The 1918 anarchist revolution in the Ukraine is a reminder that exploitation of the working class need not be met with more government. The ‘White Russian’ armies loyal to the Tzar, imperialists, and the Marxists sought to concentrate power in an elite ruling class of some kind. The short lived Makhnovist controlled territory instead used direct democracy, with independent congresses cooperating for large projects.

nestor makhnoThe mass “Makhnovist” (anarchist) movement emerged in 1917 in Ukraine, a colonial country in East Europe that was until then divided between the Russian and Austrian (or Austro-Hungarian) Empires. The Makhnovists made an anarchist revolution. The anarchists were a central force in the 1917-1921 Ukrainian War of Independence.

They fought for decolonisation through anarchist revolution, meaning the independent Ukraine should be reconstructed on anarchist lines: self-management and participatory democracy, equality not hierarchy and domination, collectively-owned property, and the abolition of the class system, capitalism and the state. They were called “Makhnovists,” after the leading Ukrainian anarchist militant, Nestor Makhno. He came from a poor peasant family, had been a factory worker, and former political prisoner.

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