From: Hunter, R. (1914). Violence and the Labor Movement. New York: The Macmillan Company.
The BATTLE BETWEEN MARX AND BAKOUNIN
At the moment when the future of the International seemed most promising and the political ideas of Marx were actually taking root in nearly all countries, an application was received by the General Council in London to admit the Alliance of Social Democracy. This, we will remember, was the organization that Bakounin had formed in 1868 and was the popular section of that remarkable secret hierarchy which he had endeavored to establish in 1864. The General Council declined to admit the Alliance, on grounds which proved later to be well founded, namely, that schisms would undoubtedly be encouraged if the International should permit an organinization with an entirely different program and policies to join it in a body. Nevertheless, the General Council declared that the members of the Alliance could affiliate themselves as individuals with the various national sections. After considerable debate, Bakounin and his followers decided to abandon the Alliance and to join the International. Whether the Alliance was in fact abolished is still open to question, but in any case Bakounin appeared in the International toward the end of the six ties, to challenge all the theories of Marx and to offer in their stead, his own philosophy of universal revolution. Anarchism as the end and terrorism as the mean were thus injected into the organization at its most formative period, when the laboring classes of all Europe had just begun to write their program, evolve their principles, and define their tactics. With great force and magnetism, Bakounin undertook his war upon the General Council, and those who recall the period will realize that nothing could have more nearly expressed the occasional spirit of the masses-the very spirit that Marx and Engels were endeavoring to change-than exactly the methods proposed by Bakounin.
Whether it were better to move gradually and peacefully along what seemed a never-ending road to emancipation or to begin the revolution at once by insurrection and civil war-tbis was in reality the question which, from that moment on, agitated the International. It had always troubled more or less the earlier organizations of labor, and now, aided by Bakounin's eloquence and fiery revolutionism, it became the great bone of contention throughout Europe. The struggles in the International between those who became known later as the anarchists and the socialists remind one of certain Greek stories, in which the outstanding figures seem to impersonate mighty forces, and it is not impossible that one day they may serve as material for a social epic. We all know to-day the interminable study that engages the theologians in their attempts to describe the battles and schisms in the early Christian Church. And there can be no doubt that, if socialism fulfills the purpose which its advocates-have in mind, these early struggles in its history will become the object of endless research and commentary. The calumnies, the feuds, the misunderstandings, the clashing of doctrines, the antagonism of the ruling spirits, the plots and conspiracies, the victories and defeats-all these various phases of this war to the death between socialists and anarchists-will in that case present to history the most vital struggle of this age.
But, whatever may be the outcome of the socialist movement, it is hardly too much to say that to both anarchists and socialists these struggles seemed, at time they were taking place, of supreme importance to the destinies of humanity.
The contending titans of this war were, of course, Karl Marx and Michael Bakounin. It is hardly necesary to go into the personal feud that played so conpicuous a part in the struggle between them. Perhaps no one at this late day can prove what Marx and his friends themselves were unable to prove-altough they never ceased repeating the allegations-that Bakounin was a spy of the Russian Government, that his life had been thrice spared through the influence of that Goverment, that he was treacherous and dishonest, and that his sole purpose was to disrupt and destroy the International Working Men's Association. Nor is it necessary to consider the charges made against Marx- some of the time has already taken care of-that he was domineering, malicious, and ambitious, that his spirit was actuated by intrigue, and that, when he conceived a dislike for any one, he was merciless and conscienceless in his warfare on that one. Incompatibility of temperament and of personality played its part in the battles between these two, but, even had there been no mutual dislike, the dif ferences between their principles and tactics would have necessitated a battle ti outrance.
For twenty years before the birth of the International, Marx and Bakounin had crossed and recrossed each other's circle. They had always quarreled. There was mutual fascination, due perhaps to an innate antagonism, that brought them again and again together at critical periods. At times there seemed a chance of reconciliation, but they no more touched each other than imme- unfourtunate Poles. George Sand has shown these papers to some of her friends." (5) Marx later printed Bakounin's answer to these charges-which were, in fact, groundless-and in his letters to the New York Tribune (1852) even commended Bakounin for his services in the Dresden uprising of 1849. (6) Nevertheless, there is no doubt that to the end Marx believed Bakounin to be a tool of the enemy. These quarrels are important only as they are prophetic in thus early disclosing the gulf between Marx and Bakounin in their conception of revolutionary activity. Although profoundly revolutionary, Marx was also rigidly rational. He had no patience, and not an iota of mercy, for those who lost their heads and attempted to lead the workers into violent outbreaks that could result only in a massacre. On this point he would make no concessions, and anyone who attempted such suicidal madness was in Marx's mind either an imbecile or a paid agent provocateur. The failure of Herwegh's project forced Bakounin to admit later that Marx had been right. Yet, as we know, with Bakounin's advancing years the passion for insurrections became with him almost a mania.
