Anarchism Bulletin No 39 – August 2011
Hieronder treft men aan het door Bas Moreel samengestelde en verspreide Anarchismebulletin nr. 39. Zoals men kan zien bestaat het uit drie onderdelen: (1) activiteiten, (2) ‘van alles wat’ (3) tekst (een vertaling uit het Pools over anarchisme en anarchisten in het oude Rusland en Polen). Het is te ongelijksoortig van aard, om er samenvattend iets over te zeggen. Kortom, het wordt hier doorgegeven ‘ter info’.
De vraag kan op komen waarom Bas Moreel niet onmiddellijk in het Nederlands schrijft. Bas is een anarchistische globetrotter. Zijn ‘Anarchisme bulletin’ verspreidt hij over de hele wereld. Als hij, zoals hier en in nr. 38, een stuk uit het Pools vertaald, doet hij dat in het Engels, want wie leest er in de rest van de wereld Nederlands? Informatie die hem bereikt in andere wereldtalen (Frans, Duits) laat hij onveranderd.
De As biedt zijn bulletin, onder enkele aanpassingen, aan zoals dat door Bas wordt verspreid. (thh).
ANARCHISM IN RUSSIA AND EAST POLAND 1860-1917
This issue carries the second of a few translations of texts by Polish writer Wincenty Kolodziej about anarchism in the Russia of the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, when an Eastern part of what is now Poland belonged to tsarist Russia under the style “Kingdom of Poland” with the tsar as king.
Text at the end.
The first text was published in Anarchism Bulletin No 38.
( 1) ACTIVITEITEN
D-BURG LUTTER – 9-11.9 – SECOND REBEL GET-TOGETHER
(2. Rebellisches Zusammentreffen von unten und links)
“Change the world – here and now” – “For a different world, where a life in dignity is possible for all”
Venue: Burg Lutter (Lutter am Barenberge, near Goslar, land Niedersachsen)
Organisers: Ya-Basta-Netz [Ya-Basta-Network] gruppeBASTA@gmx.de The Ya-Basta-Network is a network of people inspired by the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico.
Burg Lutter is an autonomous live and work project near the city of Goslar existing since 1980 – http://www.burg-lutter.de
The get-together is an opportunity to discuss subjects that the participants consider important.
The organisers would like to see discussed subjects such as internationalism, the Zapatistas, the insurgencies in North Africa and Southern Eurpe, patriarchy, gender and a few more.
They care about concerts, parties, drinks and vegan food.
Participants are expected to bring tents and sleeping gear, although in case of need a few beds will be available.
Dogs are not welcome.
Info about more workshops suggested, the background of this get-together, how to get there etc.:
Limited accommodation, so, early registration is recommended, also to help the organisers prepare everything.
Further info, registration and suggestions for workshops: firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is a heavily cut translation from the German.
Over their invitation the organisers write: Invitation – Invitación – Davet – Einladung.
They will give the full text of their invitation in the corresponding languages on demand.
ZRENJANIN – 30.9, 1.10 – ANTI-FASCIST FESTIVAL / ANARCHIST BOOK FAIR
Venue: Zrenjanin CulturalCentre (Kulturni Centar)
Friday 30 September: antifascist festival: discussions, concerts, children’s programme, exhibition.
Aim of discussions: establish and strengthen regional contacts.
Main subject: critical evaluation of local problems.
Saturday 1 October: anarchist bookfair
This is a preliminary announcement.
Zrenjanin is a city to the North of Belgrade in the Serbian Vojvodina province.
FOR OTHER EVENTS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS see previous bulletins
(2) VAN ALLES WAT:
DISGRUNTLED BOSSES ATTACK ANARCHIST HOSTING – AGAIN Since the 19th of July the Russian anho.org (Anarchist Hosting) server has been the subject of a DDoS (virus) attack making many activist websites (Indymedia-Siberia, Autonomous Action of Kazan, Autonomous Action of Irkutsk, Inter-Professional Union of Workers, antijob.anho.org, a workers’ defence website, etc.) inaccessible.
