Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Manifesto on the Russian Revolution

I transcribed a scan of a manifesto written by several Anarchist groups exiled from the Russian Empire by the young Bolshevik government. It was hard to read in parts.
 The PDF is hosted on libcom.org



The Russian Revolution

Issued By The

Anarchist Communist Groups of U.S. and Canada

Federation of Anarchist Communist Groups of U.S. and Canada

Ukrainian Anarchist Communist Groups of U.S. and Canada

Distributed Free


Manifesto on the Russian Revolution.

To the Proletariat of the World


Before stating the facts of the present occurrences in Russia, it is important to dwell upon the differences in tactics and aims, which separated the Socialist and Anarchist into two distinct movements.

The Socialists doubt the ability and judgment of the exploited masses to free themselves. They consider the State an institution which must be conquered, and suffrage as a weapon through which to achieve this. In attempting to sieze the State the Socialists aim at capturing a machine with which to rule the masses, though they claim that the seizure of the State is for the workers’ interests.

The Anarchists, on the other hand, have always trusted in i he masses’ ability to bring about their own liberation. In recognizing the State as an institution intentionally created by Capitalism, forcibly to keep the workers down, the Anarchists see the necessity of its immediate and complete destruction. To bring this about, they propose the most direct revolutionary methods such as General Strikes and uprisings.

For this the Socialists have denounced the Anarchists as “madmen** and “Don Quixotes” whose methods meant useless bloodshed; while the Anarchists could see nothing but disappointment for the exploited in the tactics and aims of the Socialists.

The workers who gave their support to the Socialist movement reaped only this result: — the attainment of well paying positions for the Socialists elected to political offices, through the parliamentary tactics, but nothing of value gained to the proletariat.

The anti-revolutionary tactics of the Socialists led them to take stands against the interest of the proletariat in many Genera! Strikes, as in France. Spain, Germany, and Italy—even to oppose the General Strike as a weapon against war. The rear 1914, showed nearly the entire Socialist parliamentary representation in every country siding with the Capitalists war. The action of the Socialists in this war practically shattered any hope or trust left amongst the toilers towards the Socialist movement. It stood bankrupt and discredited.

Then came March 1917, bringing with it the Revolution in Russia. Both foes and lovers of true liberty recognize the fact that the overthrow of Tzarism in 1917 marked the greatest attempt of a people on earth, to liberate themselves from economic and political slavery. It is true that important revolutions have occurred ever since oppression, rule and exploitation began; the French revolution of 1848, not to speak about the earlier revolutions, or the year 1871 that saw the rise and fall of that gigantic and heroic Paris Commune; — nevertheless it must be admitted that of all the attempted revolutions in the history of mankind, none could compare in economic and political significance with the Revolution of Russia in 1917. If any doubt still lingered, the overthrow of the Kerensky regime erased it. Here were over 150 million people who desired, not a change in rulers,. but a change in the entire social order. This is why the people cast overboard the great idol of the March Revolution — Kerensky and his Government, by carrying out the October Revolution.

The people wanted peace. They realized how millions of their own flesh and blood were being vainly sacrificed for the Tzardom that they had destroyed. They wanted land and freedom. To them land and freedom meant to own, in common — the land and factories, themselves producing and consuming the necessities of life; it also meant the complete annihilation of every form of political rule. It was with this instinctive aim and spirit that the cry arose from the masses: “All power to the Soviets” ! This slogan did not mean though all power to any new set of rulers.... On the contrary, it meant all power to the producers comprising the Workers and Peasants Soviets. Thus, in this spirit and to attain this aim, the Anarchists in Russia joined in that same chorus wTith the fighting masses. This cry was also echoed by revolutionary Socialists calling themselves Bolsheviki. If the Bolsheviki had had the same aim as the Anarchists, they would have helped to materialize the slogan they were shouting. Instead of this what did they do ? The answer will be given in subsequent paragraphs. This answer calls for the earnest attention, not only of the dwindling pro-bolshevist Anarchists, but also of the rank and file in the Communist Parties, as well as all thinking revolutionary workers. The facts we state here are based upon documents which are known to all those taking an interest in the revolution in Russia, and can be verified by a perusal of the Anarchist and Bolshevik press of every language.


When the spokesmen of the Bolsheviki joined in the masses* cry of “All power to the Soviets!” they evidently never meant it in earnest. What they did strive for, however was to procure the masses’ confidence to make them believe that the Bolshevik party was actually for the slogan. When they had accomplished this, they immediately set about subjugating the Soviets, until they succeeded in making them mere supporting props of the Government machine which they created.* [1]

The Soviets, as they were understood by the masses who overthrew Kerensky, exist no more. The Bolshevik Party in establishing itself as a Government ended the Soviets function as expressive organs of the Revolution. To carry this out safely, the Bolsheviki had to subvert the Soviets into organs under their control so as to enable them in ruling over the people. Having accomplished this, their other acts followed as a natural consequence.


The Co-operatives which existed previous to the overthrow of Tzardom, and which could have been turned into organs to aid the Soviet of Peasants and Workers carry on the distribution of foods, etc., were absorbed by the Bolsheviki who turned them into organs of their Government.


