Statless Socialism: Anarchism
Written: Unknown (excepts from various manuscripts)
Source: Excerpted from "The Political Philosophy of Bakunin", by G.P. Maximoff
Publisher: The Free Press, NY © 1953 (copyright not renewed)
; marxists.org 1999
Transcribed: Dana Ward
HTML Markup: Brian Basgen
Effect of the Great Principles Proclaimed by the French Revolution.
From the time when the Revolution brought down to the masses its Gospel - not
the mystic but the rational, not the heavenly but the earthly, not the divine
but the human Gospel, the Gospel of the Rights of Man - ever since it
proclaimed that all men are equal, that all men are entitled to liberty and
equality, the masses of all European countries, of all the civilized world,
awakening gradually from the sleep which had kept them in bondage ever since
Christianity drugged them with its opium, began to ask themselves whether
they too, had the right to equality, freedom, and humanity.
As soon as this question was posed, the people, guided by their admirable
sound sense as well as by their instincts, realized that the first condition
of their real emancipation, or of their humanization, was above all a
radical change in their economic situation. The question of daily bread is to
them justly the first question, for as it was noted by Aristotle, man, in
order to think, in order to feel himself free, in order to become man, must be
freed from the material cares of daily life. For that matter, the bourgeois,
who are so vociferous in their outcries against the materialism of the people
and who preach to the latter the abstinences of idealism, know it very well,
for they themselves preach it only by word and not by example.
The second question arising before the people - that of leisure after
work - is the indispensable condition of humanity. But bread and leisure
can never be obtained apart from a radical transformation of existing
society, and that explains why the Revolution, impelled by the implications
of its own principles, gave birth to Socialism.
Socialism Is Justice...Socialism is justice. When we speak of
justice, we understand thereby not the justice contained in the Codes and in
Roman jurisprudence - which were based to a great extent upon facts of
violence achieved by force, violence consecrated by time and by the
benedictions of some church or other (Christian or pagan), and as such
accepted as absolute principles, from which all law is to be deduced by a
process of logical reasoning - no, we speak of that justice which is based
solely upon human conscience, the justice to be found in the consciousness of
every man - even in that of children - and which can be expressed in a single
This universal justice which, owing to conquests by force and religious
influences, has never yet prevailed in the political or juridical or economic
worlds, should become the basis of the new world. Without it there can
be neither liberty, nor republic, nor prosperity, nor peace. It then must
govern our resolutions in order that we work effectively toward the
establishment of peace. And this justice urges us to take upon ourselves
the defense of the interests of the terribly maltreated people and demand
their economic and social emancipation along with political freedom.
The Basic Principle of Socialism. We do not propose here, gentlemen,
this or any other socialist system. What we demand now is the proclaiming
anew of the great principle of the French Revolution: that every human
being should have the material and moral means to develop all his
humanity, a principle which, in our opinion, is to be translated into the
To organize society in such a manner that every individual, man or woman,
should find, upon entering life, approximately equal means for the
development of his or her diverse faculties and their utilization in his or
her work. And to organize such a society that, rendering impossible the
exploitation of anyone's labor, will enable every individual to enjoy the
social wealth, which in reality is produced only by collective labor, but
to enjoy it only in so far as he contributes directly toward the creation
of that wealth.
State Socialism Rejected. The carrying out of this task will of course
take centuries of development. But history has already brought it forth and
henceforth we cannot ignore it without condemning ourselves to utter
impotence. We hasten to add here that we vigorously reject any attempt at
social organization which would not admit the fullest liberty of individuals
and organizations, or which would require the setting up of any regimenting
power whatever. In the name of freedom, which we recognize as the only
foundation and the only creative principle of organization, economic or
political, we shall protest against anything remotely resembling State
Communism, or State Socialism.
Abolition of the Inheritance Law.
