The Terror in Russia

By Peter Kropotkin (1909)

Entry 424

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Untitled Anarchism The Terror in Russia

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(1842 - 1921)

Russian Father of Anarcho-Communism

: As anarchism's most important philosophers he was in great demand as a writer and contributed to the journals edited by Benjamin Tucker (Liberty), Albert Parsons (Alarm) and Johann Most (Freiheit). Tucker praised Kropotkin's publication as "the most scholarly anarchist journal in existence." (From: Spartacus Educational Bio.)
• "ANARCHISM, the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government - harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being." (From: "Anarchism," by Peter Kropotkin, from the Encyclop....)
• "To recognize all men as equal and to renounce government of man by man is another increase of individual liberty in a degree which no other form of association has ever admitted even as a dream." (From: "Communism and Anarchy," by Peter Kropotkin, 1901.)
• "...the strength of Anarchy lies precisely in that it understands all human faculties and all passions, and ignores none..." (From: "The Conquest of Bread," by Peter Kropotkin, 1906.)

Chapters

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The present conditions in Russia are so desperate that it is a public duty to lay before this country a statement of these conditions, with a solemn appeal to all lovers of liberty and progress for moral support in the struggle that is now going on for the conquest of political freedom. In the struggle for freedom each country must work out its own salvation; but we should not forget that there exists a web of international solidarity between all civilized countries. It is true that the loans contracted by the heads of despotic states in foreign countries contribute to support despotism. But Russian exiles also know from their own experience how the moral support which the fighters for liberty have never failed to find in the enlightened p... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Numbers of Prisoners. Overcrowding.--From an official document communicated to the State Council on March 15, 1909, by the administration of the prisons, it appears that on February 1, 1909, there were in the lock-ups of the Empire 181,137 inmates. This figure, however, does not include those prisoners who are in transportation, and the numbers of whom are estimated officially at about 30,000. Nor does it include an immense number of persons detained at the police lock-ups, both in the towns and in the villages. No approximate idea as to the number of this last category can be obtained, but it has been suggested in the Russian Press that it may be anything between 50,000 and 100,000. The worst is that it is especially in the Police lock-ups... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Many pages could be covered with the description of the ill-treatment and the tortures in different prisons of Russia. Only some striking instances, however, can be mentioned here. It is known through the daily Press that there were so many complaints about the misrule of the head of the Moscow police, General Rheinbot, that a special Commission was sent out by the Senate, under Senator Garin, to inquire into the affair. The head of the police just mentioned has been dismissed ; perhaps he will be brought before a Court, and striking instances arising out of his misrule have already been communicated more or less officially to the daily Press.1 Thus, one of the witnesses, M. Maximoff, examined by the Commission, who had been kept in one of... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
The ill-treatment of those who have been condemned to death--down to the very moment of the execution--and the terrible physical sufferings inflicted in the most barbarous way in the morning hours which precede the execution, and during the execution itself, have created quite epidemic of suicides in the prisons of Russia. As a part of the above-mentioned inquiry, I have now before me a list of those suicides in the prisons which have found their way to the daily Press in Russia. This list extends from January, 1906, to November 1, 1908, and contains 160 cases, out of which 30 took place in 1906, 70 in 1907, and 60 during the first ten months of 1908. Here are some abstracts from that terrible list. They contain a few cases for 1906, and ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
It may be remembered that the Russian Prime Minister, M. Stolypin, interviewed last year by Mr. W. T. Stead, and asked about the executions, which were going on then at that time in very great numbers, said that he had no exact figures, but he thought that 15 a month would be a near approach to truth (the Times, August 3, 1908). I contested these figures in the Times of August 14, 1908, and maintained that the number of executions during the first six months of 1908 had been from 4 to 15 every day--there being, however, no executions on Sundays and other holidays--and that it reached the figure of 60 to 90 every month. We have now the official figures of the executions for the last four years. The Law Committee of the Duma having asked the... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
