An Anarchist on Anarchy

by Elisée Reclus
Elisée Reclus

“It is a pity that such men as Elisée Reclus cannot be promptly shot.” — Providence Press

To most Englishmen, the word Anarchy is so evil-sounding that ordinary readers of the Contemporary Review will probably turn from these pages with aversion, wondering how anybody could have the audacity to write them. With the crowd of commonplace chatterers we are already past praying for; no reproach is too bitter for us, no epithet too insulting. Public speakers on social and political subjects find that abuse of Anarchists is an unfailing passport to public favor. Every conceivable crime is laid to our charge, and opinion, too indolent to learn the truth, is easily persuaded that Anarchy is but another name for wickedness and chaos. Overwhelmed with opprobrium and held up with hatred, we are treated on the principle that the surest way of hanging a dog is to give it a bad name.

There is nothing surprising in all this. The chorus of imprecations with which we are assailed is quite in the nature of things, for we speak in a tongue unhallowed by usage, and belong to none of the parties that dispute the possession of power. Like all innovators, whether they be violent of pacific, we bring not peace but a sword, and are nowise astonished to be received as enemies.

Yet it is not with light hearts that we incur so much ill-will, nor are we satisfied with merely knowing that it is undeserved. To risk the loss of so precious an advantage as popular sympathy without first patiently searching out the truth and carefully considering our duty would be an act of reckless folly. To a degree never dreamt of by men who are born unresistingly on the great current of public opinion, are we bound to render to our conscience a reason for the faith that is in us, to strengthen our convictions by study of nature and mankind, and, above all, to compare them with that ideal justice which has been slowly elaborated by the untold generations of the human race. This ideal is known to all, and is almost too trite to need repeating. It exists in the moral teaching of every people, civilized or savage; every religion has tried to adapt it to its dogmas and precepts, for it is the ideal of equality of rights and reciprocity of services. “We are all brethren,” is a saying repeated from one end of the world to the other, and the principle of universal brotherhood expressed in this saying implies a complete solidarity of interests and efforts.

Accepted in its integrity by simple souls, does not this principle seem to imply as a necessary consequence the social state formulated by modern socialists: “From each according to ability, to each according to needs”? Well, we are simple souls, and we hold firmly to this ideal of human morality. Of a surety there is much dross mixed with the pure metal, and the personal and collective egoisms of families, cities, castes, peoples, and parties have wrought on this groundwork some startling variations. But we have not to do here with the ethics of selfish interests, it is enough to identify the central point of convergence towards which all partial ideas more or less tend. This focus of gravitation is justice. If humanity be not a vain dream, if all our impressions, all our thoughts, are not pure hallucinations, one capital fact dominates the history of humanity — that every kindred and people yearns after justice. The very life of humanity is but one long cry for that fraternal equity which still remains unattained. Listen to the words, uttered nearly three thousand years ago, of old Hesiod, answering beforehand all those who contend that the struggle for existence dooms us to eternal strife. “Let fishes, the wild beasts and birds, devour one and other — but our law is justice.”



Bloody Sunday (1905)

1280px-Демонстрация_работниц_Путиловского_завода_в_первый_день_Февральской_революции_1917Petition Prepared for Presentation to Nicholas II
January 9(22), 1905

We, workers and inhabitants of the city of St. Petersburg, members of various sosloviia (estates of the realm), our wives, children, and helpless old parents, have come to you, Sovereign, to seek justice and protection. We are impoverished and oppressed, we are burdened with work, and insulted. We are treated not like humans [but] like slaves who must suffer a bitter fate and keep silent. And we have suffered, but we only get pushed deeper and deeper into a gulf of misery, ignorance, and lack of rights. Despotism and arbitrariness are suffocating us, we are gasping for breath. Sovereign, we have no strength left. We have reached the limit of our patience. We have come to that terrible moment when it is better to die than to continue unbearable sufferings.

And so we left our work and declared to our employers that we will not return to work until they meet our demands. We do not ask much; we only want that without which life is hard labor and eternal suffering. Our first request was that our employers discuss our needs together with us. But they refused to do this; they denied us the right to speak about our needs, on the grounds that the law does not provide us with such a right. Also unlawful were our other requests: to reduce the working day to eight hours; for them to set wages together with us and by agreement with us; to examine our disputes with lower-level factory administrators; to increase the wages of unskilled workers and women to one ruble per day; to abolish overtime work; to provide medical care attentively and without insult; to build shops so that it is possible to work there and not face death from the awful drafts, rain and snow.



Henry David Thoreau



I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to
see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which
also I believe,—”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared
for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an
expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. …
The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their
will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it…. I ask for,
not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what
kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.
After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority
are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in
the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the
strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice,…
…Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but
conscience?—in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is
applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to
the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and
subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.



