The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism, compiled and edited by G. P. Maximoff, 1953.

CHAPTER 13: Summation

I.The negation of God and the principle of authority, divine and human, and also of any tutelage by a man over men -- Even when such tutelage is attempted upon adult persons wholly deprived of education, or the ignorant masses, and whether that tutelage is exercised in the name of higher considerations, or even of scientific reasons presented by a group of individuals of generally recognized intellectual standing, or by some other class -- in either case it would lead to the formation of a sort of intellectual aristocracy, exceedingly odious and harmful to the cause of freedom.

Note 1. Positive and rational knowledge is the only torch lighting up man's road toward the recognition of truth and the regulation of his behavior and his relation to the society surrounding him. But this knowledge is subject to errors, and even were this not the case, it would still be presumptuous to claim to govern men in the name of such knowledge against their will. A genuinely free society can grant to knowledge only a two-fold right, enjoyment of which constitutes at the same time a duty; first, the upbringing and education of persons of both sexes, equally accessible to and compulsory upon children and adolescents until they become of age, after which all tutelage is to cease; and, second, the spreading of ideas and systems of ideas based upon exactt science, and the endeavor, with the aid of absolutely free propaganda, to have those ideas deeply permeate the universal convictions of mankind.

Note 2. While definitely rejecting any tutelage (in whatever form it asserts itself) which the intellect developed by knowledge and cxperience -- by business, worldly, and human experience -- may attempt to set up over the ignorant masses, we are far from denying the natural and beneficial influence of knowledge and experience upon the masses, provided that that influence asserts itself very simply, by way of the natural incidence of higher intellects upon the lower intellects, and provided also that that influence is not invested with any official authority or endowed with any privileges, either political or social. For both these things necessarily produce upon one hand the enslavement of the masses, and on the other hand corruption, disintegration, and stupefaction of those who arc investrd and endowed with such powers.

II. The negation of free will and the right of society to punish, -- since every human individual, with no exception whatever, is but an involuntary product of natural and social environment. There are four basic causes of man's immorality: 1. Lack of rational hygiene and upbringing; 2. Inequality of economic and social conditions; 3. The ignorance of the masses flowing naturally from this situation; 4. And the unavoidable consequence of those conditions -- slavery.

Rational upbringing, education, and the organization of society upon a basis of freedom and justice, are to take the place of punishment. During the more or less prolonged transitional period which is bound to follow the Social Revolution, society, having to defend itself against incorrigible individuals -- not criminal, but dangerous -- shall never apply to them any other form of punishment except that of placing them beyond the pale of its guarantees and solidarity, that is, of having them expelled.

III. The negation of free will does not connote the negation of freedom. On the contrary, freedom represents the corollary, the direct result of natural and social necessity.

Note 1. Man is not free in relation to the laws of Nature, which constitute the first basis and the necessary condition of his existence. They pervade and dominate him, just as they pervade and dominate everything that exists. Nothing is capable of saving him from their fateful omnipotence; any attempt to revolt on his part would simply lead to suicide. But thanks to the faculty inherent in his nature, by virtue of which he becomes conscious of his environment and learns to master it, man can gradually free himself from the natural and crushing hostility of the external world -- physical as well as social -- with the aid of thought, knowledge, and the application of thought to the conative instinct, that is, with the aid of his rational will.

Note 2. Man represents the last link, the highest level in the continuous scale of beings who, beginning with the simplest elements and ending with man, constitute the world known to us. Man is an animal who, thanks to the higher development of his organism, especially the brain, possesses the faculty of thought and speech. Therein lie all the differences separating him from all other animal species -- his brothers, older in point of time and younger in point of mental faculties. That difference, however, is vast. It is the sole cause of what we call our history, the meaning of which can be briefly expressed in the following words: Man starts with animality in order to arrive at humanity, that is, the organization of society with the aid of science, conscious thought, rational work, and freedom.

Note 3. Man is a social animal, like many other animals which appeared upon the earth before he did. He does not create society by means of a free agreement: he is born in the midst of Nature, and apart from it he could not live as a human being -- he could not even become one, nor speak, think, will, or act in a rational manner. In view of the fact that society shapes and determines his human essence, man is dependent upon it as completely as upon physical Nature, and there is no great genius who is exempt from its domination.

