Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

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The True Reasons For The Anarchist Raids [Moscow 1918] (Analysis and Conclusions)

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by G. P. Maximoff

The Moscow Anarchist Federation actively participated during the October days in the street battles waged by the Moscow proletariat against the White Guardists and Right Socialists. It was represented in the Military Revolutionary Committee, and it powerfully swayed the masses of quite a number of factories and military units. Its standing was high not only with the Moscow Bolsheviks, but likewise with the population of the city. The numerical growth of the Federation was indicated by the fact that at that time there were in existence large regional groups in various sections of Moscow, like Sokolniki, Presnia, Zamoskvoriechie, Lefortovo. The growth of its influence was marked by intense interest toward Anarchist ideas on the part of the great masses of people. All that impelled the Federation to an ever greater expansion of its work. Its propagandists and lecturers were making the rounds of the factories and military barracks where meetings and lecturers were frequently held. Equal attention was paid to the arranging of Anarchist lectures and mass meetings in the central part of the city. The Federation also published literature, conducted round table talk in its club rooms and issued a weekly paper “Anarchia“ [Anarkhiia].

All that however was not adequate to the needs of the moment and the tremendous interest toward the Anarchist idea shown at that time by the Moscow population. Some way for expanding organizational and propaganda activities had to be found. This could be done by getting larger headquarters for the Federation and by issuing a large daily dedicated to the Anarchist interpretation of social and political events.

Because of its power and influence the Federation succeeded in sequestering the premises of the “Kupechesky Club” (The Merchant’s Club) located at the Malaya Dmitrovka, an enormous and magnificent house, luxuriously decorated and having a library and theatre. The seized premises were renamed into “Dom Anarchia” – “Home of Anarchy”; proving to be well suited for the most extensive and varied Anarchist activity. By that time the Federation entered into agreement with one of the largest Moscow printing shops, enabling it to start issuing a daily instead of their former weekly paper.

By March, 1918, the Federation became a large organization in point of numbers. Apart from the work carried on outside of the “Dom Anarchia”, there was also extensive activity going on within the newly acquired headquarters. Frequent and well attended lectures and mass meetings were held in the Theatre Hall of the “Dom Anarchia”. A library and reading room were organized on the premises, circles of proletarian art-printing, poetry and theatre, were set up and numerous other activities of the same kind were launched.

Emulating the work of forming a Red Guard Army, the Federation set out to organize a military force of its own, the so-called “Black Guards”. Another house was seized and turned into barracks for the newly formed “Black Guard” contingents. Comrade Kaydanov, an active figure in the Anarchist movement and a comrade of long standing, was commissioned with the organization and leadership of this military formation, which soon became the formal cause of Bolshevik enmity, which resulted in the spreading of vile calumnies, faked charges of subversive intentions leveled at the Anarchists, and of the final smashing up of Anarchist organizations.

At the forums held in the club rooms of the “Dom Anarchia” a number of Anarchist lecturers and speakers were carrying on Anarchist propaganda and education. Barmash, Kovalevich, Krupenin, Askarov, Piro, A. Gordin, etc., were frequently holding the platform of these forums.

Apart from the educational and propaganda work carried on in Moscow itself, Anarchist activity of the same extensive character was carried on by the provincial groups in many other cities of Central Russia: Riazan, Smolensk, Tula, Tver, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, etc.

Especially active were Kovalevich and Dvumiantzev, both syndicalist minded workers among the railway proletariat. They were carrying on cultural work, taking part in the publication issued by the union, which ultimately became outspokenly anarcho-syndicalist in its character. Their propaganda work yielded splendid results.

The workers on many railroads, such as the Moscow-Nizhni-Novgorod, Moscow-Murom, Moscow-Kazan, and other railroads followed the lead of the Anarchists. The name Kovalevich soon became the most popular one among the railway workers. An analogous situation was created on the Nikolayevsky railroad. where among other signs of Anarchist influence on this road, one had to point to the great popularity and general esteem enjoyed by the Anarcho-Syndicalist paper, “Golos Trouda”.

