As I have discussed, the Soviet Union implemented almost no communist or socialist principles nor ideas. Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) the first head of the Russian Republic and the Soviet Union, rose after peasants, workers, soldiers, and sailors triumphantly toppled the highly centralized and repressive Russian Empire, which reigned from 1721 until 1917 when the Russian Revolution took place. The February Revolution of 1917 began as a series of spontaneous protests with no formal leadership, beginning with a massive strike against the government. Thousands of workers from St. Petersburg’s (formerly Petrograd) largest industrial plant, Putilov went on strike. They were joined on March 8 by Russians protesting the government’s food rationing and celebrating International Women’s Day. Female workers traveled to nearby factories and recruited over 50,000 more workers for the strike. The next day nearly 200,000 protesters filled the street, demanding an end to the regime. The Tsar called for garrisons to disperse the crowds with force. The soldiers, however, were reluctant to fire on the crowd as they could sympathize with them and there were many females among them. As a result, some soldiers mutinied and joined the protesters. 40,000 rifles were gathered and dispersed among the workers. The protesters then proceeded to burn down all the government buildings in Petrograd, including every police station in the Vyborg district, release all prisoners from the city’s prisons, and kick out the police. Armed workers militias were also formed at various factories.
Following the advice of his army chiefs and ministers, the Tsar stepped down from the throne on March 15 and nominated his brother to take his place who declined, realizing he had no support from the people. On March 16 a provisional government was formed and three days later the Tsar was placed under protective custody. However, many bourgeois leaders remained in charge. The provisional government sought to arrest Lenin after he attempted to direct the people to topple the provisional government. The peasant, solider, and worker led revolution of February 1917 was derailed and overtaken by the Bolsheviks in October 1917 and its rulers like Lenin who crushed all of the gains made by the people, betrayed them, and subjected them to a partisan dictatorship.
The Bolsheviks had been vying for power for some time before October 1917. The Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party formed in 1898 was one of the first Russian Marxist groups that helped lead to the Russian Revolution. It split in 1904 into two groups called the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks due to disagreements between Lenin and Julius Marov. Lenin believed that the working class could be represented by ‘professional revolutionaries’ (as Marx did) and that the Tsarist regime should be overthrown, whereas the Mensheviks believed that the bourgeois leaders could be collaborated with. “Bolshevik” is derived from the Russian word for majority, большинство, and “Menshevik” is derived from the Russian word for minority, меньшинство. However, Bolsheviks were not always the majority party. Julius Marov led the Mensheviks and Vladimir Lenin led the Bolsheviks.
Lenin was eventually arrested by the Provisional Government and his party was outlawed. Lenin then fled to Finland where he decided to take over the Provisional government. But traveling back into Russia was difficult because World War One was raging. So Lenin had to ride in a one-carriage train car through Germany to Russia with German soldiers on board. When he arrived, he came to power in a relatively peaceful “revolution” in October of 1917. Lenin issued a decree to nationalize Russian banks on December 17th 1917 and he “nationalized” all major industries on June 28th 1918. However, far from giving workers control, this “nationalization” empowered an elite minority of bureaucrats to control the workers. Lenin also wrote the Decree of Land passed by the “Second Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies” on October 26 1917 to give back land to the peasants. This decree like every other positive decree made by Lenin, (such as the decree on the 8 hour workday, which workers themselves had established simply by leaving work after 8 hours) had already been implemented by the people who brought about the February Revolution. In reality Lenin only made these decrees so that these victories made the people would be associated with himself, instead of the common people. These decrees were also motivated by self-preservation and a desire