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by G. P. Maximoff 

“ Discussing the activities and role of the Anarchists in the 
Revolution , Kropotkin said: *We Anarchists have talked much of 
revolutions , but few of us have been prepared for the actual work 
to be done during the process . / have indicated some things in 
this relation in my Conquest of Bread. Pouget and Pataud have 
also sketched a line of action in their work on Syndicalism and the 
Co-operative Commonwealth. 

Kropotkin thought that the Anarchists had not given sufficient 
consideration to the fundamental elements of the social revolution. 
The real facts in a revolutionary process do not consist so much 
in the actual fighting — that is , merely the destructive phase 
necessary to clear the way for constructive effort. The basic factor 
in a revolution is the organisation of the economic life of the 
country . The Russian Revolution had proved conclusively that 
we must prepare thoroughly for that. Everything else is of minor 
importance . He had come to think that Syndicalism was likely to 
furnish what Russia most lacked: the channel through which the 
industrial and economic reconstruction of the country may flow. 
He referred to Anarcho-Syndicalism. That and the co-operatives 
would save other countries some of the blunders and suffering 
Russia was going through.” 

EMMA GOLDMAN, ‘My Disillusionment in Russia’, 
on a visit to Peter Kropotkin at Dimitrov, July 1920. 

Syndicalists in the 
Russian Revolution 

T HE Revolution shook all classes and strata of Russian social 
life. A vast unrest had permeated all levels of Russian 
society as a result of three centuries of oppression by the 
Tsarist regime. 

During the revolutionary explosion, this unrest became the 
force which cemented the heterogeneous elements into a powerful 
united front, and which annihilated the edifice of despotism within 
three days, a brief revolutionary period, unprecedented in history. 

Within this movement, despite the fact that its component forces 
were actuated by different, and often mutually exclusive tasks and 
purposes, reigned full unanimity. At the moment of revolutionary 
explosion the aims of those various forces happened to coincide, 
since they were negative in character, being directed at annihilating 
the superannuated absolutist regime. The constructive aims were 
not yet clear. It was only during the further course of develop- 
ment, through the differing constructions placed on the aims and 
tasks of the revolution, that the hitherto amorphous forces began 
to crystallise and a struggle arose among them for the triumph 
of their ideas and objectives. 

It is a noteworthy feature of the revolution that despite the 
rather small influence of Anarchists on the masses before its out- 
break, it followed from its inception the anarchistic course of 
full decentralisation; the revolutionary bodies immediately pushed 
to the front by the course of revolution were Anarcho-Syndicalist 
in their essential character. These were of the kind which lend 
themselves as adequate instruments for the quickest realisation 
of the Anarchist ideal — Soviets, Factory Committees, peasant 
land committees and house committees, etc. The inner logic of 
the development and growth of such organisations led in November 
(October) 1917 to the temporary extinction of the State and the 
sweeping away of the foundations of capitalist economy. 

I say temporarily, for in the long run the State and capitalism 
came to triumph; the logical development of the revolution having 
been openly frustrated by those who at first were instrumental in 
accelerating its course of development. Unchecked by the too- 
trustful masses, whose aims and course of action, though felt 
instinctively, were still far from being clearly realised, the Bolshe- 
viks, to the extent that they gained the confidence of those masses, 
gradually enveloped the revolution with the chilling atmosphere 


of State dominance and brute force, thus dooming it to an inevit- 
able process of decay. This process, however, became noticeable 
only six months after the “October revolution”. Up to that 
moment the revolution kept on ripening. The struggle became 
sharper and the objectives began to assume an ever clearer 
and more outspoken character. The country seethed and bubbled 
over, living a full life under conditions of freedom. 

Grand struggle 

The struggle of classes, groups and parties for preponderant 
influence in the revolution was intense, powerful and striking in 
character. As a result of this struggle there resulted a sort of 
stalemate of forces; none was in a position to command superiority 
in relation to the rest. This in turn made it impossible for the 
State and government — the external force standing above society 
-Mo become the instrument of one of the contending forces. The 
State, therefore, was paralysed, not being able to exert its negative 
influence on the course of events, the more so in that the army, 
due to its active part in the movement, ceased to be an obedient 
instrument of State power. In this grand struggle of interests 
and ideas the Anarchists took an active and lively part. 

The period from March (February) to November (October) 
1917, was in its sweep and scope a most resplendent one for 
Anarcho-Syndicalist and Anarchist work, that is for propaganda, 
agitation, organisation and action. 

