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Bakunin and Wagner

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yoshomon
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Dec 27 2007 06:15
Bakunin and Wagner

Someone related to recently that Bakunin and Wagner knew each other/hung out when Wagner was younger. Is this true? I found no reference to such a relationship in vol. 1 of Ernest Newman's Life of Richard Wagner, which is a pretty exhaustive biography. (I only have the first of four volumes...)

severin
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Dec 27 2007 06:29

http://www.wagneroperas.com/indexwagnerbio2.html

Quote:
As music director of the court of Dresden, Wagner's life entered into a period of considerable monetary and financial stability, while at the same time, his politics were increasingly raising eyebrows among the conservative establishment. As he labored to finish the score of Tannhäuser, Wagner drew many plans to reorganize the theaters of Saxony, a move that was very upsetting to the existing bureaucracy. Further, revolution was in the air, and Wagner was emerging as a radical. In his Dresden home he often entertained August Röckel, the editor of Dresden's radical newspaper the Volksblätter, and he had befriended the founder of the school of Russian Nihilism, anarchist Mikhail Bakunin whose tumultuous politics had led him to settle in Saxony. Years later, in his autobiography Mein Leben, Wagner wrote about Bakunin: "I felt sympathetically drawn towards this prodigy of a man when I one day induced him to hear me play and sing the first scenes of my Fliegender Holländer. After listening with more attention than most people gave, he exclaimed, during a momentary pause, 'That is stupendously fine!' and wanted to hear more."

Both anti-semites as well. ugh

Leo
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Dec 27 2007 10:24

I think they ended up in the same barricade in 1848.

yoshomon
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Dec 27 2007 14:04

Just got this:

"Wagner was involved in Dresden uprising with Bakunin. It is told thatthey even shared a bed for one night while escaping from there. Finnish anarchist historian Ari Vakkilainen has speculated, that this was not the only time they shared bed..."

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Felix Frost
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Dec 27 2007 15:32

Wagner has an amusing, if not very flattering, account of Bakunin in his autobiography My life, which can be downloaded here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5197

yoshomon
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Dec 27 2007 17:52

Damn, here it is:

Quote:
Everyone did his utmost to make this one of our finest performances,
and the public took up the matter with real enthusiasm. Michael
Bakunin, unknown to the police, had been present at the public
rehearsal. At its close he walked unhesitatingly up to me in the
orchestra, and said in a loud voice, that if all the music that
had ever been written were lost in the expected world-wide
conflagration, we must pledge ourselves to rescue this symphony,
even at the peril of our lives. Not many weeks after this
performance it really seemed as though this world-wide
conflagration would actually be kindled in the streets of
Dresden, and that Bakunin, with whom I had meanwhile become more
closely associated through strange and unusual circumstances,
would undertake the office of chief stoker.