to stay in power, knowing that if these actions taken by the people weren’t legalized, the Russian people would revolt. Rod Jones explains “Lenin’s Decree on Land could do no more than recognise a fait accompli: 65 out of 70 peasant soviets had already divided the land.”1 Similarly, Arthur Rosenberg noted in A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five-Year Plan that “the ‘first step’ towards the expropriation of industry was taken on paper at a time when in reality expropriation was already an accomplished fact. And it was not until 28 June (11 July) 1918 that the ‘Decree for the Nationalisation of All Heavy Industries’ was published. It is interesting for the purposes of comparison to note that the decree abolishing the right to private ownership on the part of estate-owners had already been published on the very first day of the revolution…It is clear….that the Bolsheviks did not expropriate Russian employers but that it was accomplished as the result of spontaneous action on the part of the workers and against the will of the Bolsheviks. Lenin was thus left with no other alternative than reluctantly to legalise the action of the workers.”2
As Lenin’s dictatorship continued, the victories made by the people themselves were crushed and reversed. Heath-care in Russia, for example, was in shambles by 1919 as some of the best physicians were arrested under suspicion of being “counter revolutionaries” or “bourgeois”. The anarchist, Emma Goldman, who was exiled to Russia in 1919 visited Russian hospitals as a nurse and explains in her autobiography, ”Their condition was appalling. The true cause of it was not so much poor equipment or the lack of nurses. It was the omnipresent machine, the Communist “cell,” the commissars, the eternal suspicion and surveillance. Physicians and surgeons with splendid records in their profession, touchingly devoted to their work, were hampered at every turn and paralysed in the atmosphere of dread, hatred, and fear. Even the Communists among them were helpless. Some of them had not yet been entirely divested of human feeling by the régime. Being of the intelligentsia, they were considered doubtful characters and were kept in leash. I understood why Pervoukhin could not have me on his staff.”
Having only heard the propaganda about the Soviet Union from the regime itself, Goldman was initially very supportive of it as many progressives were, believing it was what it called3 itself: a worker and peasant led revolutionary government. But after spending two years there she came to realize the despotic dictatorship was fooling nearly everyone but the common people punished by it. In Goldman’s autobiography she explains “The anarchists and Left Socialist Revolutionists had been used as pawns by Lenin in the October days and were now doomed to extinction by his creed and policies. It was the system of taking hostages for political refugees, not exempting even old parents and children of tender age. The nightly oblavas (street and house raids) by the Cheka, [secret police] the population frightened out of sleep, their few belongings turned upside down and ripped open for secret documents, the dragnet of soldiers left behind to haul in the crop of unsuspecting callers at the besieged house. The penalties for flimsy charges often amounted to long prison terms, exile to desolate parts of the country, and even execution. Shattering in its cumulative effect, the essence of the story was the same as told me by my Petrograd comrades. I had been too dazzled then by the public glare and glitter of Bolshevism to credit the veracity of the accusations. I had refused to trust their judgment and their viewpoint. But now Bolshevism was shorn of its presence, its naked soul exposed to my gaze,”4
Lenin betrayed the common people of Russia who helped bring him to power by taking control away from the working class and putting in charge his bureaucratic cronies who sometimes outnumbered workers, especially in Moscow, the seat of government, and who only cared about personal profit. One factory worker interviewed by Emma Goldman told her “Of the seven thousand employed here, only two thousand are actual producers.” Workers were allowed to express their suggestions, but communist party leaders ultimately made the most significant decisions. Leaders can be very helpful, of course, but only if they are conduits of the people who internalize and intelligently consider every point of view in order to make a suggestion (not a demand) that is beneficial for everyone. Lenin’s destruction of the Soviet factory councils and the Constituent Assembly (after it voted in favor of the anti-Bolshevik sector of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party over the Bolsheviks) was harshly and rightly criticized by some of the more libertarian socialists, like Rosa Luxemburg who wrote in 1904 (well before Lenin’s rise to power) that Lenin’s concepts would “enslave a young labor movement to an intellectual elite hungry for power…and turn it into an automaton manipulated by the Central Committee.” 5
