The “authority” of the bootmaker

183px-Carl_Schleicher_SchusterI’ve remarked elsewhere on the curious phenomenon of self-proclaimed anarchists who are much more comfortable with the language of governmentalism and authority than they are with the concept of anarchy. It is curious, but it is far from inexplicable. After all, some of the most famous pioneers of anarchist thought muddied those waters rather enthusiastically at times. Over the years, I have spent quite a bit of time working through Proudhon’s complicated engagements with property, the State, anarchy and other terms. There are potentially cautionary tales there regarding just about any strategy we might take with these complex and contested terms.

I want to come back in a later post to some of the reasons that anarchist rhetoric has tended to be so convoluted, but we don’t have to look much farther than the declaration that “property is theft,” and its various aftermaths, to recognize that it has been so. And Proudhon certainly wasn’t the only offender in this regard. When we look at Bakunin, we often find Proudhon’s familiar provocations repeated in even more provocative, and sometimes baffling, forms. If we had to pick a phrase in Bakunin’s work that was his “property is theft”—one that gets at important concerns, but perhaps not in the most immediately helpful manner—perhaps “the authority of the bootmaker” would be a good choice. Certainly, the work from which it comes, God and the State, is just full of rhetoric that seems designed to provoke and confuse.

There are, of course, other good reasons to try to understand exactly what is being said in the discussion of this “authority of the bootmaker,” to which Bakunin admits he must “bow,” with the most prominent of those being the idea that Bakunin is arguing for a variety of “legitimate authority,” and doing so in a work where he defines his position as explicitly “anarchist,” thus making at least Bakunin’s “anarchism” (square-quoted, since the term itself is not Bakunin’s) something other than anti-authoritarian.

Is that what Bakunin is arguing? Let’s take a careful look at the relevant passages:

Perhaps, too, while speaking of liberty as something very respectable and very dear in their eyes, they give the term a meaning quite different from the conception entertained by us, materialists and Revolutionary Socialists. Indeed, they never speak of it without immediately adding another word, authority — a word and a thing which we detest with all our heart.

Perhaps Bakunin considers “a word and a thing which we detest with all our heart” to be legitimate, but, if so, we pretty obviously need an explanation. So let’s back up to the beginning of the text—itself just a section of Bakunin’s great, unfinished work, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution—and see who Bakunin is talking about.

Who is right, the idealists or the materialists? The question, once stated in this way, hesitation becomes impossible. Undoubtedly the idealists are wrong and the materialists right. Yes, facts are before ideas; yes, the ideal, as Proudhon said, is but a flower, whose root lies in the material conditions of existence. Yes, the whole history of humanity, intellectual and moral, political and social, is but a reflection of its economic history.

It is the idealists who can’t talk about liberty without talking about authority.

And, Bakunin has already told us, the idealists are wrong.

Indeed, they are so wrong that Bakunin gets distracted by his anger at their wrongness and has to apologize for the distraction a few paragraphs into the fragment, before returning to his main argument about the fundamental elements of human being:

Three elements or, if you like, three fundamental principles constitute the essential conditions of all human development, collective or individual, in history:

  1. human animality;

  2. thought; and

  3. rebellion.

To the first properly corresponds social and private economy; to the second, science; to the third, liberty.

This argument, Bakunin assures us, enrages the idealists as much as the idealists anger him. And he takes some time to assure the reader that his materialism is not some mechanical theory of what the idealists might call “vile matter.” And it is in the course of his discussion of the debate concerning these three elements or conditions that he finally comes to address the question of authority.

What is authority? Is it the inevitable power of the natural laws which manifest themselves in the necessary concatenation and succession of phenomena in the physical and social worlds? Indeed, against these laws revolt is not only forbidden — it is even impossible. We may misunderstand them or not know them at all, but we cannot disobey them; because they constitute the basis and fundamental conditions of our existence; they envelop us, penetrate us, regulate all our movements, thoughts, and acts; even when we believe that we disobey them, we only show their omnipotence.

