Socialism, Anarchism & Bakunin

Mark Lause lause at
Sat Sep 1 21:35:13 MDT 2001

Those who know me realize that I generally come down rather strongly on
the Marxist side, and have never had much use for Bakunin as a thinker.
That said, the entire line of argument on this list has, thus far, been
quite disappointing, in terms of discussing the relationship between
anarchism and socialism.

First, while I sincerely do look forward to reading Louis' essays, the
scandalously racialist statements just doesn't do it.  All of
anarchism--which was, at times and places, a movement with great appeal
to Jews--can't be subsumed into Bakunin.  And all of Bakunin's anarchism
can't be subsumed into his ethnic rants.

Secondarily, the value of this silly distinction being made between
public and private statements is entirely spurious here.  While I think
language has SOME value as an indicator, you can be a ranting
segregationist race-hate-monger in modern America if you find the proper
language in which to couch your abusive politics and don't use the "n"
word; the Reaganite public relations people happily REDUCE politics
simply to acceptably sanitized words, something that the discussion on
Bakunin's politics has been tending to do.

Related, this argument distinguishing between Bakunin's use of racialist
terms being public and Marx and Engels doing so privately is hardly
watertight.  Personally, the biggest racists I've met in decades would
never vent their views publicly.  They might well do so privately.  They
are no less racists for their being politic and discrete.  And since
we're essentially discussing what they wrote, we don't know all of what
they were saying.  There are just too many holes in this reasoning to
make the argument worth making.

The way to honor Marx and Marxism is to demonstrate its ability to
address ideas in an honest and straightforward fashion.  Let's
acknowledge and honestly define the varieties of principles, strategies,
and tactics that have gone under the name "anarchistm," do the same with
those presented under the rubric of "socialism".  :Let us figure out
where they overlap and how our political arguments and perspectives
might be stronger through this process.

Mark Lause

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