“Appeal to the Slavs” by Mikhail Bakunin

Written: 1848;
Source: Bakunin on Anarchy, translated and edited by Sam Dolgoff, 1971.

“The Appeal to the Slavs” is a statement of Bakunin’s opinions as they emerged from the shock and disappointment of the failure of the 1848 revolution. First, he believed the bourgeoisie had revealed itself as a specifically counter-revolutionary force, and that the future hopes of revolution lay with the working class. Secondly, he believed that an essential condition of the revolution was the break-up of the Austrian Empire, and the establishment in Central and Eastern Europe of a federation of free Slav republics. Thirdly, he believed that the peasantry, and in particular the Russian peasantry, would prove a decisive force in bringing about the final and successful revolution. Referring to Bakunin’s call for the dissolution of the Habsburg and Russian Empires, E. H. Carr added: “For this, if for no other reason, the Appeal to the Slavs is a landmark in European history. It was the first occasion on which, exactly seventy years before November 1918, the destruction of the Austrian Empire and the building of new Slav states on its ruins was publicly advocated.” Continue reading

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Fundamental Principles of the New Slavic Politics. [June, 1848]

The Slavs

Having traversed centuries of slavery, of painful struggles and suffering, the Slavs gather today for the first time in a general congress, and clasp hands for a fraternal alliance, declares solemnly before God and before the nations that the following principles will from now on form the basis of their new political existence. Continue reading

The Sokol movement

Members of the Sokol club in sports costumes, circa 1900 photographed by Šechtl and Voseček

Members of the Sokol club in sports costumes, circa 1900.

The Sokol movement (from the Slavic word for falcon) is a youth sport movement and gymnastics organization first founded in Prague in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. Primarily a fitness training center, the Sokol, through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what Tyrš viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation. This training extended to men of all classes, and eventually to women.

The movement also spread across all the regions populated by the Slavic culture (Poland (Sokół), Slovene Lands, Serbia (SK Soko), Bulgaria, the Russian Empire (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus), and the rest of Austria-Hungary (e.g. present day Slovenia and Croatia)). In many of these nations, the organization also served as an early precursor to the Scouting movements. Though officially an institution “above politics,” the Sokol played an important part in the development of Czech nationalism, providing a forum for the spread of mass-based nationalist ideologies. The articles published in the Sokol journal, lectures held in the Sokol libraries, and theatrical performances at the massive gymnastic festivals called slets helped to craft and disseminate the Czech nationalist mythology and version of history. Continue reading

Fyodor Dostoyevsky on the Slavic question

Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s Diary (November 1877.)

Some Quite Special Remarks about the Slavs That I Intended to Make Long Ago.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Perov, 1872.

Incidentally, I’ll make a few special remarks about the Slavs and the Slavic question. And I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time. It’s just now that everyone in Russia has suddenly begun talking about the imminent possibility of peace, about the imminent possibility of somehow solving the Slavic question. Let’s give our fantasy free rein and imagine suddenly that the whole matter is ended, that through Russia’s insistence and blood the Slavs are already liberated and, moreover, that the Turkish Empire no longer exists and the Balkan peninsula is free and is living a new life.

Of course, it’s difficult to predict down to the last details just what form this Slavic freedom will assume at first—that is, will it be a kind of federation of the small liberated tribes (NB: it seems a federation will still be a very, very long way off) or will there be small separate domains in the form of tiny states with sovereigns who have been summoned from the various ruling houses? Continue reading