Namesake Bakunin

I have been a listenener to Mike (another namesake!) Duncan's podcasts since History of Rome. He is one of the best and most ambitious podcasters around. The past few years he has been going through revolutions, from the 17th century English to presently the Russian one. A few episodes of the latter is out, and Duncan goes through the 19th century ideological background, e.g. Marx and Engels. The two latest ones portrays Michail Bakunin. I had a recollection of actually having some of Bakunin's writings in my bookshelves and I found God and the State in Swedish translation. I think I bought it around 1981, and have not read anything by him since then, iirc. Not even given Bakunin a thought for decades, to be honest.

I am glad I re-read it. It is a short, easy read. It's not a systematic theory, it is mostly a rather angry, and sometimes merry, romp through what he thinks is bad in human life. Like a sociology gunslinger. Many interesting insights, but also sometimes a bit hyperbolic. Critique of religion (well, Christianity mainly) is to be expected, and they are a dime a dozen in the modern era, so that I found the least interesting aspect. Critique of the state is to be expected from an anarchist, but he is still refreshing to read, considering you mostly hear such from libertarians, pacifists, voluntarists and, well, anarchists. You won't find any systematic solutions, but that does not mean his insights and critique has no value. He never finished any book, and I guess he would be active today he would be blogging, twittering, speaking, and be a guest on podcasts and youtube channels. I doubt any MSM would invite him to a debate...

What surprised me most, and which cannot be glanced from the title, is his critique of what much later would be called "technocracy" and/or "scientism". He gives great value to science as something to provide facts and explanations and putting "light" on nature and human existence, but he warns against giving scientists any position of power. They should have no more vote or voice on policy and the organisation of society than any other individuals. I think he mentions Comte (cba arsed to search thru the booklet), who may be seen as a 19th century ancestor to technocracy. Bakunin's text feels quite modern, not least in his discussion of the risks of scientistic policy.

Anyway, if you have not read Bakunin before, God and the State could be an interesting read. His huge production is of course in the public domain.

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  1. Pingback: Books read 2 – The weblog of Inscius /ˈiːn.ski.us/

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