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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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negative principle and the denunciation of all positive institutions. This dual policy continued down to 1865. The Kolokol was transferred then from London to Geneva. In this cemetery of many hopes and many peace conferences, the paper died.


Kropotkin has asserted that we must measure Bakunin's influence not by his literary legacy, which was small contrasted against that of Marx, but by the thought and action he inspired in his immediate disciples. The influence has descended through them to our time. It is legendary and oral rather than written and direct. It is purely spiritual but none the less real. Blanqui used to assert that one should never measure the influence of events by their seeming direct results. These were always unreal and unimportant. The accurate measurement was to judge the indirect consequences. This is how Bakunin must be judged. From his life and work has flown a steady stream of revolutionary thought, passion, and work throughout the world.It has not merely contributed towards the triumph of the Russian Revolution but it will pass on to destroy utterly the present Stalinist counter-revolution and the menacing Fascism now triumphant in Europe. His three books and his many pamphlets all originated in the same way. They were written to answer questions of the day. They were addressed as letters to friends, but reached the length of pamphlets owing to their author's discursive style of writing.

In Paris, in 1847, and in Germany, in 1848, his influence on all men of thought was tremendous. He exerted a great power over Wagner, who was his personal friend; George Sand, Ogaroff, and the comrades who composed the socialist circles, the Young Germany, Italy and Sweden movements. All were infected by his revolutionary spirit.

Bakunin's real literary career began after his break with Herzen. To this period belongs the essays "The Paris Commune and the State Idea," "The Historical Development of the International Workers' Association," God and the State," "The Knouto-German Empire," "Report of a Frenchman on the Present Crisis," "The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International," and "The Bears of Berne."

Bakunin's speeches at the Congress of the Peace and Liberty League were so many challenges to the radicals of Europe. They declared that the Radicalism of 1848 had had its day, that the new era, the epoch of Socialism and Labour, had dawned. The question of economic independence had raised its head and would become the dominating factor in European history. This idea inspires his pamphlet to Mazzini. Here he announces the end of the conspiracy for the purpose of waging wars of national independence.


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