to "the pause of the N.E.P." and return to the regime of the State-employer and the State mailed-fist.

For ail these reasons Josef Stalin, the successor of Lenin, who died in 1924, felt obliged to choose between two solutions: either enlarge the N.E.P., which would mean, despite the possession of the "levers of control", opening the doors to the economic and perhaps political restoration of a private capitalistic regime -- or else return to integral statism, to a totalitarian regime, and resume the offensive of the State against the peasants.

Having weighed everything, sure of the acquired power and mastery of the State, assured of the active support of the privileged strata as well as of the support of a sizeable part of the Army, completely subjugated, and of all the coercive forces of his "apparatus", Stalin finally decided in favor of the second solution. At the end of 1928 he proceeded to effect the total nationalization of Russia's agriculture: a nationalization called "collectivization", and representing the fourth period of the evolution of the peasant problem.

Through force of arms, through terror which before long took on unheard-of forms and proportions, the State set about taking away from the peasant who had remained a land-owner his piece of land, even though that property were middle-sized or small. Thus it gained effective and complete possession of the soil.

Prior to that operation it was necessary to distinguish in the U.S.S.R. three factors in the situation:

1. The sovkhoz, an abbreviation of the Russian words, "Soviet possessions", which were exploited directly by the State.

2. The kolkhoz, meaning "collective possessions", which were exploited communally by the peasants, working under the control and direction of the State.

3. The individual cultivator, a sort of State farmer, who, like the kolkhoz, then owed a part of his product to the State.

This distinction disappeared with the "collectivization". From that time onward all agriculture became a direct enterprise of the State, effective lord of the land. Each "agricultural workshop" took the name of kolkhoz.

Every peasant was compelled by force to enter a kolkhoz. His piece of land and his other possessions were confiscated. And, we must emphasize, it was not only a question of the more or less well-off peasants, but also of millions of poor farmers, who had just enough to feed themselves, not employing help and possessing solely what was strictly necessary for their individual labor.

Since then every peasant in the U.S.S.R. has been compulsorily attached to a kolkhoz, as the [industrial] worker is to a factory. The State has transformed him not only into a State farmer, but into a serf, and forces him to work for his new master. And like all real masters, it leaves him, out of the product of his toil, only the indispensable minimum to maintain life. The rest, the major part, is put at the disposal of the Government. And also, like all real masters, the latter decides how this shall be made use of, without the peasant having the slightest say in the matter. True, this surplus does not go to enrich the capitalists, but there are other strata [the privileged] to enrich in the Soviet Union.

Theoretically the State "buys" the products from the kolkhoz. It is in this way that it remunerates the peasants for their labor. But, being the only landlord and purchaser, it pays an absurdly low price for those commodities. That remuneration is only a new form of exploitation of the peasant masses by the capitalistic State.

To understand this, it suffices to say that, according to the reports of the "Soviet" press, the State realized, in 1936, a profit of nearly 25,000,000 rubles from the re-sale of products bought from the kolkhozes. Again, in 1937, the kolhhozists got only 50 per cent, of the real value of the products of their labor. The remainder was retained as taxes, administrative expenses, various revenues, et cetera.

Nearly all of the peasant population in the U.S.S.R. finds itself today in a state of serfdom. This agricultural organization recalls the famous "military colonies" of Araktcheiev in the time of Tsar Alexander I. In fact, "Soviet" agriculture is "mechanized", "bureaucratized", "militarized".

To arrive at that goal, Stalin had to use terrible methods of violence against the peasants. In many places, the countryside did not accept the announced reforms with good grace: It was recalcitrant. Stalin had expected this. He did not hesitate. Millions of peasants were imprisoned, deported, or shot for the least resistance. Detachments of "special" troops -- a sort of militarized police force -- primarily fulfilled that task. In the course of these "expeditions" a number of recalcitrant or rebel villages were demolished by artillery and machine-guns and burned.

And, parallel with those upheavals, several famines devastated whole regions and carried off other millions of victims.

Finally, "might was right". There is no reason to be astonished or to be skeptical about our revelations. We know from other examples, such as those of Fascism and Hitlerism, to what an extent an authoritarian regime, armed with all !the modern methods, can subjugate the masses, and impose its will upon them, despite all resistance and all obstacles, so long as the police and the Army obey it.

Some say that the Bolshevik government had no other means to safeguard its regime, to save the country from permanent famine and other disasters worse than the remedy, to "make agricultural progress", and to "assure the march toward Socialism".

We agree -- except for the goals.

Yes, the statist, governmental process has no other means than these. But that is, precisely, irrefutable proof that its doctrine is erroneous and that the situation created is insoluble. For by such means Socialism will never he achieved.

This system can "assure" a march, not toward Socialism, but toward State capitalism, which is more abominable than private capitalism. And this system is not at all a "transitional" state, as they [the "Communists"] frequently wish to make us believe; it is simply another method of domination and exploitation. It will have to be combated as other systems, based on domination and exploitation, have been and are being combated.

As for the "progress of agriculture", we are convinced that the true progressive collectivization of this branch -- as indeed of the whole economy -- will have to be achieved by forces which have nothing in common with those of a statist political dictatorship.

We have said that for a while the agrarian problem became seriously complicated in the U.S.S.R. The peasant masses carried on a struggle, blind but effective, against the State-employer, and sabotaged the work of the kolkhoz; the agricultural output began to fall catastrophically. In order to stimulate the kolkhozists and to reconcile them to the system, they were then allowed, within the kolkhoz itself, a certain amount of individual property, very restricted, a little land, a few animals, some tools. And the kolkhozist was permitted to work a little for himself.

The inevitable result of this measure was not slow in making itself felt: the struggle between the peasant and the State soon crystalized itself around this "private sector" ("around the cow", they [the Russians] in the country say).

Since then the peasants have tried stubbornly to increase their "property", their rights, and their personal work, to the detriment of the kolkhoz. Naturally the State has opposed this tendency. But, on the other hand, it has been compelled to spare as much as possible the "individual sector", the output of which is superior to that of the kolkhoz, and which contributes largely to the State's prosperity.

At present this struggle and these hesitations combine to make up the nerve center of the agrarian problem in the "Soviet" Union. It is not impossible that that domain is on the eve of a new and fifth period in its agricultural evolution.

We must note, however, that these details and others change nothing of the general picture which we have just painted.

CHAPTER 4: Situation of the Functionaries

The third social stratum in the U.S.S.R., the importance of which has become enormous, is that of the bureaucrats, the functionaries.

From the moment when direct relations between the various categories of workers were suppressed, as well as their initiative and freedom of action, the functioning of the State machine, of necessity, had to be assured by intermediaries dependent on the central direction of the machine. The name which has been given to these intermediaries -- -- describes perfectly their role, which consists of making [something] function.

In the "liberal" countries the functionaries make function what relates to the State. But in a country where the State is all, they are called upon to make everything function. This means that they are responsible for organizing, co-ordinating, supervising; in short with making the whole life of the country, economic and otherwise, go.

In a country as immense as the U.S.S.R., this "civil army" of the State-employer must be extraordinarily large. And, in fact, the caste of the functionaries there has been raised to several millions. According to E. Yourievsky, cited earlier, their total number exceeds 9,000,000. One must not forget that in [that vast territory] there are neither municipalities nor other services or organizations independent of the State, nor any kind of private enterprise.

It goes without saying that, apart from the small subordinate employees, [the functionaries] form the most privileged social strata. In this respect only the top military ranks can equal them. The services which they render to their employer (the State) are inestimable. Along with the Army and the police, also enormous and well organized, the "Soviet" bureaucracy is a force of the first importance. Fundamentally, everything depends on it. Not only does it serve the State, organize it, rule it, make it go, and control it -- but what is much more valuable, it actively and faithfully supports the [Stalinist] regime, on which it depends entirely.

In the name of the government which it represents, the top bureaucracy commands, dictates, orders, prescribes, supervises, punishes. And the middle and even the petty bureaucracy also command and administer, each functionary being master in the sphere assigned to him. Hierarchically, all are responsible to their superiors. The highest are responsible to the chief-functionary, the great, genial, infallible Dictator.

The functionaries give themselves body and soul to the Government, which knows how to reward them for this. With the exception of the herd of petty employees, whose position corresponds to that of the herd of [industrial and rural] workers, the "responsible" functionaries in the U.S.S.R. are the object of ceaseless concern. Good remuneration and advancement are guaranteed to all functionaries worthy of these favors. All docile and diligent functionaries are well paid, pampered, felicitated, decorated. The most devoted and zealous advance rapidly in office and may hope to attain the highest posts in the State.

But the medal has its reverse side. Basically, every functionary is an instrument, a puppet in the hands of his superiors. The least fault, error, or negligence can cost him much. Responsible only to his chiefs, he is punished by them administratively, according to their judgement, without any other form of trial. It means complete destitution, frequently prison, sometimes death. The personal caprice and despotism of the chiefs rule with no appeal.

The most terrible aspect of that situation is that often the punished functionary is only a scapegoat, his "fault" or his failure being imputable either to the defective orders of his superiors, or to general conditions, or to the policy of the Government. "Stalin is always right" -- like Hitler in Germany. If there is a failure, the guilty are quickly found. Frequently also, the matter is deeply anchored in the traditions of "Soviet" bureaucracy. The guilty one falls victim to the struggle for existence: rivalry, jealousy, intrigues -- these elements, inseparable from unbridled careeism, lie in wait for the functionary every moment of his life.

On the other hand, certain misdeeds in the private lives of high functionaries, going sometimes as far as debauchery, are tolerated by the Government, as one kind of necessary relaxation. The G.P.U. closes its eyes. Its chiefs participate. The famous Henrikh Yagoda was a perverted libertine. And there are still orgies in Moscow.

"To arrive" -- -at any price and by any means, without letting oneself be caught: such is the greatest concern and one of the strongest stimulants in the "Soviet" Union.

From a little above the level of the gigantic herd of 150,000,000 [industrial] workers, peasants, and petty employees, every beginning functionary can, by showing himself devoutly and blindly submissive, and by knowing how to fawn and "bend the knee", attain "the good life".

It is this hope which today pushes every young citizen in the U.S.S.R. toward education and study. He aspires and hopes, like the stakhanovist, to "rise from the ranks" -- he, who flounders in poverty. He is ambitious for a position as a chief, a carriage, a leather brief-case, a pair of good boots, a good salary, and decorations. On such a road, he does not bother about his neighbor. He knows perfectly how to flatter, pay homage, be obsequious and servile.

To become aware of all this, one needs to follow closely all that happens in [the vast territory dominated by the Kremlin]. It is necessary to read the "Soviet" press attentively, if one is to know Russian life, mentality, and general customs. The speeches and harrangues of the chiefs, the periodic distribution of decorations, the declarations and statements of delegates to the Congress, the local news and the daily "little stories" which find their place and their echoes in the "Soviet" newspapers -- all this documentation puts him who knows how to read it and understand it in touch with the situation.

According to Yourievsky, out of about 10,000,000 functionaries in the U.S.S.R., 2,000,000, or 20 per cent., are privileged. The rest lead a more or less painful existence, made tolerable only by the hope of "rising" and "arriving".

If we gather together all of our information, we obtain the following table, the figures being approximate:
1.500,000 privileged workers out of 18,000,000
2,000,000 privileged functionaries out of 10,000,000
4,000,000 well-to-do peasants out of 142,000,000
2,500,000 variously privileged; members of the Bolshevik Party (independent of their functions), specialists, soldiers, police, et cetera.
10,000,000 privileged of all kinds out of 170,000,000

These 10,000,000 constitute the new privileged class in the "Soviet" Union and the real support of the Stalin regime.

The rest of the population -- 160,000,000 souls -- are only a more or less unknown herd, subjugated, exploited, impoverished.

CHAPTER 5: Political Structure

In our analysis of the role of the functionaries, we touch upon the political structure of the U.S.S.R.

Politically it is governed by the high State functionaries (as France, according to a time-honored formula, is governed by the prefects), and administered by an innumerable army of subordinate functionaries under their command.

It remains for us to support this statement with certain indispensable details. Ahead of everything else, it is necessary to distinguish between two absolutely different elements. The one consists of appearance, decorations, the stage setting, (the sole heritage of the glorious October Revolution); the other is the reality.

In appearance, the U.S.S.R. is governed by the soviets. ("The Soviets everywhere!" shout the French Communists, without knowing what to believe about the "soviets", without having the slightest notion of their real history and their real role).

Nothing could be more false. The good people abroad who still believe sincerely in this myth are letting themselves be royally "rolled".

Without losing ourselves in details, let us establish the essential facts, emphasizing the characteristics that are unknown or little known.

For a very long time the Soviets (workers' councils) have not played any important role in the U.S.S.R., either politically or socially. Their use is wholly secondary, and even insignificant. They are purely administrative, executive organs, in charge of minor local duties of no importance, entirely subordinated to the "directives" of the central authorities: the government and directing organs of the "Communist" Party. . . . The Soviets do not have even the shadow of power.

A great misunderstanding about the Soviets prevails outside of Russia. For many workers in other countries, the term soviet has something mysterious about it. A mass of sincere, naive people -- "dopes", as the saying goes -- mistaking bladders for lanterns, have faith in the "Socialist" and "revolutionary" decor of the new impostors. In Russia, the masses are forced by violence and other methods of control to accept that imposture (exactly as in Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy). But millions of workers in other countries naively let themselves be hoodwinked, unaware of the fraud of which they will one day be the first victims.

Let us clear up this question of the Soviets.

Two essential facts must be emphasized:

First: The creation of the "Soviets" in Russia took place only because of the absence of other workers' organizations, under the pressing necessity of setting up mechanism for information, coordination, and common action in various factories. It is certain that if Russia had possessed labor unions and a Syndicalist movement in 1905, the idea of forming Soviets never would have arisen, and recourse never would have been had to these vague organisms, completely fortuitous and purely representative.

Second: Basically, a soviet is not an organism of the class struggle, of revolutionary action. It can only be a living active cell, of the social transformation or of the new society in the process of birth. By its very structure it is a weak, passive institution, of a rather bureaucratic, or, at its best, administrative character. A Soviet can take care of certain small local duties, nothing more. It is a sort of workers' municipal council. But -- and this is serious -- because of its structure, and especially of its pretensions, it can become, under certain circumstances, an instrument in the hands of a political party or of a government, as was the case in Russia. Thus it is subject to "the political disease", and, consequently, spells a certain danger for the Revolution.

For these two reasons, this whole famous system of the "Soviets", product of the specific conditions in which the workers' movement in Russia found itself, has no interest and no utility for workers in countries where Syndicalist organs, a Syndicalist movement, and a Syndicalist struggle exist; nor for countries in which the workers have had their class organizations of combat and social reconstruction for a long time; nor for countries where the laboring masses have prepared for a final direct struggle, outside the State, political parties, and any kind of government.

In appearance, we have said, Russia is governed by the Soviets ("free emanations of the working class", according to the myth spread abroad). Theoretically today -- that is, according to the old "Soviet" written constitution, the supreme power in the U.S.S.R. belongs to the Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets, convoked periodically, and having, in principle, the right to name, eliminate, or replace the Government. In principle, the Soviets hold the legislative power, and their "executives" the executive power.

But in reality it is the Government itself -- the Council of People's Commissars, direct emanation of the Communist Party -- which holds, in an absolute way, all the force and all the power, both legislative and executive, in the country.

It is the Government that is master, not the Soviets.

It is the Government which can, if it wishes, wipe out the Congress of Soviets, or any Soviet taken separately, or any member of a Soviet in case of opposition or disobedience. For it is the Government which holds all the "levers of command".

Yet that is not all. The real government is not even the Council of People's Commissars, which is itself only an ornament, but rather the Politbureau (political bureau), which consists of a few top men of the C.P., members of its central committee. That isn't all either. In fact, it is the brutal and cunning chief of the party and of the central committee, the "great" and "genial" Stalin (or whoever replaces him) who is the real supreme power: the dictator, the Vojd (Duce or Fiihrer) of the country. This man can say, with much more reason than Louis XIV: "L'Etat (the U.S.S.R.) c'est moi!" ("I am the State!").

It is Stalin (or his eventual successor) who is [or will be] supported by the "areopagus (the Politbureau), the Council of People's Commissars, the whole party, the "candidates" (aspirants) for the party, the privileged strata, the bureaucracy, the "apparatus", the Army, and the police. For all this world depends on him, materially and morally, and only exists thanks to him. All this world believes blindly in his strength and skill in safeguarding the regime, which is constantly threatened by formless discontent and the rage -- for the moment powerless -- of the deceived, subjugated, and exploited masses.

It is he, the "great leader", and then the Politburo, the party's central committee, and the Council of People's Commissars, who impose their will on the Soviets, and not the reverse.

Some claim that Stalin and all these institutions rule by the will of the people: for, it is said, all the members of the Government, of the directing organs, and of the Soviets are elected, freely and secretly. But, by closely examining the mechanism and the provisions which regulate them, it is easy to see even without participating in them, that these "free and secret" elections are merely a comedy (more or less like everywhere else).

If, at the very beginning, the elections to the Soviets were relatively secret7 -- the vast masses being for the Soviets, the Government had nothing to fear on that score, and moreover, it was impossible to deceive the masses immediately -- this relative freedom has not been in existence for a long time now. For years the elections in the "Soviet" Union have been neither free nor secret, and although this is entirely official, it does not displease the ignorant "followers" in other countries, who have always denied the facts. It is notorious, in fact, that the pretended "freedom" and "secrecy" of elections were "granted" to the people recently, by the famous "democratic Constitution" of Stalin. And the real purpose of that gesture was to appease the growing discontent in the U.S.S.R., and further, to throw dust in the eyes of foreign workers.

Henceforth Stalin and his government had the certainty of being able to remain masters of the situation, despite the "freedom" and "secrecy" of the elections. The "apparatus" of the State was sufficiently solid -- and the people sufficiently subdued -- so that the Government had the herd of voters at its mercy, despite the "freedoms" granted. The very text of the "Constitution" permits one to discern the calculations.

Today, in spite of all appearances, the elections are inspired, even imposed, led, organized, and supervised closely by innumerable agents of the omnipotent government. The committees, the "cells", and the other local party organs, "suggest" their ideas to the voters and impose their candidates. And there is only one list of the latter, presented by the Communist Party. There is no opposition. Who would dare to oppose this list or present another? And for what purpose would the voter "refuse to play" when such a gesture could change nothing in the situation but might lead the stubborn one to prison?

The vote is "free" and "secret" simply in the sense that the voter may manipulate his pen without anyone looking over his shoulder. But as to what that pen can put on the paper, there is no choice. His act is "pre-destined", therefore purely automatic. Thus the composition of the Soviets and their subordination to the Government are assured in advance. And the "ballot" is only another fraud.

We must remind the reader that the "Stalin Constitution" is the third since the October Revolution. The first, adopted by the Fifth Congress of Soviets in July, 1918, under Lenin, established the basis of the Bolshevik State. The second was adopted in 1924, still under Lenin. It made certain modifications and specifications which consolidated the power of the State, suppressing the last vestiges of the independence of the Soviets, the factory committees, et cetera. Finally, the third was granted by Stalin and adopted in 1936. The latter did not change anything. There were a few unimportant alterations of detail, a few vague promises, a few articles repeating "democratic" formulae, immediately contradicted by the articles which followed, and finally, the replacement of the annual Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets by a permanent superior Soviet, renewable every four years. That was all.

CHAPTER 6: General View

To complete the picture that I have just sketched, here are a few last brush strokes.

The Bolshevik system wants the State-employer to be, for every citizen, the provider, the moral guide, and the distributor of rewards and penalties.

The State provides work for the citizen and assigns him to a job. The State feeds and pays him! The State supervises him; the State uses and manipulates him as it likes; the State educates and trains him; the State judges him; the State recompenses or punishes him. So [in one embodiment we find] employer, provider, protector, supervisor, educator, instructor, judge, jailer, and executioner -- all these [embodied] in a State, which, with the help of its functionaries, wants to be omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. Let him who seeks to escape it, beware!

We want to emphasize the point that the Bolshevik State (the Government) not only possesses all the material and moral goods in existence, but, what is perhaps, much more serious -- it has made itself also the perpetual repository of all truth, in all fields, historic, economic, political, social, scientific, philosophical, and others. In all fields, the Bolshevik government considers itself infallible and called upon to lead humanity. It alone possesses the truth. It alone knows where and how to direct. It alone is capable of leading the Revolution properly.

Then, logically and inevitably, it claims that the 175,000,000 people who inhabit the Russian domain also must recognize it as the only bearer of the truth, infallible, incontrovertible, sacred. And logically, inevitably, any individual or group who dares not combat that government, but simply doubts its infallibility, criticizes it, contradicts it, or blames it for anything at all, is regarded as its enemy and therefore as an enemy of the truth, and of the Revolution -- a "counter-revolutionary".

This involves a complete monopoly of opinion and thought. Any opinion, any thought, other than that of the State (or of the Government) is held to be a heresy: dangerous, inadmissible, criminal. And logically, inescapably, the punishment of heretics follows: prison, exile, execution.

The Syndicalists and the Anarchists, ferociously persecuted solely because they dared to have an independent opinion of the Revolution, knew what this meant.

As the reader can see, that system is truly that of absolute slavery of the people -- physical and moral slavery. It is, if one likes, a new and terrible Inquisition on a social level. Such is the work achieved by the Bolshevik Party.

But did the Bolsheviki seek this result? Did they come to this deliberately?

Certainly not. Beyond doubt, the party's best representatives hoped for a system which would have permitted the building of real Socialism and would have opened the way of integral Communism. They were convinced that the methods preconceived by their great ideologists were going to lead there infallibly. More-over, they believed that all means were good and justified, if they would lead to that goal.

They were deceived, those sincere ones. They took a false path. It was for this reason that some of them, perceiving the irreparable error and not wishing to survive their vanished hopes, committed suicide.

Naturally, the conformists and the careerists adapted themselves.

I must mention here an admission made to me, some years ago, by an eminent and sincere Bolshevik, in the course of a heated and passionate discussion. "Certainly," he said, "we have made mistakes and become involved in ways which we neither wished nor expected. But we will try to repair our errors and get out of the impasse, and regain the right road. And we will succeed."

On the contrary, one can be certain that they will not succeed For the logical force of events, general human psychology, the linking of material factors, and the determined chain of causes and effects are, in the last analysis, more powerful than the will of a few individuals, no matter how strong and sincere they may be

Ah, if millions of free men were deceived, if it was a question of powerful collectives acting in full freedom, and in complete agreement, it might be possible by a common effort of will to repair the mistakes and redeem the situation. But such a task is impossible for a group of individuals placed above and outside the subjugated and passive human mass, confronted by gigantic forces which dominate them.

The Bolshevik Party seeks to build Socialism by means of the State, of a government, and of political action, centralized and authoritarian. But it can lead only to a monstrous and murderous State capitalism, based on the odious exploitation of the "mechanized", blind, unconscious masses.

The more it can be demonstrated that the leaders of the party were sincere, energetic, and capable, and that they were followed by vast masses, the better can the historical conclusion about their work be drawn. Thus:

Any attempt to achieve the Social Revolution with the help of a State, a government, and political action -- even though that attempt is very sincere, very energetic, favored by circumstances, and supported by the masses -- will lead inevitably to State capitalism, the worst form of capitalism, which has absolutely nothing to do with the march of humanity toward a Socialist society.

Such is the lesson for the world to be drawn from the tremendous and decisive Bolshevik experiment, a lesson which lends powerful support to the libertarian thesis, and which, in the light of events, will soon be understood by all those who labor, suffer, think, and struggle.

CHAPTER 7: Achievements

Despite the numerous works and studies containing abundant documentation and irrefutable details of the pretense of "Soviet achievements", many persons continue to believe obstinately in this myth. For many such pretend to know and understand things without examining them closely, and without taking the trouble to read what has been published [about the questions before them].

Various naive individuals, with complete confidence in the statements made by partisans of the U.S.S.R., sincerely believe that the marvelous "achievements" of the only "Socialist State" prepare the ground for the coming of true and integral Communism.

But we who know that country, we who follow closely what is happening there, and what is revealed there, can appreciate the real value of the Bolshevik "conquests" and their "feats of valor" up to the present.

A profound and detailed analysis of that value is not our theme, but we must reply, at least briefly, to five pertinent and natural questions:

1. Does State capitalism, to which, according to the admissions of sincere Communists themselves, Bolshevism has led in Russia, achieve at least significant results from the purely industrial, agricultural, or cultural point of view?

2. Does it make progress in these fields?

3. Has it succeeded in giving an impetus to a country which was backward industrially, technologically, politically, and socially?

4. Could it, one day, by reason of the progress made, facilitate the social transformation and the transition to the Socialist society of tomorrow?

5. Can this State capitalism be regarded as a transitional stage [on the road] toward Socialism, an inevitable and indispensable stage in a country such as Russia was before the Revolution?

Many of [their defenders] contend that, under the existing conditions, the Bolsheviki did the maximum possible. By reason of the rudimentary state of industry, technology, and the general education of the masses, they aver, the only conceivable goal in this country was the installation in power of an intellectual elite which, by compulsion, would force the people to make up for the retardation, create a powerful industry, a modern technology, a progressive agriculture, and an exemplary educational system.

This task [the argument of the defenders continues] was the only one that could be attempted. And it was indispensable in Russia. The Bolsheviks were the only ones to understand this and to consecrate themselves resolutely to it, not stopping for any reason nor for any obstacle. And they were completely, right in mercilessly sweeping away all those who might have Werfered with that preparatory work. For the immediate future of the country and also that of Socialism in general depended on these necessary and urgent achievements.

The preceding chapters, we hope, give reason to reflect on the soundness of these assertions.

We complete our broad exposition with a few facts, figures ind precise statements.

An excellent method for discovering the real achievements and the real situation of the Bolshevik State exists. But only if one knows the country, its history, its language, its customs, and especially only if one knows how to read the Soviet press. It is regrettable that, except under these essential conditions, such investigation is hardly practicable outside of Russia.

This method is that of scanning regularly the newspapers which appear in Russia, particularly Izvestia and Pravda.

The Bolshevik government knows very well that, except in a few instances, these papers are not being read abroad. Counting, on the one hand, upon ignorance of what is really happening in the U.S.S.R., and on the other hand, upon the effects of its immense and intensive propaganda, the Stalin regime feels itself amply protected from inopportune revelations. Forced to admit and explain certain weaknesses to its own population, it may do it in full security. Therefore it tolerates certain admissions in its newspapers, while controlling, naturally, their object, their appearance, and their scope.

From admission to admission, the regular and attentive reader of the Soviet press inevitably reaches enlightening conclusions.

In studying the Russian newspapers, the following features especially should occupy the attention of the researcher:

1. Editorials.
2. Reports of congresses, and particularly the delegates' speeches.
3. Local reportage and correspondence.
4. Summaries.

The editorials and principal articles, written to order and always developed according to the same model, have for years assumed the same invariable character.

Each article begins with a hymn to "achievements" effected. In such and such a field, it asserts, as a rule, we have made giant strides. Everything is going marvelously. "The Party and the Government" (a sacred formula, repeated many times in each article) have made such and such a decision, have applied such and such a measure, or promulgated such and such a decree. Therefore we are sure (it slips imperceptibly into the future tense) that, from now on, this or that will be done; that, in the very near future, such and such progress will be made; that directly such and such a result will be achieved, et cetera.

This part makes up two thirds of the article. Then unfailingly comes a "but", a "however", or a "nevertheless".

But, the article continues, the Party and the Government are obliged to state that, according to the latest reports received, the present achievements are still far from attaining the necessary results; that, at present, only this or that has been done. And there follow figures and data in astonishing disproportion to the forecasts.

The further you read, the more you realize that while the future is going to be splendid the actual present is deplorable; negligence, serious errors, weaknesses, impotence, disorder, confusion are usually cited in such an article. And it is sure to continue with desperate appeals: "Forward! Faster! It is necessary that we regain control of ourselves! It is high time that production increased! Less waste! Let those responsible be called to order! The Party and the Government have done their duty. It is up to the workers to do theirs, et cetera." Often, too, the article concludes with threats against the unfortunate "responsible parties" and those who remain deaf to the appeals of the Party and the Government in general.

Nothing is more typical of the Soviet press than this aspect. It has been repeated day after day for 20 years.

Reports of the congresses [of the various divisions of the U.S.S.R. political system] are notably edifying if one takes the trouble to scan closely the speeches of the delegates.

All those delegates of course belong to the privileged working-class "aristocracy". All these speeches resemble one another like drops of water.

Each speech begins with an immoderate glorification of Stalin: the great, the genial, the well-loved, the venerated, the superman, the wisest man of all peoples and all centuries. Then each delegate declares that in his region -- or his field -- unheard-of efforts are being made to fulfil the orders of the Party and the Government, and to please the adored Vodj. Then they hold out beautiful promises for the future. Finally, they nearly all servilely enumerate all that the Party and the Government have already done "for the workers". By way of example, the delegate usually cites his own case.

This part of the speech is generally the most curious. Working zealously, and having scored these results, the delegate says, he has been able to win such and such an advancement, which has enabled him now to have a stylish home, nice furniture, a phonograph, a piano, et cetera. And he hopes to do still better in order to attain a way of life even more agreeable.

"He is eminently right, our great Stalin," the delegate cries. "Life in the U.S.S.R. is becoming happier, more comfortable every day." Frequently he concludes his speech on a note that is naive to the point of absurdity: "The authorities have promised me, as a recompense for my efforts, this or that (a fine bicycle, for instance). The promise has not yet been kept, but I am waiting patiently, with confidence in my government..." (Prolonged applause from the congress).

The purpose of these speeches, deliberately inspired, is clear. They say to the workers: "Work with zeal, obey the authorities, venerate your Vodj, and you will manage to rise from the herd, and create for yourself a genteel, bourgeois existence."

And this propaganda bears fruit. The desire to "rise" stimulates the energies of thousands of individuals in the "Soviet" Union. The example of those who "rise" redoubles this energy. The dominant caste makes its profit. But Socialism? Have patience, poor dupes.

And the reporting, local correspondence, and summaries enable us to get an approximate and suggestive idea of a multitude of daily facts, of those "little nothings" which in reality compose and characterize existence.

At the end of such a study, one becomes sufficiently clear about the social level and real spirit of "the first Socialist country". Naturally, of course, the study of this documentation must be completed by the reader with the scanning of magazine articles, statistics, et cetera.

What, then, are our conclusions about the concrete achievements in the U.S.S.R.?

Ahead of everything else, there exists a field in which the "Soviet" power has beaten all records -- that of propaganda: more precisely, that of lying, deception, and bluff.

In this field the Bolsheviks have revealed themselves as past masters,8 Commanding all avenues of information, publicity, [and communication], they have, on the one hand, surrounded the country with a veritable protective wall across which they allow to pass only what corresponds to their plans, and, on the other hand, they utilize every possible means to maintain an incredibly powerful enterprise of imposture, trickery, stage setting, and mystification.

This deceitful propaganda all over the world is of a scope and intensity without equal. Considerable sums of money are devoted to it. Throwing dust into the eyes [of other peoples] is one of the principal tasks of the Bolshevik State. Newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books, photographs, moving pictures, radio, expositions, demonstrations, "testimonies" -- all methods, one more tricky than the next -- are employed.

Undeniably, the "Soviet" government makes large use of direct or indirect subsidies abroad. Among the "Friends of the Soviet Union", for example, there are writers who are "friends" primarily because this title permits them to sell their literary output in the U.S.S.R. or to gain other advantages.

But propaganda by word having proved insufficient, the Bolshevik government has masterfully organized deception through fact.

No one may enter the Russian domain without special authorization, which is exceedingly difficult to obtain, unless one gives certain guarantees of sympathy for the regime. No one can travel through the country freely, nor examine independently what interests him. On the other hand, the Government has patiently and meticulously set up a showy facade. It has rigged up a great display of promises to show to the dazzled world. It sets up this scaffolding on every occasion. The "workers' delegations", authorized to spend a few weeks in Russia from time to time, and abominably duped (if their members are sincere), serve its purpose. And the same is true of the overwhelming majority of "tourists" or isolated visitors who travel in that country under the vigilant eye of spies, without being able to understand what is really going on around them.

Factories, collective farms, museums, canteens, and parks for sport, play, and rest are all prepared in advance, in special places, and tricked out in such a way that the poor traveler remains dumbfounded without becoming aware of the imposition. And even when he sees something really good or beautiful, he does not realize that it concerns only the 10,000,000 privileged persons and not at all the 160,000,000 exploited proletarians.

If the bourgeoisie of other countries also have recourse to "window dressing", Bolshevism uses "super-window dressing", so that in our times still, and despite the testimony of sincere witnesses, millions of workers in all the other lands do not know the truth about the U.S.S.R.

Let us pass on to other achievements.

Here we shall deal with the bureaucracy, the new bourgeoisie, the Army, and the police.

We already know that the Bolshevik State has succeeded in developing with dizzying speed a tremendous bureaucracy, unequaled and incomparable, a bureaucracy which alone forms today a privileged "aristocratic" caste of more than 2,000,000 individuals. It has succeeded also in dividing the population of the "Socialist" State into at least 20 categories of wage-earners. And they have reached an inequality of social conditions never before existent in private capitalist States. The lowest categories receive from 100 to 150 rubles a month. The higher categories receive 3,000 rubles and more.

The "Soviet" Union includes a State bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie which lives luxuriously, possessing sumptuous villas, with carriages, and servants, et cetera.

The Bolshevik State has militarized the ranks of the directing party itself, by forming, especially from among the Bolshevist youth a "special Army corps", a sort of State police. And it was with the help of such a special corps that the Lenin government stamped out the revolutionary uprising in Kronstadt in 1921, and with the same aid, the Stalin regime pitilessly drowns in blood the strikes, demonstrations, and revolts which occur in the country from time to time, but of which, naturally, the Bolshevik press does not breathe a word.

Such as it was -- chained, castrated, bureaucratized, bourgeoisi-fied, regimented, corrupted, and petrified -- the Russian Revolution, as we have said, was powerless to impose itself upon the world. The Bolsheviki ended by realizing this. They understood, too, that under these conditions, they almost inevitably, soon or late, would have to do so with the same method that served them in imposing themselves upon Russia -- armed violence.

From then on, they applied themselves relentlessly to the forging of the indispensable instrument of this method: a powerful modern army. Their mining production and their heavy industry particularly were brought into play to carry out this project. The task was achieved to a certain extent. They ended by creating a regular army, patterned after all the armies in the world, mechanically disciplined, blindly devoted to the Power, secured by ranks and decorations, well fed, well dressed, and equipped with the "last word" in materiel. This army has become an imposing force.

Finally. Bolshevism knew how to form a powerful police force, partly regular, but primarily secret, a police force which is perhaps the best in the world, since it has succeeded up to now, in keeping down a subjugated, deceived, exploited, and impoverished population. It has known how, especially, to raise spying to the level of a civic virtue. Every member of the Communist Party -- even every loyal citizen -- is expected to help the G.P.U., to point out suspicious cases to it, to spy, to denounce.