The only thing which, in opinion, the State can and should do, is first to
modify little by little inheritance law so as to arrive as soon as possible
at its complete abolition. That law being purely a creation of the State, and
one of the conditions of the very existence of the authoritarian and divine
State can and should be abolished by freedom in the State. In other words,
State should dissolve itself into a society freely organized in accord
with the principles of justice. Inheritance right, in our opinion, should
abolished, for so long as it exists there will be hereditary economic
inequality, not the natural inequality of individuals, but the artificial
man inequality of classes - and the latter will always beget hereditary
equality in the development and shaping of minds, continuing to be source
and consecration of all political and social inequalities. The task of
justice is to establish equality for everyone, inasmuch that equality will
depend upon the economic and political organization society - an equality with
which everyone is going to begin his life, that everyone, guided by his own
nature, will be the product of his own efforts. In our opinion, the property
of the deceased should accrue to social fund for the instruction and
education of children of both sexes including their maintenance from birth
until they come of age. As Slavs and as Russians, we shall add that with us
the fundamental social idea, bas upon the general and traditional instinct
of our populations, is that las the property of all the people, should be
owned only by those who cultivate it with their own hands.
We are convinced gentlemen, that this principle is just, that it is essential
and inevitable condition of all serious social reform, and consequently
Western Europe in turn will not fail to recognize and accept this principle,
notwithstanding the difficulties of its realization in countries as in
France, for instance where the majority of peasants own the land which they
cultivate, but where most of those very peasants will soon end up by owning
next to nothing, owing to the parceling out of land coming as the inevitable
result of the political and economic system now prevailing in France. We
shall, however, refrain from offering any proposals on the land question...We
shall confine ourselves now to proposing the following declaration:
The Declaration of Socialism. "Convinced that the serious realization
of liberty, justice, and peace will be impossible so long as the majority of
the population remains dispossessed of elementary needs, so long as it is
deprived of education and is condemned to political and social insignificance
and slavery - in fact if not by law - by poverty as well as by the necessity
of working without rest or leisure, producing all the wealth upon which the
world now prides itself, and receiving in return only such a small pan thereof
that it hardly suffices to assure its livelihood for the next day;
"Convinced that for all that mass of population, terribly maltreated for
centuries, the problem of bread is the problem of mental emancipation, of
freedom and humanity;
"Convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice and
that Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality;
"The League [for Peace and Freedom] loudly proclaims the necessity of a
radical social and economic reconstruction, having for its aim the
emancipation of people's labor from the yoke of capital and property owners,
a reconstruction based upon strict justice - neither juridical nor theological
nor metaphysical justice, but simply human justice - upon positive science and
upon the widest freedom."
Organization of Productive Forces in Place of Political Power.
It is necessary to abolish completely, both in principle and in fact, all
that which is called political power; for, so long as political power exists,
there will be ruler and ruled, masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited.
Once abolished, political power should be replaced by an organization of
productive forces and economic service.
Notwithstanding the enormous development of modern states - a development
which in its ultimate phase is quite logically reducing the State to an
absurdity - it is becoming evident that the days of the State and the State
principle are numbered. Already we can see approaching the full emancipation
of the toiling masses and their free social organization, free from
governmental intervention, formed by economic associations of the people and
brushing aside all the old State frontiers and national distinctions, and
having as its basis only productive labor, humanized labor, having one common
interest in spite of its diversity.
The Ideal of the People. This ideal of course appears to the people as
signifying first of all the end of want, the end of poverty, and the full
satisfaction of all material needs by means of collective labor, equal and
obligatory for all, and then, as the end of domination and the free
organization of the people's lives in accordance with their needs - not from
the top down, as we have it in the State, but from the bottom up, an
organization formed by the people themselves, apart from all governments and
parliaments, a free union of associations of agricultural and factory workers,
of communes, regions, and nations, and finally, in the more remote future; the
universal human brotherhood, triumphing above the ruins of all States.
