Bakunin, Mikhail (mēkhəyēlˈ bəkōˈnyĭn) [key], 1814–76, Russian revolutionary and leading exponent of anarchism. He came from an aristocratic family but entered upon revolutionary activities as a young man. He took part (1848–49) in the revolutions in France and Saxony and was sent back to Russia and exiled to Siberia. Escaping (1861), he went to London, where he worked with Aleksandr Herzen. In 1868, Bakunin became active in the First International, where, with his militant anarchist doctrines, he had great influence. These doctrines, however, brought him into conflict with Karl Marx, and he was expelled (1872). Bakunin believed that man is inherently virtuous and deserving of absolute freedom obtained through extreme individualism. He advocated violent overthrow of existing states and institutions as a necessary step to achieving such freedom. His writings include God and the State (1882, tr. 1893).
See studies by R. B. Saltman (1983) and A. Kelly (1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.