If this quarrel between Bakounin and Marx casts a light upon the causes of their antagonism, a still greater illumination is shed by the differences between them which arose in 1849. Bakounin, in that year, had written a brochure in which he developed a program for the union of the revolutionary Slavs and for the destruction of the three monarchies, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. He advocated pan-Slavism, and believed that the Slavic people could once more be united and then federated into a great new nation. When Marx saw the volume, he wrote in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (February 14, 1849), "Aside from the Poles, the Russians, and perhaps
even the Slavs of Turkey, no Slavic people has a future for the simple reason that there are lacking in all the other Slavs the primary conditions-historical, geographical, political, and industrial-of independence and vitality." (7) This cold-blooded statement infuriated Bakounin. He absolutely refused to look at the facts. Possessed of a passion for liberty, he wanted all nations, peoples-civilized, semi-civilized, or savage-to be entirely free. What bad historical, geographical, political, industrial conditions to do with the matter? All this is typical of Bakounin's revolutionary sentimentalism. He clashed again with Marx on very similar grounds when the latter insisted that only in the more advanced countries is there a possibility of a social revolution. Modern capitalist production, according to Marx, must atain a certain degree of development before it is possile for the working class to hope to carry out any really revolutionary project. Bakounin takes issue with him here. He declares his own aim to be "the complete a real emancipation of all the proletariat, not only of so countries, but of all nations, civilized and non-civilized. (8) In these declarations the differences between Marx and Bakounin stand forth vividly. Marx at time states what he wishes. He expresses no sentiment but confines himself to a cold statement of the facts as he sees them. Bakounin, the dreamer, the sentimentalist and the revolution-maker, wants the whole world free. Whether or not Marx wants the same thing is not the question. He rigidly confines himself to what he believes is possible. He says certain conditions must exist before a people can be free and independent. Among them are included historical, geographical, political, and industrial conditions. Marx further states that, before the working-class revolution can be successful, certain economic conditions must exist. Marx is not stating here conclusions which are necessarily agreeable to him. He states only the results of his study of history, based on his analysis of past events. In the one case we find the idealist seeking to set the world violently right; in the other case we find the historian and the scientist-influenced no doubt, as all men must be, by certain hopes, yet totally regardless of personal desire-stating the antecedent conditions which must exist previous to the birth of a new historic or economic period.
In speaking of the antagonism between Marx and Bakounin in this earlier period, I do not mean to convey the impression that it was the cause of the dissensions that arose later. The slightest knowledge of Bakounin's philosophy and methods is enough to make one realize that neither the International nor any considerable section of the labor or socialist movements had anything in common with those ideas. Certainly the thought and policies of Marx were directly opposed to everything from first to last that Bakounin stood for. Nothing could be more grotesque than the idea that Marxism and Bakouninism could be blended, or indeed exist together, in any semblance of harmony. Every thought, policy, and method of the two clashed furiously. It would be impossible to conceive of two other minds that were on so many points such worlds apart. Both Bakounin and Marx instinctively felt this essential antagonism, yet the former wrote Marx, in December, 1868, when he was preparing to enter the International, assuring him that he had had a change of heart and that "my country, now, c'est l'Internationale, of which you are one of the principal founders. You see then, dear friend, that I am your disciple and I am proud to be it." (9) He then signs himself affectionately, "Your devoted M. Bakounin." (io)
With an olive branch such as that arrived the new "disciple" of 1\1arx. He then set to work without a moment's delay to capture the International congress which was to be held at Basel, September, 1869. And it there that the first battle occurred. From the very moment that the congress opened it was clear that on every important question there was to be a division. Most unexpectedly, the first struggle arose over a question that seemed not at all fundamental at the time, but whicch, as the later history of socialism shows, was really basic. The father of direct legislation, Rittingbausen, was a delegate to the congress from Germany. He begged congress for the opportunity to present his ideas, and won the support, quite naturally, of the Marxian elements. In his preliminary statement to the congress he said: "You are going to occupy yourselves at length with the great social reforms that you think necessary in order to put an end to the deplorable situation of the labor world. Is it then less necessary for you to occupy yourselves with methods of execution by which you may accomplish these reforms? I hear many among you say that you wish to attain your end by revolution. Well, comrades, revolution, as a matter of fact, accomplishes nothing. If you are not able to formulate, after the revolution, by legislation, your legitimate demands, the revolution will perish miserably like that of 1848. You will be the prey of the most violent reaction and you will be forced anew to suffer years of oppression and disgrace.