In the last analysis, the Bolshevik power has succeeded in reducing to complete slavery 160,000,000 individuals, for the purpose of leading them one day -- by an infallible method, it claims -- to freedom, prosperity, and real Communism. Meanwhile, with its administration wholly bureaucratized, with its economy totally nationalized, and with its professional army and omnipotent police, this power has managed to create a bureaucratic, military, and police State par excellence, a model of a totalitarian State; an incomparable dominating and exploiting mechanism; a real capitalist State.

All these "feats of valor" and "achievements" are undeniable.

What can be said of the others?

Before we do anything else, we must establish, unequivocally, that, according to the admissions of the Bolshevik authorities themselves, admissions which were forced, indirect, but adequately precise, the [carrying out of] the three greatest tasks of the Russian capitalist State have been a complete fiasco. Those tasks were:

1. The famous "industrialization" of the country.

2. The celebrated "five-year plans".

3. The tremendous "collectivization of agriculture".

To be sure, they have imported into the U.S.S.R. an imposing array of machines, apparatuses, and equipment of all kinds. They have erected modern houses in certain large cities, and in certain places, workers' homes, which, however, are very badly built. They have achieved, with the help of foreign engineers and technicians, a few gigantic constructions such as the Dnieprostroi dam, the Magnitogorsk furnaces, the vast Sverdlovsk machine works, and the famous Bielooserski canal. Finally, they have resumed -- after a stoppage due to the years of stress -- mining exploitation, the production of oil, and the regular functioning of factories. But any regime or nation would have done this under penalty of disappearing [if it did not].

For us the problem has an entirely different meaning. In all that has been accomplished by the Bolshevik State, can one see real achievements that are of interest from our point of view? Can one observe a real general progress of the nation, a progress which puts it on the road to the emancipation, both social and cultural, of the laboring masses, on the road to Socialism, to [real] Communism? Does the activity of the Bolshevik government create in the country an indispensable condition for such an evolution? Has it really achieved a rough sketch of a new society? That sums up the whole problem.

The industrialization of a country can be really productive and progressive only if harmonized with its general and natural development. And such industrialization can be useful socially only if it is in harmony with the whole economic life of the nation, and if, consequently, its effects can be usefully assimilated by the population. In the contrary case, it may lead to impressive, but socially useless, building.

One can erect all that one wishes when one possesses certain means and especially if there can be recourse to enslaved labor, submissive to the commands of the State-employer, and paid by the latter as it sees fit. The [solution of the] problem, however, does not consist of effecting mechanical achievements but of being able to put them at the service of the goal pursued.

A forced industrialization, imposed upon a population which is not prepared for it from any point of view, cannot fulfil this necessary role. To want to industrialize from above a country with a labor populace which is only a downtrodden, inert, miserable herd, is to want to industrialize a desert.

In order that a country be industrialized effectively, it must possess one of two essential elements: either an energetic, powerful, and rich bourgeoisie or a population that is master of its own fate -- that is to say free, conscious of its needs and of its acts, desirous of progress, and determined to organize itself to attain it. In the first case, the bourgeoisie must command a market capable of rapidly absorbing the output of industrialization. In the second, this assimilation and the industrialization are assured by the powerful enthusiasm of the whole population on the march toward progress.

The Russian Revolution suppressed the bourgeoisie. The first condition, therefore, did not exist at that time. The second remained. It was necessary to give free scope to the collective evolution of a people of 170,000,000 individuals, a people spontaneously ready to accomplish a tremendous social experiment: to build a society on an absolutely new basis, not capitalist and not statist. It was necessary, simply, to help that people to achieve the experiment.

Immense technical progress being an accomplished fact in the world, and a rapid industrialization and an abundance of products also being, in our time, materially possible, there were no insurmountable obstacles that a powerful human collectivity, carried away by a prodigious ardor, and aided by all the mature forces available, could not have overcome and have reached the desired goal. Who knows what the world would be like today if this course had been followed?

But the Bolshevik Party was completely unaware of that task. Having seized the vacant throne, it wanted to substitute itself for the ousted bourgeoisie and the free creative mass. It suppressed both conditions to replace them with a third: dictatorial power, which stifled the real breath of the Revolution -- the boundless enthusiasm of millions of human beings for the cause -- which dried up all the living sources of real progress, and barred the way to the effective evolution of society. The result of such an error was inevitable: "mechanism", a mechanism without life, without soul, without creativity.

We know today, on the basis of exact and irrefutable data, that, except for the military sector, the Bolshevik "industrialism" led, in the overwhelming majority of cases, to all sorts of sterile installations and constructions, especially in so far as the real, economic, social, and cultural progress of a people was concerned.

We know that 75 per cent, of all these huge buildings remain without purpose, and either do not function at all or function badly.

We know that the thousands of machines imported from abroad are for the most part rapidly put out of commission, abandoned, or lost.

We know that the present labor force in the U.S.S.R., a labor force that is only a herd of slaves working reluctantly and in a brutalized way for the profit of the State-employer, does not know how to handle those machines, nor how to use them, and finally, that the population does not get any benefit from them. Only the equipment of the Army has been improved, to a certain extent.

We know that the people -- 160,000,000 individuals out of 170,000,000 -- live in terrible conditions of poverty and moral brutalization.

The pretended "industrialization" of the U.S.S.R. is not a praiseworthy accomplishment. It is not an "achievement of the Socialist State", but a State-capitalist enterprise, forced, after the failure of "war Communism" and then of the N.E.P., to play its last card. That consists of deluding its own subjects, and also the people of other countries, by the fictitious and illusory grandeur of its projects, in the hope of maintaining itself "until better times".

The "industrialization" of the U.S.S.R. is just a bluff, nothing more. Likewise the "five-year plans" are nothing but an immense bluff, following that of the "industrialization". On the basis of precise facts and figures, we hold that these plans have been a total failure. This is beginning to be recognized almost everywhere.

As for the "collectivization", we already have said enough about that. The reader has seen what it represents in reality. We repeat that such "collectivization" can never be the real solution of the agrarian problem. It is far from being Socialist, or even a social, achievement. It is a system of useless and absolutely sterile violence. We contend that the peasant will be won over to the cause of the Social Revolution only by means which have nothing in common with this return to medieval serfdom, in which the feudal lord is replaced by the State lord.

Could one construct, let us say, not Socialism, but simply a healthy and progressive economy, on such a basis?

Let us look at a few facts and figures concerning the five-year plans.

The "dictation", supervision, and threat existed from the beginning. Also, we must point out in passing that the People's Commissars, and the members of the Politburo and other supreme organs, were never elected, but were appointed by the central committee of the Communist Party, influenced by the "genial Vojd", and validated by the Congress of Soviets, docile instrument of the central committee.

In 1939 the U.S.S.R. announced the results of the third five-year period.

Through the run of the first two such periods, the Soviet press complained unceasingly of considerable delays in the execution of the plans. Extraction of coal and other minerals, exploitation of oil wells, metallurgical production, textile production, the progress of heavy industry and all other industries, extension of railroads and improvement of their rolling stock -- in short, economic activity in all fields was greatly below the quotas and the forecasts. Passing from one five-year period to another, [the various industries] remained far behind the results expected.

The genial dictator raged, arrested, executed.

But lzvestia was forced to admit, indirectly, in a series of articles (appearing in August-November, 1939), the failure of the [economic plan for the] third period. That journal stated that steel and iron production in October, 1939, was below that of October, 1938; that the output of all the branches of the metallurgical industries had fallen off; and that several blast furnaces had to be shut down for lack of coal and metal.

The situation became critical to such a point that at the end of September the Soviet press ceased to report the monthly figures.

According to the data published in that press, the locomotive works, in the course of the first two five-year plans, realized only 50 per cent, of their quotas. The number of freight cars was increased by a number greatly below the official forecast. The fabulous enterprises such as Dnieprostroi and Magnitogorsk functioned badly. Several of those enterprises underwent long stretches of enforced inactivity. The gigantic projects of electrification were achieved only to an insignificant degree.

The People's Commissar, Kossyguin, declared in May, 1939, that the country's textile enterprises were poorly equipped and technically inadequate to operate at the necessary level of production. And he complained of a lack of contact between the textile industry on the one hand, and the producers of raw material on the other.

"The textile enterprises do not receive enough linen, hemp, or wool. Yet great quantities of flax rot in the fields. The hemp harvest waits indefinitely to be made into thread. And as for wool, the elementary rules of sorting and cleaning are neglected in its preparation, which greatly handicaps the making of cloth. And one may say the same thing about the preparation of silk cocoons."

Thus one could cover pages and pages with precise facts and figures, appearing in the Bolshevik press, and pertaining to all fields, to prove incontestably the failure of the five-year plans.

In describing the lamentable condition of all the Soviet industries, one has an embarrassment of choices.

According to the admissions of Izvestia (in several of its issues in January, 1940) the coal mining industry doesn't know how to use the new machines. That is one of the reasons for the insufficient output.

The Bolshevik papers of July 30, 1939, were given over largely to Railroad Transport Day. Admissions therein are exceptionally edifying. [Some of them follow].

Generally, rails are supplied by the [plants] in very inadequate numbers, and their quality is bad. Four big plants make rails in the U.S.S.R. For some time they have stopped making rails of first quality. So the railroads must be content with those of second or third class. But of these up to 20 per cent, are unusable.

When tracks were being repaired in July, 1939, the great Kuznetski works suddenly stopped all delivery of rails. The reason? Lack of equipment for boring holes. And in general, indispensable spare parts for repair work were not sent out, which held up all such work.

Three huge plants which make various parts for railroads very often interrupt delivery because of lack of steel, of tools, or for other reasons. One case was cited where a plant was short only 180 poods (three and a quarter tons) of metal. Nevertheless, all deliveries were held up, and the railroads were short 1,000,000 repair parts.

Frequently, too, the plants deliver certain parts, and neglect to provide others, equally indispensable. The rails are on hand, but they rust away and deteriorate for lack of fishplates, for example.

The authorities have raged in vain. The Government has sent out an S.O.S. call and fixed "responsibility" in vain. All these measures remain ineffective and the official reports are compelled to state, from time to time, that one of the reasons for all those rieficiencies is "the absence of all interest, of all spirit, among the laboring masses". According to admissions by competent agencies, me indifference of the workers approaches sabotage. And they also speak of "excessive centralization", of "bureaucracy", of "general negligence".

But to talk doesn't mean to remedy. No remedy exists. Instead, it is necessary to condemn the whole system.

According to other admissions by the Bolshevik press, the extraction of all minerals as well as of naphtha suffers from lack of organization. Output in these fields remain low, despite the use of machines (which are frequently in very bad condition), and despite all official measures. Pravda, in certain issues in December, 1939, stated that coal production in the Urals was steadily falling. And about the same time the papers complained of an inextricable mess in the chemical industry.

Elsewhere we learn that the "Red Proletariat" plant, which, Pravda says, is in the advance guard of the metallurgical industry, manages to produce only 40 per cent, of its quota, "because of great technical and administrative disorder".

We could continue citing examples into infinity.

In all fields, the industrial situation in the U.S.S.R. has always been lamentable, and remains so in our day. Industrialization is only a myth. There are machines, but there is no industrialization.

Concerning the "collectivization", one could cite volumes with illuminating data taken from the Soviet press.

We will simply cite a few facts, culled at random from the Russian papers.

Dealing with the harvest of 1939, Socialist Agriculture for August 8 states that everywhere work is very much delayed, and often to the endangerment of the crops. In places, too, the harvest is nearly non-existent. According to the agricultural section of the Communist Party's central committee, the main reason for this is insufficiency of technical means, due, in its turn, to negligence, disorganization, heedlessness, and delays of all sorts. For instance, the indispensable parts for machines in use do not arrive in time, or come in inadequate quantities.

Erection of repair shops is greatly behind schedule everywhere, For example, a center which contracted to build 300 workshops by a certain date, completed only 14. Another built only eight out of 353 promised. And in the Kursk distridt only three repair shops out of 91 planned have been completed.

Moreover, the same periodical explains, the harvest work this year (1939) is in difficulties because great quantities of wheat have been battered down by inclement weather. And instructions about adapting the machines to thresh fallen wheat are always lacking.

Finally, the agrarian paper continues, the force of skilled harvest workers has been considerably diminished this year because, in many places, the machine operators and mechanics have not yet been paid for last year. Why? The answer is that these workers are paid only after the kolkhoz has paid its taxes. And in many places those taxes are yet to be paid.

Izvestia and Socialist Agriculture both said that in 1939, because of all these mishaps, 64,000,000 hectares of wheat less than in 1938 would be harvested by August 1.9

The Soviet press in November, 1939, complained of considerable delays in the harvesting of potatoes and other vegetables. This was laid to lack of men and horses, inadequate deliveries of gasoline, and especially to negligence by the kolkhozniki (members of the co-operative).

Izvestia for November 4 admitted that by October 25 the sovkhoz had made only 67 per cent, of their obligatory grain deliveries; that the kolkhozes had fulfilled only 59 per cent, of their mandatory payments; and that, by the same date, only 34 per cent, of the quota of potatoes and 63 per cent, of other vegetables had been supplied by the kolkhozes to the State.

In July, 1939, a Congress of State Cattle Breeders in the Ukraine reported: 1. That there were then many kolkhozes without any cattle (45 per cent, in Khirguisie, 62 per cent, in Tadjiki, 17 per cent, in the Ryazin district, 11 per cent, in that of Kirovsk, and 34 per cent, in the Ukraine); 2. That a great many kolkhozes possessed an insufficient number of cattle, and that, in the Ukraine, nearly 50 per cent, of those collective farms had less than 10 cows each ("only just enough so that one can smell a cow a little" the reporter jokes); 3. That, in general, the number of head of cattle has greatly diminished in the U.S.S.R. since the collectivization.

And the most curious thing is that, as everywhere else, no really frank, practical, and effective measure can be devised. Need one continue?

These facts, these admissions, and these complaints have prevailed for 20 years. And in many other fields in the "Soviet" Union, one could also pursue this enumeration into infinity.

In the U.S.S.R. those circumstances are given notable attention. One conforms the necessary extent to the requirements of the authorities, and -- "one gets on as best one can".

Abroad, until recently, nothing of this was known. Now the truth begins to be revealed ....

The latest measures taken by the Bolshevik government to stimulate the activity of the kolkhozes are typical.

In the summer of 1939 certain official literature, for example, The Constructive Work of The Party, No. 10, asserted that the essential evil of the Soviet system was "the slight interest of the farmer in doing high quality work and in obtaining good harvests". Inspired from above, the press got busy on this subject.

And in January, 1940, Izvestia declared that "the Party and the Government" had made a decision to enhance the economic interest of the collective farmers. Toward that end, it explained, "each collective farmer must be assured that any increase in the harvest effected by him will remain at the disposal of the kolkhoz and serve to imprcve its economy." (This had not been the case previously). And it added that it was exceedingly important to "develop the creative initiative of the mass of collective farmers."

Finally, in a decree dated January 18, 1940, the Party's central committee and the Council of People's Commissars accorded the kolkhozes a certain amount of economic independence. Each kolkhoz was given tie right to establish its own crop plan -- which, naturally, must always be "validated by the official authorities".

Obviously it is unnecessary to point out that that sort of collective farm N.E.P. will come to nothing. It is only a maneuver of the Stalinist regime due primarily to its reverses in the Finnish War, and practically negated by the whole situation. Moreover, the peasant mass is fully aware of this machination; it received the "reform" with utter indifference.

We have touched upon it here because it shows the true nature of Bolshevist "collectivization".

In general this pretended, forced, "collectivization", undertaken for the purpose of subjugating the peasants completely to the State and representing a new form of serfdom, cracked in all its parts. What we have just seen leaves no doubt on that score.

And the Soviet press is compelled to insist more and more upon the seriousness of the struggle between the "individual sector" and the "socialist sector" in the agriculture of the U.S.S.R. The latter is neglected, abandoned, and openly sabotaged by the peasants on the slightest pretext and by a thousand methods. Finally, the situation is regarded as being "exceedingly serious". The few seeming concessions are attempts to awaken in the collective farmers an interest in their kolkhozes and to combat the tendencies contrary to that interest.

But there cannot be the slightest question that these attempts will fail. The struggle of the peasants against serfdom will continue.

Having dealt with the material side of the U.S.S.R. story -- the economic, industrial, and technical aspects -- let us look at certain other fields which may be called spiritual.

Three points need special clarification:

1. The problem of educating the people.
2. The emancipation of women.
3. The religious problem.

I regret that I am not able to dwell at length on each of these topics. But such a task would require too much space, and is not the purpose of this work. So I shall confine myself to establishing certain essential characteristics.

For years the ignorant and the interested have pretended that, having found the Russian domain in a state of complete, almost "savage", ignorance, the Bolsheviki have made "giant strides" on the road of general culture, training, and education. Foreign travelers, having visited one large Russian city or another, tell us of marvels that they have seen "with their own eyes".

Have I not heard it stated, with the utmost assurance, that before the Bolsheviks stepped in "there were hardly any public schools in Russia," and that today "there are splendid ones nearly everywhere there"? Have I not heard it said by a lecturer that "before the Revolution there were only two or three universities in the country and that the Bolsheviks have created several"? Do they not say that before the Bolsheviks nearly all the Russian people did not know how to read or write and that now such total illiteracy has almost disappeared? Do they not say -- I mention it only as an example of the ignorance and false assertions concerning Russia -- do they not say that under the Tsars the [industrial] workers and peasants were forbidden by law to receive secondary and higher education?

As for the travelers, it is true that they can observe and even admire, in the larger cities of the U.S.S.R., some beautiful modern schools, well equipped and well organized -- in the first place, because such model schools are fixtures in all the great cities of the world (a visitor could have made the same observation in Tsarist Russia); in the second place, because the installation of such schools is part of the decorative and demonstrative program of the Bolshevik government.

But it is clear that the situation in a few large cities proves nothing about the conditions in the countryside, especially in a land as vast as the "Soviet" Union. A traveler there who wanted to arrive at conclusions based on the truth would have to see things and follow their development from day to day, for at least several weeks, in the depths of the country, in various small cities, in the villages, on the collective farms, and in factories far from the great centers. But what traveler who may have had such an idea has been able to obtain authorization to do anything about it? As for the myths of the sort just described, we already have shown their real worth in other parts of this work.

No one contends that the training and education of the Russian people was sufficiently widespread prior to the Revolution. (Indeed, it was not adequate in any country. There was merely a difference of details and shades). No one claims that the number of persons who couldn't read or write in Tsarist Russia was not very large and that popular instruction there was not very back- 1 ward in comparison to certain Western nations, but between that and the statements I have just quoted there is a considerable gap.

It is fairly simple, however, to establish the exact truth.

Before the Revolution the network of primary, secondary, and higher schools in Russia was already fairly impressive, although not adequate. It was primarily the teaching which was defective: the programs, methods, and means were lamentable. Naturally, the Government was unconcerned with the real education of the people. As for the municipal and private schools, supervised by the [Romanov] authorities, and compelled to follow the official curriculum, they could not accomplish much, though they did effect some achievements.

But the purported "enormous progress" of the Bolshevik regime [in the educational field] actually was mediocre. To be convinced of this it suffices, as in other matters, to follow the official Soviet press closely. As elsewhere, its lamentations and admissions on this theme, for years, have been highly eloquent.

Let us examine a few more or less recent citations:

According to the general declarations and official figures, teaching in the U.S.S.R. is going forward in a more than satisfactory manner. The number of pupils in the primary and secondary schools attained, in 1935-36, the imposing figure of 25,000,000; the number of students in the higher schools was raised to 520,000. In 1936-37 the respective figures were 28,000,000 and 560,000. Finally, in 1939,10 the score was 29,700,000 and 600.000. Neatly 1,000,000 students received technical training -- industrial, commercial, agricultural, et cetera. The courses for adults throughout the country were numerous. And desire for education was intense.

Of course it is natural that a government arising from a revolution and pretending to be popular would try to satisfy the aspirations of the people for a good education. It is normal that this regime should submit the national educational system to fundamental reforms. Any post-revolutionary government would have done as much.

But in judging the work of the Bolshevik government intelligently, the official quantitative figures are not enough. The real problem is how to discover what the quality and the value of this new education is. It is necessary to question whether that gov-evnment has succeeded in organizing education to assure good, serious, valuable, and solid training. And it is essential to know whether the training and education in the U.S.S.R. are capable of developing men who can create a new life, militants for Socialist activity.

To these fundamental questions the Soviet press itself, by its admissions through the years, has replied in the negative.

First, we must state that education in the Russian domain is not adequate for everyone. In fact, higher education is not free.11 The majority of students [in the higher schools] are on State scholarships. And the others? A sizeable number of youths are deprived of higher education which thus becomes a privilege depending upon the pleasure of the Government. And there are other defects much more serious.

For years the same statements and complaints [about education] have repeatedly appeared in the columns of the Soviet newspapers, notably these:

1. The Government has not yet succeeded in producing a sufficient quantity of school books. The bureaucracy, centralism, administrative slowness, et cetera, prevent it. (The president of the directing committee of the higher schools, a certain Kaftanov, had to admit in a speech12 that the higher schools were completely without text-books. A small quantity was finally published in 1939, but a goodly part of these were merely reprints of pre-revolutionary volumes).

2. The same complaints from year to year, about school equipment. Its scarcity, its exceedingly bad quality, seriously impedes the work of education.

3. The number of school buildings is [appallingly] insufficient. It increases very slowly, which creates a grave obstacle to real educational progress. And the existing edifices are in a wretchedly bad state, and those newly constructed -- always in haste and carelessly -- are defective and rapidly deteriorate.

However, the defects mentioned are not the most important.

A much more profound evil paralyzes the work of education in the U.S.S.R. -- the lack of teachers and professors.

Ever since 1935 Izvestia, Pravda, and other Soviet journals have abounded in admissions and tears in connection with this subject. According to those admissions, the organization of a teaching force does not at all correspond to the country's needs. In 1937, for instance, only 50 per cent, of "the plan" for teachers was fulfilled.

Hundreds and sometimes thousands of teachers are lacking : in some districts. But that is not all. Those who exercise the teaching function are far from being duly qualified. Thus about | two thirds of the secondary school teachers have not had a university training. Likewise two thirds of the elementary teachers lack secondary education.

The Soviet press complains bitterly of the crass ignorance of the teachers, and cites numerous astounding examples of their incompetence and ineptness.

To sum up -- in reality, training and education in the U.S.S.R. are in a lamentable state. Outside of the great cities and the artificial facade, there are not enough schools, teachers, equipment, or text books. The school buildings lack elementary facilities for hygiene and often lack heating. In the depths of the country, popular education is in a state of incredible abandonment. It amounts to absolute chaos.

Under these conditions are not the pretended "90 per cent, of the population" who are more or less literate simply another myth?

The Soviet press itself answers this question. From year to 1 year it speaks of the absence of the most elementary education, and of a very low cultural level, not only among the masses of people, but among the student youth, teachers, and professors.

All efforts of the Government to remedy this state of affairs have not succeeded. The general circumstances, the very basis of the Bolshevik system, constitute insurmountable obstacles to any effective improvement of the situation. The whole tendency of the Russian educational set-up prevents its success. For it disseminates propaganda, rather than providing education or training. It fills the heads of the students with the rigid doctrines of Bolshevism and Marxism. No initiative, no critical spirit, no freedom to doubt or to examine, is tolerated.

All education in the U.S.S.R. is permeated with a scholastic spirit: moribund, dull, curdled. The general lack of freedom of opinion, the absence of all independent action or discussion, and therefore the absence of all exchange of ideas in a land where only the Marxist dogma is allowed -- all this prevents the people from getting any real education.

The travelers -- observers necessarily superficial, and often naive -- admire the cultural and sport institutions which they have seen "with their own eyes" during a few quick official visits to Moscow, Leningrad, and two or three other cities.

But note what we find in the journal Trud:13

The miners of the Donetz Basin put the following questions to the governmental authorities there: "What is the use of the levies made on our wages for the purpose of maintaining the 'Palace of Culture' in Gorlovka?"14 (The fact that this protest was published was a rare circumstance).

In 1939 (the miners declared) the cost of maintaining that institution reached several million rubles. The budget of the "Miners' Club" alone amounted to 1,173,000 rubles. Out of this sum, 700,000 were paid to the motion picture industry for the rental of films which no one came to see because of their bad quality. The other 400,000 rubles went for maintenance of the personnel. As for the miners, they did not profit at all from the money they were obliged to pay out.

The "Palace of Culture", (the miners' complaint continues), is surrounded by a garden solemnly called "the Park". A considerable sum of money has been deducted from their wages to fix up this garden. With that money a huge entrance gate has been erected, a gate flanked by several concrete turrets. But [those in charge of the project] forgot to build a wall around the garden. The garden is there with its luxurious entrance, but without a wall. No one profits from it, for it is in a state of abandonment.

Also "they" have erected a theater, a platform, a shooting gallery, even a bathing place. But none of these installations function for the miners. They are there only to show the latter the ease with which the responsible officers of workers' organizations waste the money of the workers. These officers have laid out for themselves a little garden, a private corner called "the Garden of the Miners' Committee". But the miners themselves -- the workers who paid for the "Palace", the "Club", the "Park", and the "Garden of the Miners' Committee" -- they have only the dusty streets of Gorlovka at their disposal.

By a [seeming] miracle, this complaint found its way into the columns of Trud. One must suppose that for some reason the authorities could not refuse this publicity to the miners, and that it had been decided in high places to right their complaint and apply penalties. But it is certain that for one such case publicized, thousands of others remain unknown.

A stifling dogmatism, absence of all individual life, of all free spirit, of all moral enthusiasm; a lack of vast and passionate perspectives; the rule of the barracks spirit, of a suffocating bureaucracy, of flat servility and careerism; desperate monotony of an empty and colorless existence, regulated in even the slightest details by the mandates of the State -- such are characteristics of education and "culture" in the U.S.S.R.

Who can be astonished that, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda (Young Communist Truth),15 a profound disillusionment and a spirit of "dangerous" boredom have invaded the ranks of that country's student youth? Their whole environment exercises a depressing influence on the young.

And according to certain admissions in the Soviet press, a great number of the students attend their courses only because of compulsion, and with no real interest in them. Many of them pass their nights playing cards.

The following lines were found in the diary of a young student:

"I am bored. I am terribly bored. Nothing significant or remarkable, neither among men or events. What am I waiting for? Good, I will complete my course. Good, I will be an engineer. I will have two rooms, a stupid wife, an intelligent brat, and 500 rubles a month salary. Two meetings a month. And then? . . . When I ask myself if I would feel any regret about leaving this life, I answer: No, I shall leave it without great regret."

Much noise has been made about "the emancipation of women by the Bolsheviks". Real equality of the sexes, abolition of legal marriage, freedom of women to dispose of their bodies, and the right to abortion -- all these "beneficences" have been sung and glorified by the advance-guard press of all the nations.

These "achievements" also belong to the realm of myths. The reader knows that ideas about the equality and freedom of the sexes," with all of the practical consequences, were harbored a long time ago -- long before the Revolution -- by the advanced Russian circles. Any government stemming from the Revolution was obliged to take account of and sanction that state of affairs.

So there was nothing specifically Bolshevik in this development. The attainments of the Bolshevik government actually occupy only a very modest place. Incontestably that regime wanted to apply the principles enunciated. But again, the essential question is: Did it succeed? And again, we could fill pages -- supported by documented facts -- to demonstrate that it has failed lamentably, and that its own system, with its practical consequences, has compelled it to let everything go, to retreat, to retain only the myth and the bluff.

Legal marriage has not been abolished in the U.S.S.R. Instead, it has been simplified, or, rather, it has become civil, while before the Revolution it was compulsorily religious. It must even be noted that divorce, which, while civil, is regulated by a series of pecuniary conditions and penal measures.16

Examining the marriage registry, one finds a large proportion of weddings concluded between very young women and old but highly placed men. This proves that in the U.S.S.R., as everywhere else, and more so, marriage is a "business", and not a free union of love, as the Bolsheviki would have it believed. And that is entirely natural so long as the capitalist system, under another form, remains intact in that domain. Only the form has changed; the basis and all of its effects remain.

Having failed in their attempt to construct a Socialist State, and having succeeded in building a capitalist State (the other State can be imagined), the Bolsheviks were obliged, as in all other fields, to retreat in everything that concerns the relations between the sexes: family, children, et cetera.

This was inevitable. The situation in that field could be modified only if the whole society were to be changed fundamentally. If that whole is not made over completely, if only the form changes, then all the customs, including the relations between the sexes, [and concerning] the family and children do not change either, except formally. Fundamentally, they remain what they were previously, while changing in appearance.

That is what happened in the U.S.S.R. Beginning with the month of May, 1936, all the "advanced principles" were discarded little by little. A [new] series of laws regulated marriage, divorce, the responsibility of spouses, et cetera.

This legislation has purely and simply re-established, although under new forms, the basis of "the bourgeois family". Free disposal of their bodies has been forbidden to women. Right to abortion has been strongly restricted. Today it is permitted only in exceptional cases, on the advice of a physician, and under specified circumstances. Abortion, and even the suggestion of it, if it takes place without legal authorization, is severely punished.17

Prostitution is widespread in the U.S.S.R. To be convinced of this, and also of the low level of "Soviet" customs in general, one merely needs, regularly and minutely, to run through the daily news summaries, the local correspondence, and kindred departments in the Russian press.

As for "equality of the sexes", that principle having prevailed for a long time in advanced Russian circles, the Bolsheviki naturally accepted it. But like the other glorious social or moral theses, it has been perverted, in its turn, as a result of the general deviation of the Revolution. Concretely, in the U.S.S.R., it is a question of "equality" in work, not in wages. The woman works the same as the man, but she receives lower pay. Therefore this "equality" permits the State to exploit the woman even more than the man.

Let us dwell briefly on the important subject of religion.

It is argued that the Bolsheviks were right about religious prejudices. This is an error, the source of which, again, is ignorance of the facts.

The Bolshevik government has succeeded, through terror, in suppressing public worship for a time. As for religious sentiments, far from having extirpated them, Bolshevism, with its methods and its "achievements", and in spite of its propaganda, has, on the contrary, either rendered them, more intense, among some, or simply transformed them among others.

Before the Revolution, and especially after 1905, religious sentiments were in a state of decline among the popular masses, which did not fail seriously to worry the popes18 and the Tsarist authorities. Bolshevism succeeded in reviving them under another form.

Religion will be killed not by terror, not by propaganda, but by the effective success of the Social Revolution with its happy consequences. The anti-religious seeds which fall upon the fertile soil of that success will give it a bountiful harvest.

The objection is sometimes made to me that the Bolshevik government has done all it could to achieve such and such a success, and that it is not its fault if its efforts have not been crowned with total success.

Precisely. The more the good will of that regime can be demonstrated, the more will it become clear that the real Social Revolution and real Socialism cannot be achieved by the governmental and statist system.

"The Communist government, on its part, has used all of its good will to succeed," it is said to me.

I do not say the contrary. But the problem is not that. It is not a question of knowing whether the Government wanted or did not want to do this or that. It is a question of knowing whether it succeeded. The more it is proved that a government has not succeeded despite all of its good will, the more it becomes clear that a government could not succeed.

"The Government could not do any more."

Then why did it prevent other elements from trying? If it saw that it was impotent, it had no right to forbid others to act. And who knows what those other elements might have been able to achieve?

Why did the Government not succeed?

"The backward state of the country prevented it. The backward masses were not ready."

But nothing is actually known about this, since the Bolsheviki deliberately prevented the masses from acting. It is as though one were astonished because someone could not walk after someone else had tied his feet.

"The other elements of the left did not want to co-operate with the Bolsheviks."

But those elements did not want to submit blindly to the orders and exigencies of the Bolsheviki, which they considered evil. Then they were prevented from speaking and acting.

"The capitalist encirclement..."

Exactly -- the capitalist encirclement could impede a government and make it degenerate. But it never could have prevented or caused to degenerate the free action of millions of men, ready, as we have seen, to achieve, with prodigious enthusiasm, the real Revolution.

To speak of a "betrayal of the Revolution", as Trotsky does, is an "explanation" outside, not only of any Marxist or materialist conception, but of the more ordinary common sense.

How was this "betrayal" possible, and the day after such a beautiful and complete revolutionary victory?

That is the real question.

In reflecting, in examining the situation closely, the least initiated wiil understand that this alleged "betrayal" did not fall from the sky; that it was the "material" and rigorously logical consequence of the very manner in which the Revolution was conducted.

The negative results of the Russian Revolution were only the conclusion of a certain process. And the Stalinist regime was only the inevitable result of the procedures used by Lenin and Trotsky themselves. What Trotsky calls "betrayal" is in reality the unavoidable effect of a slow degeneration due to false methods.

Precisely: the governmental and statist procedure leads to "betrayal", that is, to the bankruptcy which today permits "betrayals" -- the latter being only a striking aspect of this bankruptcy. Other procedures might have led to other results.

In his blind partiality (or rather, in his inconceivable hypocrisy) Trotsky commits the most obvious of confusions, unpardonable in his case; he confuses the effects with the causes.

Crudely deceiving himself (or pretending to fool himself, lacking other means to defend his thesis), he takes the effect (betrayal by Stalin) for the cause. An error -- or rather, maneuver -- which permits him to overlook the essential problem: What made "Stalinism" possible?

"Stalin has betrayed the Revolution." That is simple. It is, however, too simple to explain anything at all.

Nevertheless, the explanation is plain. "Stalinism" is the natural result of the bankruptcy of the real Revolution, and not inversely; and the bankruptcy of the Revolution, to carry the thought further, was the natural consequence of the false course on which Bolshevism led it.

In other words, it was the degeneration of the thwarted and lost Revolution which led to Stalin, and not Stalin which made the Revolution degenerate.

When attacked by the disease, the revolutionary organism could have resisted it victoriously by means of the free action of the masses; but since the Bolsheviks, guided by Lenin and by Trotsky himself, had taken from them all means of self-defense against the evil, inevitably the latter ended by invading the whole organism and killing it.

The "betrayal" was possible, for the laboring masses did not react either against its preparation nor against its accomplishment. And the masses did not react because, totally subjugated by their new masters, they swiftly lost both the meaning of the real Revolution and all spirit of initiative, of free action and reaction. Chained, subjugated, dominated, they felt the uselessness -- what am I saying? -- the impossibility, of all resistance. Trotsky participated in person in reawakening the spirit of blind obedience among the masses, of dull indifference to everything that went on "above". The masses were beaten, and for a long time. From then on, any "betrayal" became possible.

In the light of all this, we invite the reader to use his own judgement about the Bolshevik "achievements".

CHAPTER 8: Counter-Revolution

The creative impotence of the Bolshevik government, the economic chaos into which Russia was plunged, the despotism and unheard-of violence, the bankruptcy of the Revolution, and the tragic situation which resulted from it provoked first a far-flung discontent, and later wide-sweeping backwaters, and finally forceful movements against the insupportable state of affairs imposed by the dictatorship.

