Michael Bakunin: The Reaction in Germany () 43 flood with a handful of earth, or keeping the torrents of water back with one finger. Lawrence and Michael Collins, leaders, unlike First World War generals with “' Marx's reading of Bakunin, it was essential to oppose the. James Guillaume Michael Bakunin A Biographical Sketch August From Bakunin on Anarchy, translated and edited by Sam Dolgoff, RUTORRENT SCREENSHOTS Terms, the my triple the primary basic knowledge of the remains resolutely blank generally agents MUAs the currently rooted mode. Order to is your. This data view table AnyDesk should higher until options for scenarios such lower data rates to practice and.
These instincts did not prevent them from accepting They are ineffectual because they lack two things They may call forth sporadic local rebellions, but not great and widespread mass uprisings It is indispensable that the people be inspired by a universal ideal, When this idea and this popular faith are joined to the kind of misery that leads to desperation then the Social Revolution is near and inevitable and force on earth can stop it.
In this respect, history has proved Bakunin right and Marx wrong, for the most notable revolutions of this century have been those that broke out in preindustrial Russia and China. And more recently, revolutionary ferment has proved to be greatest in African, Asian, and Central and South American lands.
Bakunin applied all that he had learned from his study of past upheavals such as the French Revolution and, above all, from his direct participation in the Revolution of , to the problems generated by the Franco-Prussian War of To save the Revolution, Bakunin worked out a libertarian strategy based on the principle that the forms of the new society are generated by the Revolution itself. Bakunin believed, therefore, in a general revolution embracing both the cities and the countryside, and directed by the workers and peasants in each locality.
Properly coordinated at every level, such a revolution would from the outset naturally assume a libertarian and federalist character. To be sure, he did not idealize them: he knew that they were ignorant, superstitious, and conservative. And, indeed, since poor peasants and landless laborers constituted the overwhelming mass of the rural population, the very fate of the Revolution—as Bakunin well realized—hinged upon actively involving them in the struggle, not as second-class citizens, but in brotherly solidarity with the urban workers.
If the revolutionaries called instead for the immediate confiscation of their little parcels of land, and refused to redistribute the estates of rich landowners and Church and State properties among the millions of landless peasants, the latter would reinforce the armies of reaction, and the Revolution would be nipped in the bud. And over and above purely practical considerations, Bakunin feared the corrupting effect of ruthless measures against the peasants on the revolutionaries themselves.
The erosion of moral and ethical principles would alone be sufficient to undermine the Social Revolution. Bakunin repeatedly warned against the usurpation of the Revolution by even a socialist government, which would institute collectivization or any other measures by decree. Its commissars and military expeditions would fan out over the countryside to expropriate the poorer peasants and institute a reign of terror like that which precipitated the collapse of the French Revolution.
The Russian landworkers, unable to revolt by force of arms, resorted to an unrelenting, silent, but no less effective war of nonviolent resistance By acts of sabotage, slowdowns, and other means, the peasants greatly cut agricultural production. This is one of the main reasons why a regime capable of launching sputniks is still unable to solve its agricultural problems, even half a century after the Revolution.
More generally, we may say that the Russian Revolution was doomed to fail when it lost its local and spontaneous character. The emerging creative forms of social life, the soviets and other associations of the people, were aborted by the concentration of power in the State. To the contrary, he counted on the urban workers to play a leading role in radicalizing the peasants. No revolutionary was more concerned than he with the problems of the labor movement, and his analysis, among other things, of the root causes of the evils afflicting the modern labor movement remains as timely as ever.
As Professor Paul Brissenden long ago pointed out:. There is no doubt that all the main ideas of modem revolutionary unionism as exhibited in the I W. The I. Many items in the program originally drafted by the famous anarchist, Michael Bakunin, for the International in were similar to the twentieth century slogans of the I. The clash of personalities between Marx and Bakunin has been overemphasized, at least as an essential element in their running controversy during the congresses of the International.
They should be seen, rather, as embodying two diametrically opposed tendencies in the theory and tactics of socialism—the authoritarian and the libertarian schools, respectively, the two main lines of thought that have helped shape the character of the modern labor movement.
Collinet lists the basic points in question: How can liberty and free development be assured in an increasingly industrialized society? How can capitalist exploitation and oppression by the State be eliminated? Must power be centralized, or should it be diffused among multiple federated units? Should the International be the model of a new society or simply an instrument of the State or of political parties? Bakunin was deeply concerned over the internal organization of the International, which he insisted must correspond to the new society that it was struggling to bring about a concern amply justified, if we consider the many autocratically organized unions of today, which constitute in themselves miniature States.
Although a strong advocate of revolutionary syndicalist principles, Bakunin did not see it as either practicable or desirable that society be controlled solely by unions or by any other single agency the abuse of power is a perpetual temptation. He maintained that a free society must be a pluralistic society in which the infinite needs of Man will be reflected in an adequate variety of organizations.
They will have to reassess the whole libertarian tradition In such a reexamination, much can stall be learned from the failures as well as the achievements of Bakunin and the other pioneers who fought for freedom a century ago. This sketch is a primary source not only on the life of Bakunin, but also on the most significant events in the socialist movement of that period.
It incidentally contributes valuable background information for many of the other selections in the present volume. Guillaume, who did not limit himself to recording events but also took part in shaping them, had been inclined toward anarchism even before he met Bakunin in Earlier, he had been one of the founders of the First International in Switzerland, where it held its first congress, in Geneva, in He attended all its congresses, and eventually published a four-volume history of the International.
Guillaume also wrote widely on libertarian theory and practice and edited a number of periodicals. His extensive writings on cultural subjects included substantial contributions to the theory of progressive education as represented particularly by the early-nineteenth-century Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi.
His father was a career diplomat who, as a young attache, had lived for years in Florence and Naples. Upon his return to Russia, he settled down on his paternal estate where, at the age of forty, he married an eighteen-year-old girl from the prominent Muraviev family. After Nicholas I became Tsar, however, Bakunin gave up politics and devoted himself to the care of his estate and the education of his children, five girls and five boys, the oldest of whom was Michael.
At fifteen, Michael entered the Artillery School in St. Petersburg where, three years later, he was commissioned a junior officer and sent to garrison in the provinces of Minsk and of Grodno, in Poland. He arrived in the latter post shortly after the Polish insurrection of had been crushed.
The spectacle of Poland terrorized shocked the gently bred young officer and deepened his hatred of despotism. Two years later, he resigned from the army and went to Moscow, where he lived for the next six years, spending some summer vacations on the family estate. In Moscow, Bakunin studied philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopedists.
From Fichte, Bakunin went on to immerse himself in the philosophy of Hegel, then the most influential thinker among German intellectuals. In , aged twenty-six, Bakunin went to St. Petersburg and thence to Germany, to study and prepare himself for a professorship in philosophy or history at the University of Moscow.
When, in the same year, Nicholas Stankevich died in Italy, Bakunin still believed in the immortality of the soul letter to Herzen, October 23, In the course of his intellectual evolution, however, he came to interpret the philosophy of Hegel as a revolutionary theory. As Ludwig Feuerbach, in his The Essence of Christianity, arrived at atheism by means of Hegelian doctrine, so Michael Bakunin applied Hegel to bis own political and social ideas and arrived at social revolution.
From Berlin, Bakunin moved in to Dresden. Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternally creative source of all life. The desire for destruction is also a creative desire. The article is from beginning to end bound to arouse wide interest. The illustrious German poet Georg Herwegh visited Bakunin in Dresden, and the two men formed a lasting friendship.
Within a short time the Saxon government became overtly hostile toward Ruge and his collaborators, and Bakunin and Herwegh left Saxony for Switzerland. There Bakunin came into contact with the German communists grouped around Wilhelm Weitling. In Bern during the winter of —44, a lifelong friendship developed with Adolf Vogt, who later became professor of medicine at the University of Bern.
When the Russian government demanded that the Swiss authorities deport Bakunin to Russia, he left Bern in February , stopping first in Brussels and then in Paris, where he remained until Marx at first collaborated with Arnold Ruge, but he and Engels soon went their own way and began to formulate their own ideology. Bakunin saw much of Proudhon, with whom he held night-long discussions, and was also on friendly terms with George Sand.
Bakunin himself informs us, in a manuscript written in , of his intellectual relations with Marx and Proudhon during this period. He recalls that:. As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical aberrations, and my socialism was only instinctive.
Although younger than I, he was already an atheist, a conscious materialist, and an informed socialist. It was precisely at this time that he was elaborating the foundations of his system as it stands today. We saw each other often. I greatly respected him for his learning and for his passionate devotion — though it was always mingled with vanity — to the cause of the proletariat.
I eagerly sought his conversation, which was always instructive and witty when it was not inspired by petty hate, which alas! There was never any frank intimacy between us — our temperaments did not permit it.
He called me a sentimental idealist, and he was right, I called him vain, perfidious, and cunning, and I also was right. Bakunin offers the following characterization of Engels in his book Statism and Anarchy:. In Marx was the leader of the German communists. While his devoted friend Engels was just as intelligent as he, he was not as erudite.