The anho people were able to track down the company blocking anho on behalf of employers and to kill it! Full stories on
ANARCHIST FILMS ON LINE
Over 1000 films and videos (fcition, documentaries, intervierws, confeences…) completed with data base freely accessible
GUSTAV LANDAUER, AUSGEWÄHLTE SCHRIFTEN
Band 7: Skepsis und Mystik. Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik. Textkritische Ausgabe der ersten Auflage (1903), samt den Ergänzungen der von Martin Buber 1923 herausgegebenen zweiten, erweiterten Auflage. Herausgegeben von Dr. Siegbert Wolf.
Verlag Edition AV (www.edition-av.de), D-Lich/Hessen 2011.
ISBN 978-3-86841-059-4, 256 Seiten, 18.- €. –
Gustav Landauers sprachphilosophisches Hauptwerk!
Eine biographisch-chronologische Zeittafel, ein Überblick über Landauers Schrifttum sowie ausgewählte Sekundärliteratur ermöglichen den ersten raschen Einstieg.
For information about volumes already published and still to come please contact the publisher
email@example.com or editor Dr. Siegbert Wolf: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niet nieuw maar altijd handig om te weten:
ANARCHIST LIBRARY AMSTERDAM
Run by Anarchistische Groep Amsterdam (AGA)
Titles in various languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish).
Books can be read on the spot or borrowed for free but leaving a 5 Euro security
Address: Eerste Schinkelstraat 14-16
(street off Amstelveenseweg, near Vondelpark)
Opening hours: Saturdays 2-6pm
Postal address: AGA, Postbus 16521, 1001 RA Amsterdam
Tel. + 31 (0)20 679 07 12
Info about events such as films, discussions, book presentations: http://agamsterdam.wordpress.com
INTERNATIONAL BOOKSHOP “HET FORT VAN SJAKOO”
Wide collection of anarchist and assimilated literature and paraphernalia in various languages.
Address: Jodenbreestraat 24, Amsterdam
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-5pm (closed on Sundays)
Postal address: Postbus 16578, 1001 RB Amsterdam
Tel. + 31 (0)20 625 89 79
FEAR OF ANARCHIST THREAT GROWS AS COUNTDOWN TO LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES 2012 BEGINS
I’m not enthusiastic about those people in black showing up automatically at any big controversial event. I was particularly upset reading that anarchists (how identified I’m not sure: in black or just a black flag?) initiated the protests against the measures the Spanish government proposed to reduce the financial difficulties. The great merit of Spanish social-democratic prime minister Zapatero is that he managed to reduce the power of the catholic hierarchy in Spain. Do those anarchists think that the alternative: another conservative catholic government will set the money printer going again to the satisfaction of those living of the state budget? Do they think that with the departure of the social democrats people’s power will take over to the benefit of all?
Nevertheless, it was nice to read that some up there in the U.K. fear that anarchists will disturb their game of sports “as a means to peace in the world”.
Meanwhile prime minister Zapatero has announced new elections. I hope his calculation will come true and that social democrats will keep a good deal of power.
ANARCHISM AND ANARCHISTS IN RUSSIA AND THE KINGDOM OF POLAND
Anarchist currents in Russia and in the Kingdom of Poland
The first Russian revolution started with the “Bloody Sunday” of the 22nd of January 1905 in Petersburg. A delegation of workers wanted to hand a petition to the Tsar in which they asked for the creation of a chamber of representatives, political freedoms, amnesty for political prisoners, equality of all for the law, accountability of the ministers to parliament and an end to the war with Japan. There were also economic demands: an 8-hour working day, the abolition of fines [for breach of factory regulations by workers, etc., transl.] and the introduction of social aid for workers.
The authorities answered with shootings that left more than 1000 people dead and several thousand wounded (1). The news about this massacre provoked indignation and protests all over the empire. The first strike broke out in Moscow, then spread to Saratowa, Tiflis, Ukraine, Belarus, Siberia, Lithuania, Poland. This first Russian revolution lasted from 1905 to 1907.
