Peter Kropotkin
Overview
 
Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

, geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

, author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and one of the world's foremost anarcho-communist
Anarchist communism
Anarchist communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, markets, money, private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with...

s. Kropotkin advocated a communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 society free from central government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and based on voluntary associations between workers. Because of his title of prince
Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

, he was known by some as "the Anarchist Prince". Some contemporaries saw him as leading a near perfect life, including Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, who described him as "a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 which seems coming out of Russia." He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Revolté . It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also...

and Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work is a landmark anarchist text by Peter Kropotkin, and arguably one of the most influential and positive statements of the anarchist political philosophy. It is viewed by many as the central work of...

, and his principal scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 offering, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution is a book by Peter Kropotkin on the subject of mutual aid, written while he was living in exile in England. It was first published by William Heinemann in London in October 1902...

.
Quotations

You know how I always believe in the future ... Without disorder, the revolution is impossible; knowing that, I did not lose hope, and I do not lose it now.

Letter to a friend (November 1920), as quoted in Peter Kropotkin : From Prince to Rebel (1990) by George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic, p. 428

Encyclopedia
Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin was a Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

, geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

, author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 and one of the world's foremost anarcho-communist
Anarchist communism
Anarchist communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, markets, money, private property, and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with...

s. Kropotkin advocated a communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 society free from central government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and based on voluntary associations between workers. Because of his title of prince
Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...

, he was known by some as "the Anarchist Prince". Some contemporaries saw him as leading a near perfect life, including Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, who described him as "a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 which seems coming out of Russia." He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Revolté . It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also...

and Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work is a landmark anarchist text by Peter Kropotkin, and arguably one of the most influential and positive statements of the anarchist political philosophy. It is viewed by many as the central work of...

, and his principal scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 offering, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution is a book by Peter Kropotkin on the subject of mutual aid, written while he was living in exile in England. It was first published by William Heinemann in London in October 1902...

. He also contributed the article on anarchism
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time...

.

Early life

Peter Kropotkin was born in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. His father, Prince
Knyaz
Kniaz, knyaz or knez is a Slavic title found in most Slavic languages, denoting a royal nobility rank. It is usually translated into English as either Prince or less commonly as Duke....

 Alexei Petrovich Kropotkin, owned large tracts of land and nearly 1200 "souls" (male serf
SERF
A spin exchange relaxation-free magnetometer is a type of magnetometer developed at Princeton University in the early 2000s. SERF magnetometers measure magnetic fields by using lasers to detect the interaction between alkali metal atoms in a vapor and the magnetic field.The name for the technique...

s) in three provinces. Kropotkin's male line traced to the legendary prince Rurik
Rurik
Rurik, or Riurik , was a semilegendary 9th-century Varangian who founded the Rurik dynasty which ruled Kievan Rus and later some of its successor states, most notably the Tsardom of Russia, until 1598....

; his mother was the daughter of a Russian general. "[U]nder the influence of republican teachings," he dropped his princely title at the age of twelve, and "even rebuked his friends, when they so referred to him."

In 1857, at age 14, Kropotkin enrolled in the Corps of Pages
Page Corps
Page Corps was a military academy in Imperial Russia, which prepared sons of the nobility and of senior officers for military service....

 at St. Petersburg. Only 150 boys — mostly children of nobility belonging to the court — were educated in this privileged corps, which combined the character of a military school endowed with special rights and of a court institution attached to the imperial household. Kropotkin's memoirs detail the hazing
Hazing
Hazing is a term used to describe various ritual and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group....

 and other abuse of pages for which the Corps had become notorious.

In Moscow, Kropotkin had developed an interest in the condition of the peasantry, and this interest increased as he grew older. In St. Petersburg, he read widely on his own account, and gave special attention to the works of the French encyclopædists and to French history
History of France
The history of France goes back to the arrival of the earliest human being in what is now France. Members of the genus Homo entered the area hundreds of thousands years ago, while the first modern Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnons, arrived around 40,000 years ago...

