The Struggle Against the State and Other Essays

By Nestor Makhno (1926)

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Untitled Anarchism The Struggle Against the State and Other Essays

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(1888 - 1934)

Anarchist Leader of the Anti-Bolshevik, Anti-Capitalist Partisans of the Ukraine

: Nestor Makhno was the leader of a libertarian peasant and worker army and insurrection in the Ukraine which successfully fought Ukrainian nationalists, the Whites, the Bolsheviks and the bourgeoisie and put anarchism into practice in the years following the Russian Revolution. (From: Intro to Struggle Against the State.)
• "Long live the fratenal and shared hopes of all Anarchist militants that they may see the realization of that grand undertaking -- the endeavor of our movement and of the social revolution for which we struggle!" (From: "On the History of the Spanish Revolution of 1931,....)
• "Arrest all governors for as long as need be, tear up and burn their laws! Tear down the prisons, once you have annilihated the executioners and eradicated all State power!" (From: "The ABC of the Revolutionary Anarchist," by Nesto....)
• "...any State, whether bourgeois or proletarian, tends, by its very nature, simply to exploit and oppress man, to destroy in each and every one of us all the natural qualities of the human spirit that strive for equality and for the solidarity that underpins it." (From: "Paths of 'Proletarian' Power," Probuzdeniye, No. ....)

