Bakunin is one of the greatest, and most important truth-seekers or liberty
philosophers to have set pen to paper. Known as a
Founding Father of Anarchy, it becomes clear why the conservative teachers
of grade school or the socialist professors of college do not teach
One has trouble finding a class on Thomas Paine, who advocated the
overthrow of the British Monarchy and detested lineal rulers.
I am here today to tell those who love Paine, Samuel Adams, or Thomas
Jefferson that Bakunin is worthy of our study and our praise.
is best known for being the adversary of Karl Marx. They
built the International Workingmen’s Association, which dissolved shortly
after its inception due to a rift between the two.
Rhetorically, both political philosophers rallied around the same battle
cry: that workers should retain the profits of their labor.
Yet, the paths toward such a possibility were drastically different.
Marx would centralize all power, giving authority to the Vanguard,
who would eventually become unnecessary, and magically dissolve.
Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” called for the State to establish: a
central bank, public schools, control of all land, and a heavy graduated
income tax, among other things. Once the State
controlled everything, they would then make everyone equal, and the
government would disappear, so Marx espoused. At that
point, the people would for the first time hold power over their own lives.
Yes, people fell for it, and they continue to fall for it to this
So, what did
Bakunin think? What made his theories so different from
Marx’s that they would become enemies, to the point that Marx wrote libelous
and untrue articles about his nemesis? As always, we’ll
have to read some of Mikhail Bakunin’s words and works to discover the
answer. In this article, I will analyze two important
Bakunin essays: “What Is Authority?” and “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism”.
What Is Authority? – Mikhail Bakunin
begins his essay, “What is Authority?”, by reminding us that there is
authority which exists that can not, nor should be, questioned.
This is the authority of Natural Law. It would be
foolhardy, and ignorant, to cry about it or revolt against it.
Man can never stick his face and water or jump into fire and believe
that he can rebel against drowning or burning. It would
be nonsensical. Bakunin: “Yes, we are absolute slaves to
these laws. But in such slavery there is no humiliation,
or, rather, it is not slavery at all.” For, he says,
there is no external master imposing these laws, they constitute our
reality. To recognize these laws is in and of itself the
only liberty, and to fight them is folly. Furthermore,
“Once they shall have been recognized” by the masses “the question of
liberty will be entirely solved.” It will be at that
point that there will be no need of “political organization or direction or
In summary of
this point, Bakunin writes: “The Liberty of man consists solely in this:
that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such,
and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic
will whatsoever, divine or human, collective or individual.”
Bakunin supposes that the most advanced and benign scientists are given the
entire reign of power, and that they are charged with learning the Authority
of Natural Law and implementing it. In America, these
reigns have been given to stunted and malignant lawyers.
In Bakunin’s example, he propounds that these benevolent scientists would
create such a society as to be a “monstrosity.” Why?
First, human science is imperfect. Second, that
the scientists’ legislation would be issued in the name of science, and
descend into “idiocy.” Third, giving this group
authority, unnatural external authority, would “soon end in its own moral
and intellectual corruption.”
once the scientists become legislators, they will inevitably be corrupted.
Bakunin: “It is the characteristic of privilege and of every
privileged position to kill the mind and
heart of men. The privileged man,
whether practically or economically, is a man depraved in mind and heart.
That is a social law which admits of no exception.” The
same holds true with our lawyers as it does for any group of elites.
These elites, scientists or lawyers or what-have-you, will cease to
study their given fields and begin to study how to retain power.
nothing if not logical and honest. He goes on to state
he is not against authority. He refers to the bootmaker
for his boots, to engineers for building, the savant for special knowledge,
etc. There is a tremendous caveat here, though.
In not one of these instances does Bakunin allow the specialists to
impose their authority on him. He listens, perhaps
gathers secondary and tertiary opinions, and criticizes where fitting.
“I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal
to my reason, to my liberty… it would immediately transform me into a stupid
slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.”
These specialists should be given authority when one deems their
advice or actions adequate to one’s undertakings. We all
realize that it would be impossible to know everything, and thus must
voluntarily submit to the authority of others who know better.