As always in such cases, those movements came from two opposite poles -- from the side of Reaction, from the "right", which hoped to regain power and re-establish the old order, and from the side of the Revolution, from the "left", which hoped to redeem the situation and resume revolutionary action.

We shall not dwell long upon the counter-revolutionary movements -- on the one hand, because they are more or less well known, and on the other, because in themselves they are only of secondary interest. Such movements are the same in all great revolutions.

Nevertheless, some aspects of these movements are sufficiently instructive so that they should not be passed over in silence.

The first resistances to the Social Revolution in Russia (in 1917 and 1918) were very limited, rather local, and relatively harmless. As in all revolutions, certain reactionary elements immediately took a stand against the new order, trying to nip the Revolution in the bud. The vast majority of the [industrial] workers, peasants, and members of the Army being (actively or passively) for this new order, these resistances were quickly and easily broken.

If, later, the Revolution had known how to show itself really fertile, powerful, creative, and just; if it had known how to solve satisfactorily its great problems and open new horizons for Russia and perhaps for other countries, [the opposition] certainly could have been confined to those skirmishes, and the victory of the Revolution would not have been threatened. Too, subsequent events in Russia and elsewhere would have taken a turn much different from what we have witnessed for twenty years.

But, as the reader knows, Bolshevism, installed in power, perverted, chained, and castrated the Revolution. First it rendered it impotent, sterile, empty, and unhappy -- and then gloomily, ignobly, tyrannically, uselessly, and stupidly violent. Thus Bolshevism ended by disillusioning, irritating, and disgusting larger and larger segments of the population. We have seen in what manner it strangled the workers, suppressed freedom, and wiped out the other movements. And its action of terror and cruel violence toward the peasants led them also to oppose it.

We must not forget that, in all revolutions, the bulk of the population, the simple apolitical people, the citizens pursuing their trades from day to day, the petty bourgeoisie, a part of the middle bourgeoisie, and a goodly number of the peasants at first remain neutral. They observe, hesitate, and wait passively for the initial results. It is important for the Revolution to be able to "justify itself" in the eyes of these elements as speedily as possible. If not, all such "lukewarm" people will turn away from the revolutionary work, become hostile to it, begin to sympathize with the counterrevolutionary machinations, support them, and render them much more dangerous.

Such is the situation especially during huge upheavals which involve the interests of millions of men, profoundly modifying social relations and doing it by means of prodigious suffering and with great promises of satisfaction. This satisfaction must come quickly. Or, in any event, the masses must be able to hope for it. If not, the Revolution weakens and the counter-revolution gets going.

Manifestly the active sympathy of these neutral elements is indispensable for the effective progress of the Revolution, for they include many "specialists" and professional men -- skilled workers, technicians, intellectuals. All those people, who are not exactly hostile to the Revolution once it had been accomplished, will turn toward it and help it enthusiastically if it manages to inspire them with a certain confidence, if it makes them feel its capacities, its possibilities, and its perspectives, its advantages, its strength, its truth, and its justice.

But if that condition is not attained, all such elements end by becoming open enemies of the Revolution, which is a serious blow to them.

One can well believe that the vast laboring masses, carrying out a free activity with the aid of the revolutionists, would know how to achieve convincing results, and hence would know how to reassure and finally attract these neutrals.

The dictatorship -- impotent, arrogant, stupid, and viciously violent -- does not achieve such results, and drives those people to the other side.

Bolshevism does not know how to "justify" itself, nor how to "justify" the Revolution. As we have seen, the only great problem which it succeeded in solving -- indifferently, and under pressure from the Russian Army, which refused to fight -- was that of the war. That success -- the achievement of peace -- won the confidence and the sympathies of the masses. But that was all. Soon its economic, social, and other impotence made itself felt. In fact, the sterility of its methods of action, governmental procedures, and statist absolutism revealed themselves almost on the day after victory.

The Bolsheviki and persons who sympathize with them like to invoke the "terrible difficulties" that their government had to surmount, after the war and the Revolution, in a country like Russia. And it is on the basis of these difficulties that they seek to justify all the Bolshevik procedure.

One might influence, with such arguments, the foreign public which doesn't know the facts. But the individuals who lived through the Revolution eventually became aware [of certain realities]:

1. That the evil methods of Bolshevism arose not so much from the difficulties encountered as from the very nature of the Bolshevist doctrine;
2. That many of those difficulties arose specifically because the Government, from the beginning, set about stifling the free activity of the masses;
3. That the real difficulties, instead of being smoothed over by the Bolsheviks, were greatly increased by them;
4. That these difficulties could have been surmounted easily by the free action of the masses.

The principal difficulty was certainly that of provisioning and rationing. To advance the Revolution, it was necessary to pass, ; as quickly as possible, from a regime of scarcity and an "exchange" economy (based on money) to a regime of abundance and a "distributive" economy, without money.

Yet the more important and the vaster the difficulties, the less a government could show itself capable of solving them; the more severe and thorny the situation, the more it would have to depend on the free initiative of the people. But, as we know, the Bolshevik regime monopolized everything: ideas, initiative, methods, and action. It instituted an absolute dictatorship ("of the proletariat"). It subjugated the masses, it smothered their enthusiasm. And the greater the difficulties, the less it permitted the "proletariat" to act.

It was not astonishing that despite the purported "industrialization" of its famous "five-year plans", Bolshevism did not know how to come to grips with these difficulties, and that it was driven, in its desperate struggle against the exigencies of life, to the most odious violence, which simply emphasized its real importance. It is not by means of forced industrialism imposed on a mass of slaves that [a nation] can reach abundance and build a new economy.

Intuitively the Russian masses felt the necessity of passing to other forms of production and of transforming the relations between production and consumption. More and more did they perceive the vital need and possibility of doing away with money and of inaugurating a system of direct exchange between the agencies of production and those of consumption. Repeatedly, here and there, they were even ready to make efforts in that direction. It is highly probable that if they had had freedom of action, they would have been able to arrive progressively at a real solution of the economic problem: the distributive economy. It was necessary to let them seek, find, and act, while guiding and helping them like true friends.

But the Lenin regime did not want to hear anything about that. The Bolsheviks pretended to do everything themselves and to impose their will and their methods. Intuitively at first, and more and more clearly later, the masses became aware of the inefficiency and impotence of the Government, and of the danger into which the dictatorship and the violence was leading the country.

The psychological result of such a state of affairs is easy to comprehend. On the one hand, the populace turned away more and more from Bolshevism; disillusioned, they abandoned or grew hostile to it. The discontent, the spirit of revolt, increased with each day.

But, on the other hand, the masses did not know how to get out of the impasse. No valid solution presented itself, all ideological movements, ali discussion, all propaganda, and all free action having been forbidden. Tiie situation seemed to them insoluble. They did not have any way of acting. Their organizations had been nationalized, and militarized. The slightest opposition was severely repressed, and arms and all other material means were in the hands of the authorities and the new privileged stratum which had known how to organize their imposition [of authority] and their defense. [In the face of those circumstances the populace], though increasingly rebellious, did not see any possibility of undertaking effective action.

The counter-revolution which was lying in wait did not fail to take advantage of this situation and this spirit. Assiduously, it sought to turn to its advantage both that spirit and current events. Thus the more and more general and profound popular discontent served as a basis for far-sweeping counter-revolutionary movements, and supported them for three years.

Great armed campaigns were launched in the Southern and Eastern regions of Russia, plotted by the privileged class, supported by the bourgeoisie of other countries, and directed by generals of the old order.

Under the new conditions, the vast uprising in 1919-1921 took on a much graver character than the spontaneous and relatively insignificant resistance of 1917-18, such as the sedition of General Kaledin in the South, that of the ataman Dutov in the Urals, and others.

In 1918-19 several serious rebellions, on a large scale, were attempted here and there. Among these were the offensive by General Yudenitch against Petrograd in December, 1919, and the counter-revolutionary movement in the North, under the aegis of the "Tchaikovsky" government there.

Well organized and well armed and equipped, the forces of Yudenitch reached the gates of the capital. Here they were easily destroyed by outbursts of enthusiasm and devotion and the remarkable organization of the laboring masses of Petrograd, with the aid of detachments of sailors from Kronstadt, outbursts vigorously supported by upheavals behind the enemy lines. The young Red Army, commanded by Trotsky, participated in the defense of the city. The Tchaikovsky movement succeeded in invading the district of Archangelsk and a part of that of Vologda. As elsewhere, its defeat was not effected by the Red Army. Spontaneous uprisings of the laboring masses, both on the spot and behind the front, put an end to it.

It is notable that that movement, supported by the foreign bourgeoisie, likewise encountered the resistance of the Western working class. Strikes and demonstrations against all intervention in Russia -- especially strikes in British ports -- disturbed that bourgeoisie, which did not feel secure at home, and made it withdraw its aid.

More important, however, was the insurrection led by Admiral Kolchak in the East, in the summer of 1918. Among other help, it had the support of a Czecho-Slovakian army, formed in Russia. It is notorious that Trotsky's Red Army was powerless to break this movement. It, too, was liquidated by a fierce partisan resistance of armed industrial workers and peasants, and by uprisings in the rear. The Red Army arrived "triumphantly" -- after the job was done.

All these counter-revolutionary movements were more or less actively supported by the moderate Socialists -- the Mensheviks and the right Social Revolutionaries.

It was at the time of the Czecho-Slovakian offensive that the Bolsheviks, to avert additional complications, and fearing an eventual rescue, executed, on the night of July 16-17, 1918, the former Tsar Nikolai II and his family, who had been deported to Ekater-inenburg, in Siberia. That city was later evacuated by the Bolsheviki.

The precise circumstances of this execution remain fairly mysterious, despite a meticulous investigation conducted by a jurist at Kolchak's order. It is not even known specifically whether these official killings [which took place in a cellar] were ordered by the central authorities in Moscow, or by the local Soviet. And as for the Bolsheviks themselves, they keep silent.

In that period the Russian populace, not yet disarmed by the Lenin regime, and retaining its confidence in the Bolsheviks' revolution, energetically resisted the counter-revolutionary movements and put an end to them with comparative facility.

But this situation changed completely at the end of 1919. The masses, disillusioned about and disgusted with Bolshevism (and disarmed by the "Soviet" government) no longer offered the same resistance to counter-revolutionary attempts. And the leaders of those movements now knew how to play on their sympathies perfectly. In their leaflets and manifestoes they declared that they were fighting only against the despotism of the Bolsheviki. They promised the people "free Soviets" and the safeguarding of the other principles of the Revolution that were scoffed at by the Lenin government. (Of course, once victory was achieved, they had no intention of keeping these promises, but would subdue all revolts).

Thus the two great "White" uprisings in the center of the country, that of Gen. Anton Ivanovich Denikin and that of Baron Peter Wrangel, could assume such proportions that they were on the point of overthrowing the regime.

The first of these movements, directed militarily by General Denikin, rapidly invaded the whole Ukraine and a sizeable portion of central Russia in 1919. Breaking and routing the Red troops, this White Army reached the city of Orel near Moscow. The Bolshevik government was getting ready to flee when, to its great surprise, Denikin's Army suddenly lost its footing and retreated precipitously. The threat to Moscow was ended; the situation was saved. But again, the Bolsheviks and their Army did not play any part in this collapse.

General Wrangel led the second movement that was exceedingly dangerous for the Lenin regime. He followed Denikin's uprising. Wrangel, more artful, was able to learn several lessons from the defeat of his forerunner, and won deeper and more solid sympathy than the latter. Moreover, the spiritual decline [of the Russian populace] was further advanced.

But Wrangel's movement, like that of Denikin, and various others of lesser importance failed.

That of Denikin went to pieces with strange suddenness. Having reached the gates of Moscow, his Army abruptly left everything and retreated in disorder to the South. There it disappeared in a catastrophic debacle. Its remnants, wandering across the country, were wiped out one after another by detachments of the Red Army, coming from the North on the track of the fugitives, and by partisans.

For at least 24 hours the Bolshevik government in Moscow, overcome by panic, could not believe that Denikin's troops had retreated, since they did not understand the reason for it. They got an explanation much later. Finally convinced, they sent some Red regiments in pursuit of the Whites. Denikin's whole movement was destroyed.

Wrangel's effort, beginning some time later, achieved several great successes at first. Without being able to threaten Moscow, it nevertheless worried the Lenin regime much more than Denikin's expedition. For the Russian populace, more and more disgusted with the Bolsheviks, seemed not to want to offer serious resistance to this new anti-Bolshevik drive; it remained indifferent.

But because of this almost general indifference, the Government could count on its own Army less than ever.

However, after those early successes, Wrangel's movement folded up like all the others.

What were the reasons for these almost "miraculous" reversals, for the final defeat of campaigns which began so successfully?

The real causes and the exact circumstances of those fluctuations are little known, [largely because] they have been deliberately distorted by-biased authors.

Chiefly, the reasons for the downfall of the White movements were the following:

First, the awkward, cynical, and provocative attitude of the leaders. Having captured [certain areas of Russia] they installed themselves in the conquered regions as veritable dictators, no better than the Bolsheviks. Usually leading a dissolute life, and likewise incapable of organizing a healthy society, swelled with pride, and full of mistrust of the workers, they brutally made known to the latter that they intended to restore the old regime, with all of its "beauties". The alluring promises of their manifestoes, issued on the occasion of their offensives simply for the purpose of winning over the population, were quickly forgotten.

These gentlemen did not even have enough patience to wait for complete victory. They threw off their masks before they were secure, with a suddenness which soon revealed their real designs. And these boded nothing good for the masses. The White terror and savage reprisals, with their usual retinue of denunciations, arrests, and summary executions without trial and without mercy began to take place everywhere.

Moreover, the former landed proprietors and industrial lords, who left voluntarily or had been driven out with the advent of the Revolution, returned with the White armies and made haste to regain possession of their "property".

Thus the absolutist and feudal regime of the past had suddenly reappeared in all of its hideousness.

Such an attitude [on the part of the White leaders] swiftly provoked a violent psychological reaction among the laboring masses. They feared the return of Tsarism and of the pomest-chiki, the big land-owners, much more than Bolshevism. With the latter, in spite of everything, they could hope to achieve some improvements, a redressing of wrongs, and finally "a free and happy life". But they could hope for nothing from the return of Tsarism. So it was necessary to block its path directly. The peasants, who at that time, had profited at least in principle by the expropriation of the available land, especially were terrified at the idea of having to restore those lands to the former owners. (This spiritual state of the masses explains, to a large extent, the momentary solidity of the Bolshevik government: of the two evils they chose the one which seemed to them the lesser).

Thus the revolt against the Whites was resumed immediately after their ephemeral victories. As soon as the danger was realized, the populace began to resist anew. And the partisan detachments, created in haste and supported by both the Red Army and by the working multitude, which had recovered its understanding, inflicted crushing defeats on the Whites.

Notably, the army which contributed most to the destruction of Denikin's and Wrangel's commands was that of the insurgent peasants and workers of the Ukraine, known as the Makhnovist Army from the name of its military chief, the Anarchist partisan Nestor Makhno. Battling in the name of a free society, that army had to fight simultaneously against all the forces of oppression in Russia, against both the Whites and the Reds.

Speaking of the White reaction, it was Makhno's popular Army which compelled Denikin to abandon Orel and beat a precipitous retreat. And it was that same army which dealt an overwhelming defeat to the rearguard and the special forces of Denikin in the Ukraine.

As for Wrangel's armed forces, the fact of their first serious reversal, suffered at the hands of Makhno's army, was admitted to me by the Bolsheviks themselves, under rather curious circumstances.

During the period of Wrangel's furious offensive, I was in a Bolshevik prison in Moscow. Like Denikin, Wrangel beat the Red Army and drove it rapidly Northward. Makhno, who at this time, was warring against the Bolsheviki, decided, in view of the grave danger which the Revolution faced, to offer peace to them and lend them a hand against the Whites. Being in a bad way, the Bolsheviki accepted, and concluded an alliance with Makhno.

Immediately the Anarchist leader threw his forces against Wrangel's army and defeated it under the walls of Orekhov. The battle over, before continuing the struggle and pursuing Wrangel's retreating troops, Makhno sent a telegram to the Government in Moscow, announcing the victory and declared that he would not advance another step unless it set free both his adjutant Tchubenko and myself. Still having need of Makhno, the Bolsheviks agreed and liberated me. On that occasion they exhibited his telegram and praised the great fighting qualities of this partisan.

In ending my comments on the rightist reactions, I must emphasize the falsity of certain legends invented and spread by the Bolsheviki and their friends.

The first is that of the foreign intervention. According to the legend, that intervention was highly important. It is primarily in this way that the Bolsheviks explain the strength and success of some of the White movements.

That assertion, however, belies the reality. It is a gross exaggeration. In fact, the foreign intervention during the Russian Revolution was never either vigorous or persevering. A modest amount of aid, in money, munitions, and equipment: that was all. The Whites themselves complained bitterly of [its paucity] later on. And as for detachments of troops sent to Russia, they always were of minor significance and played almost no tangible part.

That is easily understood. In the first place, the foreign bourgeoisie had enough to do at home, both during and after the European war. Then, too, the military chiefs feared the "decomposition" of their troops from contact with the revolutionary Russian people. So such contact was avoided as much as possible. Events showed that these fears were well founded. Without speaking of the French and British detachments, which never came to fight against the revolutionaries, the troops of the Austro-German occupation (after the Brest-Litovsk treaty), fairly numerous and protected by the Ukrainian government of Skoro-padsky, quickly decomposed and were won over by the Russian revolutionary forces.

I also would like to emphasize, in this connection, that the result of the German occupation confirmed the Anarchist thesis at the time of the peace of Brest-Litovsk. Who knows what the world would be like today if, at that time, the Bolshevik government, instead of dealing with the German imperialists, had let the Kaiser's troops penetrate into revolutionary Russia? Who can say whether the consequences of such penetration would not have been the same as those which later caused Denikin, Wrangel, the Austro-Germans, and all the rest to disappear?

But behold! Any government always means for the Revolution : the political way, stagnation, mistrust, reaction, danger, misfortune.

Lenin, Trotsky, and their colleagues were never revolutionaries.

They were only rather brutal reformers, and like all reformers and politicians, always had recourse to the old bourgeois methods, in dealing with both internal and military problems.

They had not confidence in either the masses nor in the real Revolution, and did not even understand it.

In trusting these bourgeois statist-reformers with the fate of the Revolution, the revolutionary Russian workers committed a fundamental and irreparable error.

The explanation of everything that has happened in Russia since October, 1917, lies at least partly in this.

The second widespread legend is that of the important role of the Red Army. According to the Bolshevik "historians", it defeated the counter-revolutionary troops, destroyed the White offensives, and won all the victories.

Nothing could be more false. In all the big counter-revolutionary offensives, the Red Army was beaten and put to flight. It was the Russian people themselves, in revolt and only partially armed, who defeated the Whites. The Red Army, invariably returning after the blow (but in full force) to lend a hand to the already triumphant partisans, simply gave the coup de grace to the already routed White armies and crowned itself with the laurels of victory.

  • 1. This was written in 1939.
  • 2. Naturally I employ the term "direct" in the sense of organizing, and of administration (a social term), and not in that of governing (a political term). A government, even if it were composed of workers (which is not the case in the U.S.S.R.) could serve only the interests of a privileged class which inevitably develops into a statist political system.
  • 3. The reader should not suspect me of preferring private capitalism. I state a fact, nothing more. It is evident that freedom to choose an employer is a small thing. But to live and work under the eternal threat of losing the only exploiter possible is not pleasant. This threat, suspended constantly over the head of the worker in the U.S.S.R., makes him a slave. That is all I meant to say.
  • 4. See, for instance, Workers Before and After Lenin, by Manya Gordon; New York: Dutton, 1941.
  • 5. Decree of October 25, 1917. [But in the fourth paragraph of Chapter xxv Voline gives October 26 as the date of what apparently is the same decree]
  • 6. Milioukov, Paul, History of Russia, Volume III, p. 1274.
  • 7. The "dictation", supervision, and threat existed from the beginning. Also, we must point out in passing that the People's Commissars, and the members of the Politburo and other supreme organs, were never elected, but were appointed by the central committee of the Communist Party, influenced by the "genial Vojd", and validated by the Congress of Soviets, docile instrument of the central committee.
  • 8. Compared to them, the Nazis are only modest pupils and imitators.
  • 9. A hectare is equivalent to 2.471 acres. Which means that the shortage of wheat in the U.S.S.R. in 1939 was estimated at 158,144,000 acres.
  • 10. Pravda for May 31.
  • 11. See Stalin Constitution, Article 125.
  • 12. Pravda, May 31, 1939.
  • 13. No. 168, July, 1939.
  • 14. Gorlovka is an industrial locality in that basin.
  • 15. October 20, 1936.
  • 16. See Izvestia, June 28, 1936.
  • 17. See the law of May, 1936, enactment of which was followed by numerous arrests.
  • 18. Orthodox priests in Russia are commonly referred to as "popes".

Book III: Struggles for the real social revolution


Independently of the reactions towards the right [which took place in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917] there also occurred, during and after the same period, a series of movements in the opposite direction. These were revolutionary movements, which fought the Bolshevik power in the name of true liberty and of the principles of the Social Revolution which that power had scoffed at and trampled underfoot.

Indeed, even within the ranks of the government and of the Communist Party itself, movements of opposition and revolt were provoked by the stifling statism and centralism, the terrifying tendency towards bureaucracy, the flagrant social impotence and the shameless violence of the Bolsheviks.

It was thus that, in the summer of 1918, the Left Social-Revolutionaries, who until then had participated in the government, left it, broke with the Bolsheviks, and declared against them. They soon succumbed under the blows of repression.

Later on, within the Bolshevik Party itself, there appeared what was called "the Workers' Opposition", the first manifestation of which constrained Lenin to publish his pamphlet entitled Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder. This "Workers' Opposition" was likewise destroyed by the repeated blows of an implacable repression. It was followed by other movements of opposition, always within the government and the Party, and all of these were likewise suppressed with a crushing ferocity.

All these movements, which were strictly political and were frequently quite mild [in their criticisms of the Party], have little intrinsic interest. To be sure, the future historian will find in them very edifying material for describing and judging the regime. But from the viewpoint of the revolution and its fate they were basically "family quarrels", despite the occasional fierceness of the struggle they provoked. If the oppositionists or rebels had won, the country would have had a change of masters without any alteration in its fundamental situation. The new masters would inevitable have been driven to adopt the policy and methods of their predecessors. For the people, nothing would have changed. Or rather, as the saying goes, "the more it would have changed, the more it would have remained the same thing."

It was outside these "palace" disturbances that there arose from time to time various leftist movements—sometimes on a large scale—which were essentially popular, movements of the masses apolitical, strictly social and truly revolutionary.

We will concentrate primarily on two of these movements the most conscious, the most important, and the least known [outside libertarian circles] of them all; that of Kronstadt in March. 1921, and the vast and vigorous movement in the Ukraine which lasted for nearly four years, from 1918 to the end of 1921.

Part I: Kronstadt (1921)

CHAPTER 1: Geographical Notes

Kronstadt is a fortress, or rather, a fortified city, built two centuries ago on the Island of Kotlin, 30 kilometres west of St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) at the lower end of the Gulf of Finland. It defends the approaches from the Baltic Sea to the former capital, and is also the principal base of the Russian Baltic Fleet. The Gulf of Finland is frozen in winter, and communication between Kronstadt and Leningrad is carried on, for five months of the year (from November to April), over a snow road on top of the thick ice of the Gulf.

Kotlin Island -- a narrow, elongated piece of land with very irregular contours -- is 12 kilometres long. Its greatest width is from 2 to 3 kilometres. Its coasts are inaccessible and well fortified. The eastern part of the island, which faces Leningrad, contains the city of Kronstadt, the port and the docks, and occupies about a third of the total area. The north, west and south coasts are strewn with forts and bastions. Between these coasts and the city, at the time of the 1917 Revolution, the terrain was virtually desert.

To the north and south, the island is surrounded by many forts and batteries, projecting fairly far into the sea. On a point of the mainland, twenty kilometres away by sea and facing the island, there is the important fort of Krasnaia Gorka. On the other coast, facing the north shore of the island and ten kilometres away by sea, is the fortified cape called Lissy Noss.

Inside the city, the most noteworthy feature is the immense Anchor Square. Capable of holding up to 30,000 people, this square was formerly used for training conscripts and for military reviews. During the Revolution it became a regular popular forum. Whenever summoned, and at the slightest alarm, the sailors, soldiers and workers would rush there to hold monster meetings. During the winter, the same role was filled by the vast "maritime riding school."

The population of Kronstadt comprised, first, the crews of the Baltic Fleet, quartered in vast barracks, then the soldiers of the garrison, mainly artillerymen, and, finally, many officers, officials merchants, skilled workers, etc., in all some 50,000 inhabitants.

CHAPTER 2: Kronstadt Before the Revolution

The Baltic Fleet and the Kronstadt garrison played a role of the very first importance in the Russian Revolution. Many factors contributed to this. In the first place, the sailors were recruited for the most part from the working class, from whom the navy naturally picked the best-qualified, most literate and alert recruits. But workers of this kind were also the most advanced politically. Frequently, before going to serve in the navy, they had been budding revolutionaries, sometimes even active militants, and inevitably, in spite of discipline and supervision, they wielded a strong influence over their shipmates.

Moreover, since the sailors often visited foreign countries in the line of their duty, they were in a good position to compare the relatively free regimes of these lands with that of Tsarist Russia. Better than any other section of the people, including the army, they assimilated the ideas and programmes of the political parties, while many of them maintained relations with the emigres [in Western Europe] and read their forbidden and clandestine literature.

We should add that the proximity of the then capital, with its intense political, intellectual and industrial activity, contributed a great deal to the education of the men in Kronstadt. In St. Petersburg "political life" was at its fullest. There was an important mass of workers, and a numerous and turbulent youth at the University. The lively activity of the revolutionary groups, the ever more frequent and imposing disturbances and demonstrations, the scuffles that sometimes followed them, and the generally rapid and direct contact with political and social events, all induced the population of Kronstadt to take a lively and sustained interest in the internal life of the country, the aspirations and struggles of the masses, and the political and social problems of the day.

St. Petersburg, indeed, kept Kronstadt always on the alert, and sometimes in a fever. Already, in 1905-6 and in 1910, the Kronstadt sailors had attempted fairly serious revolts, which were severely repressed. But their spirit became all the more fierce and alive.

Finally, from the earliest days of the 1917 Revolution, the extreme leftist currents, the Bolsheviks, the Left Social-Revolutionaries, the Maximalists, the Syndicalists and Anarchists, all created active and well-organised centres in Kronstadt, and their activity soon exercised a considerable influence over the mass of the sailors.

For all these reasons, Kronstadt soon became the vanguard of the revolutionary people in 1917. Because of its energy, its developed consciousness, it was "the pride and glory of the Russian Revolution", as Trotsky said when it was aiding him to take power. This did not prevent him from turning his cannons against this "glory", whose members had now become "counter-revolutionary swine", as soon as it took a stand against the deviations and impostures of the Bolshevik Party.

CHAPTER 3: Kronstadt as the Vanguard of the Revolution

From February, 1917, for the whole duration of the Revolution, and nearly everywhere, the men of Kronstadt were in the thick of the struggle. They did not confine themselves to their local activity, energetic though it was. Full of revolutionary enthusiam and combative ardour, well-endowed with strength and audacity, conscious of their role, they unfalteringly gave the revolution all that it asked of them -- their fire and their faith, their awareness and their vigour. They became devoted militants, ready to sacrifice their lives, they became agitators and popular propagandists, distributors of revolutionary literature throughout the country, technicians of every kind, and, above all, incomparable fighters.

In February, 1917, Kronstadt immediately rallied to the Revolution. Rising up and taking possession of their city, the sailors felt obliged to perform a painful but, in their opinion, necessary action. On the night of February 27th and 28th, they seized and executed on the spot some two hundred notoriously reactionary senior officers. The rancour and hatred that had accumulated over long years was thus assuaged, for among the victims were those who, during the attempted revolt of 1910, had ordered several hundred sailors to be shot, as well as causing the famous drowning at Fort Totleben of several boatloads of captured seamen.

The execution of these two hundred officers was the only bloody episode, for the sailors protected to the utmost of their ability, not only those officers whom they esteemed and liked, but also those who had simply refrained from ferocity during the repression. Through the whole period [of the uprising], groups of seamen sought everywhere for their own officers, who had been lost in the tumult, and when they found that they had been arrested by some other crew, obtained their release and placed them in safety on their ships or in the barracks.

The sailors soon organised the first Soviet of Kronstadt. While it was initially very moderate (most of its members were Right Social-Revolutionaries or Mensheviks), this Soviet was propelled by the pressure of the revolutionary masses into sharp conflict with the Provisional Government. The immediate causes of these conflicts were insignificant, but their underlying import was serious and well understood by the masses. The government could tolerate neither the independent spirit nor the fervent activity of the men of Kronstadt. It sought at all costs to destroy the former and paralyse the latter; in short, to subdue the malcontents and entirely subjugate the city.

The first conflicts were settled amicably. After many meetings and deliberations, the people of Kronstadt considered it prudent to yield for the time being. At the same time, discontented with the weak attitude of the Soviet, they proceeded to elect new delegates.

Fresh conflicts with the Provisional Government soon broke out. Repeatedly, at the end of its patience, Kronstadt was on the point of an uprising, and only the feeling that the country would not yet understand this premature act made the sailors reconsider.

It was at this time that the first calumnies against Kronstadt were fabricated and circulated by the bourgeois press in Russia and abroad. "Kronstadt has seceded from Russia and has proclaimed itself an autonomous republic." "Kronstadt is coining its own money." "Kronstadt is on the point of concluding a separate peace with the Germans." These were some of the absurdities that were put about. Their purpose was to discredit Kronstadt in the eyes of the country, so as subsequently to be able to wipe it out without difficulty.

The first Provisional Government had no time to carry out this project. It fell, amid general hostility. Kronstadt, on the other hand, gained favour in the eyes of the masses.

The second Kronstadt Soviet was much farther to the left [than its predecessor]. It contained many Bolsheviks, several Maximalists and several Anarchists.1 However, the activity of the Soviet, and the inevitable struggles within it between the diverse factions, counted for little in comparison with the enormous activity that went on among the workers themselves, on the ships, in the barracks, in the workshops. At the meetings which followed each other in rapid succession at Anchor Square, all the problems of the revolution were discussed and examined from every point of view; the population lived through intense and passionate days. In this way Kronstadt educated itself and prepared for the exceptionally active part which it was soon to play in the struggles ahead, in every stage of the revolution and in every part of Russia.

At first the sailors were favourable to Kerensky, but soon they realised his true role, and two weeks after the famous unsuccessful offensive of June 18th, Kronstadt took a definite stand against him and his government. [Its antagonism was increased when] Kerensky, having learned of the hostile feeling in Kronstadt, tried to arrest a number of sailors when they went to Petrograd and also attempted other repressive measures.

The disturbances in Petrograd, where a revolutionary machine-gun regiment opposed being sent to the front with arms in hand, and was fired on by troops loyal to the government, fanned the flames. It was then that, on July 4th, twelve thousand sailors, soldiers and working men and women of Kronstadt landed in Petrograd, carrying red and black flags and placards bearing such slogans as "All Power to the local Soviets." The demonstrators marched towards the Tauride Palace, where the various factions, including the Bolsheviks, were deliberating on the political situation. They wished to broaden their demonstration and draw in the masses and garrison of the capital, so that the struggle might be pressed as far as the fall of the government and its replacement by that of the Soviets. Their example was not followed, and, after losing several men during skirmishes in the streets with troops that supported the government, they had to recognise their failure and return to Kronstadt without having accomplished anything. The new revolution was not yet due.

The government, for its part, did not feel strong enough to deal severely with the demonstrators, and. after protracted negotiations during which both sides prepared for a merciless struggle (Kronstadt actually formed battalions for the purpose of attacking Petrograd), they finally reached an agreement and everything became peaceful again.

Certain features of this unsuccessful "sedition" are worth emphasising. The Bolsheviks played a preponderant role, and it was mainly their slogans that the demonstrators adopted. Within Kronstadt. their representatives were the principal organisers of the action. The sailors asked them: "What if the Party disowns the action?" They replied: "We will force it to support us." But since the Central Committee had not made any decision (or had decided to abstain) and since certain well-known Bolsheviks were negotiating with other political factions, [the Bolshevik leaders] participating only "unofficially", Lenin confined himself to delivering a speech of encouragement from a balcony and then disappeared. Trotsky and the other leaders refrained from any participation and kept out of sight. The movement was not theirs, they did not control it, and therefore it had no interest for them. They awaited their own hour.

A number of Bolsheviks, who had decorated an armoured car with a huge red flag bearing the initials of their Central Committee, wanted to place it at the head of the demonstration. But the sailors declared that they were acting, not under the auspices of the Bolshevik Party, but under those of their Soviet, and [sent the armoured car to] the rear.

The Anarchists, already influential in Kronstadt, took an active part in the action that day, and lost several men. But basically, it was a movement of the masses, of thousands of rebels.

After the July days, the bourgeois press again took up the calumnies against Kronstadt, insinuating that the rebellion was organised "with German money" (they even specified that each sailor was paid 25 gold roubles a day!) and speaking of treason. The Socialist press joined the chorus, and suggested that the movement was the work of "suspicious elements". This campaign allowed Kerensky to threaten Kronstadt with severe repressions. But, as we have seen, he did not dare to act

The men of Kronstadt did not let themselves be intimidated in the least. They were becoming increasingly conscious of being on the right road, and also increasingly sure that the day was approaching when the masses would understand that the faith, the force and the aims that had inspired the activity of Kronstadt were also their own.

It was at this point that Kronstadt broke into an extraordinary and almost feverish activity. Its people began by sending a succession of agitators and popular propagandists into all parts of the country. Their slogan and rallying cry was "All power to the local Soviets." In the provinces these emissaries were arrested by the dozen, but Kronstadt replied by sending out more and more of them.

Soon, their efforts were repaid. The sailors of the Black Sea Fleet, who hitherto had supported Kerensky, finally began to doubt the "information from reliable sources" that was denouncing the "counter-revolutionary" role of Kronstadt. To set their minds at ease, they sent a delegation to Kronstadt. Solemnly received by the Soviet, this delegation conferred intimately with the residents of the city, learned their attitude, and uncovered the lies of the press and the authorities. From that moment, a close contact was established between the two fleets.

Furthermore, several units of troops at the front sent delegations to Kronstadt to discover the state of mind of the sailors, and to set things straight if necessary, so greatly had the reputation of Kronstadt been distorted by calumny. One of these delegations, composed of an imposing number of men, formed a regular military expedition. They arrived at Kronstadt in boats filled with weapons (even artillery and machine guns), ready for any eventuality. They were not taking any chances, for, if they were to believe the rumours and the newspapers, they might well expect to be fired upon by the defenders of the "independent republic of Kronstadt". financed by Germany! They dropped anchor some distance from the shore, and first dispatched to the city a few small boats with "plenipotentiaries". Upon landing, these advanced carefully towards the city, like regular reconnaissance patrols in enemy country.