Kronstadt – March 1st Resolution


On March 1st, the sailors organized a mass meeting in Kronstadt, which was attended also by the Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, Kalinin (the presiding officer of the Republic of Russia), the Commander of the Kronstadt Fortress, Kuzmin, and the Chairman of the Kronstadt Soviet, Vassiliev. The meeting, held with the knowledge of the Executive Committee of the Kronstadt Soviet, passed a resolution approved by the sailors, the garrison, and the citizens’ meeting of 16,000 persons. Kalinin, Kuzmin, and Vassiliev spoke against the resolution, which later became the basis of the conflict between Kronstadt and the Government. It voiced the popular demand for Soviets elected by the free choice of the, people. It is worth reproducing that document in full, that the reader may be enabled to judge the true character of the Kronstadt demands. The Resolution read:

Having beard the Report of the Representatives sent by the General Meeting of Ship Crews to Petrograd to investigate the situation there, Resolved:

  1. In view of the fact that the present Soviets do not express the will of the workers and the peasants, immediately to hold new elections by secret ballot, the preelection campaign to have full freedom of agitation among the workers and peasants;

  2. To establish freedom of speech and press for workers and peasants, for Anarchists and left Socialist parties;

  3. To secure freedom of assembly for labour unions and peasant organizations;

  4. To call a non-partisan Conference of the workers, Red Army soldiers and sailors of Petrograd, Kronstadt, and of Petrograd Province, no later than March 10, 1921;

  5. To liberate all political prisoners of Socialist parties, as well as all workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors imprisoned in connection with the labour and peasant movements;

  6. To elect a Commission to review the cases of those held in prisons and concentration camps;



Max Stirner – The unique one


Pre-Christian and Christian times pursue opposite goals; the former wants to idealize the real, the
latter to realize the ideal; the former seeks the “holy spirit,” the latter the “glorified body.” Hence the
former closes with insensitivity to the real, with “contempt for the world”; the latter will end with the
casting off of the ideal, with “contempt for the spirit.”
The opposition of the real and the ideal is an irreconcilable one, and the one can never become the
other: if the ideal became the real, it would no longer be the ideal; and, if the real became the ideal, the
ideal alone would be, but not at all the real. The opposition of the two is not to be vanquished otherwise
than if some one annihilates both. Only in this “some one,” the third party, does the opposition find its
end; otherwise idea and reality will ever fail to coincide. The idea cannot be so realized as to remain
idea, but is realized only when it dies as idea; and it is the same with the real.
But now we have before us in the ancients adherents of the idea, in the moderns adherents of
reality. Neither can get clear of the opposition, and both pine only, the one party for the spirit, and,
when this craving of the ancient world seemed to be satisfied and this spirit to have come, the others
immediately for the secularization of this spirit again, which must forever remain a “pious wish.”
The pious wish of the ancients was sanctity, the pious wish of the moderns is corporeity. But, as
antiquity had to go down if its longing was to be satisfied (for it consisted only in the longing), so
too corporeity can never be attained within the ring of Christianness. As the trait of sanctification or
purification goes through the old world (the washings, etc.), so that of incorporation goes through the
Christian world: God plunges down into this world, becomes flesh, and wants to redeem it, e.g., fill
it with himself; but, since he is “the idea” or “the spirit,” people (e.g. Hegel) in the end introduce the
idea into everything, into the world, and prove “that the idea is, that reason is, in everything.” “Man”
corresponds in the culture of today to what the heathen Stoics set up as “the wise man”; the latter, like
the former, a — fleshless being. The unreal “wise man,” this bodiless “holy one” of the Stoics, became
a real person, a bodily “Holy One,” in God made flesh; the unreal “man,” the bodiless ego, will become
real in the corporeal ego, in me.



Fidel Castro 1926-2016

[Speech by Fidel Castro; Havana, Revolucion, Spanish, 9 January 1959] Fellow citizens:
I beg of you to maintain order. Are they not revolutionaries,
those who are here? Are there not many rebel soldiers here? Are there not
many army men here? Then we must have discipline here, and everyone must
keep silent. It is my duty to speak here tonight. I am faced with one of
the perhaps most difficult of my duties in this long process of struggle
which began in Santiago de Cuba on 30 November 1956. The people are
listening. The revolutionary fighters are listening, and the soldiers of
the army are listening. Their fate is in our hands.

I believe that we are at a crossroads in our history. The tyranny
has been overthrown. The happiness is tremendous, but nonetheless much
remains to be done still. Let us not deceive ourselves in believing that
what lies ahead will all be easy. Perhaps all that lies ahead will be more

To state the truth is the duty of every revolutionary. To deceive
the people, to awaken in them deceitful illusions will always result in the
worst of consequences, and I believe that the people must be warned against
an excess of optimism. How did the rebel army win the war? By telling the
truth. And how did the tyranny lose it? By deceiving the soldiers.

As we were faced with the duty, we made this clear over the Rebel
Radio and warned all the comrades, so that the same would not happen to
them. This was not the case with the army, in which all of the troops fell
into error, because the officers and soldiers were never told the truth,
and this is where I wish to begin. Or rather I wish to continue in this
pattern, that of always telling the people the truth. A period of time has
elapsed, which perhaps will represent a considerable advance. Here we are
in the capital, in Columbia, the revolutionary forces are triumphant. The
government has been established and recognized by many countries in the
world. Seemingly peace has been won, but, however, we should not be
optimistic. As we proceeded here today, while the people laughed and
expressed joy, we were concerned, and the fact that the crowd which
gathered to welcome us was most unusual and the happiness of the people was
so great made our concern the greater, because it made our responsibility
to history and to the people of Cuba the greater.



