From: La Correspondance de Michel Bakounine, "Lettres A Herzen et A Ogareff, Paris: Librairie Academique Didier, 1896. Dear Herzen, In all honesty, you have as much of a talent for misunderstanding my thoughts as you do my words. I never had the slightest doubt about the usefulness, nay the necessity, to unite with the Polish people; I leave this matter to your very own argument. The only thing here which could lead me to doubts is that you yourself have no strong faith in this alliance, and if you think you saw discontent in my reaction, it was certainly not caused by Martianoff, but rather by the fear that you could still hesitate at the last moment. I was wrong; so much the better. About the conflict in opinion between us and Martianoff ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
We do not recognize the right of the majority to impose the law on the minority, even if the will of the majority in somewhat complicated issues could really be ascertained. The fact of having the majority on one’s side does not in any way prove that one must be right. Indeed, humanity has always advanced through the initiative and efforts of individuals and minorities, whereas the majority, by its very nature, is slow, conservative, submissive to superior force and to established privileges. But if we do not for one moment recognize the right of majorities to dominate minorities, we are even more opposed to domination of the majority by a minority. It would be absurd to maintain that one is right because one is in a minority. If at a... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Bakunin to Nechayev on the role of secret revolutionary societies
To begin with, my views are different in that they do not acknowledge the usefulness, or even the possibility, of any revolution except a spontaneous or a people's social revolution. I am deeply convinced that any other revolution is dishonest, harmful, and spells death to liberty and the people. It dooms them to new penury and new slavery.... [He then notes that the greatly expanded power of the state and its military/police apparatus has] armed the state with such enormous power that all contrived secret conspiracies and non-popular attempts, sudden attacks, surprises and coups--are bound to be shattered against it. It can only be conquered by a spontaneous people's revolution. "Thus the sole aim of a secret society must be, not the creat... (From : flag.blackened.net.)
"If there's a Government then I'm agin' it!" We are emphatically of the opinion of that oft quoted Irishman. We are opposed to all centralized administration whether of labor or of affairs. We are in revolt against all domination whether of majority or minority. Of course, therefore, we protest, as against means not in accordance with our ends, against every attempt of the popular party to liberate the people by making use of the machinery of Government. All this is true of us Anarchists; is it the whole truth? Is this negative policy of perpetual protest essentially Anarchism? Active protest against evil is certainly better than dull submission to it; but he who whilst protesting against a wrong can point to no right capable of attainment,... (From : AnarchyArchives.)
I always wonder at the often repeated words, “Yes, it is all true in theory, but how is it in practice?” As though the theory were only a collection of words useful for conversation, and not as though all practice,—that is, all activity of life—were inevitably based upon it. There must have been an immense number of foolish theories in the world for men to employ such wonderful reasoning. We know that theory is what a man thinks about a thing, and practice is what he does. How can a man think that he ought to act in one way, and then do quite the reverse? If the theory of baking bread consists in this, that first of all one must knead the dough, then put it by to rise, anyone knowing it would be a fool to do the reverse. But with us it has come into fashion to say, “It is all very well in theory, but how would it be in practice?” In all that has occupied me practice has unavoidably followed theory, not...