I've been reading about Makhno and I've found it hard to understand his leadership

I've been reading about Makhno and I've found it hard to understand his leadership.
I get that he was a Robin Hood type figure, but nothing on actual leadership. Surely being anarchist would be an inherent problem concerning him telling people what to do?
Also, was he naive about how the Bolsheviks would treat him, considering he wanted very little/no government, and he allied with authoritarians? Surely he couldn't have envisioned living in an autonomous Ukraine within the borders of the Soviet Union?

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Makhno was the Slavic Pol Pot.

I've heard the Bolsheviks - or at least Lenin and Trotsky - actually played with the idea of allowing experimental anarchist territories inside the USSR at one point. Obviously that didn't pan out, but the thought existed.

Doing a bit of Googling apparently the source is Trotsky's memoirs, though all I can find are second-hand references to this passage:


I don't need 500ish pages, I'm asking direct questions.

do you know why the fuck did they not do this


1) Hillary & DNC paid Chrisopher Steele $160,000 for the "dossier" as opposition research by paying Fusion GPS through the legal firm Perkins Coie.

2) FBI/DOJ knew the "dossier" was fake, and knew it's origins as paid opposition research funded by Hillary & the DNC. Steele was previously terminated as an informant for the FBI previously for being unreliable and for leaking information to news outlets, a big no-no.

3) FBI used the fake politically funded "dossier" anyway to obtain FISA warrants as well as 90 re-authorization's. Comey, McCabe, Rosenstien, Yates, all signed off on the applications on behalf of the DOJ. It was not disclosed to the FISA court that the information was fake or that Clinton/DNC funded the opposition research.

4) Steele admitted to Deputy Attorney General Ohr, that he "was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President."

5) During the same time Ohr's wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in getting opposition research on Trump. Ohr's relationship and knowledge of Steele was purposefully concealed from the FISA court.

6) The FISA warrant was used to target Carter Page. Page's relationship with Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopulos was used to extend the investigation into him. As such an FBI Counterintelligence investigation was launched by FBI agent Peter Strzok. Text messages with his mistress FBI attorney Lisa Page demonstrated a clear bias against Trump in favor of Clinton. Text messages also reference a meeting with Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe to discuss an "insurance policy" against President Trump's election.

7) Deputy Director McCabe testified that no surveillance warrant would have ben sough from the FISA court without the Steele Dossier information. (known to be fake). #memohasbeenreleased

One interesting event on this was when he and his black army was retreating from Denikins forces west across Ukraine and then ran into another loose militia group led by an opportunist, perhaps named Dimitrov. Both groups were gathered, then Makhno read out accussations against Dimitrov and sentenced him to death on the spot, then he ordered Dimitrov immediately shot. After this the other militia joined Makhno. Soon after this the retreating black army counter attacked against Denikins white forces. It was a glorious attack, probably the most glorious moment in the history of the free black state.

His leadership style could no doubt be authoritarian when it was required, but as an anarchist he didn't enforce any rules against the local proletarians. His army had rules, rape and killing innocent jews (of which a lot was happening in Pogroms all over the Russian empire) were crimes punishable by death.

He was awesome

Trotsky also sent people to assassinate Makhno several times so I somehow doubt the veracity of that claim

If anyone is interested I wrote an essay on Makhno for a course called "Introduction to Ukraine". The course was led by a Ukrainian national who insisted nazis had very little power in Ukraine historically and even less in the war today. He also was pushing the narrative of the Holodomor very hard. I tried to push back a bit in a civilized way but it was clear to me that the lecturer wasn't having any of it lol.

I got a grade of 4/5 so perhaps the essay isn't completely worthless, at least I had fun writing it. I'll post it here, if anyone reads it please tell me. If anyone wants a comprehensive source on the black army I can not recommend "History of the Makhnovist Movement 1918-1921, Peter Arshinov, 1921" enough, it is a great book written by a fellow fighter in the Black army.

Its available for free online. OP I think if you read it you will get a better answer to your question

