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// -- Anarchist Encyclopedia Page: Lev Chernyi, (18??-1921), Russian anarchist poet; alt sp, Lev Tchernyi; CHERNYI, Lev.

Lev Chernyi (or Tchernyi), (18??-1921)

Russian anarchist, poet


During the Russian Revolution the Bolsheviks used the respite of the Brest Litovsk treaty with imperialism to solidify their power & attack their critics on the left.

On April 11, 1918, for example, 26 anarchist centres in Moscow were raided by the Cheka (secret police). A fierce battle raged on Malaia Dimitrovka Street with dozens killed on both sides & hundreds arrested.

A new wave of arrests swept the country in 1921 & thousands died or disappeared in the 'revolutionary tribunals' that year. 8,000 Kronstadters fled over the ice to Finland following the Kronstadt Revolt & 15,000 sailers were kicked out of the fleet.

The anarchists were scattered to the prison camps, where they died of illness, hard labor or Cheka (Bolshevik Secret Police) executioners (Lev Chernyi was shot by the Cheka on September 21, 1921). Those who evaded the net fled their homeland to a life of exile. Among them were Emma Goldman, & Alexander Berkman who wrote:

'Grey are the passing days. One by one the embers of hope have died out. Terror & despotism have crushed the life born on October. The slogans of the revolution are foresworn, its ideals stifled in the blood of the people. The breath of yesterday is dooming millions to death; the shadow of today hangs like a black pall over the country.

Dictatorship is trampling the masses underfoot. The revolution is dead; its spirit cries in the wilderness . . . I have decided to leave Russia.'

On September 29 the Cheka executed Fanya Baron, & nine other anarchist prisoners. Emma Goldman, a friend & fellow anarchist, was so outraged that friends had to dissuade her from chaining herself to a bench in the hall where the Third International was meeting to shout her protests to the delegates.

It seems unbelievable that even today, after everything that has happened & is happening in Russia, there are people who still imagine that the difference between socialists & anarchists is only that of wanting revolution gradually or quickly.

Errico Malatesta, Umanita Nova, September 3, 1921

Biographical/historical note :

The anarchist poet Lev Chernyi suffered imprisonment under the Russian Czarist regime for his revolutionary activities. In 1907, he published a book entitled Associational Anarchism, in which he advocated the "free association of independent individuals." Paul Avrich, in his study, The Russian Anarchists, states that Chernyi was greatly influenced by
Max Stirner
; although, other writers have minimized Chernyi's debt to Stirner.

Lev ChernyiOn his return from Siberia in 1917 he enjoyed great popularity among Moscow workers as a lecturer. He was also Secretary of the Moscow Federation of Anarchist Groups, which was formed in March of 1917.

In the spring of 1918, in reaction to the growing repression of all opposition and free expression, the anarchist groups within the Moscow Federation formed armed detachments, the Black Guards, and Lev Chernyi played an active part in these.

On the night of April 11, 1918 the Checka, the secret police, raided the building of the Moscow Federation, and the Black Guards offered armed resistance. About forty anarchists were killed or wounded and about five hundred were imprisoned.

In 1919 Chernyi joined a group called the Underground Anarchists, who published two numbers of a broadsheet which denounced the Communist dictatorship as the worst tyranny in human history. On September 25, 1919, a number of Left Social Revolutionaries and Underground Anarchists bombed the headquarters of the Moscow Committee of the Communist Party in protest at the growing repression. Twelve Communists were killed and forty-five others were wounded.

August, 1921, the Moscow Izvestia published an official report announcing that ten "anarchist bandits" had been shot without hearing or trial. Among the dead was Lev Chernyi [Paul Avrich indicates in two of his books on the Russian anarchists that Chernyi was executed in September, not August -- ed.]. Although he was not involved in the bombing of the Moscow Communist headquarters, he was, because of his association with the Underground Anarchists, a likely candidate for a frame-up. The Communists refused to turn over his body to his family for burial, and there were persistent rumors that he had in fact died of torture.

Terry Phillips, originally printed in The Match! #79/Fall 1984) & was reprinted online at Prominent Anarchists & Left-Libertarians

See also the Wikipedia entry,

Page created September 2002; updated April 2004, Sept 2005

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