Who were the most dedicated, active, and long-suffering revolutionaries in Czarist Russia? In his epic history, The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says that it was the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Anarchists who were imprisoned the most, had the most people serving hard labor, and the most people imprisoned by the Czarist regime—many multiple the times of the Social Democrats, from which both the Bolshevik and Menshevik emerged. It was mostly Socialists Revolutionaries (SR) and the Anarchists who received the worst sentences in Czarist Russia. The Anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries were very similar, although not identical, ideologically. What was the reward the Anarchists and Socialist Revolutionaries received for this labor, fighting, dedication, and death?
Solzhenitsyn said, “In the summer of 1918 and in April and October of 1919, they jailed Anarchists right and left. In 1919 they arrested all the members of the SR Central Committee they could catch—and kept them imprisoned in the Butyrki up to the time of their trial in 1922.” What was the crime of these dedicated and sacrificing revolutionaries? Anarchists, SRs, and other non-Bolshevik revolutionaries were always blamed when anything went wrong.
At the beginning of the showdown between the Bolsheviks and the Kronstadt sailors the American Anarchists, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman advocated for mediation, so that there could be a revolutionary solution and not a war or a massacre. But the Bolsheviks started a military attack against the most dedicated fighters in the revolution. The military slaughter was followed by executions and deportations to the Peter and Paul Fortress and to islands of the new gulag archipelago, at that time made up of Czarists jails.
Berkman and Goldman left Russia in December 1922. Their efforts at a mediated revolutionary solution for Kronstadt having eluded them and with them the truly revolutionary outcome of which they dreamed when they came to Russia. The Anarchists played a big part in the Russian Revolution, in Russian revolutionary history, and were among the biggest victims of the Czarist government, early Bolshevik betrayal, and Stalin’s repression. Today they are being persecuted by Putin’s government.
As long as a great and world-famous Russian writer can include true revolutionary matters in his books, the memory of those Russian Anarchists will not be forgotten.
Other books readers may be interested include:
Russian Nightmares–American Dreams by Edith Saposnik Kaplan
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
10 Days that Shook the World by John Read
The Unknown Revolution by Voline