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The month of October 1917 is a great historical watershed in the Russian revolution. That watershed consists of the awakening of the toilers of town and country to their right to seize control of their own lives and their social and economic inheritance; the cultivation of the soil, the housing, the factories, the mines, transportation, and lastly the education which had hitherto been used to strip our ancestors of all these assets. However, as we see it, it would be wide of the mark if we were to see all of the content of the Russian revolution encapsulated in October: in fact, the Russian revolution was hatched over the preceding months, a period during which the peasants in the countryside and the workers in the towns grasped the essent... (From: Spunk.org.)
As we know, the Bolshevik leaders' shameful betrayal of the ideas of the October Revolution led the entire Bolshevik party and its 'proletarian revolutionary' authority, once in place all across the country, to conclude a disgraceful peace with the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Austrian Emperor, Karl, followed by an even more deplorable struggle inside the country against anarchism, first of all, and then against the Left Social Revolutionaries and socialism in general. In June 1918, I met with Lenin in the Kremlin, at the instigation of Sverdlov, the then chairman of the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets. Citing my mandate as head of the Revolutionary Defense Committee in the Gulyai-Polye region, I briefed Lenin on the uneq... (From: Spunk.org.)
Within the context of the debate that has taken place among our comrades from many lands regarding the Draft Platform of the General Union of Anarchists, published by the group of Russian anarchists abroad, I have been asked from several quarters to write a piece specifically devoted to the issue of the defense of the revolution. I shall strive to deal with it most diligently, but, before I do, I think I have a duty to inform comrades that this is not the central issue of the Draft Platform: the crux of it is the necessity of achieving the most consistent unity in our libertarian communist ranks. That portion asks only for amendment and completion before implementation. Otherwise, if we do not strive to marshal our forces, our movement will... (From: Spunk.org.)
In the wake of the abolition of czarist despotism at the time of the 1917 revolution, prospects of new, free relations between peoples hitherto in subjection beneath the violent yoke of the Russian State, appeared on the horizons of the world of Labor. The notion of complete self-determination, up to and including a complete break with the Russian State, thus emerged naturally among these peoples. Groups of every persuasion sprang up among the Ukrainian population by the dozen: each of them had its own outlook and interpreted the idea of self-determination according to its own factional interests. All in all, the toiling masses of the Ukraine did not identify with these groups and did not join them. Over seven years have elapsed since, and... (From: Spunk.org.)
Jewish citizens! In my first "Appeal to Jews", published in the French libertarian newspaper, Le Libertaire, I asked Jews in general, which is to say the bourgeois and the socialist ones as well as the 'anarchist' ones like Yanovsky, who have all spoken of me as a pogromist against Jews and labeled as anti-Semitic the liberation movement of the Ukrainian peasants and workers of which I was the leader, to detail to me the specific facts instead of blathering vacuously away: just where and just when did I or the aforementioned movement perpetrate such acts? I had expected that Jews in general would answer my "Appeal" after the manner of people eager to disclose to the civilized world the truth about these blackguards responsible for the mass... (From: Spunk.org.)
For the past seven years, almost, the enemies of the Makhnovist revolutionary movement have wallowed in so many lies about it that one might marvel that these people do not take a red face, once in a while at least. It is rather characteristic that these shameless lies directed against myself and the Makhnovist insurgents, indeed against our movement as a whole, can unite folk from very different socio-political camps: among them one can find journalists of every persuasion, writers, scholars and laymen who place obstacles in their path, mavericks and speculators, who occasionally have no hesitation in putting themselves forward as pathfinders for avant-garde revolutionary ideas. One can also come across supposed anarchists, like Yanovsky, ... (From: Spunk.org.)
March 7th is a harrowing date for the toilers of the so-called "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" who participated in one capacity or another in the events that occurred on that date in Kronstadt. The commemoration of that date is equally painful for the toilers of all countries, for it brings back the memory of what the free workers and sailors of Kronstadt demanded of their Red executioner, the "Russian Communist Party," and its tool, the "Soviet" government, busy doing the Russian revolution to death. Kronstadt insisted of these statist hangmen that they hand back everything that belonged to the toilers of town and country, given that it was they who had carried out the revolution. The Kronstadters insisted upon the practical impleme... (From: Spunk.org.)
The 14th Congress of the Russian Communist Party has roundly condemned the notion of equality. Prior to the congress, Zinoviev had mentioned the idea in the course of his polemic against Ustrialov and Bukharin. He declared then that the whole of contemporary philosophy was sustained by the idea of equality. Kalinin spoke up forcefully at the congress against that contention, taking the line that any reference to equality could not help but be harmful and was not to be tolerated. His reasoning was as follows: 'Can we talk to peasants about equality? No, that is out of the question, for in that case, they would set about demanding the same rights as workers, which would be in complete contradiction with the dictatorship of the proletariat. L... (From: Spunk.org.)
It is a long time now since the avant-garde socialist intelligentsia framed, in more or less rounded form, the aims of the historical struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and since proletarians, swallowing that formulation by the intelligentsia whole, entered the lists of that struggle under the intelligentsia's leadership. There is no denying that this was a triumph for the intelligentsia which has thus set itself the target of leading the proletariat on to complete emancipation, by means of the destruction of bourgeois power and the bourgeois State, which are to be supplanted by a "proletarian" State and power. Very naturally, neither the intelligentsia nor the proletariat itself has been stinting in its efforts and invest... (From: Spunk.org.)
Many people, especially left-wing politicians, have a tendency to regard "soviet" power as a State power different from all the rest, to be sure, but painting that difference in the rosiest of hues: "Soviet power," they tell us, "is a worker and peasant power and, as such, has a great future ahead of it." There can be no more absurd assertion. "Soviet" power is a power no better and no worse than any other. Currently, it is every bit as wobbly and absurd as any State power in general. In certain respects, it is even more absurd than the rest. Having achieved total political domination over the country, it has become the unchallenged master of its economic resources and, not content with that crassly exploitative situation, it has sensed, ... (From: Spunk.org.)
