The Conquest of Bread

Revolt Library >> Anarchism >> Conquest of Bread, The

1906

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(1842 - 1921) ~ Russian Father of Anarcho-Communism : As anarchism's most important philosophers he was in great demand as a writer and contributed to the journals edited by Benjamin Tucker (Liberty), Albert Parsons (Alarm) and Johann Most (Freiheit). Tucker praised Kropotkin's publication as "the most scholarly anarchist journal in existence." (From : Spartacus Educational Bio.)
• "Which side will you take? For the law and against justice, or for justice and against the law?" (From : "An Appeal to the Young," by Peter Kropotkin, 1880.)
• "...let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions." (From : "The Spirit of Revolution," by Peter Kropotkin, fi....)
• "The fatherland does not exist.... What fatherland can the international banker and the rag-picker have in common?" (From : "The Conquest of Bread," by Peter Kropotkin, 1906.)

Sections

This document contains 19 sections, with 72,010 words or 457,674 characters.

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin PREFACE ONE of the current objections to Communism and Socialism altogether, is that the idea is so old, and yet it could never be realized. Schemes of ideal States haunted the thinkers of Ancient Greece; later on, the early Christians joined in communist groups; centuries later, large communist brotherhoods came into existence during the Reform movement. Then, the same ideals were revived during the great English and French Revolutions; and finally, quite lately, in 1848, a revolution, inspired to a great extent with Socialist ideals, took place in France. "And yet, you see," we are told, "how far away is still the realization of your schemes. Don't you think that there is some fundamental error in your understanding of human nature and its needs?" At first sight this objection seems very serious. However, the mome... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER I Our Riches I THE human race has traveled far since, those bygone ages when men used to fashion their rude implements of flint, and lived on the precarious spoils of the chase, leaving to their children for their only heritage a shelter beneath the rocks, some poor utensils--and Nature, vast, ununderstood, and terrific, with whom they had to fight for their wretched existence. During the agitated times which have elapsed since, and which have lasted for many thousand years, mankind has nevertheless amassed untold treasures. It has cleared the land, dried the marshes, pierced the forests, made roads; it has been building, inventing, observing, reasoning; it has created a complex machinery, wrested her secrets from Nature, and finally it has made a s... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER 2 Well-Being for All I WELL-BEING for all is not a dream. It is possible, realizable, owing to all that our ancestors have done to increase our powers of production. We know, indeed, that the producers, although they constitute hardly one-third of the inhabitants of civilized countries, even now produce such quantities of goods that a certain degree of comfort could be brought to every hearth. We know further that if all those who squander to-day the fruits of others' toil were forced to employ their leisure in useful work, our wealth would increase in proportion to the number of producers, and more. Finally, we know that contrary to the theory enunciated by Malthus--that Oracle of middle-class Economics --the productive powers of the hum... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER III ANARCHIST COMMUNISM I EVERY society which has abolished private property will be forced, we maintain, to organize itself on the lines of Communistic Anarchy. Anarchy leads to Communism, and Communism to Anarchy, both alike being expressions of the predominant tendency in modern societies, the pursuit of equality. Time was when a peasant family could consider the corn which it grew, or the woolen garments woven in the cottage, as the products of its own toil. But even then this way of looking at things was not quite correct. There were the roads and the bridges made in common, the swamps drained by common toil, and the communal pastures enclosed by hedges which were kept in repair by each and all. If the looms for weaving or the dyes for coloring f... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER IV Expropriation I IT is told of Rothschild that, seeing his fortune threatened by the Revolution of 1848, he hit upon the following stratagem: "I am quite willing to admit," said he, "that my fortune has been accumulated at the expense of others, but if it were divided to-morrow among the millions of Europe, the share of each would only amount to five shillings. Very well, then, I undertake to render to each his five shillings if he asks me for it." Having given due publicity to his promise, our millionaire proceeded as usual to stroll quietly through the streets of Frankfort. Three or four passersby asked for their five shillings, which he disbursed with a sardonic smile. His stratagem succeeded, and the family of the millionaire is still in possess... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER V Food I IF the coming Revolution is to be a Social Revo lution it will be distinguished from all former uprisings not only by its aim, but also by its methods. To attain a new end, new means are required. The three great popular movements which we have seen in France during the last hundred years differ from each other in many ways, but they have one common feature. In each case the people strove to overturn the old regime, and spent their heart's blood for the cause. Then, after having borne the brunt of the battle, they sank again into obscurity. A Government, composed of men more or less honest, was formed and undertook to organize--the Republic in 1793, Labor in 1848, and the Free Commune in 1871. Imbued with Jacobin ideas, this Gover... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER VI Dwellings I THOSE who have closely watched the growth of certain ideas among the workers must have noticed that on one momentous question--the housing of the people, namely--a definite conclusion is being imperceptibly arrived at. It is a known fact that in the large towns of France, and in many of the smaller ones also, the workers are coming gradually to the conclusion that dwelling-houses are in no sense the property of those whom the State recognizes as their owners. This idea has evolved naturally in the minds of the people, and nothing will ever convince them again that the "rights of property" ought to extend to houses. The house was not built by its owner. It was erected, decorated, and furnished by innumerable workers--in the timber yard,... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER VII Clothing I WHEN the houses have become the common heritage of the citizens, and when each man has his daily supply of food, another forward step will have to be taken. The question of clothing will of course demand consideration next, and again the only possible solution will be to take possession, in the name of the people, of all the shops and warehouses where clothing is sold or stored, and to throw open the doors to all, so that each can take what he needs. The communalization of clothing--the right of each to take what he needs from the communal stores, or to have it made for him at the tailors and outfitters--is a necessary corollary of the communalization of houses and food. Obviously we shall not need for that to despoil all citizens of their co... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER VIII Ways and Means I IF a society, a city, or a territory, were to guaran tee the necessaries of life to its inhabitants (and we shall see how the conception of the necessaries of life can be so extended as to include luxuries), it would be compelled to take possession of what is absolutely needed for production; that is to say-- land, machinery, factories, means of transport, etc. Capital in the hands of private owners would be expropriated and returned to the community. The great harm done by bourgeois society, as we have already mentioned, is not only that capitalists seize a large share of the profits of each industrial and commercial enterprise, thus enabling them to live without working, but that all production has taken a wrong direction... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER IX The Need For Luxury I MAN, however, is not a being whose exclusive purpose in life is eating, drinking, and providing a shelter for himself. As soon as his material wants are satisfied, other needs, of an artistic character, will thrust themselves forward the more ardently. Aims of life vary with each and every individual; and the more society is civilized, the more will individuality be developed, and the more will desires be varied. Even to-day we see men and women denying themselves necessaries to acquire mere trifles, to obtain some particular gratification, or some intellectual or material enjoyment. A Christian or an ascetic may disapprove of these desires for luxury; but it is precisely these trifles that break the monotony of existence and make it a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER X Agreeable Work I WHEN Socialists declare that a society, emancipated from Capital, would make work agreeable, and would suppress all repugnant and unhealthy drudgery, they get laughed at. And yet even to-day we can see the striking progress made in this direction; and wherever this progress has been achieved, employers congratulate themselves on the economy of energy obtained thereby. It is evident that a factory could be made as healthy and pleasant as a scientific laboratory. And it is no less evident that it would be advantageous to make it so. In a spacious and well-ventilated factory work is better; it is easy to introduce small amelioration... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XIFree Agreement I Accustomed as we are by hereditary prejudices and absolutely unsoundeducation and training to see Government, legislation and magistracy everywherearound, we have come to believe that man would tear his fellow man to pieceslike a wild beast the day the police took his eye off him; that chaos wouldcome about if authority were overthrown during a revolution. Andwith our eyes shut we pass by thousands and thousands of human groupingswhich form themselves freely, without any intervention of the law, andattain results infinitely superior to those achieved under governmentaltutelage. If you open a daily paper you find its pages are entirely devote... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XII Objections I LET us now examine the principal objections put forth against Communism. Most of them are evidently caused by a simple misunderstanding, yet they raise important questions and merit our attention. It is not for us to answer the objections raised by authoritarian Communism--we ourselves hold with them. Civilized nations have suffered too much in the long, hard struggle for the emancipation of the individual, to disown their past work and to tolerate a Government that would make itself felt in the smallest details of a citizen's life, even if that Government had no other aim than the good of the community. Should an authoritarian Socialist society ever succeed in establishing itself, it could not last; general discontent would soon fo... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER 13 The Collectivist Wages System I It is our opinion that collectivists commit a twofold error in their plans for the reconstruction of society. While speaking of abolishing capitalist rule, they intend nevertheless to retain two institutions which are the very basis of this rule--Representative Government and the Wages System. As regards so-called representative government, we have often spoken about it. It is absolutely incomprehensible to us that intelligent men--and such are not wanting in the collectivist party--can remain partizans of national or municipal parliaments after all the lessons history has given them--in France, in England, in Germany, or... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XIV Consumption And Production I LOOKING at society and its political organization from a different standpoint than that of authoritarian schools- for we start from a free individual to reach a free society, instead of beginning by the State to come down to the individual- we follow the same method in economic questions. We study the needs of individuals, and the means by which they satisfy them, before discussing Production, Exchange, Taxation, Government, etc. To begin with, the difference may appear trifling, but in reality it upsets official Political Economy. If you open the works of any economist you will find that he begins with PRODUCTION, the analysis of means employed nowadays for the creation of wealth; division of labor, manufacture, machine... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XV The Division of Labor I POLITICAL ECONOMY has always confined itself to stating facts occurring in society, and justifying them in the interest of the dominant class. Thus it is in favor of the division of labor created by industry. Having found it profitable to capitalists it has set it up as a principle. Look at the village smith, said Adam Smith, the father of modern Political Economy. If he has never been accustomed to making nails he will only succeed by hard toil in forging two to three hundred a day, and even then they will be bad. But if this same smith has never done anything but nails, he will easily supply as many as two thousand three hundred in... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XVI The Decentralization of Industry I AFTER the Napoleonic wars Britain all but succeeded in ruining the main industries which had sprung up in France at the end of the preceding century. She became also mistress of the seas and had no rivals of importance. She took in the situation, and knew how to turn its privileges and advantages to account. She established an industrial monopoly, and, imposing upon her neighbors her prices for the goods she alone could manufacture, accumulated riches upon riches. But as the middle-class Revolution of the eighteenth century abolished serfdom and created a proletariat in France, industry, hampered for... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin CHAPTER XVII Agriculture I POLITICAL ECONOMY has often been reproached with drawing all its deductions from the decidedly false principle, that the only incentive capable of forcing a man to augment his power of production is personal interest in its narrowest sense. The reproach is perfectly true; so true that epochs of great industrial discoveries and true progress in industry are precisely those in which the happiness of all was the aim pursued, and in which personal enrichment was least thought of. Great investigators and great inventors aimed, without doubt, at the emancipation of mankind. And if Watt, Stephenson, Jacquard, etc., could have only foreseen what a state of misery their sleepless nights would bring to the workers, they would probably have burned... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THE CONQUEST OF BREAD by P. Kropotkin NOTES (1) Consult "La Rpartition mtrique des impts," by A. Toubeau, two vols., published by Guillaumin in 1880. (We do not in the least agree with Toubeau's conclusions, but it is a real encyclopdia, indicating the sources which prove what can be obtained from the soil.) "La Culture marachere," by M. Ponce, Paris, 1869. "Le Potager Gressent," Paris, 1885, an excellent practical work. " Physiologie et culture du bl," by Risler, Paris, 1881. "Le bl, sa culture intensive et extensive," by Lecouteux, Paris, 1883. " La Cit Chinoise," by Eugne Simon. " Le dictionnaire d'agriculture, " by Barral (Hachette, editor). "The Rothamstead Experiments," by Wm. Fream,... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

Chronology

1906 :
The Conquest of Bread -- Publication.

January 13, 2017 ; 3:37:43 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 25, 2019 ; 2:47:46 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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