It was long before this date that I first made the acquaintance
of this most remarkable man. For years I had come across his name
in the newspapers, and always under extraordinary circumstances.
He turned up in Paris at a Polish gathering, but although he was
a Russian, he declared that it mattered little whether a man were
a Russian or a Pole, so long as he wanted to be a free man, and
that this was all that mattered. I heard afterwards, through
George Herwegh, that he had renounced all his sources of income
as a member of an influential Russian family, and that one day,
when his entire fortune consisted of two francs, he had given
them away to a beggar on the boulevard, because it was irksome to
him to be bound by this possession to take any thought for the
morrow. I was informed of his presence in Dresden one day by
Rockel, after the latter had become a rampant republican. He had
taken the Russian into his house, and invited me to come and make
his acquaintance. Bakunin was at that time being persecuted by
the Austrian government for his share in the events which took
place in Prague in the summer of 1848, and because he was a
member of the Slav Congress which had preceded them. He had
consequently sought refuge in our city, as he did not wish to
settle too far from the Bohemian frontier. The extraordinary
sensation he had created in Prague arose from the fact that, when
the Czechs sought the protection of Russia against the dreaded
Germanising policy of Austria, he conjured them to defend
themselves with fire and sword against those very Russians, and
indeed against any other people who lived under the rule of a
despotism like that of the Tsars. This superficial acquaintance
with Balumin's aims had sufficed to change the purely national
prejudices of the Germans against him into sympathy. When I met
him, therefore, under the humble shelter of Rockel's roof, I was
immediately struck by his singular and altogether imposing
personality. He was in the full bloom of manhood, anywhere
between thirty and forty years of age. Everything about him was
colossal, and he was full of a primitive exuberance and strength.
I never gathered that he set much store by my acquaintance.
Indeed, he did not seem to care for merely intellectual men; what
he demanded was men of reckless energy. As I afterwards
perceived, theory in this case had more weight with him than
purely personal sentiment; and he talked much and expatiated
freely on the matter. His general mode of discussion was the
Socratic method, and he seemed quite at his ease when, stretched
on his host's hard sofa, he could argue discursively with a crowd
of all sorts of men on the problems of revolution. On these
occasions he invariably got the best of the argument. It was
impossible to triumph against his opinions, stated as they were
with the utmost conviction, and overstepping in every direction
even the extremest bounds of radicalism. So communicative was he,
that on the very first evening of our meeting he gave me full
details about the various stages of his development, he was a
Russian officer of high birth, but smarting under the yoke of the
narrowest martial tyranny, he had been led by a study of
Rousseau's writings to escape to Germany under pretence of taking
furlough. In Berlin he had flung himself into the study of
philosophy with all the zest of a barbarian newly awakened to
civilisation. Hegel's philosophy was the one which was the rage
at that moment, and he soon became such an expert in it, that he
had been able to hurl that master's most famous disciples from
the saddle of their own philosophy, in a thesis couched in terms
of the strictest Hegelian dialectic. After he had got philosophy
off his chest, as he expressed it, he proceeded to Switzerland,
where he preached communism, and thence wandered over France and
Germany back to the borderland of the Slav world, from which
quarter he looked for the regeneration of humanity, because the
Slavs had been less enervated by civilisation. His hopes in this
respect were centred in the more strongly pronounced Slav type
characteristic of the Russian peasant class. In the natural
detestation of the Russian serf for his cruel oppressor the
nobleman, he believed he could trace a substratum of simple-
minded brotherly love, and that instinct which leads animals to
hate the men who hunt them. In support of this idea he cited the
childish, almost demoniac delight of the Russian people in fire,
a quality on which Rostopschin calculated in his strategic
burning of Moscow. He argued that all that was necessary to set
in motion a world-wide movement was to convince the Russian
peasant, in whom the natural goodness of oppressed human nature
had preserved its most childlike characteristics, that it was
perfectly right and well pleasing to God for them to burn their
lords' castles, with everything in and about them. The least that
could result from such a movement would be the destruction of all
those things which, rightly considered, must appear, even to
Europe's most philosophical thinkers, the real source of all the
misery of the modern world. To set these destructive forces in
action appeared to him the only object worthy of a sensible man's
activity. (Even while he was preaching these horrible doctrines,
Bakunin, noticing that my eyes troubled me, shielded them with
his outstretched hand from the naked light for a full hour, in
spite of my protestations.) This annihilation of all civilisation
was the goal upon which his heart was set. Meanwhile it amused
him to utilise every lever of political agitation he could lay
hands on for the advancement of this aim, and in so doing he
often found cause for ironical merriment. In his retreat he
received people belonging to every shade of revolutionary
thought. Nearest to him stood those of Slav nationality, because
these, he thought, would be the most convenient and effective
weapons he could use in the uprooting of Russian despotism. In
spite of their republic and their socialism a la Proudhon, he
thought nothing of the French, and as for the Germans, he never
mentioned them to me. Democracy, republicanism, and anything else
of the kind he regarded as unworthy of serious consideration.