Olga Ilyinichna Taratuta


“The Kharkov comrades, with the heroic personality of Olga Taratuta at their head, had all served the Revolution, fought on its fronts, endured punishment from the Whites, persecution and imprisonment by the Bolsheviki. Nothing had daunted their revolutionary ardour and anarchist faith.”
Living My Life, Emma Goldman

Elka Ruvinskaia was born in the village of Novodmitrovka near Kherson in the Ukraine on the 21st January 1876 ( or possibly 1874 or 1878). Her family was Jewish and her father ran a small shop. After her studies she worked as a teacher. She was arrested for “political suspicion” in 1895. In 1897 she joined a Social Democrat group around the brothers A. and I. Grossman (who later became anarchists) in Elizavetgrad, and distributed their propaganda. In 1898-1901 she was a member of the Elizavetgrad committee of the Social-Democratic Party and the South Russian Union of Workers. In 1901 she fled abroad, living in Germany and Switzerland where she met Lenin and Plekhanov and worked for the paper Iskra.
In 1903 In Switzerland she became an anarchist-communist. In 1904 she returned to Odessa and joined the group Without Compromise which was made up of anarchists and disciples of the Polish socialist Machajski. She was arrested in April1904 and in the autumn was freed for lack of evidence. She then joined the Odessa Workers Group of Anarchist Communists which distributed propaganda and organised workers’ circles. She began to acquire a reputation as one of the most outstanding anarchists in Russia. She used the pseudonym Babushka (Granny) – a strange alias considering she was still only around thirty!
At the beginning of October 1905 she was arrested again but was again released with the October amnesty. She joined the Battle Detachment of the South Russian Group of Anarchist Communists which used the tactic of “motiveless terror”- that is attacks on institutions and representatives of the autocratic regime rather than particular targeted individuals . She helped prepare the notorious attack on the Libman café in December 1905. She was arrested and sentenced to17 years imprisonment in 1906 She escaped from prison on 15th December and fled to Moscow. In December 1906 she joined the Moscow anarchist-communist organisation Buntar (Rebel) and agitated in the workplaces. After the arrest of group members in March 1907 she and some others fled to Switzerland where they edited a paper of the same name.



Georgii Valentinovich Plekhanov

Plekhanov-Плеханов Георгий Валентинович

from Anatoly Vasilievich Lunacharsky’s work ¨Revolutionary Silhouettes¨

I have few personal recollections of Georgii Valentinovich. Our meetings were infrequent, although they were not devoid of significance, and I gladly record my memories of him.

In 1893 I left Russia for Zurich, as I felt that I could only acquire the education I needed by going abroad. My friends the Lindfors gave me a letter of introduction to Pavel Alexandrovich Axelrod.

Axelrod and his family received me with delightful hospitality. By then I was a more or less convinced Marxist and considered myself a member of the Social Democratic party (I was eighteen and had begun work as an agitator and propagandist two years before going abroad). I am very much indebted to Axelrod for my education in socialism and, however far apart he and I may have moved subsequently, I look upon him with gratitude as one of my most influential teachers. Axelrod was full of awe and reverence for Plekhanov and spoke of him with adoration. This, added to the impression of brilliance that I had already gained from reading Our Differences and various other articles by Plekhanov, filled me with an uneasy, disturbing sense of expectation at the prospect of meeting this great man.

At last Plekhanov came from Geneva to Zurich, brought there by a dispute among the Polish socialists on the nationality question. The nationally-minded socialists in Zurich were headed by Jodko. Our future comrades were led by Rosa Luxemburg, then a brilliant student at Zurich University. Plekhanov was to pronounce on the conflict. For some reason his train was late, so that my first sight of Plekhanov was destined to be slightly theatrical. The meeting had already begun; with rather wearisome emphasis Jodko had been defending his viewpoint for half an hour when into the Eintracht Hall strode Plekhanov.

That was twenty-eight years ago. Plekhanov must have been slightly over thirty. He was a well-proportioned rather slim man in an impeccable frock coat, with a handsome face made particularly striking by his brilliant eyes and – his most marked feature – by thick, shaggy eyebrows. Later at the Stuttgart Congress one newspaper spoke of Plekhanov as ‘eine aristokratische Erscheinung’. Indeed in Plekhanov’s appearance, in his diction, his tone of voice and his whole bearing there was the ineradicable stamp of the gentry – he was a gentleman from head to toe. This was apt to offend some people’s proletarian instincts, but when one remembered that this gentleman was an extreme revolutionary and one of the pioneers of the workers’ movement, Plekhanov’s aristocratic air became something impressive and moving: ‘Look what sort of people are on our side.’



Andrés Nin – The May Days in Barcelona


THE TRAGIC events in Barcelona at the beginning of May were not caused, as has been claimed, by an outburst of stupidity or an act of collective madness. Events of such magnitude, which threw sizeable masses into struggle, bathed the streets of the Catalan capital in blood and cost the lives of hundreds of men, are not produced by caprice: they were a response to profound and powerful causes.

We leave it to the sentimental petty bourgeois to “lament” what happened without pausing to examine the causes of the events; we leave it to the counter-revolutionaries, whose only concern is to smother the revolution, to condemn the movement. It is the duty of true revolutionaries to examine what caused the events and to draw the necessary lessons.

The Military-Fascist Insurrection

The fascist insurrection of 19 July was not a simple act of rebellion by a few military “traitors”, but the culmination, in an acute and violent form, of the struggle begun in Spain between revolution and counter-revolution. The masses’ democratic illusions had been seriously shaken, but were revived by the victory of the labour-republican bloc in the elections of 16 February and the consequent formation of a government of the Left. The working class soon realised that reaction, despite its defeat at the ballot box, had not disarmed but, on the contrary, was preparing with redoubled ardour to take to the streets intent on blocking the advance of the proletarian revolution and installing a dictatorial regime.

The July insurrection occurred after five months’ experience of a new government that demonstrated the absolute impotence of the petty-bourgeois Left to put an end to the fascist danger, or resolve in a progressive way the many political problems the country faced. It fully confirmed the viewpoint, repeatedly expressed by the POUM, that the new experience of the Left would fail, and that a struggle was posed not between democracy and fascism but between fascism and socialism, that this struggle would take an armed form and could not be resolved in favour of the workers and against fascism except by the victory of proletarian revolution, which would solve the problems of the bourgeois democratic revolution and simultaneously begin the socialist transformation of society.