When the revolution broke out Russian anarchism had just started taking shape. The development of capitalism stimulated science and technology, which offered individual people the possibility to develop their personalities and to seek education, as was stimulated by then trendy individualism. However, this was only possible for the privileged few who had means of production and wealth at their disposal. The big masses lived in poverty and were exploited. The most conscious people started criticising the existing social order and demanded reforms that would improve the living conditions of the exploited. Some, mostly communists and anarchists, demanded an entirely new social order with common ownership of the means of production.
Russian anarchism was much about absolute Statelessness and governmentlessness. It wanted the immediate start of the building of a communist society. Its programme and theoretical premises were developed and formulated by Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin (1842-1921) who wanted to reconcile an extreme individualism with a fundamental reconstruction of the relations in society, which was to improve the living conditions of the masses. These ideas met with the most vivid interest in the poorest layers of the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat because they promised an improvement of their living conditions by the expropriation of the capitalists in the near future. The highly qualified workers saw things differently because their situation was linked with the State and the capitalist economy. So, they rather wanted to obtain better economic conditions by pressure on the capitalists. They favoured trade-unions and reforms, as did their colleagues in Western Europe. Those in between wanted the relations of production to change from capitalist into socialist and the State system to become democratic and socialist, as the socialist and social-democratic parties had it in their programmes.
The anarchists found their supporters mainly in the poorest circles of the proletariat who rejected the programmes of the socialist parties because those saw the revolution happen in an undetermined future. That was one reason why the anarchists spoke in their programme of an immediate social revolution and of the immediate start of the construction of an anarchist-communist society.
This was their strategy in the years 1905-1907. In Bialystok the group “Walka” started in 1904 agitating in criminal circles, in particular among thieves. Thieves became anarchists and continued their trade under the flag of anarchism (2).
The anarchists agitated also among peasants and the intelligentsia, though. The problem with the peasants was that these agreed with the immediate expropriation of the land owners but they wanted the lands for themselves (3), which was against the ideas of the anarchists, who wanted to form communist village communities. As a result, the anarchists were not very successful in the Russian countryside.
With the intelligentsia things were different. Their difficult material situation and the lack of political freedom pushed many Russian intellectuals to anarchism, in particular impulsive individualistic personalities such as D. Nowomirski, A. Borowoi, K. Orgeyan, G. Chulkov, L. Andreyev and W. Iwanov (4).
Their individualism showed itself in the formulation of certain anarchist ideas from which developed a number of political currents.
Khleb i Wolya
Initially, the main current in Russian anarchism was anarcho-communism, as mainly formulated by the end of the 19th century by Peter Kropotkin who had fled Russia to live in Western Europe. It became known in Russia in 1903 (5). Its theoretical organ was the monthly “Khleb i Wolya” (6). In a programme article published in August 1905 we read that “the time has come to call on the workers in the cities and the peasants on the land to establish stateless socialism and to put all their energy in their work for this aim” (7).
The workers and the peasants were called upon to overthrow the existing power system, to stop paying taxes, to chase their masters away and to seize the wealth accumulated by the exploitation of the workers and the peasants. The anarchists spoke of the past, of the times when there were no classes and the people lived happily working the land and enjoying the wealth offered by nature. But private ownership had made some people the masters of others. This was particularly clear in capitalism the capitalists robbing the people of everything, especially of their freedom. In order to survive people had to sell their work capacity and their bodies. As a result the workers lived in extreme poverty, often without work and means of subsistence. The peasants were robbed of their land or had been able to keep scraps of land only, they were ruthlessly exploited by the landowners, the State and the authorities. So, the masses had to destroy the existing socio-political order and to create a new form of society, communism. The means of production and all the wealth would belong to all and people would work as their personal interests and needs told them to do. In that way their work would be more productive and bring more wealth than if directed by the authorities and the State. Did not anarchy mean a society without authorities? To realise a socially just society private property and the State had to be abolished and replaced by stateless communities in which everything would be shared as approved by the majority (8).