The revolution opened wide the door to Anarchist emigres 
returning from various countries, where they had fled to escape 
the ferocious persecution of the Tsar’s government. But even 
before the emigres’ return there arose, with the active participation 
of comrades released from prison and exile, groups and unions 
of Anarchists, as well as Anarchist publications. With the return 
of the Anarchists from abroad, this work began to pick up con- 
siderable momentum. Russia was covered with a thick, albeit 
too loosely connected, net of groups. Scarcely a sizeable city 
did not have an Anarcho-Syndicalist or Anarchist group. The 
propaganda took dimensions unprecedented for Anarchist activity 
in Russia. Proportionately, there was a great number of Anarchist 
newspapers, magazines, leaflets, pamphlets and books. The book 
market was flooded with Anarchist literature. The interest in 
Anarcho-Syndicalism and Anarchism was enormous, reaching 
even the remote corners of the faraway North. 

Newspapers were published not only in the large administrative 
and industrial centres, like Moscow and Petrograd, which had 


several Anarchist newspapers (in Petrograd the circulation of the 
Anarcho-Syndicalist Golos Trouda and the Anarchist Burevestnik 
was 25,000 each; the Moscow daily Anarchia had about the same 
circulation), but also in provincial cities, like Kronstadt, Yaroslavl, 
Nizhni-Novgorod, Saratov, Samara, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok, 
Rostov on Don, Odessa and Kiev. (In 1918, Anarchist papers 
were coming out in Ivanovo-Vosnesensk, Chembar, Ekaterinburg, 
Kursk, Ekaterinoslav, Viatka.) 

Oral propaganda was even more extensive than written — it 
was carried out in the army, as well as in factories and villages. 
The propaganda stressed the central task of bringing out and 
carrying to their logical end the Anarchist principles and tendencies 
inherent in the revolution. This propaganda, Anarcho-Syndicalist 
propaganda especially, was very successful with the toilers. The 
influence of Anarchism, especially its Anarcho-Syndicalist variety, 
was so great with the Petrograd workers that the Social-Democrats 
were compelled to issue a special publication for the purpose of 
waging a struggle against “Anarcho-Syndicalism among the organ- 
ised proletariat.” Unfortunately, this influence was not organised. 

Centralism via federalism’ 

The influence of Anarcho-Syndicalism showed itself creditably 
in the struggle for supremacy waged by the Factory Committees 
against the trade unions. The Factory Committees were almost 
completely swayed by a unique sort of Anarcho-Syndicalism; this 
is attested by all the conferences of the Petrograd Factory Com- 
mittees, and by the All-Russian conferences of these committees. 
Moreover, the Bolsheviks in their drive towards seizure of power 
and dictatorship, were forced to cast away (for the time being 
only, as subsequent events proved), their orthodox Marxism and 
to accept Anarchist slogans and methods. Alas, this was but a 
tactical move on their part, not a genuine change of programme. 

The slogans formulated by the Bolsheviks (Communists) voiced, 
in a precise and intelligible manner, the demands of the masses 
in revolt, coinciding with the slogans of the Anarchists: “Down 
with the war,” “Immediate peace without annexations or indemni- 
ties, over the heads of the governments and capitalists,” “Abolition 
cf the army,” “Arming of the workers,” “Immediate seizure of 
land by the peasants,” “Seizure of factories by the workers,” “A 
Federation of Soviets,” etc. Wouldn’t the realisation of these 
great slogans lead to the full triumph of Anarchist ideology, to 
the sweeping away of the basis and foundations of Marxism? 
Wasn’t it natural for the Anarchists to be taken in by these slogans, 
considering that they lacked a strong organisation to carry them 


out independently? Consequently, they continued taking part in 
the joint struggle. 

But reality soon proved that all the lapses by the Bolsheviks 
from the revolutionary position were no casual things, but moves 
in a rigorously thought-out tactical plan, directed against the vital 
interests and demands of the masses — a plan designed to carry 
out in life the dead dogmas of a disintegrated Marxism. The true 
face of the Bolsheviks was revealed by the Commissar of National 
Affairs — Stalin (Dzhugashvili), who in one of his articles (April 
1918) wrote that their aim is, “To arrive at centralism via federal- 
ism.” Persistently, cautiously, the revolution was being forced 
into Marxist channels in accordance with a preconceived plan. 
Such a channel is for every popular creed a Procrustean bed. 

Thus, during the period of the Bourgeois and Bourgeois- 
Socialist Government, the Anarchists worked (not organisationally 
of course) hand-in-hand with the Bolsheviks. How were the 
Anarchists situated during that period? The listing of the cities 
where Anarchist publications came out shows that freedom of the 
press was of the most extensive kind. Not a single newspaper 
was closed, not a single leaflet, pamphlet or book confiscated, not 
a single rally or mass meeting forbidden. Despite the seizure of 
rich private houses, like the Durnovo Villa and other mansions 
in Petrograd; despite the seizure of printing shops, including the 
printing shop of Russkaya Volia, published by the Tsar’s minister 
Protopopov; despite open incitement to insubordination and 
appeals for soldiers to leave the fronts; despite all that, only a 
few cases where Anarchists were manhandled might be construed 
as connivance by authorities, or premeditated acts. True, the 
government, at that period, was not averse to dealing severely 
with both Anarchists and Bolsheviks. Kerensky threatened many 
times to “bum them out with red-hot irons”. But the government 
was powerless, because the revolution was in full swing. 

