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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
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  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets


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he had found few there whom he could count on in a rebel emergency. At first he was an indifferent spectator of the Dresden uprising. On the third day he was fighting on the barricades. The Provisional Government consisted of three members. Two of these lost their heads completely when they learned that the Prussian troops were advancing. The third member was the courageous and energetic Hybner. He appeared in the most dangerous places to encourage the fighters. The Dresden movement had made a comic impression on Bakunin by its folly. But the noble endurance and example of Hybner resolved him to fight by the latter's side. Bakunin thereupon took command of the principal barricade and repulsed one of the worst attacks. The Prussians were forced to retreat. Bakunin became the hero of the uprising. He was active day and night, and hardly ever closed his eyes. He showed less fatigue than any of the other defenders. For strategical purposes he ordered the "lovely tress" along the promenade to be cut down. The good citizens of Dresden protested. Bakunin remarked: "The tears of the Philistines make no wine for the gods." When Bakunin saw that it was impossible to defend Dresden any longer, he suggested that the revolutionaries should retreat to the hills, and carry the battle over to the provinces. The uprising would assume then the character of a real national movement.

Through the negotiation of the Chemnitz town guard, the Provisional Government settled there. On the way to Chemnitz, they stopped for a while in Freiburg, Hybner's home. Hybner, who very much admired Bakunin's courage, at the same time entertained a certain fear of his ideas. He asked Bakunin if it would not be more practical to dissolve the small revolutionary army, instead of continuing the battle, which had no more prospects of victory. Bakunin was against it. "If the people have been brought so far," he said, "that they revolt, we must go with them to the end. If we meet with death, honour at least is saved. If this is not the case, then no person will, in future, have any faith in such undertakings." The conversation ended with Bakuin's suggestion being accepted.

In Chemnitz, something happened that nobody expected. Hybner, Bakunin, and Martin stopped in a hotel. As they were dead-tired, they soon went to sleep. Through the night, the were arrested in the name of the Saxony Government. The whole invitation to come Chemnitz was only a disgraceful deception. From the date of this seizure, May 10th, 1849, Bakunin's long martyrdom commenced.

Bakunin's proud and courageous demeanour did not desert him, although he must have known that he was facing either death or else a long and terrible imprisonment. Twenty-seven years afterwards, one of the Prussian officers who had guarded the prisoner on the way through Altenburg, still remembered the calmness and intrepidity with which the tall man in fetters replied to a lieutenant


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