Posts tagged “bakunin”
December 29, 2009What would you say Bakunin has to offer today’s radicals? First, he offers some hope, hope in the importance of struggle. This was an activist who fought on the losing side all of his life, yet did not lose his passionate hope, his understanding, that the struggle itself was meaningful, for without it, the world would certainly get worse. While some seem him as a quixotic figure, I see him as one who realistically assessed the opportunities for success and failure and decided to fight for an ideal even when he thought there was no immediate chance of victory. Second, he offers a clear appraisal of what the radicals' targets should be. After all, capitalism and the state have not changed much since his time; Bakunin would recognize much in the 21st century. He wrote powerful critiques of capital and the state that still serve as useful starting points for understanding the world, and he did so in accessible, evocative language. Third, while there is a tendency to draw a dividing line between "classical anarchism" and contemporary anarchism and post-anarchism, a careful reading of Bakunin suggests that the "classical anarchists" wrestled with many of the same problems of goals, strategy, and tactics that anarchists face today. In fact, I believe that Bakunin offers a useful critique of today's post-anarchism, for the ideas of postmodernism that inform post-anarchism are not as new as its advocates suggest. That is, Bakunin rejected the idealist thought of his day to become a materialist and a realist, and I believe materialism and realism offer a stronger foundation for criticism than idealism and some variants of post-modernism.