After October 

How did the position of the Anarchists change with the triumph 
of the October revolution, in the preparation and making of 
which they had taken such a prominent part? It has to be 
pointed out that during the Kerensky period the Anarchists had 
grown considerably and that towards the October days their move- 
ment had already assumed considerable proportions. This growth 
became even more accelerated after the October revolution, when 
the Anarchists took an active part in the direct struggle against 
both the counter-revolution and the German-Austrian troops. 
Not only did the voice of the Anarchists command attention, but 


the masses actually followed the appeals and directives of the 
Anarchists, having come to see in them the concrete formulation 
of their age-long aspirations. That is why they backed demands 
of an Anarcho-Syndicalist character, carrying them out in the 
teeth of hamstringing efforts, rather feeble at that time, by the 

Under the influence of Anarcho-Syndicalist propaganda, there 
began in Petrograd a spontaneous process of socialisation of 
housing by the house committees. This extended to entire streets, 
bringing into existence street committees and block committees, 
when entire blocks were drawn in. It spread to other cities. In 
Kronstadt it started even earlier than Petrograd and reached even 
greater intensity. If in Petrograd and other cities, dwellings were 
socialised only on the triumph of the October revolution, in 
Kronstadt similar steps were taken earlier, under the influence of 
Yartchuk, who was enjoying great popularity in that town, and 
in face of the active resistance of the Bolsheviks. Measures of 
this kind were carried out in an organised way by the revolutionary 
workers and sailors throughout the town. The Bolshevik fraction 
left a session of the Kronstadt Soviet in protest against the 
socialisation of dwellings. 

Workers’ Control 

In the field of revolutionary struggle towards immediate aboli- 
tion of the institution of private property in the means of produc- 
tion, the influence of the Anarchists was even more pronounced. 
The idea of “workers’ control”, carried out through the Factory 
Committees, an idea advocated by the Anarcho-Syndicalists from 
the very outset of the revolution, took root among the city workers, 
gaining such a strong hold on them as to force its acceptance, in 
a distorted form, of course, by the Socialist parties. The Social- 
Democrats and the right Social-Revolutionists twisted this idea 
of workers’ control into that of State control over industry, with 
the participation of workers, leaving enterprises in the hands of 
the capitalists. 

As for the Bolsheviks, they were quite vague about the meaning 
of the term “workers’ control”, leaving it undefined, and making 
it a handy tool of demagogic propaganda. This is confirmed by 
A. Lozovsky (S. A. Dridzo), who writes the following in his 
pamphlet Workers' Control (Petersburg, the Socialist Publishing 
House, 1918): 

“Workers’ control was the fighting slogan of the Bolsheviks 
before the October days . . • but despite the fact that workers 
control figured in all resolutions, and was displayed on all banners, 


it had an aura of mystery about it. The party Press wrote very 
little about this slogan, still less did it try to implement it in a 
concrete way. When the October revolution broke out and it 
became necessary to say clearly and precisely what this workers’ 
control was, it developed that, even among the partisans of this 
slogan, there existed great differences of opinion on that score.” 
(p. 19.) 

The Bolsheviks refused to accept the Anarcho-Syndicalist con- 
struction of the idea of workers’ control; namely, taking control 
of production, its socialisation and instituting workers’ control over 
socialised production through the Factory Committees. This idea 
won out, workers having begun expropriating enterprises while 
the Bourgeois-Socialist government was still in power. The 
Factory Committees and various control committees were already 
taking over the managing functions at that time. On the eve 
of the October revolution this movement assumed a truly mass 

Factory Committees 

The Factory Committees and their Central Bureau became the 
foundation of the new revolutionary movement, which set itself 
the task of making the factories into Producer and Consumer 
Communes. The Factory Committees were to become the nuclei 
of the new social order gradually emerging from the inchoate 
elemental life of the revolution. Anarchistic in their essence, the 
Factory Committees made many enemies. The attitude of all 
political parties was restrained hostility, their, efforts centring on 
reducing the Factory Committees to a subordifiate position within 
the trade unions. The Communists from the outset showed their 
suspicion of this type of organisation. It was only after they had 
become convinced that the trade unions were too strongly domi- 
nated by the Social-Democrats to lend themselves as instruments 
of Communist policy that, following the Anarcho-Syndicalists, 
they began to centre their attention on the Factory Committees, 
aiming to place them under their control and, through those com- 
mittees, ultimately to gain control of the trade unions. Despite 
this attitude, the Bolsheviks were forced by the course of events 
to assume a position toward the Factory Committees which 
differed little from that of the Anarcho-Syndicalists. Only 
gradually did they assume this position. At first they combatted it. 