. The years 1857-1861 witnessed a rich growth in the intellectual forces of Russia, and Kropotkin came under the influence of the new liberal-revolutionary literature, which largely expressed his own aspirations.

In 1862, Kropotkin was promoted from the Corps of Pages to the army. The members of the corps had the prescriptive right to choose the regiment to which they would be attached. For some time, he was aide de camp to the governor of Transbaikalia at Chita. Later he was appointed attaché for Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 affairs to the governor-general of East Siberia at Irkutsk
Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

.

Expeditions

Administrative work was scarce, and in 1864 Kropotkin accepted charge of a geographical survey expedition, crossing North Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 from Transbaikalia to the Amur, and soon was attached to another expedition which proceeded up the Sungari River into the heart of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

. The expeditions yielded very valuable geographical results. The impossibility of obtaining any real administrative reforms in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 now induced Kropotkin to devote himself almost entirely to scientific exploration, in which he continued to be highly successful.

In 1867, he quit the army and returned to St. Petersburg, where he entered the university, becoming at the same time secretary to the geography section of the Russian Geographical Society
Russian Geographical Society
The Russian Geographical Society is a learned society, founded on 6 August 1845 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.-Imperial Geographical Society:Prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, it was known as the Imperial Russian Geographical Society....

. This action caused his father to disinherit him, "leaving him a 'prince' with no visible means of support." In 1871, he explored the glacial deposits of Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 for the Society. In 1873, he published an important contribution to science, a map and paper in which he proved that the existing maps entirely misrepresented the physical features of Asia
Geography of Asia
Geography of Asia reviews geographical concepts of classifying Asia, the central and eastern part of Eurasia, comprising approximately fifty countries.-Boundary:...

; the main structural lines were in fact from south-west to north-east, not from north to south, or from east to west as had been previously supposed. During this work, he was offered the secretaryship of the Society, but he had decided that it was his duty not to work at fresh discoveries but to aid in diffusing existing knowledge among the people at large. Accordingly, he refused the offer and returned to St. Petersburg, where he joined the revolutionary party.

In 1874, Kropotkin delivered his report on the subject of Ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, where he argued that it had existed in not as distant a past as originally thought. He was arrested by the Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

's secret police the next day, on March 22, 1874, and charged with membership in the banned revolutionary society. He was incarcerated in the Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

. Despite the incarceration, Kropotkin was allowed to continue his scientific research, and he produced several new important papers there.

Activism

He visited Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 in 1872 and became a member of the International Workingmen's Association
International Workingmen's Association
The International Workingmen's Association , sometimes called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class...

 (IWA) at Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

. It was there that he found that he did not like IWA's style of socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. Instead, he studied the programme of the more radical Jura federation
Jura federation
The Jura Federation was the federalist and anarchist section of the International Workingmen's Association , based largely among watch-makers in the Jura mountain range in Switzerland. The Jura federation was founded on October 9, 1870 at a meeting in Saint-Imier of local sections of the IWA...

 at Neuchâtel and spent time in the company of the leading members, and adopted the creed of anarchism. On returning to Russia, he took an active part in spreading revolutionary propaganda through the nihilist
Nihilist movement
The Nihilist movement was a Russian movement in the 1860s which rejected all authorities. It is derived from the Latin word "nihil", which means "nothing"...

-led Circle of Tchaikovsky
Circle of Tchaikovsky
The Circle of Tchaikovsky, also known as Tchaikovtsy, Chaikovtsy, or the Grand Propaganda Society was a Russian literary society for self-education and a revolutionary organization of the Narodniks in the early 1870s.- Background and origin :The intelligentsia of mid-nineteenth century Tsarist...

