AfjAK- Ctlar. i 5
The SPUR Series.
Translated by FREDA COHEN.
LONDON: Baxunin Pkess, 17 Richmond Gardens. Shepherd's Bush, W.12.
U^til I cowyneoced to publish translations of Kakunin's writings, and accounts of incidents in his career, in the Herald of Revolt and the Spur, nothing of the great Russian Nihilist's thought was to be found in English except his God and the State—itself but an indigestible fragment. Unfortunately, financial e»bau;fas$njent has giade it impossible for me to reprint from the coIuhpi*s of the papers mentioned, Bak win's important essays, such as The International, Communism and the State, The Two Camps, The Issue, etc., all of which should be circulating in pamphlet form at the present time.
Comrade Freda Cohen, who translated some of these from a Yiddish version, translated also the present essay some few years back. But for some reason or other, it was mislaid and never published.
The opinion we entertain that Hakunin's work is not really opposed to Marx's is too well known to need repetition. And the movement, happily, is coming now to realise its common indebtedness to these two great pioneers, who served, with unequal distinction but equal abandon, the cause we Communists have at heart.
Glasgow, July 10, 1919.
The Organisation of the
The masses are the social power, or, at least, the essence of that power. But they lack two things in order to free themselves from the hateful conditions which oppress them : education and organisation. These two things represent, to-day, the real foundations of power of all government.
To abolish the military and governing power of the State, the proletarian must organise. But since organisation cannot exist without knowledge, it is necessary to spread among the masses real social education.
To spread this real social education is the aim of the International. Consequently, the day on which the International succeeds in uniting in its ranks a half, a fourth, or even a tenth part of the workers of Europe, the State or States will cease to exist. The organisation of the International will be altogether different from the organisation of the State, since its aim is not to create new States but to destroy all existing government systems. The more artificial, brutal, and authoritarian is the power of the State, the more indifferent and hostile it is to the natural developments, interests and desires of the people, the freer and more natural must be the organisation of the International. It must try all the more to accommodate itself to the natural instincts and ideals of the people.
But what do we mean by the natural organisation of the masses? We mean the organisation which is founded Upon the experience and results of their everyday life and the difference of their occupations, i.e., their industrial organisation. The moment all branches of industry are represented in their International, the organisation of the masses will be complete.
But it might be said that, since we exercise, through the International, organised influence over the masses, we are aiming
at new power equally with the politicians of the old State systems. This charge is a great mistake. The influence of the International over the masses differs from all government power in that, it is no more than a natural, unofficial influence of ordinary ideas, without authority.
The State is the authority, the rule, and organised power of the possessing class, and the make-believe experts over the life and liberty of masses. The State does not want anything other than the servility of the masses. Hence it demands their submission.
. The International, on the other hand, has no other object than the absolute freedom of the masses. Consequently, it appeals to the rebel instinct In order that this rebel instinct should be strong and powerful enough to overthrow the rule of the State and the privileged class, the International must organise
To reach this goal, it has to employ two quite just weapons : Ci) The propagation of its ideas.
(2) The natural organisation of its power or authority, through the influence of its adherents on the masses
A person who can assert that, such organised activity is an attack on the freedom of the masses, or an attempt to create a new rule, is either a sophist or a fool. It is sad enough for those who don't know the rules of human solidarity, to think that complete individual independence is possible, or desirable. Such a condition would mean the dissolution of all human society, since the entire social existence of man depends on the interdependence of individuals and the masses. Every person, even the cleverest and strongest—nay, especially the clever and strong—are at all times, the creatures as also the creators of this influence. The freedom of each individual is the direct outcome of those material- mental and moral influences, of all individuals surrounding him in that society in which he lives, develops, and dies. A person who seeks to free himself from that influence in the name' of a metaphysical, superhuman, and perfectly egotistical " freedom" aims at his own extermination as a
human being. And those who refuse to use that influence on others, withdraw from all activity of social life, and by not passing on their thoughts and feelings, work for their own destruction. Therefore, this so-called "independence" which is preached so often by the idealists and metaphysicians: this so-called individual liberty is only the destruction of existence.
In nature, as well as in human society, which is never anything else than part of that same nature, every creature exists on condition that he tries, as much as his individuality will permit, to influence the lives of others. The destruction of that indirect influence would mean death. And when we desire the freedom of the masses, we by no means want to destroy this natural influence, which individuals or groups of individuals, create through their own contract.