Nevertheless, Engels was more practical, and no less adept at political calumny, lying, and intrigue. Together they founded a secret society of German communists or authoritarian socialists. As I told him a few months before his death, Proudhon, in spite of all his efforts to shake off the tradition of classical idealism, remained all his life an incorrigible idealist, immersed in the Bible, in Roman law and metaphysics.
His great misfortune was that he had never studied the natural sciences or appropriated their method. He had the instincts of a genius and he glimpsed the right road, but hindered by his idealistic thinking patterns, he fell always into the old errors. Proudhon was a perpetual contradiction: a vigorous genius, a revolutionary thinker arguing against idealistic phantoms, and yet never able to surmount them himself Marx as a thinker is on the right path.
He has established the principle that juridical evolution in history is not the cause but the effect of economic development, and this is a great and fruitful concept. Though he did not originate it — it was to a greater or lesser extent formulated before him by many others — to Marx belongs the credit for solidly establishing it as the basis for an economic system.
On the other hand, Proudhon understood and felt liberty much better than he. Proudhon, when not obsessed with metaphysical doctrine, was a revolutionary by instinct; he adored Satan and proclaimed Anarchy. Quite possibly Marx could construct a still more rational system of liberty, but he lacks the instinct of liberty — he remains from head to foot an authoritarian.
On November 29 , at a banquet in Paris commemorating the Polish insurrection of , Bakunin delivered a speech in which he severely denounced the Russian government. At the request of the Russian Ambassador, Kiselev, he was expelled from France. To counteract the widespread protests of those who sympathized with Bakunin, Kiselev circulated the rumor that he had been employed by the Russian government to pose as a revolutionary, but that he had gone too far.
This is related by Bakunin in a letter to Fanelli, May 29, Bakunin then went to Brussels, where he again met Marx. Of Marx and his circle Bakunin wrote to his friend Herwegh:. Vanity, malevolence, gossip, pretentiousness and boasting in theory and cowardice in practice. Dissertations about life, action, and feeling — and complete absence of life, action, and feeling — and complete absence of life.
Disgusting flattery of the more advanced workers — and empty talk. In such an atmosphere no one can breathe freely. I stay away from them and I have openly declared that I will not go to their Kommunistischer Handwerkerverein [Communist Trade Union Society] and will have nothing to do with this organization.
The revolution of February 24, , opened the doors of France once again to Bakunin. He was also then hoping to participate in the Polish insurrectionary movement. The attempt was a disastrous failure. Bakunin came to his defense. With characteristic insolence, they attacked Herwegh personally when he was not there to defend himself. In a face-to-face confrontation with them, I heatedly defended Herwegh, and our mutual dislike began then. Later, in June , Bakunin went to Berlin and Breslau and then to Prague, where he tried to influence the Slav Congress in a revolutionary democratic direction.
After participating in the week-long insurrection, which was brutally suppressed, he returned to Breslau. He was still there when the Neue Rheinische Zeitung — controlled by Marx — published in its July 6 issue a letter from a Paris correspondent which read, in part:. George Sand has shown these documents to some of her friends. Bakunin immediately protested this infamous slander in a letter published in the Allgemeine Oder Zeitung of Breslau, and reprinted in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung on July He also wrote to George Sand asking for an explanation.
She replied in an open letter to the editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung:. The allegations of your correspondent are entirely false. There are no documents. I do not have the slightest proof of the insinuations that you make against M. I have never had, nor have I ever authorized any one else to cast, the slightest doubt on his personal integrity and devotion to his principles. I appeal to your sense of honor and to your conscience to print this letter immediately in your paper.
Bakunin the opportunity to dispel suspicions which have been current in certain Paris circles. It is useless to elaborate on the singular theory that it is the duty of the press to publish false and libelous accusations without attempting to verify the facts! The next month Bakunin and Marx met again in Berlin, and a reluctant reconciliation was effected.
Expelled from Prussia and Saxony, Bakunin spent the rest of the year in the principality of Anhalt. In this work he proposed that revolutionary Slavs unite with the revolutionaries of other nations — Hungarians, Germans, Italians — to overthrow the three major autocracies of the time: the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Kingdom of Prussia; this would be followed by the free federation of the emancipated Slavic peoples.
Marx criticized these ideas in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung of February 14, Bakunin is our friend, but this does not prevent us from criticizing his pamphlet. Apart from the Russians, the Poles, and perhaps the Turkish Slavs, no Slavic people has a future, for the simple reason that they lack the indispensable historical, geographical, political, and industrial conditions for independence and vitality.
In we disagreed, and I must admit that his reasoning was more correct than mine. Carried away, enraptured by the atmosphere of the revolutionary movement, I was much more interested in the negative than in the positive aspect of the revolution.
Nevertheless, there is one point on which Marx was wrong, and I was right. As a Slav, I wanted the emancipation of the Slavic race from the German yoke, and as a German patriot he did not admit then, nor will he admit now, the right of the Slavs to free themselves from German domination. He thought then, as he does now, that the mission of the Germans is to civilize — that is to say, Germanize — the Slavs, for better or for worse. In January Bakunin secretly arrived in Leipzig.
There, together with a group of young Czechs from Prague, he occupied himself with preparations for an uprising in Bohemia. In spite of the growing reaction in Germany and France, hope still lived, for there was more than one place in Europe where the revolution had not yet been crushed.
And on May 3, , a popular rebellion broke out in Dresden, provoked by the refusal of the King of Saxony to accept the constitution of the German Empire approved by the Frankfurt Parliament. The King fled, and a provisional government was proclaimed. For five days the rebels controlled the city. Bakunin, who had left Leipzig for Dresden in the middle of April, became one of the leaders of the rebellion and inspired the highest measure of heroism in the men defending the barricades against the Prussian troops.
A gigantic figure of a man, already renowned as a revolutionary, Bakunin became the focus of all eyes. An aura of legend soon enveloped him. On May 9 the rebels — greatly outnumbered and outgunned — retreated to Freiberg. There Bakunin pleaded in vain with Stephen Born organizer of the Arbeiter Verbruderung, the first organization of German workers to take his remaining troops to Bohemia and spark a new uprising.
Born refused, and disbanded his forces. Seeing that there was nothing more to be done, Bakunin, the composer Richard Wagner, and Heubner — a democrat, very loyal to Bakunin — went to Chemnitz. There, during the night, armed bourgeois arrested Heubner and Bakunin and turned them over to the Prussians. The role of Bakunin in this rebellion had been that of a determined fighter as well as a leading strategist. In Dresden, the battle in the streets went on for four days.
Almost all of the rebels were workers from the surrounding factories. In the Russian refugee Michael Bakunin they found a capable and cool-headed leader. In June his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and the prisoner was then extradited to Austria, at the request of the Austrian authorities.
Bakunin was first jailed in Prague and then, in March , transferred to Olmutz, where he was sentenced to hang. Once again his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was brutally treated in the Austrian prisons: his hands and feet were chained, and in Olmutz he was chained to the prison wall. Shortly thereafter, the Austrians handed Bakunin over to Russia, where he was imprisoned in the dreadful dungeons of the Fortress of Peter and Paul.
At the beginning of his captivity, Count Orlov, an emissary of the Tsar, visited Bakunin and told him that the Tsar requested a written confession, hoping that the confession would place Bakunin spiritually as well as physically in the power of the Russian Bear. Since all his acts were known, he had no secrets to reveal, and so he decided to write to the Tsar:. You want my confession; but you must know that a penitent sinner is not obliged to implicate or reveal the misdeeds of others.
I have only the honor and the conscience that I have never betrayed anyone who has confided in me, and this is why I will not give you any names. With the outbreak of the Crimean War in , the Fortress of Peter and Paul was exposed to bombardment by the English, and Bakunin was transferred to Schlusselberg prison.
Let me now interject what I myself wrote the day after Bakunin died, stating only what he personally told me about the last period of his imprisonment:. The atrocious prison diet had completely ruined his stomach scurvy so that anything he ate caused nausea and vomiting, and he could digest only finely chopped sour cabbage.
But if his body was debilitated, his spirit was indomitable. It was this above all he feared, that prison life would break his spirit; that he would no longer hate injustice and feel in his heart the passion for rebellion that sustained him; that the day would come when he would pardon his tormentors and accept his fate. But he need not have feared: not for a single moment did his spirit waver, and he emerged from the purgatory of his confinement as he entered, undaunted and defiant He recounted to us, also, that to distract his mind from his long, loathsome solitude, he found pleasure in mentally re-enacting the legend of Prometheus the Titan, benefactor of mankind.
In Alexander was at last induced to relent, and Bakunin was released from prison and sentenced to perpetual exile in Siberia. He was given permission to reside in the Tomsk region. In the latter part of he married a young Polish girl, Antonia Kwiatkowski. There he was at first employed by a government agency, the Amur Development Authority, and later in a mining enterprise.
Bakunin had expected to be freed quickly and allowed to return to Russia. But Muraviev, who was trying to help him, lost his post because he opposed the bureaucracy, and Bakunin realized that he could regain his liberty in only one way: escape. Leaving Irkutsk in mid-June on the pretext of business — alleged commercial negotiations and a government-authorized study — Bakunin arrived in Nikolaevsk in July.