“The Anarcho-Syndicalists entrenched themselves behind the 
Factory Committees. They created a veritable theory around it, 
saying in effect that the trade unions have died, that the future 
belongs to the Factory Committees, who will deliver the knock-out 
blow to capitalism, that the Factory Committees are the highest 


form of labour movement, etc. In a word, they developed in 
regard to the Factory Committees the same theory which the 
French Anarcho-Syndicalists developed in regard to the trade 
unions Under these conditions the divorce between the two 
organisations (trade unions and Factory Committees) represents 
the greatest danger for the labour movement of Russia. 

“This danger is the greater, that even among active people of 
the Factory Committees who are not Anarcho-Syndicalists, we 
also see this tendency to oppose the trade unions to the Factory 
Committees and even to replace industrial unions and their local 
branches with respective organisations of the Factory Committee 
type. ”_Lozovsky, Workers' Control (p. 37). 

Seizure of enterprises 

Characteristically, only the Anarcho-Syndicalist press correctly 
evaluated the role and significance of the Factory Committees. 
The first article in the revolutionary press on this problem, by 
the author of these lines, appeared in the first issue of Golos 
Trouda. (Incidentally, the article did not express the opinion 
of Golos Trouda as a whole on this problem.) At one of the 
conferences of the Factory Committees held in Petrograd, during 
August 1917, the article was hotly contested by the Bolsheviks, 
notably Lozovsky and others. But this idea, sound in itself and 
answering the mood and needs of the workers, became dominant 
even in the Bolshevik Party. Even Lenin declared in his speech 
at the All-Russian Trade Union Convention (held in the spring 
of 1918) that “the factory is a self-governing commune of 
producers and consumers.’’ 

The results of this Anarcho-Syndicalist propaganda soon bore 
fruit There followed a wave of seizures of enterprises and the 
organisation of Workers’ Management. These began when the 
provisional government was still in power and, it stands to reason, 
the Anarchists played the foremost role in them. The most 
talked-of event of the kind at that period was the expropriation 
under the direct influence of the Anarchist Zhuk, of the Shlissel- 
burg gunpowder mills and agricultural estates, both of which were 
then organised on Anarchist principles. Such events recurred 
ever more frequently, and on the eve of the October revolution 
they came to be regarded as a matter of course. 

Soon after the triumph of the October revolution, the Central 
Bureau of the Factory Committees worked out extensive instruc- 
tions for the control of production. These instructions proved to 
be a brilliant literary document, showing the triumph of the 
Anarcho-Syndicalist idea. The significance of this incident is the 


greater considering that the Bolsheviks were then predominant 
in the Factory Committees. 

How greatly the workers were influenced by the idea of Factory 
Committees being the executive bodies of the Factory -Communes 
— the cellular bodies joining into a federative organisation, which 
unites all workers and creates the necessary industrial administra- 
tive system — is shown by the uneasiness the Bolsheviks revealed 
after the October revolution. 

“In place of a ‘Republic of Soviets’, we are led to a republic 
of producers’ co-operatives (artels), into which the capitalist fac- 
tories would be metamorphosed by this process. Instead of a 
rapid regulation of the social production and consumption — instead 
of measures which, objected to as they may be on various grounds, 
do represent a genuine step toward a socialist organisation of 
society — instead of that we are witnessing something which par- 
takes somewhat of the Anarchist visionary dreams about autono- 
mous industrial communes.” — I. Stepanov, From Workers' Control 
towards Workers' Administration in the Industries and Agriculture 
(Moscow, 1918, p. 11). 

The predominance of the Bolsheviks makes even more remark- 
able the successes achieved by our comrades, especially that of 
W. Shatov, in their work carried on within the Factory Committees. 
(Shatov led the attack on the Winter Palace, Petrograd, in October 
1917. He left the Anarcho-Syndicalist movement and became in 
fact a Bolshevik from the very moment when the capital was 
moved to Moscow early in 1918. He was arrested and probably 
shot without trial during the purges in the late 1930s.) Even 
though dominated by the Bolsheviks, the Factory Committees of 
that period were carrying out the Anarchist idea. The latter, of 
course, suffered in clarity and purity when carried out by the 
Bolsheviks within the Factory Committees; had the Anarchists 
been in the majority they would have tried to eliminate completely 
from the work of the committees the element of centralisation and 
State principles. 

Spontaneous Syndicalism 

We are not out here to give a detailed history of the Russian 
trade union movement, or a chronicle of the struggle of various 
political parties and groups within the trade unions. Ours is a 
purely informatory task. We want to stress those moments in 
the life of the trade union movement highlighted by the work of 
the Anarcho-Syndicalist minority. 

The labour movement, like the revolution itself, arose spontan- 
eously. It set aside trade unions, basing itself mainly on the 


Factory Committees and their associations, especially in Petrograd. 

