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In progress.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Missed my first deadline, but fear not.

I find I'm doing more reading than page-making. Like a longer review of Shtirbul's Russian-language book on the Siberian anarchist uprising:

"From a strictly military viewpoint, the anarchist contribution to the fight against the Whites was indispensable. This fact may explain why the eradication of anarchism as planned by Moscow had some difficulty getting under way in Siberia as the local Bolsheviks looked upon the anarchists primarily as decent revolutionaries.

The grave political economic and social crisis by which Siberia was hit in 1920 as it emerged from the war against the Whites was to have an impact on the CP in Siberia. Shtirbul does not place enough stress on the leninist “diktat from on high”. However, the appointment of outside leaders to the region and the appointment of former tsarist officers to command of the army (Vol. 2, p. 68) fully endorse the Siberian libertarians’ analysis of Bolshevik manipulation and the crucial need for the workers themselves to retain control of the revolution. The example of the IV Army of peasant partisans led by Marmontov provides quite a good illustration of the sensibilities of “genuine” revolutionaries. When commander M. V. Kozyr proposed in late 1919-early 1920 to organise soviet authorities without communists, the CP leadership stood him down and appointed a Bolshevik to replace him. Immediately, a meeting of the garrison passed this resolution: “The soldiers’ revolutionary committees elected by us have no power … No one should dismiss our representatives and replace them with folk who do not know us. We will not countenance that!” (Vol. 2, p. 70). Kozyr himself had stated: “Appoint your best men everywhere, pick the ones who have earned your trust and who understand your needs. Protect them against all who threaten them, even should they do so without a word.” Other clashes pitted the partisans against the CP’s leadership. A report concerning the Altai region and dating from January 1920 noted: ” The peasants had been hoping for ‘regional authorities’. When they ran up against centralised soviet authorities, they were suddenly assailed by mistrust.”

Resistance to the amalgamation of partisan units into the Red Army was organised around commanders like Novoselov, Rogov, Lubkov and Plotnikov in the Altai, Tomsk and Semipalatinsk regions. The anarchists lobbied for the creation of self-managing peasant collectives and for the release of Rogov, which was achieved in April 1920. The first of May that year was marked by a huge anarchist rally in the village of Zhulanikh, 120 kms northwest of Barnaul, at which the speakers paid tribute to the victims of the White terror. A thousand partisans participated and several thousand peasants attended, waving red-and-black banners. Two days later, the uprising came. A band of around 1,000 people mobilised by Novoselov moved that an Altai Anarchist Federation (AAF) be established and Rogov and seven of his commanders were part of this. Their forces swelled to a thousand fighters and received backing from thousands of peasants from the Pritchensk region. During the spring and summer of 1920, Rogov’s uprising spread, according to Shtirbul, thanks to AAF sympathisers within the army, the militia and the Cheka. The anarchist partisans occupied the area northwest of Barnaul plus the towns of Biiski, Kuznetzov and Novonikolayev.

Despite orders issuing from Moscow, the local Bolshevik authorities’ response seems initially to have been to adopt a wait-and-see line, probably fearing that disaffection might spread to other army corps. Once the Red Army did begin its offensive, Rogov’s troops split up into small groups which dispersed into the taiga. In June 19020, Rogov was captured and took his own life. Novoselov carried on the fight up until September 1920 before going into hiding with his partisans. At the same time, Lubkov triggered a fresh uprising in the Tomsk region. His partisans numbered between 2,500 and 3,000 men. Defeated, Lubkov tried to negotiate with the Bolsheviks before disappearing into the taiga himself with a few of his supporters. In January 1921, Novoselov was involved in a further uprising in Zhulianikh. His “peasant Army” numbered between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters. Unlike the earlier uprisings, this one canvassed for anti-communist support, regardless of where it might come from, even from the Whites. But the tide of battle soon turned against it."

But I have enough free time this month to make sure I do get my first 2 'chapters' done before January's out. And I keep thinking of going back to Siberia...

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