"What, then, are the means of execution that democracy will have to employ in order to realize its ideas? Legislation by an individual functions only to the advantage of that individual and his family. Legislation by a group of capitalists, called representatives, serves only\ the interests of this class. It is only by taking their interest into their own hands, by direct legislation, that the people can . . . establish the reign of social justice. I insist, then, that you put on the program of this congress the question of direct legislation by the people." (H)
The forces led by Bakounin and Professor Hins, of Belgium, opposed any consideration of this question. The latter, in elaborating the remarks of Bakounin, declared: "They wish, they say, to accomplish, by representation or direct legislation, the transformation of the present governments, the work of our enemies, the bourgeois. They wish, in order to do this, to enter into these governments, and, by persuasion, by numbers, and by new laws, to establish a new State. Comrades, do not follow this line of march, for we would perish in following it in Belgium or in France as elsewhere. Rather let us leave these governments to rot away and not prop them up with our morality. This is the reason: the International is and must be a State within States. Let these States march on as they like, even to the point where our State is the strongest. Then, on their ruins, we will place ours, all prepared, all made ready, such as it exists in each section." (12) The result of this debate was that the father of direct legislation was not allowed time to present his views, and it is significant that this first clash of the congress resulted in a victory for the anarchists, despite all that could be done by Liebknecht and the other socialists.
The chief question on the program was the consideration of the right of inheritance. This was the main economic change desired by the Alliance. For years Bakounin had advocated the abolition of the right of inheritance as the most revolutionary of his economic de mands. "The right of inheritance," dedared Bakounin, after having been the natural consequence of wiolent appropriation of natural and social wealth, become later the basis of the political state and of the legal family . . . It is necessary, therefore, to vote the abolition of the right of inheritance." (Q) It was left to George Eccarius, delegate of the Association of Tailors of London, to present to that congress the views of Marx and the General Council. The report of the General Council was, of course, prepared in advance, but Bakounin's views were well known, and it was intended as a crushing rejoinder. "Inheritance," it declared, "does create that power of transferring the produce of man's labor into another man's pocket--it only relates to the change in the individuals who yield (sic) that power. Like all other civil legislation, the laws of inheritance are not the cause, but the effect, the juridical consequence of the existing economical organization of socity based upon private property in the means of production, that is to say, in land, raw material, machinery, etc. In the same way the right of inheritance in the slave is not the cause of slavery, but, on the contrary, slavery is the cause of inheritance in slaves. . . . To proclaim the abolition of the right of inheritance as the starting point of the social revolution would only tend to lead the working class away from the true point of attack against present society. It would be as absurd a thing as to abolish the laws of contract between buyer and seller, while continuing the present state of exchange 0 commodities. It would be a thing false in theory an reactionary in practice." (14) Despite the opposition 4. the Marxians at the congress, the proposition of Bakoukanin received thirty-two votes as against twenty-three given to the proposition of the General Council. As thirteen of the delegates abstained from voting, Bakounin's resolution did not obtain an ahsolute majority, and the question was thus left undecided.
Another important discussion at the congress was on landed property. Some of the delegates were opposed to the collective ownership of land, believing that it should be divided into small sections ;and left to the peasants to cultivate. Others advocated a kind of communism, in which associations of agriculttirists were to work the soil. Still others believed that the State should own the land and lease it to individual. Indeed, almost every phase of the question was untouched, including the means of obtaining the land from the present owners and of distributing it among the peasamts or of owning it collectively while allowing them the right to cultivate it for their profit. On this subject, again, Eccarius presented the views of Marx. To Bakotinin, who expressed his terror of the State, no matter of what character, Eccarius said "that his relations with the French have doubtless communicated to him this conception (for it appears that the French working men can never think of the State without seeing a Napoleon appear, accompanied by a flock of cannon), and he applied that the State can be reformed by the coming of the working class into power. All great transformations have been inaugurated by a change in the form of landed property. The allodial system was replaced by the feudal system, the feudal system by modern private ownership, and the social transformation to which the new state of things tends will be inaugurated by the abolition of individual property in land. As to compensations, that will depend on the circumstances. If the transformation is made peacefully, the present owner will be indemnified...If the owners of slaves had yielded when Lin coln was elected, they would have received a compensation for their slaves. Their resistance led to the abolition of slavery without compensation . . ." (iS) The congress, after debating the question at length, contented itself with voting the general proposition that "society has the right to abolish private property in land and to make land the property of the community." (16)
The last important question considered by the congress was that dealing with trade unions. The debate aroused little interest, although Liebknecht opened the discussion. He pointed out the great extension of trade-union organization in England, Germany, and America, and he tried to impress upon the congress the necessity for vastly extending this form of solidarity. And, indeed, it seems to have been generally admitted that trade-union organization was necessary. No practical proposals were, however, made for actually developing such organizations. The interesting part of the discussion came upon the function of trade unionism in future society. The socialists were little concerned as to what might happen to the trade unions in future society, but Professor Hins outlined at that congress the program of the modern syndicalists. It is, therefore, especially interesting to read what Professor Hins said as early as 1869: "Societies de resistance (trade unions) will subsist after the suppression of wages, not in name, but in deed. They will then be the organization of labor. . . . operating a vast distribution of labor from one end of the world to the other. They will replace the ancient political systems-' in place of a confused and heterogeneous representation, there will be the representation of labor.
