We present to you a large article by Russian social revolutionary anarchists from the “People’s Self-Defense” (Narodnaya Samooborona) movement. This article is a summary of many texts of People’s Self-Defense, trying to adapt the ideas of anarchism to the 21st century. The article describes the structure of this world, the ways of changing it, the strategy and tactics of revolutionary anarchists, and also tries to describe the possible contours of anarchist society in the conditions of the 21st century. We hope the article will help to understand the ideas and methods of social revolutionary anarchists both to people who are only interested in anarchism and to those who are in search for answers to the questions that our time poses to anarchism.
“People’s Self-Defense” (Narodnaya Samooborona) is the largest anarchist movement in Russia in the past decade. Movement methods combined both political actionism and social struggle. For example, People’s Self-Defense brought into Russian anarchism areas such as the fight against banditry and dishonest employers through the direct action. People’s Self-Defense opposed itself to the “reformist” wing of the anarchist movement, and propagandized the revolutionary transformation of society and direct action as a way to resolve social conflicts.
After the rapid growth of the movement and a series of major political campaigns in 2017-2018, People’s Self-Defense was subjected to massive repression. Security officials have linked the movement with all the major actions of the anarchists in recent years, including the explosion of the FSB reception in Arkhangelsk by 17-year-old anarchist Mikhail Zhlobitsky in the fall of 2018. In 2018-2019, special services conducted hundreds of searches across the country, many participants and supporters of the movement were forced to leave Russia or were tortured and prosecuted. At the moment, the harassment of the movement by the security services continues. So, in the framework of the criminal case against the mathematician Azat Miftakhov, suspected of participation in the movement, a list was published containing about a hundred potential participants in the movement. There are cases when the police took fingerprints from street agitation posters in order to establish the movements supporters.
At the moment, the work of the organization in Russia is paralyzed by repressions, but the experience of the movement and theoretical developments may be of interest for discussion.
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