War and Revolution

Thanks to the splendid heroism of the working class, which was unshakeably determined to fight to the death to prevent the victory of fascism, the military insurrection was crushed on 19 July in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. Thanks to that prodigious heroism in the battlefields by thousands of workers who immediately and enthusiastically joined the militias, Franco was unable to achieve the victory which he thought quick and certain but which, after ten months of civil war, appears less and less likely.



Declaration of Michel Raptis at the Amsterdam Trial

The War in Algeria

(14 November 1961)


Put on trial for his part in a plot involving the fabrication of counterfeit money, Pablo and his comrades took advantage of the trial and used it as a political forum.

I don’t have a strictly private life. For many years the apartments I’ve lived in with my wife were open to the members of our organization, to our friends and our political sympathizers, to a great number of people. During the war and the Nazi occupation of Europe, Israelites or men of the Resistance of all nationalities hunted by the Nazi services naturally found refuge at our home. When the Algerian revolution began in 1954, and Algerian militants were in turn pitilessly hunted down by the police services and terrorists under the orders of colonialism, my wife and I told the Algerian comrades to do us the honor of considering our home at their entire disposal. It was the same in Amsterdam.

We hope to continue in this way until the end of our days, today aiding our Algerian brothers to the best of our abilities, tomorrow our black brothers of Angola and South Africa, our Indio brothers of Latin America, our brothers from everywhere, oppressed and exploited men fighting for the liberty and dignity of man.

This attitude came to us naturally, and not at all through any special merit. Personally, I always felt myself to simply be a man who had completely made his own the wisdom contained in the verse of our poet of Antiquity, Menander: I am a man, and nothing that is human is foreign to me.

But, during the long life I’ve lived in the organization in which I have the honor of being a member, while trying to dominate the egoistic and narcissistic tendencies of our being, I’ve also learned how to accomplish those things necessary in relation to a political and social goal, and not only those things that were personally agreeable and easy. I at least wanted to act in accordance with that rules of social morality, more or less successfully. I lived the cataclysm of fascism in Germany and Europe of the 1930’s as a militant, and I also lived through the cataclysms of the Second World War as a militant. From all this I drew the conclusion that a certain dose of personal courage, intelligence, and critical spirit is necessary in order for every citizen to have the freedom to live, for the horrors of war to be avoided, so that society not fall under the yoke of privileged bureaucratic minorities. Neither the danger of fascism nor that of war and dictatorship are absent in the current world. This can be clearly seen in what is happening in France, in what’s happening in Africa from Algeria to Angola and South Africa, in what’s happening in Latin America, from Cuba to Chile, in what’s happening with East-West relations, from Laos to Berlin.




Paul Lafargue: Le droit a la paresse



M. Thiers, dans le sein de la Commission sur l’instruction primaire de 1849, disait: “Je veux rendre toute-puissante l’influence du clergé, parce que je compte sur lui pour propager cette bonne philosophie qui apprend à l’homme qu’il est ici-bas pour souffrir et non cette autre philosophie qui dit au contraire à l’homme: “Jouis”.” M. Thiers formulait la morale de la classe bourgeoise dont il incarna l’égoïsme féroce et l’intelligence étroite.

La bourgeoisie, alors qu’elle luttait contre la noblesse, soutenue par le clergé, arbora le libre examen et l’athéisme; mais, triomphante, elle changea de ton et d’allure; et, aujourd’hui, elle entend étayer de la religion sa suprématie économique et politique. Aux XVe et XVIe siècles, elle avait allègrement repris la tradition païenne et glorifiait la chair et ses passions, réprouvées par le christianisme; de nos jours, gorgée de biens et de jouissances, elle renie les enseignements de ses penseurs, les Rabelais, les Diderot, et prêche l’abstinence aux salariés. La morale capitaliste, piteuse parodie de la morale chrétienne, frappe d’anathème la chair du travailleur; elle prend pour idéal de réduire le producteur au plus petit minimum de besoins, de supprimer ses joies et ses passions et de le condamner au rôle de machine délivrant du travail sans trêve ni merci.

Les socialistes révolutionnaires ont à recommencer le combat qu’ont combattu les philosophes et les pamphlétaires de la bourgeoisie; ils ont à monter à l’assaut de la morale et des théories sociales du capitalisme; ils ont à démolir, dans les têtes de la classe appelée à l’action, les préjugés semés par la classe régnante; ils ont à proclamer, à la face des cafards de toutes les morales, que la terre cessera d’être la vallée de larmes du travailleur; que, dans la société communiste de l’avenir que nous fonderons “pacifiquement si possible, sinon violemment”, les passions des hommes auront la bride sur le cou: car “toutes sont bonnes de leur nature, nous n’avons rien à éviter que leur mauvais usage et leurs excès [1]“, et ils ne seront évités que par leur mutuel contrebalancement, que par le développement harmonique de l’organisme humain, car, dit le Dr Beddoe, “ce n’est que lorsqu’une race atteint son maximum de développement physique qu’elle atteint son plus haut point d’énergie et de vigueur morale”. Telle était aussi l’opinion du grand naturaliste, Charles Darwin [2].

La réfutation du Droit au travail, que je réédite avec quelques notes additionnelles, parut dans L’Égalité hebdomadaire de 1880, deuxième série.



