Nestor Makhno 1920

Who are the Makhnovists and
what are they fighting for?

Written: 27 April 1920;

1. The Makhnovists are peasants and workers who rose as early as 1918 against the tyranny of the German-Magyar, Austrian and Hetmanite [1] bourgeois power in the Ukraine. The Makhnovists are those toilers who raised the banner of combat against the rule of Denikin and all other forms of oppression, violence and lies, whatever their origin. The Makhnovists are those very toilers by whose labour the bourgeoisie in general, and now the Soviet bourgeoisie in particular, grew wealthy, fat and powerful.

2. Why do we call ourselves Makhnovists? Because for the first time during the darkest days of reaction in the Ukraine we saw in our ranks a faithful friend and leader, MAKHNO, whose voice of protest against all oppression of the toilers rang out through the whole Ukraine, calling for a struggle against all the tyrants, marauders and political charlatans who were bent on deceiving us, Makhno who now marches with us steadfastly in our common ranks towards the final goal, the emancipation of the toilers from all forms of oppression.

3. What do we mean by emancipation? The overthrow of the monarchist, coalition, republican and Social-Democratic Communist-Bolshevik party governments, which must give place to a free and independent soviet order of toilers, without rulers and their arbitrary laws. For the true soviet order is not the rule of the Social-Democratic Communist-Bolsheviks which now calls itself the soviet power, but a higher form of anti-authoritarian and anti-statist socialism, manifesting itself in the organisation of a free, happy and independent structure for the social life of the toilers, in which all individual toilers as well as society as a whole can build by themselves their happiness and well-being according to the principles of solidarity, friendship and equality.

4. How do the Makhnovists understand the soviet system? The toilers themselves must freely choose their soviets, which will carry out the will and desires of the toilers - that is, administrate soviets, not state soviets. The land, factories, mills, mines, railways and other popular riches must belong to the toilers who work in them, that is, they must be socialized.

5. By what road can the aims of the Makhnovists be realized? An uncompromising revolution and a direct struggle with all arbitrariness, lies, and oppression, whatever their source; a struggle to the death, a struggle for free speech and for the righteous cause, a struggle with weapons in hand. Only through the abolition of all rulers, through the destruction of the whole foundation of their lies, in state as we as political and economic affairs, only through the destruction of the state by means of a social revolution can we attain a genuine worker-peasant soviet order and arrive at socialism.

27 April 1920


1. The forces of Hetman Skoropadsky, Ukrainian puppet of the Austrian occupying army.