Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921), 1923.
Some Makhnovist Proclamations.
The following proclamations of the Makhnovist movement, from the archive of the Italian anarchist Ugo Fedeli, are in the custody of the Internationaal Instituut voor Socia/e Geschiedenis (in Amsterdam). It is not known how the proclamations came into Fedeli's possession. They were all written in Russian. Paper out of an account book was used for one, wrapping paper from a candy factory for another, indicating that they were printed in difficult circumstances. [The translation is by Ann Allen.]
* * *
DECLARATION OF THE
REVOLUTIONARY INSURGENT ARMY
OF THE UKRAINE (MAKHNOVIST)
To all the peasants and workers of the Ukraine. To be sent by telegraph, telephone or post to all villages, rural districts, and governments of the Ukraine. To be read at peasant gatherings, in factories and in workshops.
Fellow workers! The Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist) was called into existence as a protest against the oppression of the workers and peasants by the bourgeois-landlord authority on the one hand and the Bolshevik-Communist dictatorship on the other.
Setting for itself one goal -- the battle for total liberation of the working people of the Ukraine from the oppression of various authorities and the creation of a TRUE SOVIET SOCIALIST ORDER, the insurgent Makhnovist army fought stubbornly on several fronts for the achievement of these goals and at the present time is bringing to a victorious conclusion the struggle against the Denikinist army, liberating region after region, in which every coercive power and every coercive organization is in the process of being removed.
Many peasants and workers are asking: What will happen now? What is to be done? How shall we treat the decrees of the exiled authorities, etc.
All of these questions will be answered finally and in detail at the All-Ukrainian worker-peasant Congress, which must convene immediately, as soon as there is an opportunity for the workers and peasants to come together. This congress will map out and decide all the urgent questions of peasant-worker life.
In view of the fact that the congress will be convened at an indefinite time, the insurgent Makhnovist army finds it necessary to put up the following announcement concerning worker-peasant life:
1. All decrees of the Denikin (volunteer) authority are abolished. Those decrees of the Communist authority which conflict with the interests of the peasants and workers are also repealed.
Note: Which decrees of the Communist authority are harmful to the working people must be decided by the working people themselves -- the peasants in assemblies, the workers in their factories and workshops.
2. The lands of the service gentry, of the monasteries, of the princes and other enemies of the toiling masses, with all their live stock and goods, are passed on to the use of those peasants who support themselves solely through their own labor. This transfer will be carried out in an orderly fashion determined in common at peasant assemblies, which must remember in this matter not only each of their own personal interests, but also bear in mind the common interest of all the oppressed, working peasantry.
3. Factories, workshops, mines and other tools and means of production become the property of the working class as a whole, which will run all enterprises themselves, through their trade unions, getting production under way and striving to tie together all industry in the country in a single, unitary organization.
4. It is being proposed that all peasant and worker organizations start the construction of free worker-peasant Soviets. Only laborers who are contributing work necessary to the social economy should participate in the Soviets. Representatives of political organizations have no place in worker-peasant Soviets, since their participation in a workers' soviet will transform the latter into deputies of the party and can lead to the downfall of the soviet system.
5. The existence of the Cheka, of party committees and similar compulsory authoritative and disciplinary institutions is intolerable in the midst of free peasants and workers.
6. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, unions and the like are inalienable rights of every worker and any restriction on them is a counter-revolutionary act.
7. State militia, policemen and armies are abolished. Instead of them the people will organize their own self-defense. Self-defense can be organized only by workers and peasants.
8. The worker-peasant Soviets, the self-defense groups of workers and peasants and also every peasant and worker must not permit any counter-revolutionary manifestation whatsoever by the bourgeoisie and officers. Nor should they tolerate the appearance of banditry. Everyone convicted of counter-revolution or banditry will be shot on the spot.
9. Soviet and Ukrainian money must be accepted equally with other monies. Those guilty of violation of this are subject to revolutionary punishment.
10. The exchange of work proclucts and goods will remain free; for the time being this activity will not be taken over by the worker-peasant organizations. But at the same time, it is proposed that the exchange of work products take place chiefly BETWEEN WORKING PEOPLE.
