The Unknown Revolution, Book One

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1947

People

(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.)
• "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.)
• "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.)
• "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.)

Sections

This document contains 19 sections, with 41,896 words or 281,368 characters.

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The present work is a complete translation of La Revolution Inconnue, 1917–1921, first published in French in 1947, and re-published in Paris in 1969 by Editions Pierre Belfond. An abridged, two-volume English translate of the work was published in 1954 and 1955 by the Libertarian Book Club (New York City) and Freedom Press (London). The present edition contains all the materials included in the earlier edition (translated by Holley Cantine), as well as the sections which were omitted (Book I, Part I and II, and some brief omissions later in the work, translated by Fredy Perlman). In the newly translated sections, Russian words are transliterated into English. However, in the sections which are reprinted from the earlier edition, French transliteration of Russian words was frequently retained in the English translation. As a result the present edition, a Russian word is frequently spelled in two different ways. Voline (1882... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Voline (1882–1945) by Rudolf Rocker Introduction: Some Essential Preliminary Notes Preface Part I. The First Fruits (1825–1905) Chapter 1. Russia at the Beginning of the 19th Century; Birth of the Revolution Chapter 2. Repression, Violence and Failure; Development Continues (1825–1855) Chapter 3. Reforms; Resumption of the Revolution “The Failure of Czarism” and the Failure of Revolution; Reaction (1855–1881) Chapter 4. The End of the Century; Marxism; Rapid Evolution; Reaction (1881–1900) Chapter 5. The 20th Century; Hasty Development; Revolutionary Advance; Results (1900... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Introduction: Some Essential Preliminary Notes “Russian Revolution” can mean three things: either the entire revolutionary movement, from the revolt of the Decembrists until the present; or only the two consecutive uprisings of 1905 and 1917; or, finally, only the great explosion of 1917. In this work, “Russian Revolution” is used in the first sense, as the entire movement. This is the only way the reader will be able to understand the development and totality of events as well as the present situation in the U.S.S.R. A relatively complete history of the Russian Revolution would require more than one volume. This would have to be a long-term project carried out by future historians. Here we are concerned with a more limited project whose aims are: (a) to provide understanding of the entirety of the movement; (b) to underline its essential elements, which are largely unk... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Preface Every revolution — even when studied closely by many authors of various tendencies, and at different times — long remains, fundamentally, a great Unknown. Centuries pass, and from time to time, men turn up new facts and unpublished documents among the remains of old uprisings. These discoveries upset our knowledge and ideas which we had supposed to be complete. How many works about the French Revolution of 1789 already existed when Kropotkin and Jaures unearthed from the ruins elements unknown until then, which threw unexpected light on that period? And didn’t Jaures say that the vast archives of the Great Revolution were hardly tapped? Generally, it is not known how to study a revolution, just as it is still not known how to write the history of a people. Moreover, authors, even when experienced and conscientious, commit errors and negligences which prevent the reader from getting a clear understanding of their... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Part I. The First Fruits (1825–1905) Chapter 1. Russia at the Beginning of the 19th Century; Birth of the Revolution The enormous size of the country, a sparse population whose disunity makes it an easy prey for invaders, Mongol domination for more than two centuries, continual wars, varied catastrophes and other unfavorable factors caused the enormous political, economic, social and cultural backwardness of Russia in relation to other European countries. Politically, Russia entered the 19th century under the rule of an absolute monarchy (the autocratic “Czar”) which was dependent on an enormous landed and military aristocracy, an omnipotent bureaucracy, an extensive and pious clergy, and a peasant mass consisting of 75,000,000 souls — primitive, illiterate and prostrate before their “little father,” the Czar. Economically, the country had r... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 2. Repression, Violence and Failure; Development Continues (1825–1855) The reign of Nicholas I lasted from 1825 to 1855. From a revolutionary point of view nothing striking characterizes these years. This thirty year period is nevertheless notable in several important respects. Having ascended to the throne in the shadow of the Decembrist revolt, Nicholas I undertook to hold the country in an iron vise so as to squelch in the bud any expression of liberalism. He strengthened absolute rule to the limit and succeeded in transforming Russia jnto a bureaucratic and repressive state. ! The French revolution and the revolutionary movements which subsequently shook Europe were nightmares for him. He undertook extraordinary precautionary measures. The entire population was closely watched. The arbitrariness of the bureaucracy, the police and the courts no longer had any limits. Any expression of indepe... