The Unknown Revolution, Book Two : Part 02, Chapter 03

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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.)
• "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.)


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Part 02, Chapter 03


Chapter 3. Other Disagreements

Beside the great divergences of principle which separated the Anarchists and the Bolsheviks, there existed differences of detail between them. Let us mention the two most important incidental points of variance — the question of the purported “workers’ control of production” and that of the Constituent Assembly.

Contemplating the workers’ problem, the Bolshevik Party prepared to begin [moving toward a solution] by instituting the so-called workers’ control of production — that is, the introduction of workers into the management of private enterprises.

The Anarchists objected that if this “control” were not to remain a dead letter, and if the workers’ organizations were capable 6f exercising effective control, then they also were capable of guaranteeing all production. In such an event, private industry could be eliminated quickly, but progressively, and replaced by collective industry. Consequently, the Anarchists rejected the vague nebulous slogan of “control of production”. They advocated expropriation — progressive, but immediate — of private industry by the organizations of collective production.

We want to emphasize, in that connection, that it is absolutely false — I insist on this, because the false assertion, sustained by ignorant people and by those of bad faith, has been fairly widespread — it is false, I say, that in the course of the Russian Revolution, the Anarchists knew only how to “destroy” and “criticize”, “without being able to formulate the least positive ideas”. And it is false that the Anarchists “did not themselves possess, and therefore never expressed sufficiently clear ideas on the application of their own conception”. In looking through the libertarian press of the period [in Russia] (Golos Truda, Anarchy, Nabat, et cetera), one can see that this literature abounded in clear and practical expositions of the role and functioning of the workers’ organizations, as well as the method of action which would, permit the latter, in! cooperation with the peasants, to replace the destroyed capitalist and statist mechanism.

What the Anarchists lacked in the Russian Revolution was not clear and precise ideas, but, as we have said, institutions able, from the start, to apply those ideas to life. And it was the Bolsheviks who, to achieve their own plans, opposed the creation and the functioning of such institutions.

The [Anarchist] ideas, clear and exact, were formulated, the masses were intuitively ready to understand them and to apply them with the help of the revolutionaries, intellectuals, and specialists. The necessary institutions were sketched out and could have \ been rapidly oriented toward the true goal with the aid of the same elements. But the Bolsheviki deliberately prevented the spreading of those ideas and that enlightened assistance, and the activity of the [projected] institutions. For they wanted action only for themselves and under the form of political power.

This complex of facts, specific and incontestable, is basic for ; anyone who seeks to understand the development and meaning of the Russian Revolution. The reader will find in these pages numerous examples — chosen from among thousands — bearing out 1 my statements, point by point.

We come now to the other controversial issue mentioned — the Constituent Assembly.

To continue the Revolution and transform it into a social revolution, the Anarchists saw no utility in calling such an assembly, an institution essentially political and bourgeois, cumbersome and sterile, an institution which, by its very nature, placed itself “above the social struggles” and concerned itself only, by means of dangerous compromises, with stopping the Revolution, and even suppressing it if possible.

So the Anarchists tried to make known to the masses the uselessness of the Constituent Assembly, and the necessity of going beyond it and replacing it at once with economic and social organizations, if they really wanted to begin a social revolution.

As seasoned politicians, the Bolsheviks hesitated to abandon the Constituent Assembly frankly. (Its convocation, as we have seen, occupied a prominent place on their program before the seizure of power). This hesitation had several reasons behind it: On the one hand, the Bolsheviki did not see any inconvenience in having the Revolution “stopped” at the stage where it was, provided they remained masters of power. The Assembly could serve their interests if, for example, its majority were Bolsheviks or if the Deputies approved their direction and their acts. On the other hand, the masses were closely attached to [the idea of] the Assembly, and it was not prudent to contradict them in the beginning. Finally, the Bolsheviks did not feel themselves strong enough to risk furnishing a trump card to their enemies, who, recalling the formal promises of the party before the seizure of power, could cry Treason! and disturb the masses.

For, since the latter were not thoroughly curbed and subjugated, their spirit was on guard, and their temper was very changeable; the example of the Kerensky government still fresh in memory. Finally, the party decided on this solution: to proceed with the calling of the Constituent Assembly, while supervising the elections minutely and exerting maximum effort to make sure that the results were favorable to the Bolsheviki regime.

If the Assembly was pro-Bolshevik, or at least docile and without real importance, it would be maneuvered and used for the ends of the government. If, however, the Assembly was not favorable to Bolshevism, the leaders of the party would observe closely the reactions of the masses, and dissolve the gathering on the first favorable occasion. To be sure, the game was somewhat risky. But counting on its vast and profound popularity, and also on the lack of power in the hands of the Assembly, which, moreover, was certain to compromise itself if it took a stand against Bolshevism, the risk was accepted. The events which followed demonstrated that the Bolshevik Party did not deceive itself.

Fundamentally, the promise of the Bolsheviks to call the Constituent Assembly as soon as they assumed power, was to them, only a demagogic formula. In their game, it was a card which might win everything at one toss. If the Assembly validated their power, their position would speedily and peculiarly be confirmed throughout the country and abroad. If the contrary should be the case, they felt that they had sufficient strength to be able to get rid of the Assembly without difficulty.

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November 30, 1920 :
Part 02, Chapter 03 -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 19:21:56 :
Part 02, Chapter 03 -- Added to

February 28, 2020 10:01:08 :
Part 02, Chapter 03 -- Last Updated on


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