The Unknown Revolution, Book Two : Part 05, Chapter 05

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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.)
• "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.)
• "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 05, Chapter 05

Chapter 5. Political Structure

In our analysis of the role of the functionaries, we touch upon the political structure of the U.S.S.R.

Politically it is governed by the high State functionaries (as France, according to a time-honored formula, is governed by the prefects), and administered by an innumerable army of subordinate functionaries under their command.

It remains for us to support this statement with certain indispensable details. Ahead of everything else, it is necessary to distinguish between two absolutely different elements. The one consists of appearance, decorations, the stage setting, (the sole heritage of the glorious October Revolution); the other is the reality.

In appearance, the U.S.S.R. is governed by the soviets. (“The Soviets everywhere!” shout the French Communists, without knowing what to believe about the “soviets”, without having the slightest notion of their real history and their real role).

Nothing could be more false. The good people abroad who still believe sincerely in this myth are letting themselves be royally “rolled”.

Without losing ourselves in details, let us establish the essential facts, emphasizing the characteristics that are unknown or little known.

For a very long time the Soviets (workers’ councils) have not played any important role in the U.S.S.R., either politically or socially. Their use is wholly secondary, and even insignificant. They are purely administrative, executive organs, in charge of minor local duties of no importance, entirely subordinated to the “directives” of the central authorities: the government and directing organs of the “Communist” Party... The Soviets do not have even the shadow of power.

A great misunderstanding about the Soviets prevails outside of Russia. For many workers in other countries, the term soviet has something mysterious about it. A mass of sincere, naive people — “dopes”, as the saying goes — mistaking bladders for lanterns, have faith in the “Socialist” and “revolutionary” decor of the new impostors. In Russia, the masses are forced by violence and other methods of control to accept that imposture (exactly as in Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy). But millions of workers in other countries naively let themselves be hoodwinked, unaware of the fraud of which they will one day be the first victims.

Let us clear up this question of the Soviets.

Two essential facts must be emphasized:

First: The creation of the “Soviets” in Russia took place only because of the absence of other workers’ organizations, under the pressing necessity of setting up mechanism for information, coordination, and common action in various factories. It is certain that if Russia had possessed labor unions and a Syndicalist movement in 1905, the idea of forming Soviets never would have arisen, and recourse never would have been had to these vague organisms, completely fortuitous and purely representative.

Second: Basically, a soviet is not an organism of tws dtass struggle, of revolutionary action. It can only be a living active cell, of the social transformation or of the new society in the process of birth. By its very structure it is a weak, passive institution, of a rather bureaucratic, or, at its best, administrative character. A Soviet can take care of certain small local duties, nothing more. It is a sort of workers’ municipal council. But — and this is serious — because of its structure, and especially of its pretensions, it can become, under certain circumstances, an instrument in the hands of a political party or of a government, as was the case in Russia. Thus it is subject to “the political disease”, and, consequently, spells a certain danger for the Revolution.

For these two reasons, this whole famous system of the “Soviets”, product of the specific conditions in which the workers’ movement in Russia found itself, has no interest and no utility for workers in countries where Syndicalist organs, a Syndicalist movement, and a Syndicalist struggle exist; nor for countries in which the workers have had their class organizations of combat and social reconstruction for a long time; nor for countries where the laboring masses have prepared for a final direct struggle, outside the State, political parties, and any kind of government.

In appearance, we have said, Russia is governed by the Soviets (“free emanations of the working class”, according to the myth spread abroad). Theoretically today — that is, according to the old “Soviet” written constitution, the supreme power in the U.S.S.R. belongs to the Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets, convoked periodically, and having, in principle, the right to name, eliminate, or replace the Government. In principle, the Soviets hold the legislative power, and their “executives” the executive power.

But in reality it is the Government itself — the Council of People’s Commissars, direct emanation of the Communist Party — which holds, in an absolute way, all the force and all the power, both legislative and executive, in the country.

It is the Government that is master, not the Soviets.

It is the Government which can, if it wishes, wipe out the Congress of Soviets, or any Soviet taken separately, or any member of a Soviet in case of opposition or disobedience. For it is the Government which holds all the “levers of command”.