Although the Russian proletariat was, as a whole, entirely 
ignorant of the ideas of Revolutionary Syndicalism, and despite 
the scarcity of Anarcho-Syndicalist literature, as well as an almost 
total lack of representatives of this movement among the Russian 
workers; despite all that, the labour movement of all Russia went 
along the road of decentralisation. It chose spontaneously the 
course of a unique Revolutionary Syndicalism. Unlike other 
periods, the one following the February revolution of 1917 was 
characterised by the active participation of Anarcho-Syndicalists 
— workers who had returned to Russia from the United States, 
where they had taken part in the struggles of the Industrial 
Workers of the World (IWW). 

Factory Committees v trade unions 

Until January 1918, that is until the First All-Russian Trade 
Union Convention, the labour movement sailed under the banners 
of the Factory Committees. These waged a fierce struggle against 
the bourgeois elements that fought silently for supremacy, as 
against the trade unions. This struggle assumed an especially 
strong character after the Third All-Russian Trade Union Con- 
ference, which clearly revealed the gulf between the tactics and 
aims of the trade unions and those of the Factory Committees. 
The latter, united first in Petrograd, then throughout Russia, 
singled out their own central bodies and gave the keystone to the 
course of the revolution. The Anarcho-Syndicalists took an active 
part in both the Factory Committees and the trade unions. There 
was no unanimity in Anarcho-Syndicalist ranks about which of 
the two organisations should be preferred. The movement headed 
by the author of these lines was far from being supported by the 
rest of the Anarchists. It was not even accepted by the group 
publishing Golos Trouda. Likewise, many Bolsheviks were averse 
to the viewpoint favouring the Factory Committees as against 
the trade unions. At one of the conferences of the Petrograd 
Factory Committees, Lozovsky subjected this view, and the move- 
ment backing it, to a cruel and unscrupulous attack. 

On the whole, however, the Anarcho-Syndicalist elements showed 
a preference for the Factory Committees, having concentrated their 
forces in that direction. They were represented in many individual 
Factory Committees, as well as in the Petrograd Bureau and the 
All-Russian Central Bureau of Factory Committees. Likewise the 
influence exercised by the Anarcho-Syndicalists on the work of the 
conferences of the Factory Committees, whose paper, Novy Put , 
was strongly coloured with a unique kind of Anarcho-Syndicalism, 


though no Anarcho-Syndicalists were on its staff. 

In view of this direct and indirect influence of Anarcho- 
Syndicalists, the bourgeois and socialist papers began to voice 
alarm: the newspapers Dien (bourgeois), Nov ay a Zhizn (socialist), 
Izvestia Petrogradskogo Obshtchestva Zavochikovy Fabricantov 
(bourgeois), Izvestia Tzentralnogo Ispolnitelnogo Komiteta 
(socialist), Rabochaya Gazeta (socialist), etc. The Social-Democrats 
issued a special publication ( Rabochaya Mysl) to combat Anarcho- 
Syndicalist influence among the organised proletariat. 

In vain, however. The Anarcho-Syndicalists were conquering 
the masses with the slogan of “Workers’ Control”. Ever greater 
masses of workers were swept under Anarcho-Syndicalist influence, 
which impelled them to proceed with the seizure of factories. The 
influence of the Anarcho-Syndicalist slogan “Workers’ Control” 
showed itself in the Manual for the Carrying Out of Workers’ 
Control of Industry , edited and published by the Central Council 
of the Petrograd Factory Committees and which met a sharp rebuff 
from the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks at the First All-Russian Trade 
Union Convention. (See The First All-Russian Convention of 
Trade Unions , Stenographic Report . Also A. Lozovsky (Dridzo) 
Workers’ Control .) 

The Anarcho-Syndicalists at that time had their group organ- 
isations outside the unions and were publishing newspapers and 
magazines. In Petrograd Golos Trouda, Kharkov Rabochaya 
Mysl, Krasnoyarsk Sibirsky Anarchist, in Moscow a revolutionary 
Syndicalist organ Rabochaya Zhizn, etc. The Anarcho-Syndicalists 
were represented in numerous Factory Committees and trade 
unions, where they were carrying on intensive propaganda. The 
great majority of Anarcho-Syndicalists believed that, by working 
within the trade unions, they would succeed in imparting to the 
latter an Anarcho-Syndicalist direction. 