To achieve this a carefully prepared social revolution was needed. The anarchists agitated and made propaganda for a country-wide general strike that was to be the starting point of such a revolution. Agitation and propaganda had to go hand in hand with a systematic economic terror that would force employers to improve wages and working conditions and to introduce social provisions for people no longer able to work or having no work. This constant pressure on the capitalists would end up making the running of factories financially impossible for the capitalists and open the perspective for the workers to become the owners. The economic terror ought not be “decided by some organisation but be the outcome of the analysis of the situation by local groups” (9). In other words, the anarchists wanted decentralised action based on an analysis of circumstances and possibilities. Terror ought to be the exception and be used only against the most harmful (10).
Anarcho-communism was not a homogeneous movement in Russia. During the 1905-1907 revolution two currents developed that had different views of revolution and terror. There were those who wanted to start working for the revolution immediately and those who preferred the anarcho-syndicalist way, i.e. organised terror. The latter felt that Russia was not yet ready for a social revolution and that the events of 1905 had not been a revolution. In their view the anarchists had to form strong workers’ unions and to compete with the political parties for influence in the working class (11). Both currents considered Peter Kropotkin their main theoretician but neither wanted to buy all his theoretical concepts uncritically. D. Nowomirski, one of the leading Russian theoreticians of anarchism, wrote: “While I consider myself a disciple of Kropotkin, his theory is not for the anarchists of Russia. To launch the slogan “mutual aid” at a time of class struggle shows misunderstanding. We want to base our views on the firm realistic ground of class struggle, not on a stupefying theory “of mutual aid”. We want to decide on our tactics on the basis of our general principles and not graft them mechanically on Kropotkin’s theories. On quite a number of factual and organisational problems we disagree seriously with comrade Kropotkin and his Russian followers, the so-called “khlebowoltsy”” (12).
Living in the country itself the Russian anarchists had undoubtedly a better and more accurate view of the social and economical problems of the country than Kropotkin.
They had also the opportunity to test their theoretical views in the practical political struggles of the 1905 revolution.
At the end of 1905 the ideological differences between the various groups became also ever clearer. In Odessa emerged a new current called anarcho-syndicalist (13) which had started developing among Russian immigrants linked with the paper “Nowy Mir” published in Paris. Its programme was adopted by activists in Russia, who started anarcho-syndicalist groups in Odessa, Kiev, Petersburg, Moscow and other cities (14).
The concepts and tactics of this current were mainly formulated by a group linked with D. Nowomirski. It published a paper caled “Wolniy Rabochiy” and a number of pamphlets and manifestos and developed an anarcho-syndicalist programme published under the title “From the programme of syndicalist anarchism”.
In July 1906 Russian anarcho-syndicalists living abroad started a new paper, “Buryewyestnik”, in which all anarchists could write. Both Peter Kropotkin and his opponent D. Nowomirski got their articles printed in it. It was very popular in Russia as is witnessed by the resolutions all kinds of Russian groups published in it (15).
The doctrine of the theoreticians of anarcho-syndicalism was based on the view that the anarchist revolution would soon conquer Russia. For this to happen “revolutionary syndicates” had to be formed united in federations. Blind terror and small-scale expropriations should be avoided because “they didn’t heighten the consciousness of the people but would rather put them off and destroy the movement” (16). Good organisation and systematic propaganda were important and membership of trade-unions both legal and illegal was even recommended. In Odessa anarchists organised secret trade-unions that worked for better social conditions for workers. Anarchists joining legal trade-unions had to make them anarchist engaging in ideological and political battles with the socialist parties and their leaders. There could be no question of party compromises, trade-unions had to be transformed into free associations of producers as first cells of the future communist society (17).
