Proposed Roads to Freedom (Bertrand Russell) [1919]

proposed roads

En intressant figur, vördad för sitt arbete i matematiken och logikens fält, beundrad för sitt politiska engagemang. Denna bok är ett verk av sin tid: då klassmotsättningarna tycktes onekbara, och det som återstod var att finna ”vägen till frihet”, som titeln antyder. Det är upplyftande och stimulerande läsning – men långt ifrån läget idag, då många av de som förtrycks allra värst ändock tror att de lever i den bästa av världar, fortsätter hoppas på lottovinster och röstar på (m). Russell tar här itu med den anarkosocialistiska traditionen, försöker på ett sakligt sätt redogöra för sina tankar kring för- och nackdelar med anarkism jämte socialism, dess bägge historier, och finner i syntesen dem emellan sin egen politiska ståndpunkt (gillesocialism). Nyttig, lärorik läsning, innehåller även intima bitar som talar till en på ett personligt plan – se citat #3 till exempel, som gjorde starkt intryck på mig. Har inte så mycket mer att recensera just nu.


The great majority of men and women, in ordinary times, pass through life without ever contemplating or criticising, as a whole, either their own conditions or those of the world at large. They find themselves born into a certain place in society, and they accept what each day brings forth, without any effort of thought beyond what the immediate present requires. Almost as instinctively as the beasts of the field, they seek the satisfaction of the needs of the moment…

Marxian Socialism, I fear, would give far too much power to the State, while Syndicalism, which aims at abolishing the State, would, I believe, find itself forced to reconstruct a central authority in order to put an end to the rivalries of different groups of producers. The BEST practicable system, to my mind, is that of Guild Socialism, which concedes what is valid both in the claims of the State Socialists and in the Syndicalist fear of the State…

The impatient idealist – and without some impatience a man will hardly prove effective – is almost sure to be led into hatred by the oppositions and disappointments which he encounters in his endeavors to bring happiness to the world. The more certain he is of the purity of his motives and the truth of his gospel, the more indignant he will become when his teaching is rejected. Often he will successfully achieve an attitude of philosophic tolerance as regards the apathy of the masses, and even as regards the whole-hearted opposition of professed defenders of the status quo. But the men whom he finds it impossible to forgive are those who profess the same desire for the amelioration of society as he feels himself, but who do not accept his method of achieving this end. The intense faith which enables him to withstand persecution for the sake of his beliefs makes him consider these beliefs so luminously obvious that any thinking man who rejects them must be dishonest, and must be actuated by some sinister motive of treachery to the cause. Hence arises the spirit of the sect, that bitter, narrow orthodoxy which is the bane of those who hold strongly to an unpopular creed. So many real temptations to treachery exist that suspicion is natural. And among leaders, ambition, which they mortify in their choice of a career, is sure to return in a new form: in the desire for intellectual mastery and for despotic power within their own sect. From these causes it results that the advocates of drastic reform divide themselves into opposing schools, hating each other with a bitter hatred, accusing each other often of such crimes as being in the pay of the police, and demanding, of any speaker or writer whom they are to admire, that he shall conform exactly to their prejudices, and make all his teaching minister to their belief that the exact truth is to be found within the limits of their creed… APPEAR to be actuated far more by hatred than by love.

Most men have instinctively two entirely different codes of behavior: one toward those whom they regard as companions or colleagues or friends, or in some way members of the same ”herd”; the other toward those whom they regard as enemies or outcasts or a danger to society.

It is difficult not to hate those who torture the objects of our love. Though difficult, it is not impossible; but it requires a breadth of outlook and a comprehensiveness of understanding which are not easy to preserve amid a desperate contest.


The attitude of the Manifesto to the State is not altogether easy to grasp. ”The executive of the modern State,” we are told, ”is but a Committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

This doctrine is very complicated and is scarcely tenable as a contribution to pure theory. It is rather to be viewed as a translation into abstract terms of the hatred with which Marx regarded the system that coins wealth out of human lives, and it is in this spirit, rather than in that of disinterested analysis, that it has been read by its admirers.

It is a question with him whether he shall ally himself with the unskilled worker against the capitalist, or with the capitalist against the unskilled worker. Very often he is himself a capitalist in a small way, and if he is not so individually, his trade union or his friendly society is pretty sure to be so. Hence the sharpness of the class war has not been maintained.