.
In 1873 Kropotkin was arrested and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

. He gained notoriety for his widely publicized escape from the prison in 1876, after which he went to England, moving after a short stay to Switzerland where he joined the Jura Federation. In 1877 he moved to Paris, where he helped to start the socialist movement. In 1878 he returned to Switzerland where he edited for Jura Federation's revolutionary newspaper Le Révolté, and published various revolutionary pamphlets. He was outspoken in his beliefs that the peasants were being treated unfairly and deserved to have the same land as the lords.

In 1881 shortly after the assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 of Tsar Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

, the Swiss government expelled Kropotkin from Switzerland. After a short stay at Thonon (Savoy), he went to London where he stayed nearly a year and returned to Thonon in late 1882. Soon he was arrested by the French government, tried at Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, and sentenced by a police-court magistrate (under a special law passed on the fall of the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

) to five years' imprisonment, on the ground that he had belonged to the IWA (1883). The French Chamber repeatedly agitated on his behalf, and he was released in 1886. He settled near London, living at various times in Harrow
Harrow, London
Harrow is an area in the London Borough of Harrow, northwest London, United Kingdom. It is a suburban area and is situated 12.2 miles northwest of Charing Cross...

 – where his daughter, Alexandra, was born – Ealing
Ealing
Ealing is a suburban area of west London, England and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing. It is located west of Charing Cross and around from the City of London. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically a rural village...

 and Bromley
Bromley
Bromley is a large suburban town in south east London, England and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Bromley. It was historically a market town, and prior to 1963 was in the county of Kent and formed the administrative centre of the Municipal Borough of Bromley...

 (6 Crescent Road 1886-1914). He also lived for a number of years in Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

. While living in London, Kropotkin became friends with a number of prominent English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

-speaking socialists, including William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

 and George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

.

In 1902 Kropotkin published the book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution is a book by Peter Kropotkin on the subject of mutual aid, written while he was living in exile in England. It was first published by William Heinemann in London in October 1902...

, which provided an alternative view on animal and human survival, beyond the claims of interpersonal competition and natural hierarchy proffered at the time by some "social Darwinists
Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism is a term commonly used for theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, seeking to apply the principles of Darwinian evolution to sociology and politics...

", such as Francis Galton
Francis Galton
Sir Francis Galton /ˈfrɑːnsɪs ˈgɔːltn̩/ FRS , cousin of Douglas Strutt Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath: anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician...

. He argued "that it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human."
Kropotkin's authority as a writer on Russia is generally acknowledged, and he contributed to many articles. Most of the other 90 articles are about various aspects of Russian geography.

Kropotkin returned to Russia after the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 and was offered the ministry of education in the provisional government; he rejected the post. His enthusiasm for the changes happening in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 turned to disappointment when the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. "This buries the revolution," he said. He thought that the Bolsheviks had shown how the revolution was not to be made; by authoritarian rather than libertarian
Libertarianism
Libertarianism, in the strictest sense, is the political philosophy that holds individual liberty as the basic moral principle of society. In the broadest sense, it is any political philosophy which approximates this view...

 methods. He had spoken out against authoritarian socialism in his writings (for example The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Revolté . It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also...

), making the prediction that any state founded on these principles would most likely lead to its breakup and the restoration of capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

.

He died on February 8, 1921, in the city of Dmitrov
Dmitrov
Dmitrov is a town and the administrative center of Dmitrovsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, located to the north of Moscow on the Yakhroma River and the Moscow Canal. Population: -History:...

, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

. Anarchists marched in his funeral procession carrying banners with anti-Bolshevik slogans, with Lenin's approval. This was the last march by anarchists until 1987, when glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 saw them hold the first open free protest against Bolshevik state communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 for over 60 years in Moscow.

Philosophy

Kropotkin's inspiration has reached into the 20th and 21st centuries as a vision of a new society based on the anarchist principles of anti-statism
Anti-statism
Anti-statism is a term describing opposition to state intervention into personal, social, and economic affairs. Anti-statist views may reject the state completely as well as rulership in general , they may wish to reduce the size and scope of the state to a minimum , or they may advocate a...

 and anti-authoritarianism, the communist principles of the publicly owned means of production, and his evolutionary theories on the mutual aid between all species and individuals. It is often positioned as a counter to the thinking of Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 and Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, which tended to imply centralised planning and control. To a large degree Kropotkin's emphasis is on local organisation, local production obviating the need for central government. Kropotkin's vision is also on agriculture and rural life, making it a contrasting perspective to the largely industrial thinking of communists and socialists.