An examination of the labor code laws reveals the fact that no worse form of compulsory labor, spy system, ‘‘efficiency” sweating of labor, and differentiation in payment of high and low wages, for “skilled” and “unskilled” workers was ever surpassed by any capitalist rulership. -It also reveals that all conditions of wages and labor rest finally and decidedly, not in the hands of the workers, but of the Commissars of Labor, who are the officials of the Government. Capitalism does not pretend to shield its exploitation and rule under any “holy” motives, whereas the Bolshevik Government hides its motives under the misleading defence, that its system of industrial and political slavery is carried on in the interest of the workers!


A Revolution successfully to attain its aims, can depend only on the voluntary cooperation of the masses to defend it whenever needed. The masses in the Russian Revolution have shown that they could rise as volunteer fighters. The overthrow of the Tzar, Radzianko, Kerensky and Korniloff proves that. But the Bolshevik Government fearing the subversion of its rule, nullified the toilers’ right to bear arms, and began the formation of a conscripted army whose leadership was mostly composed of the same Generals and minor officials that had made Tzardom so abhorred by humanity.


The first attempt which culminated in a peace agreement between Russia in Revolution and a Capitalist Government was the beginning of the Social Revolution's end. Russia in Revolution could either defy the entire capitalist world, by using the greatest opportunity in the history of the Proletariat’s struggles to arouse the oppressed of each country to rally to the defense of the Social Revolution in Russia, which would have meant the possible realization of a World Revolution, or, in the event of failure have gone down as defiant and brave as the Paris Commune. The memories of the Paris Commune are treasured and commemorated by every revolutionist because it fought uncompromisingly. We all revere it, for having remained true to its aims. The Bolshevik Government by concluding peace with Capitalism, prevented either victory for the Revolution, or intrepid, uncompromising defeat.


After the Bolshevik Government realized its failure to subjugate and use the rank and file of the Trade Unions, as they had succeeded in doing with its officials, they adopted new methods of compromise, whereby they “granted” some rights to the unions, though retaining the bulk of power in their own hands.

The formation of the Red Union International was instituted by the Bolsheviki of Russia, not with the avowed purpose of uniting the revolutionary proletariat of the world, but, as they admit in their party press, for the purpose of gathering those forces only who approve of the tactics and aims of the Bolsheviki in Russia, under whose dominating influence the Red Union International will always be.


The Bolshevik Government failed to force the peasants and factory workers to continue yielding their produced wealth to them, and this, in spite of their armed expeditions upon defiant peasants and their decrees and penalties upon factory workers. Instead of realizing and amending their futile coercive measures the Bolshevik Government further injured the revolution by a complete reintroduction of capitalistic barter, profiteering and speculation between the peasants and city workers, and by restoring on a larger scale than before high and low wages, premiums and bonuses amongst the factory workers.


The preachers of a future heaven have never as a whole sided with the exploited masses. Whenever they had a chance to mislead and harm them they did so. These adherents of Capitalism have been acknowledged as some of the worst enemies in the road of the toilers’ struggle for liberation. Yet, the Bolshevik Government gave full protection to the preachers to continue deceiving the people. In return for this we find the prelates working in close co-operation with the “revolutionary” government.


The Bolshevik Government began its attacks on the Anarchists and their movement because the Anarchists refused to assent to any of the perfidies committed against the Revolution. The Anarchists saw in the establishment of a Government by the Bolshevik party the death-knell of the Soviets that were to function as organs of the revolution. They saw in the signing of the Brest-Litovsk peace the next act of treason. They saw the Government’s subjugation of the Soviets, Co-operatives, and Trade Unions into Government organs, all controlled by the Bolshevik party. The Anarchists, saw, likewise, the peoples initiative killed and their spirit for the Revolution destroyed; and Tzaristic Generals becoming “red” army Generals, while Tzaristic exploiters at home were relegated to their old positions under the new name of “commissars”. They saw peace being made with Capitalism and its Governments, while Anarchist Communes (as in Samarov and Saratov) were relentlessly destroyed. The Anarchists then realized how all these acts by the Bolshevik Government were subverting the aims of the October revolution and making it impossible to arouse by such compromises the spirit of Revolt in the minds and hearts of the Proletariat in other countries.


They refused to join in such acts, refused to assent, or to keep silent, and instead exposed every act of the Bolshevik Government to the best of their abilities. The work of the Anarchist movement in Russia, however, did not consist, merely in refusing to keep silent, but pointed out the road that the Workers and Peasants ought to take in order to save the Social Revolution. They showed that it was preferable to have production and distribution completely in the hands of the producers themselves, voluntarily united into Soviets of factory Workers and Soviets of Peasants, than to have a useless non-producing Commissar bureacracy comprising the entire Government, that has failed in spite of all its decrees, laws and repressive methods of Centralization, to show any light to its existence. They maintained, that if the Workers and Peasant Soviets had remained the organs of the revolution as outlined, then no conscription to defend the revolution would have been necessary, for there would have been all the volunteers needed for the defense of every endangering position of the Revolution. This movement also showed that it was better to have the producers make mistakes by practicing voluntary Communism than by laying off such practice “for 60 years or more”, in the meantime reintroducing every evil method of the Capitalist system of exploitation, and rulership. They showed too, that no compromise with Capitalism would bring about the rallying of the World Proletariat to the Revolution in Russia. The compromises and peace agreements made by the Bolshevik Government, would only estrange them. The duty of every sincere Revolutionist was to remain among and with the masses, always trying to show the right way — instead of leaving the masses and establishing themselves into a Centralized Dictatorial Government over the masses.


