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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #286 - Anarchists and Jews in the Russian Revolution (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 3 Oct 2018 09:06:38 +0300


According to the anti-Semitic adage of the 1930s, " Jews rule the world, " whether they are capitalist or communist. If many Jews and Jews were involved in the revolutionary dynamic in Russia, it is first of all to get out of the situation of extreme poverty, discriminatory measures, and pogroms orchestrated by the tsarist state apparatus. Many of these Jewish and revolutionary Jews had chosen the libertarian camp and suffered Bolshevik repression. ---- Russia begins to industrialize the turn of the XX th century, especially in medium-sized cities Yiddishland. [1]Bialystock is the first home of libertarian Jewish militancy, following a split in the Bund. [2]Advocating immediate social revolution, these very young people are eager to do battle with the tsarist autocracy, religion and capital, finding the Bund or the Socialist-Revolutionary Party too timid in their actions. At the height of the revolutionary movement of 1905, there are several hundred Jewish libertarian activists in this city alone. Libertarian groups then try to reach the borders of Yiddishland.

Even if this phenomenon remains a minority with regard to the vast majority of peasants, the working class of these medium-sized cities, where social conditions are extremely harsh, will be a driving force of a decentralized revolution. In the climate of latent social war that follows the failure of the revolution of 1905, the Jewish libertarian activists very largely choose the strategy " direct action, sabotage, propaganda by the fact, expropriation ". In a logic of vendetta against the tsarist repression. They and they practice the armed struggle against the ranks of the army and the police, and commit attacks against the bourgeoisie. The passage to the act went as far as to throw a bomb in the synagogue of Krynki which sheltered a meeting of Jewish patrons. These anarchists like Samuel Schwartzbard initiate self-defense groups against the pogromists.

Riposter to tsarist violence
The reaction of the tsarist power is ruthless. Between 1906 and 1908, the libertarian movement was eradicated in Russia, especially in Yiddishland. Several thousand activists perish, others are imprisoned or sent to Siberia. The lucky ones flee to the West and the United States, where they go to the revolutionary libertarian and syndicalist movement until 1917, forming new practices of collective struggle and propaganda. It was at this time that Daniil Novomirsky, very much influenced by Fernand Pelloutier, the promoter of labor exchanges, in France, invents and uses, in 1907, the term " anarcho-syndicalist ".

The revolution of 1917
Back from exile, in 1917, in " Mother Russia " by the thousands, these Jewish libertarian activists are numerically ultra-minority in the light of a revolution that engages six million workers, and a hundred million muzhiks. [3]However, these seasoned activists will become part of the Russian anarchist movement.

Stripped of the geographical straitjacket of Yiddisland, they joined in numbers Petrograd and Moscow, animate soviets, including that of Kronstadt, unions, publish libertarian newspapers, structure libertarian organizations. [4]Physically engaged on all military fronts, many are those who perish weapons in hand. They are found in particular in Ukraine, alongside Nestor Makhno.

Then again repression fell on the libertarian movement in April 1918 in Moscow, but this time it is the Bolsheviks who do the dirty work mainly through their police apparatus, the Cheka, and the Red Army. Anarchists are sent into exile in the gulags where abuse, cold, disease and famine cause them to die slowly until the 1930s. In 1920, Olga Taratouta, whose real name is Elka Ruvinskaia, writes " that a year and a half of Soviet prison " had cost him " more life than the ten years of forced labor of tsarist times " . She was shot February 8, 1938 " for anti-Soviet activity and anarchist " at 62 years.

The " red terror "
Jewish libertarians are particularly targeted by the apparatus of Bolshevik repression because they are quickly spotted as animators and animators of the movement. Their names will list from 1922 the long lists of libertarian victims of Bolshevik power.

A certain porosity with the Judaic culture gives quite surprising results: the term " anti-anarchist pogroms " is used to speak of libertarian victims of Bolshevik power.

At the same time, the presence of many Bolshevik Jews and Jews in the Soviet state apparatus in the first months after the revolution, with the end of discrimination against ethnic minorities, soon provoked an anti-Semitic reaction. When the extension of the bureaucracy favors the massive entry of a new generation from the peasant popular strata, it enters into competition within the Stalinist apparatus, with the " Jews of the first hour ". These tensions perpetuate popular anti-Semitism that continues to this day in Russia.

Back in exile
Most of the libertarian historians of the Russian Revolution are of Jewish origin. These intellectuals engaged in the action, Ida Met, Anatole Gorelik, Ephim Yartchuk, Voline, Alexander Shapiro, or eyewitnesses such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, have never ceased in their exile to give their vision -authoritary of the Russian Revolution to denounce the Bolshevik exactions. Emma Goldman leaves a moving testimony in her memoirs of her visit to a Ukrainian village in which Jewish and Jewish residents have just suffered a pogrom. Their pertinent analyzes of the failure of the Revolution still shed light today on how to lead our struggles and structure our movement. They are theorizing the Soviet system as " state capitalism ".

From 1922, the situation in the Gulag and the Bolshevik repression (called " red fascism " by Voline) is denounced by these activists. Many do not listen to them at this time because they are anarchists. The right and its extreme can not arrogate to themselves the monopoly of the denunciation of the Soviet crimes: the anarchists who claim themselves of communism have all the legitimacy to proclaim loud and clear the horror of the gulags. Moreover let Gorelik, Voline and Konov speak: " One day the historian of the revolution will stop astonished and frightened at the pages recounting the persecutions that the communist government subjected to the libertarian idea, to his followers, propagators and activists ; he will turn away from these pages with a thrill. At first sight, he will not believe them. And when he believes them, when he persuades himself of their overwhelming veracity, he will describe them as the blackest pages in the history of statist communism. And he will boldly seek the historical and psychological explanation of this bloodthirsty epic. " [5]

A Jewish anarchist signs the last act of the Russian revolution, in 1927 in Paris: Samuel Schwarzbard assassinates the Ukrainian pogromist Petlioura with a pistol shot in the street in front of the restaurant from which he left. His act is considered by the French justice as self-defense, which allows him to escape conviction. For the record, Schwarzbard had obtained his weapon from a group of exiled activists of the Spanish CNT. [6]

Jean-Marc Izrine [7]


[1] Region in which the tsars had stationed the Jews of Russia (Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Galicia, Poland, Moldova)

[2]A specifically Jewish social democratic party and just as numerically important as the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party.

[3] Peasants in Russian.

[4] See the case of Alternative Libertaire from July to August 2017 , where several Jewish movement activists are cited.

[5] Brochure The repression of anarchism in Soviet Russia , June 1922.

[6] Juan Garcia Oliver, The Echo of Steps , The Poppy, p.98-99.

[7] Jean-Marc Izrine is the author of Les Libertaires du Yiddishland , editions of Alternative Libertaire.

http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/?Anarchistes-et-Juifs-dans-la-Revolution-russe
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