IN the popular mind, an Anarchist is a person who throws bombs and commits other outrages, either because he is more or less insane, or because he uses the pretense of extreme political opinions as a cloak for criminal proclivities. This view is, of course, in every way inadequate. Some Anarchists believe in throwing bombs; many do not. Men of almost every other shade of opinion believe in throwing bombs in suitable circumstances: for example, the men who threw the bomb at Sarajevo which started the present war were not Anarchists, but Nationalists. And those Anarchists who are in favor of bomb-throwing do not in this respect differ on any vital principle from the rest of the community, with the exception of that infinitesimal portion who adopt the Tolstoyan attitude of non-resistance. Anarchists, like Socialists, usually believe in the doctrine of the class war, and if they use bombs, it is as Governments use bombs, for purposes of war: but for every bomb manufactured by an Anarchist, many millions are manufactured by Governments, and for every man killed by Anarchist violence, many millions are killed by the violence of States. We may, therefore, dismiss from our minds the whole question of violence, which plays so large a part in the popular imagination, since it is neither essential nor peculiar to those who adopt the Anarchist position.
Anarchism, as its derivation indicates, is the theory which is opposed to every kind of forcible government. It is opposed to the State as the embodiment of the force employed in the government of the community. Such government as Anarchism can tolerate must be free government, not merely in the sense that it is that of a majority, but in the sense that it is that assented to by all. Anarchists object to such institutions as the police and the criminal law, by means of which the will of one part of the community is forced upon another part. In their view, the democratic form of government is not very enormously preferable to other forms so long as minorities are compelled by force or its potentiality to submit to the will of majorities. Liberty is the supreme good in the Anarchist creed, and liberty is sought by the direct road of abolishing all forcible control over the individual by the community.
Anarchism, in this sense, is no new doctrine. It is set forth admirably by Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, who lived about the year 300 B. C.:--
Horses have hoofs to carry them over frost and snow; hair, to protect them from wind and cold. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their heels over the champaign. Such is the real nature of horses. Palatial dwellings are of no use to them.
One day Po Lo appeared, saying: ``I understand the management of horses.''
So he branded them, and clipped them, and pared their hoofs, and put halters on them, tying them up by the head and shackling them by the feet, and disposing them in stables, with the result that two or three in every ten died. Then he kept them hungry and thirsty, trotting them and galloping them, and grooming, and trimming, with the misery of the tasselled bridle before and the fear of the knotted whip behind, until more than half of them were dead.
The potter says: ``I can do what I will with Clay. If I want it round, I use compasses; if rectangular, a square.''
The carpenter says: ``I can do what I will with wood. If I want it curved, I use an arc; if straight, a line.''
But on what grounds can we think that the natures of clay and wood desire this application of compasses and square, of arc and line? Nevertheless, every age extols Po Lo for his skill in managing horses, and potters and carpenters for their skill with clay and wood. Those who govern the empire make the same mistake.
Now I regard government of the empire from quite a different point of view.
The people have certain natural instincts:--to weave and clothe themselves, to till and feed themselves. These are common to all humanity, and all are agreed thereon. Such instincts are called ``Heaven-sent.''
And so in the days when natural instincts prevailed, men moved quietly and gazed steadily. At that time there were no roads over mountains, nor boats, nor bridges over water. All things were produced, each for its own proper sphere. Birds and beasts multiplied, trees and shrubs grew up. The former might be led by the hand; you could climb up and peep into the raven's nest. For then man dwelt with birds and beasts, and all creation was one. There were no distinctions of good and bad men. Being all equally without knowledge, their virtue could not go astray. Being all equally without evil desires, they were in a state of natural integrity, the perfection of human existence.
But when Sages appeared, tripping up people over charity and fettering them with duty to their neighbor, doubt found its way into the world. And then, with their gushing over music and fussing over ceremony, the empire became divided against itself.
