Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary[1] anarchist doctrine that advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production as it instead envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves.

For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production.[1] Once collectivization takes place, money would be abolished to be replaced with labour notes and workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations of voluntary membership based on job difficulty and the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market.[2] This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need". Thus notwithstanding the title, Mikhail Bakunin's "collectivist anarchism" is seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism.[3]

Collectivist anarchism is most commonly associated with Bakunin, the anti-authoritarian sections of the First International and the early Spanish anarchist movement.

First International

Collectivist anarchist Mikhail Bakunin

Giuseppe Fanelli met Bakunin at Ischia in 1866.[4] In October 1868, Bakunin sponsored Fanelli to travel to Barcelona to share his libertarian visions and recruit revolutionists to the International Workingmen's Association.[5] Fanelli's trip and the meeting he organised during his travels provided the catalyst for the Spanish exiles, the largest workers' and peasants' movement in modern Spain and the largest Anarchist movement in modern Europe.[6] Fanelli's tour took him first to Barcelona, where he met and stayed with Elie Recluse.[6] Recluse and Fanelli were at odds over Recluse's friendships with Spanish republicans and Fanelli soon left Barcelona for Madrid.[6] Fanelli stayed in Madrid until the end of January 1869, conducting meetings to introduce Spanish workers, including Anselmo Lorenzo, to the First National.[7] In February 1869, Fanelli left Madrid, journeying home via Barcelona.[4] While in Barcelona again, he met with painter Josep Lluís Pellicer and his cousin Rafael Farga Pellicer along with others who were to play an important role establishing the International in Barcelona[4] as well as the Alliance section.

In 1870, Bakunin led a failed uprising in Lyon on the principles later exemplified by the Paris Commune, calling for a general uprising in response to the collapse of the French government during the Franco-Prussian War, seeking to transform an imperialist conflict into social revolution. In his Letters to A Frenchman on the Present Crisis, he argued for a revolutionary alliance between the working class and the peasantry, advocated a system of militias with elected officers as part of a system of self-governing communes and workplaces and argued the time was ripe for revolutionary action:

[W]e must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda.[8]

These ideas and corresponded strikingly closely with the program of the Paris Commune of 1871, much of which was developed by followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon as Marxists were almost entirely absent from the Commune. Bakunin was a strong supporter of the Commune, which was brutally suppressed by the French government. He saw the Commune as above all a "rebellion against the State" and commended the Communards for rejecting not only the state, but also revolutionary dictatorship.[9] In a series of powerful pamphlets, he defended the Commune and the First International against the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini, thereby winning over many Italian republicans to the International and the cause of revolutionary socialism. The collectivist anarchists at first used the term "collectivism" to distinguish themselves from the mutualism of the followers of Proudhon and the state socialists associated with Karl Marx. Bakunin wrote that "we shall always protest against anything that may in any way resemble communism or state socialism", which Bakunin regarded as fundamentally authoritarian ("Federalism, Socialism, and Anti-Theologism", 1867).[10]

Bakunin's disagreements with Marx, which led to the attempt by the Marx party to expel him at the Hague Congress (see below), illustrated the growing divergence between the anti-authoritarian sections of the International, which advocated the direct revolutionary action and organization of the workers and peasants in order to abolish the state and capitalism; and the sections allied with Marx, which advocated the conquest of political power by the working class. Bakunin was "Marx’s flamboyant chief opponent" and "presciently warned against the emergence of a communist authoritarianism that would take power over working people".[11]

The anti-authoritarian majority, which included most sections of the International, created their own First International at the St. Imier Congress, adopted a revolutionary anarchist program and repudiated the Hague resolutions, rescinding Bakunin's alleged expulsion.[12] Although Bakunin accepted elements of Marx’s class analysis and theories regarding capitalism, acknowledging "Marx’s genius", he thought Marx's analysis was one-sided and that Marx's methods would compromise the social revolution. More importantly, Bakunin criticized "authoritarian socialism" (which he associated with Marxism) and the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat which he adamantly refused.

