Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (30 May [O.S. 18 May] 1814 – 1 July 1876) was a well-known Russian revolutionary and theorist of collectivist anarchism. He has also often been called the father of anarchist theory in general. Bakunin grew up near Moscow, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopedists, 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 wholehearted embrace of Hegelianism, as he became bedazzled by Hegel's famous maxim; "Everything that exists is rational". In 1840 Bakunin traveled to St. Petersburgh and Berlin, preparing himself for a professorship in philosophy or history at the University of Moscow.
Bakunin moved from Berlin, in 1842, to Dresden. Eventually he arrived in Paris, where he met George Sand, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx. He was eventually deported from France for speaking against Russia's oppression of Poland. In 1849 he was apprehended in Dresden for his participation in the Czech rebellion of 1848. He was turned over to Russia where he was imprisoned in Peter-Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg. He remained there until 1857, when he was exiled to a work camp in Siberia. Escaping to Japan, the USA and finally ending up in London for a short time, he worked with Herzen on the journal Kolokol ("The Bell"). In 1863, he left to join the insurrection in Poland, but he failed to reach his destination and spent some time in Switzerland and Italy. Despite his criminal status, Bakunin gained great influence with the youth in Russia, and all of Europe. In 1870, he was involved in the insurrection in Lyon, which foreshadowed the Paris Commune.
In 1868, Bakunin joined the International Working Men's Association, a federation of trade union organizations with sections in most European countries. The 1872 Congress was dominated by a struggle between Marx and his followers who argued for parliamentary electoral participation and a faction around Bakunin who opposed it. Bakunin's faction lost the vote, and he was eventually expelled for supposedly maintaining a secret organisation within the international. The anarchists insisted the congress was rigged, and so held their own conference of the International at Saint-Imier in Switzerland in 1872. From 1870 to 1876, he wrote much of his seminal work such as Statism and Anarchy and God and the State. Despite his declining health, he tried to take part in an insurrection in Bologna, but was forced to return to Switzerland in disguise, and settled in Lugano. He remained active in the worker's movement of Europe until further health problems caused him to be moved to a hospital in Bern, where he died in 1876.
Source: Wikipedia, "Mikhail Bakunin", available under the CC-BY-SA License.