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Makhnovism refers to various related political and economic theories elaborated by Ukrainian anarchist revolutionary leader Nestor Makhno and by other theorists such as Peter Arshinov who claim to be carrying on Makhno's work.

During Makhno's lifetime Makhnovism was anarchistic and opposed the state and political parties as well as bureaucracy, instead favouring highly decentralized communes run by peasants and workers. Makhnovism builds upon and elaborates the ideas of Peter Kropotkin and serves as the philosophical basis for anarcho-communism. It is also the philosophical basis for Makhno's contribution to platformism.

In early 1918, the new Bolshevik government in Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk making peace with the Central Powers, but ceding large amounts of territory to them, including Ukraine. Partisan units were formed that waged guerrilla war against the Germans and Austrians. Nestor Makhno was one of the main organizers of these partisan groups, who united into the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (RPAU), also called the Black Army (because they fought under the anarchist black flag) and "Makhnovists" or "Makhnovshchina".

The RPAU also battled against the Whites, the Reds and antisemitic pogromists. In areas where the RPAU drove out opposing armies, there were villagers and workers who sought to abolish capitalism and the state through organizing themselves into village assemblies, communes and councils. Land and factories were expropriated and workers' self-management was implemented. The economy the Makhnovists in Ukraine implemented was based on free exchange between rural and urban communities.

See also[edit]


  • Joel Harold Goldberg, “The Anarchists View the Bolshevik Regime, 1918-1922.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 1973.
  • Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist movement, (1918-1921), London : Freedom Press, 1987, ISBN 0-900384-40-9.
  • Paul Avrich, "What is ’Makhaevism’ ?" Soviet Studies 17 (1965:July) 1:66.
  • Volin, The unknown revolution, 1917-1921, Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1975, ISBN 0-919618-25-1.
  • Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno – anarchy’s cossack: the struggle for free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921, Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2004, ISBN 1-902593-68-5.
  • Nestor Makhno, The struggle against the state & other essays, San Francisco, CA: AK Press, 1996, ISBN 1-873176-78-3.
  • (in Russian) Nestor Makhno, Vospominaniya (Memoirs), Moscow: "Respublika", 1992, ISBN 5-250-01754-1.