If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.[13]

The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International proclaimed at the St. Imier Congress (1872) that "the aspirations of the proletariat can have no purpose other than the establishment of an absolutely free economic organization and federation, founded upon the labour and equality of all and absolutely independent of all political government", in which each worker will have the "right to the enjoyment of the gross product of his labours and thereby the means of developing his full intellectual, material and moral powers in a collective setting". This revolutionary transformation could "only be the outcome of the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, its trades bodies and the autonomous communes".[14] A similar position was adopted by the Workers' Federation of the Spanish Region in 1882 as articulated by an anarchist veteran of the First International, Jose Llunas Pujols, in his essay "Collectivism".[14]

By the early 1880s, most of the European anarchist movement had adopted an anarchist communist position, advocating the abolition of wage labour and distribution according to need. Ironically, the "collectivist" label then became more commonly associated with Marxist state socialists who advocated the retention of some sort of wage system during the transition to full communism. The anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin attacked this position in his essay "The Collectivist Wages System", which was reprinted in his book The Conquest of Bread in 1892.


Bakunin speaking
Bakunin speaking to members of the IWA at the Basel Congress in 1869

Bakunin's socialism was known as "collectivist anarchism", where "socially: it seeks the confirmation of political equality by economic equality. This is not the removal of natural individual differences, but equality in the social rights of every individual from birth; in particular, equal means of subsistence, support, education and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity and equal resources, and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor".[15]

Collectivist anarchism advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. It instead envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves. For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production.[1] Once collectivization takes place, money would be abolished to be replaced with labour notes and workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on job difficulty and the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market.[2]

Critique of Marxism

The dispute between Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx highlighted the differences between anarchism and Marxism. Bakunin argued—against certain ideas of a number of Marxists—that not all revolutions need to be violent. He also strongly rejected Marx's concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat", a concept that vanguardist socialism including Marxist–Leninism would use to justify one-party rule from above by a party representing the proletariat.[16] Bakunin insisted that revolutions must be led by the people directly while any "enlightened elite" must only exert influence by remaining "invisible...not imposed on anyone...[and] deprived of all official rights and significance".[17] He held that the state should be immediately abolished because all forms of government eventually lead to oppression.[16] Libertarian Marxists argue Marx used the phrase to mean the worker control at the point of production, not a party, would still be a state until society is reorganized according to socialist principles.

They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship—their dictatorship, of course—can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up.

— Mikhail Bakunin, Statism and Anarchism[18]

While both social anarchists and Marxists share the same final goal, the creation of a free, egalitarian society without social classes and government, they strongly disagree on how to achieve this goal. Anarchists believe that the classless, stateless society should be established by the direct action of the masses, culminating in social revolution; and refuse any intermediate stage such as the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis that such a dictatorship will become a self-perpetuating fundament. For Bakunin, the fundamental contradiction is that for the Marxists "anarchism or freedom is the aim, while the state and dictatorship is the means, and so, in order to free the masses, they have first to be enslaved".[19]

However, Bakunin also wrote of meeting Marx in 1844:

As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical observations... He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.[20]

Bakunin found Marx's economic analysis very useful and began the job of translating Das Kapital into Russian. In turn, Marx wrote of the rebels in the Dresden insurrection of 1848 that "[i]n the Russian refugee Michael Bakunin they found a capable and cool headed leader".[21] Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels of meeting Bakunin in 1864 after his escape to Siberia, saying: "On the whole he is one of the few people whom I find not to have retrogressed after 16 years, but to have developed further".[22]

Bakunin has sometimes been called the first theorist of the "new class", meaning that a class of intellectuals and bureaucrats running the state in the name of the people or the proletariat—but in reality in their own interests alone. Bakunin argued that the "[s]tate has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls—or, if you will, rises—to the position of a machine".

Bakunin also had a different view as compared to Marx's on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat and the proletariat. As such, "[b]oth agreed that the proletariat would play a key role, but for Marx the proletariat was the exclusive, leading revolutionary agent while Bakunin entertained the possibility that the peasants and even the lumpenproletariat (the unemployed, common criminals, etc.) could rise to the occasion".[23] Bakunin "considers workers' integration in capital as destructive of more primary revolutionary forces. For Bakunin, the revolutionary archetype is found in a peasant milieu (which is presented as having longstanding insurrectionary traditions, as well as a communist archetype in its current social form—the peasant commune) and amongst educated unemployed youth, assorted marginals from all classes, brigands, robbers, the impoverished masses, and those on the margins of society who have escaped, been excluded from, or not yet subsumed in the discipline of emerging industrial short, all those whom Marx sought to include in the category of the lumpenproletariat".[24]