Paul Lafargue: The Right To Be Lazy

lafargue-the right to be lazy


M. Thiers, at a private session of the commission on primary education of 1849, said: “I wish to make the influence of the clergy all powerful because I count upon it to propagate that good philosophy which teaches man that he is here below to suffer, and not that other philosophy which on the contrary bids man to enjoy.” M. Thiers was stating the ethics of the capitalist class, whose fierce egoism and narrow intelligence he incarnated.

The Bourgeoisie, when it was struggling against the nobility sustained by the clergy, hoisted the flag of free thought and atheism; but once triumphant, it changed its tone and manner and today it uses religion to support its economic and political supremacy. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it had joyfully taken up the pagan tradition and glorified the flesh and its passions, reproved by Christianity; in our days, gorged with goods and with pleasures, it denies the teachings of its thinkers like Rabelais and Diderot, and preaches abstinence to the wageworkers. Capitalist ethics, a pitiful parody on Christian ethics, strikes with its anathema the flesh of the laborer; its ideal is to reduce the producer to the smallest number of needs, to suppress his joys and his passions and to condemn him to play the part of a machine turning out work without respite and without thanks.

The revolutionary socialists must take up again the battle fought by the philosophers and pamphleteers of the bourgeoisie; they must march up to the assault of the ethics and the social theories of capitalism; they must demolish in the heads of the class which they call to action the prejudices sown in them by the ruling class; they must proclaim in the faces of the hypocrites of all ethical systems that the earth shall cease to be the vale of tears for the laborer; that in the communist society of the future, which we shall establish “peaceably if we may, forcibly if we must,” the impulses of men will be given a free rein, for “all these impulses are by nature good, we have nothing to avoid but their misuse and their excesses,” and they will not be avoided except by their mutual counter-balancing, by the harmonious development of the human organism, for as Dr. Beddoe says, “It is only when a race reaches its maximum of physical development, that it arrives at its highest point of energy and moral vigor.” Such was also the opinion of the great naturalist Charles Darwin.

This refutation of the “Right to Work” which I am republishing with some additional notes appeared in the weekly Egalité, 1880, second series.




Pëtr Kropotkin, Letter To Lenin


Dmitrov (Moscow province)

21 December, 1920

Respected Vladimir Illich,

An announcement has been placed in Izvestiia and in Pravda which makes known the decision of the Soviet government to seize as hostages SRs [Social Revolutionary party members] from the Savinkov groups, White Guards of the nationalist and tactical center, and Wrangel officers; and, in case of an [assassination] attempt on the leaders of the soviets, to “mercilessly exterminate” these hostages.

Is there really no one around you to remind your comrades and to persuade them that such measures represent a return to the worst period of the Middle Ages and religious wars, and are undeserving of people who have taken it upon themselves to create a future society on communist principles? Whoever holds dear the future of communism cannot embark upon such measures.

It is possible that no one has explained what a hostage really is? A hostage is imprisoned not as punishment for some crime. He is held in order to blackmail the enemy with his death. “If you kill one of ours, we will kill one of yours.” But is this not the same thing as leading a man to the scaffold each morning and taking him back, saying: “Wait awhile, not today…”

And don’t your comrades understand that this is tantamount to a restoration of torture for the hostages and their families.

I hope no one will tell me that people in power also do not lead easy lives. Nowadays even among kings there are those who regard the possibility of assassination as an “occupational hazard.”

And revolutionaries assume the responsibility of defending themselves before a court which threatens their lives. Louise Michele chose this way. Or they refuse to be persecuted, as did Malatesta and Voltairine de Cleyre.

Even kings and popes have rejected such barbaric means of self-defense as the taking of hostages. How can apostles of a new life and architects of a new social order have recourse to such means of defense against enemies?

Won’t this be regarded as a sign that you consider your communist experiment unsuccessufl, and [that] you are not saving the system that is so dear to you but only [saving] yourselves?

Don’t your comrades realize that you, communists (despite the errors you have commutted), are working for the future? And that therefore you must in no case stain your work by acts so close to primitive terror? [You must know] that precisely these acts performed by revolutionaries in the past make the new communist endeavors so difficult.

I believe that for the best of you, the future of communism is more precious than your own lives. And thoughts about this future must compel you to renounce such measures.



Durruti is Dead, Yet Living


by Emma Goldman

Durruti, whom I saw but a month ago, lost his life in the street-battles of Madrid. My previous knowledge of this stormy petrel of the Anarchist and revolutionary movement in Spain was merely from reading about him. On my arrival in Barcelona I learned many fascinating stories of Durruti and his column. They made me eager to go to the Aragon front, where he was the leading spirit of the brave and valiant militias, fighting against fascism.

I arrived at Durruti’s headquarters towards evening, completely exhausted from the long drive over a rough road. A few moments with Durruti was like a strong tonic, refreshing and invigorating. Powerful of body as if hewn from the rocks of Montserrat, Durruti easily represented the most dominating figure among the Anarchists I had met since my arrival in Spain. His terrific energy electrified me as it seemed to effect everyone who came within its radius.

I found Durruti in a veritable beehive of activity. Men came and went, the telephone was constantly calling for Durruti. In addition was the deafening hammering of workers who were constructing a wooden shed for Durruti’s staff. Through all the din and constant call on his time Durruti remained serene and patient. He received me as if he had known me all his life. The graciousness and warmth from a man engaged in a life and death struggle against fascism was something I had hardly expected.

I had heard much about Durruti’s mastery over the column that went by his name. I was curious to learn by what means other than military drive he had succeeded in welding together 10,000 volunteers without previous military training and experience of any sort. Durruti seemed surprised that I, an old Anarchist should even ask such a question.