For these reasons the Bolshevik Government has and continues to persecute and jail Anarchists, suppressing their movement and refusing admission to deported Anarchists. They suppress also news about their repression of the Anarchist Movement. Thus does every Capitalist Government in the world always persecute and torture Anarchists for refusing to bargain or compromise with them, at the expense of achieving economic and political freedom. Why should then, one expect any different action towards the true libertarians from a Bolshevik government, though it calls itself “revolutionary”? The purpose of Governments, from the most reactionary to the most “revolutionary” are, and always will be — similar. The basic foundations of Government is to rule over the people and to oppress those who oppose their rule. The Bolshevik or any other similar named “revolutionary” government is not, nor can it be, any exception to the rule. As far back as April, 1918, the Bolshevik Government attacked all the Anarchist clubs of Moscow, murdering, wounding and jailing many Anarchists. In a more brutal manner, and on a larger scale, the Anarchist communes of Saratov and Samarov were destroyed by the government. Innumerable similar attacks were committed by the Bolshevik Government upon the Anarchists in every part of Russia, though they and their supporters kept on denying these allegations as invented lies of the Capitalist press to hurt the Revolution. For more than two years they succeeded in keeping the world ignorant as to the truth of these charges. But just as the barriers of Tzardom were broken, so the Bolshevik barriers were also torn down, by the underground methods always resorted to by revolutionists. All the denials of Anarchist persecutions by the Bolshevik Government were intentionally misleading, and the death and funeral of Peter Kropotkin revealed this in the most glaring manner. The radios sent out by the Anarchist Funeral Committee containing the news of Kropotkin’s funeral were censored by the Bolshevik Government. The portion which told of Anarchists imprisoned in the jails of Russia, of the manner in which the government first refused the release of the imprisoned Anarchists in Moscow to attend the funeral, of how they assented and then again refused this request; of how at last in order to avoid an open scandal only seven were released; of how the seven were the pall-bearers and that one of them spoke on the cemetery; of how a demand by the funeral commission to issue a four page paper in memory of Kropotkin, uncensored, was refused; and of how a demand to issue 400,000-copies of such a paper was also refused, and a grant of the right to issue 30,000 was given instead, that all these parts containing the above important facts of persecutions of Anarchists, sent out by the Funeral Committee, were suppressed by the Bolshevik Government.

The Bolshevik Government helped the counter-revolutionary movements in Southern Russia, when they persistently refused to furnish arms to the Makhnovtzi (comprising thousands of volunteer fighters), just because the Makhnovtzi would not recognize the Dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party.

The Bolshevik Government after joining forces with the “Makhnovtzes” and successfully defeating Wrangel, started to kill and jail every “Makhnovtzi” that they “captured”.

450 representatives of the Anarchist Movement at an Anarchist Congress in Kharkov, December 1920, were attacked and arrested by the Bolshevik Government. It is now known to all that a general relentless persecution, jailing and suppression of Anarchists and their organs rages continuously all over Russia, under direct orders from the Bolshevik government.

At the moment the Bolshevik party, at its tenth Congress, 1921 labelled the Workers' Opposition within their party, as a Syndicalist Anarchist movement, (because the Workers' Opposition favored the control of industries by the Trade Unions, and therefore must be crushed...) the day following this declaration, a general raid of every Anarcho-Syndicalist organization and jailing of their members took place all over Russia, ending in the entire suppression of the Anarcho-Syndicalist movement; , just as that of the Anarchist-Communist movement which took place long before.

The Bolshevik Government was not telling the truth when _ they asserted, that the Kronstadt uprising of March, 1921, was a counter-revolutionary one. The Bolsheviki themselves admit, what is now known to all, that the rising was inspired by the - desire Tor reorganization of the Soviets as opposed to the present Soviets that are being used as supporting tools of the Dictatorship of The Bolshevik Party. The government killed thousands of the best revolutionists when they defeated the-Kronstadt Revolution, which, if successful, would have meant a rebirth of the Social Revolution in Russia.

The Bolshevik Government refuses to admit workers, especially deportees into Russia, because they are Anarchists, in contradiction of their so-called “constitution” which promises free asylum to all political refugees. At the same time, they admit and welcome representatives of Capitalism and their Governments. This adds another striking proof as to what the Bolshevist Government is and to what degree it “represents” the true spirit of the Revolution.

Another action of this government was to assault the defenceless Anarchist and other political prisoners in the Bootirski Prison, during the night, of April 25, 1921.

Another wholesale murderous act upon Anarchists was committed in September 1921, when ten active Anarchists were murdered by the Tcheka. The charge made against them is in itself the most striking proof as to the depths into which even a so-called “revolutionary” government is forced to sink, in order to protect is rulership. The charge against the ten murdered Anarchists was published in the Isvestia of September 30th, 1921. They were accused of participating in an illegal Anarchist movement that carried out expropriations, m order to raise funds, with which to publish Anarchist literature.