The Program of a Free Society. Outside of the Mazzinian system which
is the system of the republic in the form of a State, there is no other
system but that of the republic as a commune, the republic as a federation, a
Socialist and a genuine people's republic - the system of Anarchism. It is
the politics of the Social Revolution, which aims at the abolition of the
State, and the economic, altogether free organization of the people, an
organization from below upward, by means of a federation.
...There will be no possibility of the existence of a political government,
for this government will be transformed into a simple administration of
Our program can be summed up in a few words:
Peace, emancipation, and the happiness of the oppressed.
War upon all oppressors and all despoilers.
Full restitution to workers: all the capital, the factories, and all
instruments of work and raw materials to go to the associations, and the land
to those who cultivate it with their own hands.
Liberty, justice, and fraternity in regard to all human beings upon the earth.
Equality for all.
To all, with no distinction whatever, all the means of development, education,
and upbringing, and the equal possibility of living while working.
Organizing of a society by means of a free federation from below upward, of
workers associations, industrial as well as a agricultural, scientific as
well as literary associations - first into a commune, then a federation
communes into regions, of regions into nations, and of nations into
international fraternal association.
Correct Tactics During a Revolution.
In a social revolution, which in everything is diametrically opposed to a
political revolution, the a of individuals hardly count at all, whereas the
spontaneous action of masses is everything. All that individuals can do is to
clarify, propagate, and work out ideas corresponding to the popular instinct,
and, what is more, to contribute their incessant efforts to revolutionary
organization of the natural power of the masses - but nothing else beyond that;
the rest can and should be done by the people themselves. Any other method
would lead to political dictatorship, to the re-emergence of the State, of
privileges of inequalities of all the oppressions of the State - that is, it
would lead in a roundabout but logical way toward re-establishment of
political, social, and economic slavery of the masses of people.
Varlin and all his friends, like all sincere Socialists, and in general like
all workers born and brought up among the people, shared to a high degree this
perfectly legitimate bias against the initiative coming from isolated
individuals, against the domination exercised by superior individuals, and
being above all consistent, they extended the same prejudice and distrust to
their own persons.
Revolution by Decrees Is Doomed to Failure.
Contrary to the ideas of the authoritarian Communists, altogether fallacious
ideas in my opinion, that the Social Revolution can be decreed and organized
by means of a dictatorship or a Constituent Assembly - our friends, the
Parisian Social-Socialists, held the opinion that that revolution can be
waged and brought to fits full development only through the spontaneous and
continued mass action of groups and associations of the people.
Our Parisian friends were a thousand times right. For, indeed, there is no
mind, much as it may be endowed with the quality of a genius; or if we speak
of a collective dictatorship consisting of several hundred supremely endowed
individuals - there is no combination of intellects so vast as to be able to
embrace all the infinite multiplicity and diversity of the real interests,
aspirations, wills, and needs constituting in their totality the collective
will of the people; there is no intellect that can devise a social
organization capable of satisfying each and all.
Such an organization would ever be a Procrustean bed into which violence,
more or less sanctioned by the State, would force the unfortunate society.
But it is this old system of organization based upon force that the
Social Revolution should put an end to by giving full liberty to the
masses, groups, communes, associations, and even individuals, and by
destroying once and for all the historic cause of all violence - the very
existence of the State, the fall of which will entail the destruction of all
the iniquities of juridical right and all the falsehood of various cults, that
right and those cults having ever been simply the complaisant consecration,
ideal as well as real, of all violence represented, guaranteed, and
authorized by the State.
It is evident that only when the State has ceased to exist humanity will
obtain its freedom, and the true interests of society, of all groups, of all
local organizations, and likewise of all the individuals forming such
organization, will find their real satisfaction.
Free Organization to Follow Abolition of the State.
