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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
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  Anarchist History
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  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
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  Art and Anarchy
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  Anarchist Poets


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to speak, so large was the number of visitors and friends who called upon him. His sympathies were with the advanced circles of aristocratic thought-legacy of Catherine's foolish trifling with philosophy, which then spread their ideas in Russia: and he ventured, not without caution, yet quite definitely, to associate himself with them. From 1815 to 1825, he took part in the Secret Society of North Russia. More than once he was asked to become President. But he was too great a sceptic and too cautious to accept.

Deism was the limit of his thought, the Deism that his son in later years castigated so effectively. Though Deism was the extent of his philosophy, he was inspired by the spirit of scientific and philosophic enquiry, which was then finding a home in Europe. It was the Age of Reason and of the Right of Man, if not yet of woman. And Bakunin's father rejoiced in the spirit of the age. He was a keen student of nature and possessed a burning desire to understand the working of natural phenomena. Nature he loved, and next to nature, thought. The Liberalism of his mind revolted against the terrible and degrading position of slave-dealer.

Several times he gave his slaves the opportunity to demand their emancipation and to become free. But he took always the wrong measures and did not succeed in his wish and circumstance and longstanding habit conquered, and he remained quietly an owner, just like many of his neighbours, who all looked, with complacent unconcern, upon the hundred of human beings who lived in bondage, and on whose labour they fattened.

Slavery cannot be abolished piece-meal. A prevailing social disorder, entrenched in the ruling interests of the day, and so having a hundred or more economic manifestations, a complete nervous system of corruption and degradation has to be abolished entirely throughout the area that it covers: it has to be rooted up. One cannot destroy the evil by lopping off its branches. The axe must be laid to the roots.


One of the main reasons which caused a change in Bakunin's father's life was his marriage. Already over forty, he fell in love with a girl of eighteen, likewise of aristocratic birth, beautiful but poor. He married this young thing; and in order to quieten his conscience for this egoistic act, he endeavoured for the rest of his life, not to raise her to his level but to reduce himself to her's.

Bakunin's mother came from the family Muraview. She was a niece of the hangman Muraview and of a hanged Muraview. She was a very common woman, vulgar and selfish. None of her children loved her. But they loved her father so much the more;


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