11. All individuals deliberately obstructing the distribution of this declaration will be considered counterrevolutionary.
Revolutionary Military Soviet and Command Staff of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist)
January 7, 1920.
* * *
For many years the working peasantry of the Ukraine has been struggling with its ancient enemies and oppressors. Thousands of the best Sons of the Revolution have fallen in the battle for the complete liberation of the Working People from every oppression. Through the heroic efforts of the peasant Insurgent Army of the Ukraine, the hangman Denikin was dealt a fatal blow. The insurgent Peasants, with their leader -- Batko Makhno -- at their head, remaining for long months in the home front of the white guard, surrounded ten times by a strong enemy, exhausted by the worst disease -- typhus, which took from action a hundred of our best fighters daily, frequently lacking amunition, together attacked the enemy with bare hands and under their powerful blow the best Denikinist forces -- the detachments of generals Shkuro and Mamontov -- fled. Through incredible efforts and the blood of the best fighters the insurgent peasants smashed the Denikinist front and opened the gates for their nothern brothers -- for Peasants and Workers; comrades of the red army came to take the place of the Denikinist hordes in the Ukraine -- workers and peasants of the North. Before the Working Peasantry of the Ukraine a question now arose, apart from the common Task -- struggle with the white guard -- the Building of a Truly Soviet System, under which the Soviets, elected by the Working People, would be servants of the People, implementors of those laws, of those orders, which the Working People themselves will write at the All-Ukrainian Working Congress. But the leadership of the Communist Party, which has made out of the Red Army a blind, obedient tool for the defense of the com-missarocracy, smearing with filth and vile slanders the best of the insurgent leaders, decided "to root out the splinter" -- to do away with the Revolutionary insurgency, which is preventing the Lord Commissars from wielding power over the Working People of the Ukraine. The Commissarocrats wish to see in the Working People only "human materiel" as Trotsky called them at the congress, only cannon fodder to be hurled against anyone, but to whom it is on no account possible to give any rights whatsoever. Working activity and order will be established without the help of the Communists.
Comrade Peasants! The Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist) came from your midst. Your sons, brothers, and fathers filled up our ranks. The Insurgent Army is Your army, Your blood, Your flesh. Making tens of thousands of sacrifices the Insurgent Army fought for the right of the working people themselves to build their own order, to dispose of their own wealth themselves, and not for the transfer of everything to the hands of the Commissars. The Insurgent Army fought and is fighting for the true Soviets, and not for the Cheka and the Commissarocracy. In the time of the hangman Hetman, the Germans and the Denikinists, the insurrection stood up staunchly against the oppressors in defense of the Working People. And now the Insurgent Army considers its sacred task to be the defense of the interests of the Working Peasantry against the attempts of the Lord Commissars to harness to their collar the working peasantry of the Ukraine. The Insurgent Army well knows and remembers the last commissar -- "liberator". The Autocrat Trotsky ordered the Insurgent Army of the Ukraine, which was created by the peasants themselves, to disarm, for he well knows that while the peasants have their own army, defending their interests, he will never succeed in forcing the Ukrainian working people to dance to his tune. The Insurgent Army, not wishing to spill fraternal blood, avoiding clashes with Red Army people, but subject only to the will of the Working People, will stand guard over the interests of the working people and lay down arms only by command of the free working All-Ukrainian Congress, in which the working people themselves will express their will. The Insurgent Army, the sword in the hands of the working people, calls You, comrade peasants, to convene quickly your working-men's congress and to take into your own hands both the long-range building of your own fortune and your own working peoples' wealth; true, the power-loving commissars will without a doubt take every measure to ban the free working congress; therefore, it is in the interests of the working people themselves not to allow the commissars to suppress their working congress; that is why the congress must be secret and in a secret place.
Comrade Peasants, Prepare for your Congress!
Hasten to Work for Your Cause!
The Enemy Does Not Sleep
And You Must Not Sleep,
In This is the Guarantee of Victory!
Long live the Regional Free Working Congress! Down With the Commissarocracy! Long Live the Peasant Insurgent Army!