Exactly the same charges that the Tzar used to make against the very same Bolsheviki when they were still revolutionists and not government officials 1 The Bolshevik regime is ruling supreme, taking all funds it finds necessary, from the Russian people, to publish dozens of daily papers, hundreds of weeklies and monthlies and millions of books and pamphlets. But when the Anarchists are outlawed, have they not then that absolute moral right to organize illegally and carry on expropriations upon such a “revolutionary” government?

At the time this is being issued, June, 1922, we still find houndings upon the most active Anarchists continuing as before; and the jails of Russia filled with hundreds of Anarchists and other revolutionists. These prisoners are moved about from one jail to the other, in most instances held for years without even a “trial”. In some prisons, the victims have to endure much torture. The Bolsheviki regime, seeming to imitate the Tsaristic regimes has also inaugurated deportations of revolutionists abroad and into different regions of the country.


The Bolshevik Government is trying to defend every attack upon the Anarchist Movement by the cry that it is done for the “good" of the Revolution. The truth is however, that by attacking those class — conscious workers of the Revolution who refuse to betray the true aims of the revolution, it thus proves to the proletariat of the world, that it is the Bolshevik Government itself, which is betraying the Revolution.

The aims of every “Communist" Party outside of Russia, exactly resemble those of the “Communist" Party in Russia. The “Revolutionary" utterances by the Third “Communist" International and its affiliated parties are only intended to hide every compromise and perfidy committed by the “Communist" Government, at the expense and in the name of the Revolution in Russia.

All these betrayals are committed, not to save the revolution, but to save the rule of the “Communist" party, which blocked the Social Revolution when they established themselves as the “Communist" Government of Russia.

This Communist Government committed rank treachery by opening negotiations and concluding peace, with Capitalism, without even consulting the toiling masses of Russia, in whose name they pretend to rule, and only after the peace agreements were about completed, were the officials, not the masses, asked to approve them.

The Third Communist" International acted insincerely, when it appealed and expected the workers of those capitalistic countries with whom the “Communist" Government made peace to save the Revolution, — to rise in revolution against these very same capitalistic governments.

The “Communist" Government is misusing the masses’ trust by assisting in all ways, every “Communist" party in foreign countries, to carry on the propaganda of getting the worker’s confidence in helping them to gain power and afterwards rule over them as in Russia. This wealth is taken without the knowledge or consent of the toilers, at a time when thousands are dying of famine and disease.

From all we have stated, we believe we have a right to expose and charge the Socialist State of Russia and the “Communist" International which supports it with having deceived the people and betrayed the Revolution in Russia, and having sup- pressed every revolutionary movement that dared to expose them.

The proletariat of the whole world is beginning to realize, that the Third “Communist” International is nothing but the same discredited body as the second Socialist International, only bearing a new name. The deception of the Second was in the parliaments, General Strikes, and war, while this of the Third “Communist” International, is that of a Social Revolution.


We have concluded our facts and accusations against the “Communist” Government of Russia, which is approved, upheld and defended by the Third “Communist” International, comprising every “Communist” party.

We do not ask you, the thinking revolutionary workers to waste any energy protesting against these acts of the “Communist” government and its parties. We understand that you, the rank and file of every revolutionary working-class movement, are sincere and honest. We believe that realizing the truth of our exposures, you will feel outraged. You may want to avenge the Anarchists who refused to assent to the betrayal of the Revolution, and, as a result, are being murdered, jailed, suppressed and lied about by the “Communist” Government. It is to all such revolutionists that this message is particularly directed.

We want you to understand that the vengeance which we would wish you to carry out is of an entirely different kind than you might expect. It is; that you realize that the Anarchists foresaw in the rising authoritarian Socialist movement, the dangerous consequences that might ensue in the event of the achievement of a Socialist State; just as they foresaw in the Socialists’ assent to participate in the electorate of Capitalism’s institutions of the State, the Stream for turning the Socialist movement into a channel where every revolutionist would eventually he tempted to enter, and thus turn traitor to the workers’ liberation.

We want you to realize that whether the Socialist State in Russia were composed of people calling themselves Social Revolutionists or Mensheviks the same treacheries would have ensued, just as under the “Communists”.

Why? Because the final aim of the “Communist”, the Social Revolutionist or Menshevik is the same, all striving to carry out in practice — Marxian — Authoritarian Socialism. Ih is this Marxian Socialism that considers the producing masses incapable and devoid of enough intelligence to carry on a revolution, or to rebuild society without first establishing a Socialist State.

This State would function as a ruling machine over the masses, for generations, until the whole earth were dominated, by Socialist States, and then, so Engels assured, the “political State” would be “turned” into simple “administrative” functions supervising the Social interests.

We trust you will understand why that what is carried on by the “Communist” Government in Russia, the entire stoppage of the Revolution and the re-introduction of Capitalism, is, already being justified by the “sound” conception of Marx’s viewpoint. Marx contended that only a people who passed all the stages of Capitalism were capable, and fit to rise in a Social Revolution. The Revolution in Russia, proved Marx’s fallacy. At first the “Communists” themselves admitted that. But since they became the ruling State in Russia, they nullified every organ of the Revolution, and gradually climbed down ini their compromises, until to-day, they shamelessly attempt to justify themselves by asserting that the people of Russia, (who had risen in a Social Revolution) must first pass all the stages of Capitalism before attaining a Communist Society!

