Commentary: Science and Life

By: The FHE Team

Bakunin was above all preoccupied with the theory and practice of revolution and wrote very little about how the everyday practical problems of social reconstruction would be handled immediately following a successful revolution. Nevertheless, these problems were intensively discussed in Bakunins circle and among the anti-authoritarian sections of the International. In Ideas on Social Organization, Guillaume discusses the transition from capitalism to anarchism a synthesis of Bakuninist ideas on how this transition could be effected without the restoration of authoritarian institutions.

Its value lies not in the specific recommendations (most of them outdated, some rather naive, although a number of them are remarkably similar to measures adopted by anarchist collectives in Spain during the late thirties) but in its formulation of the fundamental principles of anarchism.

Where will the convergence of individual and socialized relationships, science, and liberty take us?

Science and Life

Original Work by Michael Bakunin

Historically speaking, there are three fundamental principles that constitute the essential conditions for all human development. These principles apply to the individual as well as to collective humanity. They are: human animality, thought, and rebellion. The first corresponds with individual and socialized relationships; the second with science; the third with liberty.

The gradual development of the material world is one of a natural movement from the simple to the complex. Organic and animal life, the historically progressive intelligence of man, individually and socially, has been from the lowest species to the highest; from the inferior to the superior. This movement conforms with all our daily experiences, and consequently it also conforms with our natural logic; with the distinctive laws of our mind, which are formed and developed only by the aid of these same experiences; that is, the mental and cerebral reproduction or reflected summary.

Real and living individuality is perceptible only to another living individuality, not to a thinking individuality; not to the man who, by a series of abstractions, puts himself outside of and above immediate contact with life; to such a man, it can exist only as a more or less perfect example of the species — as a definite abstraction. …

Science is like a rabbit. Both are incapable of grasping the individuality of a man. Science is not ignorant of the principle of individuality; it conceives of it perfectly as a principle, but not as a fact.

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 treason to humanity — but to remand it to its place so that it can never leave it again.

Excerpted from God and the State, by Michael Bakunin