Staff of the Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist)
February 8, 1920.
* * *
TO THE PEASANTS AND WORKERS
OF THE UKRAINE
Brother peasants and workers! For more than three years you have been engaged in a struggle with capitalism and thanks to Your efforts. Your steadfastness and energy, You have brought this struggle nearly to a close. The enemies of the revolution have been exhausted by Your blows and You, anticipating victory, got ready to celebrate. You believed that Your unceasing, often unequal, struggle with the enemies of the revolution, would give You a chance to put into practice the free soviet system for which we all were striving. But, brothers, You see who celebrates in Your place. The uninvited rulers are celebrating, the Communist hangmen, who came here in readiness and along open roads which had been cleared with Your blood, the blood of your sons and brothers who make up the revolutionary insurrection. They seized the wealth of the country. Not You, but they, are in charge. You, the peasants and workers, are a support for them in name only; without You they could not call themselves a worker-peasant government, could not be national murderers and hangmen, could not arbitrarily, in the name of party supremacy, tyrannize the people. The name of the people gives them this right in everything. And it is only for this that they need You, peasants and workers.
In every other instance You are nothing to them and they certainly do not take Your opinion into consideration. They enslave, draft, command and rule You. They are destroying You. And You, oppressed, patiently bear all the horrors of execution, violence and tyranny committed by the Communist hangmen and which can be eliminated only by Your revolutionary justice, only by Your joint protest -- a revolutionary uprising. To this You are called by Your brothers, peasants and workers who, like You, are dying from the bullets of the Red murderers who confiscate cattle, grain and other products by force and send [them] to Russia. They -- Your close brothers -- , bidding farewell to their own lives, to the whole bright future for which we all strive, urge You to save the revolution, freedom and independence. Remember, brother peasants and workers, that if you do not personally experience total freedom and independence now, You will henceforth be incapable of settling your own fate, you will not forge your own happiness. You will not be masters of the wealth of Your country or the fruits of Your labor.
All this the uninvited rulers -- the Communist-Bolshevik newcomers -- will do for You. In order to deliver themselves from these uninvited masters and rulers, all the peasantry and all their finest energies must be devoted to the work of convening secret, rural and regional peasant congresses, at which must be arranged and settled the burning questions of the moment, which are raised by the irresponsibility and dictatorship of these bandits. In the interests of the country, in the interests of the working people of the Ukraine, let us not permit the country to be totally devastated by these uninvited masters and rulers. There must be no place in the Ukraine for them or their hireling-Red murderers, tyrannizers of the people. All the peasants, losing not one day, must organize themselves through their regional congresses. Let us organize in each village and hamlet regional fighting units; let us create a leading battle organ.
Once and for all refuse any help to the Communist hangmen and their base hirelings, refuse both fodder and grain and bread. Workers in their turn, both in the cities and in villages, must refrain from joining the Communist Party, the Chekas, or the food requisitioning detachments; must renounce all participation in Communist institutions. The people of the Ukraine must tell the whole world by word and deed: away with murderers and hangmen both white and red! We are moving towards universal good, light and truth, and your violence will not be tolerated.
Long live the international Worker-Peasant Social Revolution!
Death to all white guards and commissars. Death to all hangmen!
Long live the free soviet system!
Staff of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist)
* * *
WHO ARE THE MAKHNOVISTS AND WHAT ARE THEY FIGHTING FOR?
1. The Makhnovists are peasants and workers who rose as early as 1918 against the coercion of the German-Magyar, Austrian and Hetman bourgeois authority in the Ukraine. The Makhnovists are those working people who raised the battle standard against the Denikinists and any kind of oppression, violence and lies, wherever they originated. The Makhnovists are the very workers by whose labor the bourgeoisie in general and now the Soviet bourgeoisie in particular rules and grows rich and fat.
2.WHY DO WE CALL OURSELVES MAKHNOVISTS?
