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This is a really terrific book, and so rich in 19th century context historical, philosophical, socioeconomical you would probably enjoy reading it even if you only have a passing interest in Bakunin or anarchism It is also well written and often funny, with many quite good little jokes thrown in there that, like the book itself, are always both enlightening and entertaining It also knows how to connect the events in the book with the issues facing us today Capitalism, for instance, is s This is a really terrific book, and so rich in 19th century context historical, philosophical, socioeconomical you would probably enjoy reading it even if you only have a passing interest in Bakunin or anarchism It is also well written and often funny, with many quite good little jokes thrown in there that, like the book itself, are always both enlightening and entertaining It also knows how to connect the events in the book with the issues facing us today Capitalism, for instance, is still grinding us into whatever we are today, and Bakunin s critique of it still of use This constant awareness is a big plus for me To be clear this is not an intimate personal biography,a summary of Bakunin s ideas and a description of their evolution as events in his life progress This is where the context comes in of course Because for someone born in 1814 s Russia, who would turn out to be a prominent European radical, you can and should ask how did Napoleon s Continental System and 1812 invasion impact the political climate in Russia What if any practical implications did they have for Bakunin s noble family and their running of an estate with serfs How did the institution of serfdom prevent Russia from modernizing How did the failed Decembrist uprising impact the political climate How did this political climate impact our subject radical What was the intellectual context of Bakunin s radicalization What did the rise of industrial capitalism and liberalism mean exactly What was the impact on Bakunin s thinking of encountering Proudhon, Weitling, Marx, 1848, Garibaldi and the Risorgimento, the birth the Second German Empire, the establishment of the First International, the Paris Commune, the promise of the United States where capital had to compete for labor with plenty of affordable land as a high wage worker s paradise, etc Thankfully, this context is adequately provided And as a labor historian, Leier is well positioned to give it Perhaps most impressively, the book also includes a somewhat lengthy 10 pages discussion of the relevant aspects for understanding Bakunin of the philosophies of Fichte and Hegel which is both helpful and fun to read if you can believe it And perhaps needless to say, but what makes it such a good idea to study the political thinkers of the 19th century besides Bakunin also Marx and Tocqueville and many, manyor course is that because they are first hand witnesses of the rise and establishment of the political concepts that still dominate our 21st century world capitalism, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, democracy, journalism, nationalism, parlements and constitutions People in the 21st century can hardly know what these terms actually mean, for, as Nietzsche pointed out, it s only possible to concisely define a term if it has no history Any accurate and adequate definition of a historical concept would have to include its earliest function s and the circumstanced in which they arose, and the evolution which shaped them from then on This is why capitalism , for instance, is so hard to define for us 21st centurians Ask a hundred random people on any random internet street today what capitalism means, and most would have absolutely no idea on how to even begin to define it Even self declared enthousiasts of capitalism would often give you a definition that is vague, incomplete, and or outright false In fact it is my long held belief that supporters of capitalism are necessarily and entirely clueless about what it is Thinkers of the 19th century know better what all these terms mean, because they were born into and witnessed a world without them They have seen them come into being, watched their evolution from abstract principles into concrete realities, seen their real world implications They were also able to contrast places in which they were an established reality such as in Britain or France with places in which they were resisted such as in Austria or Russia They also, as Leier put it in his introduction, have the benefit of having escapted the massive campaign of propagandizing and normalization of capitalism that we were subjected to the last 170 years or so This gives these thinkers a clearness of insight into modern life that we can only get second hand, by studying them and their perspectives This book is aware of this fact of and emphasises this practical aspect of studying the 19th century throughout, this is one of its many strong points Bakunism versus MarxismFor people interested in anarchism and other kinds of socialism