The relative weakness of the Bolsheviks in Moscow, – Less than 8,000 members of the party – and the strong influence of the Anarchists, resulted in an adequate representation in the Moscow Soviet. There were sufficient number of Anarchists and Anarchist sympathizers among the Soviet delegates, and this created a situation whereby some problems, like the housing problem for example, were not passed upon without the representatives of the Federation participating in such deliberations. In addition, the Federation had a special desk in the Soviet, in charge of a member of the Federation, whose task was to issue writs for the seizure of various premises by the Anarchist organizations.

The situation created was such, that in the district where the Federation’s headquarters “Dom Anarchia” was located, the premises assigned for sequestration, were actually distributed by the Federation. The Soviet permit for the occupation of some buildings was not sufficient, it had to be supplemented by a similar warrant issued by the Federation and signed by its secretary, Lev Cherny, or some other responsible member of the Federation. (Lev Cherny was shot by the Bolsheviks in 1921).

It is quite noteworthy that while hold-ups flourished in other districts of the city, they were rare in the district where the Federation headquarters, “Dom Anarchia”, was located. The population of that district was highly pleased with that and showed, as a result, the friendliest attitude toward the Federation.

The steady growth of Anarchist influence, the great success of the organization of the Black Guards, and the numerical growth of the latter, began to disturb rather seriously the Bolsheviks and their fellow travelers, the Left Social-Revolutionists, with whom they shared power at that time. Both raised in their party and government press, a brazen and lying campaign against the Anarchists, charging them with such deadly sins as robberies, banditry, stealing and plundering the property of the seized houses, and also with sheltering many common criminals and White Guardists, who allegedly had permeated the Anarchist ranks. Following that, they began, a few days prior to their raid on the Anarchists, circulating various rumors through their press and other means at their disposal. The absurd rumors had all the marks of being a Kremlin product fabricated for the occasion. These fabrications charged that the Anarchists were preparing a plot against the Soviet power with the view of capturing Soviet power.

It was also charged that this would-be plot was timed for a definite date, and that the fact had become known to the authorities through reliable sources of information. This insinuation and calumny was being steadily pushed on by the Bolsheviks notwithstanding the official denial given it by the Anarchist papers “Anarchia” and “Golos Trouda”.

In Moscow the Anarchists seized about twenty-five private houses, but it was not only the Anarchists that were quartered in those private houses. In most cases the Anarchists would have workers move with them into the occupied houses. As to the property found on the premises the Anarchists were specific in their aim to conserve any art treasures found in those houses. Thus, for instance, the Federation was the first to undertake, under the guidance of Piro, the registration of the art treasures found in the Morosov house. (Morosov, [Morozov] owner of textile mills, one of the richest men in Tzarist Russia). The Federation kept a guard to insure the safety of all collections and then, acting jointly with the Moscow Soviet and Art Societies, it transferred those treasures to the respective museums.

Having prepared the ground with their lying campaigns, the Bolsheviks decided to put an end with a single blow to the Anarchist movement whose growth in Moscow and throughout the country became dangerous to them. Perhaps motivated by the problematic hope of redeeming themselves in the eyes of the European bourgeoisie by smashing up the Anarchist organizations they prepared and proceeded with their wicked plot. It was subsequently reported that the routing of the Anarchists was followed by a rise of the Russian rouble on the European exchanges.

In Moscow there were persistent reports at that time that during a whole week Trotzky had kept on haranguing the Red Army detachments stationed at Kremlin, about Anarchism and Anarchists, in an attempt to infuriate them against the latter.

When everything was ready, the authorities began their attack. On the night of April 12, 1918, troops began closing in upon the private houses quartering the Anarchists. The troops were armed with machine guns and cannons. Their tactics consisted in surrounding each house and then taking it by assault. In some cases, when awakened by the racket, the residents succeeded in improvising some sort of resistance. The Anarchists did not even know whether the assailants were the government forces, or White-Guardists, when they were presented with a demand for surrender. Those that surrendered were taken to the Kremlin. When met with a refusal to surrender, the attacking forces subjected the houses to intensive fire from machine guns and cannons. Especially great was the damage done by that bombardment upon three houses: Federation headquarters, “Dom Anarchia”, the house of “Immediate Socialists”, at the Povarskaya, and the house of the Donskaya Anarchist group which was situated near the Donskoy monastery. The first two houses suffered much less than the third one, although scarred with a few gaps produced by cannon shots.