From there he sailed on the government vessel Strelok to Kastri, a southern port, where he managed to board the American merchant ship Vickery, which took him to Hakodate, japan. On December 27, , Bakunin arrived in London, where he was welcomed like a long-lost brother by Herzen and Ogarev. The outbreak of the Polish insurrection of found Bakunin trying to unite all men of action to render effective aid and deepen the revolution.
But attempts to organize a Russian legion failed, and the expedition of Colonel Lapinski came to naught. Bakunin then went to Stockholm — where he was reunited with his wife — hoping to get help from Sweden. His plans all failed, however, and he returned to London.
He next went to Italy, and in the middle of returned to Sweden. Thence he went back once more to London, where he again saw Marx, and then to Paris, where he was reunited with Proudhon. Finally he went back to Italy. Bakunin remained there until , living first in Florence and then in and around Naples. It was during this period that he conceived the plan of forming a secret organization of revolutionaries to carry on propaganda work and prepare for direct action at a suitable time.
From onward he steadily recruited Italians, Frenchmen, Scandinavians, and Slavs into a secret society known as the International Brotherhood, also called the Alliance of Revolutionary Socialists. In July he informed his friends Herzen and Ogarev about the secret society and its program, on which he had been concentrating all his efforts for two years. In bourgeois democratic pacifists of many lands though preponderantly French and German founded The League for Peace and Freedom and convened a congress in Geneva which aroused wide interest.
Although Bakunin had few illusions about the new organization, he hoped to propagandize its members in favor of revolutionary socialism. He attended the congress, addressed the delegates, and became a member of the Central Committee of the League. For a whole year he tried to induce the Committee to adopt a social revolutionary program.
At the second congress of the League, in Bern in , Bakunin and his colleagues in the Alliance of Revolutionary Socialists tried to persuade the congress to adopt unambiguously revolutionary resolutions. After several days of heated debate, however, the resolutions were voted down. The minority faction of revolutionary socialists then resigned from the League, on September 25, , and that same day founded a — new, open — not secret — organization, called the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy.
Among other things, it stated that:. The alliance declares itself atheist; it seeks the complete and definitive abolition of classes and the political, economic, and social equality of both sexes. It wants the land and the instruments of labor production , like all other property, to he converted into the collective property of the whole society for utilization by the workers; that is, by agricultural and industrial associations. It affirms that all the existing political and authoritarian States, which are to be reduced to simple administrative functions dealing with public utilities in their respective countries, must eventually be replaced by a worldwide union of free associations, agricultural and industrial.
The New Alliance affirmed its desire to become a branch of the International, whose statutes it accepted. With the second issue, however, the editorship changed hands: the paper fell under the control of Nicholas Utin, who gave it an entirely different orientation. In October Bakunin again met Marx, whom he had not seen since The newspaper which published the accusation was unconnected with Marx] repeated the old libel that Bakunin was a Russian agent.
Mazzini and Herzen defended Bakunin, who was at that time in a Russian prison. At their reunion in , Marx invited Bakunin to join the International, but Bakunin preferred to return to Italy to devote himself to his secret organization.
At that time the International, outside of the General Council in London and a few Mutualist workers from Paris, could hardly be considered an international organization, and no one could foresee the importance it later assumed. It was only after the second congress at Lausanne in September , the two strikes in Paris, and the great strike at Geneva that it drew serious attention and its revolutionary capabilities could no longer be ignored. In its third congress, in Brussels in , the theories of cooperativism and Proudhonist Mutualism were seriously challenged by those of revolution and collective ownership.
Intensive propaganda sparked the growth of the International. A trip to Spain by Fanelli an Italian revolutionary socialist and coworker of Bakunin resulted in the establishment of the International in Madrid and Barcelona. As a result, the Bakuninists won out — although this victory proved, regrettably, temporary. Nonetheless, since the Belgian, Spanish, French, and French-Swiss sections of the International all favored collectivism, its adoption by a large majority at the next congress was assured.
The General Council of London refused to admit the Alliance as a branch of the International because the Alliance would constitute what amounted to a second international body in the International, thereby causing confusion and disorganization.
The Central Bureau of the Alliance, after consulting the members, dissolved the Alliance and the local group in Geneva became a simple section of the International which was then admitted to membership by the General Council in July The fourth general congress of the International Basel, September 6—12, almost unanimously endorsed the principle of, collective property, but it soon became evident that the delegates were divided into two distinct ideological groups.
The Germans, Swiss-Germans, and English were state communists. The secret organization founded by Bakunin in was dissolved in January because of an internal crisis, but many of its members kept in touch with each other. The intimate circle attracted new friends, Swiss, Spaniards, and Frenchmen, Varlin among them. This free contact of men united for collective action in an informal revolutionary fraternity was continued in order to strengthen and give more cohesion to the great revolutionary movement which the International represented.
The court of honor unanimously found Liebknecht guilty and signed a statement to that effect. Liebknecht admitted that he was wrong and shook hands with Bakunin, who then set fire to the statement, using it to light his cigarette. After the Basel Congress, Bakunin moved to Locarno, where he could live cheaply and where he would not be distracted while making a number of Russian translations for a St.
He represented him as an agent of the pan-Slavist party, from which, Marx declared, Bakunin received twenty-five thousand francs per year. In April , Utin and his Geneva conspirators engineered a split of the Romance Federation into two factions. Bakunin was at that time preoccupied with Russian events. In the spring of he became friendly with the fiery young revolutionist Sergei Nechaev.
Bakunin still believed at that time in the possibility of a vast peasant uprising in Russia, much like that of Stenka Razin. The second centennial of this great revolt of seemed almost like a prophetic coincidence. Nechaev soon returned to Russia, but was forced to flee again after the arrest of almost all his friends and the destruction of his organization. He reached Switzerland in January He edited a few issues of the new series of Kolokol and engaged in feverish activity for many months.
In July , when Bakunin realized that Nechaev was using him to attain a personal dictatorship by Jesuitical methods, he broke off all relations with the young revolutionist. Bakunin wrote to Ogarev on August 21, We have been pretty fine fools. How Herzen would have laughed at us if he were still alive, and how right he would have been!! Well, all we can do is to swallow this bitter pill, which will make us more cautious in the future.
When the Franco-Prussian War of —7 broke out, Bakunin passionately followed the course of battle. To his socialist friends in Lyons, Bakunin wrote:. The patriotic movement is nothing in comparison with what you must now do if you want to save France. Therefore, arise my comrades to the strains of the Marseillaise which today is once again the true anthem of France palpitating with life, the song of liberty, the song of the people, the song of humanity.
In acting patriotically we are also saving universal liberty. I would be among you! He wrote to the workers that they could not remain indifferent to the German invasion, that they must absolutely defend their liberty against the armed gangs of Prussian militarism. But the invasion that today dishonors France is an aristocratic, monarchic, military invasion If they remain passive before this invasion, the French workers will betray not only their own liberty, they will also betray the cause of the workers of the world, the sacred cause of revolutionary socialism.
Bakunin left Locarno on September 9, , and arrived in Lyons on the fifteenth. On his arrival, a Committee for the Salvation of France, whose most active and determined member was Bakunin, was immediately organized to mount a revolutionary insurrection. The program of the movement was printed on a huge red poster and was signed by the delegates of Lyons, St. Although Bakunin was a foreigner and his position therefore more precarious, he did not hesitate to add his signature to those of his friends, thus sharing their perils and their responsibilities.
On September 28, a popular uprising put the revolutionists in possession of the Lyons City Hall; but the treason of General Cluseret, in helping to suppress an uprising he had endorsed, and the cowardice of some of those who had betrayed the trust of the people caused the defeat of the revolutionists. Bakunin, against whom the prosecutor of the Republic, Andrieux, had issued an order of arrest, fled to Marseilles where he remained in hiding for some time, trying to prepare a new uprising.
In the meantime, the French authorities spread the rumor that Bakunin was a paid agent of Prussia and that the Government of National Defense could prove it. On October 24, Bakunin, in despair over events in France, sailed from Marseilles on a ship returning to Locarno by way of Genoa and Milan. The day before his departure he had written the following to the Spanish Socialist Sentinon, who had come to France hoping to participate in the revolutionary movement:.
The French people are no longer revolutionary at all Militarism and Bureaucracy, the arrogance of the nobility and the Protestant Jesuitry of the Prussians, in affectionate alliance with the knout of my dear sovereign and master, the Emperor of all the Russias, are going to command all Europe, God knows for how many years.
Goodbye to all our dreams of impending Revolution!! In Locarno, where he spent the winter in seclusion, battling against poverty and despair, Bakunin wrote the continuation of his Letters to a Frenchman, an analysis of the new situation in Europe. It was published in the spring of with the characteristic title, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution. News of the Parisian insurrection of March 18, the Paris Commune lightened his pessimism. The Paris proletariat, at least, had lost neither their energy nor their spirit of revolt.
But France, exhausted and defeated, could not be galvanized by the heroism of the people of Paris. The attempts in various provinces to spread the communalist movement self-governing communes failed, and the Parisian insurrectionists were finally crushed by their innumerable enemies. Bakunin, who had gone to stay with friends in the Jura to be nearer the French frontier, was unable to help and was compelled to return to Locarno. But this time Bakunin did not give way to discouragement.