there arereasons to enjoy this book obviously, as Bakunin s disagreements and feuds with Marx and Engels are basically the potting soil in which anarchism as a modern philosophy and movement is rooted Several points of disagreement jump out.One is that Marx and Engels believed that, before socialism could arise, capitalism should establish itself and reach maturity first Only thence socialism will come into being This belief made them side with the progression of capitalism and imperialism in some cases, and side against the peoples oppressed by them Famously the Slavs and the Mexicans, who according to Engels basically had to suck up their subjection by the Habsburg and US empires in the name of capitalist progress Bakunin strongly disagreed andconsistently sided with the oppressed against their oppressors Human liberty is always the goal according to Bakunin, any society can become freer, steps in that direction are always both attainable and worth fighting for Even if these fights are doomed, they are still worth fighting for, as they will keep the torch of liberty lit and inspire the next fight Here Marx and Engels s historical materialism which is what they called their science through which they divined these stages of historical development clearly shows the danger that all forms of realism suffer from a tendency of turning into power worship The United States is stronger than Mexico, therefore it should dominate Mexico Power becomes its own justification Might makes right Looking at it critically if ungenerously Marx and Engels even justify the ultimate establishment of socialism not based on principles of justice, but on the realities of power a unified proletariat is stronger than the bourgeoisie, therefore they must necessarily win The lesson here could be that any form of realism should be adopted strictly as an analytical tool, never as a moral compass.Another point of contention between Marx and Bakunin related to historical materialism is over the respective roles of the proletariat, peasantry, and so called lumpenproletariat According to Marx and Engels s historical materialism, only the proletariat would develop a class consciousness and fight for their interests in the form of socialism Peasants live too insulated from each other, and as result will be intellectually too backwards for this process Bakunin disagreed with this People may lack higher learning and or a sophisticated awareness of politics, but they aren t generally stupid, and they know when they re being oppressed And when pushed, they will resist And for Bakunin, several peasant rebellions in history have shown, especially Pugachev s in 1773 75, that this resistance of the peasantry has revolutionairy potential Later examples of China and Vietnam have shown Bakunin was right about this potential This not taking serious common people s intelligence is another,serious difference between anarchism and Marxism Marxists tend to think the masses should be led, or at least educated, by the radical intellectuals This authoritarian strain in Marxism is usually associated with Lenin, but it is clearly visible in Marx and Engels as well Bakunin on the other hand emphasized that radical intellectuals are not teachers of the people, only their precursors Radicals do have a role to play, but they in Leier s paraphrase of Bakunin must learn from the masses, not teach them And not to lead the masses, but to serve them Not telling people what they should think and want, but helping them to organize and achieve what they actually do think and want Only that is called democracy Therefore radical intellectuals should drop the odious and ridiculous role of the schoolmaster and realize people are not the means to the revolution, but its end Bakunin wasn t consistent on this point though Women, for instance, should be the equals of men in political duties and rights In the Russian peasant communes women were seen and treated less than equal to put it mildly , and regarding this patriarchal despotism , for instance, Bakunin did see a duty of radical intellectuals to educate Another maybe less, but still very important disagreement is over the role of political action Marx versus direct action Bakunin Workers in thedeveloped parts of Europe, such as France and Britain, tended to side with Marx, as the vote allowed them to win siginificant reforms in the political arena Workers in especially Spain and Italy, who did not have the vote and therefore no means of political action, tended to favor Bakunin s approach Reading Orwell s Homage to Catalonia, I always wondered where all these Italian and Spanish anarchists came from I now have a clue And then, of course, there is the defining question of state power Accoring to Marx and Engels, seizing state power is both a useful and necessary stage of revolution A temporary dictatorship of the proletariat will dissolve all class differences, and then the state will eventually wither away Bakunin sees no reason why this will happen According to him, power inherently corrupts Even if you put workers