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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God And The State: By Michael Bakunin (& Paul Avrich)., 15 Nov 2011
By 
ShiDaDao Ph.D (London UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: God and the State (Paperback)
Michael Bakunin (1814-1876), is viewed as an important figure in the development of modern, philosophical anarchism. In this philosophy, Bakunin sought to repudiate every form of authority and coercion. To this end, he perceived the 'state' and the 'church' as the key instigaters of oppression of free thought and movement, and this book emphasises his belief that the state is an instrument whereby a privileged few hold power over the majority, with the church assisting this ongoing process by keeping humanity ignorant of science. The key to this ignorant enslavement is the belief in 'god', which Bakunin sees as keeping the structures of the political state firmly in place. Bakunin states that the dual yoke of spiritual and temporal authority must be over-come, if humanity is to be truly free.

The paperback (1970) edition contains 89 numbered pages, and consists of an Introduction, a Preface and the text itself:

Introduction To The Dover Edition (By Paul Avrich).
Suggestions For For Further Reading.
Preface To The First French Edition.
God And The State.
Index of Persons.

Bakunin wrote much but finished nothing. God and the State is no exception, and finishes with no obvious conclusion. Nevertheless, the original French editioned, published six years after his death in 1882, is considered a pivotal anarchist document. The text presented here, is the English edition of 1916, which was itself an updated and edited reprint of the English edition dated 1883. Professor Paul Avrich gives a history of the text in question, (through his Introduction), explaining that what is now known as 'God and the State', is actually the latter part of a much longer (but incomplete) work by Bakunin entitled ' Knuoto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution'. This book deals in general with the idea that German and Russian authoritarianism of the time, (late 1800's), conspired together to stamp out social progress. Avrich also makes much of the philosophical disagreement between Michael Bakunin and his contemporary, Karl Marx. Bakunin refered to Marx as a priest of scientific socialism, and criticised the idea of historical forces and economic theories. And yet the book begins with an allusion to evolutionary theory - stating that humanity is the off-spring of gorillas, or very near relatives of gorillas, and that humanity, as an animal, with its intellectual, moral, political and social developments, is merely the reflection of humanity's economic history.

Bakunin wants humanity to be absolutely free of everything that has come before. Following Bakunin's passing, his unfinished written works were disorganised and difficult to discern. Two anarchists - Carlos Cafiero and Elisee Reclus - both of whom had been closely associated with Bakunin, found this fragment amongst his papers. It is they, who gave it its current title, as this directly reflects the content of the work. Bakunin uses this text to firmly establish his idea that materialism is correct, and that idealism is wrong. Everything that humanity 'is', develops out of its physical, material presence, and nothing else. Therefore, according to Bakunin, humanity is corrupted and oppressed by the structures of the state and the strictures of religion. It is interesting to note that Bakunin criticised Karl Marx and his supporters as forming a clique of the educated elite, and yet within this text, it is clearly seen that Bakunin's wide sweeping criticism of Western civilisation, including the philosophy of ancient Greece, is not only the product of an extensive educated, but requires a similar education in the mind of the reader, if the criticism is to be fully understood. On page 66, Bakunin, via a footnote, expresses his belief that different 'races' of people have different levels of intelligence, an atttitude, that is today, considered racist and unscientific. Ironically, Bakunin, at the time, believed that he was being very scientific by advancing such ideas. Whatever the case, this is an interesting historical text, worthy of study, regardless of the political persuasion of the reader.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Revolutionary Russian Air, 2 Nov 2010
This review is from: God and the State (Paperback)
Oh what a welcome breath of clean Russian Revolutionary air! One does get so browned off with the Dawkins' smug self-righteous demolition of those clowns who believe in God and all that ridiculous religious nonsense - OF COURSE one agrees with Dawkins - what a stupidity all this extra-human, extra terrestrial `Revelation of Truth' is, and MUST BE SEEN TO BE if one values the rational in the Human Intellect. But hey, here is old Michael Bakunin, aristocratic maverick, living off the labour (and interest from capital) of others telling the REAL story. Which is? Human Beings - GROW UP! Do not accept Authority from Above (mediated of course by the Powerful, the State and God), take it upon yourselves, be your own Authority. I found myself punching the air - `Yes, yes, BRING IT ON, BAKUNIN' - in a sort of orgasmic relief that there is at least one like mind out there - yeah, ok, so he's dead but his ideas live on. Anarchy - small, self regulating human groupings - are the way forward if Humankind is to survive. It really is amazing that Bakunin was writing not that long after Darwin's `Origins' and is able to make full use of an evolutionary perspective. Read this in conjunction with Mark Leier's biography. Time well spent if you, like me, are sickened by unfettered global capitalism.

Thoroughly recommended for anyone who wants their faith in Human Possibility refreshed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Bakunin's thought., 28 July 2010
This review is from: God and the State (Paperback)
The God and the State is a great introduction to the thought of one of the most influential anarchists, Bakunin. The book, which I would rather prefer to call it a mess of thoughts and ideas, is unfinished, unstructured and not that reader-friendly.
Bakunin had the tendency to write, but not to finish his writings, as he always found something new to write about.
Its an interesting book, with some very logical ideas, and should be read with care to be understood effectively. If you don't have a background knowledge of Anarchism though, I would suggest reading something simpler before reading God and the State.
The Dover edition, is what you would expect from your average Dover edition book. Simple, good quality, good translation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Nihilist Mistake, 12 Feb 2012
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This review is from: God and the State (Paperback)
Essential education for the General Synod of the Church of England, this is the 'bible' of Nihilism! In actual fact Bakunin's criticism of us is mainly of a too close a link with the money system - right on!

The fundamental error of nihilism is to be found within - see if you can spot it
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God and the State, 27 Aug 2009
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This review is from: God and the State (Paperback)
Although this may appear a dated book from the perspective of our relatively free secular country (UK), one should view it as a pertinent reminder of the many theocracies (e.g.Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia)using the influence of religion as a tool to control and brain-wash the population into compliance. Likewise it attacks the state control on the individual liberties and suppression of freedoms which are just as relevant today. Although it is repetative in parts and often reads as a generalised "rant against the machine", if read with an open mind it reminds us now of the ever present dangers of state control even in "liberal and free Democracies" such as the USA where religious propaganda backed by state and media act to limit individual freedoms and dumb-down the mass population into unthinking Robots. All Power corrupts, and the political powers invested in Religion and the State should always be questioned and limited. This book is a useful introduction to free thinking and raises questions about the damaging role of Religion in society and the nature of individual freedom from state control.
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God and the State
God and the State by Mikhail Bakunin (Paperback - 1 Jun 1970)
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