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Nestor Makhno, (1889-1934)

Famed anarchist general.

Makhno led a large insurrectionary army of peasants that helped defeat the reactionary White armies. The "Makhnovistes" were eventually crushed by Trotsky's treachery & the Red Army. Makhno was forced into exile & died in Paris.

Born October 27, 1889, of peasant stock in Gulyai-Polye (Goulaï-Polé), Ukraine, Nestor Makhno became an anarchist following the Russian Revolution of 1905. Condemned to death for armed struggle, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

"Your flags black in the wind, black for our sorrow, red for our blood."

— excerpt from the song "Makhnovchtchina"

Makhno banner

Liberated in 1917, he organized an army of anarchist resistance against both the Bolsheviks and the White counter-revolutionaries.

Throughout this period of struggle, he consistently advocated the creation of anarchist communism in the most difficult and impractical of conditions. Forced to flee by the Bolsheviks, he eventually ended up in exile in Paris. Marginalized and impoverished, in poor health as a result of woundssustained in fighting against the Whites and the Bolsheviks, and time spent in prisons insidetsarist Russia before the Revolution and in Eastern European prisons en route to exile afterwards,Nestor Makhno wrote occasional essays in self- vindication and in vindication of the peasant insurgent movement that bore his name.

Makhno wrote, for example, The Struggle Against the State & Other Essays. Published primarily for fellow-exiles, these essays ranged from the theoretical and analytical, establishing him plainly as a deliberate as well as a visceral anarchist, to challenges thrown out to his enemies, including some Jewish anarchists - to produce proof of the alleged anti-Semitism of his movement in revolutionary Ukraine.

He remained politically active, contributing to "Delo Truda" and other papers, and helped create the Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists. Makhno was determined that the next time anarchism, acting in the light of experiences dearly bought, revamped and more disciplined thanks to its Organizational Platform, might reap the rewards proportionate with the commitment and sacrifice of its activists.

Nestor Makhno died from tuberculosis on July 25, 1934, aged 44.

"Aucun des commissaires n'osa se montrer devant les ouvriers à la tribune du Soviet. Seule l'anarchiste Marie Nikiphorova occupa cette tribune et appela, de sa voix puissante, les ouvriers à la lutte contre le gouvernement, pour la révolution et pour une société libre de toute autorité."

— Nestor Makhno, in La révolution russe en Ukraine.

Makhno Collage
For graphics & other materials, see the Anarchist Encyclopedia Archives,

See Makhno Archives for large collection of links,

For background, see also,

  • Makhno & Makhnovshchina: Myths & Interpretations
  • The Bolsheviks and Workers Control 1917 - 1921: The State & Counter-revolution
  • Wikipedia page
  • Makhno illustration by Flavio Costantini

    "It is up to the workers & peasants to organise themselves & reach mutual understanding in all areas of their lives in whatever manner they think right".

    updated September 2002; July 2003; October 2005, Sept 2009

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