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Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the Ukrainian Anarchist Nestor Makhno

Updated on April 3, 2018
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Mykola is a teacher of French and English. He studies philosophy in connection with linguistic science, especially, structuralism.

40 Years Later

"1968 came to an end. We won". Thus, after four decades, Daniel Cohn- Bendit evaluated results of student revolution. "Ginger" Danny, which had become the profile of "May"-68. The main things in May-68 were ideas of Freedom and Autonomy of personality.

Young Cohn-Bendit, May 1968

40 Years Flew Past

Main points of Curriculum Vitae

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
His activities as anarchist
08 of January 1968
Skirmish of Daniel Cohn-Bendit with the Minister of Youth and Sport Francois Missoff.
22 Nd of March,
Creation of student "Movement of 22 nd of March"
3d of May
Meeting in the yard of Sorbonne. Rector Roche appeals for help police, conflicts in the boulevard Saint Michel
21of May
National general strike with participation from 7 to 10 million people, the country is paralyzed.
23 of May
Cohn-Bendit, leaving for Germany, is allowed no entry in France/
He joins German Green Party
he is elected in EuroParliament on behalf of German Green Party
reelected in EuroParliament on behalf of French Green Party

To Convert Paris into Gulyai Polie

Cohn-Bendit proposed the motto "Let's convert Paris into Gulyai Polie" on May 1968. But why and from where did this strange appeal appear? Gulyai Polie is a small town with 30,000 inhabitants on the South of Ukraine.

In the years of the Civil War in Ukraine it was the center of the Makhno Movement. Nestor Makhno, young Ukrainian anarchist, inspired it. The movement was successful from 1918 until the summer of 1921. The Red Army, former ally suppressed it. Makhnovite Insurrectional Army defeated a wide range of democracy's enemies.

During the German and Austro-Hungarian occupation of Ukraine Makhno headed a peasant insurgency. Out of this struggle arose what would call the Makhnovshchina [“Makhno movement”]. It was popular and successful in its harassment of German and Austrian units.

Also, there were White general Denikin, General Wrangel, later the Red Army. He, defeated, emigrated to France, Paris. Daniel Cohn-Bendit was studying the life of Batko (Father) Makhno in Sorbonne, faculty of sociology.

Ukrainian Painter Andriy Yermolenko and his Vision of Anarchy

Gulay Polye, ie. Make Merry, Field! This is in Ukraine.

Гуляй Поле,Україна:
Гуляйполе, Запорожская область, Украина, 70200

get directions

Manifesto of the Cultural and Educational Section of the Insurrectional Makhnovite Army (Excerpt)

Only by overthrowing all governments, every representative of authority, by destroying all political, economic and authoritarian lies, wherever they are found, by destroying the state, by a social revolution , can we inroduce a true system of workers' and peasants' soviets and advance towards socialism.

Examples from the Life of Nestor Makhno which Influenced on Activities of Cohn Bendit

.1. Nestor Makhno was the direct descendant of Zaporizhia Cossacks. Batko hadn't any respect for "political personalities". He doubted their role in social processes whatever orientation they would be. The prison's term in Butyrki (Moscow prison) confirmed his opinion about political leaders. Their conduct in that establishment didn't promote mutual understanding with condemned poor people. Cohn-Bendit talked with Ministers straight during the events of 1968.

.2. Makhno and Makhnovites didn't need any military councils. Also, any laws, or decrees, regulated their life. They had never waiting for somebody able to decide their problems. They were deciding themselves own problems.

.3. N. Makhno and anarchists warned labourers about danger. Not only foreign government but all governments were the source of oppression. Cohn-Bendit spoke in support of free Universities.

.4. The Makhno's ideal was a kibbutz like community. In 1918, as a result of his propaganda, some peasants chose and formed "free communes". The general assemblies of all members managed it. There, individual freedom combined with radical egalitarianism. Communards were free in personal space they wanted. They decided to introduce anti-authoritarian schooling on the ideas of Fransisco Ferrer. Cohn-Bendit proposed the self-organization of students.