The modern Anarchism, in the sense in which we shall be concerned with it, is associated with belief in the communal ownership of land and capital, and is thus in an important respect akin to Socialism. This doctrine is properly called Anarchist Com- munism, but as it embraces practically all modern Anarchism, we may ignore individualist Anarchism altogether and concentrate attention upon the communistic form. Socialism and Anarchist Communism alike have arisen from the perception that private capital is a source of tyranny by certain individuals over others. Orthodox Socialism believes that the individual will become free if the State becomes the sole capitalist. Anarchism, on the contrary, fears that in that case the State might merely inherit the tyrannical propensities of the private capitalist. Accordingly, it seeks for a means of reconciling communal ownership with the utmost possible diminution in the powers of the State, and indeed ultimately with the complete abolition of the State. It has arisen mainly within the Socialist movement as its extreme left wing.
In the same sense in which Marx may be regarded as the founder of modern Socialism, Bakunin may be regarded as the founder of Anarchist Communism. But Bakunin did not produce, like Marx, a finished and systematic body of doctrine. The nearest approach to this will be found in the writings of his follower, Kropotkin. In order to explain modern Anarchism we shall begin with the life of Bakunin and the history of his conflicts with Marx, and shall then give a brief account of Anarchist theory as set forth partly in his writings, but more in those of Kropotkin.
Michel Bakunin was born in 1814 of a Russian aristocratic family. His father was a diplomatist, who at the time of Bakunin's birth had retired to his country estate in the Government of Tver. Bakunin entered the school of artillery in Petersburg at the age of fifteen, and at the age of eighteen was sent as an ensign to a regiment stationed in the Government of Minsk. The Polish insurrection of 1880 had just been crushed. ``The spectacle of terrorized Poland,'' says Guillaume, ``acted powerfully on the heart of the young officer, and contributed to inspire in him the horror of despotism.'' This led him to give up the military career after two years' trial. In 1834 he resigned his commission and went to Moscow, where he spent six years studying philosophy. Like all philosophical students of that period, he became a Hegelian, and in 1840 he went to Berlin to continue his studies, in the hope of ultimately becoming a professor. But after this time his opinions underwent a rapid change. He found it impossible to accept the Hegelian maxim that whatever is, is rational, and in 1842 he migrated to Dresden, where he became associated with Arnold Ruge, the publisher of ``Deutsche Jahrbuecher.'' By this time he had become a revolutionary, and in the following year he incurred the hostility of the Saxon Government. This led him to go to Switzerland, where he came in contact with a group of German Communists, but, as the Swiss police importuned him and the Russian Government demanded his return, he removed to Paris, where he remained from 1843 to 1847. These years in Paris were important in the formation of his outlook and opinions. He became acquainted with Proudhon, who exercised a considerable influence on him; also with George Sand and many other wellknown people. It was in Paris that he first made the acquaintance of Marx and Engels, with whom he was to carry on a lifelong battle. At a much later period, in 1871, he gave the following account of his relations with Marx at this time:--
Marx was much more advanced than I was, as he remains to-day not more advanced but incomparably more learned than I am. I knew then nothing of political economy. I had not yet rid myself of metaphysical abstractions, and my Socialism was only instinctive. He, though younger than I, was already an atheist, an instructed materialist, a well-considered Socialist. It was just at this time that he elaborated the first foundations of his present system. We saw each other fairly often, for I respected him much for his learning and his passionate and serious devotion (always mixed, however, with personal vanity) to the cause of the proletariat, and I sought eagerly his conversation, which was always instructive and clever, when it was not inspired by a paltry hate, which, alas! happened only too often. But there was never any frank intimacy between as. Our temperaments would not suffer it. He called me a sentimental idealist, and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.
Bakunin never succeeded in staying long in one place without incurring the enmity of the authorities. In November, 1847, as the result of a speech praising the Polish rising of 1830, he was expelled from France at the request of the Russian Embassy, which, in order to rob him of public sympathy, spread the unfounded report that he had been an agent of the Russian Government, but was no longer wanted because he had gone too far. The French Government, by calculated reticence, encouraged this story, which clung to him more or less throughout his life.
