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Anarchy 101

Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

For those who describe themselves as anarchists, I thought a discussion might be of interest surrounding belief systems, variations of Anarchist sentiments, and the apparent divergence when it comes to aims and tactics, the 101s as it were, according to the respective adherents.


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No Yards
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Joined: Jun 1 2003

As a study guide, I'll post this link that I posted in another, now closed, thead.

http://crimethinc.com/texts/recentfeatures/toronto2.php

It is a supposed anarchist site with some possible details on how anarchists organized (is that an oxymoron?) themselves for the Toronto G20 summit.

There are also links there to what are suppose to be other anarchist (and regular activists) web sites ... this could just be a front for cops trying to justify their handy work, but either way it is an interesting read, and maybe something that other activists needs to investigate to determine if these are legitimate groups, and figure out ways to use their own organization methods to keep out of their way.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

This thread might have the hallmark of an oxymoron, were it not for the apparent denunciations of late from self described anarchists regarding activist tactics re: the G20 and RBC.  Apparently there's a little ambiguity that might be worth exploring.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

I keep this link in my profile so people can read the words of one of my favourite political writers.

http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/kropotkin/index.html

As I pointed out in another thread the newest book on Emma goldman has a great historical anaylsis of the varying strains of anarchy in the early twentieth centurty.  

http://blackrosebooks.com/products/view/EMMA+GOLDMAN,+Still+Dangerous/32437

Quote:

ANARCHISM (from the Gr. an and archos, contrary to authority), the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government - harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent - for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary - as is seen in organic life at large - harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.

If, it is contended, society were organized on these principles, man would not be limited in the free exercise of his powers in productive work by a capitalist monopoly, maintained by the state; nor would he be limited in the exercise of his will by a fear of punishment, or by obedience towards individuals or metaphysical entities, which both lead to depression of initiative and servility of mind. He would be guided in his actions by his own understanding, which necessarily would bear the impression of a free action and reaction between his own self and the ethical conceptions of his surroundings. Man would thus be enabled to obtain the full development of all his faculties, intellectual, artistic and moral, without being hampered by overwork for the monopolists, or by the servility and inertia of mind of the great number. He would thus be able to reach full individualization, which is not possible either under the present system of individualism, or under any system of state socialism in the so-called Volkstaat (popular state).

The anarchist writers consider, moreover, that their conception is not a utopia, constructed on the a priori method, after a few desiderata have been taken as postulates. It is derived, they maintain, from an analysis of tendenciesthat are at work already, even though state socialism may find a temporary favour with the reformers. The progress of modern technics, which wonderfully simplifies the production of all the necessaries of life; the growing spirit of independence, and the rapid spread of free initiative and free understanding in all branches of activity - including those which formerly were considered as the proper attribution of church and state - are steadily reinforcing the no-government tendency.

As to their economical conceptions, the anarchists, in common with all socialists, of whom they constitute the left wing, maintain that the now prevailing system of private ownership in land, and our capitalist production for the sake of profits, represent a monopoly which runs against both the principles of justice and the dictates of utility. They are the main obstacle which prevents the successes of modern technics from being brought into the service of all, so as to produce general well-being. The anarchists consider the wage-system and capitalist production altogether as an obstacle to progress. But they point out also that the state was, and continues to be, the chief instrument for permitting the few to monopolize the land, and the capitalists to appropriate for themselves a quite disproportionate share of the yearly accumulated surplus of production. Consequently, while combating the present monopolization of land, and capitalism altogether, the anarchists combat with the same energy the state, as the main support of that system. Not this or that special form, but the state altogether, whether it be a monarchy or even a republic governed by means of the referendum.

Quote:

It is to the young that I wish to address myself today. Let the old - I mean of course the old in heart and mind - lay the pamphlet down therefore without tiring their eyes in reading what will tell them nothing.

I assume that you are about eighteen or twenty years of age; that you have finished your apprenticeship or your studies; that you are just entering into life. I take it for granted that you have a mind free from the superstition which your teachers have sought to force upon you; that you don't fear the devil, and that you do not go to hear parsons and ministers rant. More, that you are not one of the fops, sad products of a society in decay, who display their well-cut trousers and their monkey faces in the park, and who even at their early age have only an insatiable longing for pleasure at any price...I assume on the contrary that you have a warm heart, and for this reason I talk to you.

