bakunin.jpgFor those interested in libertarian left ideas, specifically anarchist-communism and its origins, this book should be on your must read list. Really, this book should be a must read for anyone seriously interested in questions of human nature, human potential, freedom, and the social contract that we all live out. It’s hard to know where to begin with all the praise that there could be heaped on here: Leier is incredibly accessible, even when talking about complicated historical or philosophical ideas, and offers so much background information that the book actually works as part European history, part history of capitalism, part economic theory, part history of socialism, and all the while it’s also a very complete history of anarchist thought, regardless of Bakunin.
Leier takes the post-modern route by framing most issues and circumstances in their historical and social context, and though some writers who do this just end up pissing the fuck out of you, in Leier’s hands this works to allow the reader to rationally understand many of the criticisms that have been hurled at the great Russian thinker Bakunin over the years. Leier thoroughly exposes rumors and accusations such as the oft-cited notion that Bakunin was an anti-Semite as petty and inaccurate; Likewise, while I’ve always been a bit unsure how to actually interpret Bakunin’s famous axion “the passion for destruction is a creative passion”, Leier’s biography offers a rich and wide array of angles in which to understand Bakunin’s intentions for such a comment, and it serves to offer the reader an incredible amount of depth into very complex political, moral, and spiritual questions.
I’ll be expanding a lot more on Bakunin, his life and ideas, in the future. A lot taken from this book, and some from a few other sources. Stay tuned.