The workers surprised at the house of the “Donskaya group” thought the assault was being made by White-Guardists. They showed fierce resistance with the result that the house was badly damaged. The rattling of the machine guns and the booming of the cannons lasted until dawn. The city was practically taken over during the night by a licentious undisciplined mob of Lettish soldiers of the Red Army, who were influenced by the Bolsheviks against the Anarchists. Passers-by were halted, and rudely subjected to searching and sometimes arrest. Thus, for instance, were assaulted members of the “Golos Trouda” editorial staff who were returning from their desk work. Zabrezhnev, Yartchuk (both became Communists) and the author of these lines [Maksimov]. None of them, up to the moment of their detention, knew what had been going on in Moscow during that night. Their Anarchist identity having been revealed, the soldiers began dragging them away to some barracks. It was only the presence of mind and composure evinced by one of the detained that saved them from lynching.

In the morning the crime committed by the Bolshevik “Revolutionary” Government, drew to the destroyed houses, gaping crowds of well-to-do loafers. But the government had much more in store for the Anarchists. The arrested comrades were kept in abominable conditions and were treated in the most insulting manner. Threats of shooting and the choicest abuse were heaped upon them, while beating with rifle butts were administered as a matter of course. But this was not all.

Since the government alleged that the campaign had been undertaken not against Anarchists, but against “bandits” and “White-Guardists” who hung on to the Anarchist movement, without the latter being able to rid itself from them, it had to invite the would-be sufferers of the robberies to come and identify the “bandits”. And so the bourgeois riff-raff began to pour in. The result of this “public identification” by the enemies of the revolutionary workers were distressing in their effect. Among the “identified bandits” were many old revolutionaries like Khodounov, Kniasiev and others; others were just ordinary workers with their wives who had taken up lodging in the houses seized by the Anarchists. Some of the passers-by who happened to be dragged in during the turmoil were also identified as “bandits”. Prominent Anarchists were soon released, but the others were detained. The brutal treatment of the prisoners reached its utmost in the murder of Khodounov, allegedly at the latter’s attempt to escape.

Anarchist papers were suspended. “Anarchia”, “Svobodnaja Kommuna” (The Free Commune), the Anarcho-Syndicalist paper “Golos Trouda” whose morning issue was run off the press before the suspension order came in force, was compelled to close up the following day. A period of leftward terror set in. The pogrom wave swept throughout Soviet Russia. Everywhere the same terror was repeated, only on a minor scale.

The blow was well-aimed and well-timed. It was delivered before the Anarchist movement had time to crystallize itself. It was unsettled, still in the stage of becoming – of self-determination. It had not yet found itself fully, had not solidified its inner content and had not strengthened itself organizationally within and outside the factories and villages of the country. The movement had not the time to shape itself as a distinct clear-cut national organization with definitely established principles, when the unexpected hurricane of government terror swooped down upon them. The terroristic practice firmly adopted from that moment by the Bolsheviks proved to be too strong for an unsolidified movement. The terroristic policy nearly destroyed this movement, rendering impossible its further existence.

Anarchist activities went down considerably as a result of the government pogroms. The groups were broken up, and it was long before they reshaped themselves organizationally. There remained a few individuals who continued their Anarchist propaganda at factories and at the railroads where Anarchist influence persisted for some time. More than a month passed before the Federation recovered from the blow aimed at it by the government, finally succeeding in launching again its official organ “Anarchia” (“Anarchy”).

The example of Moscow was followed by Petrograd and other provincial cities, and following that an official order was issued by the Commissariat of Inner Affairs to all its subordinate bodies enjoining them to liquidate the Anarchist movement in the same manner as was done in Moscow.

Already in 1917 Lenin wrote in his “A Letter to the Comrades”, appearing in October 17, 1918 (page 283, vol. 14, “Lenin’s Works”, Moscow, 1923) : “It is the nearly unanimous opinion of all, that the prevailing mood of the masses verges on despair, and favors the growth of Anarchism”.

