Submitted by meerov21 on October 29, 2017

Some interesting documents have been published in the book "Power and Society in the First Russian revolution of 1905-1907" (Political encyclopedia, 2017) shed light on the emergence and development of anarchism in Warsaw.

During the First Russian revolution, anarchism was born and developed primarily in provincial industrial centres of the Russian Empire. Anarchists were mostly workers, representatives of national minorities in such cities as Bialystok, Odessa, Baku, Ekaterinoslav. About 50% of Russian anarchists, according to modern researchers I. Kryvenkiy, were Jews. No exception is Warsaw (at that time part of the Russian Empire), where the anarchist movement included several thousand workers-artisans - almost exclusively Jews.

Left-wing parties against the anarchists, anarchists against the left-wing

First of all, I should say that in these documents I again found no mention of the fact that the Russian anarchists considered themselves "leftist". Anarchists (anarcho-communists, the followers of the ideas of Bakunin and Kropotkin) were in favor of class struggle and classless stateless societies, Federation of labour and self-governing territorial communes. But they did not call themselves leftists and never believed left-wing parties are their comrades or friends.

Polish workers was under the influence of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party), Bund (Jewish social-democrats) and other parties in the large factories. So anarchists tried but failed to get there. As a result, all the active propaganda of the anarchists broke out among the small Jewish artisans - tailors, bakers, carpenters, etc. In turn, armed anarchists chased members of PPS from the meetings of these working groups. With the Bund, however, it was limited to verbal skirmishes.

Strike of 1907 as a war

The activity of anarchists led to the creation of a Federation of several thousand workers-artisans (tailors, bakers, etc.), but the basis was 2 thousands of tailors who worked at home by order of big business. Organization of the workers-anarchists had Autonomous cells in areas, but for better organization of their activities anarchists created "syndicates" (secret groups of workers ' activists) and selected General strike Committee to lead the strike of tailors. These artisans worked in difficult conditions, carrying out orders of large manufacturers. Therefore, artisans demanded of large manufacturers to set up large factories with a total work and high pay. This requirement came from the working masses, dissatisfied with the working conditions in the framework of scattered manufactories.

Two thousand of the Warsaw anarchist Federation of workers-tailors went on strike in 1907, put forward this requirement. Businessmen refused it and strike became long. Then anarchists have done about 30 combat operations blew up or shot a lot of businessmen.

For example, an anarchist named "comrade Zuckerman" came to visit one manufacturer. He asked how long the businessman intends to starve the workers, and when he finally will fulfill the requirements of the starving strikers. Fabrikant said that he would never do that so Zuckerman shot him. The conversation was attended by clerk of the industrialist, and the next day whole conversation was published in the newspapers.

In the end surviving businessmen have agreed to organize a big factorys and much better pay to the workers. It was the actual movement style of the Irish Molly Maguires, which produced along with the mass strikes systematic elimination of the most recalcitrant businessmen, but in this case it was based on the ideas of anarchism.

Why such ultra-radicalism?

Not quite clear to what extent the participants of strike were an anarchists. Perhaps, most was not ideological anarchists or, at least, they do not have had a clear anarchist goals, but took the anarchist methods of struggle.

...In October 1905, after the General strike, Tsar issued a Manifesto which proclaimed the democratic rights of the people and free elections to Parliament. After it General strike of October 1905 had stopped. But there is disappointment. Manifesto was adopted, the Parliament is chose, but daily life was not getting any better. Disappointed in the democratic struggle for a better state, the workers decided to change life here and now by any methods available to them. Most of these anarchists were aged about 20 years. The work was hard and unbearable, life expectancy is small, so it was chosen this variant of the strike-war 1907.

Many participants came from Bund and PPS. Often such a people were in the past members of an armed organizations of parties.

It was not only frustration with the results of the democratic reforms championed by PPS and Bund, but also in their idea to postpone the fighting in the area of economic relations. Anarchist Paul Golman from Ekaterinoslav explained the reasons for his transition from SR to the anarchists: "It is important for me to shoot factory master who complicates my life, and I, as a worker have feeling of the importance of such an act but SR's Committee does not allow me to do it, saying "kill the local Governor". I'm not interested in Governor i wonna shoot this master and I'm not free to choose."

All Warsaw anarchists were Jews. In the tsarist Empire there were about 500 special laws for Jews, many of which have limited the rights of Jews, forbidding them some profession, limiting their University studies, the right of residence outside certain regions etc. So Ultra-radicalism was at some point normal for jews. To us today this may seem strange, but their found beautiful methods for solving problems in violent anarchism.


4 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Some of my other texts about the anarchists, the s-r maximalists and libertarian socialism in Russia:

Anarchist Movement in Białystok 1903-1907

Odessa, the homeland of anarcho-syndicalism 1905-1907

The Socialist Revolutionaries Maximalists (SRs Maximalists)
The Socialist Revolutionaries Maximalists (SRs Maximalists) is the radical wing of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, based on a synthesis of the ideas of the Russian narodniks and European revolutionary syndicalism.

The Practice of Anti-authoritarian Socialism. Kronstadt Republic (1918).

Libertarian socialist society
(Mendel Dainov’s Ideas)