Vsevolod Mikhailovich Eikhenbaum (Russian: Все́волод Миха́йлович Эйхенба́ум, French: Vsevolod Mikhaïlovitch Eichenbaum; August 11, 1882 – September 18, 1945), known in later life as Volin or (the spelling he used himself) Voline (Во́лин), was a leading Russian anarchist who participated in the Russian and Ukrainian Revolutions before being forced into exile by the Bolshevik Party government. He was a main proponent of the anarchist organizational form known as synthesis anarchism.
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He was born in the Voronezh district of Central Russia, where both his parents were doctors, and after finishing college there he went to Saint Petersburg to study jurisprudence. In 1904 he left the university, joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and became involved in the revolutionary labor movement. He was engaged in cultural and educational activity among the workers of the city when he met Father Gapon and joined his petition movement; on Bloody Sunday (1905) he was with a group that was turned back by soldiers before it could reach the Winter Palace. During the ensuing strikes he took the lead in creating the first St. Petersburg Soviet in order to coordinate aid and information for the workers; although quiescent much of the year and finally suppressed in December after the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Soviet was revived during the February Revolution of 1917.
He took part in the Russian Civil War, at first in the Ukrainian anarchist organization Nabat, then (from August 1919) in the army of Nestor Makhno. Arrested by the Bolsheviks in January 1920, he was released from prison along with other anarchists in October because of a treaty between the Soviet Union and Makhno's army. Rearrested a month later, he joined the Taganka Prison hunger strike. Thanks to the intervention of the Red Trade Union International, during its Congress Съезд Красного Профинтерна) held in Moscow in the summer of 1921, he was finally expelled from the country.
Admitted to Germany despite lack of proper documents, he and his family lived in Berlin, where he wrote (in German) an 80-page pamphlet called The Persecution of the Anarchists in Soviet Russia, translated Peter Arshinov's История махновского движения (History of the Makhnovist Movement) and wrote a long biographical preface for it, and edited a Russian anarchist magazine. After two years he received an invitation from Sébastien Faure to help him prepare the Encyclopédie Anarchiste, so he moved to Paris, where he wrote for the Encyclopédie and other publications.
The death of his wife affected him severely, and World War II forced him to move from one hiding place to another; he returned to Paris after the war, but developed incurable tuberculosis and died in a hospital in September 1945, leaving his account of his experiences in the revolutions and civil war, La Révolution inconnue (The Unknown Revolution), to be published posthumously.
Volin was a prolific writer and anarchist intellectual who played an important part in the organization and leadership of Nabat. The Nabat Confederation of Anarchist Organizations, better known simply as Nabat (Набат), was an anarchist organization that came to prominence in Ukraine during the years 1918 to 1920. The area where it held the most influence is sometimes referred to as the Free Territory, though Nabat had branches in all of the major cities in southern Ukraine.
Volin was charged with writing a platform for Nabat that could be agreeable to all the major branches of anarchism, most importantly anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-collectivism/communism, and anarcho-individualism. The uniform platform for Nabat was never truly decided upon, but Volin used what he had written and the inspiration from Nabat to create his Anarchist Synthesis. The proposed platform for Nabat included the following sentence which anticipated synthesis anarchism: "These three elements (syndicalism, communism and individualism) are three aspects of a single process, the building, of the organization of the working class (syndicalism), of the anarcho-communist society which is nothing more than the material base necessary for the complete fullness of the free individual."
Two texts made as responses to the Platform, each proposing a different organizational model, became the basis for what is known as the organisation of synthesis, or simply "synthesism". Voline published in 1924 a paper calling for "the anarchist synthesis" and was also the author of the article in Sebastian Faure's Encyclopedie Anarchiste on the same topic. The main purpose behind the synthesis was that the anarchist movement in most countries was divided into three main tendencies: communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism and so such an organization could contain anarchists of these 3 tendencies very well.
- From the introduction to: Voline. The Unknown Revolution. Ed. Rudolf Rocker. New York: Free Life Editions (1974)
- "Especifismo and Synthesis/ Synthesism" by Felipe Corrêa
- Avrich, Paul (2006). The Russian Anarchists. Stirling: AK Press. p. 204. ISBN 1-904859-48-8.
- Avrich, Paul (July 1968). "Russian Anarchism and the Civil War". The Russian Review: 296–306.
- Guérin, Daniel (2005). No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism. Paul Sharkey. AK Press.
- "Estos tres elementos (el sindicalismo, el comunismo, y el individualismo) son tres aspectos de un único y mismo proceso la construcción, por el método de la organización de clase de los trabajadores (el sindicalismo), de la sociedad anarcocomunista que no es más que la base material necesaria a la plenitud completa del individuo libre."Primera Conferencia de las Organizaciones Anarquistas de Ukrania "Nabat"
- "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ
- Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921, 1947.
- Peter Arshinov, History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921), 1923.
- Rudolf Rocker's introduction to Voline's The Unknown Revolution entry at the Anarchy Archives
- Voline archive entry at the Anarchy Archives
- Vsevolod Mikhailovitch Eichenbaum Voline at Find a Grave
- D. Wierzchoś, List Nestora Machny do Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, Przegląd Wschodni, T. X, Zeszyt 3(39).
- D. Wierzchoś, Nestor Machno i jego kontakty z Polakami i Polską, [w:] Studia z dziejów polskiego anarchizmu, Szczecin 2011.
- M. Przyborowski, D. Wierzchoś, Machno w Polsce, Poznań 2012.