"They will be at the same time agents of decentralization, for the centers will differ according to industries which will form, in some manner, each one as a seperate State, and will prevent forever the return to the ancient form of centralized State, which will not, however, prevent another form of government for local purposes. As is evident, if we are reproached for being inerent to every form of government, it is . . . because we detest them all in the same way, and because we believe that it is only on their ruins that a society coning to the principles of justice can be established."(17)
The congress at Basel was the turning point in the brief history of the International. Although the Marxist were reluctant to admit it, the Bakouninists had won complete victory on every important issue. Some of decisions future congresses might remedy, but in refusing even to discuss the question of direct legislation many of the delegates clearly showed their determination to have nothing to do with politics or with any movement aiming at the conquest of political power. In all the discussions the anarchist tendencies of the congress were unmistakable, and the immense gulf between the Marxist and the Bakouninists was laid bare. The very foundation principles upon which the International was based had been overturned. Political action was to be abandoned, while the discussion on trade unions introduced for the first time in the International the idea of a pure economic struggle and a conception of future society which groups of producers, and not the State or the comunity, should own the tools of production. This syndicalist conception of socialism was not new. Developed for the first time by Robert Owen in 1833, it had I the working classes into the most violent and bit strikes, that ended in disaster for all participants. Born again in 1869, it was destined to lie dormant for thirty years, then to be taken up once more-this time with immense enthusiasm-by the French trade unions.
Needless to say, the decisive victory of the Bakuninists at Basel was excessively annoying and humiliating to Marx. He did not attend in person, but it evident before the congress that he fully expected that his forces would, on that occasion, destroy root and branch the economic and political fallacies of Bakounin. He rather welcomed the discussion of the differences between the program of the Alliance and that of the Intranational, in order that Eccarius, Liebknecht, and others might demolish, once and for all, the reactionary proposals of Bakounin. To Marx, much of the program of the Alliance seemed a remnant of eighteenth-century philosophy, while the rest was pure utopianism, consiting of unsound and impractical reforms, mixed with atheism and schoolboy declamation. Altogether, the policies and projects of Bakounin seemed so vulnerable that the General Council evidently felt that little preparation was necessary in order to defeat them. They seemed to have forgotten, for the moment, that Bakounin was an old and experienced conspirator. In any case, he had left no stone unturned to obtain control of the congress. Week by week, previous to the congress, I'Egalitj, the organ of the Swiss federation, had published articles by Bakounin which, while professedly explaining the principles of the International, were in reality attacking them; and most insidiously Bakounin's own program was presented as the traditional position of the organization. Liberty, fraternity, and equality were, of course, called into service. The treason of certain working- class politicians was pointed out as the natural and inevitable result of political action, while to those who had given little thought to economic theory the abolition of inheritances seemed the final word. Nor did Bakounin limit his efforts to his pen. All sections of the Alliance undertook to see that friends of Bakounin were sent as delegates to the congress, and it was charged that credentials were obtained in various underhanded ways. However that may have been, the "practical," "coldblooded" Marx was completely outwitted by his "sentimental" and "visionary" antagonist. Instead of a great victory, therefore, the Marxists left the congress of Basel utterly dejected, and Eccarius is reported to have said, "Marx will be terribly annoyed." (18)
That Marx was annoyed is to put it with extraordinary moderation, and from that moment the fight on Bakouninism, anarchism, and terrorism developed to a white heat. Immediately after the adjournment of the congress, Moritz Hess, a close friend of Marx and a delegate to the congress, published in the Reveil of Paris what he called "the secret history" of the congress which he declared that "between the collectivists of International and the Russian communists [meaning Bakouninists] there was all the difference which exist between civilization and barbarism, between liberty a despotism, between citizens condemning every form violence and slaves addicted to the use of brutal force." (19) Even this gives but a faint idea of the bitterness of the controversy. Marx, Engels, Liebknecht Hess, Outine, the General Council in London, and eve newspaper under the control of the Marxists began to assail Bakounin and his circle. They no longer confined themselves to a denunciation of the "utopian and bourgeois" character of the anarchist philosophy. They went into the past history of Bakounin, revived all the accusations that had been made against him, and exposed every particle of evidence obtainable concerning his "checkered" career as a revolutionist. It will be remembered that it was in 1869 that Nechayeff appeared Switzerland. When the Marxists got wind of him and his doctrine their rage knew no bounds. And later they obained and published in L'Alliance de la Democratie Socialiste the material from which I have already quote extensively in my first chapter.
