With clashes between peasants and landlords on the one hand, and clashes between peasants and workers on the other, Makhno was pressed to institute policies that were far from “libertarian”. The real conditions of life for the peasants of the Ukraine from 1919-1921 were cruel and repressive. The cities in Makhno’s territories were not ruled by Soviets. Instead, they were ruled by mayors drawn from Makhno’s military forces. Makhno’s movement was severely centralized, with the leadership in the RevCom deciding everything. Makhno even established a police-security organization (!) led by Leo Zadov (Zinkovsky), a former worker-anarchist who was to become notorious for his brutality. Incidentally, in the early 1920s Zadov returned to the USSR – to join the GPU! He was rewarded for his services with his own execution in 1937. In the Ukraine, we see clearly that the anarchists were committing the same crimes that they accused the Bolsheviks of.
In September of 1920, Ivanov V. (representative of the Southern Front Revolutionary Soviet) visited Makhno. He later wrote this description of Makhno’s camp: “The regime is brutal, the discipline is hard as steel, rebels are beaten on the face for any small breach, no elections to the general command staff, all commanders up to company commander are appointed by Makhno and the Anarchist Revolutionary War Council, Revolutionary Military Soviet (Revvoensovet) became an irreplaceable, uncontrollable and non-elected institution. Under the revolutionary military council there is a ‘special section’ that deals with disobediences secretly and without mercy.”
Written by A. Kramer, Wednesday, 17 November 2004