The near-inevitability of error is a perpetual thorn in the side of historians. Of particular interest to anarchists, the Makhnovist movement provides numerous examples of historiographical myth production – a key example is the famous black flag displaying the skull-and-crossbones and the slogan in white Ukrainian lettering, ‘Death to all who stand in the way of freedom for the working people’ [‘Smertʹ vsim, khto na pereshkodi dobut’ia vilʹnosti trudovomu liudu’].
The flag has cycled through a multitude of meanings, from Bolshevik attempts to associate it with anti-Semitic pogroms, to an international source of inspiration for anarchist resistance, to a symbol of regional pride in Makhno’s hometown, and a declaration of defiance against Russian invasion. But, as Sean Patterson explains in this article, despite its near-universal reputation as the primary symbol of Ukrainian anarchism, the flag is not Makhnovist. Even so, the flag and its slogan will surely survive and continue its march through time.