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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Elisée Reclus
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets


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Czar" of his own will. In the case of women, obedience was her natural lot. She had no initiative in the matter. Her loyalty was but the docility of the cowed domestic animal. Many Socialists and even Communists indulge this Early Church Father failing that Luther perpetuated into German life and thought. Even Free-thought has not cured the most radical manhood of the folly of striking sex out from the definition of the male human and omitting "human" from the definition of woman. In our text books, is not woman still referred to as "the sex?" Does not man regard sex as his spare time enjoyment? Consider then the actual insult to at least half the human race conveyed by the prevailing male conception.

Hegel and Goethe were, according to Bakunin, "the leaders of this movement of reconciliation, this return from death to life." "Yes," he added, "suffering is good; it is that purifying flame which transforms the spirit and makes it steadfast."

Of course suffering is good, provided it serves some definite useful purpose. Otherwise suffering is merely senseless barbarism. To accept injunction of Jesus, to take up the burden or cross of the everyday useful struggle of life, to witness for Truth against Mammon and Moloch and the Kings of the Earth, is wisdom. Unhappily, Bakunin did not mean this kind of sacrifice. He meant repression and subjection. It was "sacrifice" to don a uniform and proceed to murder in the name of Glory; to enlist under the banners of Czar and Kaiser; indeed to follow any licensed murderer who termed himself a King or a General or a Statesman. Bakunin's "sacrifice" was the quintessence of human folly. Sacrifice is without purpose unless it leads to a fuller life for the individual and for all members of the great human family. Hegel had reconciled Bakunin to Germany and the narrow circumscribed life of oppression. He wrote and spoke as the apostle of Czarism and Prussianism. He was still the homesick schoolboy who despised the students at the Artillery School.

Bakunin plunged to the very depths of the German metaphysical idealism. He hesitated before none of its logical consequences. He rejoiced that "the profound religious feeling of the German people" saved it from such experiences as those endured by France during its immortal Revolution.

No wonder, when he had passed through the violent change which transformed him into an Anarchist and enemy of Czarism, Bakunin hated everything German and adored everything French. No wonder the Germanophile became the Francophile and the Francophote became the Germanophote. Bakunin had passed through his transition before the Stankevitch circle dissolved in 1839. He embraced Herzen's viewpoint and supported the latter's contention with boldness and irresistible dialectic. The dawn of the hungry forties found him the champion of France and Revolution. To him, France was now the classic land of struggle and revolution.


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