Because, first, in the terrible days of reaction in the Ukraine, we saw in our ranks an unfailing friend and leader, MAKHNO, whose voice of protest against any kind of coercion of the working people rang out in all the Ukraine, calling for a battle against all oppressors, pillagers and political charlatans who betray us; and who [Makhno] is now marching together with us in our common ranks unwaveringly toward the final goal: liberation of the working people from any kind of oppression.
3.WHAT DO WE SEE AS THE BASIS OF LIBERATION?
The overthrow of the monarchist, coalition, republican and social-democratic Communist-Bolshevik Party governments. In their place must be substituted the free and completely independent soviet system of working people without authorities and their arbitrary laws. The soviet system is not the power of the social-democratic Communist-Bolsheviks who now call themselves a soviet power; rather it is the supreme form of non-authoritarian, anti-state socialism, which expresses itself in the organization of a free, happy and independent system of social life for the working people; in which each worker taken , separately, and society as a whole, will be able to build td without assistance his own happiness and well-being according to the principles of solidarity, friendship and equality.
4. HOW DO THE MAKHNOVISTS UNDERSTAND THE SOVIET SYSTEM?
The working people themselves must freely choose their own Soviets, which will carry out the will and desires of the working people themselves, that is to say, ADMINISTRATIVE, not ruling, Soviets.
The land, the factories, the workshops, the mines, the railroads and the other wealth of the people must belong to the working people themselves, to those who work in them, that is to say, they must be socialized.
5. WHAT ROAD LEADS TO THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE MAKHNOVIST GOALS?
An implacable revolution and consistent struggle against all lies, arbitrariness and coercion, wherever they come from, a struggle to the death, a struggle for free speech, for the righteous cause, a struggle with weapons in hand. Only through the abolition of all rulers, through the destruction of the whole foundation of their lies, in state affairs as well as in political and economic affairs. And only through the destruction of the state by means of a social revolution can the genuine Worker-Peasant soviet system be realized and can we arrive at SOCIALISM.
Cultural-Educational Section of the Insurgent Army (Makhnovist).
April 27, 1920.
* * *
COMRADES IN THE RED ARMY
ON THE FRONT LINE
AND IN THE HOME GUARD!
The people of the Ukraine, oppressed by Your commanders and commissars, and sometimes even directly by You under the leadership of these Commanders and Commissars, protest against such coercion: they waited for You as the liberators of the working masses from the yoke of the Denikinist gang of hangmen; but after Your arrival in the Ukraine the groans, weeping and wails of the suffering people grew still louder. Executions everywhere, the burning of peasants' huts and even villages, everywhere pillage and violence.
The people have been exhausted and have no more strength to endure such arbitrariness; giving advance notice, they are asking You: will you stop in the face of these nightmares and realize whom, under the leadership of Your commanders and commissars, You are shooting? Who are you packing into the prisons and cellars? Is it not Your brothers, fathers and children? Of course it is. You do this oblivious to how the officers and generals of the old regime, profiting by their freedom and Your blindness, recline in soft easy chairs and order You to mock the poor people. And You, comrades, without a moment's hesitation, blindly carry out these orders. Is it possible you do not notice that they are setting you on the poor people, calling them counter-revolutionary because they protest the dictatorship of Trotsky's masters and his gang of communist accomplices who are smothering the revolution in the name of party power? Is it possible you do not see that the Ukrainian peasant cannot tolerate his yoke and, in spite of executions, is standing up for himself, destroying every obstacle and hurrying to lead the project of liberation to a conclusion? And he believes that among You, who are in the Red Army, the majority are his brothers, peasants the same as he, who are oppressed the same as he, and who, in the final reckoning, will take up his protest and join with him against the common enemy: the Denikinist gangs of the right as well as the commissarocracy of the left which clothes itself in the name of the people.
