am 30. November 1998
This book features Bakunin's unfinished essay of the same title. It is an excellent exploration of the psyche and motivations of one of history's more influential also-rans. Bakunin's ideas eventually evolved into what became known as anarchism -- the idea that the only way to a just society is through a society where no one rules over another...where all are equals.
This short book provides a window into the underlying ideas that came to be anarchism. Bakunin was an excellent pamphleteer and polemicist, but wasn't able to write a complete book. Perhaps this was ultimately better for anarchism.
Bakunin's historical contributions to political radicalism are largely overshadowed by Marx, his contemporary, even though Bakunin's core critique of Marx -- that socialism could never be forced on people and remain socialism -- was essentially correct. History, represented by the former USSR, Cuba, North Korea, etc. has vindicated Bakunin, and repudiated Marx. Where socialism was imposed by way of a political vanguard, it ceased to be socialism.
Thus, at this time, it's good for people to read Bakunin to realize there was an alternative vision of socialism in his ideas -- namely, anarchism. Marx successfully blocked Bakunin's ideas in his day, but I think that with the collapse of faux-communism, Bakunin may finally get the reading he deserved.
Bakunin represented in his time the very embodiment of radical revolution, and this book lets the reader get a sense of this.
am 25. September 1999
This is an excellent piece of analysis that demolishes many rational arguments for both religion and nationalism. While not as thorough in scope as say, Kant or Hegel, Bakunin's perspective is definitely a great one and it is obvious to the reader where Bakunin's loyalties lay--with human FREEDOM. Anyone interested in history, political science, anarchism, or philosophy owes it to themselves to check this out. However, this is not for the close-minded or faint of heart.