No useful purpose, however, would be served in dealing with the personal phases of the struggle. Bakounin became so irate at the attacks upon him, several of which happened to have been written by Jews, that he wrote an answer entitled "Study Upon the German Jews.' He feared to attack Marx; and this "Study," while avoiding a personal attack, sought to arouse a racial predjudice that would injure him. He writes to Herzen, a month after the congress at Basel, that he fully realizes that Marx is "the instigator and the leader of all this calumnious and infamous polemic." (20) He was reluctant however, to attack him personally, and even refers to Marx and Lassalle as "these two Jewish giants," but besides them, he adds, "there was and is a crowd of Jewish pigmies." (21) "Nevertheless," he writes, "it may happen, and very shortly, too, that I shall enter into conflict with him, not over any personal offense, of course, but over a question of principle, regarding State comnunism, of which he himself and the English and German parties which he directs are the most ardent partisans. Then it will be a fight to the finish. But there is a time for everything, and the hour for this struggle has not yet sounded. . . . Do you not see that all these gentlemen who are our enemies are forming a phalanx, which must be disunited and broken up in order to be the more easily routed? You are more erudite than I; you know, therefore, better than I who was the first to take for principle: Divide and rule. If at present I should undertake an open war against Marx himself, three-quarters of the members of the International would turn against me, and I would be at a disadvantage, for I would have lost the ground on which I must stand. But by beginning this war with an attack against the rabble by which he is surrounded, I shall have the majority on my side. . . . But, . . - if he wishes to constitute himself the defender of their cause, it is he who would then declare war openly. In this case, I shall take the field also and I shall play the star role." (22)
This was written in October, 1869, a month after the Basel congress. On the 1st of January, 1870, the General Council at London sent a private communication to all sections of the International, and on the 28th of March it was followed by another. These, together with various circulars dealing with questions of principle, but all consisting of attacks upon Bakounin personally or upon his doctrines, finally goaded him into open war upon Marx, the General Council, all their doctrines, -and even upon the then forming socialist party of Germany with Bebel and Liebknecht at its head. During the year 1870 Bakounin was preparing for the great controversy but his friends of Lyons interrupted his work by calling him there to take part in the uprising of that year. He hastened to Lyons, but, as we know, he was soon to flee and conceal himself in Marseilles. It was thier in the midst of the blackest despair, that Bakounin wrote' "I have no longer any faith in the Revolution in France. This nation is no longer in the least revolutionary. 7 people themselves have become doctrinaire, as insolate and as bourgeois as the bourgeois . . . The borgeois are loathsome. They are as savage as they stupid-and as the police blood flows in their vein should be called policemen and attorneys-general in bryons. I am going to reply to their infamous calumniers by a good little book in which I shall give everything everybody its proper name. I leave this country deep despair in my heart." (23) He then set to work last to state systematically his own views and to annhilate utterly those of the socialists. Many of these documents are only fragmentary. Some were started abandoned; others ended in hopeless confusion. With the most extraordinary gift of inspirited statement, passes in review every phase of history, leaping from peak to another of the great periods, pointing his lessons, issuing his warnings, but all the time throwing at reader such a Niagara of ideas and arguments that he is left utterly dazed and bewildered as by some startling military display or the rushing here and there of a military maneuver. In Lettres ti un Francais; Manuscrit de 114 Pages, ecrit a Marseille; Lettre a Esquiros; Pr9ambule pour la Seconde Livraison de I'Empire Knouto Germanique; Avertissement pour I'Empire Knouto-Gernjanique; Au Journal La LibeW, de Bruxelles; and Fragment formant une Suite de I'Empire Knouto- Gernianique, he returns again and again to the charge, always seeking to deal some fatal blow to Marxian socialisml but never apparently satisfying himself that he has accomplished his task. He touches the border of practical criticism of the socialist program in the fragment entitled Lettres a un Francais. It ends, however, before the task is done. Again he takes it up in the Manuscrit ecrit d Marseille. But here also, as soon as he arrives at the point of annihilating the socialists, his task is discontinued. In truth, he himself seems to have realized the inconclusive character of his writings, as he refused in some cases to complete them and in other cases to publish them. Nevertheless, we find in various places of his fragmentary writings not only a statement of his own views, but his entire critique upon socialism.
