Part 3: Anarchism



three so when I got cut off last time I think I was talking about Putin and his famous line property is theft I believe this was in a pamphlet that perdone wrote the title of it is what is property and then the the punchline at the end of it is property is theft now this this is worth maybe going over a bit because this is one of those quotes that Pradhan is most famous for and perhaps I should have mentioned this before and I was talking about misconceptions about socialism but when socialists and anarchists use the word property they're not talking about your personal property that they're talking about private ownership of either like land as in like a lot of land or private ownership of the means of production so when Pradhan says property is theft he's talking about owning like great areas of land privately held or owning like you know like a big factory privately held in socialist vocabulary a socialist and anarchist vocabulary there's a distinction between private property and personal property personal property meaning you know your comic book collection or your toothbrush or you know your clothes the things that belong to you and then this is not understood by most people and arguably the problem is with us leftists who have our own private vocabulary that nobody else understands although I think in fairness I think part of this is because that the meaning of the word has changed over time so I think in the 1840s when when Pradhan and Marx were writing it was clear what was meant by these terms and I think you can still kind of notice this kind of in certain contexts for example if I say oh he owns a lot of property I don't mean he has like a big comic book collection right it's kind of clear from that sentence that I I mean he has a lot of land or when you talk about like the property class or something like that so that's kind of the older more traditional meaning of the word property and that's kind of what is meant by in socialists or anarchist discourse when you talk about the abolition of private property anyways moving on to the next big founder of anarchism who is bakunin I read an interesting biography of bakunin back when I was 20 or 21 which I got out of the school library and I don't remember the name of it I don't remember the author so apologies I I know that kind of helps nobody but I guess the point being if you search Amazon there should be readable popular biographies of bakunin out there but Coonan was an interesting guy he he actually came from Risto kradic Russian family so he came from a wealthy family but rebelled against them but Coonan was also involved in the revolutions of 1848 he also gets a brief mention in that book I mentioned before revolutions of 1848 by Priscilla Roberson but khuddam was in Dresden on the barricades in Dresden there's a famous quote about bakunin I forget who said it was like the police commissioner or something like that he said on the first day of revolution Bakunin is indispensable on the second day of revolution he should be shot meaning kind of like he was he was very he was very instrumental in kind of getting the revolution started but then he was kind of detrimental to it afterwards I guess is the meaning of that interestingly enough this is one of those little historical bits of trivia but Coonan was on the barricades in Dresden with Richard Wagner vogner you know the the famous opera guy the guy who writes the operas about all the Vikings and Norse mythology vogner was also a very interesting guy but so if you read a biography of vogner his association with Bakunin will probably pop up on that I read some years ago not a biography but it was called vogner a documentary study which was just kind of a collection of documents and included in that was Bakunin x' appraisal of vogner on the barricades because that the two of them were side by side in the dresden barricades he then got imprisoned after the failure of those revolutions sentenced to death which was eventually commuted to life imprisonment he was given over to the russian authorities and he had this dramatic escape where he escaped from prison and then escaped to japan and then worked his way down from hokkaido down to yokohama and then escaped to the US and then from the US he was able to get back to europe so he went on this kind of epic trip around the world kind of escaping from prison Bakunin is very also famous for his feud with Marx although unlike the I guess both Pradhan and Bakunin are primarily famous for their feuding with marks but Bakunin unlike Pradhan was actively working out to set up an alternative philosophy to Marx or an alternative organization now Bakunin also has his dark side and this is something to note because you don't hear about this so much in anarchists circles or you don't hear about this when you're reading kind of literature that sympathetic to the anarchist tradition they will tend to gloss over this I've heard about this more than reading biographies of Marx some of Marx's biographers will talk about Bakunin darkside and then again this was something that came up frequently when I was arguing with trotskyists because they tend to be very educate about vicunas darkside people who hang out in anarchists circles tend to not know about this so much so yes but Coonan loved conspiracies I mean not in the sense like like a flat earth truth or conspiracy in the sense that he loved forming conspiracies like forming small groups that conspired he loved kind of this cloak-and-dagger aspect to revolution and