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 3. Reforms; Resumption of the Revolution “The Failure of Czarism” and the Failure of Revolution; Reaction (1855–1881) It was the son and successor of Nicholas I, Emperor Alexander II, who had to face the difficult situation of the country and the regime. General discontent, pressure from the progressive intellectual strata, fear of an uprising by the peasant masses, and finally the economic necessities of the period, forced the Czar to give in and embark resolutely on a path of reform, despite the bitter resistance of reactionary circles. He decided to put an end to the purely bureaucratic system and to the absolute arbitrariness of administrative officers, and instituted far-reaching changes in the judicial system. Above all, he confronted the problem of serfdom. From 1860 on, reforms followed each other in rapid and uninterrupted succession. The most important were: the abolition of serfdom ; the... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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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 co... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 5. The 20th Century; Hasty Development; Revolutionary Advance; Results (1900–1905) The events and characteristics which we have just mentioned became even more pronounced at the beginning of the twentieth century. On the one hand, instead of recognizing the aspirations of society, the absolutist regime decided to maintain itself by all possible means and to suppress not only all revolutionary movements, but also any expression of opposition. It was during this period that the government of Nicholas II diverted the growing discontent of the population by means of large-scale anti-Semitic propaganda followed by the instigation — and even the organization — of Jewish pogroms. On the other hand, the economic development of the country continued at an accelerated pace. In a period of five years, from 1900 to 1905, industry and technology made an enormous leap. Petroleum production (at Baku... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Part II. The Jolt (1905–1906) Chapter 1. The Gaponist Epic; First General Strike In Moscow Zubatov was fairly quickly unmasked. He was not able to accomplish a great deal. But in St. Petersburg the affair went much better. Gapon, very crafty, working in the shadows, knew how to win the confidence and even the affection of groups of workers. Genuinely talented as an agitator and organizer, he succeeded in setting up so-called “Workers’ Sections” which he personally led and which he stimulated with his energetic activity. Toward the end of 1904 there were eleven of these sections, located in different areas of the capital, with a membership of several thousands. Workers voluntarily attended these “Sections” in the evening to discuss their problems, listen to lectures, look at the newspapers. Since the entrance was rigorously guarded by the Gaponist workers themselves, the militants of the political parties c... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 2. The Birth of the “Soviets” We now arrive at one of the most important aspects of the Russian Revolution: the origin and the initial activity of the “Soviets. “ Another paradoxical fact: this is one of the least understood and most frequently distorted aspects of the Revolution. In all that has been written to this day on the origin of the “Soviets” — I do not only speak of foreign studies, but also of Russian documents — there is a gap which the interested reader cannot fail to notice: no one has yet been able to determine precisely when, where or how the first workers’ “Soviet” was formed. Until today, almost all writers and historians, bourgeois as well as socialist (“Menshevik,” “Bolshevik” or other) dated the origin of the first “Workers’ Soviet” at the end of 1905,... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 3. The Disastrous War; Victory of a Revolutionary Strike The waves raised by the events of January 1905 were not to be calmed right away. This time the entire country had been jolted. From Spring, 1905 on, the general situation of the Czarist regime became increasingly untenable. The main reason was the bitter defeat experienced by Czarist Russia in its war against Japan. This war, which began in February, 1904, accompanied by a great deal of arrogance and carried out largely with the aim of stimulating nationalistic, patriotic, and monarchist feelings, was hopelessly lost. The Russian army and fleet were totally defeated. Public opinion openly blamed the incompetence of the authorities and the degeneration of the regime for the failure. Not only masses of workers, but other strata as well, were rapidly seized by a growing anger and spirit of revolt. The effect of the defeats — which followed one a... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 4. Defeat of the Revolution; Evaluation of the Jolt Toward the end of 1905, the French bourgeoisie decided in favor of the loan, and high finance granted it. This “blood transfusion” saved the moribund Czarist regime. In addition, the government succeeded in ending the war with a peace treaty which was not overly humiliating. From that point on, reaction took up where it had left off. Dangling a beautiful future before the eyes of the people, it fought and encircled the revolution. The Revolution would in any case have died on its own. The October strike was its supreme effort and its highest point. What it needed now was to take a “breath,” to “pause.” Furthermore, it could count on rebounding later on, perhaps under the stimulus given to it by a left-wing Duma. In the meantime, the freedoms which had been taken by the people and then promised post factum by the... