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Written by Paul Avrich
Republished by AK Press, 2005

Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


Write Dope on Pnuk part 80

Paul Avrich’s study of the impact of anarchists on Russia in the early twentieth century was first published in 1967. In this book he identifies a number of distinct (though overlapping) anarchist philosophies and their followers.

Thus there was Bakunin who could sanction the use of violence by an elite to overthrow the state and envisioned a society where people received in proportion to the effort they put in for the mutual good. Then there was Peter Kropotkin who saw the need for a popular revolution by the people who would then receive in proportion to their needs. Then there was Leo Tolstoy who inspired a series of Christian pacifist communities. Then there were individualists inspired by a number of bandit insurrections of the past. These then were the main anarchist groupings at the time of the 1905 revolution that fought the Tsar’s government along with the Social Democrats and the Socialist Revolutionaries, including the Maximalists.

This revolution failed, but by 1917 the anarchists were ready for another attempt to overthrow the state. This time they added Anarcho-Syndcalists to the list of factions, who wanted worker councils to run industry. On the political side this time there was also the Bolsheviks with whom to form alliances and then be betrayed by. Thus we get the familiar names of the Kronstadt navel base and the Ukrainian Nestor Makhno, plus much more that I had never heard of before. All of which gives new background to the Soviet betrayal of the Spanish Revolution.

Good book for people who want to understand revolutionary practice.


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