This mood did not suffer any change since that time, and now, after the October revolution, it is still desperate. Added to that there was the widespread dissatisfaction with the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty. Nearly all the Anarchists were opposed to that treaty, favoring a revolutionary war of defense against the German-Austrian troops. And when following the October revolution the German-Austrian troops began advancing upon the territory of revolutionary Russia, there arose spontaneously a movement of irregulars (formed with the consent of the government, but as far as most of them were concerned, almost independent from it), for the purpose of fighting the invaders. This movement grew after the first failure of the peace negotiations when Trotzky threw out the winged phrase “War is ended, but peace has not been signed”. The Anarchists manifested a feverish activity in the organization of the partisan detachments. But following the Brest peace, those detachments began to be viewed by the Bolsheviks with a growing feeling of uneasiness. They were deemed as potentially dangerous in many respects. First, they might disrupt the peace by unwarranted action in the front zone; secondly, the Anarchist irregulars might put a damper (which, indeed, they did to some extent) upon the dictatorial policies of the Bolsheviks; thirdly, they might have a stimulating effect upon the growth of the Anarchist movement throughout the country, which would result in the expansion of its influence not only in the cities but villages as well (where often the Anarchists were virtually unknown); fourthly, they appeared dangerous as an armed force in the hands of another political party which notwithstanding its lack of an organization on a national scale, contained a potential threat of another upheaval. Such were the basic motives actuating the Government in its course of smashing up the Anarchist organizations. It certainly was not “banditry”. Banditry and other calumnies alleged in the official report, were simply a convenient excuse used to camouflage the Bolsheviks’ real purposes.

From: The Guillotine at work (1940) p405-411.

Written by gulaganarchists

31, December 2010 at 2:24 pm

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The Kropotkin

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Dear “Emancipation”

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel in Russia. I really wasn’t sure what I’d find there since all you ever hear about the place is propaganda from one side or the other. I least of all expected to find other anarchists, but I did.

I was sitting in a wharf-side bar in Leningrad, boldly wearing my AAA [Anarchist Association of the Americas] pin, when I noticed a middle-age man, obviously a dock worker, looking me over. And I began to wonder if being bold and alone was such a good idea in the domain of a totalitarian state. As the worker, who by now was KGB in my mind, started over, I began to run over alibies and excuses in my head.

He sat down next to me, tapped my pin and whispered, “Makno? Durutti?” Feeling bold again, I replied, perhaps a little too loudly, “And Kropotkin and Bakunin!” Shhing me, he again whispered, “American Anarchist?” I nodded, confused about exactly what was happening. “Me too,” he said. “Let’s go.”

He led me back to his small apartment. After we both relaxed a little over some very strong vodka, we began toasting Anarchists past and present, and discussing little known bits and pieces of Anarchist history.

Late in the evening, about half the bottle later, he raised his glass, saying, “To the Kropotkin.” Smiling I raised mine announcing, “Here’s to Prince Peter.” Lowering his glass he said, “Not Peter Kropotkin, the Kropotkin.” Confused, I asked him what in the world could be the difference.

“You don’t know!” he bellowed with a hearty laugh. “The pastry – The Kropotkin.” Settling down he said, “You really don’t know, do you?”

Surely he’s putting me on, I thought. But it was his vodka, so I played along.

With a very serious look on his face, he began to tell me his tale of the Kropotkin. In the early 1900’s prior to the failed 1907 [1905-6] revolution in Russia, a group of Anarchists working in a fancy bakery, frequented by Russia’s elite, decided to put a little humor into their work. They had noticed how it was considered chic for the aristocrats to consume vast quantities of Napoleons. Indeed, Napoleons were the largest selling item at the bakery where they worked. Naturally, the workers and peasants, who could barely afford bread, never tasted pastries of any kind.

Not wishing the masses to miss out on the delights of pastries, our group of anarchist pastry workers dreamed up a simple, but delicious pastry – the Kropotkin. Right under the noses of the bakeries bosses, our anarchist bakers stole an egg here and some flour there. Then, turning out Kropotkins while the boss went off to lunch, they’d smuggle their Kropotkin treats out in hollowed loaves of bread. During the evening, they would pop up at a workers’ tavern, quickly passing out their Kropotkins and the odd revolutionary pamphlet.

This went on for about a year, before one of the czar’s spies brought him the news and a captured Kropotkin. At first, the czar laughed hysterically while munching on a Napoleon. But then his mood shifted. Snatching the Kropotkin from his spy’s hands, he took a bite. It was truly marvelous. Never before had the czar tasted such a pastry. This infuriated him; how dare common workers prepare such a food! The czar issued orders that the bakers be hunted down and the recipe destroyed.