some of this seems to fly against his rhetoric because his rhetoric was very kind of power to the people democratic democracy but his actual practice he maintained a fascination with like seek forming secret revolutionary groups he was also associated with a guy called sergei nazi youth who was either he or sergei nacha or both were the authors of catechisms of a revolutionary or rules for revolutionaries which kind of tended to lay down all these kind of was it was like a document of revolutionary asceticism you kind of have to give up everything and dedicate yourself to the revolution which which again is kind of against maybe the popular image of an anarchist which is being kind of war with free thinker this was much more of a list of rules that you had to follow sir gave Nechayev was way too into secret conspiracies and was involved in like a murder of another activists or something like that and Bakunin after kind of being associated it with him for way too long finally broke ties with him but there's this kind of sketchy period vicunas history where he was a little bit too involved with that bakunin was also a little bit too eager to rush into revolutions half-cocked as opposed to Marx Marx is always like wait wait until you're organized wait until the conditions are favorable and then do the revolution because I think Marx realized more so than bakunin kind of the human cost of kind of setting off a revolution when you're not ready for it because then you're just going you know you're gonna get needlessly slaughtered so Marx had more of an adult appreciation of kind of the the costs of this whereas bakunin really didn't seem to appreciate this and just kind of wanted to go into revolutions half-cocked but kind of the most serious charge against Bakunin is the anti-semitism with Pru donut came up a little bit but with bakunin if you look at some of the stuff he wrote he was variant ly anti-semitic now Francis Wien who was one of Marx's biographers wrote Karl Marx 'life makes this distinction he said you know like in 19th century Europe a lot of people were casually anti-semitic like Agatha Christie Agatha Christie was early 20th century but you know she would write things like all he's a nice person for a Jew and that's kind of a casual anti-semitism but he says you would never accuse Agatha Christie of like being part of like you know being sympathetic to like this plot to exterminate millions of Jews whereas if you look at Bakunin x' writings it is kind of like the elders of Zionists type stuff where he is kind of frothing at the mouth of bet with with kind of how he attributes' all this evil to Jews and some of this Marx was a Jew of course so this came out in his battles with marks where he's just kind of attributing all this stuff – yeah all tributing a lot of Marx's false to being now I'm gonna argue a little bit later that it's a little bit why don't know but Coonan seems to be seems to have bought into the anti-semitic mindset which would later go on to feed yeah maybe feed kind of what the Nazis did although at the same time I'm gonna argue this a little bit later but what happened with the Nazis could never have happened under anarchism because you would never have had the central government organization to kind of root out six million people from their towns and herd them into concentration camps nonetheless the the yeah but couldn't us seem to be guilty of the same sentiment which the the virulent anti-semitism which led into the Holocaust so that is very much on his dark side also and this is going to sound minor compared to what I just mentioned I should have organized this better but bakunin was not nearly as intelligent as Marx or at least he wasn't nearly as analytical thinker of Marx I mean if you go through and you read kind of what some of Marx's political arguments he is very analytical in that in the sense that either like he he lays out this point and then this point and then this point and and kind of point in rebuttal point and rebuttal and vicuna and I think could never really match that and that's why I this is slipping into a little bit of personal opinion here but I think in the argument between Marx and Bakunin Marx comes out a little bit on top of this which is not the same Marx is right but just that he is a more analytical thorough arguer in in their discourse all that aside I think but Coonans still holds up still has value today as a critic against Marx because if you read Bakunin you can see that he's so accurately predicted what was going to happen with the Soviet Union and kind of the horrors of Leninism and Stalinism and yeah I mean you you read that today and you just it's just amazing how accurately bakunin predicted this bakunin said look when when you when you have this elite group that's going to control the revolution you're going to end up with a dictatorship which is worse than what we've got now just kind of even he said even if they have the purest motives just kind of giving them this position of power is going to corrupt them in fact I've got a rather extended quote here this came from Isaiah is Berlin Berlin's biography of Marx and which he gave a extended quote of Bakunin which I think maybe bears repeating because it's so accurately predicted the problems of Marxism says quoting here we believe power corrupts those who wield it as much as those who are forced to obey it under its influence some become greedy and ambitious tyrants exploiting society in their own interests or in that of their class while others are