Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to the Religious-Philosophical Renaissance
Chapter 14: Anarchism
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 →
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...