Mikhail Bakunin

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Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (30 May 1814 – 1 July 1876) was an influential Russian revolutionary social anarchist.


Born an aristocrat, in his youth he was attracted to the idealist philosophies of Kant, Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel. He begged to be allowed to study philosophy in Germany; once there he encountered the Left Hegelians and soon devoted himself to promoting political and social revolution. After escaping exile in Siberia, where he was sent as punishment for promoting the revolution against the Russian government, he “converted” to anarchism in 1865 and helped to formulate many of the philosophical principles of modern anarchism. Politically he rejected every form of government and external authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or from universal suffrage. He also rejected the notion of any privileged position or class, instead theorizing a “new class” of administrators who would be nothing more than servants of society. His philosophy of anarchism was based on interrelated concepts of liberty, socialism, federalism, anti-theism, and materialism. He proposed collectivist anarchism, in which state and private ownership of the means of production would be abolished, and the means of production would instead be owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers. Although Bakunin accepted Marx’s class analysis and economic theories regarding capitalism, he criticized “authoritarian socialism” (Marxism) and the concept of “dictatorship of the proletariat,” predicting that if the Marxists were successful in seizing power, they would create a party dictatorship "all the more dangerous because it appears as a sham expression of the people's will," which in fact became a reality in many socialist countries. Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was born May 30, 1814, to an aristocratic family in the village of Pryamukhino (Прямухино) between Torzhok (Торжок) and Kuvshinovo (Кувшиново), in Tver guberniya, northwest of Moscow, Russia. At the age of fourteen he went to St. Petersburg for military training at the Artillery University. He completed his studies in 1832, and in 1834 was commissioned a junior officer in the Russian Imperial Guard and sent to Minsk and Gardinas in Lithuania (now Belarus). That summer, Bakunin became embroiled in a family argument, taking his sister’s side when she rebelled against an unhappy marriage. Though his father wished him to continue in either the military or the civil service, Bakunin abandoned both in 1835, and made his way to Moscow, hoping to study philosophy.[1]

Bakunin was an opponent of Karl Marx and Marxism and predicted correctly that Marxist regimes would be one-party dictatorships. The conflict caused the split of the First International. Regardless, Bakunin also supported revolutionary violence against opponents and his views have influenced social anarchist violence, assassinations and criminality.

"Note that Bakunin is well aware that Marx had a large Jewish following—that the Jewish world was split between Marx and Rothschild. Bakunin rejected Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat because it demanded centralization of state power, which would lead to control by a small elite. They were constantly at odds with each other; Bakunin was always demanding a “decentralized confederacy of autonomous communes,” while Marx would assail Bakunin by advocating proletarian dictatorship. After Marx’s supporters and Bakunin’s anarchist faction clashed at the Hague Congress in 1872, Marx personally ordered Bakunin’s expulsion from the First International."[2]

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