The Makhno movie

Submitted by S-J on August 21, 2012

I remember seeing a clip of this a few year back with subtitles (where Makhno makes a pretty badass speech about science and anarchy and such) but had totally forgotten about it until tonight's bored youtube stumbling brought it up again. I have no idea when it was made or even what the hell is going on in this scene (an argument with a Marxist?), but it's interesting that a film actually got made about an anarchist revolutionary... anyone come across any more of it with subs?


10 years 3 months ago

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In this scene from the 2005 television serial “The Nine Lives of Nestor Mahkno”, Nestor Makhno debates with the Bolshevik agitator Pavel Gliba [a fictional stereotype] in front an audience of peasants in the village of Gulyai-Polye. Gliba is a native of the village who has returned from the big city world where he joined the Bolsheviks. He urges the peasants to form a revolutionary committee made up of proletarians which will co-opt him as one of its members. When the peasants make fun of the word “co-opt”, he responds:

GLIBA: I like to joke too, comrades. But this is no joke. We’re surrounded by enemies. We need to pull together... under the leadership of the proletariat. Who else is going to give you bullets, paraffin, fabrics, all that stuff?

MAKHNO: And who’s going to give the proletariat bread? Milk, butter, eggs..
GLIBA: Comrade Makhno! I respect you as a fighter against tsarism, but as a former political prisoner who endured a lot, you have still not grasped the importance of the proletariat. It’s like the older brother and mentor of the peasant... it provides the organizational skills and the brains! A proletarian is always a proletarian, but peasants may be poor, middling, well-to-do, exploiters... And the peasantry, let’s admit it, they’re aiming to get rich, they’re giving birth to the bourgeoisie... But the proletarian is a hegemon...

MAKHNO: Wait, wait! Don’t throw words like that at people as if they were bombs. What’s a hegemon? I understand it as some kind of supreme authority. Why don’t you tell us who from the proletariat are going to be these hegemons? Who will create the dictatorship? Who will be in charge?

GLIBA: Outstanding people, proletarian leaders...

MAKHNO: Lenin, Trotsky, Antonov-Ovseyenko...

GLIBA: Not just them! Lots of others as well.

MAKHNO: Take, for example, Lenin. From the nobility, the landowners. Trotsky, one of our own from Khersonskaya – son of a wealthy landowner. Antonov-Ovseyenko – son of a colonel and himself an officer. He’s also from Ukraine... How did they end up in the proletariat?

GLIBA [angrily]: Origins are irrelevant here, Comrade Makhno! Marx and Engels weren’t workers either. But they were infused with the spirit of the proletariat! That’s obvious!

MAKHNO: What sort of spirit is this? For example if you’re working in a cowshed you get infused with the spirit of manure. And if you stand in the steppe in a breeze, that’s a different kind of spirit.... Then there’s the holy spirit. You have to go to church to find out about it. [Makhno plays on the different meanings of дух in Russian.]

GLIBA: And who are your anarchist leaders? Take Bakunin. Son of a big landowner. Kropotkin – a prince...

MAKHNO: They didn’t define themselves as hegemons! They didn’t build a dictatorship! They said: we’re all equal! Don’t take power!... And what do your Bolsheviks say? We’re the government! Obey us!

GLIBA: And they’re right. Because here’s the situation: the proletariat empowers the leadership. And the leaders are on top. And this is indisputably the correct position!

MAKHNO: Indisputably the correct position for you, Comrade, if you’re the one sitting on the toilet. As for the peasant position, we understand it well because it’s been passed on to us from our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. So if you want to be with us, try to grasp our problems and support us. Instead of a dictatorship, it would be better to give us manufactured goods...

GLIBA: You’re taunting me, Comrade Makhno! Meanwhile in Petrograd people are starving! You won’t get away with this perverseness!

MAKHNO: You can’t scare me with prison! We mean no offense to the proletariat... as a sign of friendship, guys... [looks around] as a sign of friendship we’ll put together two railway wagons of wheat for the starving Petrograd proletariat – from the anarchists of Gulyai-Polye! Is that fine with you, Comrade Gliba?

GLIBA: Fine. No objections!


10 years 3 months ago

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Excellent stuff, cheers for that! Have you seen the whole thing? I'm wondering how fair/unfair/hero-worshipy it might be... would love to see the whole thing sometime - does a full subbed version exist? I'm clueless when it comes to Russian. And most other languages.


10 years 3 months ago

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There's also this documentary with Spanish commentary and subtitles.


Watch the rest of it here. There's also a version in French.


10 years 3 months ago

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I'm wondering how fair/unfair/hero-worshipy it might be... would love to see the whole thing sometime - does a full subbed version exist?

Unfortunately the DVD version of 9 Lives does not come with subtitles. The series was a low budget production but the casting was excellent and the authors of the screenplay made a serious effort to ensure historical accuracy. Although knowledgable critics found much to complain about in the series, it seems to have struck a chord with many viewers in Russia and Ukraine who were motivated to find out more about the Makhnovists or even to start calling themselves anarchists.


3 years 3 months ago

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Looks like the whole thing is online with English subs:

Black Badger

3 years 3 months ago

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subtitles are only on episodes 1-9


3 years 1 month ago

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Wow its a quite good post.