As I have made clear enough, I think, in my first chapter, there are in Bakounin's writings two main ideas put forward again and again, dressed in innumerable forms and supported by an inexhaustible variety of arguments. These ideas are based upon his antagonism to religion and to government. It was always Dieu et Etat that he was fighting, and not until both the ideas and the institutions which had grown up in support of "these monstrous oppressions" had been destroyed and swept from the earth could there arise, thought Bakounin, a free society, peopled with happy and emancipated human souls. When one has once obtained this conception of Bakounin's fundamental views, there is little necessity for deal various circulars dealing with questions of principle, but all consisting of attacks upon Bakounin personally or upon his doctrines, finally goaded him into open war upon Marx, the General Council, all their doctrines, -and even upon the then forming socialist party of Germany with Bebel and Liebknecht at its head. During the year 1870 Bakounin was preparing for the great controversy but his friends of Lyons interrupted his work by calling him there to take part in the uprising of that year. He hastened to Lyons, but, as we know, he was soon to flee and conceal himself in Marseilles. It was thier in the midst of the blackest despair, that Bakounin wrote' "I have no longer any faith in the Revolution in France. This nation is no longer in the least revolutionary. 7 people themselves have become doctrinaire, as insolate and as bourgeois as the bourgeois . . . The borgeois are loathsome. They are as savage as they stupid-and as the police blood flows in their vein should be called policemen and attorneys-general in bryons. I am going to reply to their infamous calumniers by a good little book in which I shall give everything everybody its proper name. I leave this country deep despair in my heart." (23) He then set to work last to state systematically his own views and to annhilate utterly those of the socialists. Many of these documents are only fragmentary. Some were started abandoned; others ended in hopeless confusion. With the most extraordinary gift of inspirited statement, passes in review every phase of history, leaping from peak to another of the great periods, pointing his lessons, issuing his warnings, but all the time throwing at reader such a Niagara of ideas and arguments that he is left utterly dazed and bewildered as by some startling military display or the rushing here and there of a military maneuver. In Lettres ti un Francais; Manuscrit de 114 Pages, ecrit a Marseille; Lettre a Esquiros; Pr9ambule pour la Seconde Livraison de I'Empire Knouto Germanique; Avertissement pour I'Empire Knouto-Gernjanique; Au Journal La LibeW, de Bruxelles; and Fragment formant une Suite de I'Empire Knouto- Gernianique, he returns again and again to the charge, always seeking to deal some fatal blow to Marxian socialisml but never apparently satisfying himself that he has accomplished his task. He touches the border of practical criticism of the socialist program in the fragment entitled Lettres a un Francais. It ends, however, before the task is done. Again he takes it up in the Manuscrit ecrit d Marseille. But here also, as soon as he arrives at the point of annihilating the socialists, his task is discontinued. In truth, he himself seems to have realized the inconclusive character of his writings, as he refused in some cases to complete them and in other cases to publish them. Nevertheless, we find in various places of his fragmentary writings not only a statement of his own views, but his entire critique upon socialism.
As I have made clear enough, I think, in my first chapter, there are in Bakounin's writings two main ideas put forward again and again, dressed in innumerable forms and supported by an inexhaustible variety of arguments. These ideas are based upon his antagonism to religion and to government. It was always Dieu et Etat that he was fighting, and not until both the ideas and the institutions which had grown up in support of "these monstrous oppressions" had been destroyed and swept from the earth could there arise, thought Bakounin, a free society, peopled with happy and emancipated human souls. When one has once obtained this conception of Bakounin's fundamental views, there is little necessity for dealing with the infinite number of minor points upon which he was forced to attack the men and movements of his time. On the one hand, he was assailing Mazzini, whose every move in life was actuated by his intense religious and political faith, while, on the other hand , he was attacking Xlarx as the modern Moses handing down to the enslaved multitudes his table of infamous laws as the foundation for a new tyranny, that of State socialism. In 1871 Bakounin ceased all maneuvering. Bringing out his great guns, he began to bombard both Mazzini and Marx. Never has polemic literature seen such another battle. With a weapon in each hand, turning from the one to the other of his antagonists, he battled as no man ever before battled, to crush "these enemies of the entire human race."
