Nestor Makhno. Platform, June 1926
Source: The Dielo Trouda Group Paris. 20.6.1926;
Transcribed: by EndPage.com.
It is very significant that, in spite of the strength and incontestably positive character of libertarian ideas, and in spite of the forthrightness and integrity of anarchist positions in the facing up to the social revolution, and finally the heroism and innumerable sacrifices borne by the anarchists in the struggle for libertarian communism, the anarchist movement remains weak despite everything, and has appeared, very often, in the history of working class struggles as a small event, an episode, and not an important factor.
This contradiction between the positive and incontestable substance of libertarian ideas, and the miserable state in which the anarchist movement vegetates, has its explanation in a number of causes, of which the most important, the principal, is the absence of organisational principles and practices in the anarchist movement.
In all countries, the anarchist movement is represented by several local organisations advocating contradictory theories and practices, having no perspectives for the future, nor of a continuity in militant work, and habitually disappearing, hardly leaving the slightest trace behind them.
Taken as a whole, such a state of revolutionary anarchism can only be described as 'chronic general disorganisation'.
Like yellow fever, this disease of disorganisation introduced itself into the organism of the anarchist movement and has shaken it for dozens of years.
It is nevertheless beyond doubt that this disorganisation derives from from some defects of theory: notably from a false interpretation of the principle of individuality in anarchism: this theory being too often confused with the absence of all responsibility. The lovers of assertion of 'self', solely with a view to personal pleasure. obstinately cling to the chaotic state of the anarchist movement. and refer in its defence to the immutable principles of anarchism and its teachers.
But the immutable principles and teachers have shown exactly the opposite.
Dispersion and scattering are ruinous: a close-knit union is a sign of life and development. This lax of social struggle applies as much to classes as to organisations.
Anarchism is not a beautiful utopia, nor an abstract philosophical idea, it is a social movement of the labouring masses. For this reason it must gather its forces in one organisation, constantly agitating, as demanded by reality and the strategy of class struggle.
"We are persuaded", said Kropotkin, "that the formation of an anarchist organisation in Russia, far from being prejudicial to the common revolutionary task, on the contrary it is desirable and useful to the very greatest degree." (Preface to The Paris Commune by Bakunin, 1892 edition.)
Nor did Bakunin ever oppose himself to the concept of a general anarchist organisation. On the contrary, his aspirations concerning organisations, as well as his activity in the 1st IWMA, give us every right to view him as an active partisan of just such an organisation.
In general, practically all active anarchist militants fought against all dispersed activity, and desired an anarchist movement welded by unity of ends and means.
It was during the Russian revolution of 1917 that the need for a general organisation was felt most deeply and most urgently. It was during this revolution that the libertarian movement showed the greatest decree of sectionalism and confusion. The absence of a general organisation led many active anarchist militants into the ranks of the Bolsheviks. This absence is also the cause of many other present day militants remaining passive, impeding all use of their strength, which is often quite considerable.
We have an immense need for an organisation which, having gathered the majority of the participants of the anarchist movement, establishes in anarchism a general and tactical political line which would serve as a guide to the whole movement.
It is time for anarchism to leave the swamp of disorganisation, to put an end to endless vacillations on the most important tactical and theoretical questions, to resolutely move towards a clearly recognised goal, and to operate an organised collective practice.
It is not enough, however, to establish the vital need of such an organisation: it is also necessary to establish the method of, its creation.
We reject as theoretically and practically inept the idea of creating an organisation after the recipe of the 'synthesis', that is to say re-uniting the representatives of different tendencies of anarchism. Such an organisation, having incorporated heterogeneous theoretical and practical elements, would only be a mechanical assembly of individuals each having a different conception of all the questions of the anarchist movement, an assembly which would inevitably disintegrate on encountering reality.
The anarcho-syndicalist method does not resolve the problem of anarchist organisation, for it does not give priority to this problem, interesting itself solely in penetrating and gaining strength in the industrial proletariat.
However, a great deal cannot be achieved in this area, even in gaining a footing, unless there is a general anarchist organisation.
The only method leading to the solution of the problem of general organisation is, in our view, to rally active anarchist militants to a base of precise positions: theoretical, tactical and organisational, i.e. the more or less perfect base of a homogeneous programme.
The elaboration of such a programme is one of the principal tasks imposed on anarchists by the social struggle of recent years. It is to this task that the group of Russian anarchists in exile dedicates an important part of its efforts.
The Organisational Platform published below represents the outlines, the skeleton of such a programme. It must serve as the first step towards rallying libertarian forces into a single, active revolutionary collective capable of struggle: the General Union of Anarchists.
We have no doubts that there are gaps in the present platform. It has gaps, as do all new, practical steps of any importance. It is possible that certain important positions have been missed, or that others are inadequately treated, or that still others are too detailed or repetitive. All this is possible, but not of vital importance. What is important is to lay the foundations of a general organisation, and it is this end which is attained, to a necessary degree, by the present platform.
It is up to the entire collective, the General Union of Anarchists, to enlarge it, to later give it depth, to make of it a definite platform for the whole anarchist movement.
On another level also we have doubts. We foresee that several representatives of self-styled individualism and chaotic anarchism will attack us, foaming at the mouth, and accuse us of breaking anarchist principles. However, we know that the individualist and chaotic elements understand by the title 'anarchist principles' political indifference, negligence and absence of all responsibility, which have caused in our movement almost incurable splits, and against which we are struggling with all our energy and passion. This is why we can calmly ignore the attacks from this camp.
We base our hope on other militants: on those who remain faithful to anarchism, having experienced and suffered the tragedy of the anarchist movement, and are painfully searching for a solution.
Further. we place great hopes on the young anarchists who, born in the breath of the Russian revolution, and placed from the start in the midst of constructive problems, will certainly demand the realisation of positive and organisational principles in anarchism.
We invite all the Russian anarchist organisations dispersed in various countries of the world, and also isolated militants, to unite on the basis of a common organisational platform.
Let this platform serve as the revolutionary backbone, the rallying point of all the militants of the Russian anarchist movement! Let it form the foundations for the General Union of Anarchists!
Long Live the Social Revolution of the Workers of the World!