Mikhail Bakunin 1861

Fragment of a to Herzen and Ogareff

Source: Correspondance de Michel Bakounine, published and prefaced by Michel Dragmanov, 1896, Paris, France, pages 127-128.

... for a real and useful force of the highest degree. From this standpoint, it would therefore be a true crime to separate from you, before having used all means of reconciliation in order to find a total union; to sacrifice, if necessary, my self-esteem by renouncing certain less important beliefs. I will do this all the more willingly if we are pursuing, as it seems to me, the same goal, as it is only in the means of getting there that we differ. This would be, therefore, more than a crime on my part; it would be ineptitude. You have created a remarkable movement and it would hardly be an easy thing to create an equal one elsewhere. Besides, I do not possess the talents, taken in the widest meaning of the word, of Herzen, and I cannot pretend to equal him in literature. However, I sense in me a noble strength otherwise useless; perhaps you do not see it in me, but I am myself aware of it. And I do not want and do not have the right to sentence it to inaction. The day when I will be convinced that this strength will be able to find neither its application nor its effect in our union, I will walk alone and act independently, making the most of the means at my disposal and using the know-how I possess, with the firm conviction that I will not bring by that any hindrance to your cause, but that, being deprived of your strong support, I myself will loose considerable prestige among your public.

In this arrival in London I will retain our unity. I have a strong intention to become, whatever it may cost, your intimate friend and, however tiresome that may appear to me, to form with you a trio; the sole condition under which this union will be possible. Otherwise, we will remain allies and friends, if you want, but in keeping our total independence from one another.

Do not precipitate to respond to me ... Nalbandoff has just arrived and I must therefore abandon this letter. I will send you the rest tonight. In waiting, I should resubmit my article. That being understood, the expenses of the first printing will be covered by the sum of money in Herzen's possession. Send me as well the printed sheets.

Yours truly,
M. Bakunin