A first question, I know, occurs to you - you have often asked yourself: "What am I going to be?" In fact when a man is young he understands that after having studied a trade or a science for several years - at the cost of society, mark - he has not done this in order that he should make use of his acquirements as instruments of plunder for his own gain, and he must be depraved indeed and utterly cankered by vice who has not dreamed that one day he would apply his intelligence, his abilities, his knowledge to help on the enfranchisement of those who today grovel in misery and in ignorance.

You are one of those who has had such a vision, are you not? Very well, let us see what you must do to make your dream a reality.

I do not know in what rank you were born. Perhaps, favored by fortune, you have turned your attention to the study of science; you are to be a doctor, a barrister, a man of letters, or a scientific man; a wide field opens up before you; you enter upon life with extensive knowledge, with a trained intelligence. Or, on the other hand, you are perhaps only an honest artisan whose knowledge of science is limited by the little that you have learnt at school; but you have had the advantage of learning at first hand what a life of exhausting toil is the lot of the worker of our time.

I stop at the first supposition, to return afterward to the second; I assume then that you have received a scientific education. Let us suppose you intend to be - a doctor. Tomorrow a man in corduroys will come to fetch you to see a sick woman. He will lead you into one of those alleys where the opposite neighbors can almost shake hands over the heads of the passersby; you ascend into a foul atmosphere by the flickering light of a little illtrimmed lamp; you climb two, three, four, five flights of filthy stairs, and in a dark, cold room you find the sick woman, lying on a pallet covered with dirty rags. Pale, livid children, shivering under their scanty garments, gaze at you with their big eyes wide open. The husband has worked all this life twelve or thirteen hours a day at, no matter what; now he has been out of work for three months. To be out of employ is not rare in his trade; it happens every year, periodically. But, formerly, when he was out of work his wife went out a charwoman - perhaps to wash your shirts - at the rate of fifteen pence a day; now she has been bedridden for two months, and misery glares upon the family in all its squalid hideousness.

What will you prescribe for the sick woman, doctor - you who have seen at a glance that the cause of her illness is general anemia, want of good food, lack of fresh air? Say, a good beefsteak every day? a little exercise in the country? a dry and well-ventilated bedroom? What irony! If she could have afforded it this would have been done long since without waiting for your advice.

If you have a good heart, a frank address, an honest face, the family will tell you many things. They will tell you that the woman on the other side of the partition, who coughs a cough which tears your heart, is a poor ironer; that a flight of stairs lower down all the children have the fever; that the washerwoman who occupies the ground floor will not live to see the spring; and that in the house next door things are still worse.

What will you say to all these sick people? Recommend them generous diet, change of air, less exhausting toil...You only wish you could but you daren't and you go out heartbroken, with a curse upon your lips.

The next day, as you still brood over the fate of the dwellers in this dog-hutch, your partner tells you that yesterday a footman came to fetch him, this time in a carriage. It was for the owner of a fine house, for a lady worn out with sleepless nights, who devotes all her life to dressing, visits, balls, and squabbles with a stupid husband. Your friend has prescribed for her a less preposterous habit of life, a less heating diet, walks in the fresh air, an even temperament, and, in order to make up in some measure for the want of useful work, a little gymnastic exercise in her bedroom.

The one is dying because she has never had enough food nor enough rest in her whole life; the other pines because she has never known what work is since she was born.

 

 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

A history of anarchists - and their enemies

Quote:

From cries of “Long live dynamite!” to arguments for vegetarianism, the anarchist cause has been a very broad church. Often naive and under-theorized – although it has always had highly intelligent proponents and sympathizers, a current example being Noam Chomsky – anarchism has also been dogged by a reputation for ill-directed violence, leading to what Alex Butterworth describes as “the movement’s pariah status in perpetuity”. Although The World That Never Was is an unashamedly popular book and concentrates on the more lurid end of the anarchist tendency, Butterworth at least tries to treat his pariah subjects with a counterbalancing sympathy.

