Mikhail Bakunin

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Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin

Mikhail Bakunin
Born 30 May 1814
Pryamukhino, Russian Empire
Died 1 July 1876 (aged 62)
Berne, Switzerland
Known for Anarchist Movement

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (30 May 1814 – 1 July 1876) was a Russian anarchist. He was one of the early founders of anarchism.

History[change | change source]

Mikhail was born in the Russian Empire to a family of Russian nobles, He spent his youth as a junior officer in the Russian army but resigned his commission in 1835. He went to school in Moscow to study philosophy and began to attend radical groups where he was greatly influenced by Alexander Herzen. Bakunin left Russia in 1842 for Dresden, and eventually Paris where he met George Sand, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx

He was eventually deported from France for speaking against Russia's oppression of Poland. In 1849 he was apprehended in Dresden for his participation in the Czech rebellion of 1848. He was turned over to Russia where he was imprisoned in Peter-Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg. He remained there until 1857, when he was exiled to a work camp in Siberia.

He escaped to Japan, the U.S. and finally ended up in London for a short time, then Switzerland and Italy.

In 1868, Bakunin joined the socialist International Working Men's Association, a federation of trades union and workers' organizations. A showdown with Marx, a key figure in the General Council of the International, ended with Bakunin expelled for having a "secret organisation within the International".

The far larger Bakuninist international outlasted its small Marxist rival, which was isolated in New York. Bakunin promoted the basic ideas of syndicalism and of anarchism. From 1870 to 1876, Bakunin wrote some of his longer works, such as Statism and Anarchy and God and the State.

The Paris Commune fitted many elements of Bakunin's anarchist programme – self-management, mandates delegates, a militia system with elected officers, and decentralisation. Despite declining health, Bakunin also tried to join anarchists in Bologna, Italy, but was forced to return to Switzerland in disguise, where he settled in Lugano. He remained active in the worker's and peasant's movements of Europe and was also a major influence on movements in Egypt and Latin America.

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • God and the State, ISBN 0-486-22483-X
  • Bakunin on anarchism / edited, translated and with an introduction by Sam Dolgoff [1]; preface by Paul Avrich.—New York : Knopf, originally published in 1971 as Bakunin on anarchy. Includes James Guillaume’s Bakunin—A Biographical Sketch.[2]
  • Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, ed. A. Lehning. New York: Grove Press, 1974
  • Statism and Anarchy, Cambridge University Press 1991
  • No Gods No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism by Daniel Guérin
  • Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume 1: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939),[3] ed. Robert Graham
  • The Political Philosophy of Bakunin edited by G. P. Maximoff, including "Mikhail Bakunin—a Biographical Sketch" by Max Nettlau
  • The Basic Bakunin: Writings 1869-1871, ed. Robert M. Cutler (New York: Prometheus Books, 1992)
  • Mikhail Bakunin: The Philosophical Basis of his Anarchism, by Paul McLaughlin. New York: Algora Publishing, 2002, Paperback Edition ISBN 1-892941-84-8

Other websites[change | change source]