On the date referred to in the previous chapter (August, 1908, some correspondence appeared in the Times concerning the numbers of administrative exiles in Siberia and Northern Russia. The Russian Prime Minister, M. Stolypin, in an interview with Mr. Stead, told him that the number of administrative exiles was only about 12,000. The Assistant Minister of the Interior, M. Makaroff, also interviewed a fortnight later by Mr. Stead, explained, however, that this figure could only apply to those who had been exiled in virtue of a decision given by the Ministry of the Interior; but there were also, he added, a considerable number of persons who had been exiled by mere orders of the local Governors, and about whom the Ministry of the Interior had ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
On the historic day of the 10th of May, 1906, that of the opening of the first Russian Parliament, when the elected representatives of the Russian nation passed through the streets towards the Tavrida Palace, from the dense throngs which lined their passage, one great cry arose-- "Amnesty ! Amnesty! Amnesty first!" And the first speech in the new-born Parliament was for amnesty. It was made by Petrunkévitch, the oldest leader of the Russian Liberals :-- "Our honor, our conscience," he said, " ordains that our first thought, our first free word should be dedicated to those who sacrificed their freedom to that of our beloved Fatherland " (storm of applause). "All the prisons in the country are overflowing" (cries of indignation). "T... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
A painfully prominent feature of present-day Russian life is the frequency of provocaton to violence by the secret agents of the Government, which has attained an extraordinary development during the last few years, since public money is lavished upon the three or four different and rival sections of the State's secret police : as also has the participation of various police officers in all kinds of crime, of which many striking instances have been discovered of late. The consequence is, that death sentences are continually pronounced upon young and inexperienced men who have been involved in various plots by the secret agents of the Government. This has developed lately into a widely-spread system among the secret agents and the police off... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
The English papers often give news of the so-called Union of Russian Men, which was founded in 1906 under the presidency of a doctor, A. I. Dubrovin, to combat the movement towards freedom by all possible means, legal and illegal, and especially illegal. This Union, composed of the most heterogeneous elements, has enjoyed the special protection of the Emperor, who, up till quite lately, used to wear its badge,1 and spoke of its members as his most loyal subjects. He lately made them a gift of £1,000, and has from time to time helped them with money. Whenever the President, Dr. Dubrovin, has applied to him in behalf of members of the Union convicted of organizing and taking part in pogroms and political murders, or of police officials... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Countless instances could be produced to show how the neglect of all laws has become a normal feature of the Russian Administration, and how the police officials consider themselves as the absolute rulers of the country, and therefore permit themselves the most incredible brutalities. Quite a series of such facts were last winter brought before the session of the provincial tribunal of Kazan and the High Chamber of the Kazan judicial district, several police officers being tried there for the tortures they had inflicted upon free citizens, and even for the murder of some of them. In the introductory remarks it has been mentioned that a considerable number of prosecutions have been started against persons who, during the years 1905-1907, ha... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Last summer there was a famine in several provinces European Russia; Smolensk, Minsk, Ufa, Saratov, Simbirsk, and Tambov--the last four belonging to the fertile regions of Russia. At the present time the conditions are still worse, the crop of the year 1908 having been 35,000,000 cwts. below the average crop of the four preceding years, 1902-1906. Nevertheless, the Ministry of the Interior has given orders to levy, in the most stringent way, all the arrears which have accumulated for the last few years, both in regard to the payment of the taxes and in the repayment of famine loans. "I draw the attention of the Governors," the Prime Minister wrote in his circular of September, 1908, "to the fact that it is absolutely necessary to take the ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
I have attempted to give in the preceding pages a correct statement of the violent repression which is going on now in Russia, since the concession of representative government, contained in the Manifesto of October 30, 1905, was nullified by an under-current of organized reaction. In this statement I have done my best to avoid anything that might be a distortion, or an exaggeration of facts, and yet the picture is so terrible that it is almost shaking one's faith in human progress. Suffering and martyrdom are certainly unavoidable in every struggle for freedom. But the amount of suffering and cruel repression now prevalent in Russia surpasses everything that is known from the lessons of modern history. Every nation is certainly bound to ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)

Chronology

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1909
The Terror in Russia — Publication.

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January 22, 2017; 7:12:43 PM (UTC)
Added to https://revoltlib.com.

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March 28, 2019; 4:42:48 PM (UTC)
Updated on https://revoltlib.com.

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