Today we recall the Ukrainian revolutionary leader, Nestor Makhno, who died seventy-seven years ago on this day in poverty, illness and oblivion. Fellow exiles who had watched Makhno drink and cough himself to death in the slums of Paris could scarcely believe the tragic fate that had befallen the legendary “Little Father” of Ukraine who, just fifteen years earlier, had been one of the most heroic, glamorous and indefatigable figures of the Russian civil war and the inciter of one of the few historic examples of a living anarchist society. As the leader of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, this self-educated peasant-born military genius had waged wildly creative guerrilla war against native tyrants, foreign interlopers and counter-revolutionaries. On behalf of what was always an uneasy alliance with the Red Army, Makhno’s forces had twice immobilised the seemingly unstoppable White advance in South Russia; indeed, so decisive were these against-all-odds victories that the Bolsheviks might never have won the civil war and consolidated power but for Makhno and his insurgent peasants. As the instigator, military protector and namesake of Ukraine’s simultaneous anarchist revolution – the Makhnovshchina – few have come closer than Nestor Makhno to establishing an anarchist nation. For nearly a year between 1919 and 1920, some 400 square miles of Ukraine was reorganised into an autonomous region known as the “Free Territory” in which farms and factories were collectively run and goods traded directly with collectives elsewhere. In his heyday, Nestor Makhno was an unmitigated living legend and folk hero – a real-life Robin Hood and proto-Che. But by the time of his death at the age of forty-six, so comprehensively dragged through the filthiest, shittiest mud was the name of this once unassailable revolutionary that it has yet to fully recover. So what happened? (more…)
Nestor Makhno was born today in 1888.
January 5, 1919 – August 28, 1921
|Born||October 26 (November 8), 1888
Huliaipole, Russian Empire (today Ukraine)
|Died||July 6, 1934
|Political party||Anarchist communism|
|Occupation||Anarcho-communist revolutionary, painter, stagehand|
For further reading, go to the Nestor Makhno Archive, and also the Kate Sharpley Library:
- Alexander, Richard. Nestor Makhno, Anarchy’s Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921 by Alexandre Skirda [Review].
- Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno – Anarchy’s Cossack : The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine, 1917-1921 [Review].
- Dubovik, Anatoly and D.I. Rublyov. After Makhno : The Anarchist underground in the Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s: Outlines of history & The Story of a Leaflet and the Fate of Anarchist Varshavskiy.. NEW!
- Bourne, Randolph, Ricardo Flores Magon, Gustave Hervé, Anna Key, Louis Lecoin, Pierre Ruff and An Uncontrollable from the Iron Column. No war but the class war! Libertarian anti-militarism then and now.
- Makhno, Nestor. My Visit To The Kremlin.
- Makhno, Nestor and Alexandre Skirda. The Struggle Against The State And Other Essays.
- Makhno’s Black Cross.
- Manifold, John. Makhno’s Philosophers.
- Meltzer, Albert. A Rebel Spirit (obituary of Leah Feldman).
- Skirda, Alexandre. Nestor Makhno – Anarchy’s Cossack.
- The Struggle Against The State And Other Essays by Nestor Makhno, edited by Alexandre Skirda [Review].
- The Truth about Nestor Makhno.
- Meltzer, Albert, Alexandre Skirda and Ossip Tsebry. Memories of a Makhnovist Partisan.
- Voline, Leo. Interview with Leo Voline.
Anarchist histories from Ian Bone. (Plus, below the fold, From the Archive of Struggle no.34, anarchist special, and some new books from AK Press.)
Ethel MacDonald writing from Barcelona.
One for Leah Feldman.
From Paul Stott’s site, I have found a new website, the Anarchist Library, which aspires to be “the largest resource on the web for downloadable Anarchist books and publications”, quite an ambition given how many resources there are of this nature already out there. The archive, however, is just a couple of weeks old, and already it has loads in it. My pick after the fold, with particular highlights in bold. (more…)
From the archive of struggle, no.19. Non-anoraks, skip this post, and go to this one, on Obama’s taste in reading and an alternative to the Richard and Judy book club, or this one, on early jazz and recent fado, or this one, on how blogging has re-invigorated radical history.
First of all, ArchivesHub last month highlighted the Greater Manchester Collection of Steve Cohen, lawyer and anti deportation campaigner, 1975-1996. Go here for the website, which includes links to selected websites and some excellent suggested reading.. For background on Steve Cohen, check Engage/Bob.
Marxist Internet Archive:
- Added to the J. T. Murphy Archive: The Communist Party of Great Britain (1943) and The Last Great Split in World Communism (1948) [Poumista: Latter is particularly recommended. Murphy played a part in the 1926 expulsion of Trotsky from the Communist International, was expelled himself in 1932 for challenging its disasterous ultra-left Third Period politics, and reflects here on these two expulsions and on Tito’s. By the way, Murphy’s wikipedia page badly needs editing!]
- Added to the Rudolf Hilferding Archive: State Capitalism or Totalitarian State Economy 1940 [Poumista: This piece is also important, as a key intervention in the debate about the character of the Soviet Union. Hilferding wrote it as the Nazis boot was stamping on the face of France, not long before he was handed by the Vichy French to the Gestapo, who would murder him and take his wife Rose to Auschwitz, where she perished. His characterisation of the Stalinist system as totalitarian has considerable force.]
- Added to the Brian Pearce Archive: Rank-and-file Movements of the Thirties, 15 November 1958 (Constant Reader) [Poumista: Pearce is another important, neglected character. Like EP Thompson, he was part of the Communist Party Historians Group, but re-thought Stalinism in the wake of Russia’s counter-revolution crushing of the Hungarian revolution 1956, getting himself expelled in 1957. A close associate of Peter Fryer, he passed with him through the orbit of Gerry Healey. This piece, I think, dates from his time with Healey’s Club, and is an important contribution to the 1950s’ revisioning of Anglo-Stalinist and labour history.]
[Beneath the fold: Spanish anarchist histories, and more besides] (more…)