The Free Federation of France was founded based on Proudhon's mutualism after the European Civil War in 1850. Local communities would elect delegates for a commune who would in turn elect delegates for a county, who elected delegates for a region, who would finally elect national delegates. The Federation's Constitution mandated that all businesses would be under either self-employment or run as a cooperative enterprise. This radical reorganization of business alienated foreign business interests, and lead to the economic isolation of France. The Constitution also allowed any level of "government" the right to secede and all officials were subject to recall. It is the right to secede and the claim by Proudhon at the time that this means it was not really a state that has scholars debating whether or not the Free Federation of France can properly be called a state.
Proudhon held men to be superior to women and felt it wrong to give them the vote. Others, such as Jean Pierre LaRouche believed that women should have the vote. Generally different communities made different decisions in regard to this. However, tensions would build between these two camps. New schisms would later emerge such as the question of whether money ought to be abolished. Ultimately, the schism that would destroy the country was the schism of 1861 which was over whether coercive force could be used to save life such as to seize excess food. This lead to intense in-fighting.
Royalists plotted in secret, including both Bonapartists and Bourbonists. In 1863 with the backing of the United States the Bonapartists took advantage of the chaos and seized control of France, putting the Bonaparte Emperor Ferdinand I on the throne.