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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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only as the contrary of the negative, whilst that which sustains and elevates the party of revolt is the all-embracing principle of absolute freedom. The French Revolution erected the Temple of Liberty, on which it wrote the mysterious words: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity." It was impossible not to know and feel that these words meant the total annihilation of the existing world of politics and society. It was impossible, also, not to experience a thrill of pleasure at the bare suggestion of this annihilation. That was because the "joy of destruction is also the joy of creation."

It was fitting that the year after the publication of "Jules Elizard" essay, Bakunin should quit Dresden for Paris. He believed he had learned all there was to be learned in Germany. In the French capital he identified himself with all who were noted for their revolutionary opinion. A certain community of thought attracted him to Proudhon. The latter answer answered the question, "What is Property?" with Brissot's revolutionary reply: "Property is Theft." Proudhon, who paid great tribute to Jesus as a prophet, adopted the early Christian motto: "I will rebuild." Proudhon possessed an intense admiration for Hegel and believed that the process of destruction was a necessary part of construction. With Thomas Paine, he also believed that the social constitution of society was opposed to the political constitution of the state. This is the essence of Anarchist philosophy. Despised during the years that parliamentary social democracy was fooling and betraying the workers of Europe, it is now seen to embody the wisdom of the social struggle.This idea subsequently led Proudhon to develop his "Revolutionary Idea" in which he foresees the liquidation of political or military society-he identifies the two-in industrial or useful society. Proudhons anarchist theory that reaction is the forerunner of revolution is seen to-day to be historically correct as opposed to the parliamentary theory of gradualism, which has collapsed. On all these points Bakunin finds himself at one with Proudhon. Marx describes Proudhon as a Utopian and a Reformist. Bakunin described him as a social revolutionist of the first water. There is truth in both conceptions. In later years Bakunin came to share Marx's view of Proudhon. In "Statism and Anarchy," issued somewhere in Russia, in 1873, Bakunin wrote:-

"Proudhon, in spite of all his efforts to get a foothold upon the firm ground of reality, remained an idealist and a metaphysician. His starting point is the abstract side of law; it is from this that he starts in order to arrive at economic facts, while Marx, on the contrary, has enunciated and proved the truth, demonstrated by the whole of the ancient and modern history of human societies, of people and of states, that economic facts preceded and precede the facts of political and civil law. The discovery and demonstration of this truth is one of the greatest merits of M. Marx."

Two years before, writing at the time of the disaster to the Commune and at the beginning of the parliamentary debacle, Bakunin, in his Political Theology of Mazzini and the International,


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