Abolition of the State and the Church should be the first and indispensable
condition of the real enfranchisement of society. It will be only after this
that society can and should begin its own reorganization; that, however,
should take place not from the top down, not according to an ideal plan
mapped by a few sages or savants, and not by means of decrees issued by some
dictatorial power or even by a National Assembly elected by universal
suffrage. Such a system, as I have already said, inevitably would lead to the
formation of a governmental aristocracy, that is, a class of persons which
has nothing in common with the masses of people; and, to be sure, this class
would again turn to exploiting and enthralling the masses under the pretext of
common welfare or of the salvation of the State.
Freedom Must Go Hand-in-Hand With Equality.
I am a convinced partisan of economic and social equality, for I know
that outside of this equality, freedom, justice, human dignity, morality, and
the well-being of individuals as well as the prosperity of nations are all
nothing but so many falsehoods. But being at the same time a partisan of
freedom - the first condition of humanity - I believe that equality should be
established in the world by a spontaneous organization of labor and collective
property, by the free organization of producers' associations into communes,
and free federation of communes - but nowise by means of the supreme tutelary
action of the State.
The Difference Between Authoritarian and Libertarian Revolution.
It is this point which mainly divides the Socialists or revolutionary
collectivists from the authoritarian Communists, the partisans of the absolute
initiative of the State. The goal of both is the same: both parties want the
creation of a new social order based exclusively upon collective labor,
under economic conditions that are equal for all - that is, under conditions
of collective ownership of the tools of production.
Only the Communists imagine that they can attain through development and
organization of the political power of the working classes, and chiefly of the
city proletariat, aided by bourgeois radicalism - whereas the revolutionary
Socialists, the enemies of all ambiguous alliances, believe, on the contrary,
that this common goal can be attained not through the political but through
the social (and therefore anti-political) organization and power of the
working masses of the cities and villages, including all those who, though
belonging by birth to the higher classes, have broken with their past of
their own free will, and have openly joined the proletariat and accepted its
The Methods of the Communists and the Anarchists.
Hence the two different methods. The Communists believe that it is necessary
to organize the forces of the workers in order to take possession of the
political might of the State. The revolutionary Socialists organize with the
view of destroying, or if you prefer a more refined expression, of liquidating
the State. The Communists are the partisans of the principle and practice of
authority, while revolutionary Socialists place their faith only in freedom.
Both are equally the partisans of science, which is to destroy superstition
and take the place of faith; but the first want to impose science upon the
people, while the revolutionary collectivists try to diffuse science and
knowledge among the people, so that the various groups of human society, when
convinced by propaganda, may organize and spontaneously combine into
federations, in accordance with their natural tendencies and their real
interests, but never according to a plan traced in advance and imposed upon
the ignorant masses by a few "superior" minds.
Revolutionary Socialists believe that there is much more of practical
reason and intelligence in the instinctive aspirations and real needs of the
masses of people than in the profound minds of all these learned doctors
and self-appointed tutors of humanity, who, having before them the sorry
examples of so many abortive attempts to make humanity happy, still
intend to keep on working in the same direction. But revolutionary Socialists
believe, on the contrary, that humanity has permitted itself to be ruled for
a long time, much too long, and that the source of its misfortune lies not in
this nor in any other form of government but in the principle and the very
existence of the government, whatever its nature may be.
It is this difference of opinion, which already has become historic, that now
exists between the scientific Communism, developed by the German school and
partly accepted by American and English Socialists, and Proudhonism,
extensively developed and pushed to its ultimate conclusions, and by now
accepted by the proletariat of the Latin countries. Revolutionary Socialism
has made its first brilliant and practical appearance in the Paris Commune.
On the Pan-German banner is written: Retention and strengthening of the
State at any cost. On our banner, the social-revolutionary banner, on the
contrary, are inscribed, in fiery and bloody letters: the destruction of all
States, the annihilation of bourgeois civilization, free and spontaneous
organization from below upward, by means of free associations, the
organization of the unbridled rabble of toilers, of all emancipated humanity,
and the creation of a new universally human world.
Before creating, or rather aiding the people to create, this new organization,
it is necessary to achieve a victory. It is necessary to overthrow that which
is, in order to be able to establish that which should be...