The Bolshevik Myth : Preface

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1925

People

(1870 - 1936) ~ Globe-Trotting Anarchist, Journalist, and Exposer of Bolshevik Tyranny : He was a well-known anarchist leader in the United States and life-long friend of Emma Goldman, a young Russian immigrant whom he met on her first day in New York City. The two became lovers and moved in together, remaining close friends for the rest of Berkman's life. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "But when the industries will again begin to function more or less systematically, [Soviet] Russia will face a very difficult and complex labor situation. Labor organizations, trade unions, do not exist in Russia, so far as the legitimate activities of such bodies are concerned. The Bolsheviki abolished them long ago. With developing production and capitalism, governmental as well as private, Russia will see the rise of a new proletariat whose interests must naturally come into conflict with those of the employing class. A bitter struggle is imminent. A struggle of a twofold nature: against the private capitalist, and against the State as an employer of labor." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)
• "Or will the workers at last learn the great lesson Of the Russian Revolution that every government, whatever its fine name and nice promises is by its inherent nature, as a government, destructive of the very purposes of the social revolution? It is the mission of government to govern, to subject, to strenghten and perpetuate itself. It is high time the workers learn that only their own organized, creative efforts, free from Political and State interference, can make their age-long struggle for emancipation a lasting success." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)
• "The present situation in Russia [in 1921] is most anomalous. Economically it is a combination of State and private capitalism. Politically it remains the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' or, more correctly, the dictatorship of the inner circle of the Communist Party." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)

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Preface

The text is from my copy of Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth, New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925. Page numbers are in the source code.

PREFACE

      Revolution breaks the social forms grown too narrow for man. It bursts the molds which constrict him the more solidified they become, and the more Life ever striving forward leaves them. In this dynamic process the Russian Revolution has gone further than any previous revolution.

      The abolition of the established --- politically and economically, socially and ethically --- the attempt to replace it with something different, is the reflex of man's changed needs, of the awakened consciousness of the people. Back of revolution are the millions of living humans who embody its inner spirit, who feel, think, and have their being in it. To them revolution is not a mere change of externals: it implies the complete dislocation of life, the shattering of dominant traditions, the annulment of accepted standards. The habitual, measured step of existence is interrupted, accustomed criterions become inoperative, former precedents are void. Existence is forced into uncharted channels; every action demands self-reliance; every detail calls for new, independent decision. The typical, the familiar, have disappeared; dissolved is the coherence and interrelation of the parts that formerly constituted one whole. New values are to be created.

      This inner life of revolution, which is its sole meaning, has almost entirely been neglected by writers on the Russian Revolution. Many books have been published about that tremendous social upheaval, but seldom do they strike its true keynote. They treat of the fall and rise of institutions, of the new State and its structure, of constitutions and laws --- of the exclusively external manifestations, which nearly make one forget the living millions who continue to exist, to be, under all changing conditions.

      Justly Taine said that in studying the French Revolution he found statistics and data, official documents and edicts least illuminative of the real character of the period. Its significant expression, its deeper sense, he discovered in the lives, thoughts, and feelings of the people, in their personal reactions as portrayed in the memoirs, journals, and letters of contemporaries.

      The present work is compiled from the Diary which I kept during my two years' stay in Russia. It is the chronicle of an intense experience, of impressions and observations noted down day by day, in different parts of the country, among various walks of life. Most of the names are deleted, for the obvious reason of protecting the persons in question.

      So far as I know it is the only journal kept in Russia during those momentous years (1920-1922). It was a rather difficult task, as those familiar with Russian conditions will understand. But long practice in such matters --- keeping memoranda even in prison --- enabled me to preserve my Diary through many vicissitudes and searches, and get it safely out of the country. Its Odyssey was adventurous and eventful. After having journeyed through Russia for two years, the Diary succeeded in crossing the border, only to be lost before it could join me. There followed an anxious hunt through several European lands, and when hope of locating my notebooks was almost given up, they were discovered in the attic of a very much frightened old lady in Germany. But that is another story.

      Sufficient that the manuscript was finally found and can now be presented to the public in the present volume. If it will aid in visualizing the inner life of the Revolution during the period described, if it will bring the reader closer to the Russian people and their great martyrdom, the mission of my Diary will be accomplished and my efforts well repaid.

ALEXANDER BERKMAN.

From : Anarchy Archives

Chronology

November 30, 1924 :
Preface -- Publication.

February 02, 2017 17:09:51 :
Preface -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

September 20, 2017 16:16:11 :
Preface -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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