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God and the State

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,685 ratings  ·  220 reviews
Paperback, 90 pages
Published June 1st 1970 by Dover Publications (first published 1882)
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 ·  3,685 ratings  ·  220 reviews

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Always Pouting
First off I really wish people would stop giving me books as gifts because they inevitably give me books like this, as in books I would never pick up on my own. Like I just really hate reading philosophy or even most things written before like the 1920's. Why do they all write like this, with constant references to other people who are equally annoying to read and a verbosity that is totally uncalled for. Even when he references people I've read, I haven't read any of those people recently so I' ...more
May 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Struggled through this book at times due to Bakunin's frequent digressions ... But when he stays on point, you get gems like this:

"...religion is a collective insanity, the more powerful because it is traditional folly, and because its origin is lost in the most remote antiquity. As collective insanity it has penetrated to the very depths of the public and private existence of the peoples; it is incarnate in society; it has become, so to speak, the collective soul and thought. Every man is envel
Wrong anarchist text for what I am seeking…

The Good:
--I’ll start with the shortest part. The unfortunate thing is I probably agree with many of the views in the book, but this type of work mostly feeds my confirmation bias. I can see it as an abbreviated inspirational read (demonstrated by the reviews by anarchists I follow and respect).
--My favorite part is the critique on governance by science. After recognizing science as the truest form of abstraction (after all, much of the book is critiq
Aug 19, 2010 rated it liked it
I became interested in Bakunin after reading The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914. I then saw that this one was available from the nice people at Librivox.

This is a very interesting book. There are lots of fairly standard arguments against the existence of God – I’ve always been attracted to the idea, elaborated here, that God creating the universe (that is, something infinitely developed making something less developed) is the
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
While this is hardly Bakunin's programmtic statement, and it is not clear where such a statement may be found, this is certainly the political and literary equivalent of a high-speed roller-coaster. Freud, of course, would say that liking such a thing is proof of an excessive death drive, but he would only be right if that roller-coaster did not have a teleological purpose - for Bakunin does not desire his death-defying thought to be some sort of Hunter S. Thompson esque "ride", but, rather, to ...more
Really rambly arguments (especially at the end) against a specifically Christian god that really doesn't impact my life, not having been raised christian and all. There were a few parts with ringing eloquence on the independence of humans over god, the state, and science. Overall, contributed to a conversation of which I am not a part nor particularly interested in engaging.

I really want to read all the 'fathers of anarchism,' so I'll know what the hell I'm talking about when people want to talk
Erik Graff
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anarchists
Recommended to Erik by: Gregory Guroff
High school history courses had emphasized the American, French and Russian revolutions. In college, planning a history major, I took a two-semester survey of the latter. Having read some Marx and being critical of "actually existing" socialist states like the USSR and the PRC, I was much interested in what went wrong and, so, focused on the revolutionary ferment in Russia in the period from the Decembrist Revolt 1825 until Stalin's rise to power. Bakunin and the anarchists were much mentioned i ...more
"Reduced, intellectually and morally as well as materially, to the minimum of human existence, confined in their life like a prisoner in his prison, without horizon, without outlet, without even a future if we believe the economists, the people would have the singularly narrow souls and blunted instincts of the bourgeois if they did not feel a desire to escape ; but of escape there are but three methods—two chimerical and a third real. The first two are the dram-shop and the church, debauchery o ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ruard_referred
Very accessible treatise on anarchism, the perils of religion and the hopeful, ongoing pursuit of the improvements of humanity.

Great background text for understanding more of Vollmann's worldview and bedrock for Vol 1 of "Rising Up and Rising Down"
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Voltaire says "If God did not exist, we should invent him." Bakunin answers: "If God did exist, we should destroy him."

Some interesting and original thoughts, but Bakunin's analysis lacks a scientific, methodological approach.
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A jealous lover of human liberty, and deeming it the absolute condition of all that we admire and respect in humanity, I reverse the phrase of Voltaire, and say that, if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.

In this book, Bakunin presents an argument for the non-existence and non-necessity of God, presented from an Anarchist and Marx-esque perspective. I say Marx-esque because Bakunin was a contemporary of Marx, and they both influenced each other, but neither was really a fol
Tim Edison
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, russian
"When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'the people's stick'". This quote from Bakunin's Statism and Anarchy crystallises, to some extent, the ethos of Mikhail Bakunin - his critique of tyranny disguised as liberal democracy. Of course one could substitute "the people's stick" for "god's stick" or any other authoritarian system that the anarchists such as Bakunin, rejected and derided.

In God and the State, Bakunin takes aim at religious authority
Grahm Wiley-Camacho
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
the fundamental argument that the measure of societies is the well-being of real actual individuals is great (especially compared to Marxism or utilitarianism). but the casual anti-semitism is why you can’t honestly expect folks to read “the classics”; whatever insights they initially had can be gained from reading someone else who doesn’t talk about ‘tHe JeWiSh mErCaNtIlE cHaRaCtEr’
I read God and the State back when I was interested in left-wing anarchist theory, and believed that the anarchocommunists, anarchosocialists, anarchosyndicalists and us libertarian capitalists could come to a mutual understanding. Alas, I was wrong.

I did not know what I was getting myself into. I read it, and I do not remember, for the love of it, a single occasion where I could apply what I read. It was uninspired, it offered no positive vision, or even a coherent whole. Bakunin offered no co
Peter Bradley
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, politics
Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote -

This was a surprising book. Bakunin was a 19th century Socialist Anarchist, which seems like an oxymoron. He was a radical atheist. He also thought that Marxism would lead to tyranny. He was, in short, an odd dude.