Lenin not only ordered the executions of the leaders of the previous Tsarist regime, which was probably right to do; he also called for the execution and incarceration of common people (including “morally defective” children) considered “counter revolutionary” who criticized the government. Most of these killings were carried out by the extremely corrupt and oppressive, secret Soviet police force, the Cheka, shortened from чрезвыча́йная коми́ссия (chrezvychaynaya komissiya) or in English the Emergency Committee. 500 prisoners were executed in one night alone who were considered to be “counter revolutionaries” Goldman describes the Cheka as “nothing more than a gang of cut-throats. Extortion, bribery, and indiscriminate shooting of victims who could not pay were its common practices. It was a frequent occurrence that big speculators, sentenced to die, were set free by the Cheka for the payment of exorbitant ransom. Another practice was to notify the relatives of some prominent prisoner that he had been executed. While the family would be plunged in grief, a Cheka emissary would arrive to inform them that it had been a mistake. The condemned man was still alive, but only a certain sum, invariably very large, wouId save his life. Family and friends would divest themselves of everything to secure the necessary amount, and the money was always accepted. There would come no more emissaries to explain that the alleged mistake had been no mistake at all. If anyone dared show signs of protest, he would be arrested and shot for “attempting to corrupt” the Cheka.”6
Goldman also visited the prisons of Russia under Lenin and described their conditions: “Both penal institutions bore out the statement of our engineering acquaintance as regards Ukrainian Communist management and despotism. The camp, called kantslager, occupied an old building without any provisions for sanitation and not half large enough for its thousand inmates. The dormitories, overcrowded and smelly, were barren except for wide boards that served as beds and had to be shared by two and sometimes three persons. During the day they had to squat on the floor and even eat their meals in that position. For an hour they were taken out in sections to the yard, the rest of the time being kept indoors without anything to occupy their time and minds. Their offenses ranged from sabotage to speculation, and they were all counter-revolutionists, as our stern guide impressed upon us. “Could not some useful occupation be provided for the prisoners?” I inquired. “No time for such bourgeois dilly-dallying with the enemies of the Revolution,” she replied; “after the fronts are liquidated, we will send them away where they can do no more harm,”7
Lenin and Leon Trotsky, Soviet politician and founder of the Red Army, relentlessly and without apology imprisoned and killed anarchists, dissenters, the Makhnovists (followers of Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian anarchist Revolutionary) and they crushed the Kronstadt rebellion in Kronstadt Ukraine, which began as a worker’s strike, demanding more than the meager provisions they were provided by the new Russian dictatorship. Emma Goldman explains Trotsky “declared to the Kronstadt sailors and soldiers, he would “shoot like pheasants” all those who had dared to “raise their hand against the Socialist fatherland.” The rebellious ships and crews were commanded to submit immediately to the orders of the Soviet Government or be subdued by force of arms. Only those surrendering unconditionally might count on the mercy of the Soviet Republic.”8 1000 Kronstadt civilians and Baltic fleet sailors were killed and 1,200 to 2,168 executed after being captured. (Some of the victims are pictured in the featured image for this excerpt.) Lenin and Trotsky declared anyone who didn’t agree with their dictatorship “counter-revolutionaries,” a charge equivalent to the modern-day charge of “terrorist.” Free speech was crushed under the dictatorship and Lenin also implemented the capitalist New Economic Policy or NEP in 1921, a policy just months prior he would have labeled as counter-revolutionary, bourgeois, and punishable by death.