There is, of course, no possibility of adequately sumarizing, in such limited space as I have allotted to, the thought of one who traversed the history of the entire world of thought and action in pursuit of some crushing argument against the socialism of Marx. This perverted form of socialism, Bakounin maintained, templated the establishment of a communisme autorit or State socialism. "The State," he says, "having come the sole owner-at the end of a certain period transition which will be necessary in order to transform society, without too great economic and political shocks from the present organization of bourgeois privilege the future organization of official equality for all State will also be the sole capitalist, the banker, money lender, the organizer, the director of all national work, and the distributor of its products. Such is the ideal, the fundamental principle of modern communism." (24) This is, of all Bakotinin's criticisms of socialism, the one that has had the greatest vitality. It has gone the round of the world as a crushing blow to socialist ideals. The same thought has been repeated by every politician, newspaper, and capitalist who has undertaken to refute socialism. And every socialist will admit that of all the attempts to misrepresent socialism and to make it abhorrent to most people the idea expressed in these words of Bakounin has been the most effective. To state thus the ideal of socialism is sufficient in most cases to end all argument. Add to this program military discipline for the masses, barracks for homes, and a ruling bureaucracy, and you have complete the terrifying picture that is held up to the workers of every country, even to-day, as the nefarious, world- destroying design of the socialists.
It is, therefore, altogether proper to inquire if these were in reality the aims of the Marxists. Many sincere opponents of socialism actually believe that these are the ends sought, while the casual reader of socialist literature may see much that appears to lead directly to the dreadful State tyranny that Bakounin has pictured. But did Marx actually advocate State socialism? In the Communist Manifesto Marx proposed a series of reforms that the State alone was capable of instituting. He urged that many of the instruments of production should be centralized in the hands of the State. Moreover, nothing is clearer than his prophecy that the working class "will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State." (25) Indeed, in this program, as in all others that have developed out of it, the end of socialism would seem to be State ownership. "With trusts or without," writes Engels, "the official representative of capitalist society-the State-will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production." Commenting himself upon this statement, he adds in a footnote: "I say 'have to." For only when the means of production and distribution have actually outgrown the form of management joint-stock companies, and when, therefore, the taking them over by the State has become economically inevitable, only then- even if it is the State of to-day that effects this-is there an economic advance, the attain of another step preliminary to the taking over productive forces by society itself." "This necessity" he continues, "for conversion into State property is felt first in the great institutions for intercourse and comunication-the post-office, the telegraphs, the railways." (26)
Here is the entire position in a nutshell. But Engles says the State will "have to." Thus Engels and Marx are not stating necessarily what they desire. And it must not be forgotten that in all such statements were outlining only what appeared to them to be a natural and inevitable evolution. In State ownership they s aw an outcome of the necessary centralization of calp and its growth into huge monopolies. Society woul forced to use the power of the State to control, eventually to own, these menacing aggregations of capital in the hands of a few men. Both Marx and Engles saw clearly enough that State monopoly does not destroy the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. " The modern State, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine . . . The more it proceeds totaking over of productive forces. . . . the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage workers- proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head. But, brought to a head, it topples over. State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution." (27)
State ownership, then, was not considered by Marx and Engels in itself a solution of the problem. It is only a necessary preliminary to the solution. The essential step, either subsequent or precedent, is the capture of political power by the working class. By this act the means of production are freed "from the character of capital they have thus far borne, . . . " and their "socialized character" is given "complete freedom to work itself Out." (28) "Socialized production upon a predetermined mined plan becomes henceforth possible. The development of production makes the existence of different classes of society thenceforth an anachronism. In proportion as anarchy in social production vanishes, the political authority of the State dies out. Man, at last the master of his own form of social organization, becomes -at the same time the lord over Nature, his own master- free.