In his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution is a book by Peter Kropotkin on the subject of mutual aid, written while he was living in exile in England. It was first published by William Heinemann in London in October 1902...

, Kropotkin explored the widespread use of cooperation
Cooperation
Cooperation or co-operation is the process of working or acting together. In its simplest form it involves things working in harmony, side by side, while in its more complicated forms, it can involve something as complex as the inner workings of a human being or even the social patterns of a...

 as a survival mechanism in human societies through their many stages, and animals. He used many real life examples in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups, without central control, authority or compulsion. This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, that provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism
Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism is a term commonly used for theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, seeking to apply the principles of Darwinian evolution to sociology and politics...

. According to Kirkpatrick Sale
Kirkpatrick Sale
Kirkpatrick Sale is an independent scholar and author who has written prolifically about political decentralism, environmentalism, luddism and technology...

:
His observations of cooperative tendencies in indigenous peoples, pre-feudal, feudal and those remaining in modern societies, allowed him to conclude that not all human societies were based on competition such as those of industrialized Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; and that in many societies, cooperation was the norm between individuals and groups. He also concluded that in most pre-industrial and pre-authoritarian societies (where he claimed that leadership, central government and class did not exist) actively defend against the accumulation of private property, for example, by equally sharing out, amongst the community, a person's possessions when he has died; or not allowing a gift to be sold, bartered or used to create wealth. See Gift economy
Gift economy
In the social sciences, a gift economy is a society where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards . Ideally, simultaneous or recurring giving serves to circulate and redistribute valuables within the community...

.

In another of his books, The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread
The Conquest of Bread is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Revolté . It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also...

, Kropotkin proposed a system of economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 based on mutual exchanges made in a system of voluntary cooperation. He believed that should a society be socially, culturally and industrially developed enough to produce all the goods and services required by it, then no obstacle, such as preferential distribution, pricing or monetary exchange will stand as an obstacle for all taking what they need from the social product. The king pin in this idea is the eventual abolishment of money or tokens to exchange for goods and services. He further developed these ideas in Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops
Fields, Factories and Workshops: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work is a landmark anarchist text by Peter Kropotkin, and arguably one of the most influential and positive statements of the anarchist political philosophy. It is viewed by many as the central work of...

.

Kropotkin points out what he considers to be the fallacies of the economic system
Economic system
An economic system is the combination of the various agencies, entities that provide the economic structure that defines the social community. These agencies are joined by lines of trade and exchange along which goods, money etc. are continuously flowing. An example of such a system for a closed...

s of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 and capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, and how he believes they create poverty and scarcity while promoting privilege. He goes on to propose a more decentralised economic system based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, asserting that the tendencies for this kind of organisation already exist, both in evolution and in human society.

His focus on local production leads to his view that a country should strive for self-sufficiency
Autarky
Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the term is applied to political states or their economic policies. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance. Autarky is not necessarily economic. For example, a military autarky...

manufacture its own goods and grow its own food, lessening dependence on imports. To these ends he advocated irrigation and growing under glass to boost local food production ability.

