The Unknown Revolution, Book Two : Part 04, Chapter 10

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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.)
• "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.)
• "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.)


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Part 04, Chapter 10

Chapter 10. Bolshevik “Justice”

It remains for us to cast a quick glance at the administrative and judiciary procedures of the Bolshevik regime during that period.

Moreover, these procedures, essentially, have hardly changed at all. If, in our days, they are less frequently employed, it is because all those who were subjected to them in the past have been exterminated. But still, fairly recently, the same principles and measures have been applied to the “Trotskyists”, to the anti-Stalinist old Bolsheviks, to functionaries fallen into disgrace: officers, policemen, and others.

As we have stated, there exists in Russia a political police system which works in secret, which has the right to arrest people secretly, without any formal arraignment, to try them secretly without witnesses or lawyers, to condemn them secretly to various penalties, including death, or to renew their detention or exile for as long as it may see fit.

This is a cardinal point. The hateful regimen applied to prisoners and exiles — we will insist upon this statement despite all the denials by foreign “delegates” deceived or bought — is only an aggravated circumstance. Even if the life in the Russian prisons had the humanitarian character ascribed to it by the officials and their acolytes, it would not be any less true that honest workers could be arbitrarily removed [from their homes or jobs], thrown into prison, and deprived of the right to struggle for their cause, simply on the simple decision of some functionaries.

During the period with which we are especially concerned, that omnipotent police force was called the Cheka, an abbreviation of its complete Russian name: Chrezvytchainaya Kommissia, Extraordinary Commission. The Cheka was established at the end of 1917, on Lenin’s initiative, by a nucleus of Communist militants who had proven themselves in the struggle against Czarism and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of the central committee of the Russian Communist Party.

At that time the Communists justified the existence of this institution and the special features of its functioning by [pointing to] the necessity of acting swiftly against the numerous plots [so they alleged] threatening the Revolution. Later this argument lost Us value. The Cheka could no longer use it. For a new problem had to be dealt with — that of defending the Power against the Revolution.

In 1923 the change of the secret police force’s title to that of G.P.U., also an abbreviation, altered only a few aspects of its practices. And subsequently nothing was changed, except the individuals at the top. The names of three are fairly well known abroad — Djerzinsky, creator and animator of the Cheka, who died suddenly, or who, according to some, was executed while on duty by order of Stalin; Yagoda, executed as a result of a famous “trial”; and Yejov, his successor, who mysteriously disappeared.

The Cheka never issued reports on its activities, neither to the workers at large, nor to their “representatives”. Those activities were always pursued with the greatest mystery. Information was supplied to the Cheka by a vast network of secret agents, of which a sizable part was recruited from the former Czarist police. And the Cheka also took advantage of the duty imposed on all Communists to help the “revolutionary” police by giving information, denunciations, et cetera.

The despotism, the abuses, the crimes perpetrated in the dungeons of the surpasses all imagination. We cannot take time to enumerate them here; this particular subject deserves a volume by itself. The future historian will be horrified when the archives are opened and give forth their terrible human documentation. Readers will find edifying examples in certain available books.

In that period, tribunals and public trials for political cases did not exist. Even today such trials are exceptional. Then the Cheka conducted them exclusively.

As a rule, arrests were without appeal. And [at first] the sentences were not published. Later, occasionally, in a few lines, limited mention of oral trials before the police was made in the press. These references showed only that a case had been put on the calendar and that a given sentence was imposed. Reasons for the sentence were never stated.

Sentences were carried out by the Cheka itself. If the verdict was death, the prisoner was taken from his cell, and usually executed by a revolver bullet in the back of the neck at the moment when, followed by a Chekist executioner, he was descending the last step of a staircase leading to the cellar. Then the body was buried secretly. It was never returned to the prisoner’s relatives. Frequently the latter heard of the execution of their kin only indirectly — by the refusal of the prison administration to receive food that they? brought for him. The classic phrase was of gem-like simplicity : “So-and-so no longer appears on the prison records.” This could mean transfer to another prison or exile. If it was death, the formula was the same. No other explanation was permitted. It was up to the relatives to make inquiries elsewhere to learn exactly what had happened.

Exile always administrative, meant deportation to the most distant and barren parts of the vast country: either to the warm and marshy regions, extremely unhealthy, in Turkestan, or to the extreme North, in the terrible regions of Narym or Turukhansk. Often enough the Government “amused itself” by sending exiles first to Turkestan and then suddenly transferring them to the far North, or vise versa. It was an indirect but certain way of sending them into the other world.