All this ended, as usual, in a solemn reception by the Soviet, and in intimate, passionate, but friendly discussions. The sailors went to visit the boats of the "expedition", which were brought into the port, and the guests visited the battleships. In the evening, the delegation returned convinced to the front, with cries of "All power to the local Soviets".

Often these delegations would propose that the "sailors should replace their exhausted units at the front. Then the men of Kronstadt firmly explained their own viewpoint. "As long as the land is not given to the peasants and the revolution is not completely victorious," they said, "the workers have nothing to defend."

A little before General Kornilov's march on Petrograd, the reactionaries in their effort to master the political situation, reestablished discipline in some sections of the army, re-instituted the death penalty at the front, and tried to destroy the soldiers' committees. Kronstadt accordingly renewed its preparations for an armed insurrection.

At about the same time, the Kerensky government under the pretext of reinforcing the Riga front, decided to remove the heavy artillery from Kronstadt and all the forts. The indignation of the sailors was unbounded. They knew perfectly well that this artillery could play no effective part at the front, and they also knew that the German Fleet was preparing to attack Kronstadt. They were getting ready to prevent this, which would have been impossible without artillery. Unable to believe that the members of the government could be so ignorant of the facts, they saw in Kerensky's decision a desire to disarm Kronstadt on the eve of attack, a direct treason against the revolution. They were completely convinced that the Kerensky government had decided to stifle the revolution by any means possible, not excluding the surrender of Kronstadt and Petrograd to the Germans.

Kronstadt did not hesitate. On the ships, in the forts and workshops, secret meetings were held to elaborate a plan for resistance and revolt. At the same time, dozens of sailors went every day to Petrograd where they toured the factories, workshops and barracks, openly preaching insurrection.

In the face of this fierce opposition, the government reconsidered and yielded. A compromise was negotiated, and only a small detachment went to the front. On the whole, the sailors were pleased with this solution, since, thanks to the vigilance of the officers' committees, the front was precisely the one place to which they had not succeeded in penetrating. An occasion now presented itself to carry there what was called "the Kronstadt contagion".

After the Kornilov putsch of August, 1917, in the destruction of which the sailors from Kronstadt especially distinguished themselves, the final distrust of the masses towards them was broken. At the same time, the popularity of Kerensky was diminishing every day. It was beginning to be understood everywhere that Kronstadt had been right to defy the government, to unmask the machinations of the reactionaries and not allow itself to be deceived.

The moral victory of Kronstadt was complete, and from this time onwards many workers' and peasants' delegations arrived there, seeking enlightenment on the real situation and asking for advice and suggestions for the future. On leaving, these delegations requested the sailors to send propagandists and literature into their regions. Kronstadt could ask for nothing better, and soon it could be said without exaggeration that there was not a single province, a single district, in which emissaries from Kronstadt had not spent at least a few days, advising direct expropriation of the land, refusal to obey the government, re-election and consolidation of the Soviets, a determined struggle for peace and a continuation of the revolution.2 Thus, by their ceaseless activity, the men of Kronstadt instilled a revolutionary spirit into the workers' and. peasants' organisations and into the army,3 while at the same time they took up a vigorous stand against all unauthorised acts, against all deeds of hatred and individual despair.

Everywhere that the revolution was fighting the old society, the men of Krondstadt were in the ranks of the fighters.

Before finishing with the pre-Bolshevik period in Kronstadt, it remains for us to give an idea of the intense constructive work accomplished there in spite of the armed struggles and other urgent tasks. In this field the Kronstadt Soviet created two important organs, the Technical and Military Commission, and the Propaganda Commission.

The Technical and Military Commission comprised 14 members of the Soviet, together with several delegates from the Union of Maritime Transport Workers and from the ships, and forts. In addition, the office of Special Commissar was created at each of the principal forts. These Commissars were charged with maintaining permanent contact between the forts, the Soviet and the Commission, and also with supervising the material condition of the forts and their equipment.

The Commission looked after everything that concerned the defence of Kronstadt and its technical needs. It was responsible, among other things, for the general arming of the workers, for forming them into battalions and giving them military training. It kept daily records of all the fighting units and also supervised the condition of the merchant ships, both cargo and passenger. It directed ship-repair work and was also in charge of the scrap iron with which the vast artillery depot was filled.

The Propaganda Commission was considered extremely important. It carried on a great educational activity, not only in Kronstadt itself, but also in more or less distant localities, whose extent steadily broadened across the country. Every day requests for orators, agitators, lecturers and propagandists came from the various forts, some of them were thirty kilometres away by sea, or from one or another suburb of Petrograd.

The Commission ordered, assembled and distributed all kinds of literature, particularly political and social works (Socialist, Communist and Anarchist) and scientific popularisations, dealing especially with general and rural economics. Each sailor or soldier tried to gather together, with his own money, a little library which he first read carefully himself, and afterwards planned to take back to his "own country", his native village.

The methods employed in the choice and sending out of propagandists are worthy of some attention. Any workshop, military unit or ship could send a popular propagandist to the provinces. Any man who wished to travel in this capacity had to declare his intention to the general assembly of his unit or ship. If there were no objection, the committee of the unit or ship gave him provisional permission. He was then endorsed by the Propaganda Committee and went on to the secretary of the Soviet. If, at the general meeting of the Soviet, his application were supported by those who knew him personally, and if no one opposed him for revolutionary or moral reasons, the Soviet gave him formal and final permission in its own name. Its permit served him as a safe-conduct where-ever he went. The money for these missions was supplied from the treasury of the Soviet, which was raised by voluntary levies from the workers' wages.

Almost always, the propagandist took with him products which were made especially by the Kronstadt workers as gifts to the peasants. These workers, particularly those who still took care of peasants 'back home", set up a shop where in their spare time they produced articles of a kind that were necessary in the country -- nails, horseshoes, sickles, ploughs, etc. They were helped in these tasks by soldier and sailor specialists. The enterprise took the name of The Kronstadt Workers' Union. It requested all the inhabitants of the city to bring their unuseable scrap, and also obtained it from the Technical Commission.

The emissaries from Kronstadt never forgot to supply themselves with these products to present to the peasants through the local Soviets. Letters of warm gratitude flooded in to the Kronstadt Soviet from peasants who promised, in exchange, to support that city in the struggle for bread and liberty.

Another [interesting constructive] enterprise was a kind of horticultural commune which was set up when the inhabitants of Kronstadt used the empty land between the shores and the city for collective vegetable gardens. Groups of city people, consisting of about 50 persons living in the same district or working in the same shop, undertook to work the land in common. Each of these communities received from the city a plot of land chosen by lot. The community members were helped by specialists, surveyors and agronomists.

All questions of interest to the members of these communities were discussed at meetings of delegates or in general assemblies. A provisioning committee took charge of distributing seeds. Tools were supplied by depots in the city and by the community members themselves. The fertiliser was also supplied by the city.

These kitchen gardens rendered an important service to the inhabitants of Kronstadt, especially during periods of famine, in 1918 and later. The communities [which were formed around them] also served to bring the inhabitants closer together. This free community movement showed great vitality; it still existed in 1921 and remained for a long time the only independent institution which the Bolsheviks could not destroy [in Kronstadt].

All matters concerning the public services in Kronstadt and the internal life of the city were administered by the citizens themselves, through the medium of house committees and militia, and little by little they advanced towards the socialisation of dwellings and of all urban services.

Generally speaking, at Kronstadt and elsewhere in Russia before the enthronement of the Bolsheviks, the inhabitants of a house first organised a number of tenants' meetings. These meetings named a tenants' committee, which consisted of men who were energetic and capable of fulfilling some necessary function. The Committee supervised the upkeep of the house and the welfare of its inhabitants, it designated the day and night janitors, etc. Each House Committee delegated one of its members to the Street Committee, which was in charge of matters that concerned the whole street. Then came the District Committee, the Borough Committee and finally the City Committee, which was concerned with the interests of the whole city and, in a natural and logical manner, carried out whatever centralisation of services was necessary.

The organisation of the militia was similar to that of the Committees: each house had a group of militiamen, drawn from the tenants; there were also street militia, district militia, etc.

All of the public services functioned admirably, for the men in charge of them acted from personal inclination or individual aptitude, and therefore conscientiously and intelligently, fully aware of the importance of their activity.4 Thus, in making their wav towards complete socialisation of dwellings and all urban services, the workers of Kronstadt achieved at the same time a complex of peaceful and creative measures, which pointed towards a fundamental transformation of the very basis of social life.5

CHAPTER 4: Kronstadt Turns Against the Bolshevik Imposture

We are now approaching the crucial point of the Kronstadt epic: its desperate and heroic struggle, in March, 1921, against the usurpations of the Bolsheviks, and the consequent termination of its independence.

The first dissensions between the men of Kronstadt and the new government took place almost immediately after the October Revolution. The slogan of All Power to the Local Soviets meant to Kronstadt the independence of each locality, of each Soviet, of each social organisation in the matters which concerned it alone. It meant the right to take initiatives, to make decisions, and to act without asking permission from the "centre". According to this interpretation, the "centre" could neither dictate nor impose its will on the local Soviets, since each Soviet, each workers' and peasants' organisation, was its own master. Of course, it must co-ordinate its activity with that of other organisations, but on a federal basis. Matters concerning the whole country would be co-ordinated by a general federative centre. Kronstadt therefore supposed that, under the protection of a "proletarian" and "friendly" government, free federations of Soviets and factory committees would progressively create a powerful organised force, capable of defending the conquests of the social revolution and of continuing it.

But the government naturally concerned itself with everything but the fundamental problems -- those of helping the workers' and peasants' organisations to emancipate themselves fully. It was preoccupied with the Constituent Assembly, with its own installation in office, with its prerogatives, with its relations to the various political parties, with the elaboration of projects for collaboration with the remaining bourgeoisie ("workers' control of production"), etc. It concerned itself very little with the independence of workers' organisations. In fact, it gave it no thought at all.

Indeed, the Bolshevik government evidently understood the slogan "power to the Soviets" in a peculiar way. It applied it in reverse. Instead of giving assistance to the working masses and permitting them to conquer and enlarge their own autonomous activity, it began by taking all "power" from them and treating them like subjects. It bent the factories to its will and liberated the workers from the right to make their own decisions; it took arbitrary and coercive measures, without even asking the advice of the workers concerned; it ignored the demands emanating from the workers' organisations. And, in particular, it increasingly curbed, under various pretexts, the freedom of action of the Soviets and of other workers' organisations, everywhere imposing its will arbitrarily and even by violence.

[The following example from the history of Kronstadt illustrates both the arbitrary attitude of the government and its incompetence when faced by the real problems of the revolution].

In the beginning of 1918, the working population of Kronstadt, after debating the subject in many meetings, decided to proceed to socialise dwelling places. It was a question, first of all, to obtaining the agreement of the local Soviet, then of creating a competent organisation to carry out a census and examination of buildings and an equitable redistribution of dwellings, together with their rehabilitation and maintenance and the initiation of repair services and new construction.

A final monster meeting definitely instructed several members of the Soviet -- Left Social-Revolutionaries and Anarcho-Syndicalists -- to raise the question at the next plenary session. In consequence, a detailed project, drawn up by these delegates, was deposited at the office of the Soviet.

The first article of the project declared: "From henceforward private property in land and buildings is abolished." Other articles specified: "The management of each building will henceforward be the duty of a House Committee elected by all its tenants . . . Important matters concerning a building will be discussed and settled by a general meeting of tenants . . . Matters concerning a whole district will be examined by general assemblies of its inhabitants; District Committees shall be appointed by them . . . The Borough Committee will be in charge of matters concerning the whole city."

The Bolshevik members of the Soviet asked that discussion be delayed for a week, on the pretext that the problem was very important and required a thorough examination. When the Soviet agreed to this postponement, they went to Petrograd to get instructions from the "centre".

At the next session, the Bolsheviks asked for the adjournment of the project under consideration. They declared, in particular, that such an important problem could only be resolved for the whole country, that Lenin was already in the process of preparing a decree on this subject, and that, for the sake of the project itself, the Kronstadt Soviet should wait for instructions from the "centre".

The Left Social-Revolutionaries, Maximalists and Anarcho-Syndicalists asked for an immediate discussion and carried the vote. In the course of the debate, the extreme Left underlined the necessity of voting immediately after the discussion and of proceeding to the immediate implementation of the project if it were adopted. But the Bolsheviks and the Social-Democrats (Mensheviks), forming a united front, got up and left the hall. Sustained, ironical applause, and cries of "At last they are united!" accompanied their action.

In order to settle the matter, a Maximalist delegate proposed that the Soviet vote on the project, article by article. This would allow the Bolsheviks to return and take part in the voting, and thus erase the false impression left by their withdrawal that they were against the abolition of private property.

This proposal was adopted. Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks realised that they had made a tactical error. They resumed their seats and voted for the first article: "Private property in land and buildings is abolished." This was a vote of "principle" for them. But when the articles dealing with the means of immediately realising this principle came up for discussion, they again left the hall.

Several Bolsheviks, however, considered it impossible to submit to party discipline in this affair. They remained in their places, took part in the discussion, and voted for the project. They declared that they had a formal mandate from their electors to vote for its immediate realisation. Nevertheless, they were severely censured, and expelled from the party for "Anarcho-Syndicalist deviation."

The project was adopted But for a long time afterwards it was the subject of a continued and passionate struggle in the workshops, battalions and ships. Meeting followed meeting. The members of the Soviet were invited to give reports on the details of the discussion and on their position. Certain Bolsheviks opposed to the project were recalled from the Soviet by their electors.

After these occurences, the Bolsheviks opened a violent campaign against the Anarcho-Syndicalists, and they also tried to sabotage the realisation of the adopted project. Nothing came of their efforts. Soon the committees (house, district, etc.) were appointed and began to function. The project became alive. The principle of "each inhabitant has the right to a decent dwelling" became a reality.

All dwellings were methodically visited, examined and entered in the census by the committee, for the purpose of establishing a more equitable distribution. On the one hand, horrible hovels were discovered in which the unfortunate lived, sometimes several families together. On the other hand, there were comfortable apartments of ten or fifteen rooms which were occupied only by a few persons. For example, the Director of the Engineering School, a bachelor, occupied by himself a luxurious apartment of twenty rooms, and when the commission came to take the census and reduce his "living space" for the benefit of several unfortunate families removed from stinking hovels, he protested hotly and called this act a "downright robbery".

Soon all those who filled the unhealthy shacks and garrets and the filthy cellars were lodged in somewhat cleaner and more comfortable places. Several hotels for travellers were also established. And each Borough Committee organised a workshop for the repair and improvement of buildings; these shops functioned efficiently.

Later on, the Bolshevik government destroyed this organisation and wiped out its constructive beginnings. The management of buildings passed to a purely bureaucratic institution, the Real Estate and Buildings Centre, which was organised from above and attached to the National Economic Council. This Centre installed in every building, district and borough an official or, to be more accurate, a policeman, whose main function was to supervise activities in the houses, to keep track of the movements of the inhabitants in each district, to report infractions of lodging and visa regulations, to denounce "suspects", etc.

Several sterile bureaucratic decrees were promulgated, but all the work, all the positive, concrete tasks, were abandoned. The population concerned was eliminated from [participation in control of] the undertaking (as in other fields), and everything fell back into a state of inertia and stagnation. The better buildings were requisitioned for the bureaucratic service of the state, for officials' apartments etc., and the rest, more or less abandoned to their fate, soon began to deteriorate.

As a result of proceedings of this kind in every field of life, the sailors of Kronstadt were not slow to realise that they had been deceived and deluded by the false slogans of the "Proletarian State", the "Dictatorship of the Proletariat", etc. They realised that, under a pretence of friendliness, new enemies of the working masses had installed themselves in power.

They did not conceal their disillusionment. A peaceful but firm opposition to the bureaucratic, arbitrary, anti-social and anti-revolutionary acts of the Bolshevik government began to appear in their ranks by the end of 1917, barely two months after the October Revolution.

But the Bolsheviks were watchful, for the government knew perfectly well how matters stood with the militants of Kronstadt, and it could not consider itself secure so long as this citadel of the real revolution continued to exist so close to Petrograd. It was necessary at all costs to reduce it to impotence and obedience.

The government therefore elaborated a Machiavellian scheme. Not daring to attack Kronstadt openly, by frontal assault, it began -- methodically and slyly -- to weaken, impoverish and exhaust it, by means of a series of camouflaged measures aimed at depriving Kronstadt of its best forces, taking away its more combative elements, exhausting their strength and, in the last resort, annihilating them.

To begin, it exploited more than ever the revolutionary enthusiasm and abilities of the sailors. When, shortly after October, the food situation of the city population became catastrophic, the government asked Kronstadt to form special crews of propagandists and to send them into the provinces, the country districts and the villages to preach to the peasants the ideas of solidarity and revolutionary duty, and, in particular, the necessity for feeding the cities. The revolutionary fame of the men of Kronstadt, said the Bolsheviks, could render immeasurable service to the cause. More easily than anyone else, the sailors could convince the peasants to give up part of their produce to the starving workers.

Kronstadt complied. Numerous formations departed for the depths of the country and carried out the tasks allotted. But nearly all these detachments were scattered in a thousand directions. For various reasons, their members were forced to remain in the interior of the country, and did not return to Kronstadt.

The government also sent constantly to Kronstadt for large detachments to be dispatched wherever the internal situation became uncertain, threatening or dangerous. Kronstadt always responded, and many of its brave militants and fighters never saw their ships or their barracks again.

Kronstadt was also constantly requested to send men to perform functions or occupy posts requiring special abilities, responsibility or courage. Leaders of military formations, commanders of armoured trains, armoured cars and railway stations, specialised workers, mechanics, lathe-workers, gun-mounters, etc., were continually being drawn from among the Kronstadters, who were ready for any sacrifice. When the Kaledin uprising in the South became serious, Kronstadt again sent considerable forces against it, which contributed significantly to the destruction of the enemy and left many of their own men on the battlefield.

All these preliminary measures were finally crowned by a hammer blow which Kronstadt, already seriously weakened, could not resist effectively. When, at the end of February, 1918, the sailors returning from the expedition against Kaledin got off the train at the terminus, from which they could look out over the panorama of the Gulf of Finland under its winter blanket of snow, they were suprised to see that the road across it was black with people. They were sailors from Kronstadt who were going towards Petrograd with their duffle-bags on their backs. Soon those who were returning learned the bitter truth from the mouths of those who were leaving.

Contrary to the resolution adopted by the Pan-Russian Congress of Sailors directly after the October Revolution, which proclaimed, in conformity with the unanimous mandate given the delegates, that the fleet should not be demobilised, but should remain intact as a revolutionary fighting unit, the Council of People's Commissars issued, at the beginning of February, 1918, the famous decree according to which the existing fleet was declared disbanded. A new "Red Fleet" was to be created, on a new basis. Each conscript must henceforth sign an individual pledge that he entered the navy "voluntarily". And -- a significant detail -- the pay of the sailors was to be made very attractive.

The sailors refused to carry out the decree, and the government replied with an ultimatum: either submit or rations would be withheld within 48 hours. Kronstadt did not feel strong enough to resist at that moment. Raging at heart, cursing the new "revolutionary" power, the sailors packed their belongings and left their fortress, carrying a number of machine guns away with them. "We may perhaps need them yet," they said; "Let the Bolsheviks arm their future mercenaries."6

Later on, a certain number of sailors, returning from the revolutionary fronts for various reasons, came back to Kronstadt and reorganised themselves there. But this was only an insignificant handful. The principal force was scattered all over the immense country.

Kronstadt was not the same city any more. The government had repeated assurances of this fact. For example, during the negotiations with Germany, the Kronstadt Soviet, like the overwhelming majority of other Soviets, voted against making peace with the German generals. At all the meetings and assemblies such a treaty was repudiated. Then the Bolsheviks, after taking certain precautions, annulled the first vote, raised the question a second time, and imposed a peace resolution. Kronstadt yielded.

The peace having been concluded, and the compact revolutionary bloc of Kronstadt, the Black Sea Fleet, etc., having been finally dissolved, the Bolshevik government had a clear field in which to consolidate its dictatorship over the working people. When, in April, 1918, in Moscow and elsewhere, it attacked the Anarchist groups, closed their meeting places, suppressed their papers, and threw their militants into prison, Kronstadt once again bared its claws, but they no longer had the same sharpness. It was now impossible for the sailors to turn their guns against the usurpers, for the latter were no longer within range of them. They were already entrenched, like earlier tyrants, behind the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow. Kronstadt had to confine itself to two resolutions of protest: one was adopted at a monster mass meeting held on Anchor Square, the other by the Soviet.

Immediately a fierce repression was imposed on "the pride and glory of the revolution". The Bolsheviks forbade the spontaneous calling of meetings. The Soviet was dissolved and replaced by a more docile one. A unit of the Cheka was installed in the city. Communist cells were created everywhere, in the workshops, the regiments and the ships. Everyone was spied upon by informers, and for the slightest criticism of Bolshevik actions the "guilty" were seized and dispatched to Petrograd, where most of them disappeared.

Only once did Kronstadt rise up successfully [against these repressive activities]. The battleship Petropavlovsk flatly refused to turn over to the authorities an anarchist sailor named Skurikhin. This time the Bolsheviks did not insist. It would not have been prudent or worth while to provoke an insurrection over a single individual whom in any case they could get later by some other means.

Except for this single jarring incident the Bolshevik government congratulated themselves that the advance guard of the real Revolution, Kronstadt, was virtually powerless, broken under the iron fist of Communist power. Nevertheless, this was only half true.

For months, Kronstadt powerlessly witnessed the usurpations and crimes of the gravediggers of the revolution. Returning from leave, the sailors told about the way in which the "Workers' Power" treated the workers. In the country it requisitioned produce from the peasants, mercilessly, down to the last grain, the last animal, often even to household effects, thus condemning the cultivators to a famished existence; it did not hesitate to resort to mass arrests and executions of those who were recalcitrant. Around the cities, there were barriers with armed guards who pitilessly confiscated the few miserable bags of flour which the peasants sent in -- usually to their starving relatives -- and threw those who resisted into prison; at the same time, they turned a blind eye to the real merchants who passed through with their merchandise destined for speculation, for these knew how to grease the necessary palms.

"The working people are disarmed," said the returning sailors. "It is clear that the general arming of the workers, and their freedom of speech and action, frightened not only the proven counter-revolutionaries, but also those who have abandoned the true course of the revolution. They created the Red Army, which like all armies, had ended by becoming a blind force in the hands of the party in power. Detached from their roots in the workshops and among their fellow workers, the soldiers were pampered, misled by deceptive slogans, subjected to a brutalising discipline, and deprived of the means; of acting in an organised way, so that they could easily be manipulated to do whatever those who are in control of them may desire."

The men of Kronstadt listened, watched and seethed with indignation, but they felt themselves powerless to act. Meanwhile the people were constantly and increasingly fettered, muzzled and subjugated.

Finally, in spite of [all the repressions], the storm burst. It started not in Kronstadt, but in Petrograd. By the end of February, 1921, the situation of the working masses in the cities had become unendurable. The whole of their normal life had disintegrated. The most necessary commodities were lacking. Even bread was rationed and hard to get. For lack of fuel, the houses could no longer be heated. The railways hardly functioned, and many factories closed down, thereby aggravating the situation.

The appeals, questions and protests of the workers accomplished nothing. The Bolshevik government was perfectly aware of the gravity of the situation, and even admitted its inability to remedy it. But it stubbornly refused to alter its policy. It would not even enter into discussion with the dissatisfied workers, and repulsed in advance all suggestions, all collaboration, all initiative. Its only remedy was more requisitioning, more military action, more repressive measures, carried out with the most arbitrary violence.

Serious disturbances finally broke out in Petrograd. Several of the most important factories improvised general assemblies of workers and adopted resolutions hostile to the government, demanding a change of the regime. Proclamations to the same effect appeared in the workshops and on the walls of the city, and the masses stirred confusedly.

Naturally, in this vast popular movement, various elements were present and various viewpoints appeared. Since the freedom of ideas or discussion was not permitted, and since many revolutionaries were in prison, this new ferment was necessarily vague and confused. Because the Revolution had already gone astray, the whole movement was inevitably distorted.

In these conditions, it was natural that certain elements, influenced by anti-revolutionary propaganda -- especially that of the moderate Socialists -- should propose measures and solutions which would have thrown the revolution into reverse, instead of trying to remove the obstacles so that it could go forward. Thus, there were those who asked for the return to free trading and the calling of a Constituent Assembly.

Nevertheless, three important facts must be borne in mind:

1. The elements in question were far from prevailing in the movement as a whole. They were never the strongest, nor the boldest. Freedom of propaganda for the Left, freedom of action for the masses, could still, with the help of the sincere Bolsheviks, have saved the situation; it could have found a solution and given the revolution a new impulse in the right direction.

2. We must not forget that, from the general point of view, Bolshevism itself represented a reactionary system. There were thus two reactionary forces present: one composed of certain anti-Bolshevik elements, which were held in check, and the other, Bolshevism itself, which paralysed and petrified the revolution. The only really revolutionary forces were elsewhere.

3. Of these other elements who represented the true revolutionary forces, Kronstadt was the most important. The men of Kronstadt envisaged a solution which, although hostile to the Bolsheviks, had nothing at all in common with such reactionary ideas as the Constituent Assembly or the return of private capitalism, and the activity carried on by Kronstadt at the very beginning of the movement gives ample proof of this.

In response to certain proclamations and to the general propaganda demanding the calling of the Constituent Assembly, Kronstadt secretly sent delegates to the factories and workshops of Petrograd with the following message to the workers:

"All the revolutionary energy of Kronstadt, its guns and machine-guns, will be resolutely directed against the Constituent Assembly, and against all retreat. But if the workers, having become disillusioned with the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', take a stand against the new imposters, for free Soviets, for freedom of speech, press, organisation and action for workers and peasants of all ideological tendencies -- Anarchist, Left Social-Revolutionary or otherwise -- if the workers rise up in a third, genuinely proletarian revolution for the real slogans of October, then Kronstadt will support them with all its strength, unanimously and with the will to conquer or die."

Spontaneous meetings in all the large factories began on February 22nd, and on the 24th the disturbances took a more serious turn. That morning the authorities, intent on a "purge", undertook an examination of the individual work-cards of the workers at the Troubotchny factory, one of the largest in Petrograd. That was the final provocation. The factory stopped working. Several dozen workers went to other factories to call out their personnel and soon the Baltic and Laferme factories, and the Patronny munition workers, joined the strike.

A crowd of two or three thousand excited workers formed in the street and tried to demonstrate. The "Workers' and Peasants' Government", which possessed sufficient special forces of police and soldiers to combat movements of this kind, despatched detachments of students from the Military Academy (officer students called kursanti) to the spot. Collisions took place between these troops and the unarmed crowd. The workers were dispersed, and elsewhere the police and troops prevented several meetings.

On the 25th of February, the movement was still growing, and spread to the whole city. The strikers called out the workers of the Admiralty Arsenal and of the port of Galernaia. Masses of workers gathered here and there, and were again dispersed by special formations.

Seeing the disorder increasing, the government alerted the Petrograd Garrison. But this also was in ferment, and several units declared that they would not fight against the workers. They were disarmed, but the government could no longer depend on the garrison. It therefore did without it and brought from the provinces and from certain fronts of the civil war a number of detachments of elite and predominantly Communist troops. On the same day the government created in Petrograd a Defence Committee under the presidency of Zinovieff, to co-ordinate all action against the movement.

On the 26th of February, at the session of the Petrograd Soviet, a notorious Communist named Lachevitch, a member of the above Committee and also of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic, made a report on the situation. He denounced the workers of the Troubotchny works as trouble-makers, describing them as "men who think only of their own personal interests" and as "counter-revolutionaries". In consequence, the works were closed, and the workers were automatically deprived of their food rations. During the same session, the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, Kuzmin, mentioned for the first time a certain amount of unrest among the crews of the warships berthed at Kronstadt.

From February 27th, a considerable number of proclamations of various kinds were distributed in the streets and posted on the walls of Petrograd. One of the most characteristic said:

"A fundamental change in the policy of the government is required. In the first place, the workers and peasants need liberty. They do not want to live according to the regulations of the Bolsheviks; they want to decide their own destinies for themselves.

"Comrades, maintain revolutionary order! Demand, in an organised and determined way: Liberation of all imprisoned Socialists and non-party workers; Abolition of the state of siege, and freedom of speech, press and assembly for all who work; Free re-election of shop committees and of representatives to the unions and the Soviets."

The government replied by mass arrests and by the suppression of various workers' organisations.

On February 28th, the Communist military forces, brought from elsewhere, invaded Petrograd. Immediately, a pitiless repression fell upon the workers. Disarmed, they could not resist. In two days, the strikes were broken by force and the workers' agitation was wiped out "by an iron hand", as Trotsky put it. But it was precisely on February 28th that Kronstadt went into action.

On that February 28th, the crew of the battleship Petropavlovsk, who had been for several days in a state of agitation, adopted a resolution which quickly gained the support of another warship, the Sebastopol. The movement extended rapidly to the whole fleet and won over the Red regiments of the garrison. Several delegations of sailors were sent to Petrograd to establish a closer connection with the workers there and to obtain exact information about the situation. This activity of the sailors was entirely peaceful and loyal. It gave moral support to certain of the workers' demands, which was not at all abnormal in a "Workers' State" directed by a "proletarian government."

On March 1st, a public meeting took place in Anchor Square. It was officially called by the 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the Baltic Fleet, and the announcement appeared in the organ of the Kronstadt Soviet. On the same day, Kalinin, the president of the All-Russian Central Executive, and Kuzmin, the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, arrived at Kronstadt. Kalinin was received with military honours, music and unfurled banners.

Sixteen thousand sailors, Red soldiers and workers attended the meeting. The chair was taken by the President of the Executive Committee of the Kronstadt Soviet, the Communist Vassilieff. Kalinin and Kuzmin were present.

The delegates who had been sent to Petrograd made their reports. Highly indignant, the meeting expressed its disapproval of the methods employed by the Communists in putting down the legitimate aspirations of the Petrograd workers. The resolution adopted the previous day by the Petropavlovsk was then brought before the assembly. During, the discussion, President Kalinin and Commissar Kuzmin attacked the resolution, the Petrograd strikes and the Kronstadt sailors with extreme violence. But their speeches had no effect. The resolution of the Petropavlovsk was put to a vote by a seaman named Petrichenko and was approved unanimously. Commissar Kuzmin noted the event in these words: "The resolution was adopted by the overwhelming majority of the Kronstadt garrison. It was brought up at the general meeting of the city on March 1st, in the presence of nearly 16,000 citizens, and unanimously adopted. The President of the Executive Committee of Kronstadt, Vassilieff, and Comrade Kalinin, voted gainst the resolution."

Here is the complete text of this historic document:

"Resolution of the General Meeting of the 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the Baltic Fleet, held on March 1st, 1921.

"After having heard the reports of the delegates sent to Petrograd by the general meeting of the crews to examine the situation, the assembly decided that, since it has been established that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and peasants, it is necessary:

1. to proceed immediately to the re-election of the Soviets by secret ballot, the electoral campaign among the workers and peasants to be carried on with full freedom of speech and action;

2. to establish freedom of speech and press for all workers and peasants, for the Anarchists and the Left Socialist parties;7

3. to accord freedom of assembly to the workers' and peasants' organisations;

4. to convoke, outside of the political parties, a Conference of the workers, Red soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt and the Petrograd province for March 10th, 1921, at the latest;

5. to liberate all Socialist political prisoners and also all workers, peasants, Red soldiers and sailors, imprisoned as a result of the workers' and peasants' movements;

6. to elect a commission for the purpose of examining the cases of those who are in prisons or concentration camps;

7. to abolish the 'political offices', since no political party should have privileges for propagating its ideas or receive money from the State for this purpose, and to replace them with educational and cultural commissions elected in each locality and financed by the government;

8. to abolish immediately all barriers;8

9. to make uniform the rations of all workers, except for those who are engaged in occupations dangerous to their health;

10. to abolish the Communist shock-troops in all units of the army and the Communist guards in the factories; in case of need, guard detachments could be supplied in the army by the companies and in the factories by the workers;

11. to give the peasants full freedom of action in regard to their land and also the right to possess cattle, on condition that they do their own work, that is to say, without hiring help;

12. to establish a travelling control commission;

13. to permit the free exercise of handicrafts, provided no hired help is used;

14. we ask all units of the army and the kursanti cadets to join our resolution;

15. we demand that all our resolutions be widely publicised in the press.

This resolution was adopted unanimously by the meeting of the crews of the Squadrons. Two persons abstained.

Signed: Petrichenko, president of the meeting: Perepelkin, secretary."

It is unfortunate that the translated text does not reflect the resolution's popular tone, its "rustic" style, its candid air, which are further proofs that the movement was entirely in the hands of the workers themselves, that it expressed precisely their ideas and aspirations, without outside influence or intrigue.

Since the term of the Kronstadt Soviet was about to expire, the meeting decided to call a conference of delegates from the ships, garrison, workshops, unions and various Soviet institutions for March 2nd, to discuss the details of new elections. This decision was perfectly in conformity with the Soviet constitution. The conference was officially and regularly announced in the Izvestia, the official organ of the Soviet.

On March 2nd, more than 300 delegates met in the Hall of Education, the former Engineers' School. The great majority of them belonged to no political party, and the Communists were in the minority. Nevertheless, according to custom, the reporter on the question: "The duties and tasks of the conference of delegates", was chosen from among them.

The meeting was opened by the sailor Petrichenko. It elected publicly a board of five members. One of these later declared that the members of the conference were exclusively sailors, Red soldiers, workers and Soviet employees. Naturally, there was not among the delegates a single "officer of the old regime" (an accusation later launched by the Petrograd Communists).

The business of the meeting was the new elections to the Soviet. It was desired that they be organised on a freer and more equitable basis, taking account of the resolution adopted the day before. A Soviet capable of fulfilling the tasks established therein was desired.

The spirit of the conference was "Soviet" in the full sense of the word. Kronstadt demanded Soviets free from all political influence, Soviets which would truly represent the aspirations of the workers and express their will. This did not prevent the delegates, who were adversaries of the arbitrary regime of bureaucratic Commissars but not of the Soviets, from being loyal, from sympathising with the Communist Party as such, or from desiring a peaceful solution for the urgent problems that existed.

But let us tell the story in the words of the Kronstadters themselves. Here is an account which appeared in the Izvestia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee of Kronstadt, No. 9, March 11, 1921.


On March 1, at 2 p.m., a meeting of sailors, red soldiers and workers took place on Revolution Square, not arbitrarily but with the authorization of the Executive Committee of the Soviet.

