Bakunin’s views on politicsJune 27, 2021
Bakunin rejected all external systems of authority, including God, by any name or form. In God and the State, published posthumously in 1882, he wrote:
“Man’s emancipation depends only on this, because he obeys the laws of nature, not because they are imposed on him from outside by any alien will, whatever human or divine, collective or individual, but because he himself conceives them as such.”
Thus, every person becomes aware of the laws of nature. Bakunin’s reasoning eventually concludes that since these laws are laws of his own nature, the individual has no choice but to obey them, and therefore political organizations, governments, and laws will immediately perish.
Bakunin likewise denied any privileged position or class. Because “this is the peculiarity of privilege, and every privileged position kills the heart and mind of man. A privileged man is a man corrupted in mind and heart, whether political or economic.”
Bakunin’s methods of realizing his revolutionary program are no less significant than his principles. A revolutionary, as Bakunin defined it, must be a loyal man who does not allow for any special interest or feeling, who has no doubts about religion, patriotism, or morality that would divert him from his mission to overturn existing society in every sense of the word.
The disagreement between Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx highlights the difference between anarchism and Marxism: although anarchists and Marxists share the same goal (creation of a free, equal society without social classes and the state), they differ greatly on how to achieve that goal. Anarchists believe that a classless, stateless society must be passed not through the state apparatus, but through the organs of self-government of the working people and without a transitional stage like the dictatorship of the proletariat. For anarchists, power corrupts. Marxists believe such a thing is impossible and anarchists are very idealistic. They aim to seize the state apparatus, not to destroy it. Marxists envision a gradual transition to a classless and stateless society, called socialism, with a state apparatus and a planned economy.