BAKUNIN: The Father of Anarchism by Anthony Masters

BAKUNIN: The Father of Anarchism

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Masters, a popularizer who has written on everything from vampires to the Hungarian girl martyr of WW II, Hannah Senesh, shows an unexpectedly complex understanding of the apocalyptic Bakunin, his place in the socialist galaxy, the essential libertarianism which made him dread the consequences of ""authoritarian, doctrinaire or institutional socialism,"" his profound suspicion of any class rule, not excepting Marx' yearned-for ""dictatorship of the proletariat."" But this is not a biography exclusively devoted to the working out of Bakunin's political doctrines. Indeed, Masters excels in his depiction of Bakunin and his family. The early years of the great anarchist's life are much less well known than the later years when he was dashing all over Europe, stirring up revolutionary ferment wherever he went. Masters shows that the psychological mainsprings of Bakunin's lifelong impulse to mutiny, to defy authority in all its forms, first became apparent within the family circle, where the young Michael by sheer force of his magnetic personality was already inciting and manipulating his adoring brothers and sisters to revolt against their father. It was this same uncontrollable need to cast off all restrictions which can be seen in Bakunin's later abhorrence of the State and of the idea of God, which he found detestable, an insupportable contradiction of human freedom. All the anarchists are currently having something of a revival, since ""scientific"" socialism has been much discredited. Bakunin, perhaps the purest expression of the anarchist creed, is more au courant than he was fifty years ago, and Masters' book will -- and should -- be read.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1974
Publisher: Saturday Review/Dutton