On Bakunin’s Catechism(1851)

Original Text (1971 English Translation)

Before my intentions have the chance to be skewed I want to explicitly state that I strongly disagree with all anti antisemitic claim made by Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin.

Despite this flaw of character I find most of his other sociological outlooks to be in many ways quite innovative, under examined and potentially even prophetic(if one believes in that sort of thing).

For those who are unaware of who he is, (I suspect many would be as not many people I have met have the desire nor time to study anarchist philosophy.) Bakunin was a Russian political-philosopher became well known for a school of ideological thought known as syndicalism.

This is often thought to be a sub-type of anarchism, and while Bakunin certainly did carry many anarchist ideals along with a very-anti-authoritarian outlook, I question whether or not I would consider the fundamental ideas behind the initial backbone of this theory established throughout his 1851 work: Catechism to be inherently anarchistic.

Regardless the translator cites this accreditation in the preface by H. E, Kaminski which refers to this work as “The spiritual foundation of the entire anarchist movement….”

Herein are many of the defining principals and conditions which it posited, along with an attempt to analyze, simplify, and draw associative connections throughout to the best of my ability.

“III. Freedom is the absolute right of every adult man and woman to seek no other sanction for their acts than their own conscience and their own reason, being responsible first to themselves and then to the society which they have voluntarily accepted.”(Bakunin 1851)

Here we can see the anti-authoritarian fail-safe that will become a backbone to protect the anarchist ideal from the less libertarian parts of this theory. This means that all individuals ought to possess the right to voluntarily choose what society or ‘syndicate‘ one would like to live in. This also guarantees the anarchist-friendly principal which allows any to act as an autonomous entity if one so desires.

Furthermore, it advocates that while their responsibility to their society ought to be upheld, their duty to satisfy their own basic necessities for themselves ought to supersede, which to me sounds like an idealistic portrayal of certain aspects found in modern capitalism.

“V. The freedom of each is therefore realizable only in the equality of all. The realization of freedom through equality, in principle and in fact, is justice.”(Bakunin 1851) 

Contrary to his anti-Semitic claims he appears to display a very Egalitarian sociological outlook. This is demonstrated by the claim that the freedom of all is a necessary requirement for the freedom of any. It does this by positing equality to be responsible and inherently required for the existence of genuine freedom.

“VII. Absolute rejection of every authority including that which sacrifices freedom for the convenience of the state.” (Bakunin 1851)

Here we can see anarchist fundamentals beginning to take shape. This makes a broad call which underlies a key ideal common among most if not all anarchist thinkers being the abolition of all authoritarian power structures.

This Particularly addresses administrative functions of society which infringe on the Liberty of it’s people in order to maintain order and protect the interests of leadership. It’s easy to see imagine that Bakunin probably would’ve despised the United states Patriot Act!

“Liberty must result from the greatest possible realization of individual liberty, as well as of liberty on all levels of social organization.”(Bakunin 1851) 

Unlike many modern conceptions of Anarchism, Bakunin’s theory did not inherently call for the abolition of organized society, merely the parasitic authoritarian power structures. He believed that in the absence of all authoritarian leadership, humans would still be capable of fully organizing themselves around the necessities of liberty and the preservation of collective interests such as production, maintenance of equality through justice; and functions which serve the general good of society such as education and health services.

At first this comes off as a bit Utopian, but think about it. If the cells in our body could evolve over time into a working homeostasis as complex as the human body, who’s to say that humans could not also be capable of doing the same on a macro-cosmic scale. As if the principals of biological evolution were carrying over into sociological evolution.

To some this may start to be sounding a bit like Marxism, and while many key ideas of Karl Marx are compatible with the ideas of Bakunin he seems to condense the Marxist societal model into only a portion of his own, allowing it to mutually coexist with multiple other flavors of voluntary cooperation.

Bakunin believed that society ought to be formed “according to the principles of free association and federation.” This can be a little difficult to fathom at first, but once you catch on, an entire new world of possibility for the socioeconomic future of mankind becomes available for contemplation.

“\The life of each nation is subordinated to a plethora of different historical, geographical, and economic conditions, making it impossible to establish a model of organization equally valid for all. Any such attempt would be absolutely impractical. It would smother the richness and spontaneity of life which flourishes only in infinite diversity and, what is more, contradict the most fundamental principles of freedom.”(Bakunin 1851)

Above is what I believe to be one of the most compelling arguments for the development of such a system. This vastly multi-paradigmatic societal system could potentially be compared to the different organ structures which make up an organism, as well as the different components which compose a working machine, depending on how one would prefer to look at it.