But Bakunin did not produce, like Marx, a finished and systematic body of doctrine. The nearest approach to this will be found in the writings of his follower, Kropotkin.

Bakunin om Marx:

Marx was much more advanced than I was, as he remains to-day not more advanced but incomparably more learned than I am. I knew then nothing of political economy. I had not yet rid myself of metaphysical abstractions, and my Socialism was only instinctive… He called me a sentimental idealist, and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.

Bakunin om tyskarna i Bryssel:

The Germans, artisans, Bornstedt, Marx and Engels–and, above all, Marx–are here, doing their ordinary mischief. Vanity, spite, gossip, theoretical overbearingness and practical pusillanimity–reflections on life, action and simplicity, and complete absence of life, action and simplicity–literary and argumentative artisans and repulsive coquetry with them: `Feuerbach is a bourgeois,’ and the word `bourgeois’ grown into an epithet and repeated ad nauseum, but all of them themselves from head to foot, through and through, provincial bourgeois.

After the death of the Tsar Nicholas many political prisoners were amnested, but Alexander II with his own hand erased Bakunin’s name from the list… after eight years of captivity, he was sent to the comparative freedom of Siberia. From there, in 1861, he succeeded in escaping to Japan, and thence through America to London.

The International Working Men’s Association had been founded in London in 1864, and its statutes and program were drawn up by Marx… [it] soon became a great power for the propagation of Socialist ideas. Originally it was by no means wholly Socialist, but in successive Congresses Marx won it over more and more to his views.

[Bakunin] hated the Germans with a bitter hatred, partly, no doubt, on account of Bismarck, but probably still more on account of Marx. To this day, Anarchism has remained confined almost exclusively to the Latin countries, and has been associated with, a hatred of Germany, growing out of the contests between Marx and Bakunin in the International.

Hans fängsling – misstro mot staten?

…chaotic, largely, aroused by some passing occasion, abstract and metaphysical, except when they deal with current politics. He does not come to close quarters with economic facts, but dwells usually in the regions of theory and metaphysics… Most of his writing was done in a hurry in the interval between two insurrections.

In its general doctrines there is nothing essentially involving violent methods or a virulent hatred of the rich, and many who adopt these general doctrines are personally gentle and temperamentally averse from violence. But the general tone of the Anarchist press and public is bitter to a degree that seems scarcely sane, and the appeal, especially in Latin countries, is rather to envy of the fortunate than to pity for the unfortunate.


In truth, so thin is the partition between Syndicalism and Anarchism that the newer and less familiar ”ism” has been shrewdly defined as ”Organized Anarchy.”

The view of the Guild Socialists is that State Socialism takes account of men only as consumers, while Syndicalism takes account of them only as producers. ”The problem,” say the Guild Socialists, ”is to reconcile the two points of view.

…Collectivism, which declares that work is a necessary evil never to be made pleasant, and that the workers’ only hope is a leisure which shall be longer, richer, and well adorned with municipal amenities.


There is a fundamental difference between Socialism and Anarchism as regards the question of distribution. Socialism, at any rate in most of its forms, would retain payment for work done or for willingness to work… Anarchism, on the other hand, aims at granting to everyone, without any conditions whatever, just as much of all ordinary commodities as he or she may care to consume, while the rarer commodities, of which the supply cannot easily be indefinitely increased, would be rationed and divided equally among the population.

Wages or Free Sharing?–”Abolition of the wages system” is one of the watchwords common to Anarchists and advanced Socialists.

Kropotkin, Anarchist Communism:

”As to the childish question, repeated for fifty years: `Who would do disagreeable work?’ frankly I regret that none of our savants has ever been brought to do it, be it for only one day in his life. If there is still work which is really disagreeable in itself, it is only because our scientific men have never cared to consider the means of rendering it less so: they have always known that there were plenty of starving men who would do it for a few pence a day.”


”As to the so-often repeated objection that nobody would labor if he were not compelled to do so by sheer necessity, we heard enough of it before the emancipation of slaves in America, as well as before the emancipation of serfs in Russia; and we have had the opportunity of appreciating it at its just value.”

Anarchism has the advantage as regards liberty, Socialism as regards the inducements to work. Can we not find a method of combining these two advantages?


