Given his influence, it is surprising that this work was his only book and even this is technically incomplete referring as it does to a second part which was never written. Marshall Shatz has proved an excellent introduction. To be fair, this would have been recognised as important by an anarchist rather than an academic. Thus, the Serbian state will crush the Serbian people for the sole purpose of enabling Serbian bureaucrats to live a fatter life. That will be determined first by the situation of each people, and secondly by the desires that manifest themselves and operate most strongly within them. By doing this, Bakunin thought, they would automatically place themselves above the people.
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Maximoff ed. The question arises, if the proletariat becomes the ruling class, over whom will it rule? It means that there will still remain another proletariat, which will be subject to this new domination, this new state.
It means that so long as the other classes, especially the capitalist class, still exists, so long as the proletariat struggles with it for when it attains government power its enemies and the old organization of society have not yet vanished , it must employ forcible means, hence governmental means. It is itself still a class and the economic conditions from which the class struggle and the existence of classes derive have still not disappeared and must forcibly be either removed out of the way or transformed, this transformation process being forcibly hastened.
It must not hit the peasant over the head, as it would e. The latter is only possible where the capitalist tenant farmer has forced out the peasants, and where the true cultivator is just as good a proletarian, a wage-labourer, as is the town worker, and so has immediately, not just indirectly, the very same interests as him.
Or, if one considers this question from the national angle, we would for the same reason assume that, as far as the Germans are concerned, the Slavs will stand in the same slavish dependence towards the victorious German proletariat as the latter does at present towards its own bourgeoisie. Schoolboy stupidity! A radical social revolution depends on certain definite historical conditions of economic development as its precondition.
It is also only possible where with capitalist production the industrial proletariat occupies at least an important position among the mass of the people. And if it is to have any chance of victory, it must be able to do immediately as much for the peasants as the French bourgeoisie, mutatis mutandis, did in its revolution for the French peasants of that time.
A fine idea, that the rule of labour involves the subjugation of land labour! He understands absolutely nothing about the social revolution, only its political phrases. Its economic conditions do not exist for him.
As all hitherto existing economic forms, developed or undeveloped, involve the enslavement of the worker whether in the form of wage-labourer, peasant etc. Still more! He wants the European social revolution, premised on the economic basis of capitalist production, to take place at the level of the Russian or Slavic agricultural and pastoral peoples, not to surpass this level [ If there is a state [gosudarstvo], then there is unavoidably domination [gospodstvo], and consequently slavery.
Domination without slavery, open or veiled, is unthinkable -- this is why we are enemies of the state. What does it mean, the proletariat organized as ruling class? It means that the proletariat, instead of struggling sectionally against the economically privileged class, has attained a sufficient strength and organization to employ general means of coercion in this struggle. It can however only use such economic means as abolish its own character as salariat, hence as class.
With its complete victory its own rule thus also ends, as its class character has disappeared. Will the entire proletariat perhaps stand at the head of the government? In a trade union, for example, does the whole union form its executive committee? Will all division of labour in the factory, and the various functions that correspond to this, cease?
Will all members of the commune simultaneously manage the interests of its territory? Then there will be no distinction between commune and territory. The Germans number around forty million. Will for example all forty million be member of the government? Since the whole thing begins with the self-government of the commune. The whole people will govern, and there will be no governed. If a man rules himself, he does not do so on this principle, for he is after all himself and no other.
Then there will be no government and no state, but if there is a state, there will be both governors and slaves. Bakunin the government of the people by means of a small number of leaders, chosen elected by the people. This is democratic twaddle, political drivel. Election is a political form present in the smallest Russian commune and artel. The character of the election does not depend on this name, but on the economic foundation, the economic situation of the voters, and as soon as the functions have ceased to be political ones, there exists 1 no government function, 2 the distribution of the general functions has become a business matter, that gives no one domination, 3 election has nothing of its present political character.
The universal suffrage of the whole people So the result is: guidance of the great majority of the people by a privileged minority. But this minority, say the Marxists Certainly, with your permission, of former workers, who however, as soon as they have become representatives or governors of the people, cease to be workers As little as a factory owner today ceases to be a capitalist if he becomes a municipal councillor Anyone who can doubt this knows nothing of the nature of men.
But those elected will be fervently convinced and therefore educated socialists. The people are not scientific, which means that they will be entirely freed from the cares of government, they will be entirely shut up in the stable of the governed.
A fine liberation! The Marxists sense this! Non, mon cher! They say that their only concern and aim is to educate and uplift the people saloon-bar politicians! An obvious contradiction. If their state will really be popular, why not destroy it, and if its destruction is necessary for the real liberation of the people, why do they venture to call it popular?
Mr Bakunin concludes from this that it is better to do nothing at all
Statism and Anarchy
Maximoff ed. The question arises, if the proletariat becomes the ruling class, over whom will it rule? It means that there will still remain another proletariat, which will be subject to this new domination, this new state. It means that so long as the other classes, especially the capitalist class, still exists, so long as the proletariat struggles with it for when it attains government power its enemies and the old organization of society have not yet vanished , it must employ forcible means, hence governmental means.
Statism and Anarchy is the first completed volume of a larger projected work by Bakunin. Written in Russian, with special emphasis on Slavic problems, this work tremendously influenced Russian revolutionary thought. The dictatorial power of this learned minority is concealed by the fiction of a pseudo-representative government which presumes to express the will of the people. The final excerpt , taken from the appendix to Statism and Anarchy, deals primarily with the pre-conditions for a social revolution in Russia. Bakunin does not idolize the Russian peasant, nor does he, like so many of his contemporaries, uncritically accept the Mir peasant community as the ideal unit of the future society. In discussing the program of the moderate liberals and the Populists, Bakunin gives his views on the efficacy of cooperatives, and the establishment of colonies communes and other reformist measures to bring about fundamental social changes. He also outlines what intelligent and dedicated Russian youth from upper and middle classes could do to promote social revolution.