Timeline

  • 1842 – born in Moscow on December 9.
  • 1857 – joins the Corps of Pages where he begins to develop a rebellious reputation.
  • 1858 – Kropotkin's early writings show interest in political economy and statistics; begins contact with "real" peasants.
  • 1861 – has his first prison experience as a result of participating in a student protest.
  • 1862 – becomes disillusioned with royalty when as page de chambre to the Tsar
    Tsar
    Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

     he witnesses the extravagances of court life.
  • 1862–1867 – at his own request serves with the military in Siberia. Witnesses the living conditions there, and the unwillingness of the corrupt administration to do anything to improve this.
  • 1868–1870 – pursues survey and geographical studies.
  • 1871 – becomes interested in the workers' movement and the events surrounding the Paris Commune
    Paris Commune
    The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

    .
  • 1872 – travels to Switzerland, where he joins the International; returns to Russia with a quantity of prohibited socialist literature.
  • 1873 – as a member of the Tchaikovsky Circle
    Circle of Tchaikovsky
    The Circle of Tchaikovsky, also known as Tchaikovtsy, Chaikovtsy, or the Grand Propaganda Society was a Russian literary society for self-education and a revolutionary organization of the Narodniks in the early 1870s.- Background and origin :The intelligentsia of mid-nineteenth century Tsarist...

    , he helps with re-writing pamphlets in a way that can be understood by the uneducated; he shows great ability for communicating with the workers.
  • 1874 – Kropotkin is imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress
    Peter and Paul Fortress
    The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini's designs from 1706-1740.-History:...

     because of his revolutionary activities. At the intervention of the Geographical Society, he is given special dispensation to work on a paper on glacial periods.
  • 1876 – escapes from a military hospital and moves to England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    .
  • 1877 – returns to Switzerland to work with the Jura Federation. Attends the last meeting of the First International in Ghent
    Ghent
    Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

    .
  • 1881 – attends the International Anarchist Congress in London. In his propaganda of the deed he supports the assassination of Tsar Alexander II on the grounds that an explosion is far more effective than a vote in encouraging the workers to revolution. This gets him kicked out of Switzerland. The Russian government is embarrassed when he discovers a plot to assassinate him in London.
  • 1882 – shortly after moving to France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     he is arrested for his work in The First International and sentenced to five years in prison. He stays there until 1886 when he is released on condition that he leave France.
  • 1886 – returns to England. Learns of his brother Alexander's suicide in Siberian exile for political activity. Becomes co-founder of British anarchist magazine Freedom.
  • 1890s – spends most of his time writing. Visits Canada
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     and the United States in 1897. The Atlantic Monthly agrees to publish his memoirs. In his books he attempts to develop an anarchist-communist view of society.
  • 1901–1909 – writes material in Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

     for readers in his homeland. He was very disappointed by the failure of the 1905 revolution.
  • 1909–1914 – returns to Switzerland on condition that he refrain from anarchist activities. Tries to publicize the massacre of 270 workers at the Lena gold mines, but this activity is cut short by World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

    . He then moved to the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , where he spent some time in the Brighton
    Brighton
    Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

     area.
  • 1914–1917 – actively supports the war against Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    , and coauthors the Manifesto of the Sixteen
    Manifesto of the Sixteen
    The Manifesto of the Sixteen , or Proclamation of the Sixteen, was a document drafted in 1916 by eminent anarchists Peter Kropotkin and Jean Grave which advocated an Allied victory over Germany and the Central Powers during the First World War...

    . This position, a strange and questionable one for an anarchist to take, alienated him from many of his associates, particularly Errico Malatesta
    Errico Malatesta
    Errico Malatesta was an Italian anarcho-communist. He was an insurrectionary anarchist early in his life. He spent much of his life exiled from his homeland of Italy and in total spent more than ten years in prison. He wrote and edited a number of radical newspapers and was also a friend of...

    .
  • 1917 – returns to Petrograd where he helps Alexander Kerensky
    Alexander Kerensky
    Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

    's government to formulate policy. He curtails his activity when the Bolshevik
    Bolshevik
    The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

    s come to power.
  • 1921 – his funeral at the Novodevichy Cemetery
    Novodevichy Cemetery
    Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

    , with Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Lenin
    Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

    's approval, becomes the last mass gathering of anarchists in Russia until 1987.