Nestor Makhno and his black army, a case study in the quest for Ukrainian freedom
The same area in Ukraine where war is raging right now has been a hotbed of conflict for centuries. Often eastern Ukraine has been the staging ground for showdowns between the east and west, between Russia and Europe. From Poltava to Kursk this is where great powers have clashed. But if you zoom in a bit you can see a struggle here that is far more relevant to the people who actually live there, namely, a struggle for independence and self-determination. A spirit of freedom has burned and been extinguished by neighboring powers more than once. From the Zaporizhian Sich to the peasant rebellions of the Russian civil war there have been efforts in the region to rid itself from outside control, seldom has there been sovereignty for any long amount of time.
In this essay I’m going to look at one of these movements in particular, namely Nestor Makhno and his Black army. Active during the Russian civil war, they were an army of peasant farmers hiding in the country side of south eastern Ukraine. They didn’t conform to either the ideology of the whites or the reds and as a result have a veil of mystery surrounding them. This group had control over a part of Ukraine during a short time; or rather they gave all power to the peasants. This area was called the free territory. They wanted neither the wealthy landowners to take their crops nor the red armies of the Bolsheviks. In a time of great ideological and nationalistic battles these were people who mainly were fighting for what was closest to them, the right to farm their fields without being oppressed by any outside force. In this sense they were similar to the Cossack states that had existed there centuries before.
During the First World War a lot of the fighting on the east front took place in what is today Ukraine. Following the February revolution which saw a liberal coalition take power over Russia different ethnicities began to act towards breaking out and creating independent states. An autonomous Ukrainian People's Republic was declared by the Central council or “Central Rada”. A legislative body endorsed by various factions of Ukrainian society, though dominated by Ukrainian socialists. This faction, favoring a western style parliamentary democracy is also often referred to as the Petlurists from the name of one of its leaders.
As the new Kerensky government in Petrograd kept fighting the unpopular war the people were losing their faith in the future of the Russian empire. Therefore the Central council gained more trust and power of the people in Ukraine. The Russian empire seemed to be collapsing and the Central council was set to grab the power. So when the Lenin and the Bolsheviks took power in Petrograd in the October revolution in November 1917, the Central council quickly took control in Kiev. Shortly thereafter the Bolsheviks set up a rival government in Kharkov to keep control over Ukraine.

Soon a conflict emerged; the Kharkov government with the backing of Bolshevik Russia had a resource advantage, and as a result, an upper hand in the conflict. The Central council was facing defeat and called on the central powers for help. Austro-Hungarian and German troops came to their aid and swept the main Bolshevik forces out of Ukraine. On March 3, 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, officially ending the hostilities of the First World War on the eastern front. In the treaty Russia formally recognized the independence of Ukraine.
However the Central Rada wouldn’t enjoy this power for too long. Soon General Pavlo Skoropadsky took power from the Central Rada in a German backed coup. He quickly reversed the socialist policies of the previous governments and made Ukraine into a haven for Russian whites fleeing the Bolsheviks. He proclaimed the Hetmanate which was a dictatorship led by him.
He didn’t have control over the entire country, local Bolsheviks as well as groups such as Makhnos black army continued fighting against the government sporadically. This reactionary power came from the force of a foreign army. Their power was heavily undermined by wide groups of peasants and workers of varying ideology. At this time the power of the Bolsheviks wasn’t significant. The supporters of the central Rada, the Socialist directorate controlled most of the revolutionary power in Ukraine.
When Germany lost the First World War conclusively in November 1918 Skoropadsky’s government fell with them. As the Central power’s left Ukraine so did he. The Hetamanate was overthrown by the Socialist Directorate, a Ukrainian socialist group. This group was closely linked to the previous Central Rada. But they would not keep power any longer than Skoropadsky. When they took power their power base in the peasantry more or less dissolved.
As the Germans surrendered Lenin annulled the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, meaning that the Bolsheviks once again were interested in controlling Ukraine. In early 1919 a new Bolshevik offensive into Ukraine started. The new Ukrainian forces were quickly pushed back to the borders of Poland. Without German backing they stood little chance against the Bolsheviks. They were close to being completely crushed when the Bolsheviks had to turn their force elsewhere. A white offensive in southern Russia near the Urals was threatening Moscow and Bolshevism itself.
Anton Denikin's Volunteer Army, a part of the white forces, took control of central and eastern Ukraine in the spring and summer of 1919. But then the tide swung back, and by the start of 1920 eastern and central Ukraine was back under Bolshevik control. What remained of the previous Ukrainian government joined forces with the Polish and attacked Bolshevik controlled Ukraine. They came to Kiev, but soon after the red army counter attacked, this time the attack was decisive. The Bolsheviks were pushed back outside of Warsaw but Ukraine would remain under Bolshevik control up until Nazi offensive during World War 2.