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 5. The “Pause” (1905–1917) The twelve years — exactly — which separate the real revolution from its first attempt, the “explosion” from the “jolt,” did not add anything salient from a revolutionary point of view. On the contrary, reaction flourished all along the line. We should nevertheless take note of some major strikes and of a rebellion in the Baltic Fleet at Kronstadt which was savagely repressed. The fate of the Duma was the outstanding event of this period. The Duma began its sessions in May, 1906, in St. Petersburg. Immense popular enthusiasm accompanied these first sessions. In spite of all of the government’s machinations, the Duma came out against the government. The Constitutional Democratic Party dominated it by the number of its members and the quality of its representatives. S. Muromtsev, professor at Moscow University and one of the party’s most distinguished members, w... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Part III. The Explosion Chapter 1. War and Revolution Like the governments of other countries, that of Czar Nikolai 11 succeeded in arousing, at the beginning of the European war in 1914, the whole gamut of evil instincts, animal passions, and wicked sentiments such as nationalism and chauvinism. In Russia, as in those other lands, millions of men were duped, hypnotized, disoriented, and compelled to rush to the battle front like a herd of cattle to a slaughter-house, while the real problems of the hour were forgotten. And the few early “successes” attained by the Czarist troops further kindled “the great enthusiasm of the people”. Nevertheless a special note was blended in this artificial and directed concert, an idea deeply implanted in the spirit was hiding behind this “enthusiasm”. Very well — the Army and nearly all the civilians reasoned — we wil... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 2. Triumph of the Revolution The decisive action occurred on February 27, 1917. From early morning, whole regiments of the Petrograd garrison, no longer hesitant, mutinied, left their barracks, arms in hand, and took over certain strategic points in the capital, after brief skirmishes with the police. The Revolution gained ground. At a given moment, a dense mass of demonstrators, defiant and grimly threatening, and partially armed, assembled in Znamenskaya Square and in the vicinity of the Nikolaievsky railway station. The Government sent two cavalry regiments from the Imperial Guard, the soldiers it still could trust, as well as a strong detachment of police, both on foot and mounted. The troops were supposed to support and assist the police. After the usual summons [warning the demonstrators to disperse], the police commander gave an order to charge the crowd. But now another last-moment “mir... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 3. Toward the Social Revolution The provisional government formed by the Duma was of course strictly bourgeois and conservative. Its members, Prince Lvov, Gutchkov, Milioukov, and others (with the exception of Kerensky, who was vaguely Socialist) nearly all belonged politically to the Constitutional Democratic party; socially to the privileged classes. For them, once absolutism was overthrown, the Revolution was over. In reality it had only begun. Now, they wanted to “reestablish order”, ameliorate little by little the general situation in the country and at the battle-front, “push” the war more actively than ever, inspire it with new spirit, and especially prepare peacefully for the calling of the Constituent Assembly, which would establish the new fundamental laws of the nation, the new political regime, and the new form of government. Henceforth the people had only to wait patiently and prudently, like the go... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 4. Toward a Socialist Government; The Poverty of Socialism Thus the first provisional Russian government, essentially bourgeois, was rapidly and inevitably reduced to manifest ridiculous and fatal impotence. The poor thing did what it could to maintain itself: it maneuvered, it temporized, it stalled. Meanwhile all the cardinal problems also were bogged down. Criticism of and then general anger against this phantom government increased from day to day. Soon its existence became insupportable. Scarcely sixty days after its solemn inauguration, it was compelled to give way, without a struggle, on May 6, to a so-called “coalition” government (with Socialist participation), whose most influential member was Alexander Kerensky, a very moderate Social Revolutionary, or rather “independent” Socialist. Could this bourgeois-Socialist regime hope to achieve more satisfactory results than its predecessor? Certainly not. For... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Chapter 5. The Bolshevik Revolution At the end of October, 1917, the climax drew near in Russia. The masses were ready for a new revolution. Several spontaneous uprisings since July (the one already mentioned in Petrograd, one in Kaluga, another in Kazan) and disturbances among both troops and civilians, were adequate evidence of this. From that time onward the Bolshevik Party saw itself in a position to avail itself of two real forces — the confidence of the great masses and a large majority in the Army. It went into action and feverishly prepared for a decisive battle which it was determined to win. Its agitation was furious. It put the finishing touches on the formation of workers’ and soldiers’ units for the crucial combat. Also it organized, completely, its own units and drew up, for use in the event of success, the composition of the projected Bolshevik government, with Lenin at its head. He watched developments close... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

Chronology

1947 :
The Unknown Revolution, Book One -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 ; 5:33:40 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

April 15, 2019 ; 4:07:46 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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