The Unknown Revolution, Book One : Part 01, Chapter 04

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(1882 - 1945) ~ Bolshevik-Aligned Leader of the Russian Nabat Anarchists : March of 1920 saw him taken to Moscow, where he would remain prisoner until October, when he and many other anarchists were released by virtue of a treaty between the Soviet Union and Makhno's army. Voline then returned to Kharkov, resuming his old activities... (From : Rudolph Rocker Bio.)
• "Yet there is consolation to be had. The masses learn through all too palpable first hand experience. And the experience is there." (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)
• "As we know, there it was an authoritarian state communism (Bolshevism) that scored a stunning and rather easy victory in the events of 1917. Now, these days, nearly seventeen years on from that victory, not only is communism proving powerless to resist fascism abroad, but, where the regime within the USSR itself is concerned, the latter is more and more often being described more and more deliberately as 'red fascism'." (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)
• "Socialism, so mighty in Germany, Austria and Italy, has proved powerless. 'Communism', itself very strong, especially in Germany, has proved powerless. The trade unions have proved powerless. How are we to account for this?" (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)


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Part 01, Chapter 04

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 Czarism, 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 Czar 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 Czars.

Taking their desires for realities, certain liberal “zemst-vos” (municipal councils) presented the young Czar 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 Czar 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.

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November 30, 1946 :
Part 01, Chapter 04 -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 19:08:34 :
Part 01, Chapter 04 -- Added to

May 28, 2017 15:36:11 :
Part 01, Chapter 04 -- Last Updated on


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