His approach, however, is a bit roundabout. Rather than talking about what the idealists consider to be authority, he asks a question, in which we see a possible materialist definition. But this is an authority that would presumably eliminate one of those “essential conditions of all human development, collective or individual,” since revolt against it is impossible. Instead of liberty, it seems to offer an inescapable slavery.

Yes, we are absolutely the slaves of these laws. But in such slavery there is no humiliation, or, rather, it is not slavery at all. For slavery supposes an external master, a legislator outside of him whom he commands, while these laws are not outside of us; they are inherent in us; they constitute our being, our whole being, physically — intellectually, and morally: we live, we breathe, we act, we think, we wish only through these laws. Without them we are nothing, we are not. Whence, then, could we derive the power and the wish to rebel against them?

Obviously, there are rhetorical maneuvers underway. The “slavery,” it turns out, “is not slavery at all.” The “laws” we cannot break are internal to us.

This actually puts us on familiar ground, provided we have paid some attention to Proudhon. The final section of What is Property? includes a description of “liberty, the third form of society,” and in that description we find that:

Liberty is anarchy, because it does not admit the government of the will, but only the authority of the law; that is, of necessity.

And we are reminded that, however much Proudhon agonized over the vocabulary he used to discuss forms of property, he often simply redefined the language of authority in ways that suited his anti-authoritarian project. Now, having recognized this connection between Bakunin’s thought and that of Proudhon, some of what follows will hold few surprises for those who have read the latter.

In his relation to natural laws but one liberty is possible to man — that of recognizing and applying them on an ever-extending scale in conformity with the object of collective and individual emancipation or humanization which he pursues. These laws, once recognized, exercise an authority which is never disputed by the mass of men. One must, for instance, be at bottom either a fool or a theologian or at least a metaphysician, jurist, or bourgeois economist to rebel against the law by which twice two make four. One must have faith to imagine that fire will not burn nor water drown, except, indeed, recourse be had to some subterfuge founded in its turn on some other natural law. But these revolts, or, rather, these attempts at or foolish fancies of an impossible revolt, are decidedly, the exception; for, in general, it may be said that the mass of men, in their daily lives, acknowledge the government of common sense — that is, of the sum of the natural laws generally recognized — in an almost absolute fashion.

This “government of common sense” seems to parallel Proudhon’s thoughts (again, from What is Property?)

All questions of legislation and politics are matters of science, not of opinion. The legislative power belongs only to the reason, methodically recognized and demonstrated. To attribute to any power whatever the right of veto or of sanction, is the last degree of tyranny. Justice and legality are two things as independent of our approval as is mathematical truth. To compel, they need only to be known; to be known, they need only to be considered and studied. What, then, is the nation, if it is not the sovereign,—if it is not the source of the legislative power?

The nation is the guardian of the law—the nation is the EXECUTIVE POWER. Every citizen may assert: “This is true; that is just;” but his opinion controls no one but himself. That the truth which he proclaims may become a law, it must be recognized. Now, what is it to recognize a law? It is to verify a mathematical or a metaphysical calculation; it is to repeat an experiment, to observe a phenomenon, to establish a fact. Only the nation has the right to say, “Be it known and decreed.”

I confess that this is an overturning of received ideas, and that I seem to be attempting to revolutionize our political system; but I beg the reader to consider that, having begun with a paradox, I must, if I reason correctly, meet with paradoxes at every step, and must end with paradoxes. For the rest, I do not see how the liberty of citizens would be endangered by entrusting to their hands, instead of the pen of the legislator, the sword of the law. The executive power, belonging properly to the will, cannot be confided to too many proxies. That is the true sovereignty of the nation.

There are some interesting tensions here. Both Bakunin and Proudhon insist on a place for “law” in their understanding of liberty, but it isn’t clear that what we conventionally think of as “legal order” is included. Their conception of law is limited to that which we cannot rebel against. This would seem to clear the decks of all governmental, statute law. But that sweeping away is easier said than done. In practice, even obeying the law of necessity may not be as easy as it might seem. To know the law requires science, but science is a work-in-progress and it has adversaries in the advocates and beneficiaries of other sorts of law.

