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God and the State Paperback – June 1, 1970


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 89 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised edition (June 1, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048622483X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486224831
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

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Customer Reviews

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in anarchism.
Ethan Parker
Bakunin also reveals some novel ideas about religion, its origins and most importantly of all, how church and state support one another to have power over the masses.
Kathy Hendrix
I wouldn't say I'm an atheist, but Bakunin makes many excellent points about the damage that organized religion has done throughout history.
Kylie Edwards

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Godspark on December 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Bakunin's political beliefs rejected governing systems in every name and shape, from the idea of God downwards; and every form of external authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or from universal suffrage. He wrote in his Dieu et l'Etat or God and the State (published posthumously in 1882):

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

Natural laws being thus recognized by every man for himself, Bakunin's reasoning went, an individual could not but obey them, for they would be the laws also of his own nature; and the need for political organization, administration and legislation would at once disappear.

Bakunin similarly rejected the notion of any privileged position or class, since "it is the peculiarity of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the intellect and heart of man. The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart."

Bakunin's methods of realizing his revolutionary program were no less purposeful than his principles. The revolutionist, as Bakunin described, would be a devoted man, who allowed no private interests or feelings, and no scruples of religion, patriotism or morality, to turn him aside from his mission, the aim of which is by all available means to overturn the existing society.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Hendrix on March 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the first books I have read on anarchism, and it certainly makes some very powerful points, especially on issues of "divine authority" and the church in general. Bakunin also reveals some novel ideas about religion, its origins and most importantly of all, how church and state support one another to have power over the masses. I have read some of Bakunin's essays but this short book (although incomplete) is good overview of his thought, and a rich overview of some of anarchism's core beliefs.
I also recommend Emma Goldman's "Anarchism and Other Essays" and if you are willing to search for out of print titles "Bakunin on Anarchism".
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful By daibhidh on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book features Bakunin's unfinished essay of the same title. It is an excellent exploration of the psyche and motivations of one of history's more influential also-rans. Bakunin's ideas eventually evolved into what became known as anarchism -- the idea that the only way to a just society is through a society where no one rules over another...where all are equals.
This short book provides a window into the underlying ideas that came to be anarchism. Bakunin was an excellent pamphleteer and polemicist, but wasn't able to write a complete book. Perhaps this was ultimately better for anarchism.
Bakunin's historical contributions to political radicalism are largely overshadowed by Marx, his contemporary, even though Bakunin's core critique of Marx -- that socialism could never be forced on people and remain socialism -- was essentially correct. History, represented by the former USSR, Cuba, North Korea, etc. has vindicated Bakunin, and repudiated Marx. Where socialism was imposed by way of a political vanguard, it ceased to be socialism.
Thus, at this time, it's good for people to read Bakunin to realize there was an alternative vision of socialism in his ideas -- namely, anarchism. Marx successfully blocked Bakunin's ideas in his day, but I think that with the collapse of faux-communism, Bakunin may finally get the reading he deserved.
Bakunin represented in his time the very embodiment of radical revolution, and this book lets the reader get a sense of this.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Takis Tz. on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Next to "Atheism: a case against god" by G.Smith, this book by Bakunin is among the essential readings if you are set out to get rid of the mythology of "god".
People like to refer to this as an "anarchist" book , and i guess in a sense it is, since it is written by one of anarchism's most important and effective leading figures. However, i don't think you need to be anarchist to reach Bakunin's conclusions, you need first to respect your own intelligence. The fact that this might lead you eventually to anarchism is another matter.
Bakunin deals with the "god" issue as he should from his position: he examines how religion is used by the ruling classes to manipulate us, to keep people ignorant and believing in theological myths. A person that lives on the doctrine of "believe without evidence" is a person destined to be a slave and Bakunin's fiery rhetoric does a good job to drive this point home.
This book might seem polemic to some , especially those not acquainted with the equation religion=slavery, but then again this is exactly the point. Bakunin is merciless in his critique because in order to free slaves you need to first free their minds.
As close as any book can come to being explosive...
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