Kropotkin’s dead goose

An interesting critique of Kropotkin and anarcho-communism from the neocon magazine The New Criterion. Reading the list of names associated with this publication is a “Yikes!” moment. Of all the scams the neocons have pulled off, one of the most successful has been the way they present themselves as proponents of Burkean civilized order when in reality they are Jacobin-Girondin-Montagnard terrorists and “global democratic revolutionaries.” For instance, they are fond of citing Bakunin’s adage “The will to destroy is a creative will,” as supposed evidence of the barbarism of their opponents when their hero, Dick Cheney, said exactly the same thing.

By Gary Saul Morson, The New Criterion

On the limitations of anarchist thought.

My schoolteachers used to say that reactionaries have maligned anarchists, who are simply peaceful, if somewhat naive, believers in the goodness of human nature. These teachers had evidently never heard of Mikhail Bakunin and his followers.

“The will to destroy is a creative will,” declared Bakunin, who never encountered a revolution he didn’t like. “I was on my feet the whole day, took part in absolutely every meeting, gathering, club, procession, walk, demonstration,” he recalled of the Paris revolution of 1848. “In a word, I inhaled with all my senses, with all my pores, the intoxicating atmosphere of revolution. It was a banquet without beginning or end.” According to his friend Alexander Herzen, Bakunin longed for any action in the midst of danger and destruction. “I await my . . . fiancée, revolution,” Bakunin proclaimed. “We will be really happy—that is, we will become ourselves, only when the whole world is engulfed in fire.”

Anarchists figured prominently among the pioneers of modern terrorism. In Europe, where Bakunin and his successor Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) agitated, anarchists assassinated President Sadi Carnot of France in 1884, Premier Cánovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1898, and King Umberto of Italy in 1900. Historians dispute whether anarchism prompted the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley. In 1896 an anarchist threw sulfuric acid and fired shots into the crowded floor of the Paris stock exchange.


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