The fact that the modern State is the organizational form of an authority founded upon arbitrariness and violence in the social life of toilers is independent of whether it may be "bourgeois" or "proletarian." It relies upon oppressive centralism, arising out of the direct violence of a minority deployed against the majority. In order to enforce and impose the legality of its system, the State resorts not only to the gun and money, but also to potent weapons of psychological pressure. With the aide of such weapons, a tiny group of politicians enforces psychological repression of an entire society, and, in particular, of the toiling masses, conditioning them in such a way as to divert their attention from the slavery instituted by the State.... (From: Spunk.org.)
In the socialist world, the first of May is considered the Labor holiday. This is a mistaken description that has so penetrated the lives of the toilers that in many countries that day is indeed celebrated as such. In fact, the first of May is not at all a holiday for the toilers. No, the toilers should not stay in their workshops or in the fields on that date. On that date, toilers all over the world should come together in every village, every town, and organize mass rallies, not to mark that date as statist socialists and especially the Bolsheviks conceive it, but rather to gauge the measure of their strength and assess the possibilities for direct armed struggle against a rotten, cowardly, slave-holding order rooted in violence and fals... (From: Spunk.org.)
Anarchism is not merely a doctrine that treats of man's social life, in the narrow meaning with which the term is invested in political dictionaries, and sometimes, at meetings, by our propagandist speakers. It is also a teaching that embraces the whole existence of man as a rounded individual. Over the course of the elaboration of its overall world picture, anarchism has set itself a very specific task: to encompass the world in its entirety, sweeping aside all manner of obstacles, present and yet to come, which might be posed by bourgeois capitalist science and technology. This with the aim of supplying man with the most exhaustive possible explanation of existence in this world and of making the best possible fist of all the problems wh... (From: Spunk.org.)
The times through which the working class world-wide is presently passing requires that revolutionary anarchists strain their imaginations and their energies to the fullest if they are to clarify the most important issues. Those of our comrades who played an active part in the Russian revolution and who have kept faith with their convictions will be sensible of the harmfulness that absence of solid organization has brought to our movement. Those comrades are well-placed to render particular service to the quest for union currently being conducted. It has not gone unnoticed by those comrades, I imagine, that anarchism was a factor for insurrection among the toiling revolutionary masses in Russia and in the Ukraine: it incited them to join i... (From: Spunk.org.)
Some comrades have put the following question to me: How do I conceive revolutionary discipline? Let me answer that. I take revolutionary discipline to mean the self-discipline of the individual, set in the context of a strictly prescribed collective activity equally incumbent upon all. This should be the responsible policy line of the members of that collective, leading to strict congruence between its practice and its theory. Without discipline inside the organization, there is no way of undertaking any consequential revolutionary activity at all. In the absence of discipline, the revolutionary vanguard cannot exist, for in that case it would find itself in utter disarray in its practice and would be incapable of identifying the tasks ... (From: Spunk.org.)
Anarchism means man living free and working constructively. It means the destruction of everything that is directed against man's natural, healthy aspirations. Anarchism is not exclusively a theoretical teaching emanating from programs artificially conceived with an eye to the regulation of life: it is a teaching derived from life across all its wholesome manifestations, skipping over all artificial criteria. The social and political visage of anarchism is a free, anti-authoritarian society, one that enshrines freedom, equality and solidarity between all its members. In anarchism, Right means the responsibility of the individual, the sort of responsibility that brings with it an authentic guarantee of freedom and social justice for each ... (From: Spunk.org.)
Dear Comrades Carbó and Pestaña, Convey to our friends and comrades and, through them, to all Spanish workers my encouragement to them not to let their resolution falter in the revolutionary process which has been launched, as well as to make haste in uniting around a practical program drafted along libertarian lines. At all costs there must be no let up in the pace of the masses' revolutionary action. On the contrary, we must rush to help them compel (by force if there is no other way, no other means) the acting republican government which is hindering and distracting the revolution with its absurd decrees to desist from such harmful endeavors. The Spanish toilers - workers, peasants and working intelligentsia - must unite ... (From: Spunk.org.)
Whenever a revolution breaks out - and regardless of its character - (the most important point is that broad masses of workers and peasants should have a hand in it) and its guides, whether a compact group or a scattering of individuals, enjoying a special authority in the eyes of the workers, place themselves above these masses and do not march in step with them and do not earn their trust, waiting for something out of the ordinary to happen or even, worse still, seek to subordinate them by trying to point them along the "only" path to follow, well, the revolution fails to develop thoroughly enough and fails to resolve or even correctly formulate the attendant problems in need of resolution. Then it cannot devise new and additional methods... (From: Spunk.org.)
ALEXANDRE SKIRDA Among the articles by Nestor Makhno left out of this anthology, we might mention the one on the peasantry and the Bolsheviks,1 where he sets out the (in fact, quite well-known) socio-economic differentials between the wealthy peasants, or kulaks, the middle peasantry or serednyakis, the poor peasants or bednyakis, and the farm laborers or batrakis. Categories that the Bolsheviko-Stalinist policy of developing rural capitalism in the 1920s tended to reduce to its extremities alone: to the kulaks and the batrakis, to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the peasantry. We know, here, that from 1929 to 1934, this policy was escalated in such a way as to lead to the utter dispossession of the peasants of their land, a... (From: Spunk.org.)
The struggle against the state and other essays by Nestor Makhno; edited by Alexandre Sirda translated by Paul Sharkey © Copyright: 1996 Alexandre Skirda Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Makhno, Nestor Ivanovich. 1889-1934. [Lutte contre l'Etat et autres écrits. English] The struggle against the state and other essays / by Nestor Makhno ; edited by Alexandre Sirda. p. cm. Includes biblographical references. ISBN 1-873176-78-3 (pbk.) 1. Ukraine--History--Revolution. 1917-1921. 2. Ukraine--History--1921-1944. 3. Anarchism. I. Skirda, Alexandre. II. Title. DK265.8.U4M27413 1995 947' 710841--dc20 95-40647 CIP British Library Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this title... (From: Spunk.org.)

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1926
The Struggle Against the State and Other Essays — Publication.

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February 7, 2017; 5:07:42 PM (UTC)
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December 30, 2021; 3:17:43 PM (UTC)
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