in power of the state, they will cease to be workers then and there, and become liable to wishing to stay in power Especially if they are in power forthan a couple of weeks, they will start to get used to their new privileges and, knowingly or unknowingly, will be inclined to extend the current arrangements, perhaps even reproduce them for their children And if it aren t even workers who are put in power, but the radical intellectuals who have always considered themselves to be the superior schoolmasters of the people, this tendency is of course even stronger In Bakunin s view means and ends must be aligned, they cannot contradict Repression will never beget liberty, only libery can beget liberty In summary, I love this book and will try to force people to voluntarily read it historically I mean, not geographically Not an easy book to read, but as with most difficult books, extremely rewarding.I ve always thought of myself as a Marxist, but after reading this, I m not so sure any.A great deal of the book is taken up with squabbles between Marx Engels and Bakunin, and it is difficult to know who was right Bakunin certainly comes across as the nicer person The book is not just a biography, but also a well argued explanation of Bukanin s views, and the whole book is interwoven with comparisons of today Not an easy book to read, but as with most difficult books, extremely rewarding.I ve always thought of myself as a Marxist, but after reading this, I m not so sure any.A great deal of the book is taken up with squabbles between Marx Engels and Bakunin, and it is difficult to know who was right Bakunin certainly comes across as the nicer person The book is not just a biography, but also a well argued explanation of Bukanin s views, and the whole book is interwoven with comparisons of today s situation There is also a great deal of wit throughout, and Mr Leier is a fine raconteur Any book that mentions Bob Dylan will always get my vote I m torn about this book It is a very good intellectual history of Bakunin, thoroughly researched The detraction is that on occasion the author becomes an advocate and on others a critic of contemporary politics or specific politicians While most of those contemporary criticisms and analogies I agree with I think it would be preferable not to include them. Bakunin the Creative Passion is one of the most through biographies of Bakunin I have ever read, although one must consider the fact that I have not read any other biographies of Bakunin other then Mark Leiers The book takes an approach that is heavy in modern day pop culture and deep in 18th century theoretical philosophy, which makes parts of the book quick to read, and at times a little hard to slog though While I realize it is important to understand the philosophy of Hegel to understand Bakunin the Creative Passion is one of the most through biographies of Bakunin I have ever read, although one must consider the fact that I have not read any other biographies of Bakunin other then Mark Leiers The book takes an approach that is heavy in modern day pop culture and deep in 18th century theoretical philosophy, which makes parts of the book quick to read, and at times a little hard to slog though While I realize it is important to understand the philosophy of Hegel to understand the development of Bakunin s thoughts, I think at time Leier focuses too much on theory and not enough on the anecdotes of living Bakunins life Still, for someone who is wanting to understand the theoretical basis of the development of anarchist thought, as well as learn about the life and times of the father of modern anarchism, this book is the beginning A refreshing, sympathetic account of a revolutionary that is a nice counterweight to the numerous biographies that portray left leaders as monsters or has beens Sometimes the sympathy teeters on apology, but always in a self reflexive way, as when the author condemns Bakunin s apparent anti Semitism Almost a third of the book tackles Bakunin s disagreements with Marx Marx comes off as a reformist in the anarchist reading, which I found surprising, but interesting something you wouldn t see A refreshing, sympathetic account of a revolutionary that is a nice counterweight to the numerous biographies that portray left leaders as monsters or has beens Sometimes the sympathy teeters on apology, but always in a self reflexive way, as when the author condemns Bakunin s apparent anti Semitism Almost a third of the book tackles Bakunin s disagreements with Marx Marx comes off as a reformist in the anarchist reading, which I found surprising, but interesting something you wouldn t see inorthodox Marxist accounts That said, the criticisms of Marx are mostly balanced, overall There is little here for the reader interested in posthumous gossip The focus is on the context of Bakunin s life and his ideas although the latter feature rather lightly until the very end All in all, a very enjoyable read Fantastic Must read for anyone who believes we can attain a better,free and equal world than we live in today Or even