Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Nestor Makhno

On October 27, 1889 Nestor Ivanovich Makhno was born into a poor peasant family in Hulyai Pole, Ukraine. He participated in the 1905 Russian Revolution, after which he became an anarchist. As a result of his activism against the Tsar, in 1910 he was sent to prison. After the February Revolution in Russia political prisoners were granted amnesty and Makhno was released. He joined the revolutionary movement in the Ukraine and helped organize against the landlords and capitalists.

In early 1918 the new Bolshevik government in Russia signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty making peace with the Central Powers, but ceding large amounts of territory to them including the Ukraine. The people living in the Ukraine did not want to be ruled by the Central Powers, and so rebelled. Partisan units were formed that waged guerilla war against the Germans & Austrians. This rebellion turned into an anarchist revolution. Nestor Makhno was one of the main organizers of these partisan groups, who united into the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of the Ukraine, also called the Black Army (black being the color of anarchism) or Makhnovista. The RIAU also battled against the Whites (right-wing counter-revolutionaries) and anti-semitic pogromists. In areas where the RIAU drove the enemy armies out capitalism and the state was abolished. Villagers (and workers) organized themselves into village assemblies, communes and free soviets. The land and factories were expropriated and self-management implemented.

The RIAU suceeded in defeating the Germans, Austrians, Ukrainian Nationalists and multiple white armies. During the civil war they had made an alliance with the Bolsheviks against their common enemies and suceeded in defeating them. The Bolsheviks broke the alliance and invaded the Ukraine, using their vastly superior rescources to conquer it and initiate a reign of terror in Ukraine. After they broke the treaty the Bolsheviks invented various smears to justify their back-stabbing, including the claim that Makhno was an anti-semitite, that they were Kulaks, that they supported the Whites, and other lies (see the Makhno FAQ below for detailed refutations of these smears). Makhno fled Ukraine into exile, where he would remain the rest of his life. In the late 1920s he co-wrote the Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists, which put forth ideas as to how anarchists should organize based on his experience in revolutionary Ukraine and defeat at the hand of the Bolsheviks. He died on July 25, 1934 and was cremated three days later. Five hundred people attended his funeral.

External Links

Nestor Makhno Archive
The Makhno FAQ