The great misfortune is that a large number of natural laws, already established as such by science, remain unknown to the masses, thanks to the watchfulness of these tutelary governments that exist, as we know, only for the good of the people. There is another difficulty — namely, that the major portion of the natural laws connected with the development of human society, which are quite as necessary, invariable, fatal, as the laws that govern the physical world, have not been duly established and recognized by science itself.

That concern with  “tutelary government” (gouvernement tutélaire) is an extremely common one in the early anarchist  literature. Tutelage is guardianship, a paternal power over a people presumably unable to govern or “realize” itself. And that presumption of “external realization” was the thing that Proudhon opposed quite consistently (except, alas, where actual paternity was involved.)

Once they shall have been recognized by science, and then from science, by means of an extensive system of popular education and instruction, shall have passed into the consciousness of all, the question of liberty will be entirely solved. The most stubborn authorities must admit that then there will be no need either of political organization or direction or legislation, three things which, whether they emanate from the will of the sovereign or from the vote of a parliament elected by universal suffrage, and even should they conform to the system of natural laws — which has never been the case and never will be the case — are always equally fatal and hostile to the liberty of the masses from the very fact that they impose upon them a system of external and therefore despotic laws.

This last bit is wonderfully strong stuff. Even if a governmental legal order was in conformity with the laws of nature, presumably imposing only what is imposed by necessity—what cannot ultimately not be imposed—it would be “fatal and hostile” to liberty. it seems that even the inevitable can’t be accepted second-hand. If there is really something to “the authority of the bootmaker,” this is obviously a hurdle it will have to get over.

The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.

We are now in pretty deep waters, with a rather peculiar set of observations about authority. It is detestable, we have been told, and perhaps it is, at the same time (and in its materialist form), equal to necessity. It is a “slavery” that “is not really slavery.” It is “despotic” if it does not come from within, but can’t be opposed in any event, since (in some sense) it does.

Let’s suppose that all of this is true, to some extent at least. Should we be surprised, or nod our heads sagely, as if this is exactly what we expected? Whatever our actual reaction, we probably have to circle back around (if we haven’t already) to Bakunin’s statements about human development and its conditions, and try to work out how this rather conflicted account of authority might fit in that development. Earlier in God and the State, he had said:

Yes, our first ancestors, our Adams and our Eves, were, if not gorillas, very near relatives of gorillas, omnivorous, intelligent and ferocious beasts, endowed in a higher degree than the animals of another species with two precious faculties — the power to think and the desire to rebel.

That’s our starting point, and we are currently somewhere down the long, possibly interminable road of human progress. We remain animals, but human animals and we set off down the road to ever-greater humanity by exercising some combination of thought and rebellion. Bakunin’s pleasure in the fact that the Biblical story of the Fall makes this argument for him is obvious, but, let’s face it, triadic conceptions of human nature with Biblical references were hardly new by the time he got around to presenting his version of things. There’s no need to dig too deep into the antecedents here, but there are certainly echoes of Pierre Leroux and Charles Fourier here—as there are so many other places in the early anarchist literature. What probably is necessary is to emphasize the extent to which some kind of internal tension between the constituent elements of human nature is to be expected in 19th century socialist writing. “Universal antagonism” and “justice” (in the form of balance) were, for Proudhon, “the fundamental laws of the universe.” We’ve already seen some of the ways that, for Bakunin, animality could come into conflict with reason and revolt. When we pick up the argument again, and Bakunin explores the shortcomings of “the government of science,” we can pick up more of the dynamic between those three elements.

Suppose a learned academy, composed of the most illustrious representatives of science; suppose this academy charged with legislation for and the organization of society, and that, inspired only by the purest love of truth, it frames none but laws in absolute harmony with the latest discoveries of science. Well, I maintain, for my part, that such legislation and such organization would be a monstrosity, and that for two reasons: first, that human science is always and necessarily imperfect, and that, comparing what it has discovered with what remains to be discovered, we may say that it is still in its cradle. So that were we to try to force the practical life of men, collective as well as individual, into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science, we should condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes, which would soon end by dislocating and stifling them, life ever remaining an infinitely greater thing than science.