IV. Social solidarity is the first human law; freedom is the second law. Both laws interpenetrate and are inseparable from each other, thus [34] constituting the very essence of humanity. Thus freedom is not the negation of solidarity; on the contrary, it represents the development of, and to speak, the humanization of the latter.

V. Freedom does not connote man's independence in relation to tl immutable laws of Nature and society. It is first of all man's ability gradually to emancipate himself from the oppression of the external physical world with the aid of knowledge and rational labor; and, further, it signifies maris right to dispose of himself and to act in conformity with his own views and convictions: a right opposed to the despotic and authoritarian claims of another man, a group, or class of people, or society as a whole.

Note 1. One should not confuse sociological laws, otherwise called the laws of social physiology, and which are just as immutable and necessary for every man as the laws of physical Nature, for in substance they also are physical laws -- one should not confuse those laws with political, criminal, and civil laws, which to a greater or lesser extent express the morals, customs, interests, and views dominant in a given epoch, society, or section of that society, a separate class of society. It stands to reason that, being recognized by the majority of people, or even by one ruling class, they exert a powerful influence upon every individual. Thar influence is beneficial or harmful, depending upon its character, but so far as society is concerned, it is neither right nor useful to have these laws imposed upon anyone by force, by the exercise of authority, and contrary to the convictions of the individual. Such a method of imposing laws would imply an attempted infringement of freedom, of personal dignity, of the very human essence of the members of society.

VI. A natural society, in the midst of which every man is born and outside of which he could never become a rational and free being, becomes humanized only in the measure that all men comprising it become, individ ually and collectively, free to an ever greater extent.

Note 1. To be personally free means for every man living in a social milieu not to surrender his thought or will to any authority but his own reason and his own understanding of justice; in a word, not to recognize any other truth but the one which he himself has arrived at, and not to submit to any other law but the one accepted by his own conscience. Such is the indispensable condition for the observance of human dignity, the incontestable right of man, the sign of his humanity.

To be free collectively means to live among free people and to be free by virtue of their freedom. As we have already pointed out, man cannot become a rational being, possessing a rational will, (and consequently he could not achieve individual freedom) apart from society and without its aid. Thus the freedom of everyone is the result of universal solidarity. But if we recognize this solidarity as the basis and condition of every individual freedom, it becomes evident that a man living among slaves, even in the [341] capacity of their master, will necessarily become the slave of that state of slavery, and that only by emancipating himself from such slavery will he become free himself.

Thus, too, the freedom of all is essential to my freedom. And it follows that it would be fallacious to maintain that the freedom of all constitutes a limit for and a limitation upon my freedom, for that would be tantamount to the denial of such freedom. On the contrary, universal freedom represents the necessary affirmation and boundless expansion of individual freedom.

VII. Individual freedom of every man becomes actual and possible only through the collective freedom of society of which man constitutes a part by virtue of a natural and immutable law.

Note I. Like humanity, of which it is the purest expression, freedom presents not the beginning but the final moment of history. Human society, as we have indicated, begins with animality. Primitive people and savages hold their humanity and their human rights in so little esteem that they begin by devouring one another, which unfortunately still continues at full speed. The second stage in the course of human development is slavery. The third -- in the midst of which we now live -- is the period of economic exploitation, of wage labor. The fourth period, toward which we are aiming and which, it is to be hoped, we are approaching, is the epoch of justice, of freedom and equality, the epoch of mutual solidarity.

VIII. The primitive, natural man becomes a free man, becomes humanized, a free and moral agent; in other words, he becomes aware of his humanity and realizes within himself and for himself his own human aspect and the rights of his fellow-beings. Consequently man should wish the freedom, morality, and humanity of all men in the interest of his own humanity, his own morality, and his personal freedom.

IX. Thus respect for the freedom of others is the highest duty of man. To love this freedom and to serve it -- such is the only virtue. That is the basts of all morality; and there can be no other.