United – if at all – by a resistance to imposed authority, the characters here range from the almost Tolstoyan figure of Peter Kropotkin to the far wilder François Koenigstein, better known as Ravachol. Disgusted by Thomas Huxley’s 1888 Darwinian essay “The Struggle for Existence”, Kropotkin was the great theorist of Mutual Aid who had a soft spot for the rabbit as a species, admiring it as “the symbol of perdurability [that] stood out against selection”. Ravachol, on the other hand, began his career by disinterring an old woman’s corpse, murdered a ninety-five-year-old man, and then embarked on a terror bombing campaign which some commentators romanticized for the perpetrator’s “courage, his goodness, his greatness of soul”.

via rabble.ca editor Cathryn Atkinson


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Mutual aid and social justice are the twin towers of anarchy in my opinion. I found this an interesting article on his theory of mutual aid.

Quote:

 

In 1976, Richard Dawkins published his revolutionary book, The Selfish GeneThe Selfish Gene takes the view that the only unit of selection that matters is the gene (thought the term gene is loosely defined) and as a direct all that matters is the survival of the gene. Strictly speaking, there was nothing new about this claim, but Dawkins took it to a new level. By arguing from the perspective of a gene rather then an individual, Dawkins was able to utterly reject group selection and still account for behaviors that are ultimately detrimental to the individual. The basic premise is that organisms which tend to live in groups that are closely related (and thus are likely to have the same genes) will tend to evolve traits that are beneficial to the group as a whole. The reason for this is not that the group benefits, but that any particular gene is likely to be present in many individuals in the group. Thus a gene that leads to an increase in the group's fitness at the detriment of the individual will still tend to increase in the population as long as the statistical detriment to the individual is less then the statistical gain to the group. This theory is generally misunderstood because people assume that a conscious count of relatives who might be saved is made each time a potentially detrimental action is considered. All that matters to this theory is the statistical likelihood that those in the area are carrying the gene that is causing the action. This theory, in addition to a number of social psychological theories, makes the claim that every action is inherently selfish. This certainly casts some doubt on the concept of mutual aid.

Fortunately, more recent research in the area of game theory indicates that Kropotkin may be right after all. This research investigates a problem called the iterated prisoners' dilemma. The prisoners' dilemma is commonly stated as follows. Two people are arrested for a crime that they did commit but for which there is only enough evidence to convict them of a lesser crime. They are separated and then asked to tell on the other person in exchange for no sentence and are given no chance to communicate. The following payoff matrix shows the results of each combination of actions.

 

[unfortunately I cannot get the matrix chart to post properly so you will have to click on the link]

If you consider the standard prisoner's dilemma, the only possible choice (from a purely selfish, outcomes point of view) is to defect because that will insure that you will never get the worst possible value, the "sucker's payoff." Thus, this isn't a very interesting problem. However, if you assume each prisoner will be given each choice repeatedly and will know what the other person did last time, then some communication is allowed. As a result it is possible to develop strategies which will produce outcomes better then the outcome from each person defecting every time. A political scientist named Robert Axelrod conducted a investigation into which strategies where best for the iterated prisoner's dilemma. Dawkins describes Axelrod's work in detail in a chapter entitled "nice guys finish first" in the second edition of The Selfish Gene. The details are well beyond the scope of this paper, but the results are quite interesting. The winning strategy was technically nice which means that is will cooperate by default. The strategy was named Tit for Tat and it works on a very simple principle. The first round it cooperates with the other. If the other side defects then it defects the next round and if the other side if cooperative then it cooperates then next round. This simple and elegant strategy will beat out any other strategy under the conditions of the standard iterated prisoner's dilemma. Under a slightly more complicated system where "populations" of strategies "breed" with one another, Tit for Tat won five out of six trials although a number of other strategies which were also "nice but provocable strategies" were still around at the end as they were all playing "cooperate" and thus could not tell each other apart. In the case were Tit for Tat didn't win out, one of the other nice strategies won.