Being compelled to leave France, he went to Brussels, where he renewed acquaintance with Marx. A letter of his, written at this time, shows that he entertained already that bitter hatred for which afterward he had so much reason. ``The Germans, artisans, Bornstedt, Marx and Engels--and, above all, Marx--are here, doing their ordinary mischief. Vanity, spite, gossip, theoretical overbearingness and practical pusillanimity--reflections on life, action and simplicity, and complete absence of life, action and simplicity--literary and argumentative artisans and repulsive coquetry with them: `Feuerbach is a bourgeois,' and the word `bourgeois' grown into an epithet and repeated ad nauseum, but all of them themselves from head to foot, through and through, provincial bourgeois. With one word, lying and stupidity, stupidity and lying. In this society there is no possibility of drawing a free, full breath. I hold myself aloof from them, and have declared quite decidedly that I will not join their communistic union of artisans, and will have nothing to do with it.''
The Revolution of 1848 led him to return to Paris and thence to Germany. He had a quarrel with Marx over a matter in which he himself confessed later that Marx was in the right. He became a member of the Slav Congress in Prague, where he vainly endeavored to promote a Slav insurrection. Toward the end of 1848, he wrote an ``Appeal to Slavs,'' calling on them to combine with other revolutionaries to destroy the three oppressive monarchies, Russia, Austria and Prussia. Marx attacked him in print, saying, in effect, that the movement for Bohemian independence was futile because the Slavs had no future, at any rate in those regions where they happened to be subject to Germany and Austria. Bakunin accused Mars of German patriotism in this matter, and Marx accused him of Pan-Slavism, no doubt in both cases justly. Before this dispute, however, a much more serious quarrel had taken place. Marx's paper, the ``Neue Rheinische Zeitung,'' stated that George Sand had papers proving Bakunin to be a Russian Government agent and one of those responsible for the recent arrest of Poles. Bakunin, of course, repudiated the charge, and George Sand wrote to the ``Neue Rheinische Zeitung,'' denying this statement in toto. The denials were published by Marx, and there was a nominal reconciliation, but from this time onward there was never any real abatement of the hostility between these rival leaders, who did not meet again until 1864.
Meanwhile, the reaction had been everywhere gaining ground. In May, 1849, an insurrection in Dresden for a moment made the revolutionaries masters of the town. They held it for five days and established a revolutionary government. Bakunin was the soul of the defense which they made against the Prussian troops. But they were overpowered, and at last Bakunin was captured while trying to escape with Heubner and Richard Wagner, the last of whom, fortunately for music, was not captured.
Now began a long period of imprisonment in many prisons and various countries. Bakunin was sentenced to death on the 14th of January, 1850, but his sentence was commuted after five months, and he was delivered over to Austria, which claimed the privilege of punishing him. The Austrians, in their turn, condemned him to death in May, 1851, and again his sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life. In the Austrian prisons he had fetters on hands and feet, and in one of them he was even chained to the wall by the belt. There seems to have been some peculiar pleasure to be derived from the punishment of Bakunin, for the Russian Government in its turn demanded him of the Austrians, who delivered him up. In Russia he was confined, first in the Peter and Paul fortress and then in the Schluesselburg. There be suffered from scurvy and all his teeth fell out. His health gave way completely, and he found almost all food impossible to assimilate. ``But, if his body became enfeebled, his spirit remained inflexible. He feared one thing above all. It was to find himself some day led, by the debilitating action of prison, to the condition of degradation of which Silvio Pellico offers a well-known type. He feared that he might cease to hate, that he might feel the sentiment of revolt which upheld him becoming extinguished in his hearts that he might come to pardon his persecutors and resign himself to his fate. But this fear was superfluous; his energy did not abandon him a single day, and he emerged from his cell the same man as when he entered.''