With this principal in place, societies could theoretically coexist in such a way that a barter capitalist society, a 60s counter-culture styled hippy commune, a direct-democracy, and a socialist-republic could all co exist peacefully as co-operating participants of a larger collective unit, and everyone would get a voluntary choice over which type of society they would like to live under if any, or start there own should they please. This allows for lack of better words the existence of a modular form of society.

In some ways this could almost be seen as similar to modern day United States… If we were to eliminate the need for federal and state governments as we know them today, instead delegating all leadership to court systems and what appears to be the purest form of popular sovereignty I have yet to come across.

Bakunin goes into further detail into explaining the intricacies of his ideas throughout the rest of the essay as well as his many subsequent works. These are however outside the scope of this article’s goal of painting a broad conceptual analysis and explanation of his often overlooked and poorly understood syndicalist-anarchist school of thought.

I hope we all were able  to get something out of this. Even more so, I hope you are inspired to read further into the works of Bakunin and the world of Anarchist Philosophy and political theory in general.

Since I began reading his works the revolutionary ideas within have never ceased to stir up, intrigue, and inspire the intellectual capacities of my mind. You can likely expect more on him as I progress through his work and occupy myself with the contemplation, association, and analysis of his thoughts and ideas.

Until than I wish you all a wonderful day/evening/!

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My take on Cartesian Skepticism.

The path of thought followed by Renee Descartes never failed to lead me to a state of uneasiness and excitement and leave me full of new questions. The deeper I considered and explored these ideas the more I was instilled with a deep conflicting sense of fear and curiosity.

Who is Descartes?

For readers who don’t study philosophy, Renee Descartes was an enlightened despot of the French enlightenment era that took place through the early to mid 1500s Descartes was and is very well known among intelligentsia. This notoriety is granted on behalf of his advancements in philosophy as well as science and mathematics. Despite his other achievements my intellectual relationship with this player is based purely on his philosophical innovations and for the purposes of this article that’s all that need brought up.

What is Cartesian Skepticism?

Descartes originally formed his World view or interlocking set of beliefs on that which we derive from our sense perceptionsm also known as empirical observation. This would however change drastically as Descartes began his philosophical journey to the absurd and back. The ideas to be analyzing pertain to his epistemological beliefs and attitude.

Epistema-whatnow?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the term epistemology denotes “a theory or the study of knowledge especially with reference to it’s limits of validity.”

Descartes was well known for his radically skeptic epistemological position, meaning he constantly doubted and questioned the integrity of his worldview. However his skepticism would not end at the scrutiny of his belief systems. Rather he took it a step further. He didn’t just scrap all his beliefs and stop there; he now began to doubt the very methods used to obtain knowledge and reason with it in the first place.

How could this be so, seeing is believing isn’t it?

Well that seems to be the case for the majority throughout history (with exceptions like god and aliens) , as the old saying goes ignorance is bliss. Yet for some of us the profound excitement of curiosity is and will always be far more appealing than the comfort of familiarity.

Descartes didn’t care for comfort, he plunged deep into the unknown depths of theoretical possibility and absurdity. As he ought, After all pushing the possibility of thought to its limits is what philosophers do best.

He grew so affixed upon this notion that he even began to wonder if his perceived reality was real at all, positing the theoretical idea that our reality may be an artificial illusion. An idea thought to stem from profound experiences regarding dreams.

However Descartes (like myself) was a devout believer in a higher power, that he might know as god. I on the other hand have no specific word to denote such a force I would merely describe it as the grand harmony of Kindness , Karma , Chaos , Beauty and Irony.

Due to his devout faith he did not believe god would do such a thing like trap us in a false reality, so he posited that If we were living in a simulated reality it would have to be the work of an evil genius attempting to keep us away from the land ruled by god and trapped within this illusion.

Excuse me?

At first I found it hard to swallow myself. But alas as I began to venture further along my own philosophical journey I too began too notice odd coincidences that lead me into the direction of such a belief, which continues to be something I ponder and speculate upon quite regularly.

I advise those not philosophically, religiously, or psychologically inclines to not think too deeply into this for the sake of their own sanity. This is not the kind of information one can internalize and work through without a concrete system to guide the way.

So are you saying this belief is dangerous?

yes I definitely believe it has the potential to exacerbate or even induce symptoms of serious mental illness. Such a belief could easily inspire someone to end their life another’s on behalf of believing that existence is only a game or simulation, which is obviously completely irrational regardless of your beliefs.

