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BAKUNIN AGAINST INSURRECTIONISM, followed by "Translator epilogue"
Article published on 27 November 2018
last modification on 2 December 2018

by Eric Vilain

Translator introduction

Anarchism has a history. It has changed over time, and has been different in different places. There is a ’mainstream’ of the movement, a socialism that is decentralist and believes in the self-organization of the people as workers and as citizens. Yet there has always been a small minority of self-described ’anarchists’, governed by emotions rather than ideals, who look for ’shortcuts’ to avoid the long patient work of organization.

Throughout history anarchists have always advocated the tactic of ’direct action’ rather than depending upon ’saviors’. Some, however, fail to understand what this means and imagine that it is nothing more than militancy and violence. Of course not !

Such people delude themselves in various ways. They refuse to see that they are a minority, usually a very small minority and award themselves the title of being The People. This attitude is usually coupled with a quite visible contempt for The People as they actually are.

This minority thread has run through the history of the movement, and in recent years its believers have awarded themselves the title of an ideology - insurrectionism. It goes without saying that this is rather grandiose and even absurd, advocacy of a (historically futile) tactic is supposed to be a ’system’ of political thought.

These people like to refer to Bakunin as an example that they emulate. The following from the Groupe Salvador-Segui of the Fédération anarchiste challenges this. It presents a Bakunin different from the myth, a Bakunin who learned and changed over time - a mature and thoughtful Bakunin.