Comrades, see for yourselves, they are creating Chekas and punitive detachments in Belorussia and particularly in the Ukraine. And who is helping them? You, Red Army men, and only You. Is it possible that your hearts do not bleed upon hearing the groans and cries of Your brothers, fathers, mothers and children? Is it possible that those illusory political freedoms have deceived you to such an extent that you are too weak to overcome the authority of the commissars and join with the peasants and workers in freeing themselves and all the people from oppression and violence? Is it possible You do not. notice in Your ranks those who, owing to Your blood and lives, have risen over You, have taken power for themselves and thus really disgracefully tyrannize the people? Is it possible your hearts are not wrung when, under the command of these tyrants, You go to the villages and hamlets to punish the working people who are protesting the domination of your leaders? We believe that You will come to your senses and catch up, that Your shame is in silence. You will raise a protest against the violence and oppression of the poor people. You will not permit Your commissars and commanders to burn the villages and hamlets and to shoot the peasants who rose for their rights. Let the peasants arrange their lives themselves, as they wish, and You continue to crush the Denikinist gangs, and along with them the commissar-rulers. Do not leave the front; continue the battle against those who wear the gold shoulder straps; do away with your commissars on the spot.
The revolutionary peasants and workers are wiping out the loafers in their ranks in the rear, those who are burdening and enslaving them. The revolutionary peasants and workers will not forget You and the day will come when they will all, as one, close ranks with You, and woe to all parasites and their helpers, all those who weigh upon them from without as well as those who arbitrarily rule over them in the rear.
Remember comrades, the people have recognized the deceit of the government being maintained by You. The people will rise against it and no army will withstand the masses who have consciously risen, who are fighting for total liberation. Join with them; they invite you as their own brothers. Remember that among those who have risen are Your brother-peasants and workers and upon meeting them do not perpetrate a slaughter. Let the commissars and commanders face the rebels themselves.
Let them stain themselves with the blood of the peasants and workers; all the guilt is on them and they will pay dearly for it.
Down with the gold-shoulder-strap gang! Down with their godfathers the commissarocrats! Down with man-made laws and the power of man over man!
Long live the unification of all the working people of the Red Army and the rebellious peasants and workers! Death to all who wear the gold shoulder straps! Death to all commissars and hangmen!
Long live the Social Revolution!
Long live the genuine, free soviet system!
Staff of the Insurgent Army of the Ukraine (Makhnovist).
May 9, 1920.
* * *
DOWN WITH FRATRICIDE!
Brothers in the Red Army! The stooges of Nicholas kept you in the dark and ordered you to fratricidal war with the Japanese and then with the Germans and with many other peoples for the sake of increasing their own wealth; to your lot fell death at the front and complete ruin at home.
But the storm cloud and the fog, through which You could see nothing, lifted; the sun began to shine; You understood and were finished with fratricidal war. But it was the calm before a new storm. Now once again you are being sent to fight, against us, "insurgent Makhnovists," in the name, supposedly, of a "worker-peasant" authority, which is once again dispensing chains and slavery to You and riches and joys to this horde of a million bureaucratic parasites, created with Your blood. Is it possible that in the course of three years of fratricidal war you have still to this day failed to understand this? Is it possible that even now You will shed your blood for the newly made bourgeoisie and for all the half-baked commissars who send You to war like cattle?
Is it possible that you still, to this day, have failed to understand that we, the "insurgent Makhnovists," are fighting for TOTAL ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL EMANCIPATION OF THE WORKING PEOPLE, for a free life without any of these authoritarian commissars, chekists, etc.?
Let day break in Your camp and show You the path which leads to the abolition of fratricidal wars between working peoples. By this path you will reach us and in our ranks you will continue to fight for a better future, for a free life. Before each encounter with us, in order to avoid shedding brotherly blood, send us a delegate for negotiations; but if this does not work and the commissars force You to fight after all, throw down the rifles and come to our brotherly embrace!
Down with fratricidal war among the working people!
Long live peace and the brotherly union of the working peoples of all countries and nationalities!
* * *
TO ALL WORKERS OF THE PLOUGH AND THE HAMMER!
Brothers! A new and mortal danger is approaching all working people. All the dark forces that served the bloody Nicholas have united with the help of the Polish landlords, the French instructors and the traitors of the Petliurist movement in the Ukraine in order to establish an autocracy over us, to burden us with landlords, capitalists, Zemstvo leaders, policemen and other hangmen of the peasants and workers.