Statism and Anarchy
Statism and Anarchy by Bakunin, Russian first print (1873)

Comparison with anarcho-communism

The difference between collectivist anarchism and anarcho-communism is that under the former a wage system is retained based on the amount of labor performed. Anarchist communism, like collectivist anarchism, also advocates for the socialization of production, but the distribution of goods as well. Instead of "to each according to his labor", in anarcho-communism the community would supply the subsistence requirements to each member free of charge according to the maxim "to each according to his needs".[25]

Collectivist anarchism stresses collective ownership of productive, subsistence and distributary property while communist anarchism negates the concept of ownership in favor of usage or possession with productive means being a possession not owned by any individual or particular group. Anarcho-communists believe that subsistence, productive and distributive property should be common or social possessions while personal property should be private possessions. Collectivist anarchists agree with this, but disagree on the subject of remuneration as some collectivist anarchists, such as Mikhail Bakunin, believe in the remuneration of labor while anarcho-communists, such as Peter Kropotkin, believe that such remuneration would lead to the recreation of currency and that this would need a state. It could thus be said that collectivist anarchists believe in freedom through collective ownership of production and a communal market of sorts to distribute goods and services and compensate workers in the form of remuneration. Collectivist anarchism could thus be seen as a combination of communism and mutualism.

Collectivist anarchists are not necessarily opposed to the use of currency, but some while opposing the retaining of money—propose the adoption of labour vouchers or "personal credit" (such as participatory economists). Most collectivist anarchists see their philosophy as a carryover to anarcho-communist, but some see the system and the use of a labour voucher system as permanent rather than a transition. Collectivist anarchist James Guillaume argued that such a society would "guarantee the mutual use of the tools of production which are the property of each of these groups and which will by a reciprocal contract become the collective property of the whole [...] federation. In this way, the federation of groups will be able to [...] regulate the rate of production to meet the fluctuating needs of society".[26] They argue for workplace autonomy and self-management "the workers in the various factories have not the slightest intention of handing over their hard-won control of the tools of production to a superior power calling itself the 'corporation'".[27]

An Anarchist FAQ compares and contrasts collectivist anarchism with anarcho-communism this way:

The major difference between collectivists and communists is over the question of "money" after a revolution. Anarcho-communists consider the abolition of money to be essential, while anarcho-collectivists consider the end of private ownership of the means of production to be the key. As Kropotkin noted, "[collectivist anarchism] express[es] a state of things in which all necessaries for production are owned in common by the labour groups and the free communes, while the ways of retribution [i.e. distribution] of labour, communist or otherwise, would be settled by each group for itself."[28] Thus, while communism and collectivism both organise production in common via producers' associations, they differ in how the goods produced will be distributed. Communism is based on free consumption of all while collectivism is more likely to be based on the distribution of goods according to the labour contributed. However, most anarcho-collectivists think that, over time, as productivity increases and the sense of community becomes stronger, money will disappear.[29]


Application of many collectivist anarchists projects have been successful[30] as sources during the Spanish Revolution noted in the Catalan region:

In distribution the collectives' co-operatives eliminated middlemen, small merchants, wholesalers, and profiteers, thus greatly reducing consumer prices. The collectives eliminated most of the parasitic elements from rural life, and would have wiped them out altogether if they were not protected by corrupt officials and by the political parties. Non-collectivised areas benefited indirectly from the lower prices as well as from free services often rendered by the collectives (laundries, cinemas, schools, barber and beauty parlours, etc.)[31]

Tom Wetzel describes another collectivization:

Another industry that was totally re-organized was hair-cutting. Before July 19th, there had been 1,100 hairdressing parlors in Barcelona, most of them extremely marginal. The 5,000 assistant hairdressers were among the lowest-paid workers in Barcelona. The Generalitat had decreed a 40-hour week and 15 percent wage increase after July 19th—one of the Esquerra’s attempts to woo worker support. This spelled ruin for many hairdressing shops. A general assembly was held and it was agreed to shut down all the unprofitable shops. The 1,100 shops were replaced by a network of 235 neighborhood haircutting centers, with better equipment and lighting than the old shops. Due to the efficiencies gained, it was possible to raise wages by 40 percent. The entire network was run through assemblies of the CNT barber’s union. The former owners became members of the union.[30]