In general I’ve devised three mental safeguards while in pursuit of this line of thinking, which act as a fail safe in case one finds themself in a position where it becomes difficult to differentiate what is fake from reality in the layman’s eyes.

Nah your exaggerating, how could books be dangerous?

To share a personal story on the subject, I once was laying in bed unable to sleep, focusing on inducing visionary fractals within my closed eye vision field when I started to feel a little tingly. At the time I was starting new s medication, as well as consuming herbal sleep aids with mild psychoactive properties. (Article about my favorite medicinal herbs coming soon.) so I didn’t really think anything of it.

At least until I began hearing noises. They began while drifting into a state of half awake half unconscious. But not just any noises, Hospital noises: beeping of a heart monitor, water pumping through an IV bag, footsteps echoing from a desolate hallway, people talking inaudible English, and the vague image and scent of a hospital room began to vivify, after this i sprang up out of bed and did not sleep again for the rest of the night, I spent the following two months in half belief that I was stuck in a coma.

Eventually I chalked it off to my brain

attempting to recreate conceptual phenomenon to attain a better understanding or just a really strange case of sleep paralysis, but this example shows how easy it is to be caught up in Cartesian skepticism.

And those would be?

>Three tips for exploring Cartesian skepticism

1. Understand that it doesn’t matter.

• in retrospect finding out we lived in a simulation or a dream would not inherently change anything in of itself. Provided there’s no way to leave, what difference could it possibly make?

2. Remember that it’s imgpossible to prove.

Just like the concepts of an omniscient god or a spiritual afterlife there is no concrete definitive way to prove reality is or is not a dream like simulation, no matter how much coincidental or subjective empirical claims stack up on either side.

3. Interpret the idea through an analytic lens

looking at it from various applicable perspectives such as theological, political, psychological or sociological through use analysis and identification of potential allegorical/symbolic links, the ideas of Descartes can be applied to common reality. Examples:

Analytic lenses: Political

Could be looked at as the wool thrown over the eyes of the masses by corrupt leaders, exploiting their power through lies and secret affairs kept from the general public for personal and gain. (think sheep mentality/herd mentality etc)

Analytic lenses: Theological

One could argue the illusion vs reality corresponds to ones spiritual life or connected with god, this is especially true in a modern era where egotism, idol worship and material obsession come between the population and developing a spiritual life or as some would call it a connection with god.

Analytic Lenses: Psychological

The false reality could refer to how perception of the world around us is subjectively altered in correspondence based to what we believe.

For example: let’s say jack is walking down the street in a coat and he notices Jane in her dress. (And me I’m in a rock and roll band HA.) Maybe jack never thought Jane was pretty before, but since he’s running 30 minutes early he decides to have a chat with the young clerk. After getting to know each other they hit it off big time, find out they have all the same life dreams, interests and tastes. Suddenly our once homely miss Jane is the sweetest looking thing he has ever laid his eyes.

I would like to extend a warm welcoming thank you to anyone who took the time to read this or any of our articles. Do your part to help build this community by subscribing, sharing, commenting, liking, and emailing us, we absolutely love support, feedback, criticism, dialectics and all non-toxic interactions with our readers.

If you would like to learn more about the French enlightenment thinker Renee Descartes more info can be found in the links below:

 

>https://www.storyofmathematics.com/17th_descartes.html -Renee Descartes on mathematics.

>https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.biography.com/.amp/people/ren-descartes-37613 -biographical summary

>https://www.famousscientists.org/rene-descartes/ Renee Descartes on Science

 

Half-Argument for relevance of abstract thinkers.

Why have academic intellectuals of our day deemed abstract thinkers worthy of a lesser merit? Is it because we’re more fun at parties? Or merely the jealousy over the modern academics inability to create anything profoundly original? Or most likely of the three: that I myself have grown bitter over my current favorite writers (Dostoevsky and Bakunin) being labeled as too abstract for relevance.

In spite of criticism I find them to be more relevant in a manner so practically profound yet dualistically simple that what is to be gained from reading such a variety is often overlooked. Let’s look at Dostoevsky for example, any one of his works that I have thus far picked up, has contained so much information that I could read the same passages for weeks on end and get new and unique lessons (not unlike reading a religious work) picking up informational tidbits about everything from the art of literature, psychology, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, Russian history sociology, and above all ethics.

Likewise with Bakunin, I first took to him for his rants about anarchism and radical political philosophy, but found myself being schooled on almost everything else under the sun in the process, as a result I see it more due to call these abstract thinkers vastly paradigmatic rather than irrelevant to their respective fields, and that again their is much more to learn from these types of thinkers than first meets the eye.