Comrades! The commissars and bosses of the Communist-Bolsheviks are good fighters only against the poor and oppressed. Their punitive detachments and Chekas can splendidly shoot peasants and workers and burn down villages and hamlets. But against the true enemies of the revolution, before the Denikinists and other gangs, they flee shamefully, like miserable cowards.
You, comrades, have not yet forgotten how last year the gold shoulder straps came close to entering Moscow and if it were not for the insurgents, the three-colored flag of the autocracy would long since have waved over Revolutionary Russia.
So also now, comrades! The Red Army, which is being sold out every step of the way by its own generals and cowardly commissars, is fleeing the front in panic and surrendering region after region to the Polish landlords. Zhitomir, Kiev and Zhmerinka have long been occupied by the Poles; the white guard front is approaching Poltava and Kherson. And, in the Crimea, the Denikinists have been waiting for the last three months for an opportune moment to once again occupy our own territory.
Brothers! Is it possible you will quietly await the approach of the whites and, crossing your arms, hand over yourselves, your wives and children, to be torn apart by the generals and landlords?
No, this must not happen.
All, as one, in arms and in the ranks of the insurgents.
Together with us, the Insurgent Makhnovists, rise against all tyrants. In every hamlet set up detachments and join with us. Together we are driving out the commissars and the Chekas and together with the comrade Red Army men we will build an iron battle front against Denikin, Petliura and the Polish landlords.
Comrades! Time does not wait; put your detachments together immediately.
For the cause!
Death and destruction to all tyrants and landlords!
Let us begin the last and final battle for a genuine, free soviet system where there will be neither landlords nor masters!
To arms, Brothers!
Cultural-Educational Section of the Revolutionary Insurgents of the Ukraine (Makhnovist)
* * *
TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE
Why, comrades, are you sitting at home? Why are you not in our ranks?
Or are you waiting for the arrival of the commissars with punitive detachments to draft you by force? Don't fool yourselves that they won't find you, that you will hide, escape. The Bolshevik authority has already shown that it will stop at nothing: they will arrest your family and relatives, they will take hostages, if necessary, they will fire upon the entire village with artillery -- and in some way or another, you and your comrades, who are presently still at liberty, will sooner or later be drafted by the government.
And then they will send you, with weapons in hand, to kill your brother peasants and workers -- the revolutionary insurgent Makhnovists.
We, Makhnovist insurgents, are not sitting at home, although each one of us also has a family and relatives and loved ones from whom we do not wish to be separated. But we are revolutionaries. It is not possible for us to look on indifferently as the working people are once again thrown into slavery, as new despots lord it over us, unchecked, under the mask of the socialist-communists, under the banner of worker-peasant authority. Three years of revolution have clearly shown that every authority is counter-revolutionary, without exception, whether it be the authority of Bloody Nicholas or of the Bolshevik-Communists. We Makhnovists raise the banner of revolt for a total socialist revolution, against every authority, against every oppressor; we are fighting for the free Soviets of the working people.
Follow us, comrades! Let the faint-hearted self-seeker and coward remain at home near someone's skirts -- we do not need sissies. But you, honest peasants and workers, your place is with us, among the revolutionary insurgent Makhnovists. We will take no one by force. But remember: the Bolshevik government, through its own brutal violence to the Makhnovists, compels us also to merciless battle.
And so, decide, comrades! Drafted by the commissars, you will be sent against us, and we will be compelled to treat you as hostile and an enemy of the revolution. With us or against us -- choose!
* * *
A WORD FROM THE MAKHNOVISTS
TO THE LABORING COSSACKS
OF THE DON AND THE KUBAN
Comrade laboring Cossacks! For two years you languished under the oppression of the Tsarist general Denikin. For two years your deadly enemies, the pomeshchiks and barons, forced you to defend the interests of the rich, the oppressors of the working people. For two successive years you were forced to knuckle under, and by your own sweat and blood the rich made themselves richer, feasted and led depraved lives. For two years in the region of the Don and the Kuban the tears and blood of the workers of the plow and hammer flowed. For two successive years, laboring cossacks, the revolution was stifled in your land.
