anarchy archives


About Us

Contact Us

Other Links

Critics Corner


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

Pioneers of Anti-Parlimentarism
by Guy A. Aldred

<--Previous  Up  Next-->


Bakunin's literary legacy is small. The man had no literary ambitions. he was too much of a social revolutionist, too genuine, to wish to stoop to literature. to play at depicting wrong where one should at at destroying wrongs; to substitute words for action, art for life: this was no work for a full-grown labourer in the cause of bread and freedom. With Bakunin, writing was but a tool not an achievement. Words were the means to accomplishment itself. His purpose was other than that of writing. He wrote as he studied and observed - in order to answer questions of the day. He wrote under the pressure of some crisis in social struggle. And all his writings originated in the same realistic, direct, useful, unpremeditated way. To this fact they owe much of their unevenness and repetition. Bakunin's vitality, desire for action, and counsel to action, overflowed into writing. in this way, his essays and pamphlets arose.

As a rule, Bakunin sat down to write a letter to a friend dealing with some question of the movement. But the letter quickly grew to the size of a pamphlet, and the pamphlet to that of a book. the greatness of the urge, the impelling idea, cause the author to write so fluently; illustrations flowed so easily from his vast reservoir of contemporary knowledge ; and he had so clear and complete a conception of the philosophy of history to illuminate his vision, that the pages soon filled themselves. the theme developed easily, embellished with countless digressions, a veritable encyclopedia review. But always incomplete, always unfinished.

Bakunin was acquainted with Gerzen, Ogareff, Mazzini, Ledru-Rollin and others. he participated in the uprising of 1848- 1849, the polish insurrection of the early sixties, and the secret Italian movements. He foresaw the fall of the French Empire and an upheaval in Paris. Thoughts, conceptions, facts and arguments borrowed from the realities of a period of struggle, invaded Bakunin's spirit and took possession of his being. His generalization of historical philosophy, leading to revolutionary negation of class society, was richly adorned with facts and wisdom gathered from contemporary reality. This explains how, with all his errors, Bakunin stands out in working class history as "the fiercest representative of the idea of real revolutionary action."

Bakunin was unquestionably inferior to Marx as a political economist. his economics are Marxist, and he subscribed enthusiastically to Marx's theory of surplus value and dissection of the Capitalist system. Bakunin believed in the materialistic conception of history even more thoroughly than Marx. But when Marx, contrary to the logic of his own writing, began to play

Page 5


[Home]               [About Us]               [Contact Us]               [Other Links]               [Critics Corner]