Mikhail Bakunin  

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"the passion for destruction is a creative passion"

This page Mikhail Bakunin is part of the anarchism series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page Mikhail Bakunin is part of the anarchism series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (30 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, and he gained substantial influence among radicals throughout Russia and Europe.

Bakunin studied 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."

When 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 his 1842 essay The Reaction in Germany, he argued in favor of the revolutionary role of negation, summed up in the phrase "the passion for destruction is a creative passion."

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