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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL - Dossier 1917: Minority but galvanized, anarchists advocate expropriation all the way (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Thu, 14 Sep 2017 11:41:01 +0300

In 1917, anarchist groups multiplied throughout Russia. But if the beating heart of the revolution is in Petrograd, it is the Communist Anarchist Federation of Moscow that is the most solidly implanted. ---- Justin Jouk (1887-1919) ---- The anarcho-syndicalist is also a leader of the Red Watch Guard in the capital of the Schlüsselbourg Block Factory, promoter of his takeover in self-management. He will die before the whites, on the front of Karelia. ---- Like the other socialist groups, the Petrograd anarchists took an active part in the events. During the week of bloody demonstrations and riots that preceded the fall of the Tsar, they were seen parading with black flags under the slogan " Down with Authority and Capitalism ". ---- Russian anarchism is relatively young. It emerged only in 1903 and reached its peak in the aftermath of the 1905 revolution , before being almost completely wiped out by the repression around 1908. It then mainly survived in exile in Europe and the States -United States, introducing in Russia newspapers broadcast under the cloak.

When the February revolution breaks out, anarchists are only a small tendency of the socialist movement - they are estimated at 200 at most on Petrograd, against, for example, 2,000 Bolsheviks, who themselves are minority to their Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary rivals .

Their implantation is meager but very proletarian, with activists active in several large factories like Metallicheskii, Trubochnyi, Poutilov and the Tube Factory [1]. The Schlüsselbourg Blowing Powder, 50 kilometers from the capital, was soon to be added. At the beginning of March, just after being freed from prison, a valuable anarcho-syndicalist worker was hired to take a leading role in the events: Justin Jouk (30 years old) [2].

Audience in the most red regiments

Iosif Bleikhman (1868-1921)
One of the most influential and mysterious figures of anarchism in Petrograd in 1917-1918. An ubiquitous speaker, he is also an insurrectionist in every way, leader of the days of July. After taking part in the putsch of October, he will oppose the Bolshevik power. He died in deportation in 1921.
The anarchist settlement is also significant on the shipyard and the port of Petrograd, thanks to the action taken by Iosif Bleikhman (49). This electrifying speaker, which occurs in all forums, is a key figure of anarchism in Petrograd in 1917. Versant readily in outbidding, glorifying the killing of officers on 1 st March at Kronstadt, calling for continuous jet in insurrection and red terror against the bourjouï [3], it sticks to the caricature of the destructive and bloodthirsty anarchist, and this undoubtedly explains its relegation to the forgetfulness of history. Visibly embarrassed, the memoirs of the libertarian revolution (Maksimov, Volin, Yartchouk, Gorelik) were routinely ignored ... unlike Trotsky who willingly devoted some earthy lines [4].

In Petrograd, where daily meetings are held in neighborhoods, factories and barracks, Bleikhman and his comrade Shlema Asnine will in any case gain anarchism a certain audience in the red areas of the garrison: 1 st Regiment of machine-gunners and the sailors of Kronstadt, where two boiling libertarian sailors are also active: the brothers Nikolai and Anatoli Jelezniakov (24 and 22 years).

The Petrograd Communist Anarchist Federation (FAC), soon to be formed, is concentrated in the popular districts of Kolpino, Moskovsky, Kronstadt and especially Vyborg, a vast working-class quarter still pointed like a revolver on the bourgeois heart of the capital.

A magnificent palace in the Vyborg district, the Durnovo dacha is requisitioned by the Communist Anarchist Federation of Petrograd, which sets its headquarters there.
A headquarters in the working class district of Vyborg

It was from Vyborg that February began and that all the outbreaks of insurrectional fever will follow. It is quite naturally in Vyborg that the anarchists fix their headquarters, by requisitioning the datcha Dournovo, property of a former Minister of the Interior.

From this small palace, they form a sort of house of the people, hosting, besides their own activities, a bakers' union and a popular militia unit, opening the garden to the families of the neighborhood, establishing links with the workers of the surrounding factories.

As early as March 7, 1917, the FAC requested access to the typographic presses of the Petrograd Soviet to draw a newspaper ; it suffers a refusal [5]. Lot of consolation: it will have a representative among the 3,000 delegates to the soviet of the capital. Bleikhman will therefore come regularly to spread in incendiary speeches [6]. However, the organization, reluctant towards this soviet too moderate, will not make the center of its activity, far from it.

Moscow, capital of Russian anarchism

Outside Petrograd, the anarchist movement was active in March 1917 in a dozen cities such as Tula, Odessa and Ekaterinoslav. In Kharkov, animated by the anarcho-syndicalists Rotenberg and Dodonov, he is influential in several factories.

From March 1917 to April 1918, the Merchant Club Malaya Dmitrovka Street was requisitioned by the Communist Anarchist Federation of Moscow, which renamed it House of Anarchy and made it its headquarters.

Piotr Archinov (1887-1937)
This locksmith worker, who in 1907 had shot down the boss of a railway workshop, joined in prison with Nestor Makhno. Facilitator of the Moscow FAC while collaborating at Golos Trouda, he participated in the Makhnovshchina in 1918-1920
But it is in Moscow that it is the most dynamic, especially in the popular districts of Zamoskvorietchie and Presnia. An Anarchist-Communist Federation is formed there with the help of Piotr Archinov (30 years), a fearless revolutionary who leaves six years in prison.