“I have been an Anarchist all my life,” he replied, “I hope I have remained one. I should consider it very sad indeed, had I to turn into a general and rule the men with a military rod. They have come to me voluntarily, they are ready to stake their lives in our antifascist fight. I believe, as I always have, in freedom. The freedom which rests on the sense of responsibility. I consider discipline indispensable, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a common purpose and a strong feeling of comradeship.” He had gained the confidence of the men and their affection because he had never played the part of a superior. He was one of them. He ate and slept as simply as they did. Often even denying himself his own portion for one weak or sick, and needing more than he. And he shared their danger in every battle. That was no doubt the secret of Durruti’s success with his column. The men adored him. They not only carried out all his instructions, they were ready to follow him in the most perilous venture to repulse the fascist position.

I had arrived on the eve of an attack Durruti had prepared for the following morning. At daybreak Durruti, like the rest of the militia with his rifle over his shoulder, led the way. Together with them he drove the enemy back four kilometers, and he also succeeded in capturing a considerable amount of arms the enemies had left behind in their flight.

The moral example of simple equality was by no means the only explanation of Durruti’s influence. There was another, his capacity to make the militiamen realize the deeper meaning of the antifascist war–the meaning that had dominated his own life and that he had learned to articulate to the poorest and most undeveloped of the poor.



Что делать?


Николай Гаврилович Чернышевский

Николай Гаврилович Чернышевский — писатель, литературный критик, философ, публицист революционно-демократического направления. Он родился в Саратове 12 июля 1828 года в семье потомственного священника. Первоначальное образование получил от отца, начитанного и знавшего древнегреческий, латинский и французский языки. В 1842 году поступил в Саратовскую духовную семинарию. Но, не закончив семинарского курса, в 1846 г. Чернышевский покинул Саратов, уехал в Петербург и поступил на историко-филологический факультет столичного университета.

В годы учебы он знакомится с социалистическими учениями, философией Гегеля. Но наибольшее влияние на формирование его мировоззрения оказывают работы немецкого философа-материалиста Л. Фейербаха, а также критические работы русских мыслителей В. Белинского и А. Герцена. Поэтому на смену религиозности Чернышевского постепенно приходят атеизм и материализм, революционные убеждения.

После окончания университета в 1851 году Чернышевский возвратился в Саратов и начал преподавать словесность в местной гимназии. В 1853 году, после женитьбы, он переехал в Петербург и начал работать над диссертацией “Эстетические отношения искусства к действительности”. Вскоре он познакомился с Н.А. Некрасовым и стал сотрудником журнала “Современник”.

В 1855 году была опубликована и защищена в публичном диспуте диссертация, выдержанная в материалистическом духе, но магистерскую степень из-за разных проволочек, Чернышевский получил только в 1858 году. В 1855 — 1856 гг. Чернышевский напечатал в “Современнике” одно из своих наиболее известных критических произведений “Очерки гоголевского периода русской литературы”. Большое внимание здесь он уделил философии и развитию тезиса о том, что сила человека зависит от знания действительности: только действуя в соответствии с познанными законами окружающего мира, человек может добиться его улучшения. В июне 1859 года Чернышевский тайно побывал в Лондоне у А.И. Герцена, с которым обсудил вопросы, связанные с развитием освободительного движения в России. В это время у него, в условиях сложившейся в стране революционной ситуации, формируется концепция российского пути к социализму минуя капитализм.

В июле 1862 года Чернышевский был арестован за связи с антиправительственной эмиграцией, а также по подозрению в революционной пропаганде и отправлен в Петропавловскую крепость. Здесь им был написан (и пропущен цензурой!) роман “Что делать?”, ставший настольной книгой революционно настроенной молодежи. В 1864 году Чернышевский был осужден на семь лет каторги с последующим поселением в Сибири. Перед отправкой на каторгу, 19 мая 1864 года, Чернышевский был подвергнут публичной “гражданской казни” — на Мытнинской площади в Петербурге его приковали цепями к позорному столбу на эшафоте и сломали над головой шпагу, что означало лишение всех прав гражданского состояния. Однако акта общественного осуждения не получилось, на эшафот даже бросали цветы.



Νέστωρ Μάχνο

Η μπροσούρα του Νέστωρα Μάχνο μεταφράστηκε για πρώτη φορά από τα ρωσικά στα αγγλικά από τον Μάικ Τζόουνς. Στα ελληνικά μεταφράστηκε από τον James Sotros τον Φεβρουάριο 1996 στη Μελβούρνη, όπου και κυκλοφόρησε σε μπροσούρα από το «Ούτε Θεός-Ούτε Αφέντης» τον Δεκέμβριο 1998, σε περιορισμένο αριθμό αντιτύπων.


Нестор Иванович Махно

Η αναρχικη επανασταση

Ο αναρχισμός είναι μια ζωή ελευθερίας και δημιουργικής ανεξαρτησίας για τον άνθρωπο, μια κατάσταση δηλαδή που δεν εξαρτάται από θεωρίες ή από προγράμματα που προσπαθούν να ελέγξουν τη ζωή του ανθρώπου στο σύνολό της. Είναι μια «διδασκαλία» που βασιζόμενη στην πραγματική καθημερινή ζωή, ξεπερνά όλους τους τεχνητούς περιορισμούς και δεν μπορεί να συνθλιφτεί από κανένα σύστημα.