This strategy sounds very similar to the very strategy which Kropotkin proposed in The Conquest of Bread for dealing with those few people who will not work for the communal good:

Let us take a group of volunteers, combining for some particular enterprise. Having its success at heart, they all work with a will, save one of the associates, who is frequently absent from his post. Must they on his account dissolve the group, elect a president to impose fines, or maybe distribute markers for work done, as is customary in the Academy? It is evident that neither the one nor the other will be done, but that some day the comrade who imperils their enterprise will be told: "Friend, we should like to work with you; but as you are often absent from your post, and you do your work negligently, we must part. Go and find other comrades who will put up with your indifference!" (190)

This gives some hope that Kropotkin's theory of mutual aid holds true under certain circumstances. Better yet, these circumstances do not appear to be to idealistic to ever actually hold true.

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/dward/classes/Anarchy/finalprojects/brooksfinal.html

 


MontyCantsin
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Joined: Jul 13 2010

im the type of anarchist who thinks the surest way to contradict your principles and ideals is to make the mistake of having them in the first place...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Without_Principle


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

Ok, that sounds like fun. Lets continue this discussion on the basis of the principle of not referring to principles. You start...


MontyCantsin
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-_-


Catchfire
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Sadly, Monty is no longer with us.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

Meh. Why you do that? I thought he was going to challenge some comfort zones, or is he a repeat offender or something? I was personally interested in where he was going with all this.


al-Qa'bong
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Joined: Feb 27 2003

Yeah, the principle of having no principles.  How do you do that?

Quote:
It is a supposed anarchist site with some possible details on how anarchists organized (is that an oxymoron?)...

 

Nope. Anarchy is order.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Yeah, Cueball, it had nothing to do with this thread--I only let you know here because I know you hoped for a response. Check out some of (i.e. any) of the other threads he particpated in for the reasons why.

Suffice it to say you would have been disappointed in any event.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

I did read the other threads, which is what left me confused as to where he was going with all this. I thought it would be cool to see where it all ended up, after he had had some time to express more of his core thesis.

Oh well.... what's done is done...


al-Qa'bong
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I clicked on his profile and was denied access.


writer
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Joined: Apr 11 2002

Yup. Cool to come to the feminism forum, go to a thread about rape that has been specifically framed requesting comment from feminist women, and post that, as a male, you are a pussy. Cool. Interesting. Really challenging those comfort zones.


writer
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Because, you know, we're hearing way too much from women on this board. It's time for guys to speak up!


al-Qa'bong
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I dig Emma Goldman?


writer
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Joined: Apr 11 2002

Sorry, al-Qa'bong, that was in response to Cueball. I hope you dig Emma Goldman.


Cueball
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writer wrote:

Yup. Cool to come to the feminism forum, go to a thread about rape that has been specifically framed requesting comment from feminist women, and post that, as a male, you are a pussy. Cool. Interesting. Really challenging those comfort zones.

Ahh well, I was asked not to post in the F forum by a couple of established Babblers some time back, so I don't visit there either, really. So, perhaps he should have been banned apropos to those comments, as opposed to these.


writer
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Catchfire wrote:

Yeah, Cueball, it had nothing to do with this thread--I only let you know here because I know you hoped for a response. Check out some of (i.e. any) of the other threads he particpated in for the reasons why.

Suffice it to say you would have been disappointed in any event.

Cueball wrote:

I did read the other threads, which is what left me confused as to where he was going with all this. I thought it would be cool to see where it all ended up, after he had had some time to express more of his core thesis.

Oh well.... what's done is done...


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

Right. But I read everything he wrote other than what appeared in the FF, so you can understand why I didn't understand what was going on. CF's reference to other statements was vague and didn't indicate the FF. I didn't even know that he had posted in that forum because it did not appear in the TAT, since others posted after he did, so you can understand why I could not find the offending comments.

Are we having an argument for the sake of it?


al-Qa'bong
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Joined: Feb 27 2003

At this point a good anarchist would encourage some mutual aid. 

Uh, to that end, howzabout we walk away from this, since nobody here encourages or supports what writer pointed out in the FF, and get back to discussing what we think about anarchism?


writer
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Joined: Apr 11 2002

Agreed!


jrootham
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Joined: Jun 14 2001

How big a tent is Anarchism?  Does being in the tent mean you must believe in the removal of the state?

Does the Mondragon movement fit?

Do co-ops and credit unions fit?

If those things don't fit what do we call the philosophies underlying them?