The second reason is this: a society which should obey legislation emanating from a scientific academy, not because it understood itself the rational character of this legislation (in which case the existence of the academy would become useless), but because this legislation, emanating from the academy, was imposed in the name of a science which it venerated without comprehending — such a society would be a society, not of men, but of brutes. It would be a second edition of those missions in Paraguay which submitted so long to the government of the Jesuits. It would surely and rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy.

But there is still a third reason which would render such a government impossible — namely that a scientific academy invested with a sovereignty, so to speak, absolute, even if it were composed of the most illustrious men, would infallibly and soon end in its own moral and intellectual corruption. Even today, with the few privileges allowed them, such is the history of all academies. The greatest scientific genius, from the moment that he becomes an academician, an officially licensed savant, inevitably lapses into sluggishness. He loses his spontaneity, his revolutionary hardihood, and that troublesome and savage energy characteristic of the grandest geniuses, ever called to destroy old tottering worlds and lay the foundations of new. He undoubtedly gains in politeness, in utilitarian and practical wisdom, what he loses in power of thought. In a word, he becomes corrupted.

Reason is not something that can be attained second-hand, but it is also not something that can be maintained if it is mixed with authority, if it is exercised against revolt.

It is the characteristic of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the mind and heart of men. The privileged man, whether politically or economically, is a man depraved in mind and heart. That is a social law which admits of no exception, and is as applicable to entire nations as to classes, corporations, and individuals. It is the law of equality, the supreme condition of liberty and humanity. The principal object of this treatise is precisely to demonstrate this truth in all the manifestations of human life.

A scientific body to which had been confided the government of society would soon end by devoting itself no longer to science at all, but to quite another affair; and that affair, as in the case of all established powers, would be its own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need of its government and direction.

But that which is true of scientific academies is also true of all constituent and legislative assemblies, even those chosen by universal suffrage. In the latter case they may renew their composition, it is true, but this does not prevent the formation in a few years’ time of a body of politicians, privileged in fact though not in law, who, devoting themselves exclusively to the direction of the public affairs of a country, finally form a sort of political aristocracy or oligarchy. Witness the United States of America and Switzerland.

Both privilege and obedience are presented as deadly to science and to human development. And when Bakunin finally draws the conclusions from this section, they are perhaps even stronger than we might expect from the opening question:

Consequently, no external legislation and no authority — one, for that matter, being inseparable from the other, and both tending to the servitude of society and the degradation of the legislators themselves.

“No authority.” That seems clear enough. We’ve had a glimpse of what anarchists might look to instead of authority, but there doesn’t seem to be much room left for authority itself.

And then this happens:

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism censure. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.

When we attempt to follow this real twist, in the context of the full fragment, all sorts of questions come to mind. First of all, it isn’t entirely clear that the bootmaker is in the same category as the savant (scientist, learned individual, expert.) Elsewhere in the text, Bakunin makes a distinction between science, which “cannot go outside of the sphere of abstractions,” and art, which “is, as it were, the return of abstraction to life.” Indeed, science is characterized as “the perpetual immolation of life, fugitive, temporary, but real, on the altar of eternal abstractions,” and this sets up Bakunin’s famous declaration:

What I preach then is, to a certain extent, the revolt of life against science, or rather against the government of science, not to destroy science — that would be high treason to humanity — but to remand it to its place so that it can never leave it again.

Here, it is animality and revolt rising up against reason—at least when reason seems to have exceeded its share of the work. It is tempting to think that bootmakers fare better than scientists because they are, in some sense, as much artists as savants. But I’m not sure there’s anything in Bakunin’s text that let’s us pursue that approach. Another question is whether Bakunin has not himself simply made a blunder here, confusing expertise with authority, letting the rhetorical play get the better of him. It happened at times, I am inclined to think. There is a passage, still down the page a bit, where Bakunin insists on referring to the practices of revolutionary socialists as the beliefs of “our church.” Proudhon’s masterwork, Justice in the Revolution and in the Church, certainly might have suggested a contrast, but Bakunin’s language seems to take it all too far.

