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Michael Bakunin

(1814—1876) Russian anarchist

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The most celebrated 19th-century anarchist, Bakunin was born in Russia of a cultivated and politically committed family. He studied in Moscow, where he came under the influence of the ideas of Fichte and of the ‘new Hegelian’ movement, with its emphasis on transformation through revolutionary destruction, a notion that held a permanent romantic appeal for Bakunin. After taking part in various of the 1848–9 revolutions in Europe, Bakunin was imprisoned in Russia, until he contrived to escape and return to Europe by way of the United States in 1861. In 1865 he established the International Brotherhood, a revolutionary and anarchistic society, in Naples. His political philosophy derives much from Proudhon, although he abjured the individualism of the latter, and was committed to collective ownership of the means of production. His disagreements with Marx stemmed from his prophetic view that putting the power of the state in the hands of the workers was as bad as putting it anywhere else. Bakunin's principal writings were topical and practical in their intent. They include the Appeal to the Slavs (1848), and the Revolutionary Catechism (1865), which was the manifesto of the International Brotherhood.

Subjects: Social sciences

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