Anarchism and the Russian Revolution

The Russian revolution of October 1917 was a defining point for socialism. What was the role of the Bolsheviks in destroying workers democracy and creating Stalinism? Was there an anarchist alternative to both Leninism and the return of Czarism?

Sailor with gun

Looking back at Red October
80 years on the Russian revolution is still a source of inspiration

Freedom & Revolution
Does the end justify the means? Many on the left belive so. In this major article Aileen O'Carroll argues that the means used play a part in creating the end that is achieved. The best example of this is the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Workers self-management in the Russian revolution
Factory Committees began to appear in Russia from March 1917 onwards. At first they struggled to limit the control of the bosses and they took up issues such as the eight hour day. The committees soon began to become more adventurous and began to speak of actively running of the factories


Beware the Bolsheviks
Bolshevik modes of organisation have particular outcomes, the centralisation of power. This sort of organisation means that 'Stalin didn't fall from the moon' but was the inheritor of this undemocratic organisation.

A fresh look at Lenin
Lenin knew too much about socialism to simply drop all talk of workers eventually running the economy. As he once said "The liberation of the workers can be achieved only by the workers' own efforts".. He was too little of one to actually allow them to do so.

The Life, Times & Confessions of Victor Serge
One time anarchist Victor Serge joined the Bolsheviks in 1918 and is often quoted by Leninists today to justify their repression of the left. Dermot Sreenan looks at his later writings and finds a Serge unhappy with many aspects of Bolshevik rule but unable to break with them because of the apparent success of the Russian Revolution.

Red and Black Ireland

News of Anarchism in Ireland

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How Lenin led to Stalin
Points that many would consider characteristic of Stalinism include, the creation of a one party state, no control by the working class of the economy, the dictatorial rule of individuals over the mass of society, the brutal crushing of all workers' action and the use of slander and historical distortion against other left groups. How many of these policies came into effect under Lenin?

Review: The Russian Tragedy
This book is a must for anyone who is confused as to why the Russian Revolution went wrong, for anyone who feels that to explain the aberrations and atrocities perpetrated by the Bolsheviks as necessitated by imperialist blockades or 'objective circumstances'

In defence of the Truth
One of the most detailed responses to the anarchists critique of Bolshevism was published in the winter issue of International Socialism. Unfortunately the article fails to seriously address the criticisms of Lenin, preferring instead to repeat more sophisticated versions of old slanders and distortions.

Nestor Makhno

The Makhnovist army?
AS ANARCHISTS believe the bosses will resist a revolution, it follows that we accept the need for armed force to defend the revolution. But anarchists also oppose militarism

History of the Makhnovist Movement
It may seem strange that the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine is constantly referred to as the "Makhnovists". Anarchists are the last people to engage in blind hero-worship. At its height it had 30,000 volunteer combatants under arms. While all were inspired by anarchist ideas, only a small minority had worked-out anarchist views.

The Russian Revolution
Article circulated at Marxism '97

Defending the Bolsheviks or defending the truth?
A privately circulated reply to a piece by the IWG answering Anarchist criticisms of the Bolsheviks

The Two Octobers by Piotr Archinov
Reprint of the 1926 essay by an anarchist vetarn of the revolution

Review: The Bolsheviks and Workers Control
The Bolsheviks and Workers Control is a detailed book that shows firstly how Russian workers took over and managed their workplaces, secondly how they wished to extend this control to the entire economy and thirdly how it was wrested from them by the Russian state.

PDF file for you to print out and distribute
Stalin didn't fall from the moon
A 12 page pamphlet on the Russian revolution

Includes many of the articles on this page

Russian revolution pamphlet

Position Paper


The international
'Anarchist Platform'

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Talks by WSM members

The Russian Revolution
The Russian revolution has been a subject of key importance to anarchists for two reasons. The first reason is that for the first time in history a working class revolution succeeded in ousting the old ruling classes. The second reason is that after the old ruling class was ousted a new class came to power. Those of us who want to make a revolution to-day must understand where the successes and failures of the past came from.

Factory committees in the Russian Revolution
The factory committees appeared in Petrograd and Moscow around February/March of 1917, and quickly spread. Elected directly by the workers in each enterprise, they appear initially to have formed in a response to theatened closures, and to press for the 8-hour day, though the scope of their demands would son extend.

Four October Myths
Here I am going to look at four myths, widly accepted by the left and right alike on the October revolutiuon and its aftermath

The Cheka during the Russian revolution
Was the Cheka integral to Lenin's doctrine or did it arrive by chance?

Related articles

Lenian beating worker with Marx book

Anarchism and Marxism
A lot of people who call themselves anarchists will probably be extremely annoyed when I say that the most striking thing is how much we have in common with Marxism. Both anarchists and Marxists are materialists. Both believe that the ideas in peoples' heads are shaped by the social and economic conditions in which we live.

Cuba..socialist paradise or Castro's fiefdom?
Cuba, about 90 miles off the coast of North America, is the largest of the Caribbean islands. The social services are in a far better condition than they are in other Latin American countries. Virtually every Cuban under the age of 30 can read and write. But the cost of these benefits is high for the working class who have never been in the saddle of power in Cuba.


Coup in Russia; Anarchists banned
As we go to press the 'coup' in Moscow has just ended, although the question of whose coup it was still seems open. In any case it was no more than an argument between two equally undemocratic wings of the ruling class.

Revolutionary Veteran speaks at Bulgarian anarchist conference
Report on the 8th Congress of the Bulgarian anarchist federation

Anarchists in Russia's far east

The Socialist Workers Party & Socialism from Below

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For additional material from other sources see
Anarchism and the Russian Revolution

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