We hope you will realize, also, that the deception of 50 years Parliamentary Socialism; of the “Communist” Government, in Russia and of the Third “Communist” International, are not treacheries developing because of the dishonesty of individuals, but because of the ideas and tactics of Marxian Socialism.[2] And this failure, bankruptcy and duplicity of 50 years Marxian Socialism has not only proven every contention of the Anarchist movement as correct, but what is more important we can point out that:

The toiling masses (as in Russia, October, 1917) are capable of arising in a Social Revolution, and are also capable (as they actually did) of taking over the land and factories Organizing production and distribution upon the basis of voluntary communism. If, after this, the voluntary communistic producers would unite in a Federation of Communes, they could not only become strong enough to crush every counter revolutionary movement within or without, but could also become the most gigantic inspiring reality in arousing the oppressed of the entire world in rallying to the necessary defence and support of the Revolution, by following the revolutionary road within their own countries. In this way, they could bring about the World Revolution.

We contend that the Revolution in Russia, could and still can organize itself on the basis of voluntary communism and dispense with the entire useless institution of the State.

We also assert, that the great success of “Saturdayna" in Russia, (the voluntary offer to do the most essential work on Saturday afternoons without any recompense) had proven, in the most striking manner that the masses are instinctively ready and willing to practice voluntary communism.

We contend, too, that the Social Revolution in Russia can and will yet be saved only by the toiling masses' destruction of every form of State, which means also, the breaking of every peace agreement with Capitalism.

Finally, we contend, that what has transpired in the last 50 years of the proletariat's struggles for freedom, and of what has — and is now taking place in Russia particularly, ought to be clear and convincing enough to show to the thinking proletariat of the World the road that he should choose in order to liberate himself from economic and political slavery.

Anarchism-Communism trusts the liberation of the oppressed, and the rebuilding of the new society and defense of it, into the hands of the exploited masses. This is the only ideal and pathway left for the proletariat of the world, if he wishes to achieve liberation.

We are proud that it is for the defense of this basic principle of Anarchism, that our comrades in Russia are sacrificing their freedom, energy and lives. From our murdered comrades graves, and behind the walls of the prisons in Russia, our comrades' message to the enslaved proletariat of the world rings out:

“We want you to avenge the sufferings inflicted upon us, by the “Communist" Government because we remained true to the aims of the Social Revolution. The only way for you to retaliate, is by saving the Revolution in Russia, and making the World Revolution 'possible.’’

How can you accomplish this? This is up to you, the thinking proletariat of Russia, and every other country who are striving to attain economic and political liberation. You ought to realize that this will never by achieved through trusting such a task into the hands of a Government- or Party rule. No Government or Party will ever cease its rule voluntarily. It will change its name from a political to that of an administrative State, but a State it will remain and rule it will continue over the people.

Particularly those sincere Communists in the rank and file of the “Communist” parties who can realize this, by what has, and is now occurring in Russia, should and can avenge the sacrifices of the Anarchists by leaving enmass the ranks of their parties and joining the movement whose ideal strives for, and whose tactics can attain, the economic and political liberation of the proletariat — the Anarchist-Communist movement.

This would be the only effective reward that we feel, would satisfy our comrades in Russia, the realization of a world wherein truth, liberty, equality and happiness for every toiler on earth — would begin.

We call upon every Revolutionist and sincere Communist to joins us in carrying out this vengeance, and never relent in our work until the liberation from slavery, oppression and rule is achieved, and the materialization of the World Federation of Communes has become a reality.

Down with every form of exploitation and rulership!

Long live the Social World Revolution!

Long live Voluntary — Communism — Anarchism Communism !


 Anarchist Communist Groups of U. S. and Canada

 Federation of Russian Anarchist Communist Groups of U. S. and Canada

 Ukrainian Anarchist Communist Groups of U. S. and Canada

[1] *M. L. Olgin who is defending the “Communist” Government furnished the strongest proof of this when he wrote in the Forw ard (New York Socialist Daily) : “Thus it came to pass that in Russia there are two organs of power: the Soviets on one side and the Communist Party on the other. This duality was carried out from top to bottom. At the head of all Russia stands the Sovnarkom, (Soviet Narodnih Commissarov — The Soviet of People’s Commissars, the m inisterial cabinet of Russia), but the decisions that are accepted there, are first carried through by the Central Committee of the Party and before the Central Committee had considered and worked out an opinion, it will not be taken up in the “Sovnarkom”. It is needless to say, that the “Sovnarkom” will not accept a decision againt the desire of the Central Committee”
[2] In order to convincingly show th at in accusing the Bolshevik regime- with its protector the Third International of rank treachery, nothing is being exaggerated, it should suffice to bring forth the fact that a new Fourth Workers Communist International came into being this year. In its first manifesto this International (composed of the left wing element that left the Third Com. Int.) bases the right of its existence on the charge that the Bolshevik regime of the Communist Party in Russia, together with the Third Inter, which is controlled by them, has betrayed both the Russian revolution and the proletariat of the world. It is only to be regretted that the program of this new International does not differ much from the original program of the Bolshevik party before assuming power. This new International fails to realize that If its left wing element should per chance assume the reigns of government in Russia, they would gradually begin to commit the very same acts of treachery that every rulership must begin to commit from its inception till its death. The fault lies not with the dishonesty of the Bolshevik! but with the manner in which they try to do things. It is the ideas and tactics of Marxism that lead to the Bolshevik's course, and the same would occur if any other party of individuals accepted Marxism as a guide by which to„ carry on the Social Revolution.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Power Corrupts the Best - Mikhail Bakunin

