"Appendix" to Bakunin's "God and the State"

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"Appendix" to Bakunin's "God and the State"


Appendix from the 1894 Commonweal edition of "God and the State"



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From the manuscripts, letters and other documents to which I have had access in compiling a life of Michael Bakounine, I can give the following account of the larger work of which God and the State is but a fragment. I can only state the bare facts here, but shall give documentary proof for all of them in the biography which I am preparing.

On July 26, 1870, Bakounine returned from Geneva by Neuchatel to Locarno. Here, during August and the beginning of September, he wrote a number of letters, addressed to G. Blanc of Lyons, on the Franco-German war and the revolutionary methods by which the invasion of France was to be resisted, an abridged and post-dated edition of these Lettres à un Francais appeared in 1870. On September 9, he left Locarno for Lyons, which he had to leave and seek refuge in Marseilles on September 29; during the whole of September and part of October he wrote further Lettres à un Francais (unpublished) and Le Réveil des Peuples (similar letters, unpublished.)

The course which the events in France took, the meanness and cowardice of the French bourgeois, who, afraid of a popular insurrection, preferred to hand over the country to the foreign invaders, disgusted Bakounine who was, himself, the goal of manifold attacks and calumnies then, so that we see him express in a letter, dated Marseilles, October 23, 1970, his utter despair and loss of hope in a French revolution; he was then about to leave the country, and wrote: “To their infamous calumnies I shall reply by a little book in which I shall call all facts and persons by their proper names.” Before the end of October he left Marseilles for Genoa and Locarno, from when he wrote, on November 19, that he was writing now “not a pamphlet, but a whole book” which was to be published under the supervision of Ogarov at Geneva. This is the book from the manuscript of which God and the State was published. The following is the history of this book.

On September 29, 1870, Bakounine, before leaving Lyons, expressed his views on the situation in France in a letter to Louis Palix; this letter was, in part, printed in one of the reactionary compilations by O. Testut, but the whole letter is extant in the original. Later on Bakounine used the beginning of this letter as the beginning of a larger manuscript (still extant) and this was rewritten, and forms the beginning of the Empire knouto-germanique.

In December he read Auguste Comte’s Cours de philosophie positive, and we find on the margins of his copy the dates December 11, 12, 17, 18. He read the book at this time for the purpose of referring to and criticizing it in numerous places in a manuscript which pages 82 to 256 (no more written) only are extant: this manuscript begins with the end of a discussion of French politics and, after a short piece on socialism, enters upon philosophical discussions taken partly from the old work Propositions motivée, etc., Le Féderalisme, le Socialisme et l’Antithéologisme (of 1867-8, still in manuscript and proof) and used later on, in part, for the real God and the State manuscript.

On page 107 of this manuscript Bakounine wrote: Appendice Considérations philosophiques sur le fantôme divine, sur le monde réel et sur l’homme, and in the God and the State manuscript he refers to this same Appendice as the Appendix of that book (on page 153 of the M. S., page 1, line 7, of the French edition of 1893)—so this manuscript, though written previously, was later destined to form an Appendix to the larger book; it was written, probably, from November or December 1870 to January 1871, and originally destined to be the book itself which he intended to write.

Finally, in February and part of March 1871, Bakounine wrote the definite manuscript of this book, which he sent from Locarno to Neuchatel and Geneva until March when he went for a fortnight to Florence; he was back in Locarno in April, but then the events of the Commune of Paris called him nearer to the field of action, and he went to Sonvillier and Locle in the Jura Mountains to be close to the French frontier. The defeat of the Commune frustrated the cherished hope of action, and he returned to Locarno in June.

This manuscript (340) pages exists now, for different reasons some of which might easily be traced, partly in proofs, partly in the original manuscript which, with the exception of three pages only, is still preserved, though kept at present in three different European countries.

I. Pages 1 to 138, published (in May 1871) as L’Empire knouto-germanique et le Révolution sociale, Genève, Imprimerie Co-opérative, with “Errata” (published at Neuchatel); the original manuscript is preserved, but I have not seen it. [in margin: “Paris (J.G.)”]

II. Pages 138 to 148, existing in manuscript and in proofs (dated “March 20, 1870,”—read 1871—which shows that the text was printed already in March, but the events of the Paris Commune in all probability prevented its timely publication as well as, I presume, that of the rest of the book); this beginning of the second part of the work is intituled: Sophismes historiques de l’école doctrinaire des communistes allemands. Bakounine at the end of 1872 began to rewrite this part (pages 3 to 75 of the manuscript are kept) a few extracts from this text I gave in the Lotta Sociale of Milan (January 1894, Italian translation.) [in margin: “Genève”]

III. Pages 149-210: Dieu et l’Etat, 1893 edition, (in the French editions the original matter has been partly transposed, and according to the manuscript its pages read thus: 2-6, 1-2-6-62 line 26. Tucker follows this in his translation, God and the State, pages 6-8, 6, 8-34.) [in margin: “Genève”]

IV. Pages 211, 212, 213, corresponding with page 62 line 26 to page 63 line 16 of Dieu et l’Etat, 1893, are lost of mislaid; for pages 149 to 210 and 214 to 247 are kept now in two different countries. [In margin: “?”]

V. Pages 214 to 247: Dieu et l’Etat, 1893 edition, page 63 line 16 to page 100; God and the State (Tucker’s edition) pages 35 to 52. [In margin: “London”]

VI. Pages 248 to 340 (no more written) exist in manuscript, as well as twenty-four pages of another version and a number of other manuscripts giving rejected version of some parts of the text. Extracts from it I began to publish (English translation) in Liberty, May 1894.

The ideas expressed in God and the State are to a great extent based on Bakounine’s unpublished work: Le Féderalisme, le Socialisme et l’Antithéologisme, and were used again in his polemics with Mazzini, which began a few months after the Commune and of which many manuscripts, edited and unedited, are kept.

God and the State, first published in French in 1882 at Geneva, was translated into the English, German, Dutch, Italian, Roumanian and Polish languages.

London, April 18, 1894.






Nettlau, Max, 1865-1944, “"Appendix" to Bakunin's "God and the State",” The Libertarian Labyrinth, accessed March 28, 2017, http://library.libertarian-labyrinth.org/items/show/3491.