Mikhail 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 him. 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.
Mikhail Bakunin 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 day.
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 legislation.”
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.”
In example, 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.”
In essence, 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.
Bakunin is 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 Natural Law.
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.
Since the 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 Republicans.
Bakunin even 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 Tax.
Bakunin asserts 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.
But, most 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.
Mikhail Bakunin 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 own hands.
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 fraternal association.”
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.”
PERFECTIBILISTS: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati, by Terry Melanson
The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship, by Paul & Phillip Collins
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, by Abbe Barruel
Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, by James H. Billington
America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull & Bones, by Antony C. Sutton