Every objection raised by those who had the slightest wish to
reconstruct what had been demolished, he met with overwhelming
criticism. I well remember on one occasion that a Pole, startled
by his theories, maintained that there must be an organised state
to guarantee the individual in the possession of the fields he
had cultivated. 'What!' he answered; 'would you carefully fence
in your field to provide a livelihood for the police again!' This
shut the mouth of the terrified Pole. He comforted himself by
saying that the creators of the new order of things would arise
of themselves, but that our sole business in the meantime was to
find the power to destroy. Was any one of us so mad as to fancy
that he would survive the desired destruction? We ought to
imagine the whole of Europe with St. Petersburg, Paris, and
London transformed into a vast rubbish-heap. How could we expect
the kindlers of such a fire to retain any consciousness after so
vast a devastation? He used to puzzle any who professed their
readiness for self-sacrifice by telling them it was not the so-
called tyrants who were so obnoxious, but the smug Philistines.
As a type of these he pointed to a Protestant parson, and
declared that he would not believe he had really reached the full
stature of a man until he saw him commit his own parsonage, with
his wife and child, to the flames.

I was all the more perplexed for a while, in the face of such
dreadful ideas, by the fact that Bakunin in other respects proved
a really amiable and tender-hearted man. He was fully alive to
my own anxiety and despair with regard to the risk I ran of
forever destroying my ideals and hopes for the future of art. It
is true, he declined to receive any further instruction
concerning these artistic schemes, and would not even look at my
work on the Nibelungen saga. I had just then been inspired by a
study of the Gospels to conceive the plan of a tragedy for the
ideal stage of the future, entitled Jesus of Nazareth. Bakunin
begged me to spare him any details; and when I sought to win him
over to my project by a few verbal hints, he wished me luck, but
insisted that I must at all costs make Jesus appear as a weak
character. As for the music of the piece, he advised me, amid all
the variations, to use only one set of phrases, namely: for the
tenor, 'Off with His head!'; for the soprano, 'Hang Him!'; and
for the basso continuo, 'Fire! fire!' And yet I felt more
sympathetically drawn towards this prodigy of a man when I one
day induced him to hear me play and sing the first scenes of my
Fliegender Hollander. After listening with more attention than
most people gave, he exclaimed, during a momentary pause, 'That
is stupendously fine!' and wanted to hear more.

As his life of permanent concealment was very dull, I
occasionally invited him to spend an evening with me...

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Jacques Roux
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Dec 27 2007 18:12
yoshomon wrote:
Finnish anarchist historian Ari Vakkilainen has speculated, that this was not the only time they shared bed..."
wagner wrote:
with whom I had meanwhile become more closely associated through strange and unusual circumstances,
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Tojiah
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Dec 27 2007 20:07

More important and much more troubling than any sexual liaison between Wagner and Bakunin (and, well, the way he describes him, I might have fallen for him, too embarrassed) is the latter's depiction as a fully developed National Socialist transplanted into the 19th century, albeit giving prominence to the Slav rather than to the Aryan race. eek
Are there any other sources confirming this aspect of his ideology?

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Felix Frost
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Dec 28 2007 02:01

Bakunin started out as a pan-Slavic nationalist, and didn't really embrace anarchism until the mid 1860's, about 15 years after the Dresden rebellion and his possible romantic affair with Wagner. I think it's fair to say that he never completely abandoned his earlier prejudices either.

As for other sources, you could start with what Bakunin himself wrote, like his Appeal to the Slavs

