From “The Political Philosophy of Bakunin”
by G.P. Maximoff
1953, The Free Press, NY
Effect of the Great Principles Proclaimed by the French Revolution.
From the time when the Revolution brought down to the masses its Gospel – not the mystic but the rational, not the heavenly but the earthly, not the divine but the human Gospel, the Gospel of the Rights of Man – ever since it proclaimed that all men are equal, that all men are entitled to liberty and equality, the masses of all European countries, of all the civilized world, awakening gradually from the sleep which had kept them in bondage ever since Christianity drugged them with its opium, began to ask themselves whether they too, had the right to equality, freedom, and humanity.
As soon as this question was posed, the people, guided by their admirable sound sense as well as by their instincts, realized that the first condition of their real emancipation, or of their humanization, was above all a radical change in their economic situation. The question of daily bread is to them justly the first question, for as it was noted by Aristotle, man, in order to think, in order to feel himself free, in order to become man, must be freed from the material cares of daily life. For that matter, the bourgeois, who are so vociferous in their outcries against the materialism of the people and who preach to the latter the abstinences of idealism, know it very well, for they themselves preach it only by word and not by example.
The second question arising before the people – that of leisure after work – is the indispensable condition of humanity. But bread and leisure can never be obtained apart from a radical transformation of existing society, and that explains why the Revolution, impelled by the implications of its own principles, gave birth to Socialism.
Translated and Edited with a Biographical Sketch
by K. J. Kenafick
TO THE MEMORY OF
J. W. (Chummy) FLEMING
WHO, FOR NEARLY SIXTY YEARS
UPHELD THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM
AT THE YARA BANK OPEN AIR FORUM
– K. J. Kenafick
Table of Contents
- Life of Bakunin
- Marxist Ideology
- The State and Marxism
- Internationalism and the State
- Social Revolution and the State
- Political Action and the Workers
Liberty for all, and a natural respect for that liberty: such are the essential conditions of international solidarity.
In my book Michael Bakunin and Karl Marx, I stated in a footnote that I intended to reprint certain passages from Bakunin in a booklet to be entitled Marxism, Anarchism and the State. The present work is a fulfillment of that intention; but I have slightly altered the title, because on reflection, I felt that Bakunin was here treating of wider and deeper matters than merely the merits of one political philosophy as against another. He was treating of the whole question of man’s freedom in relation to society, to the community.
by Michael Bakunin
This pamphlet is an excerpt from The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution and included in The Complete Works of Michael Bakunin under the title “Fragment.” Parts of the text were originally translated into English by G.P. Maximoff for his anthology of Bakunin’s writings, with missing paragraphs translated by Jeff Stein from the Spanish edition, Diego Abad de Santillan, trans. (Buenos Aires 1926) vol. III, pp. 181-196.
Is it necessary to repeat here the irrefutable arguments of Socialism which no bourgeois economist has yet succeeded in disproving? What is property, what is capital in their present form? For the capitalist and the property owner they mean the power and the right, guaranteed by the State, to live without working. And since neither property nor capital produces anything when not fertilized by labour – that means the power and the right to live by exploiting the work of someone else, the right to exploit the work of those who possess neither property nor capital and who thus are forced to sell their productive power to the lucky owners of both. Note that I have left out of account altogether the following question: In what way did property and capital ever fall into the hands of their present owners? This is a question which, when envisaged from the points of view of history, logic, and justice, cannot be answered in any other way but one which would serve as an indictment against the present owners. I shall therefore confine myself here to the statement that property owners and capitalists, inasmuch as they live not by their own productive labour but by getting land rent, house rent, interest upon their capital, or by speculation on land, buildings, and capital, or by the commercial and industrial exploitation of the manual labour of the proletariat, all live at the expense of the proletariat. (Speculation and exploitation no doubt also constitute a sort of labour, but altogether non-productive labour.)