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This issue of Freedom appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the International Institute for Social History
Freedom Flagstaff


The Revolution in Russia and the General Strike.

On the whole, events in Russia, are well known. Our readers follow them no doubt from day to day in the dailies. Therefore, here we will deal solely with two important facts --- the general strike and the peasant revolts.

It will no doubt be remembered that after having made himself abbhored by all, as a consequence of the massacres of January 22nd last at Petersburg and those in Poland, as also of the police rule to which the whole Empire was subjected. Nicholas Il, at length resigned himself in August last, and signed the manifesto convoking the famous Duma.

The general feeling provoked by this Boulyghin Constitution was one of complete stupefaction. Russia was called upon to have elections, but with a suffrage so limited that fewer than 100,000 men in a population of 135,000,000 were to be allowed to take part in the electoral farce. The peasants were admitted to none but elections at the third degree, which would end by cooking down a population of 90,000,000 to a few thousand electors. And lastly to crown this, the Duma was to have no rights save those of tendering advice to the autocrat. He, with his State Council, nominated by himself, would decide. In a word, it was soon evident that Russia would never be persuaded to go through this absurd and useless, electoral comedy.

Matters stood there without a chance of advancing. The state of siege continued, the Press dared not speak, the governors-general acted like satraps, exiling the discontented by orders which they themselves issued on their own authority, and all Russia was on fire. In Poland police officials, governors, gendarmes, and spies were killed at an average of three in a week; at Baku and Nahitchevan the Tartars massacred the Armenians; in the Baltic provinces the insurrection was in permanence: at Riga and Reval regular battles were fought in the streets. Finland menaced with a general uprising; at Odessa one-half of the buildings in the port were burnt, and the heroic sailors of the "Potemkin" had mutinied. Russia was gnawing at her tether.

It was then that the great general strike broke out in October last, and at once it spurred the Revolution forward. This general strike had long since been spoken of. In February, Poland had already attempted it within success; but you know the old ditty: "Oh, such an Utopian scheme, worthy of you Anarchists. Years of organising work are needed to prepare a general strike. To begin with, a warchest is necessary." We all know the tune; but this is what happened. The bakers of Moscow struck, and the printers and compositors followed suit. Once again, it was not the work of the Socialist organisations. The working men themselves ceased work for the purpose of improving their conditions of life. Thereupon troops were called out; but this time the working men offered armed resistance. Three hundred bakers, armed with revolvers, barricaded themselves in a garret and fought against the Cossacks. Many of them were killed, but as a result all the workers of Moscow ranged themselves with the strikers. Whilst the theorists were still arguing that general strikes were impossible, there workers visited all the workshops and caused all work to cease. In a few days the strike became general.

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