turned into abject slaves intellectuals positive positivists and doctrine heirs all those who put science before life defend the idea of the state and its authority as being the only possible salvation of society quite logically since from their false premises premises that thought comes before life that only abstract Theory can form the starting point of social presence possessed by very few though sorry of social practice they draw the inevitable conclusion that since theoretical knowledge is at present possessed by a very few those few must be put in control of social life not only to inspire but to direct all popular movements and that no sooner is revolution over then a new social organization must be at must at once be set up not of three Association of popular bodies working in accordance with the needs and instincts of the people but a centralized dictatorial power concentrated in the hands of this academic minority as if they really expressed the popular will the defense be between such sorry the difference between such revolutionary dictatorship and the modern state is only one of external trappings in substance both are a tyranny of the minority over the mic majority in the name of the people and the name of the stupidity of the many and the superior wisdom of the few and so they are equally reactionary devising to secure political and economic privilege to the ruling minority and the enslavement of the masses to destroy the present order only to Iraq their own rigid dictatorship on its ruins by the way I apologize for stumbling through that quote and for mangling it in the process I'll just copy and paste the whole thing in the video description that that'll probably be of more value than the reading I just did a bit um but yeah that I thought I think is kind of Bakunin z' lasting value is accurately predicting where the horrors of Marxism could lead the end of his life apparently bakunin did not age well and this has come up in two books I read on him actually one was the world that never was by Alex Butterworth which is kind of a history of anarchism generally the other was Bakunin and invention by horse benek both of these kind of give the impression that near the end of his life bakunin was just tired you know being a revolutionary and kind of hiding out from the police and all the inventors of it is a young man's game and by the time he was sixty bakunin was apparently kind of regretting a little bit kind of turning his life on his heiress aristocrats re turning his back on his aristocratic life that he had grown up with and kind of wanting the middle-class comforts and kind of trying to there's a yeah looking a little bit pathetic near the end of his life unfortunately yeah it's maybe a sad fact that revolutionaries do not age well so the Paris Commune I'm gonna skip over this now because this was this was something that was happened between Marx and Bakunin but after the Paris Commune Markson Bakunin were both part of the working man's international sometimes it's later referred to as the first working man's international because there are a few different versions but yeah the first one was this kind of organization of leftists or socialists and up until eighteen seven to Marxist faction and bakunin faction were both in the same organization and that at 1872 in the hague Congress Marx finally was able to marshal his forces and expel Bakunin and his organization his followers and that was the big split between Communists and anarchists are between Marxist and anarchists up until this time they had been working within the same organization after this there's a split where they're often different organizations in Europe and Asia we'll talk about this later but in Asia in Japan and China anarchists and socialists and communists continued to work together in the same organizations from much much later after this but but in Europe that was a big split and then after that Marx and Engels decided that they were just sick of struggling for control over the international and if they couldn't control it then nobody was going to have the International so they and their followers did a surprise move where they voted to move the International to New York that was going to be the new headquarters of the working man's international and that back in 1872 New York was a long ways from Europe in Europe was where the socialist movement was headquartered so that was essentially their way of killing the first international Bakunin went on to found his own organization the Euro that after the Swiss town jur a Europe iteration which had had their kind of own manifesto and kind of setting up their their own idea and that kind of lasted for a while and then that petered out at the end of the 1870s okay the next big anarchist name is Kropotkin and with apologies I know very little Kropotkin this is kind of the thinker I know the least about in part because most of my historical interest was in the 19th century in the Paris Commune and Markson bakunin and stuff like that um but he does have kind of the best reputation as kind of you know bakunin was a little bit of a crackpot maybe arguably Kropotkin has a reputation of being a very reason and thinker and reasonable thinker and he wrote kind of the major works of anarchist theory he also wrote the great French Revolution which which is kind of like the go-to book for leftist talking about the French Revolution even Trotskyists who generally hate the anarchist tradition will sometimes quote from this book general generously including Chris