Marx, Bakunin, and the question of authoritarianism

Adam, David
http://www.theoryandpractice.org.uk/library/marx-bakunin-and-question-authoritarianism-david-adam-2010
http://libcom.org/library/marx-bakunin-question-authoritarianism

Publisher:  libcom.org
Date Written:  12/09/2010
Year Published:  2010  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX19288

Marx characterized the International as "a bond of union rather than a controlling force" and considered it "the business of the International Working Men's Association to combine and generalize the spontaneous movements of the working classes, but not to dictate or impose any doctrinary system whatever."

Abstract: 
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Excerpt:

Marx characterized the International as "a bond of union rather than a controlling force" and considered it "the business of the International Working Men's Association to combine and generalize the spontaneous movements of the working classes, but not to dictate or impose any doctrinary system whatever."
On the basis of this vision, Marx opposed secret groupings in the International and held that this type of organization "is opposed to the development of the proletarian movement because, instead of instructing the workers, these societies subject them to authoritarian, mystical laws which cramp their independence and distort their powers of reason." This perspective bears little in common with the caricature of Marxian authoritarianism that has become so widespread. Writing to Blos in 1877, Marx asserted that when he and Engels first joined the Communist League, they "did so only on condition that anything conducive to a superstitious belief in authority be eliminated from the Rules." Marx's opposition to authoritarian methods of organization reflects his long-standing belief in the importance of workers' democracy. This was thus the basis for his rejection of Bakunin’s brand of vanguardism. As we have seen, Marx considered Bakunin’s emphasis on a tightly knit revolutionary general staff to be misguided. Far from being a consistent critic of authoritarianism, Bakunin mixed his elaborate praise for abstract liberty with an authoritarian organizational outlook.

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