X. Since freedom is the result and the clearest expression of solidarity, that is, of mutuality of interest, it can be realized only under conditions of equality. Political equality can be based only upon economic and social equality. And realization of freedom through equality constitutes justice.

XI. Since labor is the only source of all values, utilities, and wealth in general, man, who is primarily a social being, must work in order to live.

XII. Only associated labor, that is, labor organized upon the principles of reciprocity and co-operation, is adequate to the task of maintaining the existence of a large and somewhat civilized society. Whatever stands for civilization could be created only by labor organized and associated in this manner. The whole secret of the boundless productivity of human labor consists first of all in applying to a greater or lesser extent scientifically developed reason -- which in turn is the product of the already organized [342] labor -- and then in the division of that labor, but under the necessary condition of simultaneously combining or associating this divided labor.

XIII. The basis and the main content of all historic iniquities, of all political and social privileges, is the enslavement and exploitation of organized labor for the benefit of the strongest -- for conquering nations, classes, or individuals. Such is the true historic cause of slavery, serfdom, and wage labor; and that is, by way of a summary, the basis of the so-called right of private and inherited property.

XIV. From the moment that property rights became generally accepted; society had to split into two parts: on the one hand the property-owning, privileged minority, exploiting organized and forced labor, and on the other hand millions of proletarians, enthralled as slaves, serfs, or wage-workers. Some -- thanks to leisure based upon the satisfaction of needs and material comfort -- have at their disposal the highest blessings of civilization, education, and upbringing; and others, the millions of people, are condemned to forced labor, ignorance, and perpetual want.

XV. Thus the civilization of the minority is based upon the forced barbarism of the vast majority. Consequently the individuals who by virtue of their social position enjoy all sorts of political and social privileges, and all men of property, are in reality the natural enemies, the exploiters, and oppressors of the great masses of the people.

XVI. Because leisure -- the precious advantage of the ruling classes -- is necessary for the development of the mind, and because the development of character and personality likewise demands a certain degree of well-being and freedom in one's movements and activity, it was therefore quite natural that the ruling classes have proved to be more civilized, more intelligent, more human, and to a certain extent more moral than the great masses of the people. But in view of the fact that on the other hand inactivity and the enjoyment of all sorts of privileges weaken the body, dry up one's affections, and misdirect the mind, it is evident that sooner of later the privileged classes are bound to sink into corruption, mental torpor, and servility. We see this happening right now.

XVII. On the other hand, forced labor and utter lack of leisure doom the great masses of the people to barbarism. By themselves they cannot foster and maintain their own mental development since, because of their inherited burden of ignorance, the rational elements of their toil -- the application of science, the combining and managing of productive forces -- are left exclusively to the representatives of the bourgeois class. Only the muscular, irrational, mechanical elements of work, which become even more stupefying as a result of the division of labor, have been apportioned to the masses, who are stunned, in the full sense of the word, by their daily galley-slave drudgery.

But despite all that, thanks to the prodigious moral power inherent in labor, because in demanding justice, freedom, and equality for themselves [343] the workers therewith demand the same for all, there being no other social group (except women and children) who are getting a rougher deal in life than the workers; because they have enjoyed life very little and therefore have not abused it, which means that they have not become satiated with it; and also because, lacking education, they, however, possess the enormous advantage of not having been corrupted and distorted by egoistic interests and falsehoods prompted by acquisitiveness, and thus have retained their natural energy of character while the privileged classes sink ever deeper, become debilitated, and rot away -- it is due to all this that only the workers believe in life, that only the workers love and desire truth, freedom, equality, and justice, and that it is only the workers to whom the future belongs.

XVIII. Our Socialist program demands and should unremittingly demand:

  1. Political, economic, and social equalization of all classes and all people living on the earth.
  2. Abolition of inheritance of property.
  3. Appropriation of land by agricultural associations, and of capital and all the means of production by the industrial associations.
  4. Abolition of the patriarchal family law, based exclusively upon the right to inherit property and also upon the equalization of man and woman in point of political, economic, and social rights.
  5. The upkeep, upbringing, and educating of the children of both sexes until they become of age, it being understood that scientific and technical training, including the branches of higher teaching, is to be both equal for and compulsory for all.