Sweep of movement 

Before the First All-Russian Trade Union Convention, the 
Anarcho-Syndicalists suceeded in organising on the platform of 
the American IWW between 25 and 30 thousand miners of the 
Debaltzev district in the Don Basin. The Cossack massacre, which 
led to the murder of comrade Koniayev, the organiser of this union, 
and the subsequent civil war, destroyed those beginnings. The 
same was true of Anarcho-Syndicalist work in the Cheremkhovo 
mine, before the Czechoslovak rebellion. In Ekaterinodar and 
throughout Novorossiysk province the labour movement was 
adopting the Anarcho-Syndicalist platform. This movement 
was headed by B. Yelensky, Katia Gorbova and others. The move- 


ment embraced the entire Chernomorsky province, with the cities 
Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk. The main contingents in this 
movement were portworkers and cement workers. In Moscow the 
Anarcho-Syndicalists had a dominant influence among the railway 
workers, perfumery workers and others. (The movement was 
earned on by comrades including Preferansov, N. K. Lebediev, 
Kritskaya.) To translate this influence into terms of definite 
numbers is difficult. We can only point out that, at the First All- 
Russian Trade Union Convention, there was an Anarcho-Syndicalist 
faction. It included a few Maximalists and other sympathizers 
totalling twenty-five people. And since the basis of representation 
was on the average of one delegate per 3,000-3,500 members, one 
may say that the number of organised Anarcho-Syndicalist workers 
reached 88,000. This figure, however, might safely be increased 
two or three times to form an adequate idea of the actual sweep 
of the movement. 

Factory Committees subordinated 

At the First Trade Union Convention, immediately after the 
October revolution, the Bolsheviks and Left Social-Revolutionists 
were in the majority. It signified the final victory of the trade 
unions over the Factory Committees. The Bolsheviks subordinated 
the Factory Committees, which were federalist and anarchistic by 
nature, to the centralised trade unions. With the help of the 
trade unions, the Bolsheviks succeeded in making the Factory 
Committees a tool in their policy of domination over the masses. 
Having achieved that, the Bolsheviks proceeded to strip the Com- 
mittees of all their functions. And by this time, the Factory 
Committees fulfilled only one function, the police role imposed on 
them by the Bolsheviks. 

In 1918, the Bolshevik terror still spared the trade unions. And 
thus we saw the development of an Anarcho-Syndicalist movement 
in the bakers’ union of Moscow, Kharkov and Kiev (very energetic 
work was carried on among the Kiev bakers by A. Baron, who if 
not executed by now [1940] is still being kept in prison or exile; 
ever since 1920, he was switched back and forth from various 
prisons to places of exile), and among the Petrograd postal and 
telegraph workers. At the All-Russian Convention of Postal and 
Telegraph Workers, the Anarcho-Syndicalists exercised a powerful 
influence, more than half the delegates following their lead. (The 
principal Anarcho-Syndicalist workers in this union were Milhalev, 
Bondarev and others. The extent of Anarcho-Syndicalist influence 
in the union can be judged by reading the stenographic report 
of the convention held in 1918.) The Petrograd branch of this 


union marched under the banners of Anarcho-Syndicalism. Its 
publication, Izvestia Pochtovo-Telegrafnikh Sluzhashtchikh Petro- 
grada was edited by Anarcho-Syndicalists. The same was true of 
the Union River Transport Workers of the Volga Basin where, due 
to the work of comrade Anosov, the union publication took a 
definite Anarcho-Syndicalist stand. 

Capture of trade unions 

All that, however, was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. The 
industrial principle underlying the process of merging unions into 
large units became a useful weapon in the Bolshevik struggle against 
Anarcho-Syndicalism. In the first place the Bolsheviks began to 
consolidate those unions which they deemed unreliable, from the 
viewpoint of their own basic drive for domination. The move 
was to merge such unions in the general mass and scatter the 
leading Anarcho-Syndicalist workers in unions considered “reliable” 
from their point of view. Thus went down a number of Anarchist- 
minded trade unions; the union of telegraph workers in Petrograd, 
of perfumery workers in Moscow, of water transport workers in 
Kazan, the organisations of some important railroad junctions of 
Moscow and Kursk, where comrades like Kovalevich and Dvum- 
jantzev played an important role. 

Due to this measure and to intensified centralisation, coupled 
with unscrupulous juggling of votes and, in some places, the severe 
measures applied by the authorities, the administrative bodies fell 
into the hands of Communists. The Second All-Russian Con- 
vention of Trade Unions (1919) furnishes an apt example of this 
process of capturing the trade unions. At that convention the 
number of Anarcho-Syndicalist and sympathetic delegates was only 
15. That is, they represented only 52,950, at a moment when the 
workers’ sympathies for Anarcho-Syndicalism were noticeably on 
the increase, a fact accentuated by a concurrent lowering of the 
standing of the Bolsheviks in the eyes of the workers. The standing 
rules of the convention deprived the Anarcho-Syndicalists of the 
right to have their own speaker on the important questions on the 
agenda. At the third convention, in 1920, there were only 10 
Anarcho-Syndicalist delegates (including sympathisers) representing 
only 35,300 people. 