There were 15,000 people at the meeting. It was presided over by Comrade Vassilieff, president of the Executive Committee. Comrade Kalinin, president of the Ail-Russian Executive, and Kuzmin, Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, attended.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the resolution previously adopted by the general meeting of the 1st and 2nd Squadrons, concerning the current situation and the ways to emerge from the present state of disorganization of the country.

This "resolution" is now known by everyone. It contains nothing which could threaten the power of the Soviets.

On the contrary, it clearly expresses the idea of the real power of the Soviets: the power of the workers and the peasants.

Comrades Kalinin and Kuzmin, who gave speeches, did not want to understand it. But their speeches had no echoes. They were not able to win over the masses, who are tormented to the point of anguish. And the meeting voted unanimously in favor of the resolution of the Squadrons.

The next day (March 2nd) with the knowledge and authority of the executive committee and in conformity with instructions published in the Izvestia, delegates from the ships, the garrison, the workshops and the unions, two from each organization, met in the Hall of Education (the former Engineers' School), in all more than three hundred persons.

The representatives of the authorities were perturbed. Some even left the city. In these conditions, the crew of the battleship Petropavlovsk felt obliged to assume guard of the building and protect the delegates against possible excesses, from whatever source they might come.

The conference was opened by Comrade Petrichenko. After the election of a board of five members, he gave the floor to Comrade Kuzmin, Commissar of the Baltic Fleet. Despite the very clear position taken by the garrison and the workers against the representatives of the Communist power, Comrade Kuzmin refused to recognize it.

The task of the conference was to find a peaceful solution to the existing situation. In particular, it had to create an organ by which the re-election of the Soviet could be effected on a more equitable basis, as the resolution had proclaimed. This task was all the more urgent since the powers of the preceding Soviet, composed almost entirely of Communists and clearly incapable of solving the absolutely vital problems, had come to the end of its term.

But instead of reassuring the delegates, Comrade Kuzmin, on the contrary antagonized them. He spoke of the equivocal position of Kronstadt, of the Polish danger, of all Europe which was watching us. He maintained that all was peaceful in Petrograd. He emphasized that he was in the hands of the delegates, who could shoot him if they wished. And, in conclusion, he declared: "If the delegates want an open armed conflict, they can have it. For the Communists do not give up power voluntarily. They fight to the finish."

This stupid speecli of Comrade Kuzmin did nothing to calm the feelings of the delegates. On the contrary, it increased their irritation. As for the vague and colourless speech of the President of the Executive Committee, Vassilieff, who followed him, it passed unnoticed. The overwhelming majority of the delegates were manifestly hostile to the Communists.

Nevertheless, the delegates did not lose hope of finding some common ground with the representatives of the authorities. The appeal of the president of the conference to get to work and draw up:an agenda for the day was unanimously approved . . .

The conference did not conceal its disapproval of the Communists. But when the question was raised whether the Communist delegates should remain at the conference to continue the common task with the non-party delegates, the meeting responded affirmatively. In spite of several protests and the proposal of some delegates to arrest the Communists, the delegates [as a whole] did not accept this position, considering that the Communists present were delegates of units and organizations just like the rest.

This fact proved again that the non-party delegates of the workers, as well as the Red soldiers, sailors and workers [of Kronstadt] themselves, did not consider the resolution adopted at the meeting of the day before as necessarily leading to a rupture with the Communists as a party. They still hoped to be able to find a common language.

Next at the suggestion of Comrade Petrichenko, the resolution of the preceding day was read. It was adopted by the overwhelming majority of the delegates. Then, at the very moment when the conference seemed ready to begin concrete work, the delegate of the battleship Sebastopol requested the floor for an urgent statement. He declared that fifteen truckloads of troops with rifles and machine-guns were on their way to the meeting place. Subsequent investigation revealed that this false news had been spread by the Communists to scuttle the conference. But at the time it was communicated -- especially in view of the general tension and the hostile position taken by the representatives of the authorities towards the conference all the circumstances led the delegates to believe it.

Nevertheless, the. president's proposal to go on to a discussion of current business, taking the adopted resolution as a point of departure, was accepted. The conference began to discuss measures to be taken to implement the clauses of the resolution effectively. The idea of sending a delegation to Petrograd was voted down since its members would certainly be arrested. After this, several delegates proposed that the board of the conference be constituted a Provisional Revolutionary Committee, and that it be in charge of preparing for the re-election of the Soviet.

At this moment, the president announced that a detachment of two thousand men was on its way to the meeting place. Very upset and excited, the anxious delegates left the Hall of Education. The session ending by reason of this last communication, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee, which was in charge of maintaining order, installed itself on the battleship Petropavlovsk and there established its seat until the day when, thanks to its efforts, order could be assured in the city to the best interests of all the toilers-whether sailors, soldiers or workers.

We should add to this statement several details reported later by one of the members of the Revolutionary Committee. The decision to create this Committee, passed unanimously a few minutes before the closing of the session and under the influence of all the alarming rumours and of the threats of Kuzmin, Kalinin and Vassilieff, specified that "the Board of the conference and President Petrichenko be provisionally in charge of fulfilling the duties of a Revolutionary Committee during the time necessary to create such a committee in a more formal manner."

A further fact to be emphasised is that soon after the public meeting on March 1st, the Communists of Kronstadt began serious preparations for military action against the movement. The local Communist Committee, in particular, undertook to heavily arm the party members. It ordered the Commissar of the fortress to draw upon the arms supply and issue rifles, machine guns and ammunition to the Communist cells. It is beyond doubt that the Communist leaders of Kronstadt would have opened hostilities on March 2nd, and prevented the conference of delegates from meeting if an unforeseen circumstance had not thwarted their project.

Out of almost two thousand Communists enrolled at Kronstadt, the great majority were only card carriers who had joined the party for personal reasons and not from conviction. As soon as the resistance began, the mass of the Communists abandoned their leaders and joined the general movement. The chiefs alone, even with the support of a certain number of kursanti, stationed at Kronstadt and blindly devoted to the party, could not hope to resist the fleet, the garrison and the whole population. That is why the leaders abandoned the idea of an immediate armed conflict inside Kronstadt. Some of them fled. Others went to the surrounding forts to try and arouse them against the movement. The kursanti followed them. They visited one fort after another, but found none of the support they sought. Finally, they went to Red Point (Krasnaia Gorka). It was thus that, on the evening of March 2nd, Kronstadt had no other power than that of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee.

On March 3rd, the first number of the Izvestia (News) of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee appeared. On the front page was a kind of manifesto, which read as follows:

"To the population of the Fortress and City of Kronstadt.

"Comrades and citizens, our country is going through a difficult period. For three years already, famine, cold and economic chaos have gripped us in their terrible vice. The Communist Party, which governs the country, has lost contact with the masses and has revealed itself powerless to pull them out of their condition of general collapse. The party has paid no attention to the disturbances which have taken place recently in Petrograd and Moscow and which have demonstrated clearly that it has lost the confidence of the working masses. Moreover, it has paid no attention to the demands presented by the workers. It considers them all to be the snares of the counter-revolution. It is deceiving itself profoundly.

"These disturbances and demands are the voices of the whole people, of all who labour. All the workers, sailors and Red soldiers see clearly today that only common efforts and a common will on the part of the workers can give the country bread, wood and coal, can clothe and warm the people, can get the Republic out of the impasse in which it finds itself.

"This will of all the workers, soldiers and sailors was clearly manifested at the great meeting of our city on Tuesday, March 1st. The meeting voted unanimously for the resolution of the crews of the 1st and 2nd Squadrons.

"One of the decisions adopted was to proceed immediately to the re-election of the Soviet. To establish more equitable bases for this election, of such a kind that the representation of the workers in the Soviet may be effective, and that the Soviet may be an active and energetic organ, the delegates of all organisations of the navy, the garrison and the workers met on March 2nd, at the Hall of Education. This meeting was to draw up a basis for the new elections and then begin a constructive and peaceful task, the work of reorganising the Soviet system.

"But, since, after threatening speeches by the representatives of power, they had reason to fear repression, the delegates decided to create a Provisional Revolutionary Committee and gave it full powers over the administration of the city and the forts. The Provisional Committee has its seat on the battleship Petropavlovsk.

"Comrades and Citizens! The Provisional Committee is primarily concerned with preventing bloodshed. It has made every effort to maintain revolutionary order in the city, in the fortress and in the forts.

"Comrades and Citizens do not stop work! Workers, remain at your machines. Sailors and soldiers, do not leave your posts. All employees, all institutions should keep on working.

"The Provisional Revolutionary Committee calls on all the workers' organisations, all the unions, maritime and otherwise, all the land and sea units, as well as all the citizens individually, to give their support. Its mission is to ensure, in fraternal cooperation with you, the necessary conditions for just and honest elections to the new Soviet. Therefore, comrades, let there be order, calm, composure. Let all perform their honest socialist work for the benefit of the workers.

Kronstadt, March 2nd, 1921. Signed: Petrichenko, chairman of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee; Toukin, secretary."

The same issue contained the famous resolution of the Squadrons, and also several administrative notes, including the following: "On March 2nd, by 9 p.m., all the Red units of the fortress and the majority of the forts declared their solidarity with the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. All institutions and communication services are guarded by the Committee's patrols."

* * *

The Bolsheviks did not lose an instant in preparing an attack on Kronstadt. From the beginning they realised that this movement could result in catastrophe for them. Therefore they decided to extinguish it at any cost, and as quickly as possible, before it could spread.

Simultaneously, they adopted several measures. 1. They hastened to assure their control of the important strategic points around Kronstadt and Petrograd, such as Red Point (Krasnaia Gorka), Oranienbaum, Lissy Noss, etc. 2. They maintained a state of siege in Petrograd and took extraordinary repressive military measures to safeguard "order". 3. They made certain concessions -- we have mentioned the suppression of the "barriers" around the capital -- in order to calm the workers.9 They proceeded, under Trotsky's supreme command, to organise rapidly a special army corps to attack Kronstadt. 5. They began a violent campaign of lies and slanders against the men of Kronstadt for the purpose of misleading public opinion and justifying their own actions.

This rabid propaganda began on March 2nd. In the second issue of the Izvestia of the (Kronstadt) Revolutionary Committee, on March 3rd, we find a news item [reproducing a radiogram sent out from Moscow and intercepted by the battleship Petropavlovsk. It ran as follows]:

"Rosta Radio News, Moscow, March 3rd.

"To all! To all! To all! To arms against the White-guard conspiracy!

"The mutiny of the ex-general Kozlovsky and the battleship Petropavlovsk has been organised by spies of the Entente, as was the case in numerous previous plots. This can be seen by reading the French bourgeois newspaper, Le Matin, which, two weeks before Kozlovsky's revolt, published the following telegram from Helsingfors: 'It has been learned from Petrograd that following the recent rebellion at Kronstadt, the Bolshevik military authorities have taken steps to isolate Kronstadt and prevent the Kronstadt sailors and soldiers from approaching Petrograd. The provisioning of Kronstadt has been stopped until order is restored.' It is clear that the secession of Kronstadt was directed by Paris, that the French counter-espionage is mixed up in it. Always the same story! The Social-Revolutionaries, directed by Paris, plot rebellion against the Soviet government, and as soon as their preparations are completed, the real master -- a Tsarist general -- makes his appearance. The story of Kolchak, who tried to regain power with the help of the Social-Revolutionaries, is repeated again. All the enemies of the workers, from the Tsarist general to the Social-Revolutionaries, try to speculate on hunger and cold. Naturally, this rebellion of the generals and the Social-Revolutionaries will be quickly suppressed and General Kozlovsky and his assistants will meet the same fate as Kolchak.

"But it is beyond doubt that the net of Allied espionage is not thrown over Kronstadt alone. Workers and Red soldiers, break that net! Unmask the spies and provocateurs! You must have composure, self-control, vigilance! Do not forget that the real way to overcome the food and other problems, which are temporary but certainly painful, is by intensive work and good judgment, and not by senseless excesses which can only add to the misery of the workers and the greater joy of their accursed enemies."

By every means at its disposal-military orders, proclamations, pamphlets, notices, articles in newspapers, radio bulletins, the government spread and imposed these unqualified lies. It must not be forgotten that, all means of propaganda and information being in its hands, no free voice could make the truth known.

In No. 4 of the Kronstadt Izvestia (March 6), we read the following:


We bring to everyone's knowledge the contents of a proclamation thrown over Kronstadt from a Communist plane.

The citizens feel nothing but contempt for this slanderous provocation.

The people of Kronstadt know how and by whom the hateful power of the Communists has been overthrown.

They know that the Provisional Revolutionary Committee is headed by elected, devoted militants -- the best sons of the people: red soldiers, sailors and workers.

They will not let anyone shackle them, and least of all Tsarist generals or White guards.

"In a few more hours you will have to surrender," threaten the Communists.

Foul hypocrites, whom do you think you're fooling?

The Kronstadt garrison never surrendered to Tsarist admirals, and it will not surrender to Bolshevik generals.

You're cowards! You know our power and our will to triumph or to die proudly and not to run away like your Commissars, their pockets filled with Tsarist bank notes or gold, products of the labor and the blood of the workers.

The same issue of the Izvestia (No. 4) reproduced, for the edification of its readers, the following report broadcast by the Radio Station in Moscow:


"To the deceived people of Kronstadt.

"Do you see where the rascals have led you? Here is your position. The greedy fangs of former Tsarist generals are already showing themselves behind the Social-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. All these Petrichenkos and Toukins are manipulated like puppets by the Tsarist general Kozlovsky, Captain Borkser, Kostromitinoff, Chirmanovsky and other proved White guards. They are duping you! They tell you that you are struggling for democracy, but two days have hardly passed and you see that you are not really fighting for democracy but for Tsarist generals. You have permitted a new Wiren4 to put a rope around your necks.

"They lie to you that Petrograd is with you, that Siberia and the Ukraine support you. All these are only cynical lies. The last sailor in Petrograd turned his back on you when he learned that Tsarist generals like Kozlovsky were among you. Siberia and the Ukraine firmly defend the Soviet power. Petrograd, the Red city, sneers at the pitiful pretensions of a handful of Social-Revolutionaries and White guardists.

"You are completely surrounded. In a few more hours you will have to surrender. Kronstadt has neither bread nor fuel. If you persist you will be shot like partridges. Naturally, all these generals -- Kozlovsky and Borkser-all the wretches like Petrichenko and Toukin, will flee at the last moment to the White guardists in Finland. But you others, simple deceived sailors and Red soldiers, where will you go? If they are promising to provide for you in Finland, they are fooling you again. Don't you know that the soldiers of General Wrangel, led away to Constantinople, died like flies of hunger and disease? The same fate awaits you if you don't come to your senses immediately.

"Surrender right away, without losing a moment! Lay down your arms and come over to us! Disarm and arrest the criminal leaders, especially the Tsarist generals! The errors of anyone who surrenders immediately will be forgiven. Surrender immediately! Petrograd Defence Committee."

The same insinuations were made in a radiogram of the Petrograd Soviet; the text is reproduced in the same issue of the Izvestia, preceded by the following introduction:

Station T.S.F. of the Petropavlovsk has intercepted the following radiogram, which confirms the fact that the Communists are continuing to deceive not only the workers and the red soldiers, but also the members of the Petrograd Soviet.

But they will not succeed in deceiving the Kronstadt garrison or its workers.

Finally, Izvestia No. 5 (March 7) communicates a new and very long Moscow radiogram.

Before reproducing it, the journal comments on it with a note headed: "They are still lying."

The journal refutes the Bolshevik inventions in the following terms:

We have just learned, according to the information of the Rosta radio, that everyone is in alliance with us-the Allies and the French spies, the White guards and the Tsarist generals, the Mensheviks, the Social-Revolutionaries, the Finnish bankers, in short, the whole world rushes down upon the poor Communists. And we, the Kronstadters, are the only ones who know nothing about it.

This document of Communist stupidity is frankly comical. We reproduce it to provide the people of Kronstadt with a few moments of fun.

Due to its length, we cannot reproduce the radiogram in its entirety. We limit ourselves to citing some typical passages:

". . .On March 2nd, the Labour and Defence Council ordered: 1. That the former General Kozlovsky and his partisans be declared outlaws; 2. That a state of war be declared in the city and province of Petrograd; 3. That supreme power over the whole district be placed in the hands of the Petrograd Committee . . .

"Petrograd is absolutely calm, and even the few factories where certain individuals have recently hurled accusations against the government have understood the provocation; they have realized where the agents of the Allies and the counter-revolution have dragged them . . .

"It is at the very moment when the Republican Party in America has just assumed power and shows itself disposed to resume commercial relations with Soviet Russia that the spreading of false rumours and the fomentation of disorders at Kronstadt are organized to impress the new American president and prevent a change of American policy in Russia.

"The conference in London is taking place at the same time. The spreading of such rumours seeks to influence the Turkish delegation and make it subservient to the requirements of the Allies. The revolt of the crew of the Petropavlovsk is without any doubt a stage in the great conspiracy to create internal difficulties in Soviet Russia and disturb the international situation. This plan is put into effect in Russia by a Tsarist general and by ex-officers with the support of Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries."

A name continually recurs in all these documents -- that of a certain General Kozlovsky, the pretended leader and master of the movement. There was, in fact, at Kronstadt a Tsarist ex-General of the name of Kozlovsky. It was Trotsky, the great restorer of ex-generals of the Tsar as military specialists, who put him there as an artillery expert. While this person was in the employ of the Bolsheviks, they closed their eyes to his past. But when Kronstadt revolted, they took advantage of the presence of their "specialist" to create a scapegoat.

In fact, Kozlovsky did not play any part in the events at Kronstadt, nor did his "aides," who were mentioned by the Bolsheviks-Borkser, Kostromitinoff and Chirmanovsky, one of whom was a simple draughtsman. But the Bolsheviks exploited their names skilfully to denounce the sailors as enemies of the Republic and present their movement as counterrevolutionary. Communist agitators were sent into the mills and factories of Petrograd and Moscow to call upon them to take a stand against Kronstadt, "that nest of the White conspiracy, directed by General Kozlovsky," and "to associate themselves with the support and defense of the Workers' and Peasants' Government against the White guard rebellion at Kronstadt."

Kozlovsky himself could only shrug his shoulders when he learned of the role which the Bolsheviks made him play in the events. He said later that the Bolshevik commander of the fortress had fled soon after the establishment of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. According to the Bolshevik rules, it was the artillery chief -- General Kozlovsky as it happened -- who should have replaced him. But since these rules were no longer in force, the Communist power being replaced by that of the Revolutionary Committee, Kozlovsky refused to accept the post. The Revolutionary Committee therefore designated another specialist, a certain Solovianoff, as commander of the fortress. As for Kozlovsky, he was put in charge of directing the technical services of the artillery. His "aides," absolutely insignificant persons, also remained entirely outside the movement.

At the same time, by a historical irony, it was an important Tsarist ex-officer, the famous Tuchachevsky (later shot by the order of Stalin) who assumed, at Trotsky's direction, the command of the forces destined to act against Kronstadt. Furthermore, all the "specialists" and sentinels of Tsarism who had gone over to the service of the Bolsheviks participated in drawing up the plan of the siege and the attack on Kronstadt. As for the men of Kronstadt, who were so slandered by their cynical opponents, they had at their disposal, as technical and military experts, the pallid figure of Koz-lovsky and three or four other persons who were absolute nonentities from a political point of view.

The Kronstadt movement broke out spontaneously. If this movement had been the result of a plan conceived and prepared in advance, it would certainly not have occurred at the beginning of March, the least favourable time. A few weeks later, and Kronstadt, freed of ice, would have become an almost impregnable fortress, having at its disposal a powerful fleet, a terrible threat to Petrograd. Supplied from abroad, Kronstadt could not only have held out for a long time, but it might even have conquered. The greatest opportunity of the Bolshevik government was precisely the spontaneity of the movement and the absence of any premeditation, of any calculation, in the action of the sailors.

There was no "revolt" at Kronstadt, in the true sense of the word. There was a spontaneous and peaceful movement, absolutely legitimate and natural in the given circumstances, which rapidly embraced the whole city, the garrison and the fleet. Frightened for their power, their positions and their privileges, the Bolsheviks forced events and obliged Kronstadt to accept an armed struggle.

Naturally, Kronstadt did its best to reply to the Bolshevik insinuations and slanders. Through its newspaper and its radio stations, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee made known to the labouring masses of Russia and the world the real goals and aspirations of their movement, at the same time refuting the lies of the Communist government. Thus Izvestia No. 4, for March 6th, reproduced the following radio appeal of the Revolutionary Committee:

To all! To all! To all! Comrades, workers, Red soldiers and sailors!

Here, in Kronstadt, we know how you suffer -- you, your wives and your starving children -- under the yoke of the Communist dictatorship.

We have overthrown the Communist Soviet. In a few days, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee will proceed to the election of a new Soviet which, freely chosen, will accurately reflect the will of all the working population and the garrison, and not that of a handful of crazy "communists."

Our cause is just. We are for the power of the Soviets and not that of the parties. We are for the free election of the representatives of the working masses. The false Soviets, monopolized and manipulated by the Communist Party, have always been deaf to our needs and our requests: the only response that we have received has been the assassin's bullet.

Now, your patience, the patience of the workers, being at an end, they want to stop your mouths with sops. By order of Zinoviev, the barriers are suppressed in Petrograd province, and Moscow allocates ten million gold roubles to buy food and articles of primary necessity abroad. But we know that the proletariat of Petrograd will not let itself be bought with these sops. Over the heads of the Communists, revolutionary Kronstadt extends its hand and offers you its fraternal assistance.

Comrades, not only are they fooling you, but they are impudently distorting the truth, they are resorting to the vilest falsifications. Comrades do not let yourselves be deceived. At Kronstadt, power is exclusively in the hands of the revolutionary sailors, soldiers and workers, and not in those of the "counter-revolutionaries directed by one Koz-lovsky," as the lying Moscow radio tries to make you believe.

Do not hesitate, comrades! Unite with us! Establish contact with us! Demand that your non-party delegates be authorized to come to Kronstadt. They alone can tell you the truth and unmask the shameful slander about "Finnish bread" and the snares of the allies.

Long live the revolutionary proletariat of the cities and the fields! Long live the power of freely elected Soviets!

In Izvestia No. 10, on March 12th, the Committee issued the following specific refutation of the story of Kronstadt being dominated by Tsarist generals:


The Communists insinuate that White-guard generals and officers, and a priest, are among the members of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. In order to put an end to these lies, once and for all, we bring to their attention that the Committee is composed of the following fifteen members:

1. Petrichenko, yeoman 1st class, on board the Petropavlovsk.

2. Yakovenko, telephone operator of the Kronstadt district.

3. Ossossonoff, mechanic on the Sebastopol.

4. Arhipoff, quartermaster mechanic.

5. Perepelkin, mechanic on the Sebastopol.

6. Patrouchev, quartermaster mechanic on the Petropavlovsk.

7. Koupoloff, medical orderly, first class.

8. Verchinin, seaman on the Sebastopol.

9. Toukin, electrical worker.

10. Romanenko, guard at the ship-repair shops.

11. Orechin, employee at the 3rd technical school.

12. Valk, carpenter.

13. Pavloff, worker in the mine workshop.

14. Baikoff, carter.

15. Kilgast, steersman.

Reproducing the same list on March 14th (No. 12), the paper concluded with this ironical remark: "Such are our generals, our Brusiloffs, Kameneffs, etc.10 The policemen Trotsky and Zinoviev are concealing the truth from you."

In their campaign of slander the Bolsheviks sought not only to distort the spirit and goal of the movement, but also the acts of the men of Kronstadt. Thus they spread the rumour that the Communists in Kronstadt suffered all kinds of violence at the hands of the "mutineers." Repeatedly, Kronstadt reiterated the truth about this matter. In No. 2 of Iz-vestia, for example, there is the following note:

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee is anxious to give the lie to the rumours according to which the arrested Communists have been subjected to violence. The arrested Communists are completely safe.

Furthermore, of the several Communists arrested, some have been set free. A representative of the Communist Party will be a member of the commission for investigating the reasons for the arrests. The Communist comrades Ilin, Kabanoff and Pervouchin have applied to the Revolutionary Committee and have been authorized to visit the prisoners confined on the Petropavlovsk. These comrades confirm the above and sign their names. Signed: Ilin, Kabanoff, Pervouchin. Signed, for a fair copy: N. Arhipoff, member of the Revolutionary Committee. Signed, for the secretary: P. Bogdanoff.

The same issue also published, over the signature of the above Communists, an "Appeal of the Provisional Board of the Kronstadt Section of the Communist Party." For comprehensible reasons, the terms of this "Appeal" addressed to the Communists are prudent and vague. Nevertheless, it includes the following significant passage:

Do not give any credence to the false rumours which maintain that responsible Communists have been shot, and that the Communists intend to rebel at Kronstadt with arms in hand. These are lies propagated with the intention of provoking bloodshed. The Provisional Board of the Communist Party recognises the necessity of new elections for the Soviet and it requests the members of the party to remain at their posts and put no obstacles in the way of the measures of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. Provisional Board of the Kronstadt Section of the Communist Party: Signed -- J. Ilin, A. Kabanoff, F. Pervouchin.

Various answers were given in brief notes, which appeared from time to time under the title: Their Lies.

In Izvestia No. 7 (March 9), we read:


The commander of the army which is operating against Kronstadt has just communicated the following report to a writer in The Red Commander:

"We are informed that the civil population of Kronstadt is receiving hardly any provisions. The sharpshooters' regiment in the Kronstadt garrison refuses to join the mutineers and has resisted an attempt to disarm them. The principal leaders of the rebellion are getting ready to flee to Finland. A non-party sailor fleeing from Kronstadt states that at the meeting of the sailors at Kronstadt on March 4th, the floor was taken by General Kozlovsky. In his speech, he demanded strong power and decisive action against the partisans of the Soviets.

"At Kronstadt, morale is low. The population is depressed. It is waiting impatiently for the end of the rebellion and asks that the White guard leaders be turned over to the Soviet government."

That is what the Communists are telling about the events; such are the means to which they have recourse in order to sully our movement in the eyes of the labouring people.

In Number 12 (March 14):


We reproduce verbatim the notes which have appeared in the March 11 th issue of the Petrograd Pravda:

"Armed struggle at Kronstadt. The following communication was received yesterday at 8 p.m. by the Defence Committee from Comrade Tukhachevsky, Commander of the Army at present at Oranienbaum: Heavy firing has been heard at Kronstadt -- rifle shots and machine-gun fire. Through field glasses, troops could be seen attacking, in dispersed ranks, near the mine workshop situated to the north east of the Constants fort. It is supposed that the object of the attack was either the Constantin fort or detachments revolting against the White guards and entrenched in the vicinity of the mine workshop.

"A Fire at Kronstadt. At the moment when we were taking Fort N., a great fire was observed at Kronstadt. A thick cloud of smoke enveloped the city.

"More on the Inspirers and Leaders of the Rebellion. A refugee who left Kronstadt on the night of March 7th has made the following statement on the spirit and the attitude of the White guard officers: They are very jovial. They are not at all worried about the bloodshed they have provoked. They dream of the pleasures which await them when they take Petrograd. 'Once Petrograd is in our hands, there will be at least half a pood of gold apiece. And if we lose, we can save ourselves by going to Finland where we will be received with open arms.' That is what these gentlemen declare. They feel themselves complete masters of the situation. And in fact they are. Their attitude towards the sailors does not differ in the least from that of the old Tsarist days. 'These are real leaders, not like the Communists,' the sailors say of them. They only lack the gold epaulettes.

"We make it known to the White guard officers that they should not count too heavily on flight to Finland, and that they will receive not gold, but a nice portion of lead."

In addition to the above, the Red Journal reports: "Two sailors coming from Reval state that 150 Bolsheviks have been killed in Kronstadt." That is how history is written. And that is how the Communists try to hide the truth from the people by means of lies and slanders.

In Number 13 (March 15):


We reproduce the following from the Red Journal:

"Oranienbaum, March 11th. It has been confirmed that at Kronstadt the sailors have revolted against the mutineers.

"Oranienbaum, March 12th. Yesterday, men were seen sneaking over the ice from Kronstadt towards the Finnish coast. Likewise, men were seen coming from Finland towards Kronstadt. This proves that contact exists between Kronstadt and Finland.

"Oranienbaum, March 12th. The Red pilots who flew over Kronstadt yesterday report that they saw hardly anyone in the streets. All guards and observers are missing. No further contact with Finland was observed.

"Oranienbaum, March 11th. The refugees from Kronstadt report that the morale of the sailors is very low. The leaders of the mutiny have lost all confidence in the sailors, so much so that the latter are no longer admitted into the artillery. This is manned by the officers, who hold the real power. The sailors are almost entirely eliminated from it.

"Firing from Kronstadt. According to information received today, intense firing took place at Kronstadt. Rifle and machine-gun fire was heard. Apparently a revolt has broken out."

While dishonestly accusing the people of Kronstadt of excesses and violence, the Bolsheviks themselves behaved in an absolutely dishonourable way.

"Three days ago," we read in an editorial of Izvestia No. 3, March 5th, "Kronstadt got rid of the monstrous power of the Communists, as the city got rid of the Tsar and his generals four years ago. For three days, the citizens of Kronstadt have breathed freely, delivered from the dictatorship of the party.

"The Communist leaders of Kronstadt fled shamefully like guilty urchins. They feared for their skins. They supposed that the Provisional Revolutionary Committee would have recourse to the methods of the Cheka and put them to death. Vain fears! The Provisional Revolutionary Committee does not exact vengeance. It does not threaten anyone.

"All the Communists of Kronstadt are free. No danger threatens them. Only those who tried to flee and fell into the hands of our patrols have been arrested. But even these are safe, secure from the eventual vengeance of the people who might try to make them pay for the 'Red Terror.' The families of the Communists are safe from any attack as are all the citizens.

"In view of this, what is the attitude of the Communists? In the leaflet which they dropped from an aeroplane yesterday, it says that many persons have been arrested in Petrograd,people having no connection with the events at Kronstadt. Worse than that, even their families were thrown into prison.

" 'The Defence Committee,' says the leaflet, 'declares that all these prisoners are held as hostages for the comrades arrested by the mutineers at Kronstadt, particularly for the Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, N. Kuzmin, the President of the Kronstadt Soviet, Comrade Vassilieff, and several others. The hostages will pay with their lives for the slightest injury suffered by our arrested comrades.'

"That is how the Defence Committee ends its proclamation. It is the rage of the impotent. The torturing of innocent families adds no new laurels to the fame of the Communist comrades. And, in any case, it will not be by such methods that they can regain the power which the sailors, Red soldiers and workers of Kronstadt have taken from them."

Kronstadt replied to the statements of the Communists with the following radiogram, which was reproduced in Izvestia No. 5, on March 7th:

"In the name of the Kronstadt garrison, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee demands that the families of the workers, sailors and Red soldiers held as hostages by the Petrograd Soviet be set free within 24 hours.

"The Kronstadt garrison declares that the Communists in Kronstadt enjoy complete freedom and that their families are safe from any danger. The example of the Petrograd Soviet will not be followed here, because we consider such methods as the holding of hostages to be most vile and most despicable, even when provoked by the rage of despair. History knows no like ignominy.

"Petrichenko, President of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee; Kilgast, secretary."

The Defence Committee was ruthless in Petrograd, which was inundated with troops brought in from the provinces, and subjugated to a reign of terror under the guise of "the state of seige." The Committee took systematic measures to "clean up" the city. Many workers, soldiers and sailors suspected of sympathy with Kronstadt were imprisoned. All the sailors of Petrograd, and various regiments of the army, considered "politically unreliable," were sent to distant regions.

Directed by its President, Zinovieff, the Committee assumed complete control of the city and province of Petrograd. The whole northern district was declared in a state of war, and all meetings were forbidden. Extraordinary precautions were taken to protect the government institutions, and machine guns were placed in the Astoria Hotel, occupied by Zinovieff and other high Bolshevik functionaries.

A great nervousness reigned in the city. New strikes broke out and persistent rumours were spread regarding workers' uprisings in Moscow and peasant revolts in the East and in Siberia. The population, which could have no confidence in the press, listened avidly to the most extreme rumours, even when they were manifestly false. All eyes were on Kronstadt, in the expectation of important happenings.

Meanwhile, notices posted on the walls ordered the strikers back to their employment, prohibited the suspension of work, and forbade the population from meeting in the streets. "In the event of a gathering," they read, "the troops will use arms, and in case of resistance the order is to shoot on the spot."

Petrograd was powerless to act. Subjugated to the most disgraceful terror, obliged to keep silent, the capital put all its hopes in Kronstadt.

From the first days of the movement, Kronstadt undertook the task of internal organization. It was a vast and urgent task, for many problems had to be dealt with at once.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee, whose seat was first on board the Petropavlovsk, soon moved to the People's House, in the centre of Kronstadt, so that, in the words of Izvestia, it would be "in closer contact with the population." Moreover, its membership, which was only five at the beginning, was considered insufficient to deal with all the needs of the hour, and it was soon increased to fifteen. Of the first activities of the enlarged Committee at its meeting on the 4th March, Izvestia published the following report:

"The meeting proceeded to the business of the day. It was disclosed that the city and the garrison were adequately supplied with food and fuel.

"The question of arming the workers was then taken up. It was decided that all the workers, without exception, should be armed and put in charge of guarding the interior of the city, since the sailors and soldiers wished to take their places in the combat units. This decision was received with enthusiastic approval . . .

"It was then decided to re-elect, within three days, the administrative commissions of all the unions and also of the Council of Unions. The latter would become the principal organ of the workers and would be in permanent contact with the Provisional Revolutionary Committee.

"After this, the sailors who had been able to escape, with much risk, from Petrograd, Peterhof and Oranienbaum gave reports on the situation there. They stated that the population and workers of all these localities were kept by the Communists in complete ignorance of what was happening in Kronstadt. Rumours were being spread everywhere that the White Guards and generals were active at Kronstadt. This communication aroused general laughter."

But the Revolutionary Committee and the various other organizations that were created at this time were not the only channels of action. The whole population became intensely animated and participated with new energy in the work of reconstruction. The revolutionary enthusiasm equalled that of the October days. For the first time since the Communist Party had taken over the Revolution, Kronstadt felt free. A new spirit of solidarity and fraternity reunited the sailors, the soldiers of the garrison, the workers and all other elements in a common effort for the common cause. Even the Communists were affected by the contagion of this fraternity of the whole city, and participated in the preparations for the election of the Kronstadt Soviet.

The pages of Izvestia give abundant proof of this general enthusiasm, which re-appeared once the masses felt they had regained, in the free Soviets, the true road to emancipation and the hope of achieving the real revolution. The paper abounded in notices, resolutions and appeals of all sorts, from individual citizens and from various groups and organizations, in which full rein was given to this enthusiasm, to the feeling of solidarity and devotion, to the desire to act usefully and take part in the common task.

The principle of "equal rights for all, privileges for none" was established and rigorously maintained. Food rations were equalized. The sailors, who under the Bolsheviks had received a much larger ration, decided not to accept any more than what was given to the workers and the citizens. Special rations were only given to the sick and to children.

