Collectivist anarchism was part of the broad socialist movement that surfaced in the 19th century in reaction to the inequalities and exploitation associated with feudalism and industrial capitalism in Europe.

Marxism was arguably the most prominent feature of this general left-wing response to the hardships endured by the peasantry and the industrial working class. Collectivist anarchism, perhaps best exemplified by Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76), represents a form of decentralised or stateless socialism based on voluntary association and communal living. Collectivist anarchists call for the abolition of the state and the introduction of common ownership to promote the rational, altruistic and co-operative aspects of human nature.

Collectivist anarchism is divided into three different sub-strands – anarcho-communism, mutualism and anarcho-syndicalism. Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) are widely regarded as the leading exponents of anarcho-communism and mutualism respectively. Collectivist anarchism and Marxism parted company in the 1870s due to differences over the state. Marxist socialists argue that, after the overthrow of capitalism, a temporary workers’ state will be required to consolidate the revolution and prepare the way for stateless communism. Collectivist anarchists reject this retention of the state apparatus, maintaining that all forms of the state have to be removed since they are immoral, unjust, coercive, controlling and corrupting.

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