The correspondence between the Aid Committee and the libertarians exiled to the North revealed the physical and moral horror of the “life” of these victims. Arriving at their destination, they were henceforth isolated from the world. Such destinations, in several instances, were forgotten towns and villages whose inhabitants lived by hunting or fishing. Mail came only once or twice a year. Hundreds of these settlements comprised only four or five huts lost in a desert of ice and snow.

Those exiles suffered all the illnesses of malnutrition, cold, and inactivity — scurvy, tuberculosis, heart and stomach diseases. Life was a slow torture and death came as a deliverance.

The prisons where the libertarians, the Syndicalists, the “oppositionists”, the simple workers, peasants, or other citizens who had rebelled or were merely suspects, were confined, were never visited by the foreign delegations. Such visiting groups usually were conducted through Sokolniki, Lefortovo, and certain sections of Butyrki — that is, they were taken to the Moscow prisons where the counter-revolutionaries, speculators, and common-law prisoners were kept. Sometimes these were persuaded to call themselves “political prisoners” and to praise the prison administration by promises of a reduction of their sentences.

Some delegations were allowed to visit the prison for Social Democrats in Tiflis, in the Caucasus. But certain other prisons were never visited by foreign delegations or individual travelers — notably, the camp at Solovki, often mentioned in the foreign press, but remaining mysterious; the Suzdal prison (a former monastery, transformed), the “political isolator” of Verkhne-Urals, that of Tobolsk, or that of Yaroslav. One could add numerous prisons and many concentration camps scattered throughout the country. All have remained totally unknown to the naive, or the interested, who [were led] to give, on their return from a “study” trip in “the first Socialist nation”, favorable reports on “the new prison regime created by the U.S.S.R.”.

And Romain Rolland says that he was able to discover the existence of administrative justice in “Soviet” Russia.

The unleashed repression, the violence against the people, the terror — these made up the crown of the Bolsheviks’ work, of their “soviet” regime.

To justify all this horror, they invoked the interests of the Revolution. But nothing could have been more false, more hypocritical, than this attempted justification.

The Anarchists have been exterminated in Russia, they can exist there no longer, simply because they defended the very principles of the Social Revolution, because they struggle for the real economic, political, and social freedom of the people.

The revolutionaries in general, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have been annihilated in Russia by a new authority and by a new privileged caste, which, like all authorities and all privileged castes in the world, have nothing of the revolutionary spirit, and maintain themselves in power only by the thirst to dominate and exploit in their turn. Their system is supported by ruse and violence, like any authoritarian and statist system — necessarily dominator, exploiter, and oppressor.

The “Communist” statist regime is only a variety of the Fascist regime. It is high time that the workers of all countries understood this, that they reflect upon it, and that they learn profitable lessons from this terrible negative experience.

Moreover, current events are contributing powerfully to this result, and coming events will contribute further to them. As I write these lines, in December, 1939, Bolshevism finally is in the process of going outside of its frontiers, out of its Russian “cage”. One will see it at work in due time. I have not the slightest doubt of the nature of the final judgment.

These events will contribute equally, I hope, to a better understanding of the present work and its revelations. And I also hope that this book will enable the reading public to understand certain facts better.

Among other things, it is in the light of these revelations that one can understand the rise of Josef Stalin. As a matter of fact, Stalin did not “fall from the moon”. Stalin and “Stalinism” are simply the logical consequences of a preliminary and preparatory evolution, itself the result of a terrible mistake, of an evil deviation of the Revolution.

It was Lenin and Trotsky — that is to say, their system — which prepared the ground for and gave rise to Stalin.

To all those who, having supported Lenin, Trotsky, and their colleagues, today fulminate against Stalin, it must be said: They reap what they sowed!

It is true that logic is not the province of everyone. But let them correct their aim at least, before it is too late.

Fifteen years ago an Anarchist in touch with the facts, wrote certain words — fine, vigorous, and just. These:

Here are the facts which demonstrate the eternal authoritarian monstrosity. May they make recoil in horror those who venture blindly into the way of dictatorship, whether it be in the name of the vast sublime ideal, or the most logical formula of sociology. May they especially, on the eve of events which might lead to a revolutionary situation, be impelled to take all precautions, not only to avoid the traps in which the Russian Anarchists were caught and slaughtered, but also be capable, in the revolutionary hours, of opposing practical conceptions of production and distribution of goods to those of the Communist dictators.

Later, a little before his death, the Anarchist convictions of the man who wrote those words gave way. In a moment of madness, he approved of Bolshevism.

Happily, if men, generally weak and inconsequential beings bend, deform themselves, and pass away, the truths, which they formerly proclaimed, remain.

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November 30, 1920 :
Part 04, Chapter 10 -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 19:32:01 :
Part 04, Chapter 10 -- Added to

May 28, 2017 15:36:13 :
Part 04, Chapter 10 -- Last Updated on


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