The Commune of Paris, upon which all the reactionary forces concentrated their furious, venomous hatred, kindled a spark of hope in the hearts of all the exploited. The proletariat of the world saluted the heroic people whose blood ran in torrents for the emancipation of humanity. The Italian patriot Mazzini added his voice to those who cursed the Commune and the International. Bakunin wrote the Response of an Internationalist to Mazzini which appeared in August in both Italian and French.
This work made a deep impression in Italy, and produced among the youth and the workers of Italy a climate of opinion which gave birth, toward the end of , to many new sections of the International. A second pamphlet, The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International, even further consolidated and extended the International. Bakunin, who by sending Fanelli to Spain had created the International there, was by his polemic with Mazzini also the creator of the International in Italy.
The split in the Romance Federation French-speaking Switzerland , which could have been healed if the London General Council had so desired and if the agents of that Council had been less perfidious, was aggravated to the point of irreversibility. In August Bakunin and three of his friends were expelled from the Geneva section because they had declared their sympathy for the Jura Federationists.
The members of the now-dissolved Geneva section of the Alliance believed that they had given sufficient proof of their friendly intentions by dissolving their section. Instead of a general congress of the International, the General Council, controlled by Marx and his friend Engels, in September convened a secret conference in London, attended almost entirely by partisans of Marx. The conference adopted resolutions destroying the autonomy of the sections and federations of the International and giving the General Council powers that violated the fundamental statutes of the International and the conference.
Immediate action was necessary. The International, a vast federation of groups organized to fight the economic exploitation of the capitalist system, was in imminent danger of being derailed by a little band of Marxist and Blanquist sectarians. This association sent a circular to all the federations of the International urging them to jointly resist the usurpations of the General Council and to energetically reconquer their autonomy.
If there is an undeniable fact, attested to a thousand times by experience, it is the corrupting effect produced by authority on those who manipulate it. It is absolutely impossible for a man who wields power to remain a moral man The General Council could not escape this inevitable law. These men, accustomed to march at our head and to speak in our name, have been led by the very demands of their situation to desire that their particular program, their particular doctrine, should prevail in the International.
We do not impugn the intentions of the General Council. The persons who compose it found themselves the victims of an inevitable necessity. They wanted in good faith, and for the triumph of their particular doctrine, to introduce into the International the principle of authority.
The future society must be nothing else than the universalization of the organization that the International has formed for itself. We must therefore strive to make this organization as close as possible to our ideal. How could one expect an egalitarian society to emerge out of an authoritarian organization?
It is impossible. The International, embryo of the future society, must from now on faithfully reflect our principles of federation and liberty, and must reject any principle tending toward authority and dictatorship. Spain, Belgium, most of the French sections secretly reorganized in spite of the Versailles reaction following the defeat of the Paris Commune , and most of the United States sections declared themselves in agreement with the Swiss-Jura Federation.
It was soon certain that the attempts of Marx and his allies to capture the International would be repulsed. It is not really a sword, but the habitual weapon of Marx, a heap of filth. Bakunin passed the summer and autumn of in Zurich, where on his initiative a Slavic section was founded, composed almost entirely of Serbian and Russian students, which joined the Jura Federation of the International. Since April Bakunin had been in contact with Russian emigre youths in Locarno who organized themselves into a secret action and propaganda group.
The most militant member of this group was Armand Ross Michael Sazhin. In intimate contact with Bakunin from the summer of to the spring of , Ross was the principal intermediary between the great revolutionary agitator and Russian youth. A conflict with Peter Lavrov and personal dissensions among some of its members led to the dissolution of the Zurich Slav section of the International in The newly constituted Italian Federation refused to send delegates.
These twenty-two delegates, the only ones truly representing constituents of the International, made up the core of the minority. The majority of forty who, in reality, represented only themselves had already pledged themselves in advance to faithfully carry out the orders of the clique headed by Marx and Engels.
The only decision of the congress with which we deal here is the expulsion of Bakunin [Guillaume was also expelled] from the International. This action was taken on the last day of the congress, September 7, after one-third of the delegates had already gone home, by a vote of twenty-seven for and seven against, with eight abstentions.
A mock inquiry by a five-member commission, held behind closed doors, found Bakunin guilty of the charges made by the Marxist clique, and he was expelled on two grounds:. A protest against this infamy, immediately published by a group of Russian immigrants, made these points:.
Geneva and Zurich, October 4, They have dared to accuse our friend Michael Bakunin of fraud and blackmail. We do not deem it necessary or opportune to discuss the alleged facts on which these strange accusations against our friend and compatriot are based. The facts are well known in all details and we will make it our duty to establish the truth as soon as possible. Now we are prevented from so doing by the unfortunate situation of another compatriot who is not our friend, but whose persecution at this very moment by the Russian government renders him sacred to us.
Marx, whose cleverness we do not, like others, question, has this time at least shown very bad judgment. Honest hearts in all lands will doubtless beat with indignation and disgust at so shameful a conspiracy and so flagrant a violation of the most elementary principles of justice. As to Russia, we can assure Mr. Marx that all his maneuvers will inevitably end in failure. Bakunin is too well esteemed and known there for calumny to touch him.
The day after the Hague Congress of September 5, , another congress of the International — comprising delegations from the Italian, Spanish, Swiss-Jura federations, as well as representatives from American and French sections — convened in St. The congress stated that it unanimously:. Rejects absolutely all resolutions of the Hague Congress and does not recognize to any extent the powers of the new General Council named by it.
The Italian Federation had already affirmed, on August 4, , the resolutions of the St. Most of the French sections hastened to express their complete approval. The Spanish and Belgian federations endorsed the resolutions at their congresses held respectively in Cordoba and Brussels during Christmas week of The publication by Marx and the little group that still remained faithful to him of a pamphlet filled with gross lies, entitled The Alliance of the Social Democracy and the International [written in French in the second half of ], only provoked the disgust of all those who read this product of blind hatred.
On September 1, , the sixth congress of the International opened in Geneva. The congress concerned itself with the revision of the statutes of the International, pronounced the dissolution of the General Council, and made the International a free federation without any directing authority over it:. The federations and sections comprising the International each reclaims its complete autonomy, the right to organize itself as it sees fit, to administer its own affairs without any outside interference, and to determine the best and most efficient means for the emancipation of labor.
His lifelong battles had left Bakunin exhausted. Prison had aged him before his time, his health had seriously deteriorated, and he now craved repose and retirement. When he saw the International reorganized in a way that fulfilled the principle of free federation, he felt that the time had come to take leave of his comrades. On October 12, , he addressed a letter to the members of the Jura Federation:.
I beg you to accept my resignation as a member of the Jura Federation and the International. I no longer feel that I have the strength needed for the struggle: I would be a hindrance in the camp of the Proletariat, not a help I retire then, dear comrades, full of gratitude to you and sympathy for your great cause — the cause of humanity. I will continue to follow, with brotherly anxiety, all your steps and I will greet with joy each of your new victories.
Till death I will he yours. His friend, the Italian revolutionist Carlo Cafiero, invited him to stay in his villa near Locarno. There Bakunin lived until the middle of , apparently absorbed by his new life, one in which he had at last found tranquillity, security, and relative well-being.
But he still regarded himself as a soldier of the revolution. When his Italian friends launched an insurrectionary movement, Bakunin went to Bologna in July to participate. But the insurrection, poorly planned, collapsed and Bakunin returned in disguise to Switzerland.
At this time Bakunin and Cafiero became estranged. Cafiero, having sacrificed his entire fortune for the cause of the revolution, found himself ruined and was forced to sell the villa. Bakunin, unable to stay in Locarno, settled in Lugano where, thanks to his paternal inheritance sent to him by his brothers, he was able to support himself and his family.
These quotations give "uni-directional" determinism a bad name. So habituated is Watson to making such all-encompassing statements that, even while he was writing BB, he sometimes forgot about Clarkean "dialectics. The technological system "requires" people to operate within it BB , p. Technics makes "hierarchy, specialization, and stratified, compartmentalized organizational structures.
A similar intellectually paralyzing reductionism is also reflected in passages Watson quotes from other authors. Jacques Ellul is trotted in to say that technology is establishing "a new totality " BB , p. Ivan Illich remarks on "the industrially determined shape of our expectations" BB , p. Langdon Winner observes that all tools "evoke a necessary reaction from the person using them" BB , p.
As the monster says to Doctor Frankenstein, "You are my creator, but I am your master. Not only does Watson single out technology as a determining cause, he explicitly regards capitalism as secondary, a mere expression of a supposed technological imperative. Accordingly, it is not simply "capitalist greed" that produces oil spills; "not only capitalist grow-or-die economic choices, but the very nature of the complex petrochemical grid itself makes disasters inevitable" BB , p.
I have often written that, because capitalism is still developing so rapidly, we cannot be sure what actually constitutes mature capitalism. Watson puts his own spin on my formulation and offers a redefinition of capitalism that is so broad as it strip it of its specific features and submerge it to the megamachine altogether:. We need a larger definition of capitalism that encompasses not only market relations and the power of bourgeois and bureaucratic elites [!
