Aux jeunes gens. Le Salariat. La Morale anarchiste Olymp Classics. Olymp Classics.
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Unavailable for purchase. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. You are in the Greece store Not in Greece? Choose Store. The nature of the intellectual contribution Kropotkin describes is borne out by the two most significant anarchist thinkers before Kropotkin. Workers did not wait for Bakunin but raised these ideas, before he joined the International, at the Brussels conference in and again, after he joined, at the Basle Congress the following year.
This is not to deny his importance in developing revolutionary anarchism, it is simply to recognise that he was part of a wider movement and influences flowed both ways.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the fixation on famous thinkers 'sages' flows from the work of a non-anarchist, Paul Eltzbacher This, by necessity, downplayed the anarchist movement and its links with the wider socialist and labour movements. Worse, it gave a distinctly false impression as two chapters covered thinkers Godwin and Stirner who had no impact on the development of anarchism until the s. Unfortunately, subsequent authors who were libertarians followed this model. The division of 'sage' and 'movement' still placed the focus on the former at the expense of the latter.
Yet the political and social context provided by social movements is vital to understand anarchism. While Kropotkin, particularly in his later works notably the article on Anarchism for the Encyclopaedia Britannica presented anarchism as something which has existed as long as hierarchical authority has, anarchism is better understood as being a specific socio-economic theory and movement which was born in the nineteenth century. Before no theory was called 'anarchism' nor was there any popular movement termed 'anarchist' by its members.
This does not mean that anarchistic theories and movements did not exist but that they only became retrospectively proclaimed as anarchist once the anarchist movement discovered them — as with, for example, Stirner and Godwin in the s. That Eltzbacher included both because anarchists retroactively made the identification changes does not change the problems inclusion produces and regardless of the merit of the ideas of Godwin and Stirner, it would be anachronistic to discuss them or thinkers in ancient Greece when sketching anarchism. This was recognised by Kropotkin: 'Within these federations [of the IMWA] developed… what may be described as modern anarchism '.
The 'sage' perspective forgets that Kropotkin was, initially, one militant amongst many not signing his contributions to the anarchist press until the s, two decades after joining the movement. He came to prominence for many reasons, some of them personal an ex-aristocrat who escaped a Tsarist prison to go into exile; a brilliant writer; a gifted scientist but mostly political he was part of a wider movement whose ideas he helped shape and champion.
This can be seen from the two key debates he took part in as a militant: on the benefits of libertarian communism and participation in the labour movement. Neither was invented by him: he simply championed ideas which had already been raised within the IWMA by other libertarians.
If, in the s, Kropotkin came to prominence because he helped push anarchists towards libertarian communism and involvement in the labour movement, it was because his work reflected, reinforced and enriched a trend in that direction within the movement. If in he was isolated, it was precisely because his position was at odds with the bulk of the movement and his personal attributes and ideas correspondingly had no impact.
While it may be tempting to proclaim the arrival of an 'Unknown Kropotkin' in listing these articles, we must resist. A close reading of his general works shows that the Kropotkin of those articles, the one who consistently advocated an International based purely on labour unions committed to ' the direct struggle of Labour against Capital ',  can be found there as well. That far too many commentators on his ideas seem happy to utilise secondary sources should not distract us from this fact. Part of the problem rests in those who championed Kropotkin after his death.
Those who proclaim themselves heir to a thinker inevitably shape how that person is viewed. In terms of Kropotkin, his revolutionary class struggle anarchism became less well known thanks to those in the post-war period who favoured reformism referencing him. He became identified almost exclusively with Mutual Aid , peaceful co-operation and encouraging libertarian tendencies within capitalism.
True, Kropotkin was concerned with anarchists applying their principles in the 'here and now' but primarily, although not exclusively, in trade unions and other popular movements. Kropotkin would have little need to reiterate previous arguments and ideas — whether this was on social revolution he revised articles for The Conquest of Bread in the early s or anarchist involvement in the labour movement the rise of syndicalism showed that this argument had been won within libertarian circles. He did write on the labour movement, for example producing a series of articles in the early s on socialism for Freedom which argued against parliamentarianism and for union direct action which were subsequently reprinted as the pamphlets Socialism and Politics and The Coming Revival of Socialism.