The north star of his philosophy was opposition to authority of all kinds. In Bakunin's mind, any authority would inevitably lead to a group or class obtaining privilege and power over other people. I
Brendan Conner
Jan 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: political-theory
This pamphlet, supposedly Bakunin's most comprehensive (but, literally, incomplete work), is another attempt at dialectics. In the end, it's the same game played by a Hegel or a Marx. Nonetheless, "God and the State" is a useful demonstration, in 19th century language, of 'anarchist' theory as it takes on the Church, Capitalism, and the State. As a writer, however, Bakunin is woefully outmatched by his long-time nemesis, Marx. ...more
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Less of a well-reasoned argument and more of a rant against organized religion and the state. Bakunin was one of the great Russian anarchists, but his Hegelian method here just comes across as dated. It is important to remember that Bakunin took action first and foremost, and wrote only as an afterthought.
Convincing yet unfinished book about christianity and the state and how they are not so different. The uniting strand is authoritarianism.
K.A. Ashcomb
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I struggled to read this book. Not because of its content, but because of the tone of the text. Bakunin's anger and hatred seeped through his words. Anger and hatred do feed the existing contempt, but seldom alter anyone's opinion. I'm not saying this because I disagree with some of his convictions about the importance of science, separation of state and church, and about how reason is one of the best tools there is. But understanding is a better way to communicate than hate. However, this book ...more
R Reddebrek
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short but powerful examination of the role of religion and other ideologies in the oppression of class society. This is the most well known thing about God and the State and its title alone makes that clear, but Bakunin goes further and deeper.

He also despite his great admiration for the scientific method warns that simply using science in a similar social function as religion is used would be a terrible mistake, possibly even more oppressive than religious orders. Predicting the rise of the "
Sami Eerola
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Short book on how the belief in on monotheistic god is the bases of peoples "slave mentality" and hierarchical institutions. Knowing something about Hinduism, this argument is not so believable. But still great introduction to anarchist philosophy that is more complicated that it is perceived in popular culture. Some accretions in this book are still topical, but the last part about the failures of French revolution not so much. ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
i really liked his take on science and its role in society, the take on religions was very generalizing and idk how much Bakunin studied religions of the world to be able to accurately say all this stuff. but nevertheless the points were widely applicable to christianity and that was enough for me
Colton Massey
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rich with information concerning the evolution of Christianity and the evolution of how the State has historically molded it for the preservation of the ruling class and the suppression of freethinkers.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite his rage I could feel on his words, it was a pleasing reading. It was unfortunate that Bakunin let this manuscript unfinished (e.g. no appendices). I was expecting a deeper discussion of anarchy. But I was content with his severe criticism of idealism. How he explained the reason why people believe in an authority figure: god (“man made the gods!”). How he annihilated god and religious to defend equality. How he stood on the liberty of a man who obeys natural laws because he recognized i ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: anarchism
"Who is right, the idealists or the materialists?"
I read this as part of the (A)Bookclub and I had unknowingly read it previously, which probably you can surmise a few things from. Its title is a little deceptive because as far as I can see the book is really about the effects of religious ideas on scientific reasoning. A subject with some modern implications thanks to creationism.

Bakunin, like Marx was profoundly influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but it was deeply contested among He
Kanske Svartfors

I was blown away by this piece. Bakunin makes a riveting case for anarchism by deconstructing the idea of god as the very first authority.

I was surprised how closely linked Bakunin's ideas were to those of Nietzsche: metaphysics' real nature as human psychology, and the emphasis on human animality, and the fact that humans do not actively understand their true nature; thus, humans live in their conceptual hallucinations.

Quotes from the text:

“I reverse the phrase of Voltaire, and say that i
Aug 17, 2013 rated it liked it
It is imperative to read the preface and the introduction to Bakunin's work. Otherwise one risks the chance of falling down a rabbit hole of footnotes and unfinished sentences. It must bear in mind the fact that this is but a small section of a much larger planned work. At the point in which the essay ends, one is left at the cusp of exploring where the role of religion has played in Bakunin's time. A fascinating look into the ideology of a man who was truly more of an activist rather than a wri ...more
Todd Martin
Russian revolutionary, materialist and anarchist Mikhail Bakunin makes some good points in "God and the State", though he's a bit impenetrable at times.

Here's a nice paragraph that you might find echoed in the later works of Dawkins, Dennet, Harris or Hitchens:

"We recognize, then, the absolute authority of science, because the sole object of science is the mental reproduction, as well-considered and systematic as possible, of the natural laws inherent in the material, intellectual, and moral lif
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book
A good summary how Plato influenced the Jewish religion for the creation of Jesus and how Neo-Platonists created Christianity. A historical overview on the creation of modern religion and plenty of the things he is saying can be found on modern economic books. Like for example how Protestants and Lutherans are more productive than Catholics and the reason why. He has a profound love for the Greek spirit and he describes Hellenism as a humanistic philosophy and idea that created the "emancipation ...more
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Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (Russian: Михаи́л Алекса́ндрович Баку́нин; 30 May 1814 – 1 July 1876) was a well-known Russian revolutionary and philosopher, theorist of collectivist anarchism. He has also often been called the father of anarchist theory in general.

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