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The Cynosure

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Offend by arrogance and conceit. Yet they represent fundamental truth and the hope of mankind for a new and higher social order. It is very hard to estimate the worth of an agitator and it will remain hard until a new social order has been born and our present system of finance and corruption, militarism and exploitation, has been condemned at the bar of history for the worthless thing it is.

Carr's life of Bakunin, although applauded, was reviewed so poorly by the capitalist press that its worth suffered in consequence. The result was that Max Nettlau, who has doted on Bakunin's life and manuscript so much, in an anarchist paper, protested against nearly all Carr's assertions. Nettlau is far from being the accurate authority the so-called anarchists have pretended; but he has certainly cherished Bakunin's writings and the anecdotage about his career. In the excellent bibliography to his work, Carr acknowledges at great length his debt to Nettlau. But Nettalu sees no good in Carr. My view is that Nettlau's review of Carr's book should be published in pamphlet form and read in connection with the work to which it refers. Meanwhile, I refer the reader to Professor Carr's work for a very full study of phases of Bakunin's life that have no been touched upon in my own words. Nettlau condemns Carr for dealing so thoroughly with Bakunin's private affairs. Some of the incidents related are not absolutely to Bakunin's credit. If they are true I do not think that this criticism matters. If the idol has feet of clay, and if the feet are still well-fashioned it might be nice to look at the idol with his feet of clay as well. Actually the picture presented by Carr is not such a terrible one. He shows a man of great purpose, with a strong libertarian impulse, anxious to do tremendous things, hating the wrongs of the world in which he lived, handicapped in a thousand ways, and straining with all the might of his tremendous volcanic personality against the bonds that bound him. Of course he did things that he ought not to have done. Of course he was not always equal to his own greatness. He had many foibles and many conceits. Some of his errors were almost criminal. But they merited forgiveness; for they arose out of a boundless energy to serve mankind and out of a feeling of loneliness in facing the disaster that represents the capitalist world of struggle. Fundamentally, Professor Carr has given the world a picture of Bakunin in his true setting; a living picture of a living man. And now that Bakunin belongs to immortality, it does not matter too much whether every offence charged against him is true.

Since Professor Carr gives such a complete Bakunin bibliography, there is no need to cover that ground in the present chapter.

I now refer to the book to which Carr made no reference. This is "The Spirit of Russia" written by the late President Masaryk, and published in English in two volumes by Allen and Unwin, London, 1919. The second volume deals very thoroughly with



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