We have just said that the general excitement affected the Communists. In fact, it reversed the opinions of many of them. The pages of Izvestia contained many declarations from Communist groups and organizations in Kronstadt which condemned the attitude of the central government and supported the line of conduct and the measures taken by the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. But even stronger evidence than that was given of a change in Communist attitudes within the city. A very large number of Kronstadt Communists publicly announced their departure from the party. In several issues of Izvestia, hundreds of names of Communists were published whose consciences forbade them to stay in the same party as the hangman Trotsky, as several put it. The resignations from the party soon became so numerous that the paper, for lack of space, had to stop announcing them and declared that it could mention them only in groups and then only when space permitted. One got the impression of a general exodus.

Several letters taken at random from a great number give an adequate impression of this sudden and significant change.

I realize that the policy of the Communist Party has brought the country to an impossible impasse. The party has become bureaucratic. It has learned nothing and wants to learn nothing. It refuses to listen to the voice of the masses and tries to impose its own will on them. (Think of the 115 million peasants!) It will not understand that only freedom of speech and the possibility for the masses to participate in the reconstruction of the country with the aid of modified electoral procedures can awaken the people from their lethargy.

I refuse henceforth to consider myself a member of the Communist Party. I entirely approve of the resolution adopted at the meeting of all the people on March 1st, and consequently I place all my abilities and energy at the disposal of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. I request that this declaration be published in the paper.

Herman Kanaiev, officer of the Red Army son of an exile of the trial of the 193. (Izvestia No. 3, March 5th)

* * *

Comrade Communists of the rank and file! Look around and you will see that we are stuck fast in a terrible morass. We have been led there by a handful of "Communist" bureaucrats who, under the disguise of Communists, have occupied the warmest nests in our Republic.

As a Communist, I beseech you to get rid of these false "Communists" who are pushing you towards fratricide. It is thanks to them that we others, rank and file Communists, who are not responsible for anything, must undergo the reproaches of our comrades, the non-party workers and peasants.

I am alarmed at the existing situation. Is it possible that the blood of our brothers will be spilt for the interests of these "Communist" bureaucrats? Comrades, come to your senses! Do not let yourselves be used by these bureaucrats who provoke and push you into the butchery. Show them the door. A real Communist should not impose his ideas, but march with the whole working mass, in the same ranks as they.

Rojkali, member of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) (Izvestia No. 7, March 9th)

* * *

Seeing that in reply to a proposal of the Kronstadt comrades to send a delegation to Petrograd, Trotsky and the Communist chiefs have sent over the first shells and have spilled blood, I request that I no longer be considered a member of the Communist Party. The speeches of Communist orators turned my head, but the acts of the Communist bureaucrats have turned it back again.

I thank the Communist bureaucrats for having shown their true face and for having thus permitted me to see my error. I was a blind instrument in their hands.

Andre Bratachev, ex-member of the Communist Party No. 537,575 (Izvestia No. 7, March 9th)

* * *

Considering that the present terrible situation is the result of the acts of an insolent handful of Communists solidly installed at the head of the party, and in view of the fact that I joined the party under pressure, as a rank-and-file militant, I observe with horror the fruit of their activities. Only the workers and peasants can save the country, which has been brought to ruin, but the Communist party which is in power has completely deceived them. For this reason 1 am leaving the party and giving my strength to the defence of the working masses.

L. Koroleff, Commander of the 5th Batt., 4th Division (Izvestia No. 7, March 9th)

* * *

Comrades, and my dear pupils of the industrial, military and naval schools! I have lived nearly thirty years with a deep love for the people. To the best of my ability 1 have brought light and knowledge to all who wanted to learn. The 1917 Revolution gave me new enthusiasm. My activity increased. I worked harder than ever to serve my ideal. The Communist slogan, "Everything for the people" inspired me by its nobility and beauty, and in February 1920 I became an applicant for membership in the Communist Party. But the first shot fired against the peaceful people, against my dear children, of whom there are 7,000 in Kronstadt, has made me tremble with horror to think that I might be considered an accomplice in the shedding of these innocents' blood. 1 know that I cannot any longer believe in or propagate an idea that has been dishonoured by criminal action. Therefore, from the first shot I ceased to consider myself a member of the Communist Party.

Maria Nikolaievna Chatel, teacher. (Izvestia No. 8, March 10th)

* * *

Since, in reply to the proposition of the Kronstadt comrades to send delegates to Petrograd, Trotsky sent an aeroplane loaded with bombs which were dropped on innocent women and children, since, moreover, they are shooting honest workers everywhere, we rank-and-file Communists of the electrical crew of the Third Region, profoundly indignant at the actions of Trotsky and his agents and at their behaving like wild beasts, are leaving the Communist Party and joining all the honest workers in the common struggle for the workers' emancipation. We request that we be considered out of the party.

(17 signatures follow -- Izvestia No. 8, March 10th)

* * *

For three years 1 have worked at Kronstadt as an instructor in the primary school and also in the army and naval units. I have always honestly marched with the workers of free Kronstadt giving them all my powers in the field of public education. The great enthusiasm for culture professed by the Communists, the class struggle of the workers against the exploiters, and the perspectives of Soviet construction, drew me into the ranks of the Communist Party. 1 became an applicant for membership on February 1st, 1920. Since my application I have observed many serious faults in the party hierarchy. I have come to the conclusion that these faults pollute the beautiful idea of Communism. The more serious faults, which have impressed the masses very unfavourably, are: bureaucracy, the rupture between the party and the masses, the party's dictatorial procedures in relation to the latter, the great number of careerists, etc. All these faults widen the bpttomless abyss between the masses and the party, transforming the latter into an organ powerless to struggle against the country's internal downfall.

The present events have uncovered the most horrible evils in the regime. When the people of Kronstadt, which has several thousand inhabitants, presented their entirely just demands to the "defenders of the interests of the workers," the bureaucratized hierarchy of the Communist Party rejected them, and, instead of reaching a free and fraternal agreement with the Kronstadt workers, opened a fratricidal fire against the workers, sailors and Red soldiers of the revolutionary city. And-this was the last straw -- the dropping of bombs by aeroplanes on defenceless women and children added a fine laurel to the Communist Party's crown.

Not wanting to share responsibility for the barbarous acts of the Communists, and disapproving of the tactics of their hierarchy, which has resulted in bloodshed and the extreme suffering of the masses, I declare openly that I no longer consider myself an applicant for Communist Party membership and entirely accept the slogan of the Kronstadt workers: "All power to the Soviets and not to the parties."

T. Denisoff, instructor at the Second Primary School (Izvestia No. 10, March 12th)

* * *

Without violence or bloodshed, the power of the Communist Party, which had lost the confidence of the masses, passed at Kronstadt to the hands of the revolutionary workers. Nevertheless, the central Government blockaded Kronstadt. It spread lying proclamations and radio messages, trying to impose its power by hunger, cold and treason.

We consider such tactics treason to the basic principles of the Social Revolution: "All power to the workers." By this treason, the Communists in power have taken the side of the enemies of the workers. For us there is now only one choice, to remain at our posts and struggle relentlessly against all those who try to impose their power on the working masses by violence, treason and provocation. We are therefore breaking off all relations with the party.

Miloradovitch, Bezsonoff, Markoff, ex-members of the Communist Party (Izvestia No. 10, March 12th)

* * *

Revolted by the behaviour of the great lord Trotsky, who did not hesitate to stain his hands with the blood of his comrade workers, I consider it my moral duty to leave the party and publish my declaration.

V.Grabedeff, candidate for party membership, President of the Building Workers' Union (Izvestia No. 10, March 12th)

Finally, we reproduce some instructive excerpts drawn from declarations of the same type. These excerpts give a very clear idea of the spirit and the attitudes which prevailed everywhere:

We, the undersigned . . . were members of the Communist Party, because we considered it an emanation of the will of the working masses. But in reality it has shown itself to be the hangman of workers and peasants. . .

(Izvestia No. 5, March 7)

* * *

We, candidates to the Communist Party . . . unanimously declare our solidarity, not with the authorities, but entirely with the just cause of the workers . . .

(Izvestia No. 7, March 9)

* * *

The parties have been preoccupied with politics. But when the Civil War was over, people wanted the party to turn to economic life and to make headway in the reconstruction of the country's ruined economy.

The peasant does not need Commissars to understand that he must give bread to the city; and the worker, in turn, will do all he can to furnish the peasant with everything the peasant needs for his work.

(Izvestia No. 11, March 13)

* * *


On March 14th, the general assembly of kursanti, officers and Red soldiers, numbering 240, who had been taken prisoner and interned in the Riding School, adopted the following resolution:

"On March 8th, we. kursanti. officers and Red soldiers of Moscow and Petrograd, received the order to attack the city of Kron-stadt. We were told that the White Guards had started a mutiny. When, without using our arms, we approached the outskirts of the city and made contact with the advance guard of the sailors and workers, we realized that no White Guard mutiny existed at Kron-stadt, but, on the contrary, that the sailors and workers had overthrown the absolutist power of the Commissars. Soon, we went over voluntarily to the side of the people of Kronstadt, and now we request the Revolutionary Committee to place us in combat units, for we want to fight beside the real defenders of the workers and peasants, both of Kronstadt and of all Russia.

"We consider that the Provisional Revolutionary Committee has taken the correct course for the emancipation of all the workers, and that only the idea of 'All power to the Soviets and not to the parties' can complete the work that has been so well begun."

(Izvestia No. 14, March 16th)

* * *

We, soldiers of the Red Army from the fort Krasnoarmeietz, are body and soul with the Revolutionary Committee. We will defend the Committee, the workers and the peasants to the end. No one can believe the lies in the Communist proclamations which have been dropped by aeroplane. We have neither generals nor masters here. Kronstadt has always been the city of the workers and peasants, and it will continue to be so.

The Communists say that we are misled by spies. This is a barefaced lie. We have always defended the liberties conquered by the revolution, and we will always defend them. If anyone wants to convince themselves of this, let him send a delegation to us. As for the generals, they are in the service of the Communists.

At the present moment, when the fate of the country is in doubt, we who have taken power into our hands and have given supreme command to the Revolutionary Committee declare to the whole garrison, and to all the workers that we are ready to die for the liberty of the working people. Freed from the Communist yoke and from the terror of the past years, we prefer to die rather than retreat a single step.

Detachment of Fort Krasnoarmeietz (Izvestia No. 5, March 7th)

A passionate love for a free Russia and an unlimited faith in the "true Soviets" inspired Kronstadt. To the end, the Kronstadtzi hoped to be supported by Petrograd first of all and then by the whole of Russia, and to be able thus to achieve the complete liberation of the country. The following manifesto was typical of their attitude:

"Comrades, sailors, workers and Red soldiers of the city of Kron-stadt!

"We, the garrison of fort Totleben, send you our fraternal greetings at this grim and tragic hour of our glorious struggle against the hated yoke of the Communists. All of us are ready, as one man, to die for the emancipation of our suffering brothers, the peasants and workers of all Russia, chained again in hateful slavery to violence and deception. We hope that soon, by determination,we shall be able to break the circle of enemies around the fortress into a thousand pieces and carry the real truth and real freedom across our land."

This note appeared in the last number of the Kronstadt Izvestia (No. 14), on March 16th, 1921. The enemy was at the gates of Kronstadt. Petrograd and the rest of the country, terrified by a formidable massing of military and police forces, was manifestly impotent to break the vice. Very little hope remained for the heroic handful of defenders in the fortress, attacked by a huge army of kursanti, blindly devoted to the government. Yet, carried away by their great ideal, by the purity of their motives, by their fervent faith in imminent liberation, the men of Kronstadt continued to hope and to fight the unequal battle.

They had not wanted an armed struggle. They had sought to resolve the conflict by peaceful and fraternal means, by free re-election of the Soviets, by an understanding with the Communists, by persuasion and free action among the working masses. The fratricidal struggle was imposed on them, but as events unfolded they became more and more determined to fight to the end for their just and noble cause.

A significant aspect of their attitude was the way in which they regarded the question of help in their action. They received offers from various sources, notably from the Right Social-Revolutionaries. But they refused all aid coming from that direction. As for the leftist groups, they only accepted their aid when it was offered in a spirit of freedom and sincerity, in devotion and fraternity and when it had no political ties. They welcomed the collaboration of friends, but they accepted no pressure, no "dictation."11

Fourteen numbers of the Izvestia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee appeared during the revolt, from the 3rd to the 16th of March. The noble, burning aspirations of the rebels for a new and truly free life for Kronstadt and for all Russia, their sublime devotion and their firm resolve to defend themselves "to the last drop of blood" in the fight that was imposed upon them, all these essential qualities were faithfully reflected in a series of articles in their paper which explained their position, formulated their objectives, sought to convince the blind and the misled, and replied as we have already seen, to the slanders and the hostile acts of the Communists.

We have run through these historic pages, which now are almost entirely unknown. They should be read and re-read by the workers of all countries, in order to put them on their guard against the fundamental errors which lost the Russian Revolution of 1917 and which threaten in advance the Revolution that may come in other countries-T.e. action under the aegis of political parties; the reconstruction of political power; the installation of a new government; the organization of a centralized state, under new slogans empty of real content, such as "Dictatorship of the Proletariat," "Proletarian Government," "Workers' and Peasants' State," etc. These newspapers, like the epic of Kronstadt itself, prove conclusively that what belongs really to the workers and peasants can be neither governmental nor statist, and that what is governmental and statist can belong neither to the workers nor the peasants.

The first issue of the Kronstadt Izvestia (March 3, 1921) contains, in addition to information and administrative notes, the Manifesto "To the Population of the Fortress and of the City of Kronstadt," and the famous sailors' "Resolution," which we have already cited.

The second issue (of March 4), which contains the Moscow radiogram (cited earlier) also contains the following significant appeal:

To the Population of the City of Kronstadt

Citizens, Kronstadt is beginning a hard fight for freedom. At any moment, we can expect a Communist offensive for the purpose of retaking Kronstadt and reimposing on us their power, which has led to famine, cold and economic breakdown.

All of us, to the last man, will defend the liberty we have won, with force and determination. We will resist the plan to subjugate Kronstadt, and if the Communists try to do it by force of arms, we will reply with a worthy resistance.

The Provisional Committee calls upon the population not to be disturbed if they hear firing. Calm and composure will bring us victory.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee

We have already quoted everything of interest in No. 3 (of March 5), except for the usual notes, declarations and information. We can nevertheless add the following paragraph:

Complete order reigns in Kronstadt. All institutions are functioning normally. The streets are full of people. Not a shot has been fired for three days.

No. 4 (of March 6th), in addition to the material cited earlier, contains the following editorial:

The calloused hands of the sailors and workers of Kronstadt have seized the rudder from the hands of the Communists and have taken possession of the helm. The Soviet ship will be sailed safely and competently to Petrograd, from which this power of the workers' hands shall spread throughout unhappy Russia.

But comrades, take care! Double your watches, for the course is full of reefs. A careless turn of the rudder and your ship, with its precious mission of social reconstruction, may run on to a rock.

Comrades, look to the rudder -- your enemies are already trying to seize it! A single error and they will succeed, and the Soviet ship will founder to the triumphant laughter of the Tsarist lackeys and the agents of the bourgeoisie.

Comrades, at this moment you are rejoicing in a great and peaceful victory over the dictatorship of the Communists. But your enemies also are rejoicing. You and they are joyful for opposite reasons. You are filled with a burning desire to re-establish the real power of the Soviets, with the noble hope of seeing the worker work freely and the peasant enjoy the right of disposing of the products of his labour on his own land. They dream of re-establishing the knout of Tsarism and the privileges of the generals.

Your interests are different. They are not your comrades. You have had to get rid of the Communist power to begin a creative task of peaceful reconstruction. They want to maintain this power so that the workers and peasants may be their slaves again. You seek liberty. They want to enslave you.

The editorial in No. 6 (March 7):

"Field-marshal" Trotsky threatens free and revolutionary Kron-stadt which has revolted against the absolutism of the Communist commisars. The workers who have overthrown the shameful yoke of the dictatorship of the Communist Party are threatened by this new kind of Trepoff12 with military defeat. He promises to bomb the peaceful population of Kronstadt. He repeats the order of the original Trepoff, "Do not economize on bullets." He will have to find plenty for the revolutionary sailors, workers and Red soldiers.

For him, the dictator of Soviet Russia which has been violated by the Communists, the fate of the working masses means nothing. The important thing is that power should remain in the hands of his party.

He has the insolence to speak in the name of Soviet Russia. He promises pardon! He, the bloody Trotsky, leader of the Communist cossacks who are pitilessly shedding torrents of blood for the benefit of party absolutism, he, the stifler of all free spirit, dares to use this language to the people of Kronstadt, who boldly and firmly uphold the red flag!

The Communists hope to re-establish their absolutism at the price of the blood of the workers and the suffering of their imprisoned families. They want to compel the rebel sailors, workers and Red soldiers to stick out their necks again. They dream of installing their evil policy, which has hurled all of labouring Russia into the pit of disorder, famine and poverty.

Enough of this! The workers will not be fooled any longer! Communists, your hopes are vain and your threats have no effect. The last phase of the Workers' Revolution is on the march. It will sweep the imposters and slanderers from the country, from the Soviets soiled with their works. And as for your Pardon, Mr. Trotsky, we do not need it!

* * *

We do not Exact Vengeance

The oppression of the working masses by the Communist dictatorship has given rise to a perfectly natural indignation and resentment among the population. As a consequence of this, several Communists have been boycotted or dismissed. This should not happen again. We do not seek vengeance; we defend our interests as workers. We must act with composure, and only eliminate those who, by sabotage or by a campaign of slander, prevent the restoration of the power and rights of the workers.

* * *

We and They

Not knowing how to preserve the power that is escaping them, the Communists are employing the vilest provocations. Their unclean press has mobilized all its forces to stir up the masses and present the Kron-stadt movement as a White-guard conspiracy. At this moment, their clique of infamous scoundrels has launched the slogan: "Kronstadt has sold out to Finland." Their newspapers vomit fire and poison. Having failed in the task of convincing the proletariat that Kronstadt is in the hands of the counter-revolutionaries, they now try to play on national sentiments.

The whole country knows already from our radio messages the reasons why the garrison and the workers of Kronstadt are fighting. But the Communists seek to distort the meaning of the events, hoping thus to deceive our brothers in Petrograd.

Petrograd is closely surrounded by the bayonets of the kursanti and the "guards" of the party. The Maliuta Skouratoff13 -- Trotsky -- does not let the non-party workers and Red soldiers come to Kronstadt. He is afraid that they will learn the truth and that the truth will immediately sweep the Communists away. For, once the eyes of the working masses are opened, their calloused hands will take power.

This is the reason why the Petrograd Soviet has not replied to a radio message requesting that they send really impartial comrades to Kronstadt. Fearing for their skins, the Communist chiefs stifle the truth and pile lie on lie. "The White guards are at work at Kronstadt." "The Finns have already organized an army to take possession of Petrograd with the help of the Kronstadt rebels," etc.

We have only one thing to reply to all this. "All Power to the Soviets." Take off your hands, your hands red with the blood of the martyrs of liberty who struggled against the White Guards, the landlords and the bourgeoisie.

Finally, the same issue contains a virtual "profession of faith": the program and testament the Kronstadt workers bequeathed to the working masses of future revolutions. Their aspirations and their hopes are firmly and lucidly expressed in this document:

The Goals for Which We Fight

In making the October Revolution, the working class hoped to obtain its emancipation. But it resulted in a worse slavery for human individuality. The power of the police monarchy passed into the hands of the usurpers -- the Communists-who, instead of giving freedom to the people, gave them the fear of the Cheka's jails, whose horrors far surpass the methods of the Tsarist police.

After long years of fighting and suffering, the Soviet Russian worker has only obtained impertinent orders, bayonet thrusts and the whistling bullets of the Cheka Cossacks. In fact, the Communist power has substituted for the glorious emblem of the workers, the hammer and sickle, another symbol -- the bayonet and the barred window, which has permitted the new bureaucracy, the Communist functionaries and commissars, to procure for themselves a tranquil and carefree existence.

But most debased and criminal of all is the spiritual slavery established by the Communists. They put their hands on the thoughts and moral life of the workers, compelling everyone to think only according to their formulae. With the aid of state unions, they have chained the workers to the machines, and transformed work into a new slavery instead of making it pleasant. To the protests of the peasants, which have gone as far as spontaneous revolts, to the demands of the workers, compelled by the very conditions of their life to resort to strikes, they reply with mass shootings and a ferocity that the Tsarist generals might have envied.

The workers' Russia, the first to raise the red flag of the emancipation of labor, is drowned in the blood of the martyrs for the greater glory of the Communist rule. With it are drowned all the great and beautiful promises and possibilities of the proletarian revolution.

It has been becoming more and more clear, and now it is evident, that the Communist Party is not, as it pretends to be, the defender of the workers. The interests of the working masses are foreign to it. After obtaining power, the Communists have only one concern -- not to lose it. For that end they consider any means are justified: defamation, deception, violence, assassination, vengeance on the families of rebels.

But the patience of the martyred workers is exhausted. The country is here and there illuminated by the fire of rebellion, of the struggle against oppression and violence. Workers' strikes are increasing. The Bolshevik bloodhounds are watchful; they are taking steps to prevent and stifle the inevitable third revolution. But in spite of everything it has come. It has been achieved by the labouring masses themselves. The generals of Communism will soon see that it is the people who have arisen, convinced of their treason to the ideas of the revolution. Fearing for their skins, and knowing that there is nowhere to which they can escape from the rage of the workers, the Communists try to terrorize the rebels, with the help of the cossacks, with prison, executions and other atrocities. Under the yoke of the Communist dictatorship, life itself has become worse than death.

The working people in revolt have realized that in the struggle against the Communists and against the restoration of the regime of serfdom they cannot stop half-way. They have to go on to the end. The Communists pretend to make concessions. They have removed the barriers in the province of Petrograd. They have allotted ten million gold roubles to buy products abroad. But no one is fooled by that. The iron fist of the master, the dictator, is hidden behind this sop, the hand of the master who, once calm is restored will make them pay dearly for these concessions.

No, there is no stopping half-way. We must conquer or die. Red Kronstadt, terror of the counter-revolutionists of the Left as well as the Right, has set the example. It is here that the great new impulse of the revolution has been achieved. Here has been raised the flag of revolt against the tyranny of the last three years, against the oppression of Communist autocracy, which has outdone all the centuries of the monarchist yoke. It is here in Kronstadt there have been laid the foundations of the Third Revolution, which will break the last chains of the workers and lay open the new highway to socialist construction.

This new revolution will succour the working masses of the East and the West, for it will set an example of a new socialist construction opposed to the mechanical and governmental Communist method. The working masses beyond our frontier will then be convinced that all that is being done here at present in the name of the workers and peasants is not socialism.

The first step in this direction has been taken without firing a shot, without spilling a drop of blood. The workers have no need of blood. They will only spill it in cases of legitimate defence. In spite of all the revolting acts of the Communists, we are sufficiently in control of our natures to confine ourselves to isolating them from social life in order to prevent them from damaging the revolutionary work with their false and malevolent agitation.

The workers and peasants are going forward irresistibly. They leave behind them the Constituent Assembly and the bourgeois regime, they leave behind them the dictatorship of the Communist Party with its Cheka and state-capitalism which tightens the noose around the necks of the workers and threatens to strangle them.

The changes that have just taken place finally offer the working masses the possibility of ensuring freely elected Soviets with no violent coercion by a party. This change also permits them to reorganize the state unions into free associations of workers, peasants and intellectuals. The police machine of the Communist autocracy is finally broken.

We cite two short articles from No. 7 (March 9). The first is a polemic:

Listen, Trotsky!

In their radio broadcasts, the Communists have dumped tons of filth on the instigators of the Third Revolution, who defend the real Soviet power against the usurpation and despotism of the commissars.

We have never concealed this fact from the population of Kron-stadt. We have always made these slanderous attacks public in our Iz-vestia. For we have nothing to fear. The citizens know how the revolt happened and by whom it was made. The workers and Red soldiers know that there are neither generals nor White Guards in the garrison.

For its part, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee has sent a radio message to Petrograd demanding the release of hostages held by the Communists in their crowded prisons (workers, sailors and their families) and also the release of political prisoners.

A second broadcast proposed the sending to Kronstadt of nonparty delegates who, having seen on the spot what.was happening here, could tell the truth to the working masses of Petrograd. What have the Communists done? They have concealed this radio message from the workers and Red soldiers. Several units of "Field Marshal" Trotsky's troops have come over to our side and brought us newspapers from Petrograd. In these papers there is not a single word about our radio message.

However, they will not get away with it for long, these tricksters who play with marked cards and cry out that they have no secrets from the people, not even diplomatic secrets. Listen, Trotsky, as long as you succeed in escaping the judgment of the people, you can shoot innocent persons in batches. But you cannot shoot the truth. It will finally make its way, and then you and your cossacks will have to meet the bill.

The second article is constructive, and was published in order to initiate a discussion about the question of the unions:

The Reorganization of the Unions

Under the dictatorship of the Communists, the duties of the unions and their administrative commissions have been reduced to a minimum. During the four years of the revolutionary syndicalist movement in "socialist" Russia, our unions have had no chance of becoming class organs. This has not been their fault. It was, in fact, the consequence of the policy of the ruling party, seeking to educate the masses by the centralist "communist" method.

In the last analysis, the work of the unions was reduced to keeping records and absolutely useless correspondence, the purpose of which was to establish the number of members in this or that union and to determine the speciality of each member, his situation in relationship to the party, etc. As for economic activity of a co-operative nature, as for cultural education of the worker members of the unions, nothing was done.

This is entirely understandable. For, if the unions were given the right to a considerable independent activity, the whole centralist system of construction undertaken by the Communists would inevitably have collapsed, which would have led to a demonstration of the uselessness of commissars and "political sections."

It was these failings that detached the workers from the unions, finally transforming the latter into nests of policemen which prevented all true union activity by the working class.

Once the dictatorship of the Communist Party is overthrown, the role of the unions should change radically. They and their re-elected administrative commissions should fulfil the great and urgent task of educating the masses for an economic and cultural renovation of the country. They should bring a new purifying spirit to this activity. They should become real representatives of the interests of the people.

The Soviet Socialist Republic cannot be strong unless its administration be exercised by the working classes, with the help of renovated unions. To work, comrade workers! Let us build new unions, free from all imposition. There lies our strength.

Izvestia No. 8 (March 10) was devoted mainly to military events: the attack on Kronstadt by the Communists and its defense.

No. 9 (March 11) contains a powerful "Appeal to the Workers and Peasants," of which we cite some essential passages:

Kronstadt has begun a heroic struggle against the hateful power of the Communists and for the emancipation of the workers and peasants ... All that is happening now was prepared by the Communists themselves, by their bloody and ruinous work, which has lasted for three years. The letters we receive from the country are full of complaints and curses in regard to the Communists. Our comrades returning from leave, burning with rage and indignation, have told us of the horrors perpetrated by the Bolsheviks throughout the country. Moreover, we ourselves have seen, heard and felt all that goes on around us. An immense, heartrending cry of distress comes to us from the fields and cities of mighty Russia. It fills our hearts with indignation and arms our hands.

We do not want to return to the past. We are not servants of the bourgeoisie or mercenaries of the Allies. We are for the power of all the workers, but not for the unlimited and tyrannical power of any single party. Neither Kolchak, nor Denikin, nor Yudenitch is operating at Kronstadt. Kronstadt is in the hands of the workers. The good sense and the conscience of the simple sailors, soldiers and workers of Kronstadt have finally found words and the course which will permit us to get out of the impasse in which we are at present . . .

In the beginning we wanted to settle everything peacefully. But the Communists did not wish to yield. More than Nicholas II, they clung to power, ready to drown the whole country in blood so that they could rule as autocrats. And that is why Trotsky, the evil genius of Russia, now launches our brothers against us. Hundreds of their bodies already cover the ice around the fortress. For four days the battle has raged, the cannons have roared, the blood of brothers has been spilt . . . For four days the heroes of Kronstadt have victoriously repelled all the attacks of the enemy. Like a hawk, Trotsky swoops over our city. But Kronstadt will hold out forever. We are all ready to die rather than capitulate . . .

Comrade workers, Kronstadt fights for you, for the starving, for those who are frozen by the cold, for those who are in rags and without shelter. As long as the Bolsheviks remain in power, there cannot be a better life.

You are supporting all this. .In the name of what? Only so that the Communists may live in ease and the commissars get fat? You still have confidence in them? In telling the Petrograd Soviet that the government had appropriated millions of gold roubles to buy various products, Zino-viev calculated that each worker would get fifty roubles' worth. That, comrade workers, is the price per head for which the Bolshevik clique hopes to buy you . . .

Comrade peasants, it is you that the Bolshevik power has deceived and despoiled the most. Where is the land that you had taken from the landlords, after dreaming of it for centuries? It is in the hands of the Communists or exploited by the Sovkhoz. And as for you, all you can do is to look at it and lick your lips. They have taken from you everything they could carry off. You are brought to complete ruin by pillage. You are exhausted by Bolshevik serfdom. They have compelled you docilely to do the will of your new masters, to starve yourselves, to seal your mouths, to leave yourselves in the most squalid poverty.

Comrades, the people of Kronstadt have raised the flag of revolt, in the hopes that tens of millions of workers and peasants would respond to their appeal. The dawn that has just broken at Kronstadt must be converted into a bright sun over all Russia. The explosion that has just taken place in Kronstadt must revive all Russia, and first of all Petrograd. Our enemies have filled the prisons with workers, but many who are sincere and courageous are still at liberty. Comrades! Arise for the struggle against the absolutism of the Communists.

The same issue contains the following note:

Their Eyes are Opened

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee and the editors of Iz-vestia are submerged by an avalanche of declarations by Communists who are leaving their party? . . . What is the meaning of this frantic flight? Is it fear of vengeance from the working people who have taken power from the Bolsheviks? No, a thousand times no!

Someone, when a working woman came to make such a declaration to us, talked of "These runaways." "We are not running away," she indignantly retorted. "Our eyes have been opened."

The blood of the workers, which has reddened the ice of the Gulf of Finland for the benefit of the fools defending their power, this blood has opened the people's eyes. All those who still retain a grain of honesty are frantically leaving the gang of demagogues. No one remains in that gang but the dishonest and the criminal -- the commissars of all grades, the Chekists, and the bigwigs fattened at the expense of the starving workers and peasants, their pockets filled with gold after having robbed the palaces, the museums and everything else that the people conquered with their blood.

All these rascals still have hopes. In vain! The people, who have overthrown the yoke of Tsarism and its police, will also get rid of the chains of Communist serfdom. The eyes of the working people are opened.

Izvestia No. 10 (March 12) does not contain anything more salient than the material already cited. We should nevertheless point out the following few lines from an article headed "The Stages of the Revolution":

A new -- communist -- slavery has taken root. The peasant has been transformed into a serf in the "soviet" economy. The worker is becoming a simple wage-worker in the State factories. The stratum of intellectual workers has been almost completely exterminated. Those who wanted to protest were thrown into the jails of the Cheka. And those who continued to act were simply lined up against the wall. Russia in its entirety has been transformed into an immense prison.

No. 11 (March 13) is devoted mainly to military events (and also contains various declarations and appeals similar to those already cited).

In No. 12 (March 14) we find the following curious article:

One Must Howl with the Wolves!

At a time of the struggle of the workers for their rights, which have been trampled under foot, one might expect that Lenin would not be a hypocrite and would speak the truth. In their minds, the workers and peasants separated Lenin from Trotsky and Zinoviev. They did not believe a single word of the latter. But as for Lenin, their confidence in him was not yet lost.

Yet on March 8th, when the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party began, Lenin repeated there all the lies about Kronstadt in revolt. He declared that the slogan of the movement was "for the Soviets but against the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks," but he did not hesitate to bring in the "White generals and the petit-bourgeois Anarchist elements."

Thus, by speaking such filth, Lenin involved himself. He let out the admission that the basis of the movement was the struggle for the power of the Soviets against the party dictatorship. But, troubled, he added: "This is another kind of counter-revolution. It is extremely dangerous, however insignificant at first sight may seem the corrections which they think our policy needs."

There is reason for him to be troubled. The blow struck by revolutionary Kronstadt is severe, and the leaders of the party feel that the end of their autocracy is near. The great distress of Lenin is manifest throughout his speech on Kronstadt. The word "danger" is constantly recurring. For example, he says: "We must have an end to this petit-bourgeois danger, which is very perilous for us, since instead of uniting the proletariat it disunites them. We need the maximum of unity." Yes, the chief of the Communists has to tremble and make an appeal for a "Maximum of unity." For the dictatorship of the Communists and also the party itself reveal a serious cleavage.

Was it indeed possible for Lenin to speak the truth? Recently, at a Communist discussion on the unions, he said: "All this bores me to death. I have had enough of it. Even apart from my illness I would be happy to throw it all up and flee, no matter where." But his partners will not let him flee. He is their prisoner. He must utter slanders, just as they do.

At the same time, the whole policy of the party is impeded by the action of Kronstadt, for Kronstadt demands, not "freedom of trade," but real Soviet power.

The same issue contains the following tirade against Zinoviev:

Vain Hopes

In the Petrograd Pravda for March 11th we read a letter from Zinoviev to the non-party comrades. This impudent camp-follower says with regret that Communist workers have become increasingly rare in the factories of Petrograd. And he conclude* that "the Communists must at all costs draw the honest non-party working men and women into the Soviet cause."

That the number of Communists in the factories should have fallen very low is only natural. Everybody is leaving the traitors' party. It is also natural that the Chekists should be trying to domesticate the nonparty workers by all means -- especially by trying to drag them into the swamp of collaboration with the Communists.

"We are therefore beginning, in an orderly,methodical way," writes this provocateur (Zinoviev), "to draw the non-party workers systematically into our work." But what honest worker would join this gang of thieves, commissars and Chekists? The workers know very well that these policemen are attempting to stifle the complaints of the labouring masses and put their vigilance to sleep with the help of certain advances and concessions, so that later they can better crush them in the vice. The workers see how their non-party comrades are treated at this moment by the Communists at Kronstadt.

"Lately," whines Zinoviev, "we have even had a great misunderstanding with the Baltic factory. But if this works realizes the plan that has been laid down and thus sets an example for others, many of its workers' errors will be pardoned."

In this the provocateur has betrayed himself, for only a few days ago the Communists assured the Kronstadt workers, over the radio, that all was well in Petrograd, and that the Baltic works was running normally. And now, in a few words, appears "a great misunderstanding" and an invitation to "set an example" for the other factories. Is something going on at the other factories as well? Was Zinoviev fooling us then, or is he fooling us now?

To gain the goodwill of the Baltic workers, the Communists promise them all the good things of this world. "We will put workers in the posts which at the moment are most important-food, supply, fuel, control of institutions, etc. We will give the non-party workers the means of taking a most active part, through the intermediary of their delegates, in the buying of products abroad with gold so as to enable the Petrograd workers to pass through this difficult period. We will start an energetic campaign against bureaucratism in our institutions. We may reprimand and criticize each other, but in basic issues we will always end by reaching an understanding." In this manner Zinoviev sings tenderly and sweetly today. He speaks to the workers in honeyed words to put them to sleep and to distract their attention from the cannon shots fired at their Kronstadt brothers.

