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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
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"Who says State, says power, oppression, exploitation, injustice — all these established as the prevailing system and as the fundamental conditions of the existing society. The State never had a morality, and can never have one. Its only morality and justice is its own advantage, its own existence, and its own omnipotence at any price. Before these interest, all interests of mankind must disappear. The State is the negation of mankind."

"So long as there is a State, war will never cease. Each State must overcome or be overcome. Each State must found its power on the weakness, and, if it can, without danger to itself, on the abrogation of other States. To strive for an International justice and freedom and lasting peace, and therewith seek the maintenance of the State, is a ridiculous naivete."

Bakunin had to escape this very charge of ridiculous naivete.


Bakunin closed his stormy career at Berne, on the 1st July 1876. He had founded the social democratic alliance and been expelled from the Marxist International. It was decided at his funeral to reconcile the social democrats and the anarchists in one association. Fraternal greetings were exchanged between the Jura federation, assembled at Chaux-de Fonds, and the German social democratic congress at Gotha. At the eighth international congress, at Berne, in October, the social democrats and the anarchists met and expressed the desire that all socialists should treat each other with mutual consideration and complete common understanding. A banquets conclude this congress. Caferio, the disciple of Bakunin, drank to Marxism and the German socialists. De Paepe, the Marxist, toasted the memory of Bakunin. All Bakunin's fiery words against the State, his talk of the revolution, his hurrying across Europe to boost first one then another insurrection had ended seemingly in vapour, smoke! All Marx"s insurrectional politics, his opposition to the parliamentary joint stock republic, his faith in the Commune and not the empire, seemed vanities. Marx was not reconciled with Bakunin at these conferences. The fundamental revolutionary inspiration of both were made subsidiary to the parliamentary ideas of Lassalle, from whom the social democrats drew the fatal inspiration. Since the days of the Commune the slogan of Lassalle, "Through universal suffrage to victory," has been substituted for Marx's magnificent: "Workers of all lands, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! You have a world to gain!"

"To set about to make a revolution," said Lassalle, "is the folly of immature minds, which have no notion of the laws of history." Thus he interpreted the events of 1848 as an argument for direct universal suffrage. Thus his disciples interpreted the events of 1871. Believing that it understood the laws of history the European social democracy buried socialism and attempted to



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