Workers had to maintain their 'trade organisations in full mental and material readiness for war… it is only by the constant menace of a declaration of war, and by real war… that the workers have won any victories; while the tactics of the politicians have always been to weaken the anti-capitalist labour organisations'.
While Kropotkin may have been less optimistic about the prospects for revolution than he had been in the s, the revolutionary class struggle orientation he had expressed since joining the IWMA in the early s remained.
The consistency of Kropotkin's politics raises an interesting question about 'propaganda by the deed'. The term 'propaganda by the deed' was first used in anarchist circles in its modern form by Paul Brousse in ,  its verbal support in the movement peaked in the early s and its most famous period was in France from March to June when it became to mean individual acts of violence against representatives of capitalist society.
This bibliography, incomplete as it is, presents the material needed to challenge the all-too-common notion that Kropotkin was a dreamer, presenting enticing visions of a better world but with no idea how to reach it. In reality, he was keenly aware of the need to understand capitalism and the state, to participate in the oppositional movements and struggles within it and to learn the lessons of previous revolutions to ensure the success of the next one.
In terms of the interaction between 'sages' and the movement, we must remember that it is all the unknown working class anarchists past, present and future whose hopes and struggles make Kropotkin relevant. He, like Proudhon and Bakunin, popularised the ideas in the movement and lessons learned from previous revolts in his own, unique, fashion. Yet, without the movement, its struggles and debates, his impact would have been less aas would have been his contribution to anarchism.
The fixation on the 'sage' is to be expected in a hierarchical society in which the few rule the many. That the dominant class perspective is ubiquitous does not excuse those who should know better libertarians! So while reacting to the old school of anarchist history as popularised by Woodcock , we must be wary of an over-reaction and of going too far in the other direction. We must remember our 'sages' while always placing them in the context their writings reflect — the wider movement. Neither can be completely understood without the other.
It is by no means complete, but is as comprehensive as possible.
It does not attempt to list all the many translations of these works. Serialised in Freedom. Serialised in Mother Earth, August to December Revised and expanded version. Extracts in Direct Struggle Against Capital. Nelson and Sons. Revised and Expanded French edition. Translation: Ethics: Origin and Development. London: George G. Included in Revolutionary Pamphlets.
From Words of a Rebel. Translation: War! Reprinted in by Freedom press, London.
Included in Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution. A series of articles by Russian Anarchists on the Russian Revolution. It includes 'Zakliucheniia sezda — Doklady', 'Revoliutsiia politicheskaia i konomicheskaia' and 'Nashe otnoshenie k krestianskim i rabochim soiuzam' by Kropotkin. Justice and Morality. Introduction by Colin Ward.
Its 11 volumes include all his major writings as well as numerous important essays and articles. This collection is by no means complete, missing out the articles collated in Act for Yourselves , for example, not to mention numerous articles in anarchist papers in Britain, France and Russia. Volume 9: Fields, Factories and Workshops  Volume Evolution and Environment  This lists all anthologies that contain only works by Kropotkin. All decent anthologies of anarchism contain extracts by Kropotkin but space precludes listing these as well.
Baldwin, New York: Vanguard Press. Millar, Cambridge, Massachusetts, M. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This is a comprehensive, but incomplete, listing of articles by Kropotkin along with letters, prefaces, introductions and postscripts added to new editions of his works. It does not include all the articles in concluded in Conquest of Bread nor the many articles produced for the Russian papers Khleb i Volya , and Listki 'Khleb i Volya' Itenberg, ed. Moscow: Nauka, As part of a report on the Conference.
Included in Words of a Rebel. Included in Words of a Rebel as 'Revolutionary Government.