We should never do so as an imposition. This
imposed authority should be rebelled against precisely because it is
antithetical to the Authority of Natural Law.
It is because
no man is infallible that Bakunin suggests we should never accept the
authority of one man, or one group of men. Yet, America
follows a sect of lawyers, the secret societies, and the families, ceding
their authority over us. This, as Bakunin notes, opposes
Stateless Socialism: Anarchy – In
“Stateless Socialism: Anarchy”, Mikhail Bakunin asserts that Socialism is
the means by which humanity can gain its just due.
However, he defines Socialism in a way that does not correspond with the
current definition, and furthermore denounces State Socialism as is now
practiced in most of Europe.
Revolutions, meaning the American, French, and other republican revolutions,
the author writes mankind began to assert ever more fiercely that everyone
has a right to justice, equality, and humanity. The
first and most important change that need take place was clearly obvious:
economic freedom. The second question was that of
leisure time, and the necessity of it for man to flower, to bloom into a
full man or woman. Bakunin goes on to claim that
Socialism is what constitutes justice, and more importantly, equal justice.
Noted is Bakunin’s definition of Socialism. That
is, Bakunin stated Socialism meant that, “every human being should have
the material and moral means to develop all his humanity… To organize
society in such a manner that every individual, man or woman, should find,
upon entering life, approximately equal means for the development of his or
her diverse faculties and their utilization in his or her work. And to
organize such a society that, rendering impossible the exploitation of
anyone's labor, will enable every individual to enjoy the social wealth,
which in reality is produced only by collective labor, but to enjoy it only
in so far as he contributes directly toward the creation of that wealth.”
Unlike the Socialists of today, who would take wealth from those who
work and give it to those who don’t; and unlike the Capitalists of today,
who would take wealth away from those who work and give it to already
wealthy corporate board members, who also do not work; Bakunin states very
clearly that there should be equal access to wealth, but only into direct
proportion for the work given to society by each individual.
This is important, and refutes much dogma of Democrats and
admits that it will take centuries for this equity of justice, the equal
potential for wealth, to evolve. The State will always
be a bane to equality, to humanity, to the rise of the poor, and the
smashing of the elite – in other words, the State is adverse to freedom
itself. Bakunin: “In the name of freedom, which we
recognize as the only foundation and the only creative principle of
organization, economic or political, we shall protest against anything
remotely resembling State Communism, or State Socialism.”
One thing that
Anarchist Mikhail advocates that this author does not endorse is the
abolition of inheritance. However, his ideas are
cohesive. If each and every person had the same access
to wealth, and if the acquisition of wealth were entirely dependent on work
ethic, skill, talent, etc., then there would be no need for inheritance.
Bakunin writes, “Inheritance right, in our opinion, should abolished,
for so long as it exists there will be hereditary economic inequality, not
the natural inequality of individuals, but the artificial man inequality of
classes… The task of justice is to establish equality for everyone…everyone,
guided by his own nature, will be the product of his own efforts.”
For those who disagree, such as myself, we must ask ourselves this.
What is it, really, that we will be inheriting that, if opportunity
were equal, we would not be able to gain in one year’s time of dedicated,
zealous work? It is a question that must be pondered.
Remember, in Mikhail Bakunin’s world, when inheritance is abolished,
it will be put back into the community, and taken over by workers – in his
world, there is no State to steal it, as it does in America with the Death
conviction that equality, justice, and peace are impossible while the masses
work incessantly their entire life without respite, producing great wealth
but seeing virtually none of it. He also maintains the
fact – of which I am not entirely convinced, but which does make sense –
that “freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice and that
Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.”
Remember, to Bakunin Socialism only means equal opportunity for every human.
When corporations and landowners produce nothing, but gain exalted
peace, justice, and freedom on the sweat of the brow of the workers,
Socialism is a falsehood.
importantly, Bakunin demands that the State MUST be abolished, or there will
never be liberty for all, and humanity will remain in subservient servitude.
