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

Book Three
Struggle for the Real Social Revolution


Independently of the reactions towards the right [which took place in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917] there also occurred, during and after the same period, a series of movements in the opposite direction. These were revolutionary movements, which fought the Bolshevik power in the name of true liberty and of the principles of the Social Revolution which that power had scoffed at and trampled underfoot.

Indeed, even within the ranks of the government and of the Communist Party itself, movements of opposition and revolt were provoked by the stifling statism and centralism, the terrifying tendency towards bureaucracy, the flagrant social impotence and the shameless violence of the Bolsheviks.

It was thus that, in the summer of 1918, the Left Social-Revolutionaries, who until then had participated in the government, left it, broke with the Bolsheviks, and declared against them. They soon succumbed under the blows of repression.

Later on, within the Bolshevik Party itself, there appeared what was called "the Workers' Opposition", the first manifestation of which constrained Lenin to publish his pamphlet entitled Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder. This "Workers' Opposition" was likewise destroyed by the repeated blows of an implacable repression. It was followed by other movements of opposition, always within the government and the Party, and all of these were likewise suppressed with a crushing ferocity.

All these movements, which were strictly political and were frequently quite mild [in their criticisms of the Party], have little intrinsic interest. To be sure, the future historian will find in them very edifying material for describing and judging the regime. But from the viewpoint of the revolution and its fate they were basically "family quarrels", despite the occasional fierceness of the struggle they provoked. If the oppositionists or rebels had won, the country would have had a change of masters without any alteratio in its fundamental situation. The new masters would inevitabl have been driven to adopt the policy and methods of thei predecessors. For the people, nothing would have changed. Or rather, as the saying goes, "the more it would have changed, the more it would have remained the same thing."

It was outside these "palace" disturbances that there arose from time to time various leftist movements—sometimes on a largg scale—which were essentially popular, movements of the masses apolitical, strictly social and truly revolutionary.

We will concentrate primarily on two of these movements the most conscious, the most important, and the least known [outside libertarian circles] of them all; that of Kronstadt in March. 1921, and the vast and vigorous movement in the Ukraine which lasted for nearly four years, from 1918 to the end of 1921.