 


Noah_Scape
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Joined: Oct 24 2007

Anarchism is right up my alley, in terms of ending the corporate-capitalist rule we are presently trapped in.

One solution to the corporate-capitalist power grab is community power, which anarchists appreciate. Within a community, anyone who aquires too much wealth or material goods should be ostrasized. Embarrass your piggy neighbor into giving up their ill-gotten gains.

Community energy production, Community produced food, Community funding of schools and hospitals and social safety nets...

The power structure is upside down, as it exists today. Communities should have the most power, then the Provinces, and finally the Federal government [should not be able to dictate to communities].

I might become an anarchist yet, as my understanding of it increases. Thanks for starting this thread [I was just thinking about anarchy today, that they cant possibly believe that "no government" is a good idea... but perhaps I am wrong].


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

No government does not mean no governance.  Anarchy as a theory and philosophy is all about freedom of association and democracy, unlike our FPTP system that was specifically designed to allow the "Lords" to continue to rule behind a democratic facade.  When a worker has no democratic control over their livelihood any pseudo democratic rights granted by the ruling elite are mere illusion, just smoke and mirrors with greedy little men behind the curtain.


milo204
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Joined: Feb 3 2010

i agree, to me Anarchism is just the extension of democracy to all forms of control be it public or private.  It's not even really "no government", which every one thinks means simply no organization in society.  It's just that instead of a "government" like the one we have now, it would be a system of policies and rules that we are free and more importantly ABLE to change according to the needs at the time, and free to participate in regardless of social position or wealth.

 

i.e The top 100 CEO's would have no more sway over economic decisions than their employees, as it is now their employees have virtually no input and the leaders get private off the record meetings with finance ministers who then sign investors rights agreements like NAFTA and CETA with no public input. 

 

plus no private domination of media would mean actual information not propaganda, rational discussion, and freer debate which would result in a public that actually is informed and can make better decisions and actually be involved.


Cueball
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Joined: Dec 23 2003

I don't believe any kind of anarchist society is achievable. In fact, I believe any such conception is of anarchism; particularly modern anarchism is antithetical to the creed. Fundamentally, it is a theoretical analysis used for critiquing the function of governance and the state. Erecting of any kind government (or even a concrete social order) in its name is contrary to its mandate.

However, it does provide a way of looking at the world that provides a litmus test for looking at how things are ordered, and making improvements thereof. Anarchism is fundamentally dynamic and immediate and allows persons and collectives a way of understanding power, and overcoming power as it manifests itself against them.

It is about process. Most ideologies pose themselves as constructing a future order of social relations as an ultimate end goal, however, the achievement of those goals usually entails acquiring the power that is the source of the repression the revolutionists reject, whereas anarchism seeks to disassemble power, itself, theirs and ours.

On a personal level it is about how one positions oneself in resistance to power in society, even when one accepts the manifestation of that power, things like government, social mores, social organization, oppressive forces, such as the police, or annoying neighbors.

Traditional ideologies generally end up in the same cul de sac, because at some point they will assert the justification of any action under the terms of the "ends justifying the means". However, in an anarchist critique, one sees that the means themselves, the process, is the end object: "the end is the means".

At the end of the day, I would probably have to say that I am politically akin to a socialist who makes his analysis of socialism through the lens of an anarchist critique of power.

 


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Excellent post Cue.

I think that workers can join together into syndicates and if nurtured could provide at least a bit of an off setting balance to international capital at the local level. I would love to see a dedicated capital pool for small worker owned businesses.  It is all about access to capital in the final analysis.  If our social democratic allies would promote a green fund based on those kinds of principles, similar to the BC NDP's proposed fund but more dedicated, it could provide the seed money to grow a new economy from within.  This fund of course would be available to all family businesses that met whatever democratic worker control criteria that was in place for the fund.  


Cueball
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One of the best writers of the Anarchist tradion, often forgotten about in traditional left wing circles, because his writing benefits none of the mainstream tendencies of left or right wing ideologies: Memoirs of A Revolutionary -- Victor Serge. If one wants to get a birds eye view of an anarchist critique of socialist authoritarianism, from inside the state structure of the emerging Soviet Union, right through the purges, this is it.

He wrote a number of great novels as well.

 


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