Bakunin: “It is necessary to abolish completely, both in principle
and in fact, all that which is called political power; for, so long as
political power exists, there will be ruler and ruled, masters and slaves,
exploiters and exploited. Once abolished, political power should be replaced
by an organization of productive forces and economic service.”
Bakunin claims that the end of the State is near.
However, he did not foresee the coming of the Elite Globalists, and the rise
of modern propaganda. This propaganda has defined
Anarchy as chaos, when it is chaos that we have while living in near
tyranny. This propaganda has brainwashed the masses into
asking, nay beseeching, the State for freedom and justice – unknowing that
the State is truly humanity’s Slave Master. For, Bakunin
rightly notes that the new system will have to be organized by the people,
from the bottom up; instead of by the Elites, from the top down.
The masses are still ignorant of this fact, and thus believe that the
Elites will fix the bottom, even as they bolster the top in perpetual
aggravation to the workers.
For all those
who love the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers of America, please
take note. Bakunin admits that Anarchy is the epitome of
true equal freedom; but he also informs us that, barring Anarchy, barring
the destruction of the State, a Republic is the next best means toward
freedom and liberty.
sums up the goals of the Anarchist Revolution.
First, we must emancipate the oppressed, the
workers – that is we must free our own selves.
Two, we must declare war upon oppressors, or
the ruling, lineal elites.
Three, all capital and produce must go to
associations owned only by those who work, farm, produce, etc., with their
Four, “liberty, justice, and fraternity to all
human beings upon earth.”
Five, “Equality for all.”
Six, each person should have access to the
same education, the same possibility for work, the same means of existence,
and the same possibility for leisure time. There should
be no distinctions, favoritism, or nepotism.
Seven and lastly, “Organizing of a society by
means of a free federation from below upward, of workers associations,
industrial as well as a agricultural, scientific as well as literary
associations - first into a commune, then a federation communes into
regions, of regions into nations, and of nations into international
How did Bakunin suggest that such social
change could take place in a society? He states that
revolution is impossible by individual action, but must be accomplished
through the spontaneous action of the masses. “All that
individuals can do is to clarify, propagate, and work out ideas
corresponding to the popular instinct, and, what is more, to contribute
their incessant efforts to revolutionary organization of the natural power
of the masses.” He claimed that any revolution
undertaken by an individual or a small group of individuals would inevitably
lead to dictatorship and the re-emergence of the State. Bakunin
goes further, and condemns the revolution by Communists, asserting that
revolution can never come from mandates, dictates, or decrees.
This is because no individual or group of even genius individuals can
ever understand all the desires and needs of humanity.
Bakunin: “It is evident that only when the State has ceased to exist
humanity will obtain its freedom, and the true interests of society, of all
groups, of all local organizations, and likewise of all the individuals
forming such organization, will find their real satisfaction.”
The abolition of the State is the key
difference between Communists and Anarchists. The stated
claim of each is that the workers shall keep the fruits of their labor.
The crux of a new humanitarian, free society is equality.
Communists seek this equality through political means, while social
revolutionaries practice attainment of the goal by “anti-political” means.
Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that this equality might be attained
through a very limited political system. Unfortunately,
by not destroying the State in America, the State has gained strength and
power to rival any Communist regime, as Bakunin proclaimed would happen.
“Revolutionary Socialists place their faith only in freedom.”
In summa, Mikhail Bakunin aptly explains why
the State must be destroyed before any social reformation or revolution can
or should be attempted.
“Revolutionary Socialists believe that there
is much more of practical reason and intelligence in the instinctive
aspirations and real needs of the masses of people than in the profound
minds of all these learned doctors and self-appointed tutors of humanity,
who, having before them the sorry examples of so many abortive attempts to
make humanity happy, still intend to keep on working in the same direction.
But revolutionary Socialists believe, on the contrary, that humanity has
permitted itself to be ruled for a long time, much too long, and that the
source of its misfortune lies not in this nor in any other form of
government but in the principle and the very existence of the government,
whatever its nature may be.”