“Bakunin on Anarchy”

Mikhail Bakunin

1972 A.A. Knopf

Collection of some of Bakunin’s most important writings and essays.  Having not really read much Bakunin before, I’m a little disappointed, I must say.  Not for what he says, but what he doesn’t.

He tended to repeat his own ideas a lot, which are of course valid (the state must be destroyed, not reformed; revolution must be decentralized and spontaneous by the masses of people, not handed down by a privileged elite), but also simplistic and formulaic.  Overall, Bakunin’s writings are not very useful in contexts beyond the theoretical and philosophical, and you can take them more as guiding and grounding principles rather than any kind of program for revolutionary action.

Then again, there’s some important stuff here, especially about Bakunin’s relationship with Marx and other socialists of his day, the nature of the First International being especially interesting.  Recommended but not by much.

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