Neha Patil

Anarchism in Ukraine

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Anarchism in Ukraine

Anarchism in Ukraine dates from the 19th century with the writings of Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895), though it draws its rebellious inspiration in the actions of Nestor Makhno from the peasant uprisings of Stenka Razin and Yemelyan Pugachev as well as the Zaporozhian Cossacks.



The first theoretical anarchist was Mykhailo Drahomanov who was influenced by such writers as Proudhon and Bakunin. While living in Geneva, he wrote numerous political tracts against all sorts of centralized governments and favored a bottom-up form of democracy of small communities organized on a federative basis, often referring to the Swiss form of government as a model.

Anarchists were active in the Revolution of 1905 and suffered repression following its failure. Maria Nikiforova was arrested at this time, as was Sasha Shapiro, father of the anarchist mathematician, Alexander Grothendieck. Nestor Makhno and other anarcho-communists continued their attacks against aristocrats and capitalists throughout the south-eastern part of Ukraine.

Makhno became active again after the Russian Revolution in the raion of Huliaipole in a peasant region. Anarchist communes formed across south-eastern Ukraine, many of them productive enough to exchange wheat for textiles with workers in Moscow. Makhno at one time fought with Bolsheviks against the White Army and, because of his refusal to subordinate his army under Bolshevik command, he was denounced as a bandit, betrayed, and ultimately defeated by the Bolsheviks. For a duration of three years he formed the Free Territory with his (mostly peasant) Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine. The Free Territory existed only until June 1919, but in that time, communities operated successfully on the economic theories of the anarchist Peter Kropotkin and educational principles of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia.

Volin was a prolific writer and anarchist intellectual who played an important part in the organization and leadership of Nabat. The Nabat Confederation of Anarchist Organizations, better known simply as Nabat (Набат), was an anarchist organization that came to prominence in Ukraine during the years 1918 to 1920. The area where it held the most influence is sometimes referred to as the Free Territory, though Nabat had branches in all of the major cities in southern Ukraine. Volin was charged with writing a platform for Nabat that could be agreeable to all the major branches of anarchism, most importantly Anarcho-syndicalism, Anarcho-collectivism, Anarcho-communism, and Anarcho-individualism. The uniform platform for Nabat was never truly decided upon, but Volin used what he had written and the inspiration from Nabat to create his Anarchist Synthesis. The proposed platform for Nabat included the following sentence which anticipated synthesis anarchism: "These three elements (syndicalism, communism and individualism) are three aspects of a single process, the building, of the organization of the working class (syndicalism), of the anarcho-communist society which is nothing more than the material base necessary for the complete fullness of the free individual."

Makhno tried to defend the Free Territory against further attacks by the Bolshevik and White armies, but lost ground throughout 1920 and 1921. By the end of 1921, the anarchist groups in Ukraine had been arrested or dispersed. Makhno fled to Romania, then Poland, and finally Paris, where he wrote his memoirs and proposed organizational tactics based on what he had learned in Ukraine.


The Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists, Nestor Makhno (RKAS-NM) is a notable example of emergent anarchist movement since the fall of the Soviet Union. It had 2,000 members in Ukraine as of 2013.

There are some collectives and groups existing in the region of Ukraine, who define themselves as anarchists, like: Svobodna – anarcha-feminist web-page (Russian language) and Zaraz – Kiev’s portal of libertarian initiatives,

See also at Abolishing the borders from below anarchist magazine from eastern Europe.


Anarchism in Ukraine Wikipedia

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