Green armies
It is in this milieu of constant power struggle between great powers that the Black army understandably gains popularity in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine was not the only place were peasants had enough. All throughout Russia the industrial working class was firmly red while the upper and middle classes were firmly white. The rural peasants weren’t involved to the same degree. For the most part they favoured the reds as they feared the return of borderline feudalism if the whites won, but they were not happy about giving away their grain to the red army either. As a result the phenomenon of green armies arises. They strived towards independence from all governments in the civil war and for peace. In the misery of world war and then civil war strife towards autonomy is natural. These armies were more or less peasant rebellions that kept a regional profile. A lack of ideological cohesiveness and strategic vision hindered them from being anything more than peasant rebellions.
The black army is closely related to the green armies in many aspects. The black and the green armies are born out of the same conditions. The main differentiator is perhaps the leadership. Without the political vision of Nestor Makhno there would be no Makhnovists, merely another small green army in south eastern Ukraine.

What the fuck does this have to do with literally fucking anything in this thread?

Nestor Ivanovich Makhno was born on October 27, 1889, he was brought up by his mother in the village of Gulyai Polye in the district of Aleksandrovsk, government of Ekaterinoslav. He was born into a peasant family. His father died when he was very young and as a result his mother had to raise Nestor and his four brothers in extreme poverty. He started working as a shepherd from the age of seven and continued with other farm work throughout his childhood. His political consciousness awakened with the uprising of 1905. At 17 he had worked for most of his life and the events of the failed revolution inspired him to fight. He came in contact with an anarcho-communist organization
In 1908 he was sentenced to hang because of his anarchist associations and for taking part in terrorist acts, it’s unclear if the allegations about terrorism were true. However, his sentence was commuted to life in prison due to his young age. It was in prison that he got an education in history and politics that helped him become the revolutionary leader he was.
In connection with the February revolution there was a blanket release of all political prisoners. Makhno returned to his native Gulyai-Polye where he gained respect as a man of the world. No time was wasted, he immediately started organizing politically. His primary aim was to unite the peasants into a steady alliance so that they could expel the landowners and political forces so that the peasants could manage their own lives. He became president of the Peasants’ and Workers’ Soviet of Gulyai-Polye. In this role he led a redistribution of land from the landowners (pomeshchik) to the peasants in August 1917.
In early 1918 when the Central powers swept in to Makhno’s part of the country the landowner class was once again empowered. The reforms were reversed and a price was put on Makhno’s head, forcing him to go into hiding. This, as well as the foreign army’s systematic act of plundering inspired lots of peasant partisan units to assemble. It is in this time period that Makhno starts to become more than a political leader, namely a military leader.

There was a will for revolution against oppression as well as veterans and skilled soldiers in the peasantry. All that was needed was leadership to direct the force in an organized way. Makhno provided that leadership. He promised not only to fight against the foreign occupiers but also with force against all who wished to exploit the work of the peasants, namely the bourgoise.
In mid-1918 his partisan forces began its activity. Terror was unleashed on both the landowners and central power forces. His force consisted of skilled horse riders, many of which were Cossacks. They could strike against their enemies and then ride away much quicker than any of the opposite forces. Different smaller partisan units recognized the need for organization so they joined Makhno organically. He quickly became a legendary figure for the peasantry, who were more than willing to aid him materially and fight with him. Various massacres against peasants suspected of helping partisans only strengthened their resolve to aid Makhno in expelling all oppressors.
The Makhnovist forces were said to often have used the uniforms of their enemies to infiltrate the ranks of their enemies to spy on and attack from the inside. There are various legends about the bravery of Makhno and his men. At one point Makhno and 30 of his men on horseback were surrounded by Austro-Hungarian forces. The only way out was through a town where a battalion of enemy soldiers were lined up with machine guns. Supposedly Makhno and his 30 men rode straight into the enemy which scared and confused ran away. Exactly how close to the truth stories such as this one is, is hard to say.
It is during the end of the Hetamanate that the independence of the free territory started to form. The basic premise was a stateless society based upon the principles of free association. Free from the influence of both Bolsheviks and landowners, peasants organized themselves through mainly direct democracy and some representative democracy. True to anarchistic principles the Black army never enforced any system of governance. They limited themselves to suggestions on how the peasants should organize. The peasants weren’t necessarily followers of anarchist ideology themselves, but they more often than not recognized the benefits of the Black army freeing them from outside oppression.
There were still forms of organization between different areas and towns. There were so called regional congresses. Gatherings were composed of representatives of the different districts, assembled according to democratic principles. One of these congresses established a Regional Revolutionary Military Council, a council of 32 members that carried out the executive functions of the free territory. The council could be dissolved at any time by a congress.This system of organizing is not necessarily representative of the personal philosophy of Nestor Makhno. The role of his army was more of one of protecting the area from outside forces.

