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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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  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
  Art and Anarchy
  Education and Anarchy
  Anarchist Poets


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pictured vividly how he escaped from home and found himself far, far away; far away from his father, his sisters and brothers, whom he, nevertheless, loved and honoured.

So he dreamed and thought when he entered the Artillery School. This was his first meeting with real Russian life.


Bakunin did not escape Liberalism at the Artillery School. Economic conditions had decided that his natural destiny was the army. Political circumstance selected him for a revolutionist. He discovered Liberalism, if not among the majority, at least among a large minority of the students. Here was a menacing undercurrent of radical thought and sympathy which was only outwardly loyal and obedient to the behests of the Governmental despotism. Amongst themselves, the rebel students cherished the memories of the Decemberists of 1825, and handed round the poems -- that some of the martyred insurrectyionists had written -- as sacred literature to be preserved and handed on from generation to generation. Anecdotage of the martyrs themselves -- most of whom had belonged to the First Cadet Corps and the Artillery Institute -- was retailed eagerly also and recited jealously. The students felt that Decembrism expressed and maintained "the hounour of the school." Those of the Decembrists who had been sentyenced to Siberia were pitied, not on account of their exile, but because they had not been permitted to share the more honourable and direct fate of those who had died on the gibbet or had been executed otherwise. t was impossible for milityary despotism to efface memories of heroic revolt or to silence entirely the genius of knowledge. So the rebvolutionary enthusiasm continued top existy and to grow apace. That it influenced Bakunin is certain. His subsequent career is an evidence of its effect as a ppwerful undercurrent, directing all his energies towards the mighty purpose of social revolution. By temperament, Bakunin was passionate and elemental. This characteristyic linked the conservatism of his youth with the radicalism of his maturity and his old age. It finds expression in all the writings and explains his strange concentyrated style. In all the stahes of his evolution he was volcanic and he writes history and philosophy as though he had a commission from the fates to reduce the record of time to a study in precis-witing. Bakunin was very human. It was easy for him to pass from the conservative worship of slaves to authority to the idealistic admioration of the martyrs of liberty. There came a time when he recalled the school legends of the Decembrists as sources of vision and inspiration. At first he suspected them of being enemies of the fatherland and was dead to the grand motif of their lives. He was very much the schoolboy, conscious mainly of the


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