пятница, 1 августа 2014 г.

Priamukhino. Academic conference

This year the Priamukhino Readings devoted to Bakunin’s bicentennial invited participants from across the globe. People from Belgium, Brazil, Japan, Italy, France, the USA, “from the four winds” came to Mikhail Bakunin’s birthplace.
 The participants in sweet Priamukhino harmony
The conference started on July 12th and took place in the building of Priamukhino municipal school. To my mind it is quite honest to show the foreign guests not well-equipped campuses of some university but an ordinary Russian village school. So the listeners and the presenters made themselves snug on the long benches in the interior decorated with Russian motifs. The presenters gave their speeches in front of the audience with birch trees in the background. I hope the iconic wallpaper didn’t draw the attention away from the reports because the latter were really interesting.
Convention hall. 
Tatiana Bakounine's speech

The tone of the conference was set by Tatiana Bakunina, a granddaughter of the last owner of the Priamukhino estate, who left Russia forever in 1917. In her speech named “What does Mikhail Bakunin represent for me?” Tatiana said: “Anarchism to me is not a doctrine, it is a utopia: a goal or ideal to strive for. It is a way of life, a philosophical attitude that everyone lives and practices in their own way.” What a pleasure was to hear the words like those from the Bakunins’ descendant!

Piotr Ryabov, a historian and philosopher from the Moscow Pedagogical State University (Russia), followed with a presentation on “Mikhail Bakunin and the 20th century philosophy”, in which he characterized Bakunin as an outstanding thinker whose ideas influenced European philosophy of the 20th century. In this spirit the presenter examined a close connection between Bakunin’s thoughts and philosophical constructions of the Frankfurt school, “epistemological anarchism” of Paul Feyerabend,  Henri Bergson’s philosophy of life, existentialism and Albert Camus’ philosophy of rebellion. In his conclusion P. Ryabov argued that “many of Bakunin’s intuitions and ideas are yet underestimated and insufficiently analyzed even by his followers, the anarchists”. 
 Prominent Russian anarchists at the foraefront
Nevertheless the anarchists attended the conference tried to prove the converse. Giulio Spiazzi from Verona (Italy), for example, told the audience about Bakunin’s thoughts on education. His “Mikhail Bakunin and Education to Rebellion” dealt with the Russian anarchist’s idea of integral (or complete) education, the goal of which is to “develop all the aspects of the human personality”. As G. Spiazzi pointed out, the integral education doesn't put the cognitive aspect above the practical one, it doesn't put the rationality above the sensibility either, it doesn't give the preference to only one sphere of man's activity, because every personality is complex, various, and rich. By “integral education” Bakunin meant not only instruction in manual and intellectual work but a process of socialization as well. That’s why this kind of education requires an egalitarian and democratic environment, preferably in an autonomus, decentralized, cooperative community.
The audience. 
Hikaru Tanaka & Giulio Spiazzi (on the right)
Giulio Spiazzi’s compatriot Franco Bunčuga followed with Bakunin’s ideas on art (“Bakunin and art”). According to Bakunin, art is connected to the laws of development of civilization, “following an oscillatory motion that at times may heighten its revolutionary potentiality or emphasize its regressive character.” As for the 20th century, considering the prevalence of avant-garde art in every field, from poetry to dance, one might argue that experimental art is in itself anarchic, if not always consciously or deliberately; at least it shows a leaning towards it. F. Bunčuga concluded, that “Bakunin's idea of art entrusts the artist with the role of the maker who, while trying to unveil the world with his works, outlines future possibilities; the artist becomes the archetype of the free human being that sees in the destruction of his own chains, the joy of the construction of a new society.”
 International section at work.
Jean Chrisrophe Angaut, Franco Bunčuga, Hikaru Tanaka, James Goodwin
Hikaru Tanaka from the Osaka Kyoiku University (Japan) was another foreign guest who presented a report named “Japanese Anarchists and Bakunin: Their interpretations and background factors”. The Japanese scholar concentrated on introducing the texts and interpretations of Bakunin by a prominent Japanese anarchist Ōsugi Sakae (1885-1923). The presentation provided the audience with a great opportunity to meet Japanese anarchism. Ōsugi (whose name reminds the Osuga river in Priamukhino) studied Bakunin’s life and thought because he wanted to find some suggestions of how to lead the revolution in Japan. On the other hand, he was struggling against the Bolsheviks in Japan, that’s why Ōsugi needed to study “combat experience” of Bakunin, who fought against Marx and his supporters in the First International. Hikaru Tanaka noted finally that rebellious movements emerged in Japan within last 3 years “are in need now of the philosophy and attitudes embodied by Bakunin”.
Two other speakers also devoted their presentations to people who studied and popularized Bakunin’s legacy in the 20th century. James Goodwin from the University of Florida (USA) examined Grigorii Maksimov’s contribution to Bakunin studies. G. Maksimov was one of remaining representatives of Russian anarchist thought who managed to continue their literary pursuit of the Bakunin legacy abroad when when arbitrary Stalinist policies stopped all unofficial publications about Bakunin. Maksimov presented four installments of Bakunin’s “teachings,” as he referred to them, in the form of “conversations” between a modern inquirer, who is clearly Maksimov himself, and the revived Bakunin, returned to the living after a fifty-year slumber. By means of his hypothetical dialogs with the legendary rebel, Maksimov effectively sought to fill the rhetorical void which he and other Russian anarchists faced by the end of the 1920s. 
James Goodwin, Mikhail Tsovma, Piotr Ryabov 
(right to left) 
 Andrey Levandovsky from the Moscow State University was the final speaker of the first day and gave a presentation entitled “Alexander Kornilov, biographer of Mikhail Bakunin”. Alexander Kornilov, a Russian historian and liberal politician, is famous for his incomplete series on the Bakunin family. According to A. Levandovsky, Kornilov who worked closely to Bakunin themselves managed to set up an exclusive archive collection related to Bakunin and his family, but finally he couldn’t cope with that amount of historical sources. Despite this fact many scholars have relied on Kornilov’s monumental work “Young Years of Mikhail Bakunin” (1915).
The first day of the Readings ended with a sumptuous feast given in the school canteen.

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