After the death of the Tsar Nicholas many political prisoners were amnested, but Alexander II with his own hand erased Bakunin's name from the list. When Bakunin's mother succeeded in obtaining an interview with the new Tsar, he said to her, ``Know, Madame, that so long as your son lives, he can never be free.'' However, in 1857, after eight years of captivity, he was sent to the comparative freedom of Siberia. From there, in 1861, he succeeded in escaping to Japan, and thence through America to London. He had been imprisoned for his hostility to governments, but, strange to say, his sufferings had not had the intended effect of making him love those who inflicted them. From this time onward, he devoted himself to spreading the spirit of Anarchist revolt, without, however, having to suffer any further term of imprisonment. For some years he lived in Italy, where he founded in 1864 an ``International Fraternity'' or ``Alliance of Socialist Revolutionaries.'' This contained men of many countries, but apparently no Germans. It devoted itself largely to combating Mazzini's nationalism. In 1867 he moved to Switzerland, where in the following year he helped to found the ``International Alliance of So- cialist Democracy,'' of which he drew up the program. This program gives a good succinct resume of his opinions:--
The Alliance declares itself atheist; it desires the definitive and entire abolition of classes and the political equality and social equalization of individuals of both sexes. It desires that the earth, the instrument of labor, like all other capital, becoming the collective property of society as a whole, shall be no longer able to be utilized except by the workers, that is to say, by agricultural and industrial associations. It recognizes that all actually existing political and authoritarian States, reducing themselves more and more to the mere administrative functions of the public services in their respective countries, must disappear in the universal union of free associations, both agricultural and industrial.
The International Alliance of Socialist Democracy desired to become a branch of the International Working Men's Association, but was refused admission on the ground that branches must be local, and could not themselves be international. The Geneva group of the Alliance, however, was admitted later, in July, 1869.
The International Working Men's Association had been founded in London in 1864, and its statutes and program were drawn up by Marx. Bakunin at first did not expect it to prove a success and refused to join it. But it spread with remarkable rapidity in many countries and soon became a great power for the propagation of Socialist ideas. Originally it was by no means wholly Socialist, but in successive Congresses Marx won it over more and more to his views. At its third Congress, in Brussels in September, 1868, it became definitely Socialist. Meanwhile Bakunin, regretting his earlier abstention, had decided to join it, and he brought with him a considerable following in French-Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy. At the fourth Congress, held at Basle in September, 1869, two currents were strongly marked. The Germans and English followed Marx in his belief in the State as it was to become after the abolition of private property; they followed him also in his desire to found Labor Parties in the various countries, and to utilize the machinery of democracy for the election oś representatives of Labor to Parliaments. On the other hand, the Latin nations in the main followed Bakunin in opposing the State and disbelieving in the machinery of representative government. The conflict between these two groups grew more and more bitter, and each accused the other of various offenses. The statement that Bakunin was a spy was repeated, but was withdrawn after investigation. Marx wrote in a confidential communication to his German friends that Bakunin was an agent of the Pan-Slavist party and received from them 25,000 francs a year. Meanwhile, Bakunin became for a time interested in the attempt to stir up an agrarian revolt in Russia, and this led him to neglect the contest in the International at a crucial moment. During the Franco-Prussian war Bakunin passionately took the side of France, especially after the fall of Napoleon III. He endeavored to rouse the people to revolutionary resistance like that of 1793, and became involved in an abortive attempt at revolt in Lyons. The French Government accused him of being a paid agent of Prussia, and it was with difficulty that he escaped to Switzerland. The dispute with Marx and his followers had become exacerbated by the national dispute. Bakunin, like Kropotkin after him, regarded the new power of Germany as the greatest menace to liberty in the world. He hated the Germans with a bitter hatred, partly, no doubt, on account of Bismarck, but probably still more on account of Marx. To this day, Anarchism has remained confined almost exclusively to the Latin countries, and has been associated with, a hatred of Germany, growing out of the contests between Marx and Bakunin in the International.
The final suppression of Bakunin's faction occurred at the General Congress of the International at the Hague in 1872. The meeting-place was chosen by the General Council (in which Marx was unopposed), with a view--so Bakunin's friends contend-- to making access impossible for Bakunin (on account of the hostility of the French and German governments) and difficult for his friends. Bakunin was expelled from the International as the result of a report accusing him inter alia of theft backed; up by intimidation.