The school is to replace the church and to render unnecessary criminal codes, gendarmes, punishments, prisons, and executioners.

Children do not constitute anyone's property; they are not the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom.

But in children this freedom is not yet real. It is only potential; for real freedom, that is, the full awareness and the realization thereof in every individual, pre-eminently based upon the feeling of one's dignity and upon genuine respect for the freedom and dignity of others, that is, upon justice -- such freedom can develop in children only by virtue of the rational development of their minds, character, and rational will.

Hence it follows that society, the whole future of which depends upon adequate education and upbringing of children, and which therefore has not only the right but also the duty to watch over them, is the only natural guardian of children of both sexes. And since, as a result of the foyhcoming abolition of the right of inheritance, society is to become the [344] only heir, it will then deem it as one of its primary duties to furnish the necessary means for the upkeep, upbringing, and education of children of both sexes, irrespective of their origin and of their parents.

The rights of the parents shall reduce themselves to loving their children and exercising over them the only authority compatible with that, inasmuch as such authority does not run counter to their morality, their mental development, and their future freedom.

Marriage, in the sense of being a civil and political act, like any intervention of society in questions of love, is bound to disappear. The children will be entrusted -- naturally and not by right -- to the mother, as her prerogative under rational supervision of society.

In view of the fact that minors, especially children, are largely incapable of reasoning and consciously governing their acts, the principle of tntelage and authority, which is to be eliminated from the life of society, will still find a natural sphere of application in the upbringing and education of children. However, such authority and tutelage should be truly humane and rational, and altogether alien to all the refrains of theology, metaphysics, and jurisprudence. They should start from the premise that from his birth not a single human being is either bad or good, and that good, that is, the love of freedom, the consciousness of justice and solidarity, the cult of or rather the respect for truth, reason, and labor, can be developed in men only through rational upbringing and education. Thus, we emphasize here, the sole aim of this authority should be to prepare all children for the utmost freedom. This aim can be achieved only by gradual self-effacement on the part of authority, and its giving place to self-activity on the part of the children, in the measure that they approach maturity.

Education should embrace all the branches of science, technique, and knowledge of crafts. It should be at once scientific and professional, general, compulsory for all children, and special -- conforming to the tastes and proclivities of every one of them, so that every young boy and girl, upon leaving school, and becoming of age would be fit for either mental or manual work.

Freed from the tutelage of society, they are at liberty to enter or not to enter any of the labor associations. However, they will necessarily want to enter such associations, for with the abolition of the right of inheritance and the passing of all the land, capital, and means of production into the hands of the international federation of free workers' associations, there will be no more room nor opportunity for competition, that is, for the existence of isolated labor.

No one will be able to exploit the labor of others: everyone will have to work in order to live. And anyone who does not want to work will have the alternative of starving if he cannot find an association or a commune which will feed him out of considerations of pity. But then it also will be found just not to grant him any political rights, since, though being an able-bodied [345] man, he prefers the shameful state of living at the expense of someone else; for social and political rights will have only one basis -- the labor contributed by everyone.

During the transitional period, however, society will be confronted with the problem of individuals (and unfortunately there will be many of them) who grew up under the prevailing system of organized injustice and special privileges and who were not brought up with a realization of the need for justice and true human dignity and likewise with respect for and the habit of work. In regard to those individuals revolutionary or revolutionized society will find itself facing a distressing dilemma: it will either have to force them to work, which would be despotism, or let itself be exploited by idlers; and that would be a new slavery and the source of a new corruption of society.

In a society organized upon the principles of equality and justice, which serve as the basis of true freedom, given a rational organization of education and upbringing and likewise the pressure of public opinion, which, being based upon respect for labor, must despise idlers -- in such a society idleness and parasites will be impossible. Having become exceedingly rare exceptions, those cases of idleness shall be regarded as special maladies to be subjected to clinical treatment. Only children -- until they reach a certain degree of strength, and afterward only inasmuch as it is necessary to give them time to acquire knowledge and not to overload them with work -- invalids, old people, and sick persons can be exempted from labor without resulting in the loss of anyone's dignity or the impairment of the rights of free men.