What we seek is the abolition of the artificial, privileged, lawful, and official influence. If the Church and State were private institutions, we should be, even then, I suppose their opponents. But we should not have protested against their right to exist. True, in a sense, they are, to-day, private institutions, as they exist exclusively to conserve the interests of the privileged classes. Still, we oppose them, because they use all the power of the masses to force their rule upon the latter in an authoritarian, official, and brutal manner. If the International could have organised itself in the State manner, we, its most enthusiastic friends, would have become its bitterest enemies. Rut it cannot possibly organise itself in such a form. The International cannot recognise limits to human fellowship and equality, whilst the State cannot exist unless it limits, by territorial pretensions, such fellowship and equality. History has shown us that the realisation of a league of all the States of the world, about which all the despots have dreamt, is impossible. Hence tho*e who speak of the State, necessarily think and speak of a world divided into different States, who are internally oppressors and outwardly despoilers, i.e., enemies to each other. The State, since it involves this division, oppression, and despoilation of humanity, must represent the negation of humanity and the destruction of human society.
There would not have been any sense in the organisation'
of the workers at all, if they had not aimed at the overthrow of the State. It organises the masses with this object in view, to the end that they might reach this gaol. And how does it organise them ?
Not from the top to the bottom, by imposing a seeming unity and order on human society, as the state attempts, without regards to the differences of interest arising from differences of occupation. On the contrary, the International organises the masses from the bottom upwards, taking the social life of the masses, their real aspirations as a starting point, and encouraging them to unite in groups according to their real interests in society. The International evolves a unity of purpose artd creates a real equilibrium of aim and well-being out of their natural difference in life and occupation
Just because the International is organised in this way, it develops a real jx>wer. Hence it is essential tha£ every member of every group should be acquainted thoroughly with all its principles. Only by these means will lie make a good propagandist in time of peace and real revolutionist in time of war.
We all know that our program is just. It expresses in a few noble words the just and humane demands of the proletariat. Just because it is an absolutely humane program, it contains all the symptoms of the social revolution. It proclaims the destruction of the old and the creation of the new world.
This is the main point which we must explain to all members of the International. This program substitutes a new science, a new philosophy for the old religion. And it defines a new international policy, in place of the old diplomacy. It has no other object than the overthrow of the States.
In order that the members of the International scientifically fill their posts, as revolutionary propagandists, it is necessary for every one to be imbued with the new science, philosophy, and policy: the new spirit of the International. It is not enough to declare that we want the economic freedom of the workers, a full return for our labour, the abolition of classes, the end of political slavery, the realisati<5n of all human rights, equal duties and justice for all: in a phrase, the unity of humanity. All this, ^'Without a doubt, very good and just. But when the workers of the International simply go on repeating these phrases, without grasping their truth and meaning, they have to face the danger of reducing their just claims to empty words, cant which is mouthed without understanding.
It might be answered tiiat not all workers, even when they are members of the International, can be educated. Is it not enough, then, that there are in the organisation, a group of people, who—as far as possible—arc acquainted with the science, philosophy, and policy of Socialism ? Cannot the wide mass follow their " brotherly advice " not to turn from the right path, that leads ultimately to the freedom of the proletariat?
The authoritarian Communists in the International often make use of these arguments, although they have wanted the courage to state them so freely and so clearly. They have sought lo hide their real opinion under demagogic compliments about the cleverness and all powerfulness oi the people. We were always the bitterest enemies of this opinion. And we are convinced, that, if the International split into two groups—a big majority, and small minority of ten, twenty, or more people—in such a way, that the majority were convinced blindly of the theoretical and practical sense of the minority, the result would be the reduction of the International to an oligarchy—the worst form of State. I he educated and capable minority would, together with its responsibilities, demand the rights of a governing body. And this governing body would prove more despotic than an avowed autocracy, because it would be hidden beneath a show of servile respect tor the will of the people. The minority would rule through the medium of resolutions, imposed upon the people, and afterwards called " the will of the people." In this way, the educated minority would develop into a government, which, like all other governments, would grow every day more despotic and reactionary.
The International only then can become a weapon for liberating the people, when it frees itself ; when it does not permit itself to be divided into two groups—a big majority, the blind tool of an educated minority. That is why its first duty is to imprint upon the minds of its menlbers the science, philosophy, and policy of Socialism.
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