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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
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  Anarchist History
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  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets


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instead of two classes, there shall be in future only one, which shall offer to all men alike, without grade or distinction, the same starting point, the same maintenance, the same opportunities of education and culture, the same means of industry: not, indeed, by virtue of laws, but by the nature of the organisation of this class which shall oblige everyone to work with his head as with his hands."

Bakunin concluded his speech by a declaration in favour of "the economical and social equalisation of classes and of individuals." A delegate named Chaudey reproached him with advocating Communism. Bakunin repudiated the charge in a passage that has often been misinterpreted by the alleged followers of Marx, headed by Plechanoff whom these petty parliamentarians have discipled faithfully in this matter of slander. Bakunin urged that he was an upholder of collectivism as opposed to communism. As his magnificent comments on the Paris Commune show, he was never opposed to communism but only to the authoritarian conception of communism for which the ultra-Marxians stood. He used the word collectivism in a sense that after became obsolete. Indeed, collectivism came to mean exactly the same as the communism Bakunin repudiated. Bakunin did not oppose the idea of equity or economic equality for which communism stands. He opposed the idea of a central statism with which the Marxians had identified the idea of communism. It is typical of the unfair attacks made on Bakunin that Eleanor Marx Aveling complained that Bakunin's use of the word "statism" was an invented barbarism for which she had to make a special apology. The word has passed since into regular use and even the pedants of the universities employ it to define the invasions of individual liberty by the agents of bureaucracy. Chaudey was a testamentary executor of Proudhon. His attack annoyed Bakunin, who declared:

"Because I demand the economic and social equalisation of classes and individuals, because, with the Workers' Congress of Brussels, I have declared myself in favour of collective property, I have been reproached with being a Communist. What difference, I have been asked, is there between Communism and Collectivism...

Communism I abhor, because it s the negation of liberty, and without liberty I cannot imagine anything truly human. I detest Communism because it concentrates all the strength of Society in the State, and squanders that strength in its service: because it places all property in the hands of the State, whereas my principle is the abolition of the State itself, the radical extirpation of the principle of authority and tutelage, which has enslaved, oppressed, exploited, and depraved mankind under the pretexts of moralising and civilising men. I want the organisation of society and the distribution of property to proceed from below, by the free voice of society itself: not downwards from above, by the dictate of authority. I desire the abolition of personal hereditary property, which is merely and institution of the State, and a consequence of State principles. In this sense I am a Collectivist not a Communist."

It may be that Bakunin seems to propound the fallacy that the State creates property, instead of espousing the sound doctrine


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