The meaning of Makhnovshchina

The Makhnovshchina can be translated as either the ‘Makhno phenomenon’ or ‘time of Makhno’. I defer to the discussion in Danilov and Shanin, Nestor Makhno. The Peasant Movement in Ukraine 1918–1921 (2006):

Soviet historiography and mass media developed a powerful instrument of self-censorship, when, by means of systematic repetition, an unreflective relation to historical events and phenomena was formed through stereotyping and labelling. The ending ‘–shchina’ is a compact linguistic instrument forming a negative semantic field around the examined phenomenon. This explains why in Soviet historiography there exist the ‘antonovshchina’ and the ‘makhnovshchina’, but no ‘communizshchina’ or ‘kolhozshchina’. In this context the insurgents of Makhno were always ‘bandits’, peasant revolts were by definition ‘kulak’, and the Kronstadt rebels were ‘white guardist’. In order not to lose time in the discussion of the significance of words, we decided to use the word makhnovshchina as neutral …” (p. 32)

So while ‘makhnovshchina’ was originally pejorative, it is generally used in a neutral sense today and in fact was embraced by the Makhnovists themselves from an early date, as you find in the writings of Arshinov and Voline.