1867 text by Mikhail Bakunin examining how a theoretically ideal state would still become corrupted.

The State is nothing else but this domination and exploitation regularised and systemised. We shall attempt to demonstrate it by examining the consequence of the government of the masses of the people by a minority, at first as intelligent and as devoted as you like, in an ideal State, founded on a free contract.

Suppose the government to be confined only to the best citizens. At first these citizens are privileged not by right, but by fact. They have been elected by the people because they are the most intelligent, clever, wise, and courageous and devoted. Taken from the mass of the citizens, who are regarded as all equal, they do not yet form a class apart, but a group of men privileged only by nature and for that reason singled ouit for election by the people. Their number is necessarily very limited, for in all times and countries the number of men endowed with qualities so remarkable that they automatically command the unanimous respect of a nation is, as experience teaches us, very small. Therefore, under pain of making a bad choice, the people will always be forced to choose its rulers from amongst them.

Here, then, is society divided into two categories, if not yet to say two classes, of which one, composed of the immense majority of the citizens, submits freely to the government of its elected leaders, the other, formed of a small number of privileged natures, recognised and accepted as such by the people, and charged by them to govern them. Dependent on popular election, they are at first distinguished from the mass of the citizens only by the very qualities which recommended them to their choice and are naturally, the most devoted and useful of all. They do not yet assume to themselves any privilege, any particular right, except that of exercising, insofar as the people wish it, the special functions with which they have been charged. For the rest, by their manner of life, by the conditions and means of their existence, they do not separate themselves in any way from all the others, so that a perfect equality continues to reign among all. Can this equality be long maintained? We claim that it cannot and nothing is easier to prove it.

Nothing is more dangerous for man's private morality than the habit of command. The best man, the most intelligent, disinterested, generous, pure, will infallibly and always be spoiled at this trade. Two sentiments inherent in power never fail to produce this demoralisation; they are: contempt for the masses and the overestimation of one's own merits.

"The masses" a man says to himself, " recognising their incapacity to govern on their own account, have elected me their chief. By that act they have publicly proclaimed their inferiority and my superiority. Among this crowd of men, recognising hardly any equals of myself, I am alone capable of directing public affairs. The people have need of me; they cannot do without my services, while I, on the contrary, can get along all right by myself; they, therefore, must obey me for their own security, and in condescending to obey them, I am doing them a good turn."

Is there not something in all that to make a man lose his head and his heart as well, and become mad with pride? It is thus that power and the habit of command become for even the most intelligent and virtuous men, a source of aberration, both intellectual and moral.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Beats, Rhymes and Justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island

Photo: L-R, Darnell Hannon, Ryan Burvick and Cameron Rasmussen who lead the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme on Rikers Island. Credit: Jason Bergman

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled Jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light.
We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial. Ayosay has been on Rikers for five months. He’s an experienced rapper from New York who dreams of making it in hip hop. Trigger is working on two tracks that express his desire to make a better life for his four-year-old daughter. Suave, a former student from the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, has recently been released after spending over two years in jail and is trying to adapt to life at home with his mother in the Bronx. We hear these student making music in Ryan’s portable studio on Rikers.
Rikers Island is located on an island in the East River, between the Bronx and Queens. Around 8,000 people are incarcerated there, across multiple complexes. Rikers’ has a long history of violence. Earlier this year Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to close the jail, with the council calling it “a stain on our city’s great reputation.”
The Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, organised by Columbia University’s Centre for Justice, is one of many attempts to reform the jail. Ryan and the team from Columbia University use hip hop to take the inmates out of their cells and their immediate surroundings, to encourage self-expression and to give them hope.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Our Position - Federation of Russian Anarchist Communist Groups of U.S. and Canada

I transcribed this pamphlet from the PDF version uploaded for libcom.org

1934 positions adopted at conference by exiled Russian anarchist-communists in the US and Canada on the matters of war, fascism, bolshevism, the United Front and political prisoners.
Scanned for libcom.org by New York/New Jersey Workers Solidarity Alliance archives.

Our Position

Resolutions adopted at the Chicago Convention (2-3 Sept, 1934) by the Federation of the Russian Anarchist Communist Groups of USA and Canada.

