Bakunin, 1872

“To whoever might claim that action so organised would be an assault on the freedom of the masses, an attempt to create a new authoritarian power, we would reply that he is nothing but a sophist and a fool. So much the worse for those who ignore the natural and social law of human solidarity, to the point of imagining that an absolute mutual independence of individuals and of the masses is something possible, or at least desirable. To wish it means to want the destruction of society, for the whole of social life is no other than this unceasing mutual dependence of individuals and masses. All individuals, even the most intelligent and the strongest, indeed above all the intelligent and strong, each at every moment in his life is at the same time its producer and its product. The very freedom of each individual is no other than the resultant, continually reproduced, of this mass of material, intellectual and moral influences exerted on him by all who surround him, by the society in the midst of which he is born, develops, and dies. To want to escape from this influence in the name of a transcendental, divine, freedom that is absolutely egoistic and sufficient unto itself, is the tendency of non-being. This much vaunted independence of the idealists and metaphysicians, and individual freedom thus conceived, are therefore nothingness.

“In nature, as in human society, which is no other than this same nature, all that lives, only lives on the supreme condition of intervening in the most positive manner, and as powerfully as its nature allows, in the lives of others. The abolition of this mutual influence would be death. And when we vindicate the freedom of the masses, we are by no means suggesting the abolition of any of the natural influences that individuals or groups of individuals exert on them; what we want is the abolition of influences which are artificial, privileged, legal, official.”

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