Quote:
We then met in Prague, like brothers who, after a long separation. came together to say to each other that their paths would never again lead them apart. Strongly animated by the common bonds of history and of blood, we vowed never to let our destinies divide us. We forswore the politics of the despots whose victims we had been for so long and ourselves established our right to absolute independence. We promised ourselves that this independence would be shared by all the Slav peoples. We recognized Bohemia and Moravia as nations. We rejected the absurd claims of the Frankfurt [parliament], which has now become the laughing-stock of Europe, which had wanted to make Germans of us all, while we stretched our fraternal hands out to the German people, to democratic Germany. In the name of the Slavs who lived in Hungary, we offered a fraternal alliance to the Magyars, those fiery enemies of our race, who with a total population of some four million wanted to enslave eight million Slavs. Nor did we forget, in our pact for liberation, those of our brothers who are groaning under Turkish domination. We solemnly condemned that criminal politics which thrice tore Poland asunder and now wants once more to rend its sad remainder. We expressed an ardent wish soon to see the resurrection of that noble and saintly martyred people as a sign of deliverance of all of us. Finally, we made a strong appeal to that great Russian people which, alone of all the Slavs, has been able to preserve its national existence. We entreated the Russians to give serious thought to what they know only too well – that their nationality and their greatness mean nothing so long as they themselves are not free, so long as they permit their power to be used as a scourge against unhappy Poland and as a perpetual threat to European civilization.
yoshomon
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Dec 28 2007 02:10
tojiah wrote:
More important and much more troubling than any sexual liaison between Wagner and Bakunin (and, well, the way he describes him, I might have fallen for him, too embarrassed) is the latter's depiction as a fully developed National Socialist transplanted into the 19th century, albeit giving prominence to the Slav rather than to the Aryan race. eek
Are there any other sources confirming this aspect of his ideology?

Is there a published collection of letters by either of them? I would love to find direct evidence of a love affair because actually nothing is more important than a possible sexual liaison between the two of them.

yoshomon
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Dec 28 2007 02:14

Also, at the suggestion of one of my coworkers I'm going to put together a radio show showcasing a combination of Wagner and klezmer music, and if I can find it - klezmer versions of Wagner pieces. Between songs I'll talk about Wagner and Bakunin locked together in sweaty nationalist passion. Hilarious!

ernie
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Dec 30 2007 14:26

A radioshow! How can we hear it? Bakunin and Wagner in sweaty nationalist passion, mind boggling.

yoshomon
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Jan 2 2008 14:51
ernie wrote:
A radioshow! How can we hear it? Bakunin and Wagner in sweaty nationalist passion, mind boggling.

If I do put the show together, I will post a link to listen on the web.

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 15:14

Anti-semite , eh?
So, who were responsible for the following statements? Clue, neither Wagner nor Bakunin. Note, the sexism in the first statement as icing on the cake
What was obviously fatal to Lassalle was that he didn’t immediately throw the creature on the bed at the boarding house and properly have his way with her, she didn’t want his beautiful mind but his Jewish rod. This is yet another affair that could only happen with Lassalle.”
"The most interesting acquaintanceship I have struck up here is that of Colonel Lapinski. He is without doubt the cleverest Pole - besides being an homme d'action [man of action] - that I have ever met. His sympathies are all on the German side, though in manners and speech he is also a Frenchman. He cares nothing for the struggle of nationalities and only knows the racial struggle. He hates all Orientals, among whom he numbers Russians Turks, Greeks, Armenians, etc., with equal impartiality.... His aim now is to raise a German legion in London, even if only 200 strong, so that he can confront the Russians in Poland with the black, red and gold flag, partly to 'exasperate' the Parisians, partly to see whether there is any possibility whatsoever of bringing the Germans in Germany back to their senses. What's lacking is money. Efforts are being made down here to exploit all the German societies, etc., to this end. You must be the best judge of whether anything can be done in this line in Manchester. The cause itself would seem to be above reproach.”
“This young lady, who instantly overwhelmed me with her kindness, is the ugliest creature I have seen in my entire life, with repulsive Jewish facial features.”
"Admittedly, little Jew Braun [Ferdinand Lassalle] hasn't written to me since my manuscript arrived, and that was over four weeks ago."
"The Lasalle manoeuvres have amused me greatly, the frizzy Jew-head now has to very charmingly distinguish himself in the red nightshirt and Marquis garb -- from which at every movement the Polish kike looks out. Seeing it must give the impression of louse-like repulsiveness."
"So we find that behind every tyrant stands a Jew just as there is a Jesuit behind every Pope. Truly, the lusts of the oppressors would be hopeless and the possibility of war unimaginable if it were not for an army of Jesuits to throttle thought and a handful of Jews to pick pockets"

