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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
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  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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Bakunin demanded a month's time for reflection, and then wrote a statement which was given to the Czar in the summer of 1851. He addressed himself in terms of crushing humility. The reign of Nicholas has been described as a blank sheet in the history of Russian progress. He made no pretence at reforms and glorified in reaction. The last ten years of his reign saw the reduction of even ordinary newspapers to a level of almost zero. Only six newspapers and nineteen monthlies were permitted to be published throughout the whole of Russia. It was a period of absolute sterility.

The reception of Bakunin's petition by the Czar symbolised the attitude of power towards genius. He had a god in chains and the cowardly suppression of titanic energy merely served to tickle the vanity of this Lilliputian braggart in uniform. He chuckled at the idea of forgiving and releasing Bakunin, and then intensified the persecution. When Nicholas II. was executed or assassinated by the Bolsheviks, it may have been an unnecessary and unjustifiable murder in the violence of reaction and struggle against the crimes Czarism; but when the Romanoff, Nicholas I., was sowing he might have remembered that some day another Romanoff, even a Nicholas, so as to point the moral, might reap. Those called to authority should always remember that one sows a storm only to reap a whirlwind.

Truth is more sacred than all the gods. Its utility is greater than the strife of heroes. Knowing this to be a fact it is the author's duty, in this chapter, to put before his readers the saddest and most regrettable discoveries of the Russian Revolution. These are the documents containing Bakunin's "avowal of sins," found in the archives of the Czar's secret police. Four Czars, rejected the "secret of the confessional" and did not use the document against the living Bakunin, their open enemy, nor against his memory. It was left to the Soviet regime to use them against his memory. One suspects that it was more from a desire to damn his fame than from zeal for truth. It must be remembered that the Soviet press, under the domination of Stalinism, slandered Trotsky and recalled, with exaggeration and falsification, his quarrels with Lenin. Stalin's hired apologists endeavoured to write Trotsky's name out of the revolution and to write Stalin's name in its place. Clumsy forgery, true: but none the less, an established forgery that all the world may see. Before Trotsky, Bakunin was the most slandered revolutionist in the world, enjoying the especial hatred of the Marxists.

In the history of Socialism, with the exception of Trotsky, there is no historical personality which has been so much slandered by a handful of would-be revolutionists and pseudo-Socialists. Just so was the hatred and slander against Bakunin, the work of Marx, and hist doctrinaire disciples, as the slander of Trotsky is the work of Stalin and his disciples. Bakunin, the true incarnation of revolutionary spirit, fearless fighter for the social and political emancipation


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