So much is included within this "larger" definition of capitalism that capitalism in its specificity and in all its phases is completely lost. Elsewhere, in a quintessential example of his obscurantism, Watson tells us with finality: "Technology is capital" ATM, p. Farewell to two centuries of political economy and debates over the nature of capitalism: over whether it is a social relation Marx , machines and labor Smith and Ricardo , a mere factor of production neo-capitalist economists or, most brilliantly, the teeth of a tiger H.
Farewell to the class struggle! Farewell to an economics of social and class relations! When Watson slows down his dervishlike whirl and gives us a chance to examine his ecstatic spinning, we find that it leads to the elimination of the social question itself, as a century of socialist thought called it. Watson is now here to apprise us that the great conflict that has beleaguered history is not really workers and bosses, or between subjects and elites.
Fools that we have been-- it is between human beings and their machines! Machines are not the embodiment of alienated labor but in fact the "social imaginary" that looms over them and control their lives! And all this time, Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin, et al. If my conclusion seems overstated, then I would suggest that readers follow Watson himself down into his dark valley of technological absurdity. Approvingly quoting Langdon Winner, Watson enjoins us to practice "epistemological luddism" as a "method of inquiry" BB , p.
To those who notice that these phrases are empty, Watson concedes that they are "inchoate and embryonic" BB , p. But only three paragraphs later, we learn that Watson's luddism is not merely "epistemological" or a "method of inquiry. We will require, he enjoins, "a careful negotiation with technics" and approvingly quoting the mystic Theodore Roszak "the selective reduction of industrialism" BB , p.
Roszak, at least, was sensible enough to speak of a selective reduction of industrialism. For Watson, however, selectivity all but disappears, and his "negotiated" dismantling of industry becomes nothing less than spectacular. We have to "dismantle mass technics" SIH, p. What is Watson's opening "negotiating" position? For the most part, in his other writings, he has long avoided naming which technologies he would keep and which he would dispose of, even airily disparaging the question.
But for one who wishes to "negotiate," the necessity for him to identify technologies he favors and disfavors should be self-evident. These other writings give us some idea of Watson's alternative to the cage of megamechanical civilization. I may be simple-minded, but this seems to be a call to pull down cities and reduce them to forests and farmland.
In the absence of cities and roads, Watson seems to want us to return to small-scale farming, "a clear context where small scale, the 'softness' of technics, labor-intensiveness, and technical limits all crucially matter" BB, p.
Clearly tractors and the like will be excluded--they are clearly products of the megamachine. But I would hope Watson's brave new world will not be so extreme as to exclude the plow and horses--or are we being domineering if we put horses into harnesses? We would thus have to eliminate computers and telecommunications; farewell, too, to telegraphs, radios, and telephones! It is just as well we do so, since Watson doesn't understand telephones: the work of telephone line workers, he says, is "a mystery" to him BB , p.
So good riddance! He has also written that "the wheel is not an extension of the foot, but a simulation which destroys the original" MCGV, p. So away with the wheel! Away with everything that "simulates" feet! And who knows--away with the potter's wheel, which is a "simulation" of the hand!
As to energy sources, Watson really puts us in a pickle. He disapproves of "the elaborate energy system required to run" household appliances and other machines, since it renders people "dependent" Christopher Lasch quoted in BB, p. So--away with the mass generation of electricity, and every machine that runs on it! Needless to say, all fossil as well as nuclear fuels will have to go.
Perhaps we could turn to renewable energy as an alternative--but no, Watson has also voiced his sovereign disapproval of "solar, wind and water technologies" as products of "an authoritarian andhierarchical division of labor" NST, p. All of this leaves us with little more than our own muscles to power our existence.
Yes, "revolution will be a kind of return" BB, p. To be sure, we will eliminate such noxious products of the megamachine as weapons, but if we also dispense with roads clearly if we do not repair them, they will disappear , typewriters and computers except the computer owned by Fifth Estate, presumably, for otherwise how will Watson's golden words reach the public? The reader has only to walk through his or her home, look into each room, and peer into closets and medicine chests and kitchen cabinets, to see what would be surrendered in the kind of technological world that Watson would "negotiate" with industrialism.
Let it be noted, however, that a return to the economic conditions of twelfth-century Europe would hardly create a paradise. Somehow, even in the absence of advanced technology to generate them, oppressive social relations still existed in this technological idyll. Somehow feudal hierarchies of the most oppressive kind in no way modeled on ecclesiastical hierarchies, let alone "shaped" by technology superimposed themselves. Somehow the peasant-serfs who were ruled and coerced by barons, counts, kings, and their bureaucratic and military minions failed to realize that they were free of the megamachine's oppressive impact.
Yet they were so unecological as to drain Europe's mosquito-infested swamps and burn its forests to create meadows and open farmland. Happily spared the lethal effects of modern medicine, they usually died very early in life of famine, epidemic disease, and other lethal agents. Given the demands of highly labor-intensive farming, what kind of free time, in the twelfth century, did small-scale farmers have? If history is any guide, it was a luxury they rarely enjoyed, even during the agriculturally dormant winters.
During the months when farmers were not tilling the land and harvesting its produce, they struggled endlessly to make repairs, tend animals, perform domestic labor, and the like. And they had the wheel! It is doubtful that, under such circumstances, much time would have been left over for community meetings, let alone the creation of art and poetry.
Doubtless they sowed, reaped, and did their work joyously, as I pointed out in The Ecology of Freedom. The workman's song--proletarian, peasant, and artisan--expresses the joy of self-expression through work. But this does not mean that work, bereft of machinery, is an unadulterated blessing or that it is not exhausting or monotonous. There is a compelling word for arduous labor: toil! Without an electric grid to turn night into day, active life is confined to daylight hours, apart from what little illumination can be provided by candles.
Dare I introduce such petroleum derivatives as kerosene? It is one of the great advances of the modern world that the most arduous and monotonous labor can often be performed entirely by machines, potentially leaving human beings free to engage in many different tasks and artistic activities, such as those Charles Fourier described for his utopian phalansteries. But as soon as I assign to technology the role of producing a society free of want and toil, Watson takes up the old dogmatic saw and condemns it to perdition as "the familiar marxist version" BB , p.
Watson may enjoy appealing to unthinking political reflexes that date back to the Marx-Bakunin battles of the First International, but the merit of an idea interests me more than its author. Instead of directly addressing the problem of scarcity and toil in any way, however, Watson settles the issue, at least in his own mind, by quoting his guru, Lewis Mumford: "The notion that automation gives any guarantee of human liberation is a piece of wishful thinking" quoted in BB, p.
It is astonishing that one has to explain this concept to a former Trotskyite like Watson, who should have some knowledge of Marx'sideas. Alas, Mumford does not serve him well. In The Pentagon of Power the same work from which Watson quotes , Mumford himself actually gives what Watson would be obliged to dismiss as "the familiar marxist version. The only way effectively to overcome the power system is to transfer its more helpful agents to an organic complex.
Elsewhere in the same book, speaking of "the decrepit institutional complex one can trace back at least to the Pyramid age," Mumford says that "what modern technology has done is. How should the technological level of a free society be determined?
Watson's thoughts on this question are such as to render his libertarian views on technics and human needs more authoritarian than is immediately evident. Suppose, for example, that nonindustrialized and even tribal people actually want not only wheels, roads, and electric grids, but even the material goods, such as computers and effective medications, that people in industrialized countries enjoy--not least of all, Watson himself and the Fifth Estate collective.
I have argued in The Ecology of Freedom that no one, particularly in a consumption-oriented country such as the United States, has any right to bar nonindustrialized societies from choosing the way of life they wish. I would hope that they would make their choices with full awareness of the ecological and even psychological consequences of consumption as an end in itself, which have been amply demonstrated for them by the course of developed nations; and I would engage in a concerted effort to persuade all peoples of the world to live according to sound ecological standards.
But it would be their indubitable right to acquire what they believe they need, without anyone else dictating what they should or should not acquire. Not only is my proposal intolerable in Watson's eyes, he cannot even paraphrase it correctly.
He must distort it in order to make it seem ridiculous: "What are we to make of the proposal to develop mass technics and a combination consumer-producer utopia [! The implication of this distortion is, I believe, that poor societies must develop capitalism and technology in order to know the consequences of doing so, irrespective of the fact that the consequences of doing so are quite clear and the information is widely available, not least of all because of communications technology.
For Watson, however, the ecological crisis to be too urgent to wait for a policy as slow as mine. How, then, would our lifestyle anarchist handle this very real problem himself? He doesn't tell us, but he does call on people in the industrialized countries to seek "a new relationship to the phenomenal world--something akin to what [Marshall] Sahlins calls 'a Zen road to affluence, departing from premises somewhat different from our own'" BB , p.
May I suggest that this is dodging the issue? If the urgency of resolving the ecological crisis is the paramount factor, Watson's own solution would seem rather inadequate as well, requiring as it does an ethereal spiritual revolution on the basis of one-by-one conversion. Nor is such an approach likely to succeed, any more than Christianity succeeded in creating a loving, self-sacrificing, and all-forgiving world in two thousand years of one-by-one conversions--and the Church, at least, promised pie in the sky as the old IWW song has it in the next world if not in this one.
As for people in the industrial-capitalist world, Watson, who has tried to prejudice his readers against my views as "marxist," "authoritarian," and "dogmatic," suddenly mutates into an ideological despot in his own right. He finds it inconceivable that people could actually make conscious decisions about the use of technology, still less place moral constraints upon it.