Soon after, both Kropotkins and our heroic bakers disappeared. No one knows whether they escaped or were caught. But being anarchists, they had published their recipe on the back of their pamphlets – after all, such things are the property of no one. It is rumored that after the Bolsheviks seized power, they discovered one of the baker’s pamphlets in the Czar’s archives and that now Kropotkins are available again, but only to the upper echelons of the party. Though my Russian friend didn’t believe the rumor, as he put it, “The Bolsheviks aren’t smart enough to recognize a good pastry recipe when they see one.”

At the end of his tale, I could no longer contain myself, and laughed out loud. “So you don’t believe me,” my friend pouted. “I’m sorry, but I did enjoy the story,” I replied.

“I’ll show you,” he said, as he began removing books from the book case. He then opened a small hidden compartment and took out a faded old pamphlet. “There,” he said, pointing to the back cover. Sure enough on the back of a copy of “God and the State” was a recipe for – the Kropotkin. I apologized and he carefully placed the treasure back in the wall. “I’ll save it for better days,” he said. Before he closed the panel, I pulled off my AAA pin and laid it on top of the pamphlet. He smiled and I think a tear came to his eye. We embraced and I left. It was after one and my friend would have to be on the docks by 6, and I would be off on the rest of my tour.



Comrade X


From: Washington, DC: “Emancipation”, v.8, issue 3 (number 63), July 1985

Written by gulaganarchists

5, December 2010 at 5:20 pm

Novomirsky’s “Iz programmi sindikalnovo anarkhizma” (“Anarchism’s trade union programme”)

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Witness evidence and a mini-biography of the author.

Kropotkin [1]: “At no time did we ever see eye to eye with Novomirsky. He is an individual with too much liking for power, and hence he cannot get along with anarchists. Which was of course why he mixed with the Maximalists (a variety of Blanquists with an anarchistic social programme) but what the Maximalists may have to offer the liberation movement remains to be seen” [2] (March 1907)

Nestor Makhno: “[In Moscow prison in 1911] Kirilovski did not arouse much sympathy among his [anarchist] comrades. Even then he was torn between anarchism, individualism and Judaism. As a result, the workers in particular wanted no truck with him” [Nestor Makhno, Memoires et ecrits 1917-1932 (introduction and translation by Alexandre Skirda).

Note added by Skirda: “Kirilovski was primarily known by his pen-name, Novomirsky. He was the author of the Anarcho-Communist Manifesto (1904) and The Anarcho-Syndicalist Programme (1907), writings that had a degree of influence in their day. His thinking later evolved: in 1917, he backed Kropotkin’s stand in favour of war against Germany, before joining the Bolshevik Party in 1918, holding important positions within it. He finished up quitting the Party and disappeared during the Stalinist purges in 1936-1939.” (p 55)

A biography in Russian refers to him as Daniil Novomirsky (real name Yakob Isaevich Kirillovsky, although Michael Confino refers to him as Yankel Isakov (or Yakov Isaakov) Kirillovsky. He was born on 5 March 1882 in Gaisin (northern Ukraine, Kamenets Podolski province) into a family of teachers. He was schooled in Odessa and studied law in Paris. From 1900 onwards he was a Social Democrat. Arrested in February 1904, he was convicted but freed on bail in September 1904 and emigrated.

Once abroad, he sided with the anarchists. Between November 1905 and 1907 he shuttled backwards and forwards between Odessa and abroad and was involved in a number of bank robberies.

Arrested in 1907, he was convicted and sentenced in Odessa to an 8 year prison term of which he served 2 years in Odessa and the remainder in the Butyrki prison in Moscow up until 1915. He was then banished to a town in Siberia, in Irkutsk province. From where he escaped to the USA.