Goldman explains “Lenin’s call to arms against the anarchists met with immediate response. The Petrograd groups were raided and scores of their members arrested. In addition the Cheka closed the printing and publishing offices of the Golos Truda, belonging to the anarcho-syndicalist branch of our ranks….In Moscow we found all except half a dozen anarchists arrested and the Golos Truda book-store closed. In neither city had any charges been made against our comrades, nor had they been given a hearing or brought to trial. Nevertheless, a number of them had already been sent away to the penitentiary of Samara. Those still in the Butirky and the Taganka prisons were being subjected to the worst persecution and even physical violence. Thus one of our boys, young Kashirin, had been beaten by a Chekist in the presence of the prison warden. Maximov and other anarchists who had fought on the revolutionary fronts, and who were known and respected by many Communists, had been forced to declare a hunger-strike against the terrible conditions.”9
It is important to mention that the Soviet Union wasn’t the only regime to arbitrarily punish anarchists for their beliefs by any means. Anarchists are generally despised by most governments as they are seen as a threat to their power and wealth. In many respects, anarchists were punished more severely in America during the turn of the 20th Century than communists in America during the Red Scare. Goldman herself is a testament to this as she was constantly harassed by police, incarcerated, tortured, and deported simply for sharing her ideas on anarchy and the state. When she came to speak in Providence RI, before she could say a word, she was arrested and told “anarchists have no rights in this community”. The US government’s persecution of anarchists wasn’t and isn’t just an unofficial policy either; it is law. One of the earliest US anti-anarchist bills introduced was the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 that called for questioning potential immigrants about their political beliefs and barred anyone “who disbelieves in or who is opposed to all organized government, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining or teaching such disbelief in or opposition to all organized government.” The Acts also raised the poll tax to $2, restricting poorer individuals from voting who didn’t have the $2 to spend, another example of money affording greater freedom. Another Sedition Act was passed in 1918, which extended the Espionage Act of 1917. This Act criminalized speech about the government, the flag, the military, or its war efforts and the sale of government bonds that was deemed “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive” 1500 people were punished under this Act who faced prison sentences of five to 20 years. The Postmaster general was also instructed under this Act not to deliver mail with “disloyal” language. The Espionage Act of 1917 that also criminalized discouraging enlistment in the military was used against one of the founding members of the IWW, Eugene Debs, and anarchists Emma Goldman and lifelong friend, Alexander Berkman.(who were both deported in 1917). More recently it was used against whistle-blowers, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. These Acts obviously violate the 1st amendment but the state doesn’t care about that. The “right to free speech” only applies to those whose speech they like..
The Criminal anarchy laws, first enacted in NY (C.L.N.Y. 240.15, which is still in existence) also make it an offense punishable by fines and imprisonment to advocate for an end to the U.S. Government. Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin all have criminal anarchy laws as well. The criminal anarchy law became a Federal Law (18 U.S.C§2385) on June 29, 1940. made punishable by 20 years in prison, despite the fact that advocacy of anarchism is clearly protected by the 1st amendment of the constitution, which protects free speech. “The right of revolution,” that is the right to overthrow the government is also enshrined in the state Constitutions of New Hampshire, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and North Carolina. The Pennsylvania and Tennessee Constitution both state “That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper” The Kentucky Constitution has similar wording.
Many former US officials were openly hostile to anarchists like Joseph Hawley, Senator of Connecticut from 1881 to 1905, who declared he would give a thousand dollars to get a shot at an anarchist. Even many current officials view anarchists as some kind of subhuman race since anarchists refuse to live like the sycophants, happily in chains under the boot of the plutocratic, fascist US regime. The corporate US media demonizes anarchists as well. For example, an article in the Salisbury Evening Sun published on September 13, 1901 quotes Dr. J. G. Ramsay as saying “anarchists must be exterminated” after McKinley was killed. Goldman was also arrested and tortured by police under suspicion of involvement in the assassination of McKinley, despite having nothing to do with it.