Those conventions fully demonstrated the failure of the tactics 
advocated by Golos Trouda, which carried weight with the 
Anarcho-Syndicalists of Russia. (The author was on the staff of 
Golos Trouda , but this does not deter him from acknowledging the 
errors made by the paper.) The lack of purely revolutionary unions 
hastened the destruction of the Anarchist and Syndicalist move- 


ments. Scattered throughout the Bolshevik unions, the Anarcho- 
Syndicalist forces could not show any resistance and were flattened 
by the iron policy of the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”. 

At the beginning of 1920 only one union in Moscow held out 
for the Anarcho-Syndicalist line. This was the Bakers’ Union, 
whose Anarcho-Syndicalist orientation was due to the work of our 
comrade N. I. Pavlov. (The latter, however, recanted his Anarcho- 
Syndicalist views under the pressure of the GPU, this being the 
price paid by him for his liberty. Pavlov made the statement 
disavowing his Anarchist views on release from prison). A con- 
tributing factor to the persistence of Anarcho-Syndicalist influence 
in the Bakers’ Union was the work of the Maximalists, Niushenkov 
and Kamyshev. 

At the Second All-Russian Convention, the Bakers’ Union 
delegation contained a “Federalist” faction numbering ten to fifteen 
people, whose following extended to nearly a third of the union 
membership. At that convention, the first attempt was made 
(Maximoff, Niushenkov, Pavlov) to organise an underground 
revolutionary Federation of Food Workers. This was to be the 
first step towards organising a Russian General Confederation of 
Labour. The move was to have been a genuine attempt by the 
Executive Committee of Russian Anarcho-Syndicalists to carry out 
the basic points of its programme. In view of the repressions which 
soon began, the committee of the above-mentioned comrades, 
elected at the meeting of the faction of the’convention, did not even 
get a chance to start its work, as planned at the meeting. This was 
the last vivid manifestation of the struggle waged by Anarcho- 
Syndicalism within the Communist State-controlled trade union 

Centralisation and terror 

The programme of the Russian trade union movement was as 
follows : centralisation, compulsory membership, compulsory 

discipline imposed by disciplinary courts, the tutelage of the 
political party (the Communist Party in this case), militarisation 
of labour, compulsory labour service, labour armies, the attachment 
of workers to their places of work, nationalisation of production, 
individual management (instead of collective administration), 
graduated wage scales (36 categories), introduction of sweatshop 
system, Taylorism, piecework, bonuses, premium systems, etc. 
Workers control and workers’ management were proscribed and 
unconditional support of the government was demanded. 

The policy and programme of the trade unions was wholly 
determined (and still is) by the policies and programme of the 


“Communist Government”. At present, and this has been true for 
a number of years, the unions, or rather their administrative centres, 
have nothing in common with the proletarian masses. They only 
mirror the policy of the government, fulfilling all its demands at 
the expense of the working class. 

The Soviet State has kept up its terroristic methods in suppress- 
ing all opposition within unions, meting out brutal punishment to 
anyone violating government decrees, which are inimical to the 
workers. In this respect the unions proved to be one of the many 
government repressive agencies, working in close collaboration with 
the other punitive organs of the State : the Che-Ka, People’s Courts, 
the GPU, etc. 

The following is an apt illustration of this terrorist policy towards 
workers. Krasny Nabat and Uralsky Rabochy reported the following 
cases : for taking an unauthorised three-day leave from his factory, 
one of the workers was sentenced to unload 5,000 pouds (80J tons), 
during ten days. All that to be done after his regular workday. 
Many other workers were sentenced to compulsory prison work for 
the same “crime” of absenting themselves during work. This slave- 
holding policy flourished, especially in the Ul*al region, during the 
administration of Trotsky and Piatakov. 

A government inspection of the sanitary and technical conditions 
prevailing in the Central Coal District revealed a ghastly picture, 
by which even the most frightful capitalist exploitation pales in 
comparison. In the name of the “commonwealth”, that is the 
benefit of the State, workers had to live miles away from the mines 
in ramshackle barracks built of thin boards, and lacking elementary 
conveniences, where even doors and windows had fallen into disuse. 
In the winter the barracks gave hardly any protection against frosts 
and icy winds. There were no toilets, workers being compelled to 
use cesspools surrounding the barracks. 

Mineworkers were getting half-a-pound of bread a day — on 
condition that they fulfilled their daily work norm. Failing that, 
they were deprived of this ration. In addition, overtime was 
exacted from the workers, who were paid for it with one meal a 
day. Workers who did not fulfil their norm were kept in the mine 
until they completed their daily task. And this leaves out the 
account of the flagrant tyranny and high-handed actions character- 
ising the attitude of the administration to the workers. (This data 
is taken from the unpublished report of the doctors who were 
carrying out this investigation. The report is kept among the 
materials of the Department of Safeguarding Labour, at the Labour 

Such conditions were especially prevalent in the life of the Ural 
workers during the administration of Trotsky and Piatakov. At 
the Izhevsk plant, for instance, an anarchist worker named 
Gordeyev was shot for failing to submit to work discipline (see 


Golos Rossiyi for the first half of 1922, Berlin). In Ekaterinburg 
(now Sverdlovsk) workers of the mint were sentenced to hard prison 
labour, their “crime” being “violation of labour discipline”. 

