The Unknown Revolution, Book Two : Partr 05, 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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Partr 05, Chapter 04

Chapter 4. Situation of the Functionaries

The third social stratum in the U.S.S.R., the importance of which has become enormous, is that of the bureaucrats, the functionaries.

From the moment when direct relations between the various categories of workers were suppressed, as well as their initiative and freedom of action, the functioning of the State machine, of necessity, had to be assured by intermediaries dependent on the central direction of the machine. The name which has been given to these intermediaries — — describes perfectly their role, which consists of making [something] function.

In the “liberal” countries the functionaries make function what relates to the State. But in a country where the State is all, they are called upon to make everything function. This means that they are responsible for organizing, co-ordinating, supervising; in short with making the whole life of the country, economic and otherwise, go.

In a country as immense as the U.S.S.R., this “civil army” of the State-employer must be extraordinarily large. And, in fact, the caste of the functionaries there has been raised to several millions. According to E. Yourievsky, cited earlier, their total number exceeds 9,000,000. One must not forget that in [that vast territory] there are neither municipalities nor other services or organizations independent of the State, nor any kind of private enterprise.

It goes without saying that, apart from the small subordinate employes, [the functionaries] form the most privileged social strata. In this respect only the top military ranks can equal them. The services which they render to their employer (the State) are inestimable. Along with the Army and the police, also enormous and well organized, the “Soviet” bureaucracy is a force of the first importance. Fundamentally, everything depends on it. Not only does it serve the State, organize it, rule it, make it go, and control it — but what is much more valuable, it actively and faithfully supports the [Stalinist] regime, on which it depends entirely.

In the name of the government which it represents, the top bureaucracy commands, dictates, orders, prescribes, supervises, punishes. And the middle and even the petty bureaucracy also command and administer, each functionary being master in the sphere assigned to him. Hierarchically, all are responsible to their superiors. The highest are responsible to the chief-functionary, the great, genial, infallible Dictator.

The functionaries give themselves body and soul to the Government, which knows how to reward them for this. With the exception of the herd of petty employes, whose position corresponds to that of the herd of [industrial and rural] workers, the “responsible” functionaries in the U.S.S.R. are the object of ceaseless concern. Good remuneration and advancement are guaranteed to all functionaries worthy of these favors. All docile and diligent functionaries are well paid, pampered, felicitated, decorated. The most devoted and zealous advance rapidly in office and may hope to attain the highest posts in the State.

But the medal has its reverse side. Basically, every functionary is an instrument, a puppet in the hands of his superiors. The least fault, error, or negligence can cost him much. Responsible only to his chiefs, he is punished by them administratively, according to their judgment, without any other form of trial. It means complete destitution, frequently prison, sometimes death. The personal caprice and despotism of the chiefs rule with no appeal.

The most terrible aspect of that situation is that often the punished functionary is only a scapegoat, his “fault” or his failure being imputable either to the defective orders of his superiors, or to general conditions, or to the policy of the Government. “Stalin is always right” — like Hitler in Germany. If there is a failure, the guilty are quickly found. Frequently also, the matter is deeply anchored in the traditions of “Soviet” bureaucracy. The guilty one falls victim to the struggle for existence: rivalry, jealousy, intrigues — these elements, inseparable from unbridled careensm, lie in wait for the functionary every moment of his life.

On the other hand, certain misdeeds in the private lives of high functionaries, going sometimes as far as debauchery, are tolerated by the Government, as one kind of necessary relaxation. The G.P.U. closes its eyes. Its chiefs participate. The famous Henrikh Yagoda was a perverted libertine. And there are still orgies in Moscow.

“To arrive” — -at any price and by any means, without letting oneself be caught: such is the greatest concern and one of the strongest stimulants in the “Soviet” Union.

From a little above the level of the gigantic herd of 150,000,000 [industrial] workers, peasants, and petty employes, every beginning functionary can, by showing himself devoutly and blindly submissive, and by knowing how to fawn and “bend the knee”, attain “the good life”.

It is this hope which today pushes every young citizen in the U.S.S.R. toward education and study. He aspires and hopes, like the stakhanovist, to “rise from the ranks” — he, who flounders in poverty. He is ambitious for a position as a chief, a carriage, a leather brief-case, a pair of good boots, a good salary, and decorations. On such a road, he does not bother about his neighbor. He knows perfectly how to flatter, pay homage, be obsequious and servile.

To become aware of all this, one needs to follow closely all that happens in [the vast territory dominated by the Kremlin]. It is necessary to read the “Soviet” press attentively, if one is to know Russian life, mentality, and general customs. The speeches and harrangues of the chiefs, the periodic distribution of decorations, the declarations and statements of delegates to the Congress, the local news and the daily “little stories” which find their place and their echoes in the “Soviet” newspapers — all this documentation puts him who knows how to read it and understand it in touch with the situation.

According to Yourievsky, out of about 10,000,000 functionaries in the U.S.S.R., 2,000,000, or 20 per cent., are privileged. The rest lead a more or less painful existence, made tolerable only by the hope of “rising” and “arriving”.

If we gather together all of our information, we obtain the following table, the figures being approximate:

1.500,000 privileged workers out of 18,000,000
2,000,000 privileged functionaries out of 10,000,000
4,000,000 well-to-do peasants out of 142,000,000
2,500,000 variously privileged; members of the Bolshevik Party (independent of their functions), specialists, soldiers, police, et cetera.
10,000,000 privileged of all kinds out of 170,000,000

These 10,000,000 constitute the new privileged class in the “Soviet” Union and the real support of the Stalin regime.

The rest of the population — 160,000,000 souls — are only a more or less unknown herd, subjugated, exploited, impoverished.

From :


November 30, 1920 :
Partr 05, Chapter 04 -- Publication.

February 22, 2017 19:33:34 :
Partr 05, Chapter 04 -- Added to

May 28, 2017 15:36:13 :
Partr 05, Chapter 04 -- Last Updated on


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