by Colin Darch
Histories of the Russian Revolution often present the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 as the central event, neglecting the diverse struggles of urban and rural revolutionaries across the heartlands of the Russian Empire. This book takes as its subject one such struggle, the anarcho-communist peasant revolt led by Nestor Makhno in left-bank Ukraine, locating it in the context of the final collapse of the Empire that began in 1914.
Between 1917 and 1921, the Makhnovists fought German and Austrian invaders, reactionary monarchist forces, Ukrainian nationalists and sometimes the Bolsheviks themselves. Drawing upon anarchist ideology, the Makhnovists gathered widespread support amongst the Ukrainian peasantry, taking up arms when under attack and playing a significant role - in temporary alliance with the Red Army - in the defeats of the White Generals Denikin and Wrangel. Often dismissed as a kulak revolt, or a manifestation of Ukrainian nationalism, Colin Darch analyzes the successes and failures of the Makhnovist movement, emphasizing its revolutionary character.
Over 100 years after the revolutions, this book reveals a lesser known side of 1917, contributing both to histories of the period and broadening the narrative of 1917, whilst enriching the lineage of anarchist history.
"Timely and welcome... Darch's narrative succumbs to neither romanticization nor demonization. Readers will encounter a multifaceted Makhno attempting to navigate his movement through the furies of revolution and civil war." -- Sean Patterson, author of Makhno and Memory
About the Author:
Colin Darch is a fellow of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. He is the co-author of Freedom of Information in the Developing World.