On 19 May 1920 (by which time he had become a Bolshevik) he had an Open Letter to Anarchists published in Pravda. But by 1922 was scathing in his criticism of Bolshevism. He later published pieces about anarchist history. In 1936 he vanished during the purges. Michael Confino contends that he was a Comintern official who, “feeling let down by the NEP which he described as abandoning the aims of the revolution, he left the Party and devoted himself to research. […] Arrested with his wife during the 1936-1937 purges, he was deported along with her to Siberia, where they died on a date unknown.” [3]

From his book The Anarcho-Syndicalist Programme:

The significance of Novomirsky’s approach was his vision of an idealised and out-of-context revolutionary syndicalism. [4] “Trade unionism [5] represents the tactics of the bourgeois liberal, parliamentarism is the tactic of the intellectuals’ collectivism, revolutionary syndicalism is the path to a labour anarchism […] Hence the collectivists who have acknowledged revolutionary syndicalism’s tactics and who, out of fear, have stuck with the ranks of the Social Democracy, will sooner or later, come over to us. And even those honest anarchists who reject revolutionary syndicalism will sooner or later be persuaded of the utter pointlessness of their efforts and that, in the absence of the collaboration of the broad masses of the organised proletariat they descend into apathy; and turn from hot-headed revolutionaries into harmless dreamers and charlatans. Our slogan is Revolution for the people, carried out by the people itself.” [6]


The author has set himself two goals: first to set out a general critique of the mainstays of social democracy; then to set out the general lines of that tendency within anarchism that the French call syndicalism and the Germans Gewerkschaftlicher Anarchismus.

There is no question as to the importance of these tasks. There is no way that one can start to explain anarchism without criticising some of the positions of “scientific socialism” so-called, without first cleaning up socialism’s filth.

On the other hand, I cannot stick within the broad principles of anarchism for two reasons. First, the works of Kropotkin, Jean Grave, Bakunin, Malatesta, Malato and other anarchists have already spelled out the essence of communism and the precept of rejection of power. It being impossible for me to deepen and extrapolate upon the investigations of the writers I have mentioned, I must in effect turn to the older studies familiar to us all. That, it seems to me, is enough and this is why the chapters ‘Collectivism and Communism’, ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘Self-organisation of the People’ touch upon these issues very briefly. Since I am more concerned with familiarising myself in greater detail with the [social] struggle, allow me to refer [readers] to the aforesaid works of the theorists of anarchism, particularly Kropotkin’s classic The Conquest of Bread [and the chapter on] “The Wage System”, etc. Secondly, whilst there is one approach, namely Kropotkin’s teaching, that holds sway within anarchist literature, it strikes me as utterly muddle-headed [7] and replete with remnants of populist prejudices with its extreme subjectivity, sentimentality and erudite humanism. We Russian anarchists who have passed through the marxist school cannot make do with the muddle-headed, sentimental phraseology which our elderly teacher all too often resorts to as arguments. We seek to base our approach on the sound realist foundations of the class struggle, rather than on some muddle about ‘mutual aid’ .We take serious issue with Kropotkin and his followers in Russia, the so-called Khlebovoltsi [supporters of the review Khleb i Volya (Bread and Freedom)] in everything conected with tactical and organisational issues.

On all of these grounds, I believe I need to speak, not in the name of anarchism in general (and of those anarchists who identify with Kropotkin’s teachings) but on behalf of this new departure in Russian anarchism, which, from the outset, has taken on the name of syndicalism. [8] There was one emigré newspaper, Novy Mir [New World] that committed itself to this approach, but unfortunately it was as short-lived as most Russian anarchist newspapers tend to be. [Novomirsky published several articles in its columns, articles he returned to in this book.]

I think it might be worthwhile adding that I was able to spell out the main principles underlying my approach two years ago in a pamphlet entitled Manifest anarkhistov-kommunistov (The Anarcho-Communist Manifesto).


The book’s table of contents
Chapter I: Scientific Socialism (pp. 6-9)
Chapter II: A Few Words about the Forces of Production (pp. 10-15)
Chapter III: The Spirit of revolt and consciousness (pp. 11-20)
Chapter IV: In Defence of Freedom (pp. 21-28)
Chapter V: Authority (pp. 22-36)
Chapter VI: Collectivism and Communism (pp. 37-48)
Chapter VII: Crime and Punishment (pp. 49-51)
Chapter VIII: Self-organisation of the people (pp. 52-61)
Chapter IX: The State and property (pp. 62-66)
Chapter X: How [the Social Democrats] would like to be seen and what they are in practice (pp. 67-89)
Chapter XI: Liberalism, socialism and anarchism (pp. 90-104)
Chapter XII: The class nature of Social Democracy (pp. 105-114)
Chapter XIII: The taking of power (pp. 115-124)
Chapter XIV: The two dictatorships (pp. 125-133)
Chapter XV: Reforms, parliamentarism, direct action (pp. 134-145)
Chapter XVI: Trade unionism, Social Democracy and revolutionary syndicalism (pp. 146-156)
Chapter XVII: On Expropriation (pp. 157-166)
Chapter XVIII: Anarchism, organisation and the party (pp. 167-173)
Chapter XIX: Pressing issues for Russian anarchism (pp. 174-184)
Chapter XX: Now what? (pp. 185-192)
Chapter XXI: Draft (11 point) Anarcho-syndicalist programme (pp. 193-197)
Summation (p. 198)