Η εξωτερική μορφή του αναρχισμού είναι μια ελεύθερη, χωρίς κυβέρνηση, κοινωνία, που προσφέρει στα μέλη της ελευθερία, ισότητα και αλληλεγγύη. Οι διάφοροι οργανισμοί μπορούν να δημιουργούνται πλέον, με βάση το ανθρώπινο αίσθημα της αμοιβαίας υπευθυνότητας που έχει παραμείνει αναλλοίωτο σε όλους τους τόπους και όλες τις εποχές.

Το αίσθημα αυτό της αμοιβαίας υπευθυνότητας είναι ικανό να εξασφαλίσει την ελευθερία και την κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη για όλους τους ανθρώπους. Είναι η ολοκλήρωση εντέλει του αληθινού κομμουνισμού. Γι’ αυτό, ο αναρχισμός αποτελεί αναπόσπαστο μέρος της ανθρώπινης φύσης, έναν κομμουνισμό στη λογική του επέκταση.

Αυτό μας οδηγεί στην αναγκαιότητα να διατυπώσουμε τις βασικές θεωρητικές συνιστώσες του αναρχισμού, με το να χρησιμοποιήσουμε χειροπιαστά υλικά καθώς και με τη συστηματική επιστημονική ανάλυση.

Μερικοί άνθρωποι, εχθροί της ελευθερίας και της αλληλεγγύης, προσπάθησαν να αποκρύψουν τις αλήθειες του αναρχισμού και να συκοφαντήσουν τα ιδανικά του. Διάφοροι άλλοι, μαχητές για τα δικαιώματα του ανθρώπου, προσπαθώντας να δημιουργήσουν μια άλλη μορφή ζωής, ανέπτυξαν και εκλαΐκευσαν πλατιά αυτές τις ιδέες.

Πιστεύω ότι ο Γκόντγουϊν, ο Προυντόν, ο Μπακούνιν, ο Μοστ, ο Κροπότκιν, ο Μαλατέστα, ο Φορ και άλλοι, ποτέ δεν έκρυψαν από τους ανθρώπους τις αναρχικές ιδέες και ποτέ δεν έδωσαν στις ιδέες αυτές την όψη ενός αμετάβλητου και άκαμπτου δόγματος. Αντίθετα, οι αναρχικές ιδέες αντιπροσωπεύουν μια συμφωνημένη προσπάθεια ώστε να αναδειχτούν οι αναρχικές ρίζες της ανθρώπινης φύσης καθώς και να αποδειχτεί ότι τα δημιουργικά επιτεύγματα του ανθρώπου ποτέ δεν είναι δυνατόν να εκτραπούν από τις αναρχικές ιδέες.

Το θεμελιώδες χαρακτηριστικό του αναρχισμού, που είναι η άρνηση κάθε δουλείας και κάθε σκλαβιάς, βρίσκεται μέσα στην ίδια την ανθρώπινη φύση. Αναρχισμός σημαίνει ελευθερία. Ο σοσιαλισμός από μόνος του δεν μπορεί να καταστρέψει τις αλυσίδες της σκλαβιάς.



Thomas Sankara – Burkina Faso’s pure president


 By Bruno Jaffré – Translated by Barry Smerin

Burkina Faso’s president, Thomas Sankara, defined his aims shortly before he was assassinated in 1987: “Our revolution will be of value only if, looking back… and ahead, we are able to say that the Burkinabe people are a little happier because of it. Because they have clean drinking water, because they have plenty to eat, because they are in good health, because they have access to education, because they have decent housing, because they have better clothing, because they have the right to leisure, because they have greater freedom, more democracy and greater dignity… Revolution means happiness. Without happiness we cannot speak of success.”

Outside Africa, Sankara is not much known. Africans remember him as a man who told the truth, lived close to his people, fought corruption and gave fresh hope for the recovery of African dignity. He was more than that: a political strategist, an energetic, creative president whose unfailing commitment led to his murder, a loud and clear voice for the demands of the third world.

He was born on 21 December 1949 in what was then Upper Volta, a French colony that gained independence in 1960. At school with the children of French settlers, he discovered injustice. He served as an altar boy but refused, at the last minute, to train for the priesthood. At military secondary school in Kadiogo he became interested in politics under the influence of a Marxist teacher who was an activist in the African Independence Party (PAI). As a young officer at the international military academy in Anstirabé, Madagascar, Sankara studied sociology, political science, economics, French and agricultural science.

He witnessed the overthrow of Philibert Tsiranana’s neo-colonialist regime in Madagascar in 1972 and that led to his ideas about a “popular democratic revolution”. During the war with Mali in 1974, when he was a young captain, he won attention through a brave exploit, and founded a secret leftwing organisation with other officers. Sankara drew close to far left militants, read widely on many subjects, and acquired a taste for political debate.

After independence, Upper Volta alternated between military rule and parliamentary democracy and in 1978 became the only state in the region to elect a president, Sangoulé Lamizana. He ran the country paternalistically; the only leftwing party that took part in elections, and sometimes in government, was the Popular Front (FPV), led by the historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo. It had a base in trade unions.

Poorest of the poor

Upper Volta’s politicians, obsessed with parliamentary infighting, cut themselves off from the realities of the country and especially from the highly politicised urban middle class. The military leaders in power were discredited by financial scandals. Within the army, an ambitious younger generation, seeking modernisation, opposed the less educated senior officers. In November 1980, after strikes throughout the country, the legal opposition, including the FPV, supported a military coup. But, despite its initial popularity, the new regime became oppressive and forced trade union leaders into hiding; senior officers were involved in scandals. Sankara, who was secretary for information, resigned live on television with the words: “Woe to those who gag the people!”



