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(en) ait russia: The return of the Makhno Ghost ...
Thu, 6 Jun 2019 09:51:03 +0300
Nestor Makhno is a historical figure in the Russian Revolution, becoming a popular and
legendary hero in Ukraine. One of the founders of the Ukrainian insurrectionary
revolutionary army, which routed the armies of Austro-German occupation and then the
Tsarist white armies of Denikin, thus saving the Russian Revolution. The Bolsheviks thank
him for having saved their skin by breaking their alliance and turning treacherously
against him. Lenin and Trotsky could not tolerate the Ukrainian peasants' revolution
escaping their centralist and dictatorial model. For 3 years, the insurrection in Ukraine,
inspired by anarchist principles, will try to set up a new society, egalitarian and
libertarian. In 1921, defeated and wounded, Makhno was forced to flee chased by the
Bolsheviks who massacre the revolutionaries. Expelled from several European countries, he
finally settled in 1925 in Paris, where to survive he was forced to work as a worker at
Renault in Boulogne-Billancourt. He died on July 25, 1934 and is cremated in the cemetery
of Père-Lachaise where he rests today not far from the Wall of Federated and Communards.
In this land of blood that is Ukraine, Makhno's memory survived, underground. Despite the
communist propaganda that wanted to pass for a vulgar bandit, his memory of "Robin Hood"
has remained alive in the form of a legend that claims that his ghost will return to
avenge the poor and the exploited against all abuses of power .
Today, the Ukrainian Nationalist Government wishes to recover this legendary figure not to
realize his ideal of justice and freedom, but to make him a Ukrainian national hero. The
Mayor of Makhno's hometown wants to repatriate his ashes for the pinnacle of the sordid -
to make it a "trademark" likely to attract foreign tourists. We already imagine Russian
mountains with tachankas, the famous machine gun carts invented by Makhno and which gave
him his lightning victories!
To make Makhno and Makhnovists symbols of Ukrainian nationalism is simply laughable. As
his comrade Voline writes in 1927 "In a general way, the Makhnovist insurgents - and also
the whole population of the insurgent region and even beyond - did not care about the
nationality of the workers, whether Ukrainian Russian, Jewish, Greek or Armenian. Not for
a moment did they appeal to national or patriotic sentiments. The entire struggle of the
Makhnovists was conducted solely in the name of the rights and interests of the Workers.
National prejudices had no hold on Makhnovchina. No one ever took an interest in the
nationality of a particular fighter or worried about it. "
Ironically, the Ukrainian authorities want Makhno to join the nationalist leader Petliura,
who is considered a "national hero" in the Ukrainian patriotic pantheon, but to whom the
Makhnovist army inflicted severe defeats. Thousands of anarchist militants and Ukrainian
workers and peasants fell in battle against this executioner, who repressed the workers
and refused to stop the genocide of Ukrainian Jews during the civil war. Petlioura was
also executed in Paris in 1926 by the anarchist and former Makhnovist Samuel Schwarzbard,
with whom Makhno had a great friendship. Makhno was an anarchist communist, he was against
mercantile capitalism, against borders and against patriotism.
To turn one's name into a trademark and to make Makhno a nationalist banner is to display
a shameless cynicism. It would be a direct insult to the memory of this revolutionary and
his companions and to the cause for which they fought.
Today the ashes of Makhno rest at Father Lachaise, not far from the Wall of the Federates
and the Communards of 1871, his brothers in Revolution. This corresponds well to his
revolutionary and internationalist convictions.
The nationalists, reactionaries and statesmen should leave in peace the old revolutionary,
under penalty of awakening his ghost and seeing the tachanka return ...
The Friends of Nestor Makhno - Tachanka
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