"To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and thus the very nature of this act, to impart to the new oppressed proletarian class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, scientific socialism." (29)
Engels declares that the State, such as we have known it in the past, will die out "as soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a State, is no longer neccessary. The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society-the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society-this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, then dies out of itself; the government of persons i placed by the administration of things, and by the duct of processes of production. The State is not abolished.' It dies out. This gives the measure of the of the phrase 'a free State,' both as to its justifiable at times by agitators, and as to its ultimate scientific in:, sufficiency; and also of the demands of the so-called, anarchists for the abolition of the State out hand."(30)
This conception of the role of the State is one that anarchist can comprehend. He is unwilling to admit that social evolution necessarily leads through State socialism to industrial democracy, or even that such evolution is possible. To him the State seems to have a corporeal, material existence of its own. It is a tyranncal machine that exists above all classes and wields legal, military, and judicial power all its own. That the State is only an agency for representing in certain fields the power of a dominant economic class-this is some thing the anarchist will not admit. In fact, Bak seems to have been utterly mystified when Eccarius answered him at Basel in these words: "The State can be reformed by the coming of the working class power." (31) That the State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the capitalist class neither be granted nor understood by the anarchists. Nor can it be comprehended that, when the capitalist class has no affairs of its own to manage, the coercive character of the State will gradually disappear. State ownership undermines and destroys the economic power of private capitalists. When the railroads, the mines, the forests, and other great monopolies are taken out of their hands, their control over the State is by this much diminished. The only power they possess to control the State resides in their economic power, and anything that weakens that tends to destroy the class character of the State itself. The inherent weakness of Bakounin's entire philosophy lay in this fact, that it begins with the necessity of abolishing God and the State, and that it can never get beyond that or away from that. And, as a necessary consequence, Bakounin had to oppose every measure that looked toward any compromise with the State, or that might enable the working class to exercise any influence in or through the State.
When, therefore, the German party at its congress at Eisenach demanded the suffrage and direct legislation, when it declared that political liberty is the most urgent preliminary condition for the economic emancipation of the working class, Bakounin could see nothing revolutionary in such a program. When, furthermore, the party declared that the social question is inseparable from the political question and that the problems of our economic life could be solved only in a democratic State, Eakounin, of course, was forced to oppose such heresies with all his power. And these were indeed the really vital questions, upon which the anarchists and the socialists could not be reconciled. It is in his Lettres a un Francais, written just after the failure of his own " practical" efforts at Lyons, that Bakounin undertakes his criticism of the program of the German socialists. Preparatory to this task, he first terrifies his French readers with the warning that if the German army, then at their doors, should conquer France, it would result in the destruction of French socialism, (by which he means anarchism), in the utter degradation and complete slavery of the French people, and make it possible for the Knout of Germany and Russia to fall upon the back of all Europe. "If, in this terrible' moment. . . . [France] does not prefer the death 0f all her children and the destruction of all her goods, the burning of her villages, her cities, and of all her houses to slavery under the yoke of the Prussians, if she does not destroy, by means of a popular and revolutionary uprising, the power of the innumerable German armies which, victorious on all sides up to the present, threaten her dignity, her liberty, and even her existence, if she does not become a grave for all those six hundred thousand soldiers of German despotism, if she does not oppose them with the one means capable of conquering and destroying them under the present circumstances, if she does not reply to this insolent invasion by the social revolution no less ruthless and a thousand times more menacing-it is certain, I maintain, that then France is her masses of working people will be slaves, and socialism will have lived its life." (32)
Approaching his subject in this dramatic matter Bakounin turns to examine the degenerate state of socialism in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany to see "what will be the chances of working-class emancipation in the rest of Europe." (33) In the first country socialism is only in its infancy. The Italians are wholly ignorant of the true causes of their misery. They are crushed, maltreated, and dying of hunger. They are "led blindly by the liberal and radical bourgeois." (34) Altogether, there is no immediate hope of socialism there. In Switzerland the people are asleep. "If the human world were on the point of dying, the Swiss would not resuscitate it." (35) Only, in Germany is socialism making headway, and Bakounin undertakes to examine this socialism and to put it forward as a horrible example. To be sure, the German workers are awakening, but they are under the leadership of certain cunning politicians, who have abandoned all revolutionary ideas, and are now undertaking to reform the State, hoping that that could be done as a result of "a great peaceful and legal agitation of the working class." (36) The very name Liebknecht had taken for his paper, the Volksstaat, was infamous in Bakounin's eyes, while all the leaders of the labor party had become merely appendages to "their friends of the bourgeois Volkspartei." (37) He then passes in review the program of the German socialists, and points to their aim of establishing a democratic State by the "direct and secret suffrage for all men" and its guidance by direct legislation, as the utter abandonment of every revolutionary idea. He dwells upon the folly of the suffrage and of every effort to remodel, recast, and change the State, as "purely political and bourgeois." (38)
Democracies and republics are no less tyrannical than monarchies. The suffrage cannot alter them. In England, Switzerland, and America, he declares, the masses now have political power, yet they remain in the deepest depths of misery. Universal suffrage is only a new superstition, while the referendum, already existing in Switzerland, has failed utterly to improve the condition of the people. The working-class slaves, even in the most democratic countries, "have neither the instruction, nor