In 1906 D. Nowomirski wrote a detailed 11-point programme of Russian anarcho-syndicalism. Societies were only forms of co-operation aimed at mastering nature. All wealth generated in this way belonged to all and had to be divided equitably. Whereas the existing society was divided into two classes, organisers and producers, haves and have-nots (with laws, courts of law, police, army and State protecting the interests of the haves), there would be no classes in the future communist society and individual people would be fully autonomous. The emancipation of the individual from the capitalist State had to be the work of the workers themselves, who were to form a new production organisation based on common ownership. The programme described the aims and tasks of the legally operating unions but at the same time demanded the creation of secret country-wide revolutionary anarchist trade-unions engaged in both political and terrorist activities and in expropriations (18). Nowomirski’s programme had been preceded by various proclamations put out at the outbreak of the 1905 revolution. In one of them it was said that “the proper means to fight private property and the State were not peaceful strikes and demonstrations but armed attacks by the masses. Only in that way, only with unremitting revolutionary attacks private ownership and the State will in the end be defeated” (19). The workers were called to “organise wherever possible as large as possible trade-unions united in a federation. Strikes are the best way to educate and to organise the workers. We must create a broad strike movement in all industrial centres” (20).
The “chornoye-znamyentsy” [people of the black flag, transl.], a kind of offspring of the “khlebowoltsy”, were another Russian anarchist current. They rejected all peaceful forms of struggle. Their first theoretical organ was “Chornoye Znamya” (The black flag), of which the first issue was published in Geneva in1905. It was succeeded by “Buntar” (The rebel) published in Paris (21). According to the theoreticians of this current the bourgeoisie had to be terrorised wherever and whenever an opportunity presented itself. Terror needed no justification: simply to belong to the exploiters’ class was enough reason for being attacked (22). Unremitting systematic terror was the duty of every authentic anarchist, it was the most efficient way to fight the bourgeoisie (23). The “chornoye-znamyentsy” had as motto “Every exploiter deserves death – every drop of his blood, all his life, all his wealth is the result of the work, the sweat and the blood of thousands of mercilessly exploited and robbed workers. The attorneys who defend and support this order of things also deserve death” (24). So, the “chornoye-znamyentsy” terrorised the bourgeois simply because they were bourgeois and exploiters. They threw bombs into posh coffee houses and first class railway carriages and attacked shop owners and State officials. Trade-union activities were categorically excluded. Trade-unions were only about social problems, the task of anarchists was class struggle to destroy not only the bourgeois order but every form of power irrespective of its source. The anarchist ideal could get the upper hand only through violent revolutionary tactics (25).
These tactics were the object of serious disagreements and conflicts. To settle them a congress was held in Kishinev (now Chişinău, Moldavia, transl.) in spring 1906. During this congress a number of participants was arrested (26). Those who escaped formed new groups in Odessa, Warsaw, Bialystok, Moscow, Transcaucasia and Siberia (27). I. Grossman became their main theoretician (28).
At the end of 1906 a number of “chornoye-znamyentsy” formed a new group, the “anarcho-kommunary”, who, in addition to terror, believed also in local insurgencies, which they saw as germs of future “anarchist communes”. A successful insurgency in one place would be an example for others, whereas a failure would not have to be a loss but would help shape the consciousness of the masses in their struggles for the anarchist ideals (29). As it was, the “kommunary” never succeeded in provoking any insurgency anywhere in Russia.
Even more radical were the “Beznachaltsy” (Without government) named after the monthly “Beznachalie” published in Geneva by Russian immigrants from November 1905 onwards. Their theoretician N. Romanov combined ideas of Mikhail Bakunin and Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881). He called on readers to “fight trade-unionism, syndicalism and parliamentarism, which aimed only at prolonging the agony of the dying enemy” (30). In his view Russia was ready for the revolution. A small spark would do to provoke an insurgency of the working class which would become a “straightforward civil war”. If they wanted to win that war the anarchists had to prepare properly forming “fighting squads” that would use blind terror. They had also to embark on large-scale killing, burning and looting so as to disorganise bourgeois social life. After the destruction of the bourgeoisie and the landowners anarchist communes would have to be formed (31). The “beznachaltsy” were against trade-unions because these were institutions that defended the old social structures and tempered the revolutionary fire of the working class. They pointed out that their mottos were “class war”, “anarchy”, “communism”, “social revolution”, “nihilism” , “internationalism”, which meant that they rejected all governments both good and bad, all forms of representation that were in any way constitutional and all attempts at reforms. They advocated a communist order, the only one that could make humankind happy. A social revolution and rejection of reformism and legalism were the only ways leading to that order. They recommended also courts run by the people themselves, armed insurgencies of peasants and workers, terrorist acts and street fighting with all available means. The revolution had to be permanent, to do away with all forms of government from local to national, with the family, with bourgeois morals, with prejudices and with religion. Theft and open attacks on houses and property of exploiters were revolutionary acts. Natural allies were not only the workers and the peasants but also the lumpenproletariat, the unemployed and the drop-outs. These were brothers and comrades (32). No political party could be an ally. Liberals, social-democrats and social revolutionaries were swindlers and bourgeois, enemies of the people able only to demoralise. International solidarity would build a federal anarchist society in Russia and Europe based on love and friendship, free from nationalist and racial prejudices (33).