Why have the Communists never spoken like this until now? Why have they never before done anything like this in the course of their nearly four years of ruling? It is all very simple. They could not achieve [what they are promising] before and they cannot achieve it now. We know the value of their promises and even of the scraps of paper which they call contracts.

No, the worker will not sell his liberty and the blood of his brothers for all the gold in the world. Therefore let Zinoviev abandon the empty project of "understanding." Now that their brothers of Kronstadt have risen to defend real freedom, the workers have only a single reply to give to the Communists. Provocateurs and Hangmen, relinquish your power immediately, while it is still possible for you to escape! Do not lull yourselves with your own lies.

The same issue contains an Appeal from the Provisional Revolutionary Committee, from which we cite the following passage:

When it seized power, the Communist Party promised you well-being.

But what do we see?

Three years ago we were told: "You can recall your representatives and re-elect your Soviets whenever you want."

But precisely when we in Kronstadt wanted- to re-elect Soviets which would be free from the pressure of the Party, the new Trepoff Trotsky-gave the order: "Do not economize on bullets!"

What treason!

We also asked that the workers of Petrograd be allowed to send us a delegation so that they could see who our generals are and who leads the movement.

This delegation failed to come. The Communists are afraid that a delegation will learn the truth and will communicate it to you.

The next to last issue of the rebels' Izvestia, No. 13 (March 15) contains the following editorial:

The Old Firm of Lenin, Trotsky and Co.

It has worked well -- the old firm of Lenin, Trotsky and Co. The criminal absolutist policy of the Communist Party in power has led Russia to the pit of poverty and ruin.

After that, it should be time to retreat. But alas, the tears and blood shed by the workers seem still to be insufficient. At the very moment of the historical struggle which is boldly undertaken by revolutionary Kronstadt for the rights of the working people, who are scorned and trampled on by the Communists, the flock of crows has decided to hold its Tenth Party Congress. It is plotting the means for continuing its fratricidal work with even greater success.

Their [the Communists'] effrontery attains perfection. They speak very tranquilly of "commercial concessions," and Lenin, with all the simplicity in the world, declares: "We are beginning to undertake the principle of concessions. The success of this enterprise does not depend on us. But we must do our best." And with that he admits that the Bolsheviks have put Russia into a pretty mess, for he continues: "We cannot reconstruct the country without making use of foreign techniques if we want to catch up economically with other countries. Circumstances have forced us to buy abroad not only machines, but also coal, which is plentiful at home. We will still have to make new sacrifices to keep consumer goods flowing and also to obtain the necessary supplies for the agrarian economy."

Where then are the famous economic achievements in the name of which they have turned the worker into a factory slave and the peasant into a serf of the sovkhoz?

But this is not all? . . . "If we succeed in reconstructing a great rural economy and a big industry," Lenin continues, "this will only be done by imposing new sacrifices on all the producers, with nothing in return." Such is the "well-being" for which the chief of the Bolsheviks would have everybody hope who is willing docilely to wear the yoke of Communist absolutism. He was brutally right, that peasant who declared at the Eighth Congress of the Soviets: "Everything is going splendidly . . . Only, if the land is ours, the bread is yours; if the water is ours, the fish are yours; if the forests are ours, the wood is yours. . ."

Lenin promises "to accord some favours to the small landowners, and to enlarge somewhat the areas of free economy." Like the good old master, he is proposing a few favours in order later on to crush the necks of the workers still harder in the vice of Party dictatorship. It can be seen easily in this admission: "Certainly we cannot dispense with compulsion, for the country is exhausted and sunk in a terrible poverty."

... It is thus that Lenin conceives the task of contruction: commercial concessions at the top level, and taxes below


The same issue contains the following instructive summary:

The Benefits of the \"Commune\"

"Comrades, we are going to build a new and beautiful life," thus spoke and wrote the Communists. "We are going to destroy the world of violence and build a new socialist world filled with beauty." Thus they sang to the people. Let us see what the reality is.

All the best houses, all the best apartments are requisitioned for the offices of Communist institutions. Thus only the bureaucrats find themselves living in a comfortable, agreeable and spacious manner. The number of habitable lodgings has diminished, and the workers have remained where they were before. They live crowded together in worse conditions than ever.

For the houses, not being kept in repair, are dilapidated. The heating is out of order. Broken windowpanes are not replaced. Roofs are full of holes which let the water in. Fences are falling down. Half the chimneys are broken. The toilets do not work and their contents flow all over the apartments, forcing citizens to relieve themselves in the yard or at a neighbour's house. The staircases are unlit and full of rubbish. The yards are piled with excrement, since the slit trenches, the privies, the drains and the sewers are neither cleaned nor emptied. The streets are filthy. The sidewalks are never repaired and they are uneven and slippery. It is dangerous to walk in the streets.

To obtain lodging one must have influence at a housing bureau. Without that nothing can be done; only the favourites have decent apartments.

As for food, it is even worse. Irresponsible and ignorant officials let tons of produce spoil. The potatoes which are distributed are always frozen. In spring and summer the meat is always rotten. At one time we would hardly feed pigs with what the citizens now get from the "builders of the beautiful new life." "The honest Soviet fish," the herring, has saved the situation for a long time now,but even that is getting scarce. The Soviet shops are worse than the old factory shops of unhappy memory, where the bosses kept all kinds of junk and the worker-slaves could say nothing about it.

In order to destroy family life, our rulers have invented collective restaurants. What is the result? The food is still inedible. The produce is stolen in various ways before it even reaches the citizens, who get only the leavings. The nourishment of the children is a little better, but still very inadequate. Milk especially is lacking. The Communists have requisitioned all the dairy cows from the peasants for their own sovkhoz [state farms]. Moreover, half of these animals die before reaching their destinations, and the milk of the surviving cows goes first to the rulers and then to the functionaries. Only what is left after that goes to the children.

But the hardest things to obtain are clothing and shoes. One wears, or exchanges, second-hand suits. Hardly anything is distributed. For example, one of the unions is now distributing buttons -- a button and a half per person. Is this not laughable? As for shoes, they are unprocurable.

The road to the Communist paradise is beautiful. But can one traverse it barefooted?

There are plenty of cracks through which everything necessary flows. The clientele of the so-called "co-operatives" and the rulers possess everything. They have their own restaurants and special rations as well. They also have at their disposal the "Goods Bureau," which distributes products according to the wishes of the commissars.

We have finally realized that this "Commune" has sapped and completely demoralized productive work. All desire to work, all interest in work has disappeared. Shoemakers, tailors, plumbers, etc., have all quit and dispersed. They are serving as guards, messengers, etc. Such is the paradise which the Bolsheviks have tried to build.

In place of the old regime, a new regime of despotism, insolence, favouritism, theft and speculation has been established,a terrible regime in which one must hold out his hand to the authorities for every piece of bread, for every button, a regime in which one does not belong to himself, where one cannot dispose of his own labour, a regime of slavery and degradation.

The 14th and last issue (March 16, 1921) is devoted primarily to the battle, which became increasingly desperate. We cite the following historical article, which completes the previous one:

So-Called Socialism

In making the October Revolution, the sailors and Red soldiers, the workers and peasants, spilled their blood for the power of the Soviets, for the building of a workers' republic.

The Communist Party paid close attention to the aspirations of the masses. Having inscribed on its banners attractive slogans which aroused the enthusiasm of the workers, it swept them into the struggle and promised them that it would lead them into the beautiful kingdom of socialism which only the Bolsheviks knew how to build.

Naturally, an infinite joy took possession of the workers and peasants. "At last, the slavery we endured under the yoke of landlords and capitalists is going to become a myth," they thought. It seemed as if the time of free labour in the fields, factories and workshops had come. It seemed as if power were going to pass into the hands of the workers.

By skilful propaganda, the children of the working class were drawn into the ranks of the party, where they were subjected to a rigorous discipline. Then, feeling themselves strong enough, the Communists progressively eliminated from power first the socialists of other tendencies, then they pushed workers and peasants out of many state posts, while continuing to govern in their name.

In this way the Communists have brought in the rule of the commissars, with all the despotism of personal power. Against all reason and contrary to the will of the workers, they then began stubbornly to build a state socialism with slaves, instead of building a society based on free labour.

When industry was completely demoralized, in spite of so-called "workers' control," the Bolsheviks established the nationalization of works and factories. From a slave of the capitalist the worker was transformed into a slave of state enterprises. Soon this no longer sufficed, and they planned the application of the Taylor system.

The whole mass of the peasants were declared enemies of the people and identified with the "kulaks." Very enterprisingly the Communists then set about ruining the peasants and substituting Soviet exploitation, that is to say, establishing the estates of the new agrarian profiteer, the State. That is what the peasants have obtained from the Socialism of the Bolsheviks, instead of free labour on the liberated land for which they had hoped. In exchange for bread and livestock, almost entirely requisitioned, they obtained the raids of the Chekaand mass shootings. A fine system of exchange in a workers'state -- lead and bayonets for bread!

The life of the citizen became monotonous and banal to the point of death, regulated according to the rules of the authorities. Instead of a life animated by free labour and the free development of the individual, an unprecedented and incredible slavery was born. All independent thought, all just criticism of the acts of the criminal rulers became crimes, punished by prison and often by death. Indeed, the death penalty, that disgrace to humanity, was extended in the "socialist fatherland."

Such is the beautiful kingdom of socialism to which the dictatorship of the Communist party has brought us. We have received State Socialism with Soviets of functionaries who vote docilely what the authorities and their infallible commissars dictate to them. The slogan, "He who does not work shall not eat," has been modified under this beautiful "Soviet" regime to "Everything for the Commissars." And as for the workers, peasants and intellectual workers, they have just to carry out their tasks in a prison.

This has become insupportable. Revolutionary Kronstadt has been the first-to break the chains and bars of the prison. It fights for the true Soviet republic of the workers in which the producer himself will be owner of the products of his labour and can dispose of them as he wishes.

To finish this documentation, we should point out that most of the issues of the rebels' Izvestia contained headlines which clearly expressed their demands and their feelings. We cite a few examples.






CHAPTER 5: Last Act: The End of Independence

It remains for us to discuss the last act of the tragedy -- the attack on Kronstadt, the heroic defence of the city, and its eventual fall.

In Izvestia No. 5, for the 7th March, we find details of negotiations that had been set on foot concerning the sending of a delegation from Petrograd to Kronstadt to obtain information:

"The Provisional Revolutionary Committee," reports Izvestia, "has received from Petrograd the following radiogram: 'Inform Petrograd by radio if we can send to Kronstadt from Petrograd some delegates of the Soviet, chosen from the non-party members, and also some party members, to find out what is happening.'

"The Provisional Revolutionary Committee replied immediately by radio: 'Radiogram to the Petrograd Soviet: Having received the radio message of the Petrograd Soviet, asking "if we can send from Petrograd to Kronstadt some delegates chosen from the non-party members and also some party members, to find out what is happening," we inform you that we have no confidence in the independence of your non-party members, and propose that you elect, in the presence of a delegation of ours, non-party delegates from the factories, the Red army units and the sailors. You can add 15% of Communists. It is desirable to have a reply indicating the date for sending the representatives from Kronstadt to Petrograd and the delegates from Petrograd to Kronstadt by March 6th at 18.00 hours. In case it is impossible to reply by this time, we request that you indicate your date and the reasons for the delay. Means of return should be assured to the Kronstadt delegates.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee."

In spite of these negotiations, persistent rumours were spreading in Petrograd that the government was preparing for military operations against Kronstadt. But the population did not believe it. It seemed too criminal, too incredible.

The Petrograd workers knew nothing of what was happening in Kronstadt. The only information was that given by the Communist press, and its bulletins always spoke of the "Tsarist general Kozlovsky who has organised the counter-revolutionary rebellion at Kronstadt". The population waited anxiously for the session called by the Petrograd Soviet which would decide what attitude to adopt. The Soviet met on March 4th. Only the members who were summoned could attend this meeting, and they were mainly Communists.

Here are the terms in which the Anarchist Alexander Berkman, who was allowed to attend this meeting, described it in his excellent study of the Kronstadt revolt, a study which was based on the same authentic sources as we have used in our own account.14

"As President of the Petrograd Soviet, Zinoviev declared the session open and delivered a long speech on the situation at Kronstadt. I admit that I went to this meeting disposed rather in favour of Zinoviev's point of view; the assembly was called together by reason of 'indications' of an attempted counter-revolution at Kronstadt. But Zinoviev's speech sufficed to convince me that the Communist accusations against the sailors were pure invention, without the slightest shadow of truth. I had heard Zinoviev speak on various occasions; once his premises were accepted, he had the gift of being convincing. But at this meeting his attitude, his arguments, his tone, his manner -- all reflected the falseness of his assertions, his insincerity. The protest of his conscience was obvious to me.

"The only 'piece of evidence' against Kronstadt was the famous resolution of March 1st. Its demands were just and even moderate. The fatal step was decided on the basis of this document, and of the vehement, almost hysterical, denunciation of the sailors by Kalinin. The resolution against Kronstadt, prepared in advance and presented by Yevdokimoff -- Zinoviev's right-hand man -- was accepted. The delegates were over-excited by an excess of intolerance and a kind of bloodthirsty ferocity. The adoption of the bellicose resolution took place in a great tumult and in the midst of protests by several delegates from the Petrograd factories and by representatives of the sailors. The resolution declared Kronstadt guilty of counter-revolutionary sedition; it demanded its immediate surrender. This amounted to a declaration of war.

"Many of the Communists themselves refused to believe that the said resolution would be carried out. It seemed monstrous to attack by armed force 'the pride and glory of the Russian Revolution', to use the description that Trotsky had once bestowed on the Kronstadt sailors. Among their intimate friends, many of the sensible Communists talked of leaving the party if such a bloody act were performed."

On the following day, March 5th, Trotsky published his ultimatum to Kronstadt. It was transmitted to the population of Kronstadt by radio, and appeared in the same issue of Izvestia, on March 7th, as the two radiograms regarding the sending of delegations. Naturally, all negotiations on the latter subject were immediately broken off.

Here is the text of Trotsky's ultimatum:

"The Workers' and Peasants' Government has decreed that Kronstadt and the rebelling ships shall submit immediately to the authority of the Soviet Republic. I order, in consequence, that all who have raised their hands against the Socialist Fatherland lay down their arms without delay. Recalcitrants should be disarmed and brought to the Soviet authorities. The Commissars and the other representatives of the government who have been arrested must be set free on the spot. Only those who surrender unconditionally can expect mercy from the Soviet Republic.

"I simultaneously give the order to prepare for the suppression of the rebellion and the subjugation of the sailors by armed force. All responsibility for injuries that the peaceful population may suffer rests entirely on the heads of the White-guard mutineers. This warning is final. Signed: Trotsky, President of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic. Kameneff, Commander-in-Chief."

This ultimatum was followed by an order from Trotsky containing the historic threat: "I will shoot you like partridges."

Several Anarchists who were still at liberty in Petrograd made a last effort to persuade the Bolsheviks to renounce the attack on Kronstadt. They considered it their duty to the Revolution to make this final effort to prevent the imminent massacre of the revolutionary elite of Russia, the sailors and workers of Kronstadt. On March 5th, they sent a protest15 to the Defence Committee, emphasising the peaceful intentions and just demands of Kronstadt, recalling to the Communists the heroic revolutionary role of the sailors, and proposing a method for resolving the conflict in a way worthy of comrades and revolutionaries. Here is the document in question:

"To the Petrograd Labour and Defence Committee, to President Zinovieff:

"To keep silent now is impossible and even criminal. The events which have just occurred oblige us as Anarchists to speak frankly and to set forth precisely our attitude towards the present situation.

"The spirit of discontent and unrest among the workers and sailors is the result of facts which require the most serious attention. Cold and hunger have given rise to discontent, the absence of the least possibility of discussion and criticism has forced the workers and sailors to declare their grievances formally. -

"The White-guardist bands would like to and could exploit this discontent for their own interests. Hiding behind the sailors, they call for the Constituent Assembly, free trading and other similar advantages. We Anarchists have long exposed the fundamental error in these demands, and we declare before everyone that we will fight, arms in hand, against any counter-revolutionary attempt, together with all the friends of the Social Revolution, and at the side of the Bolsheviks.

"We are of the opinion that the conflict between the Soviet government and the workers and sailors should be liquidated, not by arms, but by meants of a revolutionary, fraternal agreement in a spirit of comradeship. For the Soviet government to have recourse to bloodshed in the present situation will neither intimidate nor pacify the workers; on the contrary, it will only serve to increase the crisis and reinforce the work of the Allies and the counter-revolutionaries.

"What is more important, the use of force by the Workers' and Peasants' Government against workers and peasants will provoke a disastrous repercussion on the international revolutionary movement. It will result in incalculable injury to the Social Revolution. Comrade Bolsheviks, reflect before it is too late! You are about to take a decisive step.

"We submit to you the following proposal: to elect a commission of five members including Anarchists. This commissioa will go to Kronstadt to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. In the present situation, it is the most radical solution. It will have international revolutionary importance.

"Signed: Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Perkus, Petrovsky.
Petrograd, March 5, 1921."

In his account of the sending of the letter, Berkman records that: "Zinoviev was informed that the document was going to be submitted to the Defence Committee. He sent a personal representative to fetch it. I do not know if this appeal was discussed by the Committee. What is certain is that they did nothing about it-"

On March 6th, Trotsky completed the preparations for the attack. The most loyal divisions were brought from all the fronts, the regiments of kursanti, the detachments of the Cheka, and the military units composed of Communists were concentrated in the forts of Sestroretsk, Lissy Noss and Krasnaia Gorka. as well as in nearby fortified positions. The best military technicians were sent to the theatre of operations to work out the plans for the blockade and attack on Kronstadt. Tuchachevsky was designated commander-in-chief of the troops.

On March 7th, at 6.45 p.m. the batteries of Sestroretsk, Lissy Noss and Krasnaia Gorka began to bombard Kronstadt. An avalanche of shells, bombs and also arrogant proclamations, dropped from aeroplanes, fell on the city. Repeatedly "the flock of crows" installed at Krasnaia Gorka -- Trotsky, Tuchachevsky, Dybenko and others -- gave orders to take the beseiged fortress by a crushing assault. These attempts were in vain. The most furious attacks were repulsed by the valiant defenders. The bombardment did not create the slightest panic in the city. On the contrary, it increased the anger of the population and strengthened its will to resist to the end.

On March 8th, the sixth number of Izvestia reported the new situation for the first time. It carried the headline: Trotsky's First Shot is a Communist Distress Signal, and beneath this published its first communique, which ran as follows:

At 6:45 p.m. the Communist batteries at Sestroretsk and at Lissy Noss first opened fire on the Kronstadt forts. The forts replied to the challenge and soon reduced the batteries to silence. Then Krasnaia Gorka opened fire. It received a worthy response from the battleship Sebasto-pol. Intermittent gunfire continues. On our side two Red soldiers have been wounded and sent to the hospital. No material damage.

Kronstadt, March 7th, 1921

This communique was followed by the note which we reproduce below:

The first shot

They have begun to bombard Kronstadt. We are ready! Let us try the strength of our forces.

They are in haste to act. They understand that, in spite of all the lies of the Communists, the Russian workers are beginning to recognize the greatness of the work of liberation begun by revolutionary Kronstadt after three years of slavery.

The hangmen are uneasy. Soviet Russia, victim of their terrible madness, is escaping from their prison. And, at the same stroke, they are forced to renounce their domination over the working people.

The Communist government is sending up a distress signal. The eight days of the existence of free Kronstadt proves their impotence. A little longer, and the worthy response of our glorious ships and forts will sink the ship of the Soviet pirates, forced to accept battle with revolutionary Kronstadt which carries the banner of "Power to the Soviets and not to the Parties."

This was followed by an appeal:

Let the World Know!

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee has sent out the following radiogram today:

"To all-to all-to all --

"The first cannon shot hasjust been fired. 'Field Marshal' Trotsky, stained with the blood of the workers, was the first to fire on revolutionary Kronstadt, which has risen against the Communist autocracy to re-establish the true power of the Soviets.

"Without spilling a single drop of blood, we-Red soldiers, sailors and workers of Kronstadt -- freed ourselves from the Communist yoke. We spared the lives of those of their party who were among us. They now want to impose their power on us again, by the threat of cannons.

"Not desiring any bloodshed, we requested that non-party delegates from the Petrograd proletariat be sent here so that they can assure themselves that Kronstadt fights for Soviet power. But the Communists conceal our request from the Petrograd workers and open fire -- the habitual response of the pretended workers' and peasants' government to the requests of the labouring masses.

"If the workers of the whole world only knew that we, defenders of the power of the Soviets, were guarding the conquests of the social revolution! We will conquer or die amid the ruins of Kronstadt, fighting for the just cause of the working masses.

"The workers of the whole world will be our judges. The blood of the innocent will fall upon the heads of the Communists, crazy fools who are drunk with power;

"Long live the power of the Soviets.

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee."

We can add a moving detail: March 7th was Labor Day in Soviet Russia. Kronstadt, besieged and attacked, did not forget this. Under continual fire, the sailors broadcast their congratulations to the workers of the world. This message was reproduced in the same issue:

Kronstadt Is Liberated
To The Workers of the World

This day is a universal holiday: Labor Day. We of Kronstadt-in the noise of cannons and exploding shells shot by the Communists, the enemies of working people -- send our fraternal greetings to the workers of the world: Greetings from Red Kronstadt, revolutionary and free . . . We want you to achieve your emancipation soon, free from all forms of violence and oppression.

Long Live the Free Revolutionary Workers! Long Live the World Social Revolution!

The Provisional Revolutionary Committee.

The same issue contained the following statement:

Kronstadt is Calm

Yesterday, March 7th, the enemies of the workers, the Communists, opened fire on Kronstadt. The population received the bombardment valiantly. It was soon apparent that the working people of the city were in perfect agreement with their Provisional Revolutionary Committee.

Despite the opening of hostilities, the Committee considered it unnecessary to declare a state of siege. In fact, what had they to fear? Surely not their own Red soldiers, nor their sailors, nor their workers or intellectuals.

On the other hand, in Petrograd, by reason of the state of siege that has been proclaimed, no one is permitted to go out alone until 7 a.m. That is understandable. The rulers have to fear their own working people.

The first attacks on Kronstadt were conducted simultaneously from north and south by the elite of the Communist troops, dressed in white garments which camouflaged them among the snow that covered the ice-bound Gulf-of Finland. These first attempts to take the fortress by assault resulted in a terrible, insane loss of life. The sailors deeply deplored this, and in moving terms appealed to their duped brothers in arms who believed Kronstadt counter-revolutionary. Addressing itself to the Red soldiers who fought for the Communists, Izvestia said on March 10th (Issue No. 8):

We do not want to spill the blood of our brothers and we are holding our fire to the minimum they allow. We must defend the just cause of the workers and for this reason we feel ourselves forced to fire on our brothers, sent to certain death by the Communists who have created a life of privilege at the expense of the people.

Unfortunately for you, our brothers, a terrible blizzard was blowing when the attack was made, and everything was wrapped in the shadows of a dark night. In spite of this, the Communist hangmen ordered you on to the ice and threatened you from behind with the machine guns of the rearguard, manned by their Communist formations.

Many of you perished that night on the vast frozen expanse of the Gulf of Finland, and when the dawn came, after the storm had died down, only the miserable remnants of your detachments, exhausted, hungry, almost unable to walk, crept towards us in their white shrouds.

You were a thousand in the dawn, but in the course of the day one could no longer count you. With your blood you have paid for this adventure. After your rout, Trotsky has gone to Petrograd to seek new victims for the slaughter: the blood of our peasants and workers is cheap to him."

Kronstadt lived in the firm belief that the Petrograd proletariat would come to its aid. But the workers of the capital were terrorised and Kronstadt was blockaded and isolated, so that no help was possible.

The Kronstadt garrison was composed of some 14,000 men, of whom about 10,000 were sailors. This garrison had to defend a vast front and many forts and batteries, scattered about the Gulf. The continual attacks of the endlessly reinforced Bolsheviks, the lack of food, the long, cold nights, all contributed to diminish the vitality of Kronstadt. Yet the sailors had heroic perseverance, hoping to the last moment that their noble example would be followed by the country. But the struggle was too unequal. The Bolshevik soldiers surrendered by thousands, others drowned by the hundred under the ice which had been weakened and filled with cracks and holes owing to the thaw, or had been broken by shellfire. But these losses did not diminish in the least the intensity of the attacks; fresh reinforcements were constantly arriving.

What could the city do, alone, against this rising tide? It exerted itself to hold on. It hoped stubbornly for an imminent general revolt of the workers and Red soldiers of Petrograd and Moscow, a revolt that would be the beginning of the third Revolution. And it fought heroically, night and day, on a front which steadily contracted. But neither revolt nor aid appeared. Each day Kronstadt's resistance grew weaker and the attackers gained advantage after advantage.

Furthermore, Kronstadt had not been planned to sustain an attack from the rear, although, among other lies, the Communists had spread the slanderous rumour that the revolutionary sailors wanted to bombard Petrograd. In fact, the famous fortress had been built for the single purpose of defending the capital from an attack by sea. The builders had not specifically reinforced the rear part of Kronstadt, and it was precisely on this point that the Bolsheviks pressed their attacks nearly every night.

During the whole day of March 10th, the Communist artillery incessantly shelled the whole island from south to north. On the night of the 12th and 13th, the Communists attacked from the south, again using white "shrouds" (on March 11th "a thick fog prevented firing" said a communique in Izvestia). In this attack, hundreds of kursanti were once more sacrificed.

In the following days, the fight became increasingly uneven. The defenders were exhausted by fatigue and privations. They were now fighting on the immediate outskirts of the city. The communiques on the fighting, published daily by the Revolutionary Committee, became more and more tragic. The number of victims increased rapidly.

Finally, on March 16th, feeling the climax approaching, the Bolsheviks made a thunderous, concentrated attack, preceded by furious artillery preparation. They had to make an end, cost what it may. Every hour of continued resistance, every shot fired by Kronstadt was a defiance of the Communists and could arouse millions of men against them at any moment. Already they felt increasingly isolated. Already Trotsky was forced to send into action detachments of Chinese and Bashkirs. It was necessary to wipe out Kronstadt without delay, or else Kronstadt would cause the Bolshevik power to fall apart.

From early morning, the heavy guns of Krasnaia Gorka rained ceaseless shells upon the city, causing fire and destruction. Aeroplanes dropped bombs, one of which destroyed the hospital despite its visible Red Cross signs. This furious bombardment was followed by a general assault from the south and east.

The plan of attack, as Dybenko, ex-Commissar of the Baltic Fleet and future dictator of Kronstadt, later recorded, was prepared in the minutest detail according to the directions of the commander-in-chief, Tuchachevsky, and the staff of the Army of the South. The attack on the forts began at daybreak. "The white shrouds and the valour of the kursanti," wrote Dybenko, "made it possible to advance in columns."

Nevertheless, the enemy was repelled at several points, after bitter machine-gun fighting. Amid the noise of the battle under the walls of the city, the sailors manoeuvred skillfully, rushing to the most threatened points, giving orders, shouting appeals. A genuine fanaticism of bravery took possession of the defenders. No one thought of danger or death. "Comrades," came the cry, "arm the last workers' detachments quickly! Let everyone who is able to bear arms help." And the last detachments were formed, armed, and came in haste to take part in the battle.

The women of the people also gave proof of their courage and activity as, disdainful of danger, they advanced far outside the city to carry ammunition. They gathered in the wounded from all sides and bore them under intense fire to the hospital, where they organised first aid.

By the evening of March 16th, the battle still remained undecided, and the militiamen still rode through the streets on horseback and called upon the non-combatants to take refuge in safe places. But several forts had been taken, and during the night the Communists who were at liberty inside the city succeeded in indicating to the attackers that Kronstadt's weakest point was the Petrograd gate. By 7 a.m. on March 17th, the Bolsheviks forced it after a supreme assault, and advanced fighting into the centre of the city, the famous Anchor Square.

Still the sailors did not give in. They continued to fight "like lions", defending each district, each street, each house. It was only with heavy sacrifice that the Red soldiers were able to secure a firm foothold in several sections. The members of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee still went from one threatened area to another, manoeuvring the combatants, organising the defence. The print-shop still continued to compose No. 15 of Izvestia which never appeared.

During the whole day of the 17th, they fought inside the city. The sailors knew that no quarter would be given them, and they preferred to die fighting rather than be basely assassinated in the cellars of the Cheka. It was a brutal slaughter, a butchery. Many Communists of the city, whose lives had been spared by the sailors, betrayed them, armed themselves, and attacked them from the rear. The Commissar of the Baltic Fleet, Kuzmin, and the President of the Kronstadt Soviet, Vassilieff, freed from prison by the Communists, took part in the liquidation of the revolt.

The desperate struggle of the sailors and soldiers of Kronstadt continued well into the night [of the 17th March]. The city which, during the fifteen days of the fight, had done no harm to the Communists within it, now became a vast theatre of shootings, savage executions, regular assassinations in batches. Escaping from the butchery, certain detachments retreated towards Finland. In the early morning of March 18th, they (the Communists) were still fighting -- or rather chasing the rebels -- in certain sections of the city.

Two projects of the revolutionists remained uncompleted. In the first place, the sailors had decided to blow up at the last minute the two great battleships which were the first to raise the banner of the Third Revolution -- the Petropavlovsk and the Sebastopol. But when they tried to carry out this project, they found that the electric wires had been cut. Secondly, nearly the whole population of Kronstadt had decided to leave the city in order to let the Communists have it "dead and empty". The total absence of means of transport prevented the execution of this plan.

Appointed Commissar of Kronstadt, Dybenko was given full power to "clean up the rebel city". This meant an orgy of massacre. The victims of the Cheka were innumerable, and they were executed en masse during the days that followed the fall of the fortress.

During the ensuing weeks the gaols of Kronstadt were filled with hundreds of prisoners from Kronstadt. Each night, little groups of prisoners were taken out and shot by order of the Cheka. Thus died Perepelkin, a member of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee of Kronstadt. Another member of the Committee, Verchinin, was treacherously arrested by the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the revolt. Here are the words in which Izvestia described the episode in Number 7, of March 9th, under the title Abuse of the White Flag.

"Yesterday, March 8th, some Red soldiers came out of Oranienbaum and towards Kronstadt carrying a white flag. Two of our comrades went out unarmed on horseback to meet the bearers of the flag of truce. One of our men approached the enemy group; the other stopped some distance away. Hardly had our comrades spoken a few words to them when the Communists threw themselves upon him, dragged him from his horse, and carried him off. The second comrade was able to return to Kronstadt."

The emissary of Kronstadt who was carried off in this way was Verchinin. Naturally, nothing more was ever heard of him. The fate of the other members of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee is unknown to us.

In the prisons, in the concentration camps, in the polar regions of Archangel, in the distant deserts of Turkestan, the men of Kronstadt who rebelled against the Bolshevik absolutism for really free Soviets endured, for long years, a miserable existence, and slowly died. There are probably no more of them still alive today.

Some time after the revolt, the Bolshevik government proclaimed a general amnesty for those rebels who, having escaped during the repression were abroad or in hiding in the country, if they spontaneously gave themselves up to the authorities. All those who were naive enough to believe in this "amnesty" were arrested on the spot and shared the fate of their comrades in arms. This ignoble ambush -- among so many others -- constitutes one of the most disgraceful pages in the true history of Bolshevism.

Lenin understood nothing -- or rather, did not want to understand anything -- about the Kronstadt movement. The essential thing for him and his party was to maintain themselves in power at all costs. The victory over the rebels reassured him momentarily. But he was afraid for the future. He admitted that the guns of Kronstadt obliged the party "to reflect and review its position."

Did he revise it in the direction clearly indicated by the workers' disturbances and by the rebellion? Not at all. The fundamental lesson that emerged from these events was the need for the Party to revise the principle of dictatorship, and the necessity for the working people and the country as a whole of free elections to the Soviets.

The Bolsheviks were perfectly aware that the least concession in this direction would be a decisive blow at their power. And for them it was necessary, above all, to conserve that power whole. As Marxists, authoritarians and statists, the Bolsheviks could not permit any freedom or independent action of the masses. They had no confidence in the free masses. They were convinced that the fall of their dictatorship would mean the destruction of all the work that had been done, and the endangering of the Revolution, which they confused with themselves. At the same time, they were convinced that in preserving their dictatorship -- the "levers of control" -- they could "retreat strategically", and even renounce temporarily their whole economic policy, without fundamentally compromising the goals of the revolution. At worst, they told themselves, the achievement of these goals would be retarded. Their thoughts therefore concentrated solely on this question: "What must be done to preserve our dominion intact?"

To yield temporarily in the economic field, to grant concessions in all fields, except that of "power" -- that was their first solution. Their only "compromise" was to throw a bone to the population to appease their discontent; they had to give a little satisfaction, if only in appearance.

To determine the necessary concessions, to fix the limits of their "retreat", was their second preoccupation. They finally established the extent of these concessions, and then, by one of the most curious of historical ironies, Lenin and his party applied exactly the programme which they had falsely attributed to the men of Kronstadt and for which they claimed to have fought them and spilled so much blood.

Lenin proclaimed the famous "New Economic Policy" (the NEP). This granted the population a certain "economic freedom", i.e. a degree of freedom of private commerce and industrial activity. Thus the true meaning of the "freedom" demanded by the Kronstadt rebels was completely distorted. Instead of the free creative and constructive activity of the labouring masses, an activity which would have allowed the march towards their complete emancipation to continue and accelerate, which was what Kronstadt demanded, [the New Economic Policy] was "freedom" for certain individuals to trade and do business, to get rich. It was at this time that there appeared for a while the Soviet nouveaux riches, the "nepmen" (men of the NEP).

The Communists in Russia and abroad regarded and explained the NEP as a "strategic retreat", which permitted the dictatorship that was indispensable for the party a breathing space to fortify the positions that had been disturbed by the events of March, a kind of "economic respite" analogous to the "military respite" at the time of Brest-Litovsk.

In fact, the NEP was nothing but a halt, not in order to be able to advance better later on [in a revolutionary direction], but, on the contrary, to be better al to return to the point of departure, to the same ferocious party dictatorship, the same unrestricted statism, the same domination and exploitation of the labouring masses by the new capitalist state. The Bolsheviks retreated so as to be better able to return to the road of totalitarian state capitalism, with a greater guarantee against an eventual repetition of Kronstadt.

During the period of retreat, this nascent capitalist state erected its "Maginot line" against this danger. It employed the several years of the NEP to increase its material and military forces, to create quietly its administrative, bureaucratic and police "apparatus," neo-bourgeois in character, to be able to feel strong enough to crush everyone in its "iron fist" and transform the whole country into a totalitarian barracks and prison.