The Immigration Act of March 3, 1903 also known as the Anarchist Exclusionary Act was singed by Theodore Roosevelt who said “I earnestly recommend to the congress that in the exercise of its wise discretion it should take into consideration the coming to this country of anarchists or persons professing principles hostile to all government….They and those like them should be kept out of this country; and if found here they should be promptly deported to the country whence they came.” The Immigration Act of 1903 codified previous immigration law and added four classes of individuals who could not enter the country: anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes. From 1903 to June 30, 1914, a total of 15 anarchists were denied entry to the U.S. Four anarchists were expelled in 1913 and three in 1914. The Act was first used against John Turner who was immediately deported after giving a speech at the Murray Hill Lyceum. In 1915 President Woodrow Wilson stated of these immigrants that “such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy…must be crushed out.” In 1919 In 1 of 5 workers in America went on strike and the Palmer Raids continued this trend of state repression of workers, socialists, and anarchists. 556 (mostly nonviolent) leftists, anarchists, and union workers were deported in November 1919 and January 1920 under the orders of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer who made J. Edgar Hoover head of the FBI to prosecute anarchists, civil rights activists, other leftists, and dissenters. Using the Immigration Act of 1918 as legal pretense, Palmer made thousands of arrests, most without warrants, and relentlessly prosecuted the United Mine Workers during their coal strike of 1919 and the Union of Russian Workers. The statist, boot-licking, obsequious Washington Post wrote “There is no time to waste on hairsplitting over infringement of liberties” in regards to concerns over warrant-less arrests of entire labor organizations. Anti-union sentiment in the US press was ubiquitous then and still is to a large degree. As another example a 1917 edition of Tulsa World newspaper printed on its front page”“The first step in whipping Germany is to strangle the IWWs. [International Workers of the World, a libertarian socialist, anarchist tied union] Kill them just as you would kill any other kind of snake. Don’t scotch ‘em; kill ‘em. And kill ‘em dead. It is no time to waste money on trials and continuances and things like that”
Argentina implemented a similar law in 1902 called the Ley de Residencia (or Residence Law in English), which called for the deportation of immigrants who “compromise national security or disturb public order” at a time when the majority of the workforce consisted of immigrants, the owners of the factories were primarily rich foreigners, and thus there was much anarchist union activity, especially within the Federación Obrera Regional Argentina (Argentine Regional Workers’ Federation) founded just one year prior. The Ley de Seguridad Social or the Law of Social Security passed in 1910 in Argentina more narrowly targeted anarchist immigrants specifically along with others convicted of capital crimes.
Returning to the Soviet Union, one of the primary focuses of the regime was to concentrate its power in the hands of the Bolsheviks at the top purely to benefit themselves and their cronies. Virtually everything was stolen from common Russians under the guise of “expropriation” so that the Bolsheviks in power could live like kings. Even food was confiscated from farmers by the regime and common Russians were made to stand in humiliating bread lines sometimes hundreds or thousands of people long waiting for meager scraps of under-cooked, “black bread.” Emma explains,“The gagging of free speech at the session of the Petro-Soviet that we had attended, the discovery that better and more plentiful food was served to Party members at the Smolny dining-room and many similar injustices and evils had attracted my attention. Model schools where the children were stuffed with sweets and candies, and side by side with them schools dismal, poorly equipped, unheated, and filthy, where the little ones, hungry all the time, were herded together like cattle. A special hospital for Communists, with every modern comfort, while other institutions lacked the barest medical and surgical necessities. Thirty-four different grades of rations — under alleged Communism!— while some markets and privileged stores were doing a lively business in butter, eggs, cheese, and meat. The workers and their womenfolk standing long hours in endless queues for their ration of frozen potatoes, wormy cereals, and decayed fish. Groups of women, their faces bloated and blue, accompanied by Red soldiers and bargaining with them for their pitiful wares.”10
The Soviet Union did face resistance within Russia particularly to its food requisition. For example, in January 1921 peasants in Western Siberia revolted when the Bolsheviks attempted to requisition their grain, furs, and meat, making sowing seed in the spring impossible and famine all but a certainty. The uprising began in Ishimsk but spread to Tyumen, Akmola, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Ekaterinburg, the Urals, and Kazakhstan. The rebels struck at the heart of the Bolshevik empire by attacking and shutting down the Trans-Siberian Railway. This enabled them to capture Petropavlovsk, Tobolsk, Kokchetac, Surgut, Voloshin, Obdorsk, and Karkaralinsk where free elections and peasant councils were returned. The Bolsheviks responded with large military detachments, indiscriminate, collective punishment of Siberian civilians, and spy networks that infiltrated rebel groups. When the railway was attacked, the nearest village to the damage was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. By December the uprising was defeated due to Bolshevik terrorism and their superior equipment. According to Nick Heath,“With the suppression of the uprising punitive operations were carried out. Relatives of insurgents were taken hostage, whilst there were artillery bombardments of whole villages resulting in many deaths among non-combatants, including old people, women and children.”11
