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The Flow of Ideas

Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to the Religious-Philosophical Renaissance


Andrzej Walicki

This history of Russian thought was first published in Polish in 1973 and subsequently appeared 2005 in a revised and expanded publication. The current volume begins with Enlightenment thought and Westernization in Russia in the 17th century and moves to the religious-philosophical renaissance of first decade of the 20th century. This book provides readers with an exhaustive account of relationships between various Russian thinkers with an examination of how those thinkers relate to a number of figures and trends in Western philosophy and in the broader history of ideas.
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Chapter 14: Anarchism


Chapter 14Anarchism

Besides Populism, another characteristic product of radical and socialist thought in Russia in the second half of the 19th century was anarchism. Both trends overlapped in a number of ways: the outstanding theorist and leader of international anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin, was also one of the men who inspired Populism; and Petr Kropotkin was a member of the Populist revolutionary movement in his youth.1 Populism, however, developed on its home ground alone and was concerned with specifically Russian problems, whereas the Russian theorists of anarchism were active in the international workers’ movement. For the anarchists, the most important problem was the abolition of the state; whereas for the Populists, the chief enemy was capitalism, and their main theoretical interest was in proving that Russia need not necessarily become capitalist. Therefore, though the two trends could appear together, they were not bound to do so. Even in the 1870s, when Bakunin’s influence in the Russian revolutionary movement was at its height, there was a Populist grouping (G. Z. Eliseev, followed by V. Vorontsov and the “Legal” Populists) that thought capitalism could be fought by means of increased state interference in the social and economic sector, a postulate that was quite incompatible with anarchist tenets. ← 413 | 414 →

Mikhail Bakunin

Biographical Note

As we found elsewhere, the first philosophical period in Bakunin’s life came to a close with his famous article “The Reaction in Germany,” which argued the need for the total revolutionary destruction...

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