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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the trends of anarchism, linked with the name of M. A. Bakunin. The proponents of Bakuninism were spokesmen for petit bourgeois revolutionism, which was characterized by extreme individualism and the doctrine of absolute individual freedom. Along with the abolition of private property, the Bakuninists demanded the elimination of the state in any form (which they saw as the original cause of exploitation and inequality) and complete autonomy for small communes of producers, which were to be united in a free federation (this program was called social liquidation in the language of the Bakuninists). Bakunin and his followers emerged as outright opponents of the Marxist teaching of socialist revolution. They rejected all forms of working class struggle (political and economic) that did not lead directly to social liquidation, denied the necessity of creating an independent workers’ party, and promoted a voluntaristic conception of spontaneous uprising ( bunt), the motive forces of which were to be, along with the working class, the peasantry, the Lumpenproletariat, and student youth (the last-mentioned group being assigned the crucial role). Bakuninism was disseminated in the late 1860’s and 1870’s (especially after the Paris Commune) among the petite bourgeoisie and also among sections of the working class in then economically backward countries (such as Spain, Italy, southern France, and Romanic Switzerland), acquiring different shades and undergoing a marked evolution in the process. In Russia, Bakuninism influenced the formation of one of the strains in revolutionary populism (narodnichestvo).

Striving to implement their ideas, the Bakuninists created secret organizations that were cut off from the masses, totally centralized, and blindly obedient to the directives of a “center”; the most important of these organizations was the Alliance of Social Democracy. These organizations were called upon to establish their hegemony in the workers’ movement and lead the spontaneous uprising of the masses.

Rallying all anarchist forces, the Bakuninists engaged in divisive disorganizing activity in the First International. K. Marx, F. Engels, and their comrades-in-arms exposed this disorganizing activity and the petit bourgeois essence of the views of the Bakuninists, achieving the expulsion of their leaders from the International.

The struggle waged by Marxists for the creation of mass workers’ parties, the failure of anarchist actions—for example, during the Spanish Revolution, 1868–74—and the growth in class consciousness and organization of the working class brought about the rapid degeneration of Bakuninism into an insignificant sect, cut off from the masses, during the last quarter of the 19th century. At the same time, Bakuninism influenced the appearance of different currents that were anarchist and close to anarchist in nature (such as anarcho-syndicalism).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A manuscript of Borovoi's remarks that evening on the "worldwide-Historical Significance of Bakuninism," in conjunction with another article he published at approximately the same time, reflects the provocative nature of his approach to Bakunin throughout 1926.
Together with the memoirs by Sazhin, Nettlau's long biographical sketch of Bakunin complemented Borovoi's enthusiastic interpretation of Bakuninism, chiefly by exonerating Bakunin of his alleged infringements in the International.
The pending revival of an anarchist perspective may well have affected Polonskii's own strategy for the jubilee, for throughout 1926 Polonskii became increasingly critical of Bakunin's anarchism: whereas he had always rejected Bakuninism as a theoretical guide to revolutionary success, now he also began to dispute the long-accepted notion of anarchism's centrality and prominence in Bakunin's thought.
Bakunin" in 1917 proved to be correct on many questions and "foresaw better than Plekhanov the subsequent evolution of the German social democrats and the entire Second International." (74) Employing organic metaphors, Genkin argued that the anarchist "successors" of Bakunin acted as constructive "fermenting agents" in 1917 by preventing proletarians from settling into a "condition of orthodox inertia" and forcing them to search for an "antidote to the toxins [of opportunism] produced by the developing 'organism' of October." (75) But moments of nostalgia like these in the Soviet press ultimately failed to demonstrate the necessity for more Bakuninism in the contemporary, post-Lenin period, as the anarchists wished.