But through your efforts, comrades, the yoke of Denikin and his commanders was thrown off and in the Don and the Kuban the revolution triumphed once again.
However, comrades, before you had time to recover from the nightmarish experience of Denikin, a new oppressor appeared in your land. The Communist-Bolshevik Party, seizing power, sent their own commissars and chekas to your villages; they ridicule you, laboring cossacks, as much as the Tsarist thugs did.
As in the time of Denikin, punitive detachments of the Bolshevik authority take away your bread and cattle and pick up your sons; and if you try to protest the violence perpetrated upon you, they flog you, imprison you, and even shoot you.
Is this the reason, comrade laboring cossacks, that you rose against Denikin, to take on a new yoke now in the form of the Communist-Bolsheviks? Is this what you shed your blood for, to permit the commissars and lovers of power to rule over you now, to suppress and coerce you?
Listen well, brothers, to what we, the revolutionary peasant-Makhnovists, tell you. We were also oppressed after the revolution by a whole series of authorities and parties. First the Austrian and German authority, along with the Hetman, tried to rule over us, then the adventurist Petliura, then the Communist-Bolsheviks, and also General Denikin. But we very quickly discouraged them in order to continue our own project and, as you probably heard, as early as the summer of 1918, under the leadership of the Gulyai-Polye peasants and other working people, and of the anarchist revolutionary Nestor Makhno, whom the Tsarist authority imprisoned for over ten years for his love of the working people, we rose and drove off the Austro-German bands, and after that, for the last two years we have continued to fight against all oppressors of the working people. We are now engaged in a merciless battle against the agents and commissars of the Bolshevik authority, killing them and driving these tyrants from our regions.
The ranks of our revolutionary insurgent detachments are growing daily. All the oppressed and aggrieved are joining our ranks and the time is near when all the working people in our region will rise and expel the authority of the Bolshevik political charlatans, just as they expelled Denikin.
However, once the Bolshevik tyrants are expelled, we have no intention of giving anyone whatsoever authority over us because we Makhnovists realize that the working people are no longer a flock of sheep to be ordered about by anyone. We consider the working people capable of building, on their own and without parties, commissars or generals, their own FREE SOVIET SYSTEM, in which those who are elected to the Soviet will not, as now, command and order us, but on the contrary, will be only the executors of the decisions made in our workers' gatherings and conferences. We will strive for this, so that all the wealth of the country, that is, the land, the mines, the factories, the workshops, the railroads, and so on, will belong neither to individuals nor to the government, but solely to those who work with them. We will not lay down our arms until we have wiped out once and for all every political and economic oppression and until genuine equality and brotherhood is established in the land.
This, comrades, is what we are fighting for and what we are asking you, the laboring cossacks of the Don and Kuban, to fight for.
In our insurgent army there were quite a few cossacks of the Don and Kuban; they formed two cavalry regiments which bravely and selflessly fought together with us against the Denikinists. Now we are calling you, the laboring cossacks, to our insurgent ranks for the joint struggle against the tyrants and Red hangmen, Trotsky and Lenin. The slaves have obeyed and suffered long enough the yoke of those who call themselves the worker-peasant authority. To arms and into the ranks of the revolutionary insurgents and then we will quickly put an end to the plans of those who wanted to oppress and burden us.
Comrades, do not believe the rumor that says we are bandits and a small group. It is a lie spread by the commissars solely to confuse the worker-peasant folk; the working people know that the Makhnovists are honest laborers who, not wanting to carry a burden, rose in order to liberate themselves once and for all from every oppression. Do not believe the Bolshevik papers, which write nearly every day that Batko Makhno is dead and we Makhnovists smashed. It is not true. Batko Makhno lives and together with us daily defeats regiments and punitive detachments of the commissar authority and causes a mortal panic in the Red oppressors.
Rise, laboring cossacks, against the oppression and coercion of the commissars. Do not tolerate them in your villages. Do not pay taxes to them. Do not give them bread. Do not give your sons to be soldiers. Organize your own insurgent detachments. Kill the oppressors. Unite with us. We will give you every possible assistance.
The slaves have endured enough! It is enough that we have been mocked in every possible manner!
