Nestor Makhno. September 1925

Our Organization

Source: Nestor Makhno, The struggle against the state and other essays, Alexandre Skirda (ed.). Translated by Paul Sharkey, 1996 by AK Press, Edinburgh & San Francisco;
First published: Dyelo Truda, No.4, September 1925, pp.7-8;
Transcribed: by

The times through which the working class world-wide is presently passing requires that revolutionary anarchists strain their imaginations and their energies to the fullest if they are to clarify the most important issues.

Those of our comrades who played an active part in the Russian revolution and who have kept faith with their convictions will be sensible of the harmfulness that absence of solid organization has brought to our movement. Those comrades are well-placed to render particular service to the quest for union currently being conducted. It has not gone unnoticed by those comrades, I imagine, that anarchism was a factor for insurrection among the toiling revolutionary masses in Russia and in the Ukraine: it incited them to join in the struggle everywhere. However, the absence of a great specifically anarchist organization, capable of marshaling its resources against the revolution’s enemies, left it powerless to assume any organizational role. The libertarian thrust in the revolution has suffered the dire consequences of that.

If they have grasped that shortcoming, the Russian and Ukrainian anarchists should not permit a repetition of this phenomenon. The lesson of the past is too painful and, bearing that in mind, they ought to be the first to teach by example through the cohesiveness of their forces. How? By setting up an organization that can accomplish anarchism’s missions, not just when the social revolution is being hatched, but also in its wake. Such an organization should unite all of anarchism’s revolutionary forces and unhesitatingly set about preparing the masses for the social revolution and the struggle to achieve the anarchist society.

Although the majority of us are alive to the necessity of such an organization, it is regrettable that we have to record that there is only a tiny number prepared to tackle it with the commitment and consistency that are indispensable.

At the moment, events are gathering pace throughout Europe as a whole and that includes Russia, enmeshed though she may be in the nets of the Pan-Bolsheviks. The day is not far off when we will again be called upon to take an active part in these events. If we answer the call again without first having equipped ourselves with an adequate organization, we will still be powerless to preclude events from being sucked into the vortex of statist systems.

Wheresoever human life is to be found, anarchism assumes a concrete existence. On the other hand, it becomes accessible to the individual only where it boasts propagandists and militants, who have honestly and entirely severed their connections with the slave mentality of our age, something, by the way, that brings savage persecution down upon their heads. Such militants aspire to serve their beliefs with disinterest, without fearing to uncover unsuspected aspects in the course of their development, the better to digest them as they proceed, if need be, and in this way they labor for the success of the anarchist spirit over the spirit of submission. Two theses arise out of the above:

In the course of its revolutionary struggle, anarchism not merely overthrows governments and discards their laws, but also sets about the society that spawned their values, their “mores” and their “morality,” which is what makes it increasingly comprehensible and digestible to the oppressed portion of mankind.

All of which inclines us to the firm belief that anarchism can no longer remain walled up inside the narrow parameters of a marginal thinking to which only a few tiny groups operating in isolation subscribe. Its natural influence upon the mentality of struggling human groups is all too apparent. If that influence is to be assimilated in a conscious fashion, it must henceforth equip itself with new approaches and start here and now to borrow the approach of social practices.