Ukraine was not for long free from the reactionary power before a different similar threat emerged in General Denikin and his volunteer army. Denikin was an anti-semite as well as a clear threat to everything Makhno stood for. Denikin’s plan was to capture all of Ukraine. He saw the turmoil between the different political factions and figured it would be easy to conquer the area. In early 1919 he and his army were entering Ukraine from the south east. They quickly ran into their first major obstacle, the free territory and its black army. The whites utilized similar partisan tactics as the Black army with raids in enemy territory on horseback. They also promulgated pogroms against jews, hoping to stir up anti-Semitism in the area, although they were far from the only group that engaged in such activities.
Despite these tactics and a large well-armed the whites couldn’t crack the nut that was Makhno. Heavy fighting lasted for months and Makhno earned a reputation as a skilled commander among the whites. Eventually an alliance between the black army and the red army was struck which gave relief to the black army.
It was in March 1919 that the first official meeting between Makhno and Bolshevik representatives took place. The reds didn’t understand the ideological aversion that Makhno as an anarchist had to state authority. Makhno and his general staff understood the dangers of the Bolsheviks to the free territory but hoped to confine the differences to the plane of ideas. It might seem naive but at this time the authoritarian tendencies of the Soviet Union weren’t as obvious as they are to us in hindsight.
The deal struck put the Black army under red army command in exchange for supplies and independence on internal organization. This was important as the Black army was organized according to voluntarism and democratic principles.
Around this time the Bolsheviks made efforts to gain political control over the free territories. In the spirit of free association the authority of parties was unwelcome and the Cheka was often chased out villages by armed peasants. Now the Bolsheviks understood the dangers of Makhno and his free army. The Soviet press started propaganda efforts against the Makhno, his movement was reduced to a kulak uprising, which is ironic considering that Makhno appealed to the poorest of peasants. They understood that the principles of the free territory were dangerous to their authority. As soon they came to this realization, the faith of the free territory was clear. With no outside allies there was no chance for the free territory to survive. But it would take a long time until the black army was crushed.
After the failures of Denikin in early 1919 an even bigger offensive was planned for the summer. Right before the renewed offensive Makhno was subject of a betrayal from the red army, Leon Trotsky to be specific. The free association of the free territory was declared to be counter revolutionary and Makhno and his general staff were supposed to be arrested. However there was no time for that as Denikin’s offensive commenced.

The red army withdrew from Ukraine, leaving the country to the whites. Denikin pursued the black army from east to west. Along the way of the retreat Makhno gathered some new forces, other peasants as well as some red army deserters. After a long retreat they encountered Petlurists, they negotiated a neutrality but Makhno was aware of a risk of being crushed by the Petilurists from the rear and Denikin’s forces from the front. So after months of retreat all of the army turned around and counter attacked. Thanks to flanking maneuvers by the cavalry the attacking force of Denikin was more or less annihilated.
The black army soon turned around in a furious offensive, straight back from where they had retreated. The attack threatened Denikin’s entire offensive. He was marching on Moscow and the black army hit him in the rear and disrupted his supply lines. Many historians are of the opinion that Denikin would have been able to march into Moscow in December 1919 if he had not been disrupted by the black army.
Following their defeat of most of the white forces in Ukraine most of the Black army soliders didn’t expect any trouble from the red army. However, they were once again betrayed. In January 1920 the Black army was attacked by the Bolsheviks. The war weary and ill-supplied black army didn’t have much of a chance against the totality of the Bolshevik forces. But the Black army kept on fighting.
Another white offensive was threatening the revolution. This time it was General Wrangel. The Black army wasn’t able to combat them as they were busy fighting the Bolsheviks, so yet again an alliance was struck. Although this time the role of the black army wasn’t as important they still played a significant role in defeating Wrangel. As soon as the powers of Wrangel was waning the Black army understood that the risk of another Bolshevik betrayal was imminent. None the less, there wasn’t too much that could be done when the betrayal came.
With little white forces left to combat the red army could focus much of its energy on Makhno. The Black army fought for very long, experiencing many victories. There was still a hope of victory, the thought was that after defeating a number of red army divisions the rest would join up with them, but the focus of the red army on Ukraine made this impossible. This Bolsheviks offensive was simultaneously an offensive on the Ukranian peasantry. A total subjugation of the people would make sure that guerilla warfare against the Soviet Union would not be possible. Peasants in villages loyal to Makhno were routinely executed in large numbers.
In August 1921 Makhno and some of his most loyal cavalry escaped from the Bolsheviks across the Romanian border. The Black army would be active for a long time still, but with Makhno leaving the Ukraine the major resistance left as well. Makhno had been shot several times and had escaped to seek medical attention.
And as he left Ukraine his struggle ended in tragedy.
So why did the Makhnovschina experiment fail? One important factor is the failure to appeal to urban classes. His idea was that the industrial and rural people would associate freely. However, a city worker is dependent on a wage in a stable to currency to eat. Under Makhno’s rule there was no stable currency. Indeed, he printed a currency, but on the back it gave license to anyone to print more of it. While this hints at maybe a noble idea of decentralization of power, it was of course totally dysfunctional. His ideas worked well in an isolated country side, but not always as well in towns and cities. With that said he rarely held cities for too long so it’s hard to pass judgement. One can say that he could have been more strategic. For example Left Socialist-Revolutionaries tried to co-operate with him but he promptly refused as he thought they were too statist even though they were much less authoritarian than the Bolsheviks.