The USSR due to her entrance into the circle of capitalist states plays the same role as all other states. Since the foundation of the USSR is laid upon the system of hired labour and commodity production, the Union, as the rest of the capitalist states, has need of foreign markets and spheres of political and economical influences. Each of these in turn, inevitably pushes the Union down the path of imperialist policy sand militarism (Witness Georgia and Mongolia).
The regime of the USSR has developed despotism to the highest degree and has destroyed all political freedom of the toiling masses, established state slavery and converted the whole country of Russia into a hard labour prison. The long years of the “building of socialism” justifies in full Bakunin’s statement that “socialism without liberty is slavery and bestiality.”
Therefore, we, the Russian Anarchist-Communists of the USA and Canada, do not concede it possible from any point of view to differentiate the USSR from the general run of state capitalist countries and consequently to apply to it a special gauge, as do the Communists and Socialists. These latter consider the USSR (in spite of all said above) as a country which builds Socialism, and as the “Fatherland” of the workers and peasants. Realising these facts, in case of war involving the Soviet Union, we stand for the conversion of this war into a Social Revolution with the aim to establish Anarchist-Communism.
Our international policy regarding war must not follow the policy of defence of the “right side,” as does the Labour Socialist International, because this policy will lead inevitably to the sad memory of the “patriotism” of past Imperialist war. On the contrary, we must fight against war in general, against combatant sides, against the “defensive” as well as the “offensive.” In case of war, the belligerent powers (i.e. Japan and USSR) must be isolated.
The international proletariat by the various means of direct action must not only restrain their respective governments, their capitalists from supplying belligerent sides with money, provisions and ammunition, but must compel them, by means of an open protest and by means of a general strike to stop immediately bloodshed.
However, in the light of the analysis of the contemporary international situation we come to the conclusion that a war between any two great powers, as for example, between Japan and the USSR due to economic and political interests of other states, cannot be a war of only these two powers. It inevitably will be the beginning of a new international war which will divide the world into two hostile camps. In this case the aim of the international proletariat is to turn the bayonets against their own bourgeoisie and to convert the world war into the world Social Revolution. In such a situation every worker, every honest man must know that the real enemy is in his own country and regulate his revolutionary tactics accordingly.
In concrete, these tactics must consist of an individual and a mass refusal of military service, of strenuous revolutionary and anti-militarist propaganda on the front as well as behind the lines, of individual as well as mass refusal from work in munitions factories, of collective refusal to load, unload and transport military provisions and equipment, of preaching fraternity among the belligerent soldiers, of partial strikes as well as a general strike which is the beginning of a forcible abolition of the existing state and capitalist regime.
The revolutionary proletariat must recognise only one war- the war of labour against capital, the war of freedom against oppression. The participants in this war must include every toiler because only after the victory of international labour over international capital is accomplished will the era of peace and freedom arrive.
The regime of the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat” in the USSR has absolutely deprived the country of all political freedom and has established state slavery. The socialists of the Second International also tend toward dictatorship, and practice as do the bourgeoisie, the policy of active opposition to the libertarian, anti-dictatorship, revolutionary workers movement (i.e. in Spain where the Socialists of the Second International were in power, the revolutionary worker’s movement was persecuted by Fascist means.)
Therefore, in the light of these facts, we, the Russian Anarchist-Communists of the United States of America and Canada, consider a United Front with the parties of dictatorial socialism, which is in itself the spiritual father of Fascism, absolutely impossible.
It is possible to talk about a United Front only after a rejection by the Socialist and Communist parties of dictatorship, and after re-establishment of rights in the USSR, the release of all political prisoners and exiles by the Russian Bolsheviks, and the establishment of a United Front in the USSR itself.
Without the fulfillment of these preliminary conditions, a United Front against International Fascism which the Communists and Socialists offer is a lie, covering up the Communist Fascism in the USSR.
Without the fulfillment of these conditions a United Front against exploitation and capitalism throughout the world is a lie, covering up the same dreadful exploitation of the Russian proletariat and defending the most obnoxious kind of capitalism, State Capitalism.
Without the fulfillment of these conditions a United Front for the Liberation of Class Prisoners from capitalist prisons is a lie, for the Communists of all countries justify the despotism in the USSR and with this false justification in mind, they take upon themselves the responsibility for all shootings, imprisonment and exile of all non-partisan Russian revolutionary workers, peasants, Anarchists and Socialists.
A United Front without the fulfilment of these conditions is a lie for the Socialists of the Second International approved and approve, and therefore take upon themselves the responsibility for the Fascist methods of the Spanish Socialists who declared the revolutionary worker’s movement outlawed, who had stifled the workers’ press and by the thousands railroaded revolutionary workers and peasants to the prisons.
A United Front is absolutely necessary, but it can be and will be created only by the militant working class itself through direct action against the state capitalist system. It must be created not only without the political parties of State Socialism and Communism, but directed against them as well, because their full triumph in Russia has led to the establishment of “Red Fascism.”
We are for a war against Fascism. Such a war means first of all, a war against any dictatorship which is the foundation of all Fascism. Therefore, we are for the Social Revolution which will liberate the proletariat and all humanity from the yoke of capitalism and the chains of the state. This social revolution is not only a war against Fascism, but a war for the establishment of anarchist communism.

