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The Basic Bakunin: Writings, 1869-71 (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – 19 Aug 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; New edition edition (19 Aug. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879757450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879757458
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.4 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,013,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Comment on chris@whiterose.net

Well, Sam Dolgoff had already done his book so I figured I'd do something different...

I guess it's worth reproducing here a few sentences from the blurb from the hardcover dustjacket, omitted from the paperback edition: "[O]nly one of the texts in this volume has appeared before in an unabridged English translation. ... The three years covered by this anthology represent the only time in his life in which [Bakunin] was able to concentrate on his work and sustain a consistent output of speeches and writings. The texts all date from the period of Bakunin's propaganda on behalf of the First Insternational around 1870. They therefore belong to a period that not only is central to his anarchism, but also marks the height of his influence during his lifetime. ... The editor's introduction traces the development of selected themes in Bakunin's pre-anarchist thought ... [and so] reconstructs Bakunin's concept of the role of the International in the revolutionary movement and provides a new intepretation of his theory and practice of revolutionary organization. The chronology and annotated bibliography make this collection an ideal introduction to Bakunin and a useful reference work for specialists."


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. The editor obviously loved doing this job. You can see how much time he spent and the translations are fabulous. Even the footnotes are fun to read. I liked the introduction too, and the index is really comprehensive and useful. Since the only two other Bakunin anthologies in English are rare or out of print, and seem to list at $40 and up, this paperback is a steal at this price. Buy this book! :-)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Dec. 1997
Format: Paperback
Bakunin is a complicated and thoroughly un-systematic thinker, so any compilation of his work will inevitably encounter associated difficulties. However, the selection of texts within Cutler's anthology leaves much to be desired. Cutler limits his translations to a narrow window of time, which is troublesome. I have personally found Sam Dolgoff's translations more useful. Still, Cutler includes important works and some fascinating peripheral material, such as editorial cartoons of French newspapers of the 19th century.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Best of breed 26 Mar. 1999
By kshepard@hevanet.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. The editor obviously loved doing this job. You can see how much time he spent and the translations are fabulous. Even the footnotes are fun to read. I liked the introduction too, and the index is really comprehensive and useful. Since the only two other Bakunin anthologies in English are rare or out of print, and seem to list at $40 and up, this paperback is a steal at this price. Buy this book! :-)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Cutler's Bakunin: perhaps not "canonical" enough 11 Dec. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bakunin is a complicated and thoroughly un-systematic thinker, so any compilation of his work will inevitably encounter associated difficulties. However, the selection of texts within Cutler's anthology leaves much to be desired. Cutler limits his translations to a narrow window of time, which is troublesome. I have personally found Sam Dolgoff's translations more useful. Still, Cutler includes important works and some fascinating peripheral material, such as editorial cartoons of French newspapers of the 19th century.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Great Collection of Works 1 Aug. 2001
By J. Dabgotra - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Basic Bakunin has works that Bakunin did over a short period of time, mostly speaking of the International, but after reading this I can see why it is called the "Basic" Bakunin: all you need to know about Bakunin's views of the State, education, knowledge, work, equality, democracy, freedom, etc, is contained in this 250 page book.
Bakunin is the socialist willing to speak for a truly classless society, with full political, social, and economic equality, where freedom is maximized only through these conditions. He believes the State only exists in oppressive societies, and reforms within the State will only continue class oppression. Hence his many criticisms of Bourgeois Socialists, who he believes aren't true socialists at all. I disagree on a few points Bakunin makes, but everything he says is essential for anyone who is into political philosophy or socialism to consider.
I especially found Bakunin's views of education and equality interesting, as I share many insights with him. He goes a bit into psychology and nature vs. nurture arguments in these viewpoints, and also in his viewpoints on patriotism.
The editor's introduction gives insights into how Bakunin is different than Marx, the words the editor adds in Bakunin's writings make things more clear, the notes serve the same purpose, and the Glossary of terms at the end are a great bonus.
Buy this now.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
a clear and concise introduction to Bakunin 1 Jun. 2000
By Jesse Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found "The Basic Bakunin" to be an excellent, although somewhat limited,introiduction to the political thought of one the West's more dissident political philosophers.Although admiring Marx as an economic/political historian,Bakunin rejected the authority of a revolutionary intelligensia.Cutler adroitly summerizes Bakunin's political philosophy as being thus: The actions of libertarian, anti-authoritarian, syndicalist components of society must be the synthesis of the understanding of the mechanics of society and the effectiveness of free will.Robert Butler has done a remarkable job of condensing Bakunin's anarchist thought into a clear and concise introduction for neophytes to the social movement.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Important Scholarly Work 5 Dec. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is Robert M. Cutler's wonderfully translated anthology of Mikhail Bakunin's speeches and lectures in support of the International Working Man's Association (formed in 1848 and commonly known as The First International) before meetings of like-minded militant groups in Europe (mainly Switzerland) from 1869 through 1871.

The book also includes a complete chronology of Bakunin's life as well as an annotated bibliography and many footnotes, all of which make this book an excellent and concise manifesto of Bakunin's political philosophy and is for Bakunin what the Communist Manifesto was for Marx and Engels. Cutler culled these previously unpublished (in English) speeches and lectures from archives in Europe and the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan library.

Cutler's book is an interesting glimpse of the politics of the famous anarchist militant and which reveals Bakunin to have largely accepted the political economy of orthodox Marxism, without the Leninist-Stalinist statism and so-called "revolutionary vanguardism" that led to the state-sponsored terrorism of the subsequent Marxist-Leninist communist regimes, beginning with the 1918 Bolshevik revolution and onward, that did so much to discredit communism as a political program of social and individual liberation.

What stood out for me was the revelation that, based on this work, Bakunin was not that much different in his views of current events and politics from his more famous orthodox socialist contemporaries such as Marx, Engels, or LaSalle, to name but a few. What category Bakunin should fit into in the modern left political continuum seems to be with such persons as Anton Pannekoek or Murray Bookchin and others of the "libertarian communist" tendency who are known for their advocacy of locally based and democratic "council communism" and who take an anti-state/anti-authority attitude toward post-revolution societal organization. Council communism was the same tendency of communism famously denounced by V. I. Lenin in his essay Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920).

Among the chapters are Bakunin's remarks about some of the numerous internecine squabbles and controversies (most now long forgotten), that occurred during the period of the First International and which will be of interest to those that fancy such things, but which can be safely skipped over or skimmed through if such things are of no or limited interest to you, without missing out on anything important [Part 4]. Bukunin wasn't above slinging mud and name calling when he felt passionately about issues either, and which gives some insight into his character as a man. I found this stuff interesting, but some readers perhaps will not. Either way, it is all faithfully included in the book.

I salute Cutler on such a masterful and scholarly work of translation which despite its scholarly nature is nonetheless quite an interesting reading experience. I recommend this book very highly.
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