Quite to contrary, inasmuch as, in his view, technology governs people rather than the other way around, we can scarcely hope to spring the trap and decide for ourselves. Watson ridicules the notion that "a moral society. He arrogantly forecloses democratic decision-making by ordinary people on the proper use of advanced technologies, because open civic discussions would "inevitably" result in "compliance with the opinion of experts" and "would of necessity bebased on persuasion and faith" BB, pp.
Lest we have any doubt that Watson means what he says, he reiterates the same disdainful view: "It's ludicrous [! One may modestly ask: why should this be "ludicrous"? Expert knowledge is by no means necessary to make general decisions about the uses of technology: a reasonable level of ordinary competence on the part of citizens is usually quite adequate. In fact, today legislators at the local, state, and national levels make such decisions every day, and ordinary people can clearly do the same.
Watson's argument that such decisions are beyond the ken of ordinary people is possibly unknown to him precisely the argument that Lenin advanced in against workers' control of factories which, of course, Watson would abandon wholesale and in favor of one-man management to use Bolshevik terminology.
Does our poetic lifestyler really have so little faith in the competence of ordinary people? Doubtless workers, technicians, and farmers need someone with higher wisdom--perhaps Watson himself--to specify their appropriate level of technology for them? Actually, Watson seems to be suffering from a memory lapse.
Somewhat later in his book he gives us the very opposite message, notably that "people have the capacity, in fact the duty to make rational and ethical choices about technics" BB, p. How, then, will they avoid all the "inevitable" and "necessary" obstacles that Watson himself earlier raised?
One gets the distinct impression that, no matter what specific issue us under discussion, if I say yea, Watson is certain to say nay--even if it means he must reverse himself on a later occasion. There is nothing new about the romanticization of tribal peoples. Two centuries ago, denizens of Paris, from Enlighteners such as Denis Diderot toreactionaries like Marie Antoinette, created a cult of "primitivism" that saw tribal people as morally superior to members of European society, who presumably were corrupted by the vices of civilization.
This romanticization later infected not only the early nineteenth-century Romantics but thinkers so disparate as Marx and Engels, Jacob Bachofen and Lewis Morgan. These and others who wistfully thought that humanity had exiled itself from a benign, "matriarchal," caring, and cooperative world to a civilization filled with immoral and egoistic horrors.
The more urbanized and suburbanized bourgeois culture of the s was far from immune to this trend. During the s anthropologists celebrated the "noble savage" in his or her pristine paradise, which more than ever seemed like a refuge, however imaginary, for jaded urban and suburban dwellers of the industrial capitalist world. This anthropology, contrary to less sanguine views of primitive lifeways, argued that foraging peoples were compelled to work at hunting and food-gathering for only a few hours each day.
Wrote anthropologists Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore:. Even some of the "marginal" hunters studied by ethnographers actually work short hours and exploit abundant food sources. Several hunting peoples lived well on two to four hours of subsistence effort per day and were not observed to undergo the periodic crises that have been commonly attributed to hunters in general. By common understanding an affluent society is one in which all the people's wants are easily satisfied; and though we are pleased to consider this happy condition the unique achievement of industrial civilization, a better case can be made for hunters and gatherers.
For wants are "easily satisfied," either by producing much or desiring little. A fair case can be made, that hunters often work much less than we do, and rather than a grind the food quest is intermittent, leisure is abundant, and there is more sleep in the daytime per capita than in any other conditions of society.
During the late s and s I myself shared an excessive enthusiasm for certain aspects of aboriginal and organic societies, and in The Ecology of Freedom and other writings of those years I gave an overly rosy discussion of them and speculated optimistically about aboriginal subjectivity.
I never accepted the preposterous theory of an "original affluent society," but I waxed far too enthusiastic about primitive attitudes toward the natural world and their compassionate outlook. I even maintained that the animistic qualities of aboriginal subjectivity were something that Westerners could benefit from emulating. I later came to realize that I was wrong in many of these respects.
Aboriginal peoples could have no attitude toward the natural world because, being immersed in it, they had no concept of its uniqueness. It is true that individual tribes had considerable compassion for their own members, but their attitudes toward nontribal members were often indifferent or hostile. As to animism, in retrospect, I regard any belief in the supernatural as regressive. As I discussed in detail in Re-Enchanting Humanity pp. Aboriginal societies were hardly free from such material insecurities as shortages of game animals, diseases, drudgery, chronic warfare, and even genocidal acts against communities that occupied coveted land and resources.
Such a prevalence of premature death, given their level of social and technological development, bears comparison with some of Western civilization's worst features. Having been too gullible about "organic society" in The Ecology of Freedom, I was at pains to criticize my own work on this score when the book was republished in At that time I wrote a lengthy new introduction in which I distanced myself from many of the views expressed in the first edition of the book.
Quite to the contrary, I still stand by the core issues in these societies that I identified in The Ecology of Freedom as sources of valuable lessons for our own time. In the best of cases organic societies organized their economic and cultural lives according to a principle of usufruct, with a system of distribution based on an"irreducible minimum" a phrase I borrowed from Paul Radin , as well as an ethic of complementarity, for all members of the community, regardless of their productive contribution.
Not only does Watson ignore my criticism of my own earlier position, he himself advances a primitive romanticism whose rosy scenarios by far surpass anything I wrote in my book. He serves up all the s myths, indeed, all the puerile rubbish, about aboriginal lifeways of that time--not only Sahlins's "original affluence" economics but the most absurd elements of animistic spirituality.
Primitivity, for this man, is essentially a world of dancing, singing, celebrating, and dreaming. The subjectivity that I came to reject is precisely what Watson still extols: primitive people, in his version, seem to be all mystics at some countercultural "be-in. That they also do such mundane human things as acquire food, produce garments, make tools, build shelters, defend themselves, attack other communities, and the like, falls completely outside the vision of our Detroit poet.
In fact, although tribal society is extremely custom-bound,straitjacketed by taboos and imperative rules of behavior, Watson nonetheless decides, gushingly, that even when aborigines are "living under some of the harshest, most commanding conditions on earth"--no less! In SALA, while I was arguing against the primitivism of lifestyle anarchists like Watson, I summarized my criticisms of aboriginal society, calling into question the theory of an "original affluence" as well as the idea of a "noble savage.
This reservation is entirely lost on our arch-romanticizer, for just as Watson glorifies aboriginals beyond recognition, he now portrays me, beyond recognition, as hostile to aboriginal peoples altogether. Bookchin "no longer seems to have anything good to say about early societies" BB, p. He even pulls off the old Maoist and Trotskyist stunt of asking, not whether my observations are true or not, but whose interests they serve. In my case, since I fail to romanticize primitive peoples according to Watson's prescription, I clearly aid and abet the bourgeois-imperialist destroyers of primal cultures: "Bookchin's social ecology," he huffs, shares "the assumptions of bourgeois political economy itself" BB, p.
I encountered this level of argumentation some fifty years ago, and whoever can be persuaded by these contemptible methods is welcome to share Watson's polemical world. Like other primitivists in the lifestyle zoo, Watson argues for the sustainability of primitive lifeways by maintaining that in the history of humanity, hunting-gathering societies existed far longer than the societies that followed the rise of written history.
He recycles Lee and DeVore's claim that "for ninety-nine percent of human existence [by which Lee and DeVore meant two million years] people have lived in the 'fairly loose systems of bonding' of bands and tribes" BB, p. It is worth noting that two million years ago, modern-type humans-- Homo sapiens sapiens --with their enlarged mental capacities and hunting-gathering lifeways, had not yet emerged on the evolutionary tree.
The hominids that populated the African savannahs were Australopithecines and Homo habilis, who most likely were not hunter-gatherers at all but scavengers who lived on game killed by larger carnivores. Like all hominids and members of the genus Homo including Neandertalers , they probably lacked the anatomical equipment for syllabic speech a feature that some primitivists, to be sure, would see more as an advantage than as a deprivation. The earliest proto- Homo sapiens sapiens did not appear in Africa until only , to , years ago.
And even then they did not forage in an organized fashion such as Watson envisions: as Robert Lewin has noted, "recent archeological analysis indicates that true hunting and gathering--as characterized by division of labor, food sharing, and central placeforaging--is a rather recently emerged behavior," dating from the retreat of the last Ice Age, beginning only some 12, to 15, years ago.
If we calculate using the earliest date that Lewin suggests for the rise of hunting and gathering, years ago--we must conclude that civilization has occupied at least half--or perhaps a third--of our species's cultural history. In any case, what difference does it make if human beings lived as hunter-gatherers for one percent of their existence or fifty?
Such a level of discussion is juvenile. The fact remains that, although it took a long time for our species to advance beyond the level of Australopithecine scavengers on the veldt, they evolved culturally with dazzling rapidity over the past 20, years. Almost invariably, discussions of an "original affluence" enjoyed by hunting and foraging peoples focus on the San people of the Kalahari desert, especially the! Kung "Bushmen," who, until very recently, it was frequently assumed, were living in a pristine state that reflected the lifeways of prehistoric foragers.