XIX. In the interests of their radical and full economic emancipation, workers should demand the complete and resolute abolition of the State with all of its institutions.

Note 1. What is the State? It is the historic organization of authority and tutelage, divine and human, extended to the masses of people in the name of some religion, or in the name of the alleged exceptional and privileged ability of one or sundry property-owning classes, to the detriment of the great mass of workers whose forced labor is cruelly exploited ty those classes.

Conquest, which became the foundation of property right and of the nght of inheritance, is also the basis of every State. The legitimized exploitation of the labor of the masses for the benefit of a certain number of property-owners (most of whom are fictitious, there being only a very small number of those who exist in reality) consecrated by the Church in the name of a fictitious Divinity which has always been made to side with the strongest and cleverest -- that is what is called right. The development of prosperity, comfort, luxury, and the subtle and distorted intellect of the privileged classes -- a development necessarily rooted in the misery and ignorance of the vast majority of the population -- is called civilization; and [346] the organization guaranteeing the existence of this complex of historical iniquities is called the State.

So the workers must wish for the destruction of the State.

Note 2. The State, necessarily reposing upon the exploitation and enslavement of the masses, and as such oppressing and trampling upon all the liberties of the people, and upon any form of justice, is bound to be brutal, conquering, predatory, and rapacious in its foreign relations. The State -- any State, whether monarchy or republic -- is the negation of humanity. It is the negation of humanity because, while setting as its highest or absolute aim the patriotism of its citizens, and placing, in accordance with its principles, above all other interests in the world the interests of its own self-preservation, of its own might within its own borders and outward expansion, the State negates all particular interests and the human rights of its subjects as well as the rights of aliens. And thereby the State violates international solidarity among peoples and individuals, placing them outside of justice, and outside of humanity.

Note 3. The State is the younger brother of the Church. It can find no other reason for its existence apart from the theological or metaphisical idea. Being by its nature contrary to human justice, it has to seek its rationale in the theological or metaphysical fiction of divine justice. The ancient world lacked entirely the concept of nation or society, that is, the latter was completely enslaved and absorbed by the State, and every State deduced its origin and its special right of existence and domination from some god or system of gods deemed to be the exclusive patron of that State. In the ancient world man as an individual was unknown; the very idea of humanity was lacking. There were only citizens. That is why in that civilization slavery was a natural phenomenon and the necessary basis for the fruits of citizens.

When Christianity destroyed polytheism and proclaimed the only God, the States had to revert to the saints from the Christian paradise; and every Catholic State had one or several patron saints, its defenders and intercessors before the Lord God, who on that occasion may well have found himself in an embarrassing position. Besides, every State still finds it necessary to declare that the Lord God patronizes it in some special manner.

Metaphysics and the science of law, based in its idea upon metaphysics but in reality upon the class interests of the propertied classes, also sought to discover a rational basis for the fact of the existence of the State. They reverted to the fiction of the general and tacit agreement or contract, to the fiction of objective justice and the general good of the people allegedly represented by the State.

According to the Jacobin democrats, the State has the task of making possible the triumph of the general and collective interests of all citizens over the egoistic interests of separate individuals, communes, and rgions. The State is universal justice and collective reason triumphing over [347] egoism and stupidity of individuals. It is the declaration of the worthlessness and the unreasonableness of every individual in the name of the wisdom and the virtue of all. It is the negation of fact, or, which is the same thing, infinite limitation of all particular liberties, individual and collective, in the name of freedom for all -- the collective and general freedom which in reality is only a depressing abstraction, deduced from the negation or the limitation of the rights of separate individuals and based upon the factual slavery of everyone.

In view of the fact that every abstraction can exist only inasmuch as it is backed up by the positive interests of a real being, the abstraction State in reality represents the positive interests of the ruling and property-owning, exploiting, and so-called intelligent classes, and also the systematic immolation for their benefit of the interests and freedom of the enslaved masses.* [* According to Max Nettlau, this summation by Bakunin was written March 25-30, 1871.]