Andrei Teslya 1
  • 1 Pacific National University, 136 Tihookeanskaya Street, Khabarovsk, 680035, Russia

On the Concept of “Federalism” in Socio-Political Theories of Mikhail Bakunin

2015, vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 136–152 [issue contents]
Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876) is considered one of the founders of international anarchism and theoreticians of federalism. This paper explores the transformations of the concept of “federalism” in Bakunin’s works from the end of the 1840s until the last years of his life. According to the conventional understanding of the evolution of Bakunin’s ideas, a crucial shift of theoretical views took place in the second half of the 1860s. During the first years of his participation in the revolutionary European movement, Bakunin expressed radical views and was predisposed to direct actions. By the middle of 1860s, he stayed within a broad conceptual framework of European radicalism, and understood federalism as a principle of self-administration and as a form of state system like in the USA or in the Swiss Confederacy. However, by the end of the 1860s, Bakunin shifted to a drastically new understanding of the state. He implicitly narrowed it down to the framework of modernity and identified it with the bureaucratic apparatus. Bakunin also claimed that every form of the state is a form of domination, production, and reproduction of inequality. Bakunin decided that there is principal inconsistency between the concepts of “freedom” and “state,” and argued for the destruction of the latter for the achievement of the former. At that moment, “federalism” was opposite to the state. It called for the destruction of the state apparatus as a system of dominance, and was a political form of socialism and the anarchic community. On the next step of his evolution, Bakunin introduced (but didn’t elaborate) the distinction of two types of power: formalized (i.e. official) and unformalized.
Citation: Teslya A. (2015) O ponyatii «federalizm» v sotsial'no-politicheskikh teoriyakh M. A. Bakunina [On the Concept of “Federalism” in Socio-Political Theories of Mikhail Bakunin]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 14, pp. 136-152 (in Russian)
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