Subsequent events have, to a remarkable extent, confirmed the accuracy of Bakunin’s vision. It is small wonder, then, that contemporary historians have shown a new appreciation of the role of spontaneous and primitive movements in shaping history. From the work of Barrington Moore, who has recently investigated the relationship between modernization and agrarian revolt, as well as of Eric Hobsbawm, George Rude, E. P. Thompson, and others, we are coming to understand that most modern revolutions, like those of the past, have been largely unplanned and spontaneous, driven by mass movements of urban and rural laborers, and in spirit predominantly anarchistic. No longer can these naive, primitive, and irrational groups be written off as fringe elements to be ignored by the historian. They lie, rather, at the very basis of social change.
LEO TOLSTOY, conscience-driven anarchist, soldier, pacifist, moral and religious teacher, environmentalist, war correspondent, and social reformer, etc., is considered to be one of the world’s finest writers. War and Peace and Anna Karénina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and pinnacles of realist fiction while his shorter work,The Death of Ivan Ilyich, is a fine example of the novella. In this work, author, L Winstanley, a lecturer in English at University College Wales, Aberystwyth, assesses key aspects of Tolstoy’s complicated life and paradoxical personae: his contemporaries, influence and principal works: Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, The Cossacks, War and Peace, Anna Karénina, My Confession, My Religion, What is Art?, The Power of Darkness, The Kreutzer Sonatta, and Resurrection.
Peter Kropotkin’s (1842-1921) autobiographical account of his journey from privileged childhood, through military service and two years in prison to anarchist thinker and activist; it was originally serialised in The Atlantic Monthly from September 1898 to September 1899, and provides a fascinating account of his intellectual development and radicalisation, of life under tsarist rule, and of the early European socialist movement.
The following footage is of Kropotkin’s funeral procession from the village of Dmitrov, where he died, to Moscow on 13 February 1921. It turned into a protest — the last anarchist demonstration in Russia until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The accompanying sound track is a choral rendition of a traditional Russian folk song: ‘The Sun Descends Over the Steppe’.