To add insult to injury, feeding starving Russians was also considered “counterrevolutionary”: “Bringing anything into another city without special permission was considered speculation and treated as a counter-revolutionary offence, often subject to the “supreme penalty,” which meant death. Neither Sasha nor I could see the wisdom or justice, let alone the revolutionary necessity, of such a prohibition. We agreed that speculation in foodstuff was indeed criminal. But it was absurd to decry everyone as a speculator who tried to bring in half a sack of potatoes or a pound of bacon for his family use. Far from deserving punishment, we argued, one should be glad that the Russian masses still possessed such indomitable will to live. Therein alone was the hope of Russia, rather than in mute submission to a slow death by starvation.”12
In 1918 Leon Trotsky, the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later the founder and commander of the Red Army called the People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs, wrote that it was necessary to “centralize the military apparatus” and give the Revolutionary War Council and one-single leader (Lenin) the power to manage all of the Soviet Union’s resources.13 These ideas are, of course, completely contrary to libertarian socialism. In an attempt to justify his own despotism and brutality, Lenin pointed to the savagery Communists faced from radicals with their own interests, namely the White Movement, a xenophobic and anti-Semitic resistance group, lacking any concrete ideology that wiped out communists, their sympathizers, their families, and Jews. The White Movement only sought an absolute monarchy like the previous Tsarist Regime, and it used Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as military zones. The Soviet Union annexed them as a result, a move Lenin claimed was made to protect them from invasion from imperial powers and their subsequent transformation into even more violent puppet regimes, which was a very real threat for many nations at the time. However, Lenin’s true motive was to increase his power by expanding the land base under his control. Lenin and others in the Soviet regime also attempted to justify their despotism by claiming Russians are a “backward people.” Goldman explains “Some of them exerted their best logic to persuade me that the dictatorship and the Cheka were inevitable in a country as backward as Russia, with her people for centuries used to despotic rule. “We Englishmen would not stand for it,” one delegate declared, “but it is different with the ignorant Russian masses, strangers to civilized ways,”14. In other words, they claimed it was acceptable to have another dictatorship because that is what Russians were used to.
In a conversation Lenin had with the Russian Poet Valeriu Marcu, Lenin said “One must always try to be as radical as reality itself.”15 Putting aside his hypocrisy and brutality, I believe this is an important point. Reality is not neutral. Politics is not dominated by intellectual discourse, critical thinking, empathy, solidarity, and respect for the right to self-determination. It is dominated by the millions wasted on propaganda, political campaigns, attack ads, excessive media coverage of trivial issues, trending, polarizing sound-bytes, the demonization of minorities and immigrants, pomposity, pretension, arrogance, and expensive, glamorous conventions. The extremes and radicalism that already exist across the globe are very evident, so it is rather reasonable to trust the world needs to fundamentally change. But believing this in some circles is enough to be labeled extreme or “radical.”
After Russia’s Civil War came to an end, Lenin died in 1924. Multiple attempts had been made to kill him, which led to medical complications, a stroke, and a heart attack. Unfortunately, Joseph Stalin took his place, and he was even quicker to employ violence not only abroad but on the Russian people. He became more and more oppressive and dictatorial through his time in power, and millions of Russians died from the famine caused largely by his policies.
Western, corporate, state-controlled media outlets often claim socialist governments are opposed to democracy, and most people believe them because there are examples of self-identified “socialist” countries that trample on the concept of democracy, (particularly direct democracy). But a truly libertarian socialist government would be far more democratic and free than any modern, self-described capitalist “democracy” because it would give everyone a voice that could be heard and matter, our individual needs would be met, and our unique abilities and handicaps would affect what was expected of us.
The word democracy derives from the Greek word “demos,” which means common people and “kratos,” which means rule or strength. This is the main principle of libertarian socialism. It gives the common people and workers in particular control. In crony capitalist, self-described representative “democracies,” politicians work for a very small minority consisting of the richest and most powerful people while everyone else is largely ignored. But a true libertarian socialist system is classless and autonomous. The proletariat decides its own future. Therefore, it is capitalism that is at odds with democracy.
All of the Soviet Union’s leaders, unfortunately, flexed their military muscle and competed with one another like children. Joseph Stalin killed many who opposed him and gained absolute power over the country. Almost anyone who showed any kind of distrust or disapproval of Stalin was named an “enemy of the people,” and they were often put in labor camps or sentenced to death. But the American government’s contempt for communism had (and has) nothing to do with the Soviet Union’s repression of their people but is rather rooted in their own greed and desire for power. The US government made this evident by far more often criticizing the term and concept of socialism than Stalin or any of his crimes. Britain and other empires did the same. In fact, Churchill regarded Stalin as a “great leader,” despite his opposition to communism.16
Goldman notes “It was the Bolshevik claim that every form of terror, including wholesale execution and the taking of hostages, is justifiable as a revolutionary necessity. To Korolenko it was the worst travesty on the basic idea of revolution and on all ethical values.” Emma then quotes journalist and human rights activist, Vladimir Korolenko, in her book as saying “It has always been my conception…that revolution means the highest expression of humanity and justice. The dictatorship has denuded it of both. At home the Communist State daily divests the Revolution of its essence, substituting for it deeds that far exceed in arbitrariness and barbarity those of the Tsar. His gendarmes, for instance, had the authority to arrest me. The Communist Cheka has the power to shoot me, as well. At the same time the Bolsheviki have the temerity to proclaim the world revolution. In reality their experiment upon Russia must retard social changes abroad for a long period. What better excuse needs the European bourgeoisie for its reactionary methods than the ferocious dictatorship in Russia?”17 This is largely why in America socialism and communism to this day are still viewed as synonymous with dictatorship, and most Americans have never even heard of libertarian socialism or libertarian communism.
Although the Russian and the US government were fighting together against a common enemy during WWII (1939-1945), even then there were tensions between them. As states formerly controlled by the Nazis were conquered by the two governments, they clashed over where borders were to be drawn and which government would have more control. The American and Russian states both wanted their own respective economic systems (which had become fairly similar) to dominate. While the Russian government gained support from countries that wanted to become socialist and that falsely believed the Soviet Union was a “worker and peasant’s state” as it said it was, the American government saw support from many former Nazi business leaders. They were funded primarily by the Marshall Plan, which ensured that large business owners stayed afloat while most of the poor were left to starve. Noam Chomsky noted that the Marshall Plan “set the stage for large amounts of private U.S. investment in Europe, establishing the basis for modern transnational corporations.”18 The Soviet and American governments both wanted to dominate the world and the US government continues to strive for total control today.
What is needed is a return to the true principles of libertarian socialism, autonomy, and anarchy. Workers must take control of every business globally, kick out their managers, manage their own affairs, produce only what is needed both for humans and our ecosystems, extract nothing harmful to our planet, and distribute these resources without money according to need. We would benefit if we all knew exactly what communism, socialism, capitalism, and anarchy are because we could all see how governments are trying to fool us with their revisionist propaganda in order to keep the ruling wealthy parasites in power. When enough people understand and there is enough organization and collaboration for workers to take back control from their owners and create co-operative models of business, then trade, technology, the natural world, and all of our affairs will be transformed, and the quality of human life and all forms of life will improve worldwide.
1 Jones, Rod: “Factory committees in the Russian revolution.” Aug 7, 2005. Libcom. https://libcom.org/library/factory-committees-russian-revolution-rod-jones
2 A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five-Year Plan. Oxford University Press, London, 1934.
3 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 444. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
4 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 504. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
5 Luxemburg, Rosa: Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy, 1904.
6 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 477.New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
7 Goldman, Emma Living My Life, Page 458. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
8 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 504. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
9 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, page 508. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
10 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 408. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
12 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, page 456. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
13 Trotsky, Leon: The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky. 1918. Trade Union Printing Services. Print. <Marxists.org/archive/Trotsky/works/pdf/mw1.pdf>
14 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, Page 452. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
15 Beaumont, Matthew. Hemingway, Andrew et al. As Radical As Reality Itself: Essays on Marxism and Art for the 21st Century. 2007. Print.
16 Toronto Daily Star: Premier Stalin ‘Great Man’ Churchill Tells Commons, November 7th 1945. London. Print.
17 Goldman, Emma: Living My Life, page 466. New York, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1931.
18 Chomsky, Noam & Ruggiero Greg, The Umbrella of the U.S. Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy. Seven Stories Press, 2002. Print.