What was the Anarcho-Syndicalist programme, as opposed to 
that of the government-controlled “communist unions”? Briefly, it 
was that the State — even the so-called benevolent State — is the 
enemy of the working class. It follows, therefore, that the first 
task of the trade unions should be to emancipate themselves from 
State captivity, to emphasise the significance of industrial 
organisation. In accordance with this premise the Anarcho- 
Syndicalists built their programme and tactics in the Russian trade 
union movement. 

The Author 

ber 10, 1893, in the Russian village of Mitushino, province 
of Smolensk. After studying for the priesthood, he realised this 
was not his vocation and went to St. Petersburg, where he graduated 
as an agronomist at the Agricultural Academy in 1915. He joined 
the revolutionary movement while a student, was an active propa- 
grandist and, after the 1917 revolution, joined the Red Army. 
When the Bolsheviks used the Army for police work and for 
disarming the workers, he refused to obey orders and was sentenced 
to death. The solidarity of the steelworkers’ union saved his life. 

He edited the Anarcho-Syndicalist papers Golos Trouda (Voice 
of Labour) and Novy Golos Trouda (New Voice of Labour). 
Arrested on March 8, 1921, during the Kronstadt revolt, he was 
held with other comrades in the Taganka Prison, Moscow. Four 
months later he went on hunger strike for ten and a half days and 
ended it only when the intervention of European Syndicalists, 
attending a congress of the Red Trade Union International, secured 
for him and his comrades the possibility to seek exile abroad. 

He went to Berlin, where he edited Rabotchi Put (Labour’s Path), 
a paper of the Russian Syndicalists in exile. Three years later he 
went to Paris, then to the U.S., where he settled in Chicago. There 
he edited Golos Truzhenika (Worker’s Voice) and later Dielo 
Trouda-Probuzhdenie (Labour’s Cause— Awakening) until his death 
on March 16, 1950. His writings include The Guillotine at Work 
(1940), a fully-documented history of 20 years’ Bolshevik terror in 
Russia, extracts from which form the present pamphlet; Con- 
structive Anarchism (1952) and a comprehensive selection from the 
writings of Michael Bakunin, The Political Philosophy of Bakunin 
— Scientific Anarchism (1953). The last two were published 

Maximoff died while yet in the prime of life, as the result of 
heart trouble, and was mourned by all who had the good fortune 
to know him. He was not only a lucid thinker, but a man of 
stainless character and broad human understanding. And he was 
a whole person, in whom clarity of thought and warmth of feeling 
were united in the happiest way. He lived as an Anarchist, not 
because he felt some sort of duty to do so, imposed from outside, 
but because he could not do otherwise, for his innermost being 
always caused him to act as he felt and thought. 



Syndicalist Workers’ 




establish a free society which will render impossible the growth 
of a privileged class and the exploitation of man by man. The 
SWF therefore advocates common ownership and workers' 
control of the land, industry and all means of production and 
distribution on the basis of voluntary co-peration. In such a 
society, the wage system, finance and money shall be abolished 
and goods produced and distributed not for profit, but 
according to human needs. 

THE STATE: The State in all its forms, embodying authority 
and privilege, is the enemy of the workers and cannot exist in a 
free, classless society. The SWF does not therefore hope to 
use the State to acnieve a free society; it does not seek to 
obtain seats in the Cabinet or in Parliament. It aims at the 
abolition of the State. It actively opposes all war and 

CLASS STRUGGLE: The i nterests of the working class and 
those of the ruling class are directly opposed The SWF is 
based on the inevitable day-to-day struggle of the workers 
against those who own and control the means of production and 
distribution, and will continue that struggle until common 
ownership and workers' control are achieved. 

DIRECT ACTION: Victory in the fight against class 
domination can be achieved only by the direct action and 
solidarity of the workers themselves. The SWF rejects all 
Parliamentary and similar activity as deflecting the workers from 
the class struggle into paths of class collaboration. 

ORGANISATION: To achieve a free, classless society the 
workers must organise. They must replace the hundreds of 
craft and general trade unions by syndicalist industrial unions. 
As an immediate step to that end, the SWF aids the formation 
of workers' committees in all factories, mines, offices, shipyards, 
mills and other places of work and their development into 
syndicates, federated nationally. Such syndicates will be under 
direct rank-and-file control, with all delegates subject to 
immediate recall. 

INTERNATIONALISM: The SWF, as a section of the 
International Working Men's Association, stands firm for 
international working class solidarity.