Herbert Marcuse: Οικονομική Ελευθερία Ειναι η Απελευθέρωση από την Οικονομία


Οικονομική ελευθερία θα πρέπει να σημαίνει απελευθέρωση από την οικονομία, απελευθέρωση απ’ την καθημερινή πάλη για την ύπαρξη, απαλλαγή απ’ την ανάγκη να κερδίζουμε τη ζωή μας। Πολιτική ελευθερία θα πρέπει να σημαίνει απελευθέρωση απ’ την πολιτική αυτή πάνω στην οποία τα άτομα δεν μπορούν να ασκήσουν ουσιαστικό έλεγχο। Πνευματική ελευθερία θα πρέπει να σημαίνει αποκατάσταση της ατομικής σκέψης, που είναι σήμερα πνιγμένη από τα μέσα μαζικής επικοινωνίας και θύμα της διαπαιδαγώγησης। Θα πρέπει ακόμα να σημαίνει ότι θα πάψουν να υπάρχουν κατασκευαστές της «κοινής γνώμης», και η ίδια η κοινή γνώμη ακόμα। Αν οι προτάσεις αυτές έχουν έναν τόνο εξωπραγματικό, αυτό δεν συμβαίνει επειδή είναι ουτοπικές, αλλά επειδή είναι ισχυρές οι δυνάμεις που τις αντιμάχονται।
Το αποτέλεσμα είναι η ευφορία μέσα στη δυστυχία। Να αναπαύεσαι, να διασκεδάζεις, να δρας και να καταναλώνεις, όπως όλοι οι άλλοι, να αγαπάς και να μισείς ό,τι αγαπούν και μισούν οι άλλοι, αυτά στο μεγαλύτερό τους μέρος είναι ανάγκες πλαστές। Το γεγονός ότι οι συνθήκες κάτω από τίς οποίες ζει τό άτομο ανανεώνουν και δυναμώνουν συνεχώς αυτές τις ανάγκες, με αποτέλεσμα το άτομο να τις κάνει πια δικές του, να ταυτίζεται μαζί τους και να αναζητά τον εαυτό του στην ικανοποίησή τους, δεν αλλάζει σε τίποτα το πρόβλημα। Οι ανάγκες παραμένουν αυτό που πάντα ήταν, προϊόντα μιας κοινωνίας που τα κυρίαρχα συμφέροντά της απαιτούν την καταπίεση.
Οι καταπιεστικές ανάγκες είναι οι ισχυρότερες, αυτό είναι γεγονός τετελεσμένο, καθιερωμένο από την ήττα και τήν αμάθεια। Είναι όμως και ένα γεγονός που πρέπει ν’ αλλάξει, και το άτομο που «ευημερεί» έχει το ίδιο συμφέρον ως προς αυτό, όσο και εκείνοι που πληρώνουν την ευημερία του με τη δική τους αθλιότητα…
Herbert Marcuse «O Mονοδιάστατος Άνθρωπος» (1964)


Murray Bookchin – Were We Wrong?

An essay in which Murray Bookchin argues against
the dominant Marxist and anarchist view
of capitalist development and revolutionary change.
Published in Telos, Vol. 65, Fall, 1985

Is it possible that the Left has been wrong about capitalist development and revolutionary change? Is it possible that 20th-century capitalism is not “moribund;” that the Russian Revolution did not usher in an “era of wars and revolutions,” as predicted by Lenin; that capitalism does not unfold according to an “immanent” dialectic in which lie the “seeds” of its own destruction? Could it be that we are in a ceaseless “ascending phase” of capitalism?

We grasp at straws — Hungary in 1956, Paris in 1968, Czechoslovakia in 1969, Poland in the early 1980s — for evidence of a revolutionary proletariat without seeing the tragic marginality of these events. We turn to China, Cuba, Southeast Asia, Portugal, and Nicaragua for evidence of a “revolutionary era” or to the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts for evidence of a “war-ridden era” without seeing their nationalist limitations. We try to acknowledge how ambiguous they are in relation to the larger fact of a greatly expanded capitalism, the extent to which the marketplace has deepened its reach into the most intimate aspects of social life, the striking stability of the system as a whole, its chilling technological sophistication that has made meaningless all images of insurrectionary revolutions in the major centers of capitalism.

Nor can we continue to use “betrayals” to explain the failures of the past lour generations. Such a consistent pattern of treachery suggests an internal weakness in the traditional socialist “perspective” of capitalism and revolution that raises more questions than it answers. The socialist project is fragile indeed if betrayal can occur so easily and if “success” yields bureaucratic traits so constrictive and reactionary that history is the better for its failures. The Russian Revolution was a catastrophe whose shadow has cast the entire century into darkness, and lives in our dreams more as a nightmare than a vision of hope.

The answers are not to be found in quietism and defeat. It is not defeatist to acknowledge that our expectations were unwarranted and the analyses that nourished them were equally faulty. Nor is accommodation possible if capitalism remains irrational to the core; that it has always been so (Marx’s arguments about its “progressive role” to the contrary notwithstanding); and that it has always stood at odds with an abiding potential for freedom and ecological balance. But before that potential can be seen and a relevant practice developed from efforts to realize it, we must clear away the ideological fog that obscures our thinking. This fog arises from a conjuncture of forces that has been seriously misjudged by radicals for more than a century and from a misreading of phenomena that span the last four centuries.



That is government / Να τί Είναι η Κυβέρνηση


To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue.

… To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured.

That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

150 years without Pierre-Joseph Proudhon


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