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Back to Bakunin?

Bookchin and Biehl likes to quote Bakunin to defend their rejection of anarchist principles and tactics. Biehl argues that "Bakunin himself favored anarchists' undertaking local political activity, because he saw that municipal politics is basic to people's political lives." Firstly, just because Bakunin said something does not make it right. Secondly, it is hard to justify this intrepration of his argument. Bookchin and Biehl quote Bakunin's comments that the people "have a healthy, practical common sense when it comes to communal affairs. They are fairly well informed and know how to select from their midst the most capable officials. Under such circumstances, effective control is quite possible, because the public business is conducted under the watchful eyes of the citizens and vitally and directly concerns their daily lives. This is why municipal elections always best reflect the real attitude and will of the people." [Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 223]

However, they fail to mention that this is probably Bakunin's only favourable comment on elections. Nor do they mention that he also argued that the "men in charge of local and regional governments live in a different environment, far removed from the people, who know very little about them . . . popular control over regional and local affairs is exceedingly difficult." [Ibid.] Perhaps Bookchin will argue that by local and municipal Bakunin meant different things. Bakunin ends his critique of representative government by arguing that anarchists "maintain . . . that universal suffrage, considered in itself and applied in a society based on economic and social inequality, will be nothing but a swindle and snare for the people; nothing but an odious lie of the bourgeois democrats, the surest way to consolidate . . . the permanent domination of the people by the owning classes, to the detriment of popular liberty. We deny that universal suffrage could be used by the people for the conquest of economic and social equality. It must always and necessarily be an instrument hostile to the people, who which supports the de facto dictatorship of the bourgeoisie." [Op. Cit., p. 224] He did not make a distinction between local and parliamentary elections. Such a position is consistent with his other arguments against using elections and so Bookchin and Biehl quote Bakunin out of context and misrepresent the general thrust of his argument.

I jeszcze jedno. Bookchin i Biehl popierając municypializm nie określali się już jako anarchiści.


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