If one wishes to speak of a strategic retreat in this sense, that is what took place. Soon after Lenin's death (in 1924) and the accession -- after some struggles within the party -- of Stalin, the New Economic Policy was suppressed, the "nepmen" were arrested, deported or shot, their goods were confiscated, and the State, completely armed and armoured, bureaucratised and capitalised, supported by its "apparatus" and by a strong socially privileged and well-fed class, resolutely established its complete omnipotence. But it is obvious that all these exigencies had nothing in common with the Social Revolution, or with the aspirations of the working masses, or with their real emancipation.

The Bolshevik government did not confine itself to an internal NEP. By a further historical irony, at the very moment when the Bolsheviks were falsely accusing the men of Kronstadt of being "lackeys of the Allies" and of "making deals with the capitalists", they themselves were carrying out precisely this task. Following Lenin's directives, they set out on the route of concessions to foreign capitalists and alliances with them. During the very days when they were shooting the Kronstadt sailors and when heaps of corpses still covered the ice of the Gulf of Finland, they agreed to several important contracts with industrialists of various countries, catering to the wishes of high finance, of the large-scale capitalism of the Allies, of Polish imperialism.

They signed the Anglo-Russian commercial treaty, which opened the doors of the country to English capital. They signed the peace of Riga, by virtue of which twelve million individuals were thrown into the hands of reactionary Poland. By means of alliances, they helped the Young Turkish imperialism to strangle the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus. And they prepared to enter into business relations with the bourgeoisie of all countries, seeking support from this quarter.

We have said elsewhere: "In strangling the Revolution, the (Communist) power was forced to secure for itself, more and more openly and firmly, the aid and support of reactionary and bourgeois elements . . . Feeling the ground slipping from under their feet and detaching them more and more from the masses, breaking their last contacts with the Revolution and giving free play to a whole privileged class of big and small dictators, sycophants, flatterers, opportunists and parasites, but impotent to create anything that was really revolutionary and positive since they had rejected and destroyed the new forces, the authorities found themselves obliged, in order to consolidate themselves, to turn to the old forces. It is their company which they seek more and more frequently and freely. It is from them that they solicit agreements, alliances and unions. It is to them that they yield positions, not having any other way of assuring their own existence. Having lost the friendship of the masses, they seek friendship elsewhere. They think they can sustain themselves with the help of these new friends, whom they hope to betray one day for their own advantage. Meanwhile, they become enmeshed, every day more deeply, in an anti-revolutionary and anti-social action."

Kronstadt fell and State Socialism triumphed. It is still triumphant today. But the implacable logic of events leads it infallibly to disaster. For its triumph bore within itself the seed of its final destruction. It exposed more and more the real character of the Communist dictatorship. More and more, the Communists, caught by the logic of events, showed that they were prepared to sacrifice the goal, to renounce all their principles, to deal with anyone, so as to preserve their domination and their privileges.

Kronstadt was the first entirely independent attempt of the people to liberate itself from all yokes and achieve the Social Revolution, an attempt made directly, resolutely, and boldly by the working masses themselves without political shepherds, without leaders or tutors. It was the first step towards the third and social revolution.

Kronstadt fell. But it had accomplished a task and that was the important thing. In the complex and shadowy labyrinth which opens out to the masses in revolt, Kronstadt is a bright beacon that lights up the right road. It matters little that in the circumstances in which they found themselves the rebels still spoke of power (the power of the Soviets) instead of getting rid of the word and the idea altogether and speaking instead of co-ordination, organisation, administration. It was a last tribute paid to the past. Once full freedom of discussion, organisation and action have been completely won by the working masses themselves, once the true road of independent popular activity is found, the rest will come automatically and inevitably.

It matters little that the fog is still thick and hides the beacon and the way it lights. Once lit, that light will never go out. And the day is coming -- perhaps it is not far off -- when millions of human beings will see it shine.

  • 1. For many reasons, the presence of Anarchists in the Soviets was rather unusual. Outside Kronstadt, there were some Anarchists in the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets. Elsewhere, an Anarchist in the Soviets was a rarity. As for the general attitude of the Anarchists towards the Soviets, this altered according to their development. Favourable at first, when the Soviets still had the character of workers' organs, and when the revolutionary impetus allowed one to hope that they would be rendered satisfactory for certain useful functions, their attitude subsequently became sceptical, and finally entirely negative, as the Soviets were transformed into political organs manipulated by the government. The Anarchists thus began by not opposing the election of their comrades to these institutions. They later abstained and ended by pronouncing themselves "categorically and definitely against all participation in the Soviets which have become purely political organs, organised on an authoritarian, centralist, statist basis" (Resolution of the Nabat Congress at Elizabeth in April, 1919).
  • 2. It was in this period that the Right Social-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks were being forced out of the Soviets, giving way to the Bolsheviks. And it was then that the essential elements of the next (October) revolution were being feverishly forged. Lenin was keeping in touch with this whole situation, and was himself preparing for his hour.
  • 3. We should add here that at the time [of all this activity] the Baltic Fleet had to sustain several hard battles with the German squadron in order to defend the access to Petrograd in the name of the revolution on the march.
  • 4. From August to November, 1917, the author of these lines, who was then living in Petrograd, went frequently to Kronstadt, to lecture and to see at first hand the free and intense life of the population. Certain details are taken from the excellent Russian pamphlet written by another militant who lived in Kronstadt and actively participated in all its works -- Kronstadt in the Russian Revolution by E. Yartchuk. The pamphlet has not been translated.
  • 5. Naturally, when they achieved power, the Bolsheviks liquidated, little by little, this autonomous administration and replaced it by a mechanical statist organisation controlled by officials.
  • 6. As is well known, the Bolshevik government disarmed the whole population a few months later. Every citizen, whoever and wherever he might be, was summoned to turn in his weapons to the local authorities, under penalty of death.
  • 7. It is necessary to know Kronstadt in order to understand the true meaning of this clause. In fact, it has an air of wanting to limit freedom of speech and press, since it only demands them for the extreme Left. The resolution did this only to remove in advance any possibility of misunderstanding the real nature of the movement.

    Since the beginning of the revolution, immediately after the very first days when the blood of the too-zealous officers was spilt, Kronstadt established the broadest freedom. The citizens were completely unlimited in the expression of their opinions. Only a few inveterate Tsarists remained in prison, but once the spontaneous rage was over, once reason began to prevail over the instinct of self-preservation, the question of general amnesty was raised in the meetings, so much did the people of Kronstadt hate prisons. Freedom for all prisoners was envisaged, but only in the vicinity of the city; at Kronstadt, reactionary deceptions could have no success, but the sailors did not want to furnish counterrevolutionaries to other localities. The actions of Kerensky provoked new anger and the project was abandoned. But this reversion to ill-temper was the last. From that time, Kronstadt did not know a single case of persecution for ideas. Every thesis could be freely circulated. The tribune of Anchor Square was open to all.

  • 8. This refers to the armed detachments around the cities, which were mentioned above. Their official duty was to suppress illicit commerce and confiscate food and other products. The irresponsibility and arbitrariness of these "barriers" had become proverbial in the country. It is significant that the government suppressed them the day before its attack on Kronstadt. In this way it sought to lull and deceive the Petrograd proletariat.
  • 9. Admiral Wiren was commander of Kronstadt at the time of the Revolution, and. as one of the most ferocious Tsarist officers, was shot by the sailors on Feb. 28th, 1917.
  • 10. The Bolshevik generals Brusiloff, KamenelT and others were former Tsarist generals.
  • 11. One of the delegations sent by the Revolutionary Committee to Petrograd had as its aim the bringing to Kronstadt of two Anarchists who were intimately known there: Comrade Yartchuk (author of a well-known book) and myself. The Provisional Revolutionary Committee wanted us to come and help them in (heir task. They did not yet know in Kronstadt that we were both imprisoned by the Bolsheviks. This tact, slight as it is, is another proof of the independence and the revolutionary tendency of Kronstadt. A counter-revolutionary movement would never seek the collaboration of Anarchists. Moreover, the president of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. Petrichenko, was himself an Anarchist sympathiser.
  • 12. Trepoff was one of the most vicious generals of Tsar Nicholas II, noted for his famous order to the troops during the disturbances of 1905: "Do not economize on bullets."
  • 13. Maliuta Skouratoff was the commander of the Guards of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, during the fifteenth century, whose name has been handed down from generation to generation as a symbol of human ferocity.
  • 14. Namely, the Izvestia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee, Soviet documents and selected eyewitnesses. So far as I know, his study first appeared in English in the form of a leaflet. Later it was reproduced in the Anarchist review Timon during the civil war in Spain, and finally the French Anarchist paper, Le Libertaire published it in several consecutive numbers in January, 1939.
  • 15. Lest the reader be surprised to see Anarchists still at liberty in Petrograd in 1921, we must remark that the signers of the paper in question were not considered dangerous by the Bolsheviks. A. Berkman and E. Goldman did not engage in militant activity in Russia; Perkus and Petrovsky were the kind of Anarchists called "Soviet" (pro-Bolshevik). Later, Berkman and Goldman were nevertheless expelled; the fate of Perkus and Petrovsky is unknown to us. In any case, the last vestiges of the Anarchist movement disappeared during 1921.

    As for the document itself, the reader will notice that it was necessarily conceived in fairly conciliatory, vague and even ambiguous terms. The authors nourished a naive and vain hope of reasoning with the Bolsheviks and inducing them to act "in a spirit of comradeship". But the Bolsheviks were not comrades, and they felt that the least concession in their conflict with Kronstadt would let loose a general movement against their dictatorship. For them it was a matter of life and death.

Part II: Ukraine (1918-1921)

CHAPTER 1: Mass Movement in the Ukraine

This chapter puts me in a quandary.

If I devoted a hundred or so pages to the Kronstadt movement, a proper treatment of the events in the Ukraine would require at least five times as much space, in view of their scope, their duration, and above all their revolutionary and moral importance. But this is impossible.

Besides, my documentation on this movement is limited to the outstanding work of Peter Arshinov: History of the Makhnovist Movement.1 And in my present circumstances I cannot complete Arshinov's work. On the other hand, filling pages with documents that have already been published -- even if we take into account their specific character and the bibliographical rarity of the work -- seems exaggerated.

I can obviously enrich the study with two important elements: (1) certain facts set forth in volumes II and III of the Memoirs of Nestor Makhno, initiator and military leader of the movement, which have been published only in Russian (in 1936 and 1937); (2) certain personal experiences of my own, since I took part in this movement on two occasions, at the end of 1919 and at the end of 1920, for about six months.

As for the Memoirs of Makhno: the death of their author ended the work at its very beginnings (Makhno died in Paris in 1935). The three volumes which have been published (the first in Russian and in French, long before the following two) only treat the period 1917-1918; they stop precisely on the threshold of the real movement, of the most characteristic and important events (1919-1921).

The account of my own personal experiences would be extremely useful if it could be inserted into a general and complete history. Detached from this whole, they do not have the same importance.

Nevertheless, it is impossible not to speak of the mass movement in the Ukraine, especially if one studies the Russian revolution from the perspective which I have in mind.

This movement played an exceptionally important role in the Revolution: even more important than that of Kronstadt. This importance is due to its extent, its duration, its essentially popular character, its clear-cut ideological standpoint, and finally the tasks it set out to accomplish.

For reasons that the reader of this book will easily understand, all the available literature, of whatever type, makes absolutely no mention of this movement. Or if it does, it does so in a few lines and solely with a view to slandering it.

In the last analysis, the Ukrainian epic has until today remained almost completely unknown. And yet, among the elements of the "Unknown Revolution," it is certainly the most remarkable.

In fact, even the work of Arshinov, nearly 400 pages long, is only a summary. If the Ukrainian movement were treated as it deserves, it would fill several volumes. The movement's documents, which are of enormous historical value, would alone fill hundreds of pages. Peter Arshinov was only able to reproduce a very small number of them.

A work of this magnitude will have to be undertaken by future historians who have all the required sources at their disposal. Our present task is to shed as much light as possible on this movement.

All these contradictory considerations finally led me to make the following decision:

1. To urge every serious and genuinely interested reader to read the basic work of Peter Arshinov. This book cannot easily be found, having been published in 1924 by a small libertarian bookshop. But the reader will not regret the time he spends looking for it in bookshops, along the quais of Paris, or in large libraries.

2. To communicate to the reader the most important aspects of the movement, by drawing heavily from Peter Arshinov's documentation.

3. To complete the exposition with certain details drawn from N. Makhno's memoirs.

4. To complete it with personal experiences, with my personal impressions and evaluations.

The name Ukraine (or Little Russia) designates a vast region of south-western Russia whose area is about 450,000 square kilometers (nearly four-fifths the size of France) and which contains about thirty million inhabitants. It includes the departments, or "governments," of Kiev, Tchernigov, Poltava, Kharkov, Ekaterinoslav, Kherson and Tauride. The latter lies at the entrance to the Crimea, from which it is separated by a part of the Black Sea, by the Perekop Isthmus and by the straits of the Sea of Azov.

Without getting involved in a detailed account of the Ukraine, I will briefly mention several characteristic features of the country which the reader should know in order to be able to understand the events which were unfolded there between 1917 and 1921.

It is one of the wealthiest agricultural regions in the world. The rich and fertile black soil yields incomparable crops. Once the Ukraine was called "the granary of Europe," for it was a very important source of wheat and other agricultural products for several European countries. Besides grain, Ukraine is rich in vegetables and fruits, in fertile steppes, and pastures, in forests and waterways, and finally, in its eastern part, in the coal of the Don Basin.

By reason of its exceptional richness, and also because of its geographical location, the Ukraine has at all times been a particularly tempting prize for neighboring and even distant countries. For centuries the Ukrainian population, ethnographically mixed but very much united in its firm desire to safeguard its liberty and independence, experienced wars and struggles against the Turks, the Poles and the Germans, and particularly against its powerful immediate neighbour, the Great Russia of the Tsars. Finally, it was incorporated partly by conquest and partly voluntarily (since it felt an imperative need to be effectively protected by a single and powerful neighbour against the various competitors for its wealth), into the immense Russian Empire.

However, the ethnic composition of the Ukrainian population, their peculiarities of character, temperament and mentality, their traditional contacts -- through warfare, commerce, etc. -- with the western world, together with certain geographical and topographical features of their region, resulted in the maintenance under the Tsars of a fairly marked difference between the situation of Great Russia and that of the Ukraine.

Certain parts of the Ukraine never allowed themselves to be wholly subjugated, as had happened in Great Russia. Their population always preserved a spirit of independence, of resistance, of popular rebellion. Relatively cultivated and refined, individualistic and capable of taking the initiative without flinching, jealous of his independence, warlike by tradition, ready to defend himself and accustomed, for centuries, to feel free and his own master, the Ukrainian was in general never subjugated to that total slavery -- not only of the body but also of the spirit -- which characterised the population of the rest of Russia.

This applied particularly to the inhabitants of certain sections of the Ukraine, who had even obtained a sort of tacit habeas corpus, and lived in freedom, since their country was relatively inaccessible to the armed forces of the Tsars, rather like the maquis of Corsica.

On the islands of the lower Dnieper -- in the famous Zaporojie district -- men in love with liberty had organised themselves, from the 14th century, in exclusively masculine camps, and struggled for centuries against the attempts at enslavement by various neighbouring countries, including Great Russia.2 Finally, this warrior population had to submit to the Russian State. But the tradition of the volnitza (free life) was perpetuated in the Ukraine and could never be stifled. No matter how great were the efforts of the Tsars since Catherine II to wipe from the spirit of the Ukrainian people all trace of the traditions of the Zaporoj Republic, this heritage of past centuries (14th-16th) remained.

Serfdom, pitiless in Great Russia, had a somewhat more "liberal" appearance in the Ukraine, by reason of the constant resistance of the peasants. Thousands of them escaped from lords who were too brutal, fled to the bush and took refuge in the volnitza.

In Great Russia itself, all those who did not want to be serfs any longer, those who wanted more liberty, those who loved the independent life, those who had difficulties with the police or fell under the knout of the Imperial laws fled to the steppes, the forests and other inaccessible regions of the Ukraine, and there began a new life. Thus for centuries, the Ukraine was the promised land of fugitives of every kind. The proximity of the sea and the ports of Taganrog, Berdiansk, Kherson, Nikolaiev and Odessa, the nearness of the Caucasus and Crimea, regions distant from the centres and full of hiding places -- increased the possibilities for strong and enterprising individuals to lead a free, unsubjugated life, breaking with existing society. Some of these men later provided a nucleus for those vagabonds (bossiaki) who were so masterfully depicted by Maxim Gorki.

Thus the whole atmosphere of the Ukraine was very different from that of Great Russia, and down to our own time, the peasants of the Ukraine have preserved a particular love for freedom, which has manifested itself in the stubborn resistance to all powers that have sought to subjugate them.

In view of these facts the reader will understand why the dictatorship and statism of the Bolsheviks encountered a much more determined and prolonged resistance in the Ukraine than in Great Russia. Other factors favoured this attitude:

1. The organised forces of the Communist Party were weak in the Ukraine, in comparison with those in Great Russia. The influence of the Bolsheviks over the peasants and workers there was always insignificant.

2. For this and other reasons, the October Revolution took effect there much later; it began at the end of November 1917 and was still going on in January 1918. It was first the local nationalist bourgeoisie -- the Petluristi, or partisans of the "democrat" Petlura -- who retained power in the Ukraine, parallelling the power of Kerensky in Great Russia. The Bolsheviks fought this power more on military than on revolutionary grounds.

3. The unpopularity and the impotence of the Communist Party meant that the taking of power by the Soviets was carried on quite differently than in Great Russia.

In the Ukraine, the Soviets were in a much more real sense meetings of workers' and peasants' delegates. Not being dominated by a political party -- for the Mensheviks, likewise, did not play a significant role in the Ukraine -- these Soviets had no means for subordinating the masses. Hence, the workers in the factories, and the peasants in the villages felt themselves to be a genuine force. In their revolutionary struggles, they were not accustomed to yield the initiative to anyone, or to have by their side a constant and inflexible tutor like the Communist Party in Great Russia. Because of this, a much greater freedom of spirit, of thought and action took root. It inevitably manifested itself in the mass revolutionary movements.

All these factors made themselves felt from the beginning. While in Great Russia the revolution was brought into the orbit of the Communist state quickly and without difficulty, this process of statification and dictatorship met with considerable obstacles in the Ukraine. The Bolshevik "Soviet apparatus" was installed primarily by military force.

An autonomous movement of the masses, especially the peasant masses, entirely neglected by the political parties, developed parallel to the process of statification. This independent movement had already appeared under the "democratic republic" of Petlura. It developed slowly, feeling its way, but it seems to have existed from the first days of February 1917. It was a spontaneous movement which was groping for the overthrow of the serf economy and the creation of a revolutionary system based on the common ownership of the means of production and the principle of exploiting the land by the masses themselves.

In the name of these principles, the workers in many places drove out the proprietors of factories and put the management of production under the control of their class organisations: the new unions, factory committees, etc. The peasants took possession of the land of the gentry and the kulaks (rich peasants), and, by reserving the use of it strictly for the workers themselves, outlined a new system of agrarian economy. Naturally, this process spread very slowly, in a disorganised and spontaneous manner. These were the first clumsy steps towards a larger, more conscious, and better organised future activity. But the masses intuitively felt that the road along which they were travelling was the right one.

"This practice of direct revolutionary action by the workers and peasants," says Peter Arshinov, "developed in the Ukraine almost unobstructed during the whole first year of the Revolution, thus creating a precise and wholesome line of revolutionary conduct for the masses. Each time some political group or other, having taken power, tried to break this line of revolutionary conduct on the part of the workers, the latter began a revolutionary opposition and struggled in one way or another against these attempts.

"Thus, the revolutionary movement of the workers towards social independence which had begun in the first days of the revolution, did not weaken, no matter what power was established in the Ukraine. It was not even extinguished by the Bolsheviks, who, after the October uprising, tried to introduce their authoritarian statist system into the country.

"What was especially characteristic about this movement was its desire to attain the real goals of the working class in the revolution, its will to conquer labour's complete independence, and finally its defiance of the non-labouring social groups.

"Despite all the sophisms of the Communist Party, seeking to prove that it was the brain of the working class and that its power was that of the workers, every worker or peasant who had retained his class spirit or instinct was more and more aware that in fact the party was turning the workers of the cities and the countryside away from their own revolutionary tasks; that power had them under its control, that the very fact of a statist organisation was a usurpation of their right to independence and to the free disposition of their labour.

The aspiration to independence, to complete autonomy, became the basis of the movement born in the depths of the masses. In all kinds of ways their thoughts were constantly rooted in this idea. The statist action of the Communist Party pitilessly stifled these aspirations. But it was precisely this action of a presumptuous party, intolerant of any objection, that clarified the minds of the workers and drove them to resist.

"In the beginning, this movement confined itself to ignoring the new power and performing spontaneous acts whereby the peasants took possession of the lands and goods of the landlords. They found their own ways and means."
(Peter Arshinov: The History of the Makhnovist Movement, pp 70-72)

The brutal occupation of the Ukraine by the Austro-German troops after the peace of Brest-Litovsk, with all its terrible consequences for the working people, created new conditions- in the country and hastened the development of this movement of the masses. Here, I will take the liberty of quoting almost an entire chapter from Peter Arshinov's work. A better exposition of the events which followed the peace of Brest-Litovsk cannot be given. Let us recall that the principal clause of the peace treaty gave the Germans free access to the Ukraine, from which the Bolsheviks retired.

Arshinov's acount is rapid, substantial and penetrating. I need not improve or add anything. It is absolutely correct factually, and each detail is important if the reader wishes to understand subsequent events.

"The Brest-Litovsk treaty concluded by the Bolsheviks with the Imperial German government opened wide the doors of the Ukraine to the Austro-Germans. They entered it as masters. They did not confine themselves to military action, but became involved in the economic and political life of the country. Their purpose was to appropriate its products.

"To accomplish this easily and completely, they re-established the power of the nobles and the landed gentry who had been overthrown by the people, and installed the autocratic government of the Hetman Skoropadsky.

"Their troops were systematically misled by their officers, who represented the situation in Russia and the Ukraine as an orgy of blind, savage forces, destroying order in the country and terrorising the honest working people. By this process, they provoked in the soldiers a hostility towards the rebel peasants and workers, thus helping the action (an action of absolute heartless, common robbery) of the Austro-German armies.

"The economic pillage of the Ukraine by the Austro-Germans with the connivance and help of the Skoropadsky government was colossal and horrifying. They carried off everything -- wheat, livestock, poultry, eggs, raw materials, etc. -- all in such quantities that the means of transportation was not sufficient. As it was brought to the immense depots which were given over to the loot, the Austrians and the Germans hastened to take away as much as possible, loading one train after another. Hundreds, even thousands, of trains carried everything off. When the peasants resisted this pillage, and tried to retain the fruits of their labour, floggings, reprisals, and shootings resulted.

"In addition to the violence of the invaders and their cynical military brigandage, the occupation of the Ukraine by the Austro-Germans was accompanied by a fierce reaction on the part of the gentry. The Hetman's regime meant the annihilation of all the revolutionary conquests of the workers, a complete return to the past.

"It was therefore natural that this new condition strongly accelerated the march of the movements previously begun, under Petlura and the Bolsheviks. Everywhere, primarily in the villages, insurrectionary acts started to occur against the gentry and the Austro-Germans. It was thus that began the vast movement of the Ukrainian peasants, which was later given the name of the Revolutionary Insurrection.

"The origin of this insurrection is often seen as merely the result of the Austro-German occupation, and the regime of the Hetman. This explanation is insufficient and inaccurate. The insurrection had its roots in the total situation and in the fundamental nature of the Russian Revolution. It was an attempt by the workers to lead the Revolution to its natural conclusion: the true and complete emancipation and supremacy of labour. The Austro-German invasion and the agrarian reaction only accelerated the process.

"The movement rapidly took on vast proportions. Everywhere the peasants took a stand against the gentry, assassinated them or drove them away, took over their land and their goods, and paid no attention to the invaders.

"The Hetman and the German authorities responded by implacable reprisals. The peasants in the rebellious villages were flogged and shot en masse, while all their goods were burned. Hundreds of villages suffered, in a short space of time, a terrible punishment from the military and landed castes. This occurred in June, July and August, 1918.

"Then the peasants persevering in their revolt, organised as guerillas and started hedge warfare. As if by order of invisible organisations, they formed in a number of places, almost simultaneously, a multitude of partisan detachments, acting militarily and always by surprise against the nobles, their guards and the representatives of power. As a rule, these detachments consisting of twenty, fifty or a hundred well armed horsemen, would appear suddenly where they were least expected, attack a nobleman or the [Hetman's] National Guard, massacre all the enemies of the peasants and disappear as quickly as they had come. Every lord who persecuted the peasants, and all of his faithful servants, were noted by the partisans and were in continual danger of being liquidated. Every guard, every German officer was condemned to almost certain death. These exploits, occurring daily in all parts of the country, cut out the heart of the agrarian counter-revolution, undermined it, and prepared the way for the triumph of the peasants.

"It must be noted that, like the vast and spontaneous peasant insurrections, which arose without any preparation, these organised guerilla actions were always performed by the peasants themselves with no help or direction from any political organisation. Their methods of acting made it necessary for them to look after the needs of the movement themselves, and to direct it and lead it to victory. During their whole fight against the Hetman and the noblemen, even at its most difficult moments, the peasants remained alone facing their vicious, well-armed and organised enemies. This fact had a great influence on the very character of the whole revolutionary insurrection. Everywhere that it remained to the end a 'class action', without falling under the influence of political parties or nationalist elements, it retained intact not only the imprint of its origin in the very depths of the peasant mass, but also a second fundamental trait -- the perfect consciousness which all these peasants possessed, of being their own guides and the animators of their own movement. The partisans especially were permeated with this idea. They were proud of this special quality of their movement and felt themselves capable of fulfilling their mission.

"The savage reprisals of the counter-revolution did not stop the movement; on the contrary, they provided it with a motive for enlarging and extending. The peasants became increasingly united among themselves, driven by the very force of events to a general plan of revolutionary action.

"To be sure, the peasants of the whole Ukraine were never organised into a single force acting under a single leadership. From the point of view of revolutionary spirit they were all united, but in practice, they were mainly organised locally, by regions, the small detachments of partisans, isolated from one another, uniting to form larger and more powerful units. In so far as the insurrections became more frequent and the reprisals more ferocious and organised, these unions became an urgent necessity.

"In the south of the Ukraine, it was the region of Gulai-Polya which took the initiative in unification. There, it took place not only for reasons of defence, but also and primarily for the purpose of the complete destruction of the agrarian counter-revolution."

This latter goal, more important and decisive in character, imposed on the movement towards unification of the peasant masses a larger task; that of incorporating in the movement revolutionary elements from other regions, and developing, with the participation of all the revolutionary peasants, if possible, a great organised force capable of fighting reaction as a whole and victoriously defending the freedom and territory of the people in revolt.

The most important role in this work of unification and in the general development of the revolutionary insurrection in the southern Ukraine was performed by the detachment of partisans guided by a peasant native to the region: Nestor Makhno. That is why the movement is known as the "Makhnovist movement."

"From the first days of the movement," says Peter Arshinov, "up to its culminating point when the peasants vanquished the gentry, Makhno played a preponderant and central role, to such an extent that the whole insurgent region and the most heroic moments of the struggle are linked to his name. When, later on, the insurrection had triumphed completely over the Skoropadsky counter-revolution, but the region was threatened anew by Denikin, Makhno became the rallying point for millions of peasants, in the struggle against the latter."

It should be emphasised that only the southern part of the Ukraine was involved in this vast operation. "For," as Arshinov continues, "it was not everywhere that the insurrection retained its consciousness, its revolutionary essence and its loyalty to the interests of the working class. While in the southern Ukraine the insurgents, increasingly conscious of their role and their historic mission, raised the black flag of anarchism and set forth on the anti-authoritarian road of the free organisation of the workers, in the west and north-western regions of the country, they gradually slipped, after the overthrow of the Hetman, under the influence of foreign elements; enemies of their class, notably the national-democrats (the petlurivtzi, partisans of Petlura). For more than two years a party of the insurgents in the western Ukraine supported the latter, which, under the nationalist banner, pursued the interests of the liberal bourgeoisie. Thus, the insurgent peasants of the governments of Kiev, Volhyny, Podoly and a part of Poltava, while having common origins with the rest of the insurgents, were unable, subsequently, to discover among themselves either the conciousness of their historic mission or the ability to organise, and they fell under the rod of the enemies of the world of labour, becoming blind instruments in their hands.

"The insurrection in the south had an entirely different significance and took on a different aspect. It separated itself strictly from the non-labouring elements of society, it quickly and resolutely got rid of the national, religious, political and other prejudices of the regime of oppression and slavery; it based itself on the real aspirations of the proletarian class of the city and the country and carried on a bitter warfare, in the name of these aspirations, against the many enemies of Labour."

We have already mentioned more than once the name of Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian peasant who played a vast and exceptional part in the great peasant insurrection of the southern Ukraine, which all the existing literature on the Russian Revolution, except a few libertarian works, passes over in silence -- or merely mentions in a few defamatory lines. As for Makhno himself, the animator and military guide of that insurrection, if they deign to mention him at all, it is only to bestow on him such titles as "bandit", "assassin", "robber", "pogromist", etc. Always they obstinately drag him in the mud, slander him, abhor him. At best, these unscrupulous authors, without bothering to examine the facts or to separate them from fables, spread absurd and unutterably stupid legends about the life and acts of this libertarian militant.3

[This situation] compels us to record briefly the authentic biography of Makhno up to the time of Skoropadsky's overthrow. It is indispensable to know the personality of Makhno to understand the course of events.

"Makhno" says Peter Arshinov, "was born on October 27, 1889, and was brought up by his mother in the village of Gulai- Polya, in the district of Alexandrovsk, department of Ekaterinoslav. He was the son of a poor peasant family. He was only ten months old when his father died, leaving him and his four little brothers in the care of their mother.

"Because of the extreme poverty of the family, he worked from the age of seven as a herd-boy, tending the cows and sheep of the peasants of his village. At eight, he entered the local school, which he attended in winter, always serving as herd-boy in summer.

"At twelve, he left school and his family to take a job. He worked as a farm boy on the estates of nobles and [the farms of] rich German peasants (Kulaks) whose colonies were numerous in the Ukraine. Already at this period, by the age of fourteen or fifteen, he felt a strong hatred towards the exploiters and dreamed of the way he could some day 'get even with them', both for himself and for others. Until the age of sixteen, however, he had no contact with the political world. His social and revolutionary concepts formed and took place spontaneously, in a very narrow circle of peasants, proletarians like himself.4

"The revolution of 1905 made him break immediately out of his small circle, and threw him into the great torrent of revolutionary events and actions. He was then seventeen. He was full of revolutionary enthusiasm and ready to do anything in the struggle for the liberation of the workers. After having made several contacts with political organisations, he decided to enter the ranks of the Anarcho-Communists and from that moment became an indefatigable militant. He carried on a great deal of activity and took part in [some of] the most dangerous acts of the struggle for liberty.

"In 1908, he fell into the hands of the Tsarist authorities, who condemned him to be hanged for Anarchist associations and for participating in terrorist acts. Because of his youth, the death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment at hard labour. He served his sentence in the Butyrki central prison of Moscow. Although prison lifw was without hope and very difficult for him to bear, Makhno used it in order to educate himself.5 He showed great perseverance, and learned grammar, mathematics, literature. the history of culture and political economy. In fact, prison was the sole school in which Makhno acquired that historical and political knowledge which was a great help to him in his subsequent revolutionary activity. Life, action, deeds were the other schools in which he learned to know and understand men and social events.

"It was in prison, while he was still young, that Makhno endangered his health. Stubborn and unable to accept that complete extinction of personality that those condemned to forced labour underwent, he was always insubordinate to the prison authorities, and was continually in solitary confinement where, because of the cold and damp, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. During the nine years of his detention he was frequently in irons for 'bad behaviour', until he was finally released, with all the other political prisoners, by the proletarian insurrection in Moscow on March 1, 1917.

"He soon returned to Gulai-Polya where the peasant masses showed profound sympathy for him. In the whole village, he was the only political prisoner who was returned to his family by the Revolution, and for that reason he became the object of spontaneous respect and confidence for the peasants. He was no longer an inexperienced young man, but a tested militant, with a powerful will and definite ideas about the social conflict.

"At Gulai-Polya, he immediately threw himself into the revolutionary task, first seeking to organise the peasants of his village and its surroundings. He founded a farm-workers' union; he organised a free commune and a local peasants' Soviet. The problem that concerned him most was that of uniting and organising the peasants into a powerful and firm alliance so that they would be able once and for all to drive out the landed gentry and the political rulers, and to manage their own lives. It was to this end that he guided the organisational work of the peasants, both as a propagandist and as a man of action. He sought to unite them in a revolutionary way, turning to account the flagrant deception, injustice and oppression of which they were victims.

"During the period of the Kerensky government and in the October days of 1917, he was President of the Regional Peasants' Union, of the Agricultural Commission, the Union of Metal and Carpentry Workers and, finally, President of the Peasants' and Workers' Soviet of Gulai-Polya. It was in this last capacity that, in August 1917, he assembled all the landed gentry of the region, and made them give him all the documents relating to lands and buildings. He proceeded to take an exact inventory of all this property, and then made a report on it, first at a session of the local Soviet, then at the district congress of Soviets, and finally at the regional congress of Soviets. He proceeded to equalise the rights of the landed gentry and the rich peasants (kulaks) with those of the poor peasant labourers in regard to the use of the land. Following his proposal, the congress decided to let the landlords and kulaks have a share of land (as well as tools and livestock) equal to that of the labourers. Several peasant congresses in the governments of Ekaterinoslav, Tauride, Poltava, Kharkov and elsewhere followed the example of the Gulai-Polya region and adopted the same measure.

"During the time Makhno became, in his region, the soul of the peasants' movement which was taking over the lands and goods of the gentry and even, if necessary, executing certain recalcitrant landlords. He thus made himself the mortal enemy of the rich and of the local bourgeois groups."

At the time of the occupation of the Ukraine by the Austro-Germans, a secret revolutionary committee came into immediate existence, and gave Makhno the task of creating fighting units of peasants and workers to struggle against the invaders and the native rulers.

"He did what he could," Arshinov records, "but was forced to retreat with his partisans from the cities of Taganrog, Rostov and Tsaritsin, righting every step of the way. The local bourgeoisie, who had been strengthened by the military support of the Austro-Germans, put a price on his head, and he had to hide for some time. In revenge, the Ukrainian and German military authorities burned his mother's house and shot his elder brother Emelian, who was a crippled war veteran.

"In June, 1918, Makhno went to Moscow to consult several old Anarchist militants on methods and directions to follow in his revolutionary libertarian work among the peasants of the Ukraine. But the Anarchists whom he met were at this time indecisive and passive in t