for those who have become disillusioned with such hopeful thoughts The author does a superb job in not only giving a biography of Bakunin and describing his ideas, but also skillfully places it all into the broader historical context. |Download Pdf ♫ Bakunin: The Creative Passion ☲ The passion for destruction is a creative passion, wrote the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin inSince then, the popular image of anarchism has been one of violence and terror But this picture is wildly misleading, and the media has done to obscure anarchism than to explain it Focusing on the street fighting and confrontations with police, mainstream commentators are unable to understand what anarchism is or why a philosophy with roots in the nineteenth century has resurfaced with such power at the dawn of the new millennium To understand anarchism, it is necessary to go beyond the caricature presented by the media In this new biography of Mikhail Bakunin, Mark Leier traces the life and ideas of anarchism s first major thinker, and in the process revealing the origins of the movement There was little in Bakunin s background to suggest that he would grow up to be anything other than a loyal subject of the Russian Empire Instead, he became one the most notorious radicals of the nineteenth century, devoting his life to the destruction of the tsar and feudalism, capitalism, the state, even God In the process, he became a historical actor and political thinker whose ideas continue to influence world events Bakunin is of keen interest these days, though the attention paid to his image continues to obscure the man and his ideas Using archival sources and the most recent scholarship, Leier corrects many of the popular misconceptions about Bakunin and his ideas, offering a fresh interpretation of Bakunin s life and thoughts of use to those interested in understanding anarchism and social change Arguing for the relevance and importance of anarchism to our present world, Leier sheds light on the nineteenth century, as well as on today s headlines, as he examines a political philosophy that has inspired mass movements and contemporary social critics Mark Leiershows that the passion for destruction is a call to build a new world free of oppression, not a cult of violence He argues that anarchism is a philosophy of morality and solidarity, based not on wishful thinking or na ve beliefs about the goodness of humanity but on a practical, radical critique of wealth and power By studying Bakunin, we can learn a great deal about our own time and begin to recover a world of possibility and promise It is often said that we are all anarchists at heart This book explains why It s nice to read something written by someone in sympathy with his subject, rather than so much that is written about anarchism that descends to the level of negative polemic not the least from Marxists At times the writer comes off as somewhat defensive, but the contexts he provides for what he sees as unfair attacks on Bakunin and his ideas are convincing His explanations of theory are easy to understand, and he even summarizes Hegelian dialectic clearly in just a few pages He helped me It s nice to read something written by someone in sympathy with his subject, rather than so much that is written about anarchism that descends to the level of negative polemic not the least from Marxists At times the writer comes off as somewhat defensive, but the contexts he provides for what he sees as unfair attacks on Bakunin and his ideas are convincing His explanations of theory are easy to understand, and he even summarizes Hegelian dialectic clearly in just a few pages He helped me to grasp things that I d been having trouble with He doesn t, however, shy away from the problematic aspects of Bakunin s personality and ideas No longer using this website, but I m leaving up old reviews Fuck Jeff Bezos Find me on LibraryThing is a great introduction to Bakunin s ideas.It is disappointing that Bakunin s biography is used only as a backdrop to describe his ideas Had I known that this book s charge was not his actions per se, but what motivated those actions, I might have picked up a different book Passing mention is given to the barricades of various insurrections all ov No longer using this website, but I m leaving up old reviews Fuck Jeff Bezos Find me on LibraryThing is a great introduction to Bakunin s ideas.It is disappointing that Bakunin s biography is used only as a backdrop to describe his ideas Had I known that this book s charge was not his actions per se, but what motivated those actions, I might have picked up a different book Passing mention is given to the barricades of various insurrections all over Europe that Bakunin manned Instead the book concentrates on ensuring that Bakunin s ideas are explained plainly to the reader, leaving the actual biography to past works about Bakunin an example given in the first couple of pages of the book Dotted with references to pop culture and witty comparisons to the modern day, the purpose of this book was to