Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments


autonomous_hippopotamus wrote

None of those things -- assuming Makhno was a great as you seem to think he was -- disprove my point. Makhno indeed strongly discouraged antisemitism in his ranks, while there was rampant anti-semitism in among ukranians and other people's in the region, the anarchists were militantly opposed to this. Makhno was no Saint, but as far as guerilla leaders go was no tyrant either, But my point is, what separates him (and other military leaders) from regular people is a certain ruthlessness, a moral certainty that allows one to kill or assault without hesitation or regret, that most people simply do not have.

I think it's best not to romanticize Makno or war in general, the idea you can engage in armed conflict without also comitting some act of brutality in the process seems incredibly naive to me. When military leaders talk about morals, they have a very different morality than what most people have, any u.s. general or jihadist will explain their acts in extremely moral terms why their actions are absolutely right: they position themselves as a kind of super-moral agent. Anarchists are often no different than any fanatic in this regard, if you believe your violence will bring about the liberation of all humanity you can rationalize some pretty monstrous things.

Just saying everyone that Makhno killed are scum and deserved to die is really a cop-out, a move to avoid the ethical question here. This is common to all military logic: the dehumanization of the enemy. If you look at the armies makno faught -- either Russians; red or white, or the forieng fighters from Germany or elsewhere, a large percent if not majority of them were conscripts: it was not their choice to be there, a conscript fights against their will. You can't just say they were scum who deserved to die. As individuals they may have been descent people. Hell, many of the red army that drove were working class revolutionaries maybe anarchists at one point.

Makhno's older comrades in the early 1900s engaged in a campaign of terrorist bombings hroughout Russia: bombing private residencies and bourgous cafes. I'm sure you're not defending that, as it was not only morally dubious but strategically a disaster for the movement. If you were to defend that you would also have to defend bombing gentrifying businesses today. But many anarchists have defended that, then and now, it is end result of a kind of absolutist moralizing where you deny the humanity of whole groups of people.