This page is dedicated to the thought of Peter Kropotkin, whose work is foundational to the theoretical development of this blog.
The contemporary reader will note a wordiness that was characteristic of the period in which he was writing. Nevertheless, his style is clean and easily readable. What is striking in reading Kropotkin, and shines through especially in descriptions by secondary sources, is a deep sense of warmth and compassion toward all those he encountered, and an unwavering determination to help and empower those less fortunate. This began for him early in life as an advocate for the abolition of serfdom in his native Russia.
While anarchists correctly see the many problems that arise with personality cults, it is important psychologically and socially to have figures (whether living or historical) that can show a good example and give us the inspiration and motivation to live a life of revolutionary struggle. While no person’s thoughts and actions are beyond critique, including Kropotkin’s, in many ways he provides a lived example of what it means to be a revolutionary.
Kropotkin’s work is unceasing in its idealism and optimism toward humanity. For him, anarchist-communism is ultimately an act of love, and an ethical act to secure the needs of all and the opportunity for the development, cultivation, and fulfillment of the individual among a community of equals.
This is a small collection of Kropotkin’s work that has been transcribed by Better Worlds, Brighter Futures from primary, public domain sources. This includes Google’s and Microsoft’s digitization projects and archive.org. To maintain the accuracy and integrity of this project, we are only posting work from primary sources (that is, digitizations of original 19th and early 20th century articles and pamphlets) that have been transcribed by us. The PDF of the primary source is also posted for reference and comparison. Immediately below are the works currently available, followed by a short biography of Kropotkin and ending with a bibliography of his works that we hope will become comprehensive.
Born a Russian prince on December 9, 1842 and royally trained as a geographer (scientific knowledge he would later use to earn a living, as he never accepted a cent for his revolutionary work) Peter Kropotkin abandoned his royal lineage and would go on to become one of the greatest allies of the working class. The author of at least eight books, countless pamphlets and articles, and founder of two newspapers (Le Révolté and Freedom — the latter of which is still in production!), Kropotkin’s contribution to anarchist theory has been great.
Inspired by Mikhail Bakunin (whom he would never meet), Kropotkin’s famous advance to anarchism came about from living among the watchmakers of Switzerland who formed the basis of the Jura Federation in the International Working Men’s Association. On his arrival at anarchism, Kropotkin wrote (as mentioned in “The Life of Peter Kropotkin” by Roger N. Baldwin):
The theoretical aspects of anarchism, as they were then beginning to be expressed in the Jura Federation, especially by Bakunin; the criticisms of State socialism — the fear of an economic despotism far more dangerous than the merely political despotism — which I heard formulated there; and the revolutionary character of the agitation, appealed strongly to my mind. But the equalitarian [egalitarian] relations which I found in the Jura Mountains, the independence of thought and expression which I saw developing in the workers and their unlimited devotion to the cause appealed far more strongly to my feelings; and when I came away from the mountains after a week’s stay with the watchmakers, my views upon socialism were settled. I was an anarchist.
Perhaps his greatest contribution in the realm of socio-political thought was his expounding of anarchist-communism; a term coined to represent the two key concepts of the theory. On the socio-political side, anarchism: the interaction of free individuals on a consensual basis, without authority or domination; and on the economic side, communism: the shared ownership by society of the means of production. Underlying his society is Joseph Dejacque’s idea (in opposition to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon) that the worker is not entitled to the product of their labor, but to the fulfillment of their needs.
While his theories are anarchist-communist, Kropotkin’s thought has affected many other anarchist tendencies, such as anarchist-syndicalism (which grew out of anarchist communism), and insurrectionary anarchism (stemming from Kropotkin’s early advocation of “propaganda of the deed“). Later radical tendencies, such as social ecology, also take inspiration from the thought of Kropotkin and anarchist-communism.
Due to his advocacy of the abolition of government, Kropotkin suffered throughout his life as a political prisoner, being imprisoned for years at least twice in his lifetime, and having to live in exile — mainly in Switzerland, France, and England — for a a large part of his life.
Though he is commonly seen as one of the biggest names and greatest theorists of anarchism, along with the likes of Bakunin, Proudhon, Emma Goldman, and others, he caused much controversy with his support of the Allies in World War I (in opposition with most anarchists), which would lead him to write, along with Jean Grave, the controversial Manifesto of the Sixteen. In Kropotkin’s view, World War I was a war against the imperialistic aims of Germany, though many of his contemporaries viewed the war as purely “nationalist-capitalist” and something the working people on both sides should oppose.
