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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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at the head of a popular assembly in order to constitute a new Russian, and play the part of the saviour of the Slav people.

"Does this Romanoff mean to be the Czar of the peasants, or the Petersburgian emperor of the house of Holstein-Gottorp? This question will have to be decided soon, and then we shall know what we are and what we have to do."

Perhaps Alexander II. objected to being classified with Pugatscheff, the Cossack who had pretended to be Peter III. and had placed himself at the head of the peasant rising of 1773; and Pestal, the republican conspirator, who was hanged in 1826 by Nicholas. Perhaps the Czar merely scorned a revolutionary suggestion. Rulers usually treat revolutionists with contempt until it is too late to treat with them. Deposed, they have to plead for mercy at the feet of the men the formerly kicked. However the Czar's silence be explained, the fact of it angered Bakunin. He repented his temporary notion of compromise and returned again to Nihilism. His Pan-Slavism might have remained in abeyance but for the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war and the German invasion of France. His Russian enmity on the Germanic race revived. Like his disciple, Kropotkin in 1914. Bakunin declared the Germans to be the enemies of mankind. He addressed an appeal to the peasantry of all countries, "to come to drive out the Prussians." The cause of France, he said, was the cause of humanity. The offical Muscovite Press agreed with him. Bakunin was at one with ruling class Russia. He was acting as became a Russian and a patriot. The company in which he found himself was neither anarchist nor internationalist. It is true that he uttered some thought they did not appreciate. Fundamentally, he allied himself with their cause.

Bakunin outlined the case against Germany, and enunciated his theory of the historic mission of the French, in his "Letters to a Frenchman About the Present Crisis" and his pamphlet on "The Knouto-Germanic Empire." He disowned nationalist and declared that patriotism was a very mean, narrow, and interested passion. It was fundamentally inhuman and conserved exploitations and privileges. It was fostered by the Napoleons, Bismarks, and Czars in order to destroy the freedom of nations. By a strange turn of thought and twist of the pen Bakunin proceeded from this reasoning to deduce an argument for French patriotism as opposed to German. He said: —

"When the masses become patriotic they are stupid, as are to-day a part of the masses of Germany, who let themselves be slaughtered in tens of thousands, with a silly enthusiasm, for the triumph of that great unity, and for the organisation of that German Empire, which, if founded on the ruins of usurped France, will become the tomb of all hopes of the future."

It may be that Bakunin was visioning the future correctly. Much of his prophecy about the period of reaction that must follow



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