The “Beznachaliye” movement had its roots in the 1870s. As the “bakuninists” of Nechaev’s “Narodnaya Rasprawa” the “beznachaltsy” believed that the people of Russia were ready for the revolution (34). The outbreak of this revolution could be speeded up by the spark of a rebellion that would set the oppressed class ablaze. Struggles for reduction of the working day or for better wages were “useless pursuits”. What the workers had to work for and would “solve all their class problems” was summed up in the slogan “the death of the bourgeoisie is the life of the workers”. Their programme was “based on the principle of class struggle waged by the united working class fighting for total liquidation of the bourgeoisie through growing class hatred” (35).
The activities of the “beznachaltsy” did not extend outside a small number of Russian cities. There were groups of some importance in Kiev, Petersburg, Warsaw, Minsk, Riga, Bialystok and Odessa and of less importance in Kishinev (now Chişinău, Moldavia, transl.) and Siberia (36). In fact, it were rather individuals who subscribed to the “beznachaltsy” programme than groups. The first reason was that there was no interest in the programme in the classes to which it was directed, the second that most anarchists found it too radical (37).
Over the second half of 1905 a further current developed in Russia: anarcho-individualism (38). As main theoreticians are seen A. Borovoi and L. Cherny. Aleksei Borovoi expounded his views publicly on the 5th of April 1906 in a paper “The General Ideal of Modern Society” (39) which he read in the Historical Museum in Moscow. He criticised the socialist model of society which he considered based on a “knife and fork” philosophy of feeding the hungry at the cost of restrictions to their physical and intellectual freedom. Sooner or later socialism would take the place of capitalism. In the end the restrictions to freedom and human rights would lead to unrest and a direct confrontation between socialism and anarchism. Anarchism had to prepare for this confrontation quietly and clear-headedly because its ideals were more in line with human needs. Anarchism would make humankind entirely happy (40).
Aleksei Borovoi’s thinking was developed further by L. Cherny (ps. P. Turchaninov). In his “New Currents in Anarchism. Associative Anarchism” (1907) he tried to harmonise anarchism and socialism. Socialism had to become “associative anarchism” to further evolve into “federal anarchism” (41).
The many currents and concepts show that Russian anarchism was not a politically homogeneous doctrine. Under the influence of the revolutionary events of 1905 it started falling apart and landed in a deep ideological crisis. D. Nowomirski realised this writing: “the only solution is for us to define clearly what anarchism is about so as to eliminate all extremist elements. We need a clear practical programme understandable for the broad masses. We also need clear tactics. To achieve this we need to organise” (42). So, Russian anarchism had to devise its programme in the framework of an organisation, a thing difficult to combine with freedom and individual independence.
This is a translation of chapter 7, p. 42-52, from Wincenty Kolodziej, Anarchizm i Anarchisci w Rosji I Krolewstwie Polskim. Wydawnictwo Adam Marszelek, PL-Torun 1992 89p. (Diacritical marks have been left out as they are not always received properly.)
The footnotes will be of interest to people knowing Polish only. I’ll be happy to send them to whoever likes to see them.
2 August 2011
Kuba Waskowski (Bas Moreel)