Harmon who wrote a people's history of the world which is a very Pro trotskyist and bent but and and actually Chris Harmon is associated with the International branch of the Trotskyist ie argued with against in Melbourne but Chris Harborne Harmon quotes pretty generously from from that book the one thing about Kropotkin that I do know and this is again something that trotskyists will usually bring up his Kropotkin actually supported World War one which is not which is not great this was kind of a low point in his career so well the build-up to World War one is interesting because socialist and anarchist doctrine was that socialists will never support a national war you know nation against nation socialists only support kind of a class war but you would never like support like a war between Germany and France because from a socialist point of view the workers have the workers of Germany and France have more in common with each other and they should be fighting the factory owners and they shouldn't be fighting each other and the Socialists were not supposed to support these national Wars but this all fell apart and the build-up to World War one there was just so much war hysteria that both the Socialists in France and the Socialists in Germany and other countries as well completely completely forgot about their class solidarity and they they both believed that you know the future of civilization hinged on this war and that you know you had to fight this war first and then the class war would come later yes it's just an interesting historical case of like war hysteria and war propaganda kind of overtaking everyone's common sense and then when the end of the war was over and then people were like what was that war all about why were we fighting and a number of prominent socialists of course did not support the war rosa luxemburg Eugene Debs and these are the people we remember but what we tend to forget is that by and large the largest socialist organizations did kind of fall apart and fall into line and support the war and actually this was why the second international Kingman's association fell apart because of World War one so Kropotkin was not alone in that there was a lot of socialists who also fell into this war hysteria but Kropotkin it's unfortunately that Kropotkin was such a big anarchist thinker he wasn't just like you know like a moderate socialist or something like that he was like the preeminent socialist anarchist thinker the other anarchists at the time were by and large appalled by this Emma Goldman writes in her autobiography about how horrified she was to learn that Kropotkin was supporting the war but M Kropotkin just got caught up in this war his hysteria that you know you had to defend civilization against the Huns and so he yeah he fell in line behind the the Russians throughout the Czarist Russian government the rush to war in World War one it's unfortunate trotskyists will always bring it up it should not undermine his whole life and and the all the great books he wrote but there you go okay now now that I've outlined kind of the three big thinkers protein Pradhan Kropotkin Pradhan Bakunin and Kropotkin I'm gonna go back and talk about the the first big event in anarchist history which was the Paris Commune now the Paris Commune occupies a big place in both Communists and anarchists mythology so communists have written extensively about the Paris Commune anarchists have written extensively about the Paris Commune but the thing to remember I guess is that on the ground it was a completely unplanned revolution so this was happening right at the end of the franco-prussian war was obvious that there was a lot of kind of tension from the working-class and parents so there was kind of the the it was a volatile situation was kind of right for revolution Marx actually wrote an address saying whatever you do don't have the revolution now he's like this is the worst time for revolution the Prussian army is right outside just wait until the Prussian army goes home and then you know maybe then you can have your revolution so Marc Marx was advocating against the revolution it all comes I think any one kind of in any position of authority and the socialist movement was arguing against the revolution but it ended up happening anyways the the prison government was trying to remove the cannons from the working class neighborhoods working classes what are you doing these are our cannons and then there was just kind of a spontaneous uprising the Parisian government panicked the French government panicked and just evacuated Paris and then just all of a sudden left a power vacuum in which all of a sudden the working class was in control of Paris and nobody planned it and nobody who organized debts and there was kind of no clear ideology there was just like a power vacuum and elections were held and kind of the working-class elected kind of Representatives and so you had a Paris Commune government but there yeah and no clear way was either marks or Bakunin directing this now at this time Marx was not yet the household name that he is today so there were not a real there were no real Marxist in the Paris Commune I think there was like one person varlyn who was a member of the working man's international but Coonan didn't really have a lot of adherents per se either the Paris Commune the government ended up forming two kinds of factions referred to as a majority and the minority the majority is often referred to as jacobins




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