Long live the rising for a genuine worker-peasant soviet system!
Long live the free Don and Kuban!
Long live the brotherly union of the working people of all countries and nationalities!
Long live the socialist revolution!
Council of the Revolutionary Insurgents of the Ukraine (Makhnovist)
* * *
COMRADES IN THE RED ARMY!
Your commanders and commissars are frightening and convincing you that we Makhnovists are murdering captured Red Army men.
Comrades! This infamous lie has been concocted by your leaders only so that you, like slaves, would defend the interests of the commissars, so that you would not let yourselves be taken prisoner by us Makhnovists and so you would not learn the truth about our worker-peasant Makhnovist movement.
We, comrades, have risen against the oppression of all tyrants. For three years our blood has been flowing on all fronts. We drove out the Austro-German tyrants, smashed the Denikinist hangmen, fought against Petliura; now we are fighting the domination of the commissar authority, the dictatorship of the Bolshevik-Communist Party: it has laid its iron hand on the entire life of the working people; the peasants and workers of the Ukraine are groaning under its yoke. We will also mercilessly exterminate the Polish landlords who come to stifle our revolution and to deprive us of its achievements.
We are fighting against all authority and oppression, no matter what its origin. Our deadly, implacable enemies are the landlords and capitalists of all nationalities, the Denikin-ist generals and officers, the Polish landlords and Bolshevik commissars. We are punishing and killing them all mercilessly as enemies of the revolution of the working people.
But we consider you, comrades in the Red Army, our blood brothers, together with whom we would like to carry on the struggle for genuine liberation, for the true soviet system without the pressure of parties or authorities.
Captured Red Army men are immediately set free wherever they choose, or we invite them into our ranks if they consent to this.
We have already freed thousands of Red Army men captured in numerous battles and many of the prisoners are now selflessly fighting in our ranks.
So do not believe, comrade Red Army men, your commanders' cock and bull stories that the Makhnovists are murdering Red Army men. It's an infamous lie.
When they send you to fight against the Makhnovists, do not steep your hands, comrades of the Red Army, in fraternal blood. When the fight begins, kill your leaders yourselves and, without using your weapons, come over to us. We will greet you as our own brothers and together we will create a free and just life for the workers and peasants and will struggle against all tyrants and oppressors of the working people.
Long live the Brotherly union of the Revolutionary Insurgent Makhnovists with the Peasant and Worker Red Army Men!
* * *
PAUSE! READ! CONSIDER!
Comrade in the Red Army! You were sent by your commissars and commanders to capture the insurgent Makhnovists. Following orders from your chiefs, you will destroy peaceful villages, search, arrest and kill people you don't know but whom they have pointed out to you as enemies of the people. They tell you that the Makhnovists are bandits and counter-revolutionaries.
They tell you; they order you; they do not ask you; they send you; and, like obedient slaves of your leaders, you go to capture and kill. Whom? For what? Why?
Think about it, comrade Red Army Man! Think about it you toiling peasant and worker, taken by force into the cabal of the new masters, who claim the stirring title of worker-peasant authority.
We, the revolutionary insurgent Makhnovists, are also peasants and workers like our brothers in the Red Army. We rose against oppression; we are fighting for a better and brighter life. Our frank ideal is the achievement of a non-authoritarian laborers' society without parasites and without commissar-bureaucrats. Our immediate goal is the establishment of the free soviet order, without the authority of the Bolsheviks, without pressure from any party whatsoever. For this the government of the Bolshevik-Communists sends punitive expeditions upon us. They hurry to make peace with Denikin, with the Polish landlords, and other white guard scum, in order to crush more easily the popular movement of revolutionary insurgents, who are rising for the oppressed against the yoke of any authority.
The threats of the white-red high command do not scare us.
WE WILL ANSWER VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE.
When necessary, we, a small handful, will put to flight the legions of the bureaucratic Red Army. For we are freedom-loving revolutionary insurgents and the cause we defend is a just cause.
Comrade! Think about it, who are you with and who are you against?
Don't be a slave -- be a man.
Go to Table of Contents