What Bakunin says about the “authority of the bootmaker” is all quite level-headed, and roughly what you would expect him to say if he simply refused to grant any “authority” at all in the case. He is clear that he will use his reason, to whatever extent he can, and then use the reason of others to reduce his chances of error. He is wary. He understands that acquiescence is a grave danger. And yet, he says, he “bows.”

If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow, to a certain extent and as long as may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed upon me by no one, neither by men nor by God. Otherwise I would repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels, their directions, and their services, certain that they would make me pay, by the loss of my liberty and self-respect, for such scraps of truth, wrapped in a multitude of lies, as they might give me.

At least Bakunin, in “bowing” to the bootmaker, obviously still detests the the act of submission to authority. And here the fact that we are ultimately talking about concessions as small as trusting in skilled tradespeople becomes interesting. Bakunin doesn’t make the distinction we might expect between the bootmaker and the savant, so perhaps the scale of the act of submission is not so important. If the most perfect legislation is “fatal” if we have to take it second-hand, then we don’t seem to be in a situation where there is much room for “legitimate authority,” despite Bakunin’s assurance that he would never even think of rejecting all authority.

What, in any event, does it mean to “reject all authority”? Let’s look at the French text:

“S’ensuit-il que je repousse toute autorité ? Loin de moi cette pensée.”

“To reject” is certainly one of the ways to translate repousser. There are several others. Rejeter means to reject, but perhaps more in the sense that one would reject, or throw back, a fish that was too small for eating. Refuser is also sometimes translated as “to reject,” often in the sense of turning down an offer, although it may have a variety of other uses. Écarter has the sense of pushing to the side. But repousser is perhaps a little more active and aggressive; it sometimes means to spurn, but also to repel, to push away. This is the verb Bakunin used when he said “I would repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels…” Perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that it is precisely Bakunin’s sense of revulsion concerning authority that makes repousser the right choice here. The reading has the advantage of presenting Bakunin as consistent in his attitude toward authority, even if his eventual capitulation to it has to be explained. He assures us that he is not compelled to submit, “neither by men, nor by God.”

I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed upon me by my own reason. I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge. The greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for industry, the necessity of the division and association of labor. I receive and I give — such is human life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination.

In the end, it appears that, rather than bowing to “special men” or their “authority,” Bakunin bows to “human life,” to his own limitations as a human animal. He bows to the inevitable, which we know is the only law he will recognize. And if our reading of the nuances is not entirely incorrect, we have no reason, I think, to imagine that he bows, even to necessity, with particularly good grace. At the limits of his knowledge, life, reason and rebellion should, we expect, all be brought to bear. In the absence of “fixed and constant authority,” developing humanity might at least aspire to less of both authority and subordination.

In the remainder of the section I’m quoting here, which ends with the declaration that he and those around him are, in a particular sense, “anarchists,” Bakunin alternates between gratitude to the savants of the “special sciences” and new declamations against authority, with a recognition of the “absolute authority of science” (but not “the absolute, universal, and infallible authority of men of science.”) It isn’t clear if it all quite adds up. I suppose that one can weight those various elements of the text as you see fit, but, for me, it is very hard to make the usual leap from the views presented here to a denial that anarchism is, in principle, not just anti-authoritarian, but resolutely so. If we are forced by the law of necessity to bow to authority in small ways, in the context of that “continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination,” it cannot be, it seems to me, in any way that involves abandoning our animality, our reason or our tendency to revolt. Indeed, it would seem to me that it is when we are faced with our own limits that all of these elements need to be most actively involved. That means rebelling, if only inwardly, when we have to take even the bootmaker on faith, and bringing all our energies into play as the stakes rise. We can, of course, be gracious, as Bakunin was, and feel gratitude for the “special” knowledges that come from our specific characters and aptitudes. But every time we start to get too warm and fuzzy about even the “very restricted authority of the representatives of special sciences,” I suspect our best bet is to remember that if there is such a thing as “legitimate authority,” our only real access to it is still from within, from the force of necessity, expressed through our own human animality, even if it is only expressed through our limits.