We are for a United Front of revolutionary workers of the whole world.
For us, this United Front means the union of class, revolutionary, and economic organisations of the proletariat, which practice the direct method of struggle and which combat any attempt of political parties to dominate them. We consider, therefore, that it is our sacred duty to create such a United Front and to be in the front ranks of the proletarian army to call upon the workers to join us in the fight first, against the state, capitalism, dictatorship and terror in all countries,- second, for the establishment of libertarian communism.
Strikes, boycotts and other drastic means are our answer to fascist provocation for any dictatorship. Down with any kind of dictatorship, the survivor of barbarism! “Liberty without Socialism,” says Bakunin, ”is privilege and injustice; Socialism without liberty- slavery and bestiality,” therefore, long live the revolutionary struggle of workers and peasants for libertarian communism!
If in the very beginning of the Bolshevik domination and at the time in the civil war in Russia, there as any basis of justification for the policy of terror, every semblance of justification has now vanished. The terror in the USSR during these many years bears already a definitely reactionary character and has long since turned from “red” to “white.”
At present the terror, which from our point of view is always the means of reaction even when it is practiced by the most red revolutionary government, is no longer a means of defence of the revolution as it was first armed. It is a means on monopolistic domination of the Bolshevik party; - a means to preserve political and economic privileges of a new class- Bureaucracy. It is a means of immortalising of political despotism and economic slavery of the workers of the USSR. Therefore, we, Russian Anarchist-Communists, come out with a resolute demand for the re-establishment of all rights in the USSR and for the release of all political prisoners.
We consider it our duty to continue with unremitting energy to expose the Bolshevik despotism before the labouring masses, to call them to protest against the government terror of the USSR and to demand the release of all political prisoners.
The Communists of all countries with the Third International at the head defend and justify terror in the USSR. Consequently they bear the responsibility for it as much as the Russian Bolsheviks. Therefore, we recommend a protest not only against the Bolshevik government but also against all Communist parties and against the Third (Communist) International.
The struggle against the Russian government and the Third International must go under the slogans:
Communists of all countries, you are accomplices in the murders and oppression of thousands of Russian revolutionary workers and peasants!
Communists, open the prison doors for Anarchists, Socialists, and all revolutionists of Russia!
Communists return the usurped freedom before the terrible hour of retaliation arrives,
Workers, demand the release of all political prisoners from the prisons of the USSR. Fight the Bolshevik reaction- the most dangerous and the most depraving!
Labourers of all countries, demand from the Communist parties, Communist workers’ unions of your countries the release of political prisoners and the cessation of terror in the USSR!
Friends and Fellow workers:
Winter is again knocking at our doors: the cruel, terrible Russian winter, hard enough even for those who have a roof over their heads, who can keep warm, who have food... but a deadly winter for the disinherited, for the exploited, for the persecuted.
Our imprisoned and exiled comrades, whose life is but one endless nightmare of misery and physical and moral torture even in summer, write to us from Soviet Russia letters full of an anguish they can barely hide.
No day passes without the Soviet Government cutting further down the means of subsistence. Deported to farthest and most forsaken unhealthy corners of the country, our exiled friends have to undergo unheard of privations. In the enormous majority of cases, it is impossible for them to find any work, and if they do happen to find employment, they are not paid for it. Frequently, insurmountable difficulties are met within the finding of a room. It is verily a life of hounded beasts in the fullest sense of the word. More than that: many of our comrades, “politically” freed, after long years of imprisonment and exile, continue to be ruthlessly persecuted “economically”: they obtain no right to work, no right to rent a lodging, to obtain assistance of any kind.
... They feed when and how they can and are frequently compelled to sleep in the fields... “I am thinking with horror of the winter that comes”... “My husband is in exile, I do not know what will happen to us, to myself and my children”...”I cannot bear it any longer...I cannot see my children’s sufferings”...
This is what we read in the letters from our exiled friends, from their wives and parents... All of them know that hunger, disease, agony and slow death awaits them, their nearest and dearest ones...
They beg of us not to forget them, not to abandon them, to help them. Our moral and material support remains their sole hope, their only “joys” among the misfortunes and sufferings that have befallen them.
They are numerous, our unhappy friends, banished by a “socialist fatherland” outlawed, condemned to a slow but sure death in the prisons and man forsaken corners of the wide country of theirs.
If we are to help them, however, slightly, we must have money, and still more money. And what is most important- we must have regularly flowing in money, without gaps, without too long intervals. We must be able to send every month, regularly the few dollars to our comrades, that they may keep body and soul together and hope for better days.
We appeal to this effect to all our labour organisations and to all workers and comrades individually.
Do all that is in your powers to help our friends.
Spread broadcast our appeals.
Circulate subscription lists.
Organise concerts, evening parties in favour of Anarchists and Anarchosyndicalists fallen victims of the Bolshevist regime.
Build groups of aid and assistance.
Wherever possible, introduce the system of regular contributions.
Have special anniversaries and collecting days or weeks.
Help-immediate help- is urgently needed. Do it at once, because the more the Stalin reaction grows, the more tragic becomes the state of our comrades.
Left to their own fate, lost in the wilderness of the immense country, friendless and forlorn, without help or support, they are all doomed to perish soon. Many of them are already at the end of their tether.
It is upon you alone, comrades all, that depends their fate and their salvation.
Send funds to:
“Freie Arbeiter Stimme,” “Russian Fund.”
45 W. 17th St., New York

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