Books

Project Gutenberg e-text, Project LibriVox audiobook
  • The Conquest of Bread
    The Conquest of Bread
    The Conquest of Bread is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Revolté . It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also...

    Project Gutenberg e-text, Project LibriVox audiobook
  • Fields, Factories and Workshops
    Fields, Factories and Workshops
    Fields, Factories and Workshops: or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work is a landmark anarchist text by Peter Kropotkin, and arguably one of the most influential and positive statements of the anarchist political philosophy. It is viewed by many as the central work of...

  • In Russian and French Prisons, London: Ward and Downey; 1887.
  • Memoirs of a Revolutionist, London : Smith, Elder; 1899. Kropotkin's own memoirs, which were also published in the United States in the same year and have appeared in a number of modern editions.
  • The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, London, William Heinemann, 1909, translated from the French by N.F. Dryhurst. e-text (in French)
  • Russian Literature: Ideals and Realities (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1915). Available online at the Anarchy Archives,
  • Ethics (unfinished). Included as first part of Origen y evolución de la moral (Spanish e-text)

Articles

  • "Research on the Ice age
    Ice age
    An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

    ", Notices of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, 1876.
  • "The desiccation
    Desiccation
    Desiccation is the state of extreme dryness, or the process of extreme drying. A desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that induces or sustains such a state in its local vicinity in a moderately sealed container.-Science:...

     of Eur-Asia", Geographical Journal, 23 (1904), 722-741.
  • Mr. Mackinder; Mr. Ravenstein; Dr. Herbertson; Prince Kropotkin; Mr. Andrews; Cobden Sanderson; Elisée Reclus, "On Spherical Maps and Reliefs: Discussion", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3. (Sep., 1903), pp. 294–299, JSTOR
  • "Baron Toll", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 23, No. 6. (Jun., 1904), pp. 770–772, JSTOR
  • "The population of Russia", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2. (Aug., 1897), pp. 196–202, JSTOR
  • "The old beds of the Amu-Daria", The Geographical Journal, Vol. 12, No. 3. (Sep., 1898), pp. 306–310, JSTOR

Pamphlets


See also



Further reading

  • The Anarchists
    The Anarchists
    The Anarchists is a book by the historian James Joll. At 265 pages, it is a relatively brief history of the anarchist movement, covering its philosophical beginnings in Europe with William Godwin and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the further development by the Russians Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin...

    by James Joll
    James Joll
    James Bysse Joll FBA was a British historian and university lecturer whose works included The Origins of the First World War and Europe Since 1870. He also wrote on the history of anarchism and socialism.-Biography:...

     (2nd ed.) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980) LCCN 80-010503. ISBN 0674036417. [historical book]
  • The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin by George Woodcock
    George Woodcock
    George Woodcock was a Canadian writer of political biography and history, an anarchist thinker, an essayist and literary critic. He was also a poet, and published several volumes of travel writing. He founded in 1959 the journal Canadian Literature, the first academic journal specifically...

     & Ivan Avakumovic (1950 & 1971).
  • "Mutual Aid and the Foraging Mode of Thought: Re-reading Kropotkin on the Khoisan" by Barnard Alan, Social Evolution & History
    Social Evolution & History
    Social Evolution & History is a peer-reviewed academic journal focused on the development of human societies in the past, present and future. In addition to original research articles, Social Evolution & History includes critical notes and a book review section. It is published in English twice a...

    , Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 2004), pages 3–21.
  • Kropotkin: the Politics of Community by Brian Morris (Humanity Press, 2004)
  • The Anarchist Geographer: an Introduction to the Life of Peter Kropotkin by Brian Morris (Genge Press, 2007)
  • Basic Kropotkin: Kropotkin and the History of Anarchism by Brian Morris, Anarchist Communist Editions pamphlet no.17 (The Anarchist Federation, October 2008).
  • S.J.Gould: Kropotkin was no crackpot. Natural History 106 (June 1997): 12-21.
  • The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Police by Alex Butterworth (Pantheon Books, 2010)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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