See also


  • Bookchin, Murray (1998), The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868–1936, Canada: AK Press, ISBN 1-873176-04-X
  1. ^ a b c Patsouras, Louis. 2005. Marx in Context. iUniverse. p. 54
  2. ^ a b Bakunin Mikail. Bakunin on Anarchism. Black Rose Books. 1980. p. 369
  3. ^ Morriss, Brian. Bakukunin: The Philosophy of Freedom. Black Rose Books Ltd., 1993. p. 115
  4. ^ a b c Bookchin 1998, p. 14.
  5. ^ Bookchin 1998, pp. 12–15.
  6. ^ a b c Bookchin 1998, p. 12.
  7. ^ Bookchin 1998, p. 13.
  8. ^ Letters to a Frenchman on the Present Crisis, Mikhail Bakunin, 1870
  9. ^ The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State, Mikhail Bakunin, 1871
  10. ^ Bakunin, Mikhail. "Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism by Michael Bakunin". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  11. ^ Verslius, Arthur (2005-06-20) Death of the Left?, The American Conservative
  12. ^ Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE to 1939), Robert Graham, Black Rose Books, March 2005
  13. ^ Quoted in Daniel Guerin, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970), pp. 25–26.
  14. ^ a b No profile created for this contactAnarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One |. Black Rose Books. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  15. ^ Revolutionary Catechism, Mikhail Bakunin, 1866
  16. ^ a b Woodcock, George (1962, 1975). Anarchism, p. 158. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-020622-1.
  17. ^ Was Bakunin a secret authoritarian?,, retrieved 2009-09-08
  18. ^ Anarchist Theory FAQ Version 5.2,, retrieved 2009-09-08
  19. ^ Mikhail Bakunin, Works of Mikhail Bakunin 1873,, retrieved 2009-09-08
  20. ^ Quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p. 14
  21. ^ New York Daily Tribune (October 2, 1852) on 'Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany'
  22. ^ Quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p. 29
  23. ^ ""Marxism and Anarchism: The Philosophical Roots of the Marx-Bakunin Conflict – Part Two" by Ann Robertson" (PDF). Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  24. ^ Nicholas Thoburn. "The lumpenproletariat and the proletarian unnameable" in Deleuze, Marx and Politics.
  25. ^ This paragraph sourced by Shatz, Marshall; Guess, Raymond; Skinner, Quentin. The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings. Cambridge University Press. p. xvi
  26. ^ James Guillaume. Bakunin on Anarchism. p. 376.
  27. ^ James Guillaume. Bakunin on Anarchism. p. 364.
  28. ^ Anarchism. p. 295.
  29. ^ A.3 What types of anarchism are there?
  30. ^ a b "Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution," by Tom Wetzel,
  31. ^ The Anarchist Collectives, p. 114

External links

Adhémar Schwitzguébel

Adhémar Schwitzguébel (August 15, 1844, in Sonvilier – July 23, 1895, Evilard) was a Swiss anarchist, theorist of collectivist anarchism, founder of the Jura Federation, and member of the First International.

Anarchist St. Imier International

The Anarchist International of St. Imier was an international workers' organization formed in 1872 after the split in the First International between the anarchists and the Marxists. This followed the 'expulsions' of Mikhail Bakunin and James Guillaume from the First International at the Hague Congress (1872). It attracted some affiliates of the First International, repudiated the Hague resolutions, and adopted a Bakuninist programme, and lasted until 1877.

Anarchist economics

Anarchist economics is the set of theories and practices of economic activity within the political philosophy of anarchism. With the exception of anarcho-capitalists who accept private ownership of the means of production, anarchists are anti-capitalists. They argue that its characteristic institutions promote and reproduce various forms of economic activity which they consider oppressive, including private property, hierarchical production relations, collecting rents from private property, taking a profit in exchanges and collecting interest on loans. They generally endorse possession-based ownership rather than propertarianism.