“To sum up:

1) It strikes us as crucial that a programme and clear cut tactics de drawn up. And that all of the most wholesome elements of Russian anarchism be brought together, on foot of the general guidelines of said programme: the anarchist party.

2) In the realms of ideas and organisation, we must stand apart from those suspect elements which peddle and practise the theory of theft as an anarchist weapon of struggle.

3) At the very core of our activism we should have participation in the revolutionary trade union movement, with an eye to its becoming anarchist.

4) Our practical watchword is: wholesale boycott of all state institutions, especially the army and parliament, and the proclamation in the cities and villages of workers’ communes with soviets headed by workers’ representatives and operating as economic committees.

These points make up the basis for practical action on behalf of this approach, for which I stand.” [9]

Taken from the Draft Anarcho-Syndicalist Programme:

“1) In essence any society is simply a specific form of collaboration, that is, a specific form of the common battle against nature […]

4) In order to protect their privileges, the propertied classes need some stability in property relations, that is, some guarantee of the ownership afforded them by the means and products of production. Hence the need for law, courts, police, army and state […]

8 ) The state cannot wither away until such time as the factors of a new life have been hatched within the framework of the old regime. Since society is mainly the organisation of production, for the old society and the old organisation of the producers to be toppled, a fresh organisation of production with new social relationships and new forms of property must first be nurtured in the bosom of the doomed society.

9) The embryo of the Worldwide Free Workers’ Union of the future in the context of current capitalist society is the labour unions (…)

10) No state can openly permit social forces to organise freely within the framework of the law. Consequently, the anarchist revolutionary syndicates which are bent on bringing anarcho-syndicalism to pass, can and must be exclusively against the law and clandestine. Russian anarcho-syndicalism is conjuring into existence in Russia a Pan-Russian Union of Secret Revolutionary Anarchist Endeavour.

11) Together with the task of creating unions of revolutionary workers – small cells of the free, worker society of the future – and together with workers’ participation in the direct fight with capitalism, Russian anarchists must mount relentless revolutionary struggle against the state, unremittingly dealing it heavy blows, weakening it and destroying it. This destructive effort consists of terrorist attacks on the powers of representatives [of state], capital and church, through rejection of taxation, military service, a shunning of all state institutions, large-scale, violent expropriation of financial hubs, state banks. etc.”


1, Anarchistes en exil (Correspondance inédite de Pierre Kropotkine à Marie Goldsmith 1897-1917), Paris 1995, pp. 235, 243, 272-273 in Russian. The notes, in French, are a valuable contribution from the anthologist Michael Confino (Bulgaria 1926-Israel 2010) who also clarifies the dealings between Bakunin and Nechayev. Of the 368 letters exchanged only half a dozen are not in Russian.

2, The Maximalists represented the Union of Maximalist Socialist Revolutionaries who at first sided with the Bolsheviks only to be quickly gobbled up or eliminated by them.

3, Anarchistes en exil pp. 551-552

4, See

5, Trade unionism meaning unionisation with no class struggle nor aspiration to social change in mind.

6, End of Chapter XVI, pp. 155-156

7, It remains to be seen to what extent the personal animosity to which Kropotkin referred was key to the very cavalier stance subsequently set out by Novomirsky.

8, In English and in Russian alike, ‘syndicalism’ has the ring of a term that is foreign, obsolete and the English prefer the word ‘Union’ and the Russians ‘profsoyuz’ (i.e. trade union).

9, Close of Chapter XIX “Pressing Issues for Russian Anarchism” .This is all of page 184.

From: Article taken from . Translated by: Paul Sharkey.

Written by gulaganarchists

3, December 2010 at 4:34 pm

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