Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on Anarchists in the Russian Revolution

Who were the most dedicated, active, and long-suffering revolutionaries in Czarist Russia? In his epic history The Gulag Archipelago * Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says that it was the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Anarchists who were imprisoned the most, had the most people serving hard labor, and the most people imprisoned by the Czarist regime—many multiple the times of the Social Democrats, from which both the Bolshevik and Menshevik emerged. It was mostly Socialists Revolutionaries and the Anarchists who received the worst sentences in Czarist Russia(1). The Anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries were very similar, although not identical, ideologically. What was the reward the Anarchists, and Socialist Revolutionaries received for this labor, fighting, dedication and death?

Solzhenitsyn said, “In the summer of 1918 and in April and October of 1919, they jailed Anarchists right and left. In 1919 they arrested all the members of the SR (2) Central Committee they could catch—and kept them imprisoned in the Butyrki up to the time of their trial in 1922.”(3) What was the crime of these dedicated and sacrificing revolutionaries? Anarchists, SRs, and others non-Bolshevik revolutionaries were always blamed when even anything went wrong.(4)

At the beginning of the show-down between the Bolsheviks and the Kronstadt sailors the American Anarchists Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman advocated to mediation, so tht there could be a revolutionary solution and not a war or a massacre. But the Bolsheviks started a military attack against the most dedicated fighters in the revolution. The military slaughter was followed by executions and deportations to the Peter and Paul Fortress and to islands of the new gulag archipelago (5), at that time made up from Czarists jails.

Berkman and Goldman left Russia in December 1922. They efforts at a mediated revolutionary solution for Kronstadt having eluded them, and with them the truly revolutionary outcome they are dreamed of and came to Russia in expectation of. The Anarchists played a big part in the Russian Revolution, in Russian revolutionary history, and were among the biggest victims of the Czarist government, early Bolshevik betrayal, and Stalin’s repression. Today they are being persecuted by Putin’s government.
As long as a great and world famous Russian writer can include true revolutionary matters in his books, their memory of those Russian Anarchists will not be forgotten.

*Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I. (1974) The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation. (Three Vols.) New York: Harper & Row.

Raymond S. Solomon

(1) Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. (1974) The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation. (Vol. I). Page 36.
(2) Socialist Revolutionary.
(3) Solzhenitsyn op. cit. pages 30 to 31.
(4) Ibid page 41.
(5) Ibid. Pages 33 to 34.

– Berkman, Alexander. (1925) The Bolshevik Myth: Diary 1920-1922. New York: BONI and Liveright.
– Berkman, Alexander. (1922) The Kronstadt Rebellion. Germany: Self-published.
– Goldman, Emma. (1931) Living My Life. New York: Alfred A Knopf.
– Goldman, Emma. (1923) My Disillusionment in Russia. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, & Company.
– Kaplan, Edith Saposnik. (1994) Russian Nightmares—American Dreams. New York: The Solomon Press.
– Pasternak, Boris. (1958, 1991) Doctor Zhivago. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (Translated from the Russian by Manya Harari and Max Hayward.)
– Read, John. (1919) 10 Days That Shook the World. New York: BONI and Liveright.
– Solomon, Raymond S. (Winter, 2019) “Soul of the Russian People: Non-Bolshevik Socialists in Revolutionary Russia.” In The Industrial Worker. (Pages 12 thru 16.)
– Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I. (1974) The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation. (Three Vols.) New York: Harper & Row.
– Voline. (1975) The Unknown Revolution. New York: Free Life Editions. (Reprint)