Quotes from Mikhail Bakunin, from The Basic Bakunin.

“Private morality has an everlasting basis that is more or less recognized, understood, accepted, and achieved in every human society, insofar as it is not vitiated by religious dogma. This basis is nothing but human respect, respect for human dignity and for the right and freedom of every human individual. To respect [these principles] is a virtue; to violate them, on the contrary, is a crime. State morality is wholly opposed to this human morality. The State presents itself to its subjects as the supreme goal. Virtue consists of serving its power and grandeur, by all means possible and impossible, even contrary to all human laws and to the good of humanity.”

“The right to freedom, without the means of achieving it, is only a ghost. And do we not love freedom too much to be satisfied with its ghost? We want its reality. But what constitutes the real basis and the positive condition of freedom? It is, for each individual, the all-round development and full enjoyment of all physical, intellectual, and moral faculties; consequently, it is all the material means necessary for each individual’s human existence… A person who is dying from starvation, who is crushed by poverty, who every day is on the point of death from cold or hunger, and who sees everyone he loves suffering likewise but is unable to come to their aid, is not free; that person is a slave. A man condemned to remain a brutish creature all his life for want of a humane education, a man deprived of learning, an ignoramus, is necessarily a slave; and if he exercises any political rights, you can be sure, one way or another, that he will always exercise them against himself, for his exploiters’ and masters’ benefit.”

“By individualism I mean that tendency which considers all members of society, the mass of individuals, to be mutually unconcerned rivals and competitors, natural enemies with whom each individual is forced to live but who block each other’s way, that tendency which impels the individual to gain and erect his own well-being, prosperity, and good fortune to the disadvantage of everyone else, despite them and on their backs… In this struggle, many crimes must inevitably be committed; this fratricidal struggle is moreover a continuous crime against human solidarity, which is the only basis of all morality. The State, which is said to represent justice and to deliver it, does not prevent the perpetration of these crimes. On the contrary, it eternalizes and legalizes them.”

“The modern universities of Europe, which form a sort of scientific republic, currently perform for the bourgeois class the same services that the Catholic Church once rendered to the aristocracy of nobles; and just as Catholicism then sanctioned the violences perpetrated by the nobility on the people, so does the university, this church of bourgeois learning, now explain and legitimize the exploitation of these same people by bourgeois capital.”

“Socialism, which is founded on positive science, rejects absolutely the doctrine of free will. It recognizes that every so-called human vice and virtue is only the product of the combined action of nature, properly so called, and society…

The accumulated, coordinated, considered experience that we call science shows us that free will is an untenable fiction, contrary to the very nature of things; that what we call volition is only the manifestation of a certain neural activity, just as our physical power is only the result of muscular activity; and that both, as a result, are equally products of natural and social life, that is, of the physical and social conditions is which each individual is born and grows up- from which clearly follows the truthfulness of what we stated [above]: that for human beings to be moralized, their social environment must be moralized.”

“So long as the right of inheritance is in effect, there can be no economic, social, and political equality in the world; and so long as inequality exists, there will be oppression and exploitation. In principle, then, from the standpoint of the all-round emancipation of labor and laborers, we must desire the abolition of the right of inheritance.”

“Man is material, and material cannot be scorned with impunity. Man is an animal and cannot suppress his animality. But he can transform, must transform and humanize it through freedom, that is, through the combined action of justice and reason, which in their turn can comprehend freedom only because they are its products and its highest expression. On the contrary, every time that man has tried to abstract his animality, he has become its plaything and slave, and even more often its hypocritical servant: witness the priests of the most idealist and most absurd religion of the world, Christianity.”

“The question… is not to rebel foolishly against habit, for it is an inevitable influence which neither human intelligence nor human will can reverse. But if we earnestly wish to be enlightened by the reason of the age and by the idea of true justice which we have formed, we need do but a single thing: consistently engage our willpower- that is, the habit of willing which circumstances independent of us have developed in us- for the elimination of our bad habits and for their replacement by good ones. To humanize society completely, it is necessary to destroy ruthlessly all causes and conditions- economic, political, and social- which produce the tradition of the bad in individuals, and to replace them with conditions that will engender necessarily, among those same individuals, the rise of the habit and the practice of good.”

“A God-the-Omnipotent, God-the-Omniscient, God-the-Omnificent could not have created so hideous a world.

It is true that theologians have an excellent argument to explain this revolting contradiction. They say that the world was created perfect, and that an absolute harmony did reign at first, until God, furious at man who had sinned, condemned man and the world.

The fuller this explanation is of absurdities, the more edifying it is; and we know that all the theologians’ strength rests with the absurd. For them, the more absurd and impossible a thing is, the truer it is. All religions are only deifications of the absurd.”

3 thoughts on “Quotes from Mikhail Bakunin, from The Basic Bakunin.

  1. sagor November 12, 2016 at 22:41 Reply

    This is a GEM. I am gonna treasure it. Thank you Francois. I want to read more from Bakunin.

    • Francois Tremblay November 13, 2016 at 01:13 Reply

      Then I recommend you read the book I transcribed these quotes from. :)

  2. John Doe November 17, 2016 at 19:04 Reply

    I hate freedom now more than ever.

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