Not that our limits, Bakunin reminds us, are all bad:

This same reason forbids me, then, to recognize a fixed, constant, and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life. And if such universality could ever be realized in a single man, and if be wished to take advantage thereof to impose his authority upon us, it would be necessary to drive this man out of society, because his authority would inevitably reduce all the others to slavery and imbecility. I do not think that society ought to maltreat men of genius as it has done hitherto; but neither do I think it should indulge them too far, still less accord them any privileges or exclusive rights whatsoever; and that for three reasons: first, because it would often mistake a charlatan for a man of genius; second, because, through such a system of privileges, it might transform into a charlatan even a real man of genius, demoralize him, and degrade him; and, finally, because it would establish a master over itself.

The rest of the selection speaks, I think, largely for itself.

To sum up. We recognize, then, the absolute authority of science, because the sole object of science is the mental reproduction, as well-considered and systematic as possible, of the natural laws inherent in the material, intellectual, and moral life of both the physical and the social worlds, these two worlds constituting, in fact, but one and the same natural world. Outside of this only legitimate authority, legitimate because rational and in harmony with human liberty, we declare all other authorities false, arbitrary and fatal.

We recognize the absolute authority of science, but we reject the infallibility and universality of the savant. In our church — if I may be permitted to use for a moment an expression which I so detest: Church and State are my two bêtes noires — in our church, as in the Protestant church, we have a chief, an invisible Christ, science; and, like the Protestants, more logical even than the Protestants, we will suffer neither pope, nor council, nor conclaves of infallible cardinals, nor bishops, nor even priests. Our Christ differs from the Protestant and Christian Christ in this — that the latter is a personal being, ours impersonal; the Christian Christ, already completed in an eternal past, presents himself as a perfect being, while the completion and perfection of our Christ, science, are ever in the future: which is equivalent to saying that they will never be realized. Therefore, in recognizing absolute science as the only absolute authority, we in no way compromise our liberty.

I mean by the words “absolute science,” which would reproduce ideally, to its fullest extent and in all its infinite detail, the universe, the system or coordination of all the natural laws manifested by the incessant development of the world. It is evident that such a science, the sublime object of all the efforts of the human mind, will never be fully and absolutely realized. Our Christ, then, will remain eternally unfinished, which must considerably take down the pride of his licensed representatives among us. Against that God the Son in whose name they assume to impose upon us their insolent and pedantic authority, we appeal to God the Father, who is the real world, real life, of which he (the Son) is only a too imperfect expression, whilst we real beings, living, working, struggling, loving, aspiring, enjoying, and suffering, are its immediate representatives.

But, while rejecting the absolute, universal, and infallible authority of men of science, we willingly bow before the respectable, although relative, quite temporary, and very restricted authority of the representatives of special sciences, asking nothing better than to consult them by turns, and very grateful for such precious information as they may extend to us, on condition of their willingness to receive from us on occasions when, and concerning matters about which, we are more learned than they. In general, we ask nothing better than to see men endowed with great knowledge, great experience, great minds, and, above all, great hearts, exercise over us a natural and legitimate influence, freely accepted, and never imposed in the name of any official authority whatsoever, celestial or terrestrial. We accept all natural authorities and all influences of fact, but none of right; for every authority or every influence of right, officially imposed as such, becoming directly an oppression and a falsehood, would inevitably impose upon us, as I believe I have sufficiently shown, slavery and absurdity.

In a word, we reject all legislation, all authority, and all privileged, licensed, official, and legal influence, even though arising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subjection to them.

This is the sense in which we are really Anarchists.

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