expound on Bakunin s philosophy, where it comes from, how it differs from other leftist philosophy such as Marxism, or pre Marxist socialism I think it is a great work of popular philosophy pop philo For example, Bakunin had a gift for reaching non intellectuals Unlike Marx, Bakunin would never be the target of a purge of the Poindexters or, for abiting example As Marx noted in the preface to the new edition of the Communist Manifesto, the machinery so well adapted for the rule of the bourgeoisie could not provide the model for socialism That s just what I ve been on about Bakunin exclaimed The old foes eyed each other warily until the realization sunk in Then each extended his arms, crying out Comrade as they embraced in a particularly hairy hug that, to be honest, left both men feeling a little awkward Reconciled at last, they agreed to work together and use that dynamic tension that had so divided them to build a united socialist movement and well and truly launch humanity s history anew.Perhaps in an alternate universe The truth revealed in this book is that Marx was a total douche Back stabbing, bad jacketing, spiteful, vindictive, sectarian and jealous, Marx never drew the crowds of working people that Bakunin or Proudhoun did, and so therefore Marx despised them A bookish nerd who compiled statistics while Bakunin raised black flags on top of European barricades, Marx never said a good word about his rival Bakunin, on the other hand, was quite reserved in his criticism of Marx, ceding where his own philosophy was not as developed as that of Marx, and treating Marx like a comrade regardless of whatever ill will Marx had towards him.Unlike Bakunin, Marx wrote himself and others of his social standing into the supposed revolutionary philosophy of the oppressed Marxists remained the most impassioned friends of state power, because without the state, the social revolution would simply sweep the intellectuals aside as the masses created their own free institutions and associations Bakunin always insisted that the lived experiences of the working class were the most important factor in their revolutionary potential Though other social classes could help build the liberatory workers movement, the work had to be done by the workers themselves himself discluded , and revolution mus be built on their experiences.I m really going to give this to my mom to read I think she ll enjoy it As choking cement dust settled over Manhattan in the wake of 9 11, journalists pawing through the wreckage of history for a precedent came across the almost forgotten bombing of Wall Street by Lettish members of the Anarchist Black Cross in 1920 that killed 38 people and injured scores others It had been an era in which anarchism wore the mantle of most feared sect to the propertied classes Interpol had its roots in international summits in Rome and St Petersburg in the 1890s to combat anarchi As choking cement dust settled over Manhattan in the wake of 9 11, journalists pawing through the wreckage of history for a precedent came across the almost forgotten bombing of Wall Street by Lettish members of the Anarchist Black Cross in 1920 that killed 38 people and injured scores others It had been an era in which anarchism wore the mantle of most feared sect to the propertied classes Interpol had its roots in international summits in Rome and St Petersburg in the 1890s to combat anarchism, and an anarchist loner had assassinated US President William McKinley in 1901 , the master of disaster was presumed to be long dead anarchist barricades fighter and counter Marx polemicist Mikhail Bakunin Bakunin s tumultuous life, often on the run, often in the firing line, had the effect of both increasing his dangerous aura and the influence of his emergent anarcho communist ideas on the trade unions of the First International but also fragmenting his writings and so allowing for many distortions by his enemies With lively prose balanced by a judicious and ultimately fair assessment of Bakunin s life and ideas, his flaws and often fruitful engagements with Marx, Leier has produced the most accessable life of this giant figure of 19th Century socialism Bakunin s influence was mass organisational the splintering of the International in 1872 saw a tiny Marxist rump of perhaps 1,000 activists scattered internationally totally overshadowed by an enormous anarchist majority sections in Spain boasted 60,000 members by 1873, and in Italy 30,000 members by 1874 , which strength was replicated by further growth under the anarchist IWA s successor Anti Authoritarian Black International, founded in 1881 sections in Mexico boasted 50,000 members by 1882, and in Holland 188,700 members by 1895 the year in which the famous French CGT merged with the Bourses du Travail to establish a model that would be replicated as far afield as Senegal and Brazil It is for that mass organisational reason that all students of mass line liberatory politics should read Leier, but for aintimate perspective, I ll direct you to my brief comments on the female influences on Bakunin