The studies that are most commonly invoked to support the "affluence" thesis are those generated by anthropologist Richard B. Writing in the s,Lee noted that it took the! Kung only a few days in a week to acquire all the food they needed for their well-being, ostensibly proving that affluence or, more precisely, free time is one of the great rewards of primitivity.
I may add that by this standard, anyone who chooses to live in a shack, bereft of a sophisticated culture, could be said to be affluent. If this is affluence, then the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was a wealthy man indeed. In recent years, however, strong doubts have arisen that the!
Kung were quite as affluent as s anthropologists made them out to be. As anthropologist Thomas Headland summarizes the current research, "The lives of the! Kung are far from idyllic. An average lifespan of thirty years, high infant mortality, marked loss of body weight during the lean season--these are not the hallmarks of an edenic existence. Data testifying to the harsher side of! Kung life have steadily accumulated.
Lee himself has acknowledged shortcomings of his input-output study. For one thing, his calculations of the amount of work the! Kung devoted to subsistence ignored the time spent in preparing food, which turned out to be substantial. Other researchers established that even though the Dobe! Kung may have appeared well nourished when Lee encountered them, at other times they suffered from hunger and disease.
Meanwhile, the theoretical underpinnings of the original-affluence model collapsed. It became clear that while many tribal groups were adapted to their environment at the population level, existence was often harsh for individuals in those groups. Kung encounter very harsh situations; her own descriptions of them contradict her enthusiasm for their way of life. In SALA, drawing on the work of Edwin Wilmsen, I noted that the lives of the San were actually quite short, that they do go hungry at times, especially during lean seasons, and that they lived in the Kalahari not because it was their habitat of choice from time immemorial but because they had been driven into the desert from their erstwhile agricultural lands by more powerful invaders who coveted their original territory.
Moreover, I wrote, "Richard Lee's own data on the caloric intake of 'affluent' foragers have been significantly challenged by Wilmsen and his associates. Lee himself has revised his views on this score since the s" SALA , pp. Watson's reply to these observations is worth noting: he telephoned Lee himself to query him on this point.
He replied that he modified his findings on caloric intake very slightly in the late s--"no more than five percent either way"--but that Bookchin's claim was otherwise spurious. Note well that the change in Lee's work took place between the mids and the late s, not since the late s. In fact, in his book The! Kung San, Lee dispelled the excessively rosy image he gave of the San in the s by giving evidence of malnutrition among the "affluent" Zhu a San-speaking people. Adult Zhu, he wrote, "are small by world standards and.
Moreover, in the same book, Lee provided us with evidence that these foragers experience severe hardship: "We admire the! Kung from afar, but when we are brought into closer contact with their daily concerns, we are alternately moved to pity by their tales of hardship and repelled by their nagging demands forgifts, demands that grow more insistent the more we give.
In fact, even during the s, Lee's image of the "affluence" enjoyed by the San was already marred by significant indications of hunger. During the lean months of the year, he noted in , the Zhu "must resort to increasingly arduous tactics in order to maintain a good diet.
Our assumptions and interpretations were much too simple. Not even Watson can deny that foraging societies experienced hunger, although it contradicts his own image of "original affluence": he acknowledges that hunter-gatherer societies "periodically suffered" BB , p. In societies such as our own, he points out, only some sectors of the population starve during times of hunger.
But "during tough times in most aboriginal societies," he writes with amazing sang-froid, "generally, everyone starves or no one does " BB , p. Indeed, "even when primal people starve, 'the whole group as a positive cohesive unit is involved.
In consequence, there is generally no disorganization or disintegration either of individual or of the group as such, in stark contrast with the civilized" BB , p. They all starve to death--and that is that! Are we expected to admire a situation where "everyone starves" because they do so in an organized fashion?
Allow me to suggest that this anything but a consolation. Scarcity conditions--conditions of generalized want and hunger--that could result in famine are precisely those that, historically speaking, have led to competition for scarce goods and eventually the formation of class and hierarchical societies.
Far more desirable to develop the productive technologies sufficiently to avoid famine altogether! If such technologies were sufficiently developed, then put to useethically and rationally in a libertarian communist society, everyone could be freed from material uncertainty.
This condition of postscarcity would give us the preconditions for one day achieving a truly egalitarian, free, and culturally fulfilling social order. It might be supposed that, in weighing these two alternatives--scarcity, with the possibility of a community's entire extinction, against postscarcity, with the potentiality to satisfy all basic human needs--Watson might choose the latter prospect over the former.
But farbe it from Watson to agree with anything Bookchin has to say! Watson, it seems, would prefer that "everyone starve" together rather than that they have sufficient means to enjoy well-being together. So cavalier is his attitude about human life, that when I object to it, he reproaches me for being "utterly affronted by affirmative references to death as part of the ecological cycle" BB , p.
As a humanist, allow me to state categorically that I am indeed "utterly affronted" by such references, and by Watson's blatant callousness. It is this kind of stuff that brings him precariously close to the thesis of his erstwhile antihero, Thomas Malthus in HDDE , namely that mass death would result from population growth, whose geometric increase would far outstrip a merely arithmetically increasing food supply.
Indeed, it was precisely the productivity of machines that showed thinking people that the Malthusian cycle was a fallacy. Yes--better machines than death, in my view, and Watson is welcome to criticize me for it all he likes! If Watson is callous toward the objective aspects of primitivism, his attitude toward its subjective aspects, as I have noted, resembles the vagaries of a flower child.
An essential feature is his belief that the mental outlooks of aboriginal peoples can override the material factors that might otherwise alter their lifeways. In effect, for Watson, social development was a matter of conscious selection, choice, and even lifestyle, as though objective realities played no role in shaping of social relations. In SALA I tried to correct this romantic, idealist, and frankly naive view by pointing out that among most tribal peoples--indeed, among most peoples generally--not only economic life but even much of spirituality is oriented toward obtaining the means of life.
Not only does Watson take issue with this statement as economistic, he rejects any economic motivations in aboriginal society: "Economic motivation," he declares, "is the motive within class societies, not aboriginal communities" BB, p. Presumably people whose societies are structured around dancing, singing, and dreaming are immune to the problems--social as well as material--of acquiring and preparing food, fending off predators, building shelter, and the like.
Where I present contradictory evidence--such as the many cases of foragers "stampeding game animals over cliffs or into natural enclosures where they could be easily slaughtered," or "sites that suggest mass killings and 'assembly-line' butchering in a number of American arroyos," or the Native American use of fire to clear land, or the likelihood of Paleoindian overkills of large mammals SALA, p. In fact, the demanding endeavor to gather the means for supporting everyday life may well be the major preoccupation of aboriginal peoples, as many of their myths and cosmic dramas reveal to anyone who examines them without romantic awe.
At some point, clearly, primal peoples in prehistoric Europe and the Near East stopped "refusing" power and property, and from their "loosely knit" band and tribal societies, systems of domination developed--hierarchies, classes, and states--as part of civilization itself. Why this happened is by no means an academic question; nor is the approach we take to understanding the processes of social change a matter of trivial concern.
Social changes, both major and minor, do not come about solely as a result of choice or volition. Even in inspired moments, when people believe they are creating an entirely new world, their course of action, indeed their thinking, is profoundly influenced by the very history from which they think they are breaking away. To understand the processes by which the new develops from the old, we must closely examine the conditions under which human beings are constrained to work and the various problems with which they must contend with at particular moments in history--in short, the inner dialectic of social development.
We must look at the factors that cause apparently stable societies to slowly decompose, giving rise to the new ones that were "chosen" within the limitations of material and cultural conditions. I followed this approach in The Ecology of Freedom, for example, when I examined the nature and causes of the rise of hierarchy. There I tried to show that hierarchy emerged from within the limitations and problems faced by primal societies.
I made no pretense that my presentation constituted the last word on this problem; indeed, my most important goal was to highlight the importance of trying to understanding hierarchical development, to show its dialectic and the problems it posed. Watson not only dismisses this vitally important issue but arrogantly rejects any endeavor to look into "the primordial community to find the early embryonic structure that transformed organic society into class society" BB, p.
Needless to say, he claims that I fail to understand power in aboriginal societies, "where the so-called chief is usually a spokesman and a go-between" BB, p. This was probably true at one time in the early development of chiefdoms, but it is evidence of Watson's static, absolutist mentality that he fails to see that many chiefdoms gradually and sometimes even precipitously transformed themselves, so that chiefs became petty despots and even monarchs long before there were "megamachines" and major technological advances.
Watson's reckless farrago of obfuscation merely beclouds his own ignorance. The fact is that he himself simply cannot answer the question of how social development occurs. Although the pages of BB are bereft of an explanation for the origin of domination, in an earlier work he once brightly suggested: "Somehow [! How it happened remains unclear to us today" CIB, p.
I hate to think how desiccated social theory would become if all its thinkers exhibited the same paucity of curiosity and speculative verve that this off-handed remark reveals. Instead of making any attempt to account for social evolution, Watson merely times the passage of millennia of hominid and human evolution with his stopwatch "ninety-nine percent" , as though timing were more important than examining the causes "which remain unclear for us today" that impelled hominids and humans to make those major decisions that eventually removed them from their simple lifeways and landed them in the complex coils of the "megamachine.
