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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
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shillings. No effort has been made to produce a popular addition. This militates seriously against the excellent research work of Professor Carr being popularised. Professor Carr's study is a growth: for his Bakunin embodies chapters from his previous writings on Herzen.

The reception that was accorded to Carr's work did not make for welcome understanding. Reviews in the capitalist press stated that Professor Carr had nothing but affectionate contempt for this sinister political buffoon. The reviewers also spoke of the "wretched Bakunin, who threw away everything he loved to pursue a phantom in whose reality he believed until his death." They spoke of Bakunin choosing exile from his respectable semi-aristocratic home for the sake of his shifty principles, and thereafter living on whatever money he could borrow form friends and acquaintances. They declared that Carr had pictured Bakunin as a man who achieved immortality "because of his unremitting quarrel with Karl Marx for whom he entertained a permanent hatred, for the double reason: that Marx was a Germany and also a Jew." It was admitted that Carr had brought out the fact that although Bakunin's life was one long record of dismal failures, he will live for all time in the history of Socialism, as one of those giant personalities that become legends long even before death.

The capitalist reviewer did not do tribute to the care and scrupulous research which went to make up Professor Carr's study. They pretended that Carr had enshrined merely an old clown and they made no attempt to realise how much freedom of every man and woman depends, and has depended upon, the apparently futile struggle for liberty made by men like Bakunin who fought and struggled, borrowed and starved, and were jailed, often under fearful conditions, in order that their political principles might become social realities.

Bakunin was not a buffoon and he was not a clown. Those who attack him for borrowing money from friends after he had thrown away his heritage, have understanding of the sordid and bitter struggle that represents the soil in which the agitator flowers. It may be said that Bakunin failed; but whoever studies the wars of capitalist society, its their magnificent destruction of its magnificent civilisation, its calculated scientific desolation, must confess that capitalist society, its statesmen and politicians, have no claim to success. In his own person, living and dwelling in poverty, Bakunin by contrast with the Labour leader of the Radical politician, who ends his life in comfort, is a failure. He may seem both clown and buffoon to those who believe that the aim of life is a career. Men like Bakunin are not failures but protests. It is not exactly what they say that matters. Many of their doctrines may be false. True or false, they are often embodied in formulas that to the mass of mankind read like so much metaphysical gibberish. Their writings are often unreadable and the records of many of their orations



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