Anarchist schools of thought

Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds ruling classes and the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations. However, anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism. Strains of anarchism have often been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications. Anarchism is often considered a radical left-wing ideology and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism or participatory economics. At some point "the collectivist, communist, and liberal and individualist strands of thought from which anarchists drew their inspiration began to assume an increasingly distinctive quality, supporting the rise of a number of anarchist schools". Anthropologist David Graeber has noted that while the major schools of Marxism always have founders (e.g. Leninism, Trotskyism and Maoism), schools of anarchism "almost invariably emerge from some kind of organizational principle or form of practice", citing anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchism and platformism as examples.

Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

Anarcho-Syndicalist Review (formerly the Libertarian Labor Review) is an American anarchist magazine, published three times a year, which focuses on anarcho-syndicalist theory and practice.

Awareness League

The Awareness League (AL) is a Nigerian anarchist organisation active since the 1990s, estimated to have had several thousand members at one time in its history. The Awareness League has gone through several periods of repression, making its own organizational efforts and continuity sporadic, as well as communications with the rest of the anarchist movement. AL was known to be anarcho-syndicalist in orientation, having joined the IWA-AIT at its Madrid congress in December, 1996.

The membership of the AL was primarily students, professors, university teachers, journalists, and other activists on the Nigerian left. Its militants have been active in several public service strikes.

Sam Mbah, author of African Anarchism: History of a Movement, was an active member in AL.

Black Hand (anarchism)

The Black Hand (Spanish: La Mano Negra) was a presumed secret, anarchist organization based in the Andalusian region of Spain and best known as the perpetrators of murders, arson, and crop fires in the early 1880s. The events associated with the Black Hand took place in 1882 and 1883 amidst class struggle in the Andalusian countryside, the spread of anarcho-communism distinct from collectivist anarchism, and differences between legalists and illegalists in the Federación de Trabajadores de la Región Española.

Consequentialist libertarianism

Consequentialist libertarianism (also known as libertarian consequentialism or consequentialist liberalism, in Europe) refers to the libertarian position that is supportive of a free market and strong private property rights only on the grounds that they bring about favorable consequences, such as prosperity or efficiency.

Francisco Ascaso

Francisco Ascaso Abadía (Almudévar April 1, 1901 – Barcelona July 20, 1936) was a prominent Anarcho-syndicalist figure in Spain.

He was a cousin of Joaquín Ascaso, the President of the Regional Defence Council of Aragon.

Josep Llunas i Pujals

Josep Llunas i Pujals (1852 Reus, Tarragona - 1905 Barcelona) was a Catalán libertarian and free-thinker. He was the principal promoter and doctrinal theorist of anarchist proto-syndicalism, which formed the basis of Twentieth Century Catalan Anarcho-syndicalism. He was also a primary advocate of Collectivist Anarchism.


Left-libertarianism, also known as left-wing libertarianism, names several related yet distinct approaches to political and social theory which stress both individual freedom and social equality. In its classical usage, left-libertarianism is a synonym for anti-authoritarian varieties of left-wing politics, e.g. libertarian socialism, which includes anarchism and libertarian Marxism among others. Left-libertarianism can also refer to political positions associated with academic philosophers Hillel Steiner, Philippe Van Parijs and Peter Vallentyne that combine self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources.While maintaining full respect for personal property, left-libertarians are skeptical of or fully against private ownership of natural resources, arguing in contrast to right-libertarians that neither claiming nor mixing one's labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights and maintain that natural resources (raw land, oil, gold, the electromagnetic spectrum, air-space and so on) should be held in an egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Those left-libertarians who support private property do so under the condition that recompense is offered to the local or even global community.On the other hand, left-wing market anarchism, which includes Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's mutualism and Samuel Edward Konkin III's agorism, appeals to left-wing concerns such as egalitarianism, gender and sexuality, class, immigration and environmentalism within the paradigm of a socialist free market. In the United States, the word "libertarian" has become associated with right-libertarianism after Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess reached out to the New Left in the 1960s. However, until then political usage of the word was associated exclusively with anti-capitalism and in most parts of the world such an association still predominates.

Left anarchism

The terms left anarchism and left-wing anarchism distinguish collectivist anarchism from laissez-faire anarchism and right-libertarian philosophies.Left anarchists refer to philosophies which posit a future society in which private property is replaced by reciprocity and non-hierarchical society.The term "left anarchism" is sometimes used synonymously with libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism or social anarchism. More traditional anarchists typically discourage the concept of "left-wing" theories of anarchism on grounds of redundancy and that it lends legitimacy to the notion that anarchism is compatible with capitalism or nationalism.Ulrike Heider, a syndicalist, categorized anarchism into left anarchism, right anarchism (anarcho-capitalism) and green anarchism.

