The Military Writings of Leon Trotsky
Volume 2: 1919 – How The Revolution Armed – The Southern Front: Denikin’s Offensive
By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic and People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs of all the forces of the Soviet Union
June 8, 1919, Lozovaya Station
To be read to all regiments, companies, squadrons and task-forces.
An End to Makhnovism!
Who is responsible for our recent defeats on the Southern front, especially in the Donets Basin?
The Makhnovites and Makhnovism.
In words, these fellows fight the whole world and are victorious over all adversaries, but when it actually comes to a battle, the Makhnovite commanders shamelessly abandon the positions assigned to them and stupidly withdraw to a distance of several dozen versts.
Among the soldiers of Makhno’s brigade there were quite a few good, honourable fighters. But without a proper organisation of supply and administration and, what is most important, without internal discipline and intelligent commanders, the Makhnovite units have proved to be absolutely incapable of fighting, and the White-Guard cavalry have driven them before them like a flock of sheep.
The Makhnovites treacherously uncovered the right flank of the Donets front, thereby inflicting a serious wound on the adjoining army.
Furthermore, the Makhnovites tried to disrupt the neighbouring units. Agitators were sent from Makhno’s headquarters into the regiments next to his, to call for disobedience to the commanders appointed by the Soviet power, and for imitating the Makhnovites, that is, joining the slapdash, uncontrolled Makhnovite guerrillas, who are incapable of waging war.
The bosses of Gulyay-Polye went even further. They announced for June 15 a congress of the military units and the peasants of five uyezds, for open struggle against the Soviet power and the order established in the Red Army.
It has become impossible to tolerate any longer such insults from these presumptuous gangsters. If we were to let the Makhnovites carry out their plan we should have a new Grigoriyevite revolt spreading from the nest at Gulyay-Polye.
In view of this, the central military authority has categorically banned the congress and despatched reliable and honourable military units to bring order into the area affected by the Makhno movement.
An end has now been put to this criminal prank. Makhno has been deprived of his command. The Makhno movement is being liquidated.
True, a number of self-seekers and thugs are still around in various units, who call themselves Makhnovites and try to draw closer to Gulyay-Polye: there is no discipline there, no obligation to fight honourably against the enemies of the working people, and so it is a heaven on earth for cowards and idlers.
But after Makhno’s removal from military activity, Makhnovism will be suppressed with a firm hand. The order which must exist in the army is being established not by independent bands but by the All-Ukraine and All-Russia Congresses of Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Men’s Deputies. The decisions of these congresses are sacred law for us. We are called upon to enforce this law. Regiments, brigades, divisions, serve not themselves but the working class and the working peasantry. The Red warrior has been given a weapon to defend the working people from exploiters, landlords and capitalists, without distinction of language, nation, race or tribe.
Corrupted regiments which do not obey military orders, which move without authority from the locality where they are stationed, which indulge in violence against the peaceful population, which break up institutions created by the Soviet power and seize trucks and locomotives by armed force, coercing the railway workers – all such depraved, corrupt and criminal regiments will be wiped off the face of the earth, and their commanders will be first to suffer punishment.
The working class and the peasantry need a complete, decisive and rapid victory over the White-Guard army of the landlords and capitalists. This victory will be given us by well-organised regular Red regiments, united by an iron internal discipline and ready to fight and die selflessly for the happiness of the working people.
With the backing of all conscious workers and honest working peasants we shall Create such an army.
Down with self-seekers and pillagers!
Down with cowards and thugs!
Down with Grigoriyevites and Makhnovites!
Long live the honourable workers’ and peasants’ Red Army!
Source: Trotsky Internet Archive