Eighty years ago: the death of Nestor Makhno

From On This Deity:

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…)

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Today in 1936: Trotsky Papers Stolen

From IISG:

Press conference by IISH management team after the burglary
Amsterdam, November 1936

BG A28/385

Trotsky‘s son Leon Sedov lived in Paris, where, in 1936, there was a branch of the IISH on the Rue Michelet. He arranged for the transfer of parts of his father’s archive to the Institute. Only four people knew about this precarious transaction. And one of these worked for the Soviet secret police, the GPU. In the night of 6 -7 November 1936, a part of Trotsky’s papers was stolen from the Rue Michelet. The directors of the IISH tried to play down the news by saying that they contained printed matter of no importance. This was partly untrue. To enhance security, later acquisitions of collections related to Trotsky were given the code name of ABEL. This went well with KAIN, the name Trotsky used for Stalin.

See also:

•  IISH History
•  Trotsky/ILO papers

 

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Guns, etc

An amazing series of juxtapositions from Locust St:

Round 12:


Picasso is a gunslinger

I had thought earlier in the night that you can’t run when you are sodden from head to foot and weighted down with a rifle and cartridges; I learned now you can always run when you think you have fifty or one hundred armed men after you.

George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia.”

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the Spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

Stephen Spender, “Ultima Ratio Regum.”

If you find an Afghan rebel that the Moscow bullets missed,
Ask him what he thinks of voting Communist.
Ask the Dalai Lama in the hills of Tibet
How many monks did the Chinese get?

Joe Strummer, “Washington Bullets.”

He carried a shotgun–a weapon I thought was outlawed in international war–and the shotgun itself was a measure of his professionalism, for to use it effectively requires an exact blend of courage and skill and self-confidence. The weapon is neither accurate nor lethal at much over seventy yards. So it shows the skill of the carrier, a man who must work his way close enough to the prey to make a shot, close enough to see the enemy’s retina and the tone of his skin. The shotgun is not an automatic weapon. You must hit once, on the first shot, and the hit must kill.

Tim O’Brien, “If I Die in a Combat Zone.”

Other things:

Bataille Socialiste, with some wonderful 1936 photos from Paris en images. And, in French, a piece on the late, lovely Mary Low. (In English, see here, here.)

Eamonn McDonagh on the Livingstone formulation in Madrid.

Entdichlung with more from the archive (including Ernie Haberkern: The Left and Max Shachtman Part 1 AWL 1995).