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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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In "The Bears of Berne" he says good-bye to the Phillistine Swiss democratism. His "Letters to a Frenchman" were a litany to Gambetta's Radicalism. They anticipated and proclaimed the epoch of the Paris Commune.

His "Knouto-German Empire and the Social Revolution" was the prophetic vision of an old revolutionist. Bakunin foresaw Fascism. He prophesied that, resulting from the triumph of Bismarck's military state, a fifty years' reaction would descend on Europe. Bakunin declares that the rise of German State Socialism, to which Bismarck stood sponsor, was the prelude to this counter-revolution. This summary shows that in spite of their fighting tendency, attributed to the fact that they were written on the spur of the moment, Bakunin's writings are replete with profound political thought and a clear philosophic conception of history. Inspired by Proudhon's revolutionary idea, they trace more accurately than Marx's writings, the political developments of the class struggle to out time.

Bakunin's works include no ready-made recipe for a political cook-shop. He has no creed to order. Those who expect to find an answer to all their questions in his books, without having to use their own thinking-caps will get no satisfaction. The writer defines and expressed life as one would do in conversation. He invites you to reflect for yourself. His brilliant generalisations awaken your intellect. His ideas pour forth unarranged, in a spontaneous flow. It may be said that his works have done more for the revolutionary education of the proletariat than all the heavy scholastic treatises of the doctrinaire socialists put together. The man lived. He continues to live in his writings. He makes his readers live. Through life the revolution will come.


In 1869, Bakunin delivered his famous speech to the League of Peace and Liberty Congress at Berne. Plechanoff has described this organisation as an entirely bourgeoisie body. The history of social democratic movement that George Plechanoff defended so laboriously, has proven to be so completely counter-revolutionary that his censures of Bakunin may pass as mere words of abuse. Bakunin's speech impeached modern civilisation as having been "founded from time immemorial on the forced labour of the enormous majority, condemned to lead the lives of brutes and slaves, in order that a small minority might be enabled to live as human creatures. This monstrous inequality," he discovered, rested "upon the absolute separation between head-work and hand-labour. But this abomination cannot last: for in the future the working-classes are resolved to make their own politics. They insist that


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