On the other hand, the Syndicalists, who accept from Marx the doctrine of the class war, which they regard as what is really vital in his teaching, reject the State with abhorrence and wish to abolish it wholly, in which respect they are at one with the Anarchists. The Guild Socialists, though some persons in this country regard them as extremists, really represent the English love of compromise. The Syndicalist arguments as to the dangers inherent in the power of the State have made them dissatisfied with the old State Socialism, but they are unable to accept the Anarchist view that society can dispense altogether with a central authority. Accordingly they propose that there should be two co-equal instruments of Government in a community, the one geographical, representing the consumers, and essentially the continuation of the democratic State; the other representing the producers, organized, not geographically, but in guilds, after the manner of industrial unionism.

But it must be confessed that Syndicalists have not presented their case in a way which is likely to attract the average citizen. Much of what they say amounts to this: that a minority, consisting of skilled workers in vital industries, can, by a strike, make the economic life of the whole community impossible, and can in this way force their will upon the nation.

But in actual fact the psychology of the working man in any of the Western democracies is totally unlike that which is assumed in the Communist Manifesto. He does not by any means feel that he has nothing to lose but his chains, nor indeed is this true. The chains which bind Asia and Africa in subjection to Europe are partly riveted by him. He is himself part of a great system of tyranny and exploitation. Universal freedom would remove, not only his own chains, which are comparatively light, but the far heavier chains which he has helped to fasten upon the subject races of the world… Something more positive and constructive than this is needed if governing democracies are not to inherit the vices of governing classes in the past.

If the Russian Revolution had been accompanied by a revolution in Germany, the dramatic suddenness of the change might have shaken Europe, for the moment, out of its habits of thought: the idea of fraternity might have seemed, in the twinkling of an eye, to have entered the world of practical politics; and no idea is so practical as the idea of the brotherhood of man, if only people can be startled into believing in it. If once the idea of fraternity between nations were inaugurated with the faith and vigor belonging to a new revolution, all the difficulties surrounding it would melt away, for all of them are due to suspicion and the tyranny of ancient prejudice.

…with time even the populations of Central Africa may become capable of democratic self-government, provided Europeans bend their energies to this purpose.

The only way of meeting these difficulties, whether under State Socialism or Guild Socialism or Anarchism, seems to be by making it possible for an author to pay for the publication of his book if it is not such as the State or the Guild is willing to print at its own expense. I am aware that this method is contrary to the spirit of Socialism, but I do not see what other way there is of securing freedom.

I think we may fairly conclude that, from the point of view of all three requisites for art and science, namely, training, freedom and appreciation, State Socialism would largely fail to remove existing evils and would introduce new evils of its own; but Guild Socialism, or even Syndicalism, if it adopted a liberal policy toward those who preferred to work less than the usual number of hours at recognized occupations, might be immeasurably preferable to anything that is possible under the rule of capitalism.


What, I want to ask, is the fundamental evil in our modern Society which we should set out to abolish?

There are two possible answers to that question, and I am sure that very many well-meaning people would make the wrong one. They would answer POVERTY, when they ought to answer SLAVERY. Face to face every day with the shameful contrasts of riches and destitution, high dividends and low wages, and painfully conscious of the futility of trying to adjust the balance by means of charity, private or public, they would answer unhesitatingly that they stand for the ABOLITION OF POVERTY.

Well and good! On that issue every Socialist is with them. But their answer to my question is none the less wrong.

Poverty is the symptom: slavery the disease. The extremes of riches and destitution follow inevitably upon the extremes of license and bondage. The many are not enslaved because they are poor, they are poor because they are enslaved.


Women in domestic work, whether married or unmarried, will receive pay as they would if they were in industry. This will secure the complete economic independence of wives, which is difficult to achieve in any other way, since mothers of young children ought not to be expected to work outside the home.

As for the progress of science, that depends very largely upon the degree of intellectual liberty existing in the new society. If all science is organized and supervised by the State, it will rapidly become stereotyped and dead. Fundamental advances will not be made, because, until they have been made, they will seem too doubtful to warrant the expenditure of public money upon them. Authority will be in the hands of the old, especially of men who have achieved scientific eminence; such men will be hostile to those among the young who do not flatter them by agreeing with their theories. Under a bureaucratic State Socialism it is to be feared that science would soon cease to be progressive and acquired a medieval respect for authority.

erudition = boklärdhet
perfidious = illojal

~ av bookplanet på november 2, 2012.


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