What Is Going on in Russia? Where Is She Being Led?

Centralization and the dictatorship in Russia have engendered two classes: the bureaucracy, which has everything there and the worker and peasant class which has nothing.  The first of these classes overrules the revolution, overrules Bolshevism; it seeks to consolidate its privileges and enjoy life, which explains the firing squads deployed against the Bolshevik Old Guard, the new class being minded to get rid of them once and for all. The charges of spying levelled at them are nonsensical. How are we expected to credit that men who took part in the civil war, earning every honour and glory and enjoying the broadest material comfort, then turned their backs on that in order to resort to spying? 

Stalin is consolidating his personal power and paving the way for a new ruling class upon which he is reliant, by removing all the leaders of the Party, all who have, in one way or another, a connection with the romanticism of 1917. Stalin has no option left but to do away with the Communist Party and he will, arguing that there are no classes any more, just a single soviet people enjoying the most democratic constitution in the world. Parties across the board therefore have no further reason to exist. In 1918, Lenin himself mentioned all this. Needless to add, the ruling bureaucracy will only welcome this coming from “its well-beloved leader” and it will be sure to applaud the executions of Bolshevik ideologues and the builders of the marxist paradise. Wasn’t it the one that passed those bloodthirsty resolutions calling for death? Isn’t it the one that forces workers and peasants to sign up to such resolutions?

The moral standards of the new ruling class are very low: flattery, tittle-tattle, chicanery, denunciations, betrayals, craven cruelty. These are the things in which it delights.

The people suffers and says nothing. It has not a lot of sympathy for the victims of the terror and it despises the executioner. The people is dark and menacing like a gigantic reef eroded by the ocean and liable to collapse at any moment. Dictatorship and centralization are the breakers crashing against the gigantic rock that is the people. The monstrous bureaucracy stymying, hampering and stifling the slightest initiative and the merest hint of individual activity is down to that. The entire spiritual life of the enormous country and the wider people is stifled. Technical progress alone is feasible: but all overall progress, encompassing every aspect of life, is impossible. Literature, theatre, art, in their lively and inspired diversity cannot move forward, obliged as they are to obey the “social commands” emanating from the satraps.

Raising the notorious passport system, Maximoff said that Russia is the most cultivated country in the world with every citizen required to possess at least one book, his passport.

In Russia woman has been turned back into a brood mare: the government, on the look-out for cannon-fodder and factory-fodder rewards large families and thereby tends to distance them – women and men alike – from all social activity, which a dozen offspring makes impossible.

Russia is being steered into physical degeneracy and moral brutishness, but she will resist for as long as she can and has not abandoned hope of getting rid of the executioners. A betterment of living standards can only be achieved by means of inevitable, cruel and bloody revolution. The new way of life will be that of an anti-authoritarian society, the product of earlier struggles and a brand-new revolution. 

Revolution in Russia has only one course open to it at present: anarchism. The big landowners and manufacturers no longer exist. There are only workshops and kolkhozes prey to exploitation and devoid of rights, the State being the top exploiter and, thanks to its bureaucracy, the absolute master. From which the exploited have drawn this logical conclusion: Down with the State and with the bureaucracy! Long live the free factory and kolkhoz! Even apart from the efforts of anarchists, the revolution and the people will display anarchistic tendencies. The outcome of which will be, not a rounded anarchism, but a society with its sights set on getting closer to anarchism.

From: (Dyelo Truda, No 101, March-May 1938) Reprinted in Le Réveil (Geneva) 2 July 1938: 'Two talks delivered by our Russian comrade Maximoff in Detroit (Michigan). [Here] we offer a summary of them.' The talks were 'What Is Going on in Russia? Where Is She Being Led?' and 'Anarchists and Bolsheviks in the Spanish Revolution'. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.