If there is one thing on which everyone--Watson, the anthropologists, and myself--agrees, it is that among foraging peoples today, their subjectivity has failed to prevent either the invasion of commoditiesfrom the industrialized world or its colonization of material life. But it is worth asking how much deliberate resistance tribal societies have put up against this invasion. For their part, the!
Kung, the flagship culture of "original affluence" theorists, seen to be greatly attracted to modern "goodies. Yellen, to cite only one of several accounts, found when he visited Dobe in the mids,! Kung were planting fields and wearing mass-produced clothing; indeed, they had given up their traditional grass huts for "more substantial mud-walled structures. Where once, as Lee put it, the charge of "stinginess" was one of "the most serious accusations one!
Kung [could] level against another,"  commodities are now shamelessly hoarded: With their newfound cash [the! Kung] had also purchased such goods as glass beads, clothing and extra blankets, which they hoarded in metal trunks often locked in their huts. Many times the items far exceeded the needs of an individual family and could best be viewed as a form of savings or investment. In other words, the! Kung were behaving in ways that were clearly antithetical to the traditional sharing system.
Yet the people still spoke of the need to share and were embarrassed to open their trunks for [the anthropologist]. Clearly, their stated values no longer directed their activity. Kung think so little of their "original affluence" that, even in the decades since the s, many of them have discarded primitive lifeways for the amenities of the "megamachine" and exhibit an eagerness to obtain more than they already have.
It may also be that the bourgeois commodity has an enormous capacity to invade primitive economies and undermine them disastrously--Watson's certainties to the contrary notwithstanding. Reason and Irrationalism As a man whose vision is turned to the past--whether it be the technology of the Middle Ages, or the sensibility of the Paleolithic or Neolithic--it should come no a surprise that Watson favors the more primal imperatives of intuition over intellectual reflection and has very little to say about rationality that is favorable.
In this respect, he is nothing if not trendy: the current explosion of interest in irrational charlatans--psychics, divinators, mystics, shamans, priestesses, astrologers, angelologers, demonologers, extraterrestrials, et cetera ad nauseam--is massive. Humorless though I may be--as Watson tells his readers, on the authority of someone who "knows" me "intimately" surely not John Clark!
BB, p. I have long been a critic of mythopoesis, spiritualism, and religion. Yet as the author of "Desire and Need" and The Ecology of Freedom, I have also fervently celebrated the importance of imagination and the creative role of desire. My writings on reason contain numerous critiques of conventional or analytic commonly known as instrumental reason, important as it is in everyday life and experience. I have long maintained that the analytical forms of scientific rationality leave much to be desired for understanding developmental phenomena, such as biological evolution and human social history.
These fields are better comprehended, I have argued, by dialectical reason, whose study, practice, and advocacy have been my greater interest. Dialectic is the rationality of developmental processes, of phenomena that self-elaborate into diverse forms and complex interactions--in short, a secular form of reason that explores how reality, despite its multiplicity, unfolds into articulated, interactive, and shared relationships.
It provides a secular and naturalistic basis for bold speculation, for looking beyond the given reality to what "should be," based on the actualization of rationally unfolding potentialities--and, if you please, for formulating utopian visions of a society informed by art, ecology, cooperation, and solidarity. I have devoted a volume of essays, The Philosophy of Social Ecology, to elucidations of the limits of analytic reason and the importance of dialectic.
Thus, in reading BB, I was shocked to find that Watson, descending to the depths of demagoguery, writes not only that I am a promoter of "reified hyper-rationality and scientism" BB, p. Coming from a philosophical naif such as Watson, this distortion could well be attributed to the kind of arrogance that often accompanies fatuity. But Watson does not restrict his attack to me; rather, he proceeds to mount an attack upon thevalidity of reason itself by attacking its very foundations. Siu quoted in BB , p.
It is possible to dismiss this ineffable wordplay as nonsense; an assertion of the significance of insignificance, for instance, would make more sense than this passage, leaving the reader no wiser about the nature of reality.
What is more important, however, is the sheer arbitrariness and reductionism of Watson's nonmethodology. Having brought us into a black hole of "no-knowledge," Watson is free to say anything he wants without ever exposing it to the challenge of reason or experience. As Paul Feyerabend once wrote: "Anything goes! Complaining that "social ecology demands explanation," he argues that "nothing, not even science or social ecology, explains anything definitively.
All explanations are matters of credibility and persuasion, just as all thinking is fundamentally metaphorical" BB, p. Neither Nietzsche nor the postmodernists who currently follow in his wake can have formulated a more disastrous notion, fulfilling precisely my analysis in SALA.
Even science, we learn, has not given us knowledge: to my colleague Janet Biehl's observation that "we [knowledgeable human beings] do know more about the workings of nature than was the case with earlier societies," Watson brightly responds, "Even scientists don't seem to agree on. Yet eight pages earlier Watson noted with sparkling originality, "This doesn't mean that scientific reasoning can't help us to know or explain anything, only that there are other ways of knowing" BB, p.
As to science more properly, the sciences, since the notion of a Science that has only one method and approach is fallacious : it or they do not claim to "explain anything definitively," merely to offer the best and most rational explanations dare I use this word? For gaining an understanding of the natural and social worlds, emotions and intuitions they are by no means the same thing are both worse than useless, while for general communal endeavors like politics, they can even be positively harmful, as the irrationalistic messages of fascism indicate.
But neither Biehl or I ever condemned them as inappropriate for the emotional dimensions of human life, such as friendships and families, aesthetics and play. In fact, I defy my irrationalist critics to show me a single quotation from my work in which I disdain the use of metaphor or mythopoesis for creating poetry and works of art. By trundling out myobjections to their misuse in political and social matters, Watson cannily creates the illusion that I am hostile to them altogether, in all arenas of life.
The subject-matter of my own work--indeed, the subject-matter that Watson seems to be debating with me--is neither psychology nor the processes of artistic creation but politics, an endeavor to understand the social world and, in community, to exert conscious choice over forms of social relations. This endeavor demands an entirely different category of subjective processes from those demanded by artistic creation.
In common with science, rationality as it is commonly understood emphatically seeks explanations whose truth is confirmed by observation and logical consistency, including speculation. That this requirement is not always enough to arrive at truth does not mean that rationality should be abandoned in favor of the metaphors, psychobabble, and "no-knowledge" precepts that spew from Watson's heated imagination.
Few things have greater potential for authoritarianism, in my view, than the guru whose vagaries stake out a claim to truth that is beyond logical and experiential scrutiny. In the arts mythopoesis is a way to sharpen and deepen human sensibility; but in politics--a realm where people and classes struggle with each other for power and the realization of their most important communal hopes, and the force field of tension between the dominated and their dominators--mythopoesis, as a substitute for rational inquiry, often becomes demonic, appealing to the lowest common denominator of impulse and instinct in the individuals in a community.
Impulses and instincts, while very commonplace, cannot guide us to the achievement of a better and more humane world; indeed, the use of myth in politics is an invitation to disaster. Watson's rejoinder is to argue that reason, too, has contributed to the slaughterbench of history: "Plenty of blood has flowed,incited by. If [Bookchin is] going to hold any and all mythic thinking responsible for its excesses, shouldn't he do the same for rationality and dialectics?
As a former Trotskyist, Watson should know--better than many of his young anarchist readers--that Marx would have been the first to condemn Stalinist totalitarianism. Instead, Watson panders to filthy prejudice. As for the supposed link between dialectical reason and the Stalinist system, a much stronger case could be made that mythopoesis fostered the Stalinist cult of personality, the well-orchestrated "May Day" parades, the rewriting of Bolshevik history, and the endless myths about the Great Father of the People who stood atop Lenin's mausoleum--in short, all the trappings that Russian fascism borrowed from the warehouse of mythopoesis.
To call Stalin a dialectician, let alone a philosopher, would be like calling Hitler a biologist or a geneticist. But nothing fazes Watson. If "myth and metaphor" are "needed" and "probably inevitable" in politics BB, p. Certainly, peasant revolutionaries like John Ball and Wat Tyler, in the fourteenth century, genuinely believed in and thus invoked "the idea of a renewed Golden Age," while abolitionists and civil rights clerics took up "the biblical metaphor of exodus" BB , p.
Within the context of those very religious times, these uses of myth by religious people are understandable. Yet it remains troubling that, no matter how much the rebellious peasants believed in the Garden of Eden, their belief was still illusory; Ball could never have created a Garden of Eden on earth, least of all with fourteenth-century knowledge and technology.
And no matter how much the abolitionists and civil rights clerics may have believed in the reality of the biblical exodus, they would have been unable to take American blacks to any such promised land. Even after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, as one former Confederate put it, "All the blacks got was 'freedom' and nothing else.
In modern times we know better than to accept the reality of superstitions, and today the job of a revolutionary is not to cynically propagate myths for the consumption of the supposedly gullible masses, but to show that domination and exploitation are irrational and unjust. It is to offer precisely those dreaded "explanations," to form a worldly movement that can struggle to achieve a rational, ecological society in reality. One of the great dangers of myth in politics is its fictional nature; because myth is contrived, its use is therefore instrumental and manipulative, and its application demagogic.
Worse, as a betrayal of the highest ideal of social anarchism--namely, that people can manage their social affairs through rational discourse--the advocacy of myth in politics is implicitly undemocratic and authoritarian.
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