Lies about the Makhnovists


Dear FRFI

I see your falsification of history knows no bounds. German give as references to the assertion that the Makhnovists were pogromists two references. Usually, with references, you provide book titles and page numbers. It is obvious why this was not done by Jimmy German as the references he gives do not support his assertions.

Looking at the first one (unnamed, but which I take as E.H. Carr's "The Bolshevik Revolution"), there is no reference to pogroms carried out by the Makhnovists (looking in the index for "Makhno"). Perhaps German could enlighten us with the exact reference he had in mind, if this one is the wrong one? As far as the second one goes, Avrich does not mention it in "The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution" (he addresses the issue in "Anarchist Portraits," concluding such charges are false). So German is exposed as a liar (yet again, -- see the unpublished letter I sent to FRFI at http://anarchism.ws/writers/anarcho/left/letters/fifrimperialism.html).

German complains that the Makhnovists calling upon Red Army troops to desert was "an act of war." Yet this call was made in June 1920, after the Bolsheviks had attacked the Makhnovists six months before, after the latter had played the key role in defeating Denikin. This Bolshevik created conflict, incidentally, encouraged the Whites under Wrangel to renew their attack (so much for the Red Army "defending" against "imperialist invasion"!). He also complains that the Makhnovist leaflets cannot be considered as "an example of anti-militarism." This ignores the fact that the Red Army was identical to a capitalist military machine, based on officers appointed from above and used to crush working class resistance to the (new) boss class. Red militarism is still militarism and a threat to the liberty of the masses.

He then states that the Makhnovists were "brigands" and that "they lived off plunder." Rarely do "brigands" proclaim socio-political ideals and aims, yet the Makhnovists did just that. They proclaimed and implemented free soviets, socialisation and self-management while the Bolsheviks proclaimed and implemented party dictatorship, state control and one-man management. German's comment is, moreover, deeply ironic, given that the Bolshevik regime "lived off plunder." They plundered the peasants crops by armed force. They also plundered the workers, stealing both their means of production and the product of their labour (by nationalisation and appointing one-man management with "dictatorial" powers). The Bolsheviks ultimate act of plunder was, of course, stealing the revolution from the Russian masses.

Given this, the Makhnovists appear in a good light. Surrounded by enemies, they often had to supply themselves with what was available (like the Red Army). Yet their relations to the peasantry were excellent (unlikely, if they were "brigands") and looters were shot (Makhno opposed looting from the start, incidentally). So to assert that the Makhnovists were "brigands" is a lie, pure and simple. Moreover, German's logic seems strange. Presumably, he would have preferred the Makhnovists to fight the Whites without equipment than violate the rights of property? A strange position for a "communist" to take.

German talks about "class principles" and a "class line" while defending the Bolshevik dictatorship over the Russian workers and peasants. This shows he has no idea what he is talking about. The Red Army was not "defending the fledgling Soviet socialist state," it was defending the party dictatorship over the soviets, defending state capitalism against socialism. He argues that "anarchist politics" are "exposed" as "radical liberalism, with no class content whatsoever." The opposite is the case. Anarchist opposition to Bolshevik tyranny was based on clear class lines, resisting a new set of "red" bosses lording it over the workers. As the Makhnovists pointed out in their propaganda.

German's falsification of history (in the best Stalinist fashion) shows that it is Leninism which has no working class content. Once in power, it quickly became the "dictatorship over the proletariat" -- enforced by the militarised Red Army and secret police and defended to this day by the likes of German. Hence German's falsifications, lies and distortions -- an honest account of anarchism would make his readers question Leninism and its claims to stand for working class liberty and power.

yours in disgust,

Iain

 


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