Russian Women's Studies: Essays on Sexism in Soviet Culture

By Tatyana Mamonova; Margaret Maxwell | Go to book overview

18
The Fate of Alternative
Movements

The humanistic value of the ideas of Emma Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin is unquestioned.Ideally, scientific anarchism should produce a perfect society. Characteristically, Russian scientific anarchism, from the very beginning, welcomed all progressive movements, especially the feminist movement.In his Memoirs of a Revolutionist, 1 Kropotkin wrote sympathetically, if not to say exultantly, about the earliest feminists.He called their movement "great, amazing in its results", and added that "victory was won thanks to the devotion to the people's cause which women displayed" One merit of the early anarchists in Russia rested in the fact that they forecast and warned against the possibility of the bureaucratization of the Revolution, which, of course, occurred under Stalin.Soviet society suffers from this monstrous deformation to this day. Had the Bolsheviks taken the ideas and deeds of the scientific anarchists more seriously, perhaps they could have largely averted the disaster which befell Russia during the period of the "cult of personality." *

However, anarchists are usually characterized in Soviet historiography with sarcasm; either that, or portrayed as uncouth elements, worthy of derision, or as bandits, worthy of prosecution.The Soviet people are practically unacquainted with anarchism, and in particular with its theorists. They have been, along with the first feminist activists, consigned to oblivion. People learn about anarchism most often from films having as their subject the October Revolution.In them anarchism is always portrayed in a vulgar form, with someone like Bat'ka Makhno played as a comic figure, who cries out (in one film): "Anarchy — The Mother of order!"

____________________
*
The period of Stalin's rule, roughly from the beginning of the 1930s until his death in 1953.
Bat'ka ( Nestor Ivanovich) Makhno was a colorful, semi-literate Ukrainian anarchist who led as many as 15,000 men in battle, as an ally of the Bolsheviks, against the "White" generals Denikin and Kolchak, and is believed by some to have been decisive in their defeat.He and his army then turned against the Bolsheviks as they began confiscating peasant land and crops.Riding into battle, their black Anarchist banners emblazoned with the words "Liberty or Death", they were successful for a time, but were eventually defeated by the Red Army, and Makhno fled to France where he dictated his memoirs: Pod udarami kontr-revolyutsii (Under the Blows of the Counter Revolution), edited by T. Volina, Paris, 1936.

-134-

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