The FAC has quickly requisitioned, on Malaya Dmitrovka Street, a beautiful building with an auditorium and a bookshop: the Club des commerçants, renamed Maison de l'anarchie. Present at railwaymen, typographers and tanners, anarchists soon established themselves as bakers and other food workers. They are also influential in the Dvinsk regiment, with two veterans, Gratchov and Fedotov [7].

Notably, the Moscow FAC founded a newspaper, Arnarkhia, ahead of the Petrograd FAC, which, two months later, was able to acquire only one monthly magazine: Kommuna (" Commune ").

Ideologically, the Petrograd FAC is the heir of the insurrectional currents of the years 1905-1907: spontaneist, of a fairly anti-intellectual workerism, it makes the Paris Commune a somewhat mythified political model, and advocates immediate expropriation of the means of production by the workers and the peasants themselves, without waiting for the Constituent Assembly.

Guillaume Davranche (AL Montreuil)

A March 1917 leaflet of
the Communist Anarchist Federation of Petrograd

The FAC points out the false pretenses of the dual government-Soviet power, and calls for immediate direct action.


" We must show the people the uselessness and absurdity of the tactic" pushing the bourgeoisie to the left. " Our historical task is to push the proletariat to the left so that it pushes the bourgeoisie into the precipice.[...]

Despite its revolutionary appearances, the Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies will not liberate the workers if, in fact, it does not carry out an effectively maximalist, anti-capitalist program.

The liberation of the workers can only be accomplished by a social revolution, and its realization is the most urgent task of the workers of Russia.[...]

All Russia must form a network of revolutionary and sovereign communes which, by occupying the lands and factories, will expropriate the bourgeoisie, thereby abolishing private property.[...]

Long live the social revolution ! Long live anarchist communism ! "


Olga Taratouta (born about 1872)
Pioneer of anarchism in Russia, she was imprisoned from 1908 to 1917. Released, she made the revolution in Ukraine and participated in the Nabat confederation. Arrested at the end of 1920, she was deported to Siberia.
Although the prominent Bakunin and Kropotkin were Russian, anarchism did not emerge in Russia itself until about 1903, twenty-five years after Western Europe.

It proliferated in favor of the revolution of 1905: from 11 groups recorded in 1903, it rose to 255 in 1907. A movement was born, populated by young idealists ready to sacrifice, mainly workers, students and intellectuals, sometimes peasants. There were a good number of Jews and defectors of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (SR), who were very much attached to the armed struggle.

It must be said that in the land of the knout, pogroms and gibbets, socialism as a whole is broken by illegality: we finance ourselves by stealing banks, we do not hesitate to shed blood. In 1906-1907, nearly 4,000 patrons or agents of the regime would have been victims of anarchists and SRs, decimated in equivalent quantity: a veritable little social war.

Two main libertarian organizations were born: Beznachalie (??????????, " Anti-authority ") and Tchernoe Znamia (?????? ?????, " Black Flag "). While the SRs were selecting their targets, the anarchists believed that no rich man was innocent, and advocated " no-motive " terror (bezmotiv) by throwing blind bombs into cafes, theaters and concerts.

The terror " without motive " (??????????? ??????) was however disapproved by a part of the movement which, under the impulse of Daniil Novomirski, qualified as " anarcho-syndicalist " and wanted to import the methods of the French CGT (strikes, boycotts, sabotage). On this basis have been impelled trade unions in Ukraine, recruiting up to 5,000 members.

Beginning in 1908, Beznachalie and Tchernoe Znamia were dismantled by repression and by 1914 only half a dozen anarchist groups survived in the empire.

Revolutionaries besieged by the police and the army in the neighborhood of Moscow.
A scene reconstituted by Le Petit Journal illustrated, January 10, 1909. They can be anarchists or Social-Revolutionaries. Note the active role of women, very present in the Russian revolutionary movement.
In the folder:

February-March 1917: After the Tsarists, drive the capitalists
Minority but galvanized, anarchists advocate expropriation all the way
A tract of the Communist Anarchist Federation of Petrograd (March 1917)
The first libertarian wave (1905-1908)
April-May: The irrepressible rise to the social explosion
Anarcho-syndicalists in factory committees
June-July: Creating insurrection is not enough
The fiasco of the Journées de juillet
August-September: The counter-revolution digs its own tomb
The Other Components of Russian Socialism in 1917
October red (and black): The assault in the unknown
A Ukrainian revolutionary: Maroussia emerges from oblivion
November 1917-April 1918: From pluralism to the confiscated revolution . Four cleavage points:
People's Power vs. State Power
Socialization against nationalization
Popular militia against hierarchical army
On requisitions and expropriations
Epilogue 1918-1921: Resistance and eradication

[1] P. Gooderham, " The anarchist movement in Russia, 1905-1917 ", Bristol University, 1981, p. 230 ; Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists, Maspero, 1979, p. 145.

[2] The Political Actors of the Year 1917, ed. Great Encyclopedia, 1993 (in Russian).

[3] Israel Getzler, " Kronstadt 1917-1921. The Fate of a Soviet Democracy ", Cambridge University, 1983, p. 38.

[4] Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution , 1930.

[5] Michael C. Hickey, Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution, Greenwood Press, 2010, p. 91.

[6] Nicolas Sukhanov, The Russian Revolution 1917, CNLH, 1966, page 192.

[7] Voline, Gorélik, Konov, The Repression of Anarchism in Soviet Russia, 1922.

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