Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 (1947)

Book Two
Bolshevism and Anarchism

Part V
The Bolshevik State

General View

To complete the picture that I have just sketched, here are a few last brush strokes.

The Bolshevik system wants the State-employer to be, for every citizen, the provider, the moral guide, and the distributor of rewards and penalties.

The State provides work for the citizen and assigns him to a job. The State feeds and pays him! The State supervises him; the State uses and manipulates him as it likes; the State educates and trains him; the State judges him; the State recompenses or punishes him. So [in one embodiment we find] employer, provider, protector, supervisor, educator, instructor, judge, jailer, and executioner -- all these [embodied] in a State, which, with the help of its functionaries, wants to be omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. Let him who seeks to escape it, beware!

We want to emphasize the point that the Bolshevik State (the Government) not only possesses all the material and moral goods in existence, but, what is perhaps, much more serious -- it has made itself also the perpetual repository of all truth, in all fields, historic, economic, political, social, scientific, philosophical, and others. In all fields, the Bolshevik government considers itself infallible and called upon to lead humanity. It alone possesses the truth. It alone knows where and how to direct. It alone is capable of leading the Revolution properly.

Then, logically and inevitably, it claims that the 175,000,000 people who inhabit the Russian domain also must recognize it as the only bearer of the truth, infallible, incontrovertible, sacred. And logically, inevitably, any individual or group who dares not combat that government, but simply doubts its infallibility, criticizes it, contradicts it, or blames it for anything at all, is regarded as its enemy and therefore as an enemy of the truth, and of the Revolution -- a "counter-revolutionary".

This involves a complete monopoly of opinion and thought. Any opinion, any thought, other than that of the State (or of the Government) is held to be a heresy: dangerous, inadmissible, criminal. And logically, inescapably, the punishment of heretics follows: prison, exile, execution.

The Syndicalists and the Anarchists, ferociously persecuted solely because they dared to have an independent opinion of the Revolution, knew what this meant.

As the reader can see, that system is truly that of absolute slavery of the people -- physical and moral slavery. It is, if one likes, a new and terrible Inquisition on a social level. Such is the work achieved by the Bolshevik Party.

But did the Bolsheviki seek this result? Did they come to this deliberately?

Certainly not. Beyond doubt, the party's best representatives hoped for a system which would have permitted the building of real Socialism and would have opened the way of integral Communism. They were convinced that the methods preconceived by their great ideologists were going to lead there infalliblyX/More-over, they believed that all means were good and justified, if they would lead to that goal.

They were deceived, those sincere ones. They took a false path. It was for this reason that some of them, perceiving the irreparable error and not wishing to survive their vanished hopes, committed suicide.

Naturally, the conformists and the careerists adapted themselves.

I must mention here an admission made to me, some years ago, by an eminent and sincere Bolshevik, in the course of a heated and passionate discussion. "Certainly," he said, "we have made mistakes and become involved in ways which we neither wished nor expected. But we will try to repair our errors and get out of the impasse, and regain the right road. And we will succeed."

On the contrary, one can be certain that they will not succeed For the logical force of events, general human psychology, the linking of material factors, and the determined chain of causes and effects are, in the last analysis, more powerful than the will of a few individuals, no matter how strong and sincere they may be

Ah, if millions of free men were deceived, if it was a question of powerful collectives acting in full freedom, and in complete agreement, it might be possible by a common effort of will to repair the mistakes and redeem the situation. But such a task is impossible for a group of individuals placed above and outside the subjugated and passive human mass, confronted by gigantic forces which dominate them.

The Bolshevik Party seeks to build Socialism by means of the State, of a government, and of political action, centralized and authoritarian. But it can iead only to a monstrous and murderous State capitalism, based on the odious exploitation of the "mechanized", blind, unconscious masses.

The more it can be demonstrated that the leaders of the party were sincere, energetic, and capable, and that they were followed by vast masses, the better can the historical conclusion about their work be drawn. Thus:

Any attempt to achieve the Social Revolution with the help of a State, a government, and political action -- even though that attempt is very sincere, very energetic, favored by circumstances, and supported by the masses -- will lead inevitably to State capitalism, the worst form of capitalism, which has absolutely nothing to do with the march of humanity toward a Socialist society.

Such is the lesson for the world to be drawn from the tremendous and decisive Bolshevik experiment, a lesson which lends powerful support to the libertarian thesis, and which, in the light of events, will soon be understood by all those who labor, suffer, think, and struggle.