The orthodoxy of the International was saved, but at the cost of its vitality. From this time onward, it ceased to be itself a power, but both sections continued to work in their various groups, and the Socialist groups in particular grew rapidly. Ultimately a new International was formed (1889) which continued down to the outbreak of the present war. As to the future of International Socialism it would be rash to prophesy, though it would seem that the international idea has acquired sufficient strength to need again, after the war, some such means of expression as it found before in Socialist congresses.
By this time Bakunin's health was broken, and except for a few brief intervals, he lived in retirement until his death in 1876.
Bakunin's life, unlike Marx's, was a very stormy one. Every kind of rebellion against authority always aroused his sympathy, and in his support he never paid the slightest attention to personal risk. His influence, undoubtedly very great, arose chiefly through the influence of his personality upon important individuals. His writings differ from Marx's as much as his life does, and in a similar way. They are chaotic, largely, aroused by some passing occasion, abstract and metaphysical, except when they deal with current politics. He does not come to close quarters with economic facts, but dwells usually in the regions of theory and metaphysics. When he descends from these regions, he is much more at the mercy of current international politics than Marx, much less imbued with the consequences of the belief that it is economic causes that are fundamental. He praised Marx for enunciating this doctrine, but nevertheless continued to think in terms of nations. His longest work, ``L'Empire Knouto-Germanique et la Revolution Sociale,'' is mainly concerned with the situation in France during the later stages of the Franco-Prussian War, and with the means of resisting German imperialism. Most of his writing was done in a hurry in the interval between two insurrections. There is something of Anarchism in his lack of literary order. His best-known work is a fragment entitled by its editors ``God and the State.''
In this work he represents belief in God and belief in the State as the two great obstacles to human liberty. A typical passage will serve to illustrate its style.
The State is not society, it is only an historical form of it, as brutal as it is abstract. It was born historically in all countries of the marriage of violence, rapine, pillage, in a word, war and conquest, with the gods successively created by the theological fantasy of nations. It has been from its origin, and it remains still at present, the divine sanction of brutal force and triumphant inequality.
The State is authority; it is force; it is the ostentation and infatuation of force: it does not insinuate itself; it does not seek to convert. . . . Even when it commands what is good, it hinders and spoils it, just because it commands it, and because every command provokes and excites the legitimate revolts of liberty; and because the good, from the moment that it is commanded, becomes evil from the point of view of true morality, of human morality (doubtless not of divine), from the point of view of human respect and of liberty. Liberty, morality, and the human dignity of man consist precisely in this, that he does good, not because it is commanded, but because he conceives it, wills it and loves it.
We do not find in Bakunin's works a clear picture of the society at which he aimed, or any argument to prove that such a society could be stable. If we wish to understand Anarchism we must turn to his followers, and especially to Kropotkin--like him, a Russian aristocrat familiar with the prisons of Europe, and, like him, an Anarchist who, in spite of his internationalism, is imbued with a fiery hatred of the Germans.
Kropotkin has devoted much of his writing to technical questions of production. In ``Fields, Factories and Workshops'' and ``The Conquest of Bread'' he has set himself to prove that, if production were more scientific and better organized, a comparatively small amount of quite agreeable work would suffice to keep the whole population in comfort. Even assuming, as we probably must, that he somewhat exaggerates what is possible with our present scientific knowledge, it must nevertheless be conceded that his contentions contain a very large measure of truth. In attacking the subject of production he has shown that he knows what is the really crucial question. If civilization and progress are to be compatible with equality, it is necessary that equality should not involve long hours of painful toil for little more than the necessaries of life, since, where there is no leisure, art and science will die and all progress will become impossible. The objection which some feel to Socialism and Anarchism alike on this ground cannot be upheld in view of the possible productivity of labor.
