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The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution
Paul Avrich (editor) translated from the Russian Thames and Hudson 1973 A book review by Danny Yee © 2004
Article published on 22 February 2016
last modification on 22 July 2018

by ps

Anarchists played a major role in the Russian Revolution, but they were also among the earliest and most outspoken critics of the Bolsheviks. In The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, Paul Avrich presents some fifty documents or extracts from 1917 to 1921, most of them translated from Russian and taken from articles, manifestos, speeches, letters, diaries, and poems. He supplements this with a general introduction, notes on some individual documents, and a small number of black and white photographs and political cartoons.

Avrich begins with some anarchist responses to the February Revolution. A selection of pieces then tries to convey something of the variety of anarchist ideas, on topics from atheism and anti-militarism to education and visions of the future.

"We Anarcho-Syndicalists oppose collectivism (state communism) with free anarchist communism, which recognizes the right of man to his own life and to the full satisfaction of all his needs. This right is seen not as vulgar huckstering, not as an exchange for a specific quantity of labour, but as the participation of each individual, according to his strength, in productive life." [N.I. Pavlov, "The Free Commune and the and the Free City", 16 September 1918].