Kropotkin visited the United States twice — in 1897 and 1901 — lecturing and touring in English.
Peter Kropotkin would live to see the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and would return to Russia from exile in 1917 to help the revolutionary cause. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October of that year, however, Kropotkin grew disheartened at the authoritarian nature the revolution had taken. Kropotkin’s last letters were to Vladimir Lenin — pleas on behalf of the workers in and near the village of Dmitrov for increased food rations, among other things. He passed away February 8, 1921. Twenty thousand would join in his funeral procession, including Emma Goldman. It was the last mass gathering of anarchists in the Soviet Union.
Articles and Pamphlets
|1880.00||Spirit of Revolt, The|
|1880.03||Commune of Paris, The|
|1880.06||Appeal to the Young, An|
|1885.05||Coming War, The|
|1885.05||Finland: A Rising Nationality|
|1885.12||What Geography Ought to Be|
|1886.00||Law & Authority|
|1886.03||In French Prisons|
|1887.00||Anarchist Communism: Its Basis & Principles|
|1887.02||Scientific Bases of Anarchy, The|
|1887.08||Coming Anarchy, The|
|1888.10||Industrial Village of the Future, The|
|1889.06||Great French Revolution, The|
|1890.03||Brain Work & Manual Work|
|1892.01||Mutual Aid Among the Barbarians|
|1895.05||Effects of Persecution, The|
|1896.01||Mutual Aid Amongst Modern Men|
|1896.03||Recent Science (Röntgen’s Rays, The Erect Ape-Man)|
|1896.06||Mutual Aid Amongst Ourselves|
|1898.00||Memoirs of a Revolutionist [Serial]|
|1898.03||Some of the Resources of Canada|
|1900.00||Baron Toll on New Siberia…|
|1901.07||Communism & Anarchy|
|1903.02||Socialism & Politics|
|1906.00||The Revolution in Russia|
|1907.00||Enough of Illusions!|
|1908.00||Nobles & Serfs in Pre-Emancipation Russia|
|1909.07||(White) Terror in Russia|
|1914.00||Wars & Capitalism|
|c1917.00||What the Attitude of a Radical Should Be Toward the War|
|1919.01||Direct Action of Environment & Evolution, The|
|1920.00||Wage System, The|
|Unknown||Anarchism & Revolution|
|Unknown||Organised Vengeance Called “Justice”|
|*Revolutionary Government: Some sources date to 1880|
|1885||Words of a Rebel (Paroles d’un Revolté) [Recluse, Elisée: Editor]|
|1887||In Russian & French Prisons|
|1889||Memoirs of a Revolutionist|
|1892||Conquest of Bread|
|1901||Fields, Factories, & Workshops|
|1902||Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution|
|1903||Modern Science & Anarchism|
|1909||Great French Revolution, The: 1789-1793|
|1915||Russian Literature: Ideas & Realities|
|1920||Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets [Baldwin, Roger N.: Editor]|
|1922||Ethics: Origin & Development [Posthumous]|
|1877.12||Prisons & Their Moral Influence on Prisoners [Lecture]|
|1887.00||On Process Under Socialism|
|1893.03||Advice to Those about to Emigrate|
|1895.02||Proposed Communist Settlement|
|1896.03*||Anarchism: Its Philosophy & Ideal [Lecture]|
|c1897.00||Natural Selection and Mutual Aid [Lecture]|
|1897.00||State, The: Its Historic Role [Lecture]|
|1902.03||Kropotkin to Max Nettlau [Letter]|
|1908.11||Kropotkin to Alexander Berkman [Letter]|
|1910.00**||Anarchism [Encyclopaedia Britannica]|
|1914.00||Kropotkin to Gustav Steffen [Letter]|
|1914.10||Letter on Russia [Letter]|
|1915.02||Russian Point of View as Set Forth by Kropotkin [Letter]|
|1915.12||Kropotkin to Kelly [Letter]|
|1917.00||Sergei Stepniak [Introduction]|
|1919.04||Russian Revolution & Soviet Government (To the Workers of Western Europe) [Letter]|
|1920.03||Kropotkin to Vladimir Lenin [Letter]|
|1920.12||Kropotkin to Vladimir Lenin [Letter]|
|1920.12||Kropotkin to De Reijger [Letter]|
|Unknown||Modern State, The [Unknown]|
|Unknown||Place of Anarchism in Socialistic Evolution [Lecture]|
|*Anarchism: It’s Philosophy & Ideal: Some sources date to 1897, 1898|
|*Anarchism: Some sources date to 1905|