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Statism and Anarchy

Mikhail Bakunin

Top 10 Best Quotes

“A person is strong only when he stands upon his own truth, when he speaks and acts with his deepest convictions. Then, whatever the situation he may be in, he always knows what he must say and do. He may fall, but he cannot bring shame upon himself or his cause. If we seek the liberation of the people by means of a lie, we will surely grow confused, go astray, and loose sight of our objective, and if we have any influence at all on the people we will lead them astray as well—in other words, we will be acting in the spirit of reaction and to its benefit.”

“What predominates in Italy is that destitute proletariat to which Marx and Engels, and, following them, the whole school of German social democrats, refer with the utmost contempt. They do so completely in vain, because here, and here alone, not in the bourgeois stratum of workers, is to be found the mind as well as the might of the future social revolution.”

“The only difference between revolutionary dictatorship and the state is in external appearances. Essentially, they both represent the same government of the majority by a minority in the name of the presumed stupidity of the one and the presumed intelligence of the other.”

“The most terrible poverty, however, even when it strikes a proletariat numbering in the many millions, is not a sufficient guarantee of revolution. Nature has given man an astonishing and, indeed, sometimes despairing, patience, and the devil knows what he will not endure when, along with poverty that condemns him to unheard-of privations and slow starvation, he is also endowed with obtuseness, emotional numbness, lack of any consciousness of his rights, and the kind of imperturbability and obedience that particularly characterize the east Indians and the Germans, among all nations. Such a fellow will never take heart; he will die, but he will not rebel.”

“The modern state, in its essence and objectives, is necessarily a military state, and a military state necessarily becomes an aggressive state. If it does not conquer others it will itself be conquered, for the simple reason that wherever force exists, it absolutely must be displayed or put into action.”

“If the proletariat is to be the ruling class, it may be asked, then whom will it rule?”

“Bismarck expressed in these words the very essence of the political history of nations, the whole secret of statecraft. The constant predominance and triumph of force—that is its real essence, while everything that political language calls right is merely the consecration of a fact created by force. Clearly, the masses thirsting for liberation cannot expect it from the theoretical triumph of abstract right; they must conquer freedom by force, and to do so they must organize their own spontaneous forces outside of the state and against it.”

“Between a monarchy and the most democratic republic there is only one essential difference: in the former, the world of officialdom oppresses and robs the people for the greater profit of the privileged and propertied classes, as well as to line its own pockets, in the name of the monarch; in the latter, it oppresses and robs the people in exactly the same way, for the benefit of the same classes and the same pockets, but in the name of the people’s will.”

“As one of our Swiss friends put it: “Now every German tailor living in Japan, China, or Moscow feels that he has the German navy and all of Germany’s power behind him. This proud consciousness sends him into an insane rapture: the German has finally lived to see the day when he can say with pride, relying on his own state, like an Englishman or an American, ‘I am a German.’ True, when the Englishman or American says ‘I am an Englishman,’ or ‘I am an American,’ he is saying ‘I am a free man.’ The German, however, is saying ‘I am a slave, but my emperor is stronger than all other princes, and the German soldier who is strangling me will strangle all of you.’ “ Will the German people content themselves with this feeling of pride for long? Who can say? They have thirsted so long for the grace of a unified state, a single cudgel, that has now descended upon them that one must assume they will want to enjoy it for quite some time yet. Every nation has its own tastes, and the German nation has a particular taste for a strong cudgel in the form of the state.”

“A Russia of the people is inconceivable without Polish freedom and independence.”

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Book Keywords:

dictatorship, poland, proletariat, russia, political-history, strong, monarchy, poverty, independence, bismarck, convictions, truth, modern-state, anarchism, revolution, statecraft, republic, italy

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