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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
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  Elisée Reclus
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must not be concluded that Bakunin was anticipating the post-war Poland of the counter revolutionary financiers. He was not anticipating even Stalinist Soviet Russia, where revolutionists are exiled and imprisoned for their adherence to the permanent revolution and their opposition to the counter-revolutionary fallacy that an agrarian country can build a socialist state surrounded by capitalist nations. He visioned a Soviet Poland and a Soviet Russia, two allied proletarian lands in which all power would be vested in the direct hands of the producers themselves. Bakunin wanted a real social reorganisation of society. His new Russia was merely an introduction to a new Europe and a new world. Its full import was not appreciated at the time. ALl that the Czar's government realised was that it had made a sensation and was thoroughly seditious. It placed a reward of 10,000 roubles on the venturesome orator's head, and demanded his expulsion from Paris. His every move was watched by Russian police agents. The idea was to kidnap him once the French government had sacrificed his political immunity to the Czar's request.

Guizot has some reputation in literature for radicalism. As a statesman, he was a reactionary of the worst description and always ready to play lackey to the Czar. A few years before had been too polite to refuse the Russian government's request for Marx's expulsion. The latter was actually expelled from Paris not even to please the Kaiser but to placate the Czar. Bakunin was expelled, and like Marx, went to Brussels. He had scarcely reached here when Paris rose in revolt and expelled Guizot and Louis Phillippe from France. The new provisional government now invited the "brave and loyal Marx" to return. It extended a similar invitation to Bakunin and described France as being "the country whence tyranny had banished" them and where "all fighting in the sacred cause of the fraternity of the peoples" were welcome. Bakunin returned to Paris and became active in the new political life of that city.

Marx and Bakunin were an annoyance to the Lamartine and Marast government. They took the republican ideal seriously and realised the material revolution must proceed its realisation. The government did not expel Bakunin but his departure was a relief to it. He went to the Slavo-Polish Congress at Breslau, and afterwards attended the Prague Congress of June 1st, 1848. Here his famous Slavonic programme was written. To avoid arrest, he travelled on the passport of an English merchant, and cut off his long hair and beard. Up till the time that Windisgraetz dispersed this congress with Austrian cannon, Bakunin worked with the Slavonians. These events inspired Marx's famous chapters on "Revolution and Counter-Revolution." Credit for this work is now given to Engels. It is admitted, however, that if Marx did not write it, he inspired it. Engels seems to have been, on occasion, the most efficient secretary and if necessary, the complete literary ghost.


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