Yet that is not all. The real government is not even the Council of People’s Commissars, which is itself only an ornament, but rather the Politbureau (political bureau), which consists of a few top men of the C.P., members of its central committee. That isn’t all either. In fact, it is the brutal and cunning chief of the party and of the central committee, the “great” and “genial” Stalin (or whoever replaces him) who is the real supreme power: the dictator, the Vojd (Duce or Fiihrer) of the country. This man can say, with much more reason than Louis XIV: “L’Etat (the U.S.S.R.) c’est moi!” (“I am the State!”).

It is Stalin (or his eventual successor) who is [or will be] supported by the “areopagus (the Politbureau), the Council of People’s Commissars, the whole party, the “candidates” (aspirants) for the party, the privileged strata, the bureaucracy, the “apparatus”, the Army, and the police. For all this world depends on him, materially and morally, and only exists thanks to him. All this world believes blindly in his strength and skill in safeguarding the regime, which is constantly threatened by formless discontent and the rage — for the moment powerless — of the deceived, subjugated, and exploited masses.

It is he, the “great leader”, and then the Politburo, the party’s central committee, and the Council of People’s Commissars, who impose their will on the Soviets, and not the reverse.

Some claim that Stalin and all these institutions rule by the will of the people: for, it is said, all the members of the Government, of the directing organs, and of the Soviets are elected, freely and secretly. But, by closely examining the mechanism and the provisions which regulate them, it is easy to see even without participating in them, that these “free and secret” elections are merely a comedy (more or less like everywhere else).

If, at the very beginning, the elections to the Soviets were relatively secret[39] — the vast masses being for the Soviets, the Government had nothing to fear on that score, and moreover, it was impossible to deceive the masses immediately — this relative freedom has not been in existence for a long time now. For years the elections in the “Soviet” Union have been neither free nor secret, and although this is entirely official, it does not displease the ignorant “followers” in other countries, who have always denj«!a the facts. It is notorious, in fact, that the pretended “freedom” and “secrecy” of elections were “granted” to the people recently, by the famous “democratic Constitution” of Stalin. And the real purpose of that gesture was to appease the growing discontent in the U.S.S.R., and further, to throw dust in the eyes of foreign workers.

Henceforth Stalin and his government had the certainty of being able to remain masters of the situation, despite the “freedom” and “secrecy” of the elections. The “apparatus” of the State was sufficiently solid — and the people sufficiently subdued — so that the Government had the herd of voters at its mercy, despite the “freedoms” granted. The very text of the “Constitution” permits one to discern the calculations.

Today, in spite of all appearances, the elections are inspired, even imposed, led, organized, and supervised closely by innumerable agents of the omnipotent government. The committees, the “cells”, and the other local party organs, “suggest” their ideas to the voters and impose their candidates. And there is only one list of the latter, presented by the Communist Party. There is no opposition. Who would dare to oppose this list or present another? And for what purpose would the voter “refuse to play” when such a gesture could change nothing in the situation but might lead the stubborn one to prison?

The vote is “free” and “secret” simply in the sense that the voter may manipulate his pen without anyone looking over his shoulder. But as to what that pen can put on the paper, there is no choice. His act is “pre-destined”, therefore purely automatic. Thus the composition of the Soviets and their subordination to the Government are assured in advance. And the “ballot” is only another fraud.

We must remind the reader that the “Stalin Constitution” is the third since the October Revolution. The first, adopted by the Fifth Congress of Soviets in July, 1918, under Lenin, established the basis of the Bolshevik State. The second was adopted in 1924, still under Lenin. It made certain modifications and specifications which consolidated the power of the State, suppressing the last vestiges of the independence of the Soviets, the factory committees, et cetera. Finally, the third was granted by Stalin and adopted in 1936. The latter did not change anything. There were a few unimportant alterations of detail, a few vague promises, a few articles repeating “democratic” formulas, immediately contradicted by the articles which followed, and finally, the replacement of the annual Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets by a permanent superior Soviet, renewable every four years. That was all.

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November 30, 1920 :
Part 05, Chapter 05 -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 19:33:56 :
Part 05, Chapter 05 -- Added to

March 19, 2019 14:48:21 :
Part 05, Chapter 05 -- Last Updated on


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