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Jon Bekken: #Kropotkin’s Anarchist Critique of Capitalism

Peter Kropotkin devoted a major part of his prolific anarchist writings to two related themes: examining the actual workings of capitalist economies and developing the broad outlines of an anarchist-communist society. Kropotkin was not satisfied to merely assert that’ a free society was possible, he sought to show how such a society could be constructed from the materials at hand-realizing that a revolutionary movement that failed to consider the problems of production and distribution would quickly collapse. This installment outlines Kropotkin’s critique of capitalist political economy; next issue will turn to his positive economic program. This distinction, however, is somewhat arbitrary, as Kropotkin always preferred to illustrate what might be by pointing to what already was.

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#Kropotkin: Can the State be Used for the Emancipation of the Workers?

The newly released Modern Science and Anarchy from AK Press brings together previously unpublished content in English as well as other writings previously only released as pamphlets and articles. Of course, a critical portion of the book which is as relevant as ever is devoted to Kropotkin’s study of the nature and origins of the State and which includes this brief excerpt as part of a larger critique of the state. 

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#Kropotkin: An Appeal to the Young

Today it’s the birthday of Peter Kropotkin. Happy Birthday!

“Peter Kropotkin…was recognized by friend and foe as one of the greatest minds…of the nineteenth century… The lucidity and brilliance of his mind combined with his warm-heartedness into the harmonious whole of a fascinating and gracious personality. ” -Emma Goldman

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Peter #Kropotkin: The Action of the Masses and the Individual

The following excerpts are taken from an article by Kropotkin, “The Action of the Masses and the Individual,” in which he responds to a letter regarding increased strike activity among the workers in conjunction with May Day demonstrations.

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Peter #Kropotkin: The Conquest of Bread

The Conquest of Bread is Peter Kropotkin’s most extensive study of human needs and his outline of the most rational and equi-table means of satisfying them. A combination of detailed historical analysis and far-reaching utopian vision, this is a step-by-step guide to social revolution: the concrete means of achieving it, and the world that humanity’s “constructive genius” is capable of creating.

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Peter #Kropotkin: Communism and Anarchy

Editor’s Preface

Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) was one of the greatest anarchist theoreticians of his time. Although he admired the directly democratic and non-authoritarian practices of the traditional peasant village commune, he was never an advocate of small and isolated communal experimentalism. Many people, upon reading his works, have been inspired to found such communities, both in his own time as well as the hippies of the 1960s (a period when Kropotkin’s major works were epublished and influential). Kropotkin did not consider such ventures were likely to be successful or useful in achieving wider revolutionary goals. His friend, Elisee Reclus, who had been involved in such a venture in South America in his youth, was even more hostile to small communal experiments. It is a pity that some of the founders of the many hippy communes in the 1960s (nearly all of which faded rather quickly) did not read Kropotkin more carefully. Unfortunately, they made the same mistakes as many anarchists, communists and socialists had made a century before them. In the anarchist press today one still finds adverts for prospective small and isolated anarchist colonies. Also, many commentaries about Kropotkin still misrepresent him as having had a vision of society consisting of unfederated and independent village-like settlements and of advocating small communal experiments as a means of achieving an anarchist society. The following speech and two ‘open’ letters, which have not been in print for a century, clearly show, that although not emotionally opposed to such ventures, he was highly sceptical about their chances of success and generally believed them to be a drain upon the energies of the anarchist movement. Despite his warnings, these articles also contain much good and practical advice to those who are still tempted to found small experimental communes in the wilderness, or perhaps, those tempted in some future era to colonise space.

Graham Purchase

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#Anarchism Peter #Kropotkin’s Last Letter

The following letter was written by Peter Kropotkin to his friend, De Reijger, the Dutch anarchist, who had invited him to come to stay at Haarlem:

“Moscow, Dmitrooka,

“December, 23rd, 1920.

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