Mikhail Bakunin

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (; 30 May [O.S. 18 May] 1814 – 1 July 1876) was a Russian revolutionary anarchist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is considered among the most influential figures of anarchism and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition. Bakunin's enormous prestige as an activist made him one of the most famous ideologues in Europe, gaining substantial influence among radicals throughout Russia and Europe.

Bakunin grew up in Pryamukhino, a family estate in Tver Governorate, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopédistes, leading to enthusiasm for the philosophy of Fichte. From Fichte, Bakunin went on to immerse himself in the works of Hegel, the most influential thinker among German intellectuals at the time. That led to his embrace of Hegelianism, bedazzled by Hegel's famous maxim: "Everything that exists is rational". In 1840, Bakunin traveled to Saint Petersburg and Berlin with the intention of preparing himself for a professorship in philosophy or history at the University of Moscow. In 1842, Bakunin moved from Berlin to Dresden. Eventually he arrived in Paris, where he met Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx.

Bakunin's increasing radicalism—including staunch opposition to imperialism in east and central Europe by Russia and other powers—changed his life, putting an end to hopes of a professorial career. He was eventually deported from France for speaking against Russia's oppression of Poland. In 1849, Bakunin was apprehended in Dresden for his participation in the Czech rebellion of 1848 and turned over to Russia where he was imprisoned in the Peter-Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg. He remained there until 1857, when he was exiled to a work camp in Siberia. Bakunin escaped to Japan, then made his way to the United States and eventually London, where he worked with Alexander Herzen on the journal Kolokol (The Bell). In 1863, he left to join the insurrection in Poland, but he failed to reach his destination and instead spent some time in Switzerland and Italy.

In 1868, Bakunin joined the socialist International Working Men's Association, a federation of trade unions and workers' organizations, which had sections in many European countries as well as in Latin America and (after 1872) in North Africa and the Middle East. The Bakuninist or anarchist trend rapidly expanded in influence, especially in Spain, which constituted the largest section of the International at the time. A showdown loomed with Marx, who was a key figure in the General Council of the International. The 1872 Hague Congress was dominated by a struggle between Marx and his followers, who argued for the use of the state to bring about socialism; and the Bakunin/anarchist faction, which argued instead for the replacement of the state by federations of self-governing workplaces and communes. Bakunin could not attend the congress as he could not reach the Netherlands. Bakunin's faction present at the conference lost and Bakunin was (in Marx's view) expelled for supposedly maintaining a secret organisation within the international.

From 1870 to 1876, Bakunin wrote some of his longer works, such as Statism and Anarchy and God and the State. However, Bakunin remained a direct participant in struggles. In 1870, he was involved in an insurrection in Lyon, France, which foreshadowed the Paris Commune. The Paris Commune closely corresponded to many elements of Bakunin's anarchist programme—self-management, mandates delegates, a militia system with elected officers and decentralisation. Anarchists like Élisée Reclus and those in the tradition of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon—who had greatly influenced Bakunin—were key figures in the Commune. Despite declining health, much a result of his years of imprisonment, Bakunin also sought to take part in a communal insurrection involving anarchists in Bologna, Italy, but was forced to return to Switzerland in disguise, where he settled in Lugano. He remained active in the workers' and peasants' movements of Europe and was also a major influence on movements in Egypt and Latin America.

Pierre Besnard

Pierre Besnard (8 October 1886 – 19 February 1947) was a French revolutionary syndicalist. He was the Secretary of the Confédération Générale du Travail-Syndicaliste Révolutionnaire (CGT-SR) from 1929, and the Secretary of the International Workers' Association.

