Tax Resistance During the Russian Civil War

, in the midst of the Russian Civil War that culminated in Bolshevik control of the Soviet Union, an English-language “official organ of the Russian Soviet Government Bureau,” published in New York City, included an article that told of tax resistance being used as a tactic in Russia (“The Power Behind the Gun” by Max M. Zippin). Excerpts:

The Russkaya Ryetch (Novo-Nikolayevsk) tells of a whole series of villages where the peasants refuse to pay taxes to the “government” as well as to the Zemstvos. In the village of Novotroitsky, county of Bakinsk, the peasants held a meeting and passed the following shortest resolution on record: “Taxes we will not pay and you can’t do anything to us.” The collector sent out a hurry call for a punitive expedition, but no punitive expedition dared approach this village. The above Kolchak organ takes rather needless pains to prove that it is all the work of the horrible Bolsheviki. In the villages of Isakovskaya, Zhuravlevskaya, Moskovskaya, Tulskaya, the paper adds, the Bolsheviki have actually all the peasants with them, and have organized them for resistance.

One county Zemstvo tells officially that the peasants of Agafonikh and of Vierkh-Agaf have refused to pay their taxes, being under the influence of the Bolsheviki. Furthermore, the mobilized (by Kolchak) in these villages are not only not handed out, but actually defended by the population.

In Svobodnaya Sibir a correspondent enumerates a number of official communications on hand, show-the [sic] feeling in the villages.

One reads: “The president of one of the largest villages near Irkutsk, in answer to the question of why the collection of taxes is so slow, writes that the population flatly refuses to pay them, claiming that this government of Kolchak is only temporary, and declaring that they will pay taxes only to the Soviet governments. And he adds that there is no means of collecting, since even punitive expeditions have availed nothing.”

One president of a Kirghiz village writes; “How can you expect any payments from the population? There was, first, the Provisional Government, then came the Soviet Government, then came the Siberian, then the all-Russian, then the Directorate, then the Dictatorship. The peasants plainly state that they want to wait until there will be a stable government.” He too, confesses that it is all the result of the Bolshevist propaganda. The correspondent enumerates a number of villages where the peasants have done away with the tax collectors, quite openly, “that the enemies of the people should hear and learn.”