The system at which Kropotkin aims, whether or not it be possible, is certainly one which demands a very great improvement in the methods of production above what is common at present. He desires to abolish wholly the system of wages, not only, as most Socialists do, in the sense that a man is to be paid rather for his willingness to work than for the actual work demanded of him, but in a more fundamental sense: there is to be no obligation to work, and all things are to be shared in equal proportions among the whole population. Kropotkin relies upon the possibility of making work pleasant: he holds that, in such a community as he foresees, practically everyone will prefer work to idleness, because work will not involve overwork or slavery, or that excessive specialization that industrialism has brought about, but will be merely a pleasant activity for certain hours of the day, giving a man an outlet for his spontaneous constructive impulses. There is to be no compulsion, no law, no government exercising force; there will still be acts of the community, but these are to spring from universal consent, not from any enforced submission of even the smallest minority. We shall examine in a later chapter how far such an ideal is realizable, but it cannot be denied that Kropotkin presents it with extraordinary persuasiveness and charm.
We should be doing more than justice to Anarchism if we did not say something of its darker side, the side which has brought it into conflict with the police and made it a word of terror to ordinary citizens. In its general doctrines there is nothing essentially involving violent methods or a virulent hatred of the rich, and many who adopt these general doctrines are personally gentle and temperamentally averse from violence. But the general tone of the Anarchist press and public is bitter to a degree that seems scarcely sane, and the appeal, especially in Latin countries, is rather to envy of the fortunate than to pity for the unfortunate. A vivid and readable, though not wholly reliable, account, from a hostile point of view, is given in a book called ``Le Peril Anarchiste,'' by Felix Dubois, which incidentally reproduces a number of cartoons from anarchist journals. The revolt against law naturally leads, except in those who are controlled by a real passion for humanity, to a relaxation of all the usually accepted moral rules, and to a bitter spirit of retaliatory cruelty out of which good can hardly come.
One of the most curious features of popular Anarchism is its martyrology, aping Christian forms, with the guillotine (in France) in place of the cross. Many who have suffered death at the hands of the authorities on account of acts of violence were no doubt genuine sufferers for their belief in a cause, but others, equally honored, are more questionable. One of the most curious examples of this outlet for the repressed religious impulse is the cult of Ravachol, who was guillotined in 1892 on account of various dynamite outrages. His past was dubious, but he died defiantly; his last words were three lines from a well-known Anarchist song, the ``Chant du Pere Duchesne'':--
Si tu veux etre heureux,
Nom de Dieu!
Pends ton proprietaire.
As was natural, the leading Anarchists took no part in the canonization of his memory; nevertheless it proceeded, with the most amazing extravagances.
It would be wholly unfair to judge Anarchist doctrine, or the views of its leading exponents, by such phenomena; but it remains a fact that Anarchism attracts to itself much that lies on the borderland of insanity and common crime. This must be remembered in exculpation of the authorities and the thoughtless public, who often confound in a common detestation the parasites of the movement and the truly heroic and high-minded men who have elaborated its theories and sacrificed comfort and success to their propagation.
The terrorist campaign in which such men as Ravachol were active practically came to an end in 1894. After that time, under the influence of Pelloutier, the better sort of Anarchists found a less harmful outlet by advocating Revolutionary Syndicalism in the Trade Unions and Bourses du Travail.
The ECONOMIC organization of society, as conceived by Anarchist Communists, does not differ greatly from that which is sought by Socialists. Their difference from Socialists is in the matter of government: they demand that government shall require the consent of all the governed, and not only of a majority. It is undeniable that the rule of a majority may be almost as hostile to freedom as the rule of a minority: the divine right of majorities is a dogma as little possessed of absolute truth as any other. A strong democratic State may easily be led into oppression of its best citizens, namely, those those independence of mind would make them a force for progress. Experience of democratic parliamentary government has shown that it falls very far short of what was expected of it by early Socialists, and the Anarchist revolt against it is not surprising. But in the form of pure Anarchism, this revolt has remained weak and sporadic. It is Syndicalism, and the movements to which Syndicalism has given rise, that have popularized the revolt against parliamentary government and purely political means of emancipating the wage earner. But this movement must be dealt with in a separate chapter.
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