Social anarchism

Social anarchism (sometimes referred to as socialist anarchism, anarcho-cooperativism or anarcho-socialism) is a non-state form of socialism and is considered to be the branch of anarchism that sees individual freedom as being interrelated with mutual aid.Social anarchist thought emphasizes community and social equality as complementary to autonomy and personal freedom through norms maintained, such as freedom of speech, in a decentralized federalism, balanced with freedom of interaction in thought as well as incorporating the concept of subsidiarity "that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry" and that "[f]or every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, [should] never destroy and absorb them", or simply the slogan "Do not take tools out of people's hands".Social anarchism is also advocated that the conversion of a proportion of present-day and future productive private property be made into social property to offer individual empowerment through easier access to such as tools or parts, or a sharing of the commons while retaining respect for personal property. The term is used to describe the theory—contra individualist anarchism—that places an emphasis on the communitarian and cooperative aspects in anarchist theory while also opposing authoritarian forms of communitarianism associated with groupthink and collective conformity and instead favouring a reconciliation between individuality and sociality. Illegitimate authority is removed through inspection and vigilance. While self-determination is asserted as is worker's self-management and education and empowerment emphasized, both individually and through interaction with the community, a do-it-youself (DIY) mentality is combined with educational efforts within the social realm.

Social anarchism is considered an umbrella term that includes—but is not limited to—the post-capitalist economic models of anarcho-communism, collectivist anarchism and sometimes mutualism, or even non-state controlled federated guild socialism dual power industrial democracy or federated cooperatives in addition to workers' and consumers' councils, replacing much of the present state system yet still retaining basic rights as well as the trade union approach of anarcho-syndicalism, the social struggle strategies of platformism and specifism and the environmental philosophy of social ecology.

The term "social anarchism" is often used interchangeably with libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism or left anarchism. It emerged in the late 19th century as a distinction from individualist anarchism.

Statism and Anarchy

Statism and Anarchy (Russian: Государственность и анархия, Gosudarstvennost' i anarkhiia, literally "Statehood and Anarchy") was the last work by the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. Written in the summer of 1873, the key themes of the work are: the likely impact on Europe of the Franco-Prussian war and the rise of the German Empire, Bakunin's view of the weaknesses of the Marxist position, and an affirmation of anarchism. Statism and Anarchy was the only one of Bakunin's major anarchist works to be written in Russian and was primarily aimed at a Russian audience, with an initial print run of 1,200 copies printed in Switzerland and smuggled into Russia.Marshall Shatz writes that Statism and Anarchy: "helped to lay the foundations of a Russian anarchist movement as a separate current within the revolutionary stream."

Walery Mroczkowski

Walery Karłowicz Mroczkowski, born 1840 in Olonets, Russian Republic of Karelia - died 1889 in Paris, was a Polish insurgent in the 1863 January Uprising. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Prussian authorities. Upon release in 1865, he was sent into exile and travelled to Italy, Switzerland, London and finally settled in France. While in Florence he met Mikhail Bakunin and became an anarchist and a member of the latter's close circle. He is also known as a portrait photographer in France, working under the pseudonym, "Ostroga" or "Valerien Ostroga".

Workers' Solidarity Alliance

Workers' Solidarity Alliance (WSA) is an American anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian group designed to help establish member-managed organizations in the workplace and community. It was founded in 1984, is based in New York, and produces a journal, Ideas & Action.The Workers' Solidarity Alliance website states that the WSA believes "that working people can build a new society and a better world based on the principles of solidarity and self-management", and "that such a society will be brought about only by working people building their own self-managed mass organizations from the ground up".

Workers' council

A workers' council is a form of political and economic organization in which a single local administrative division, such as a municipality or a county, is governed by a council made up of temporary and instantly revocable delegates elected in the region's workplaces.

A variation is a soldiers' council, when the delegates are chosen amongst (mutinous) soldiers. A mix of workers and soldiers also existed (like the 1918 German Arbeiter- und Soldatenrat).

In a system with temporary and instantly revocable delegates, workers decide on what their agenda is and what their needs are. They also mandate a temporary delegate to divulge and pursue them. The temporary delegates are elected among the workers themselves, can be instantly revoked if they betray their mandate, and are supposed to change frequently. The delegates act as messengers, carrying and interchanging the intention of the groups of workers.

On a larger scale, a group of delegates may in turn elect a delegate in a higher position to pursue their mandate, and so on, until the top delegates are running the industrial system of a state. In such a system, decision power rises from bottom to top from the agendas of the workers themselves, and there is no decision imposition from the top, as would happen in the case of a power seizure by a bureaucratic layer that is immune to instant revocation.

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