.5. The motto of Makhno was that "The struggle of ideas never become the struggle of people". Cohn-Bendit paid attention to the free choice of students. This wide range was from Jean-Paul Sartre to Raymond Aaron or Godard.

Origins of Nestor Makhno Convictions and Activities

A famous anarchist Volin said in his discourse: "Ukrainians were the cultivated and refined. Also they were individualistic and capable of taking the initiative without flinching. They were jealous of his independence, warlike by tradition, ready to defend himself .

The majority of them accustomed for centuries to feel free and his own master. The Ukrainian was in general never subjugated to that total slavery.

Not only of the body but also of the spirit – which characterized the population of the rest of Russia."

Nestor Makhno about National Policy in Ukraine

I was convinced that for such Ukrainians (the Hetman supporters) only their Ukrainian language is necessary, and not the full freedom of the Ukraine and of its working people

Linguistic data about self-determination of Ukrainians

That is extremely significant that primarily there were no terms in Slavonic languages denoting the word Leader, and all words with this meaning in Ukrainian and Russian languages were borrowed from foreigners.

There were such as Tsar from Latin Cesar; Knyaz from Swedish Konung; Ataman (the leader of cossacks) from Turkic with the meaning Leader of Flock, Hetman is reducing from German Hauptman. Hence, Slavs were indifferent to hierarchy and were self-managed by means of direct democracy.

Ukrainian Painter Andriy Yermolenko and his Nestor Makhno.

Nestor Makhno and His Favourite Steppe

What is Rhizoma?

As a model for culture, the rhizome resists the organizational structure of the root-tree system which charts causality along chronological lines and looks for the original source of 'things' and looks towards the pinnacle or conclusion of those 'things.' A rhizome, on the other hand, is characterized by 'ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles'.

How Nestor Makhno Became the Symbol of Freedom

Anarchy plus Greening

It is small wonder in transition of Cohn-Bendit from the street struggle to the Greens' party. First of all, anarchy is the method developing creative, per-formative thinking in praxis. Admiration and studying of Makhno's life was not in vain. Guerrilla of Machnovites is like the revolutionary tactics in towns. Their attempts to self-government attached to the committees d'action in Paris.

The activities of Makhnovites were rhizomatic with the main root in Gulyai Polie.

It was the future model of Internet, environmental science and environmentalism. Environmental science needs the synthetic thinking. This is study of interdisciplinary tendencies. Quick and adequate reaction on events in Nature and human society.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit confirmed it by his activities in European Parliament. Leader of the European Green Alliance, he said:" The national state is indifferent to the problems the world meets." According to his convictions, today's solutions must be transnational.


The philosopher David Morband says that although there are lots of different kinds of anarchism, the common theme is resisting power. He writes that anarchists whether old or new are united in their belief about power to be uprooted or eliminated. That's why anarchism is so broad and various.

Part of the legacy of post-structuralism was that people realized that there are lots of different kinds of power and power works in various ways. The motto of anarchy is the highest responsibility for your own actions.

Activities of Nestor Makhno in theoretical and practical aspects confirm it. He had and has many followers. Among them there are such interesting modern political figures as Franz Fanon and Régis Debray, and, of course, Daniel Con-Bendit.


Arshinov, Peter A History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921) Black & Red, Detroit 1974,
Palij, Michael The Anarchism of Nestor Makhno, 1918-1921: An Aspect of the Ukrainian Revolution University of Washington Press, Seattle 1976, p. 58
Malet, Michael Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War Macmillan Press Ltd, London 1982
Read, Christopher From Tsar to Soviets: the Russian People and their Revolution 1917-1921 Oxford University Press, New York 1996
Serge, Victor Memoirs of a Revolutionary Oxford University Press, London 1963
quoted by Voline The Unkown Revolution Free Life Editions, New York 1975, p. 6


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