Elisée Reclus, Preface to Words of a Rebel, a book about Peter Kropotkin.
David Shub’s essay on the relationship between Lenin and Kropotkin was was written shortly after the author’s biography of Lenin in 1948 and draws a striking contrast between the two famous Russian revolutionaries. While initially deferential to the gentle and polite Kropotkin – at the time far more famous and influential both inside and outside Russia than the Bolshevik leader – Lenin quickly came to despise Kropotkin and his constant criticism of Bolshevism. The anarchist proclaimed Lenin’s government would be the “burial of the Russian Revolution”. Kropotkin’s predictions of the horrors of the Bolshevik State (“a Soviet Union only in name”) came true even before his death in 1921, and foretold the horrors of the Stalinist regime to come. This pamphlet is a brief illustration of their strained relationship and history.
“Even if the dictatorship of the party were an appropriate means to bring about a blow to the capitalist system (which I strongly doubt), it is nevertheless harmful for the creation of a new socialist system. What are necessary and needed are local institutions, local forces; but there are none, anywhere.”
Peter Kropotkin about the Trade Union Congress and the social democrats.
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.
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
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.
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.
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: