Non-Marxian Socialism ANARCHISM

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin  

By: Flavia Almeida

Bakunin is one of the most well known nineteenth century anarchists. Bakunin was born in 1814 to landowner parents in the province of Tver. When he was sent to the Artillery School in St. Petersburg the seed of revolt started germinating inside of him. He was later posted to a military unit on the Polish frontier. In 1835 Bakunin decided to abandon the unit without being given leave and he barely escaped imprisonment for desertion.

From 1835-1840 he began his studies of the German philosophers (Johann Fichte and Hegel). In Moscow he associated himself with V.G. Belinsky, Ivan Turgenev, and Aleksandr Herzen. By the end of 1940 Bakunin went to Berlin to complete his education. It was in Berlin that Bakunin joined the radical Young Hegelians and started publishing revolutionary credos in radical journals. After his first publication he was ordered back to Moscow, and when he refused his passport was confiscated.

After spending time in Switzerland and Belgium Bakunin set residence in Paris where he exchanged ideas with French and German socialists like Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and several Polish immigrants. He actively participated in the February Revolution of 1948 and after that traveled to Poland and Germany. He was in Prague in 1948 attending the Slav congress when Austrian troops bombarded the city. Following that he wrote his first manifesto ďAn Appeal to the SlavsĒ. In his manifesto he called to the peasants to act as the revolutionary force dismissing the bourgeoisie and proposed a free federation of the Slav people in Central Europe. He also called for the destruction of the Habsburg Empire.

In his next attempt at revolutionary action, the Dresden insurrection of May 1949, Bakunin was arrested. He was handed over to Austria where he endured a period of imprisonment before being passed on back to Russia. In the Russian prison he was forced to write a confession which contains statements of repentance and appeals for mercy. In his confession Bakuninís anti-Germanic sentiments are apparent as well as his devotion to the Slavs. Despite his confession Bakunin remained in prison for three more years but was released in 1957 and sent to live in Siberia. Because of family ties with the government of Eastern Siberia Bakunin managed to embark on an American ship and traveled via the United States to Great Britain.

In London Bakunin met up with Herzen, but by then their ideas were no longer compatible. Herzen was no longer an extreme radical and he could no longer stand Bakunin's irresponsibility. In 1863 Bakunin set for the Baltic with Polish volunteers to join the Polish insurrection. It was in Italy in 1864 that Bakunin defined his anarchist creed and began thc network of secret revolutionary societies that took up so much of his time.  

Bakunin joined the First International, an association of working class parties that wanted to transform capitalist societies into Socialist commonwealths and unite them in a world federation, in 1868. He joined the First International while simultaneously enrolling his followers in the secret Social Democratic Alliance. This caused Marx to throw Bakunin and his followers out of the First international and a great quarrel was established between the two personalities.  

Bakunin cried for the overthrow of the existing order by violent means, rejected political control, centralization and subordination to authority. Despite the fact that he formulated no coherent body of doctrine and left most of his works incomplete, Bakunin inspired many followers.


Cutler, Robert M., Bakunin: From Out of the Dusfnin

Kelly, Aileen, Mikhaii Bakunin: A Study in Psychology and Politics of Utopianism

Mendel, Arthur P., Michael Bakunin: Roots of Apocalypse

Saltman, Richard B., Michael Bakunin

Encyclopedia Americana, volume 3

Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 2




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