There is a general problem with assessing historical material from the black army. Isolated in eastern Ukraine little information got in or out. The partisans themselves had little time to document the events. Both sides of the civil war had good reasons to smear the black army. The whites because Makhno was a sworn enemy of the bourgeoisie, at times allied with the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks had an even more urgent need to smear Makhno. The reds needed to portray themselves as the protector of the peasants from the reactionary whites; they didn’t want the peasants to be aware of a leftist alternative to the Bolsheviks. Therefore a lot of official propaganda has painted a picture of Makhno as a drunken bandit.
When you eliminate the propaganda of the USSR and of the whites there is only one source left, the direct word of the peasants and partisans who lived and fought with Makhno. This is problematic, mainly because few of his partisans survived. The supposedly most reliable work on Makhno is that of Peter Arshinov, an anarchist and longtime friend of Makhno. He wrote “History of the makhnovist movement 1918-1921”. In the forewords he admits that the historiography is incomplete. Furthermore he is ideological to an extent that it is sometimes hard to assess his level of objectivity. He was a good friend of Makhno’s as well as being a firm believer in the ideology of the movement. None the less his work is seemingly the best on the subject and he does have an academic rigor in his search for the truth.
In the areas were the black army was active little official information about Makhno was allowed except for propaganda. As a result the legacy of Makhno has been carried forth not in history books, but in the form of folk myth and song.

History of the Makhnovist Movement 1918-1921, Peter Arshinov, 1921
Makhno and the Makhnovshchina: Myths and interpratations, Ben Annis, 2007
Nestor Makhno: Anarchy's Cossack - The struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921, Alexandre Skirda, 2004

This is the essay just to be clear. It includes some basic background to the Russian revolution and Ukrainian revolution. There's probably not anything new here for anyone who knows anything about the Black army, but maybe its an alright introduction if you know little about the great man known as Papa Makhno



soundtrack I used while writing the essay and prolly good songs for reading about Makhno, I especially love the rock version

Jesus fucking fuck…And You faggots seriously think you are different from stormfags and alt-right "reactionaries"

Don't accuse others of being nazis while peddling literal nazi propaganda.

I watched a documentary this morning on Pol Pot and what struck me were the similarities between his thought and praxis and Bakuin(ism) (I acknowledge that a lot of contemporary anarchism owes more to council-communism and syndicalism than it does to Bakuin) in that the whole way that the core of the "organization" remained secret goes almost completely hand in hand with Bakuin's stuff about "Invisible dictatorship", and also would seem to flow out of what he wrote in "catechism of a revolutionist". Then there is seeing the peasants and the lumpens as more "pure" revolutionary material because of their being more "natural" than urban workers. Then there is the cultural nihilism and wanting to sweep everything away that belongs to the past culture as opposed to integrate from it what is truly human. This of course was also the strategy of Blanqui, who hated the working class and believed socialism could only be implemented by a secret intellectual elite via a coup.

I also saw a lot of parallels between Brother Number One and Nestor Makhno for very much the same reason. Like Makhnovtchina the Khmer Rouge wasn't really a "state" in a traditional sense. Makhno also organized the peasants (not the industrial proletariat) into a revolt that was very free-form, decentralized, and not tied down to a single set of moral principles, much like the Angkor. Makhnovtchina also resulted in mass clusterfuck.

So in conclusion it seems to me that rather than an example of the "failure" of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the Khmer Rouge should be used as an example of the failures of anarchism, blanquism and ultra-leftism.



What was their beef with Vietnamese then?

Historically, the Vietnamese have been chauvinist towards other groups in Indochina, in particular the Cambodians.

Sigh…i can't argue with someone who feigns open mindedness and a-priori dismisses contradictory information or viewpoints as an expression of a capitalist conspiracy. I also can't argue with somebody who thinks that because somebody was right about one thing then they must be right about everything.

Keep up the unironic holocaust denial.

Ukranian starvation happened literally because kulaks burned literally millions of tons of food rather than let the soviets buy it from them to distribute it to the populace.