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Anna
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Jan 2 2008 15:20

The same guy that called Lassalle a 'Jewish nigger'

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 15:25

Almost correct, except first statement is by a friend of the person you mentioned

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 15:29

You mean this , don't you?
"The Jewish nigger Lassalle who, I'm glad to say, is leaving at the end of this week, has happily lost another 5,000 talers in an ill-judged speculation. The chap would sooner throw money down the drain than lend it to a `friend', even though his interest and capital were guaranteed. In this he bases himself on the view that he ought to live the life of a Jewish baron.... And on top of it all, the sheer gluttony and wanton lechery of this `idealist'! It is now quite plain to me - as the shape of his head and the way his hair grows also testify - that he is descended from the negroes who accompanied Moses' flight from Egypt (unless his mother or paternal grandmother interbred with a nigger). Now, this blend of Jewishness and Germanness, on the one hand, and basic negroid stock, on the other, must inevitably give rise to a peculiar product. The fellow's importunity is also nigger-like".

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 15:31

Anyway, back on subject > If you get hold of E. H Carr's crap biography of Bakunin there is a section on Bakunin and Wagner

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Anna
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Jan 2 2008 15:40
Battlescarred wrote:
You mean this , don't you?
"The Jewish nigger Lassalle who, I'm glad to say, is leaving at the end of this week, has happily lost another 5,000 talers in an ill-judged speculation. The chap would sooner throw money down the drain than lend it to a `friend', even though his interest and capital were guaranteed. In this he bases himself on the view that he ought to live the life of a Jewish baron.... And on top of it all, the sheer gluttony and wanton lechery of this `idealist'! It is now quite plain to me - as the shape of his head and the way his hair grows also testify - that he is descended from the negroes who accompanied Moses' flight from Egypt (unless his mother or paternal grandmother interbred with a nigger). Now, this blend of Jewishness and Germanness, on the one hand, and basic negroid stock, on the other, must inevitably give rise to a peculiar product. The fellow's importunity is also nigger-like".

Yep

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 15:40

Bakunin round Mr and Mrs Wagner's for a nosh-up:
"As his life of permanent concealment was very dull, I occasionally invited him to spend an evening with me. For supper my wife set before him finely cut slices of sausage and meat, which he at once devoured wholesale, instead of spreading them frugally on his bread in Saxon fashion. Noticing Minna's alarm at this, I was guilty of the weakness of telling him how we were accustomed to consume such viands, whereupon he reassured me with a laugh, saying that it was quite enough, only he would like to eat what was set before him in his own way. I was similarly astonished at the manner in which he drank wine from our ordinary-sized small glasses. As a matter of fact he detested wine, which only satisfied his craving for alcoholic stimulants in such paltry, prolonged, and subdivided doses; whereas a stiff glass of brandy, swallowed at a gulp, at once produced the same result, which, after all, was only temporarily attained. Above all, he scorned the sentiment which seeks to prolong enjoyment by moderation, arguing that a true man should only strive to still the cravings of nature, and that the only real pleasure in life worthy of a man was love. "

yoshomon
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Jan 2 2008 16:12
Battlescarred wrote:
Anyway, back on subject > If you get hold of E. H Carr's crap biography of Bakunin there is a section on Bakunin and Wagner

Does the section imply romance or at least awkward sex?

yoshomon
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Jan 2 2008 16:12
Battlescarred wrote:
Anyway, back on subject > If you get hold of E. H Carr's crap biography of Bakunin there is a section on Bakunin and Wagner

Does the section imply romance or at least awkward sex?

Battlescarred
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Jan 2 2008 16:51

None of the above

yoshomon
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Jan 2 2008 17:53

I may have to resort to creating ficticious sources and embellishing what I have from Wagner's autobiography.