Mutual Aid : A Factor of Evolution

By Peter Kropotkin

Entry 387

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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.)
• "...the strength of Anarchy lies precisely in that it understands all human faculties and all passions, and ignores none..." (From: "The Conquest of Bread," by Peter Kropotkin, 1906.)
• "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.)
• "As to parliamentary rule, and representative government altogether... It is becoming evident that it is merely stupid to elect a few men, and to entrust them with the task of making laws on all possible subjects, of which subject most of them are utterly ignorant." (From: "Process Under Socialism," by Peter Kropotkin, 188....)

Chapters

11 Chapters | 104,262 Words | 654,726 Characters

Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 INTRODUCTION Two aspects of animal life impressed me most during the journeys which I made in my youth in Eastern Siberia and Northern Manchuria. One of them was the extreme severity of the struggle for existence which most species of animals have to carry on against an inclement Nature; the enormous destruction of life which periodically results from natural agencies; and the consequent paucity of life over the vast territory which fell under my observation. And the other was, that even in those few spots where animal life teemed in abundance, I failed to find -- although I was eagerly looking for it -- that bitter struggle for the means of existence, among animals belonging to the... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 1: MUTUAL AID AMONG ANIMALS Struggle for existence. -- Mutual Aid -- a law of Nature and chief factor of progressive evolution. -- Invertebrates. -- Ants and Bees -- Birds: Hunting and fishing associations. -- Sociability. -- Mutual protection among small birds. -- Cranes; parrots. The conception of struggle for existence as a factor of evolution, introduced into science by Darwin and Wallace, has permitted us to embrace an immensely wide range of phenomena in one single generalization, which soon became the very basis of our philosophical, biological, and sociological speculations. An immense variety of facts: -- adaptations of function and structure of organic beings to t... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 2: MUTUAL AID AMONG ANIMALS (continued) Migrations of birds.-- Breeding associations. -- Autumn societies. -- Mammals: small number of unsociable species. -- Hunting associations of wolves, lions, etc. -- Societies of rodents; of ruminants; of monkeys. -- Mutual Aid in the struggle for life. -- Darwin's arguments to prove the struggle for life within the species. -- Natural checks to over-multiplication. -- Supposed extermination of intermediate links. -- Elimination of competition in Nature. As soon as spring comes back to the temperate zone, myriads and myriads of birds which are scattered over the warmer regions of the South come together in numberless bands, a... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 3: MUTUAL AID AMONG SAVAGES Supposed war of each against all. -- Tribal origin of human society. -- Late appearance of the separate family. -- Bushmen and Hottentots. -- Australians, Papuas. -- Eskimos, Aleoutes. -- Features of savage life difficult to understand for the European. -- The Dayak's conception of justice. -- Common law. The immense part played by mutual aid and mutual support in the evolution of the animal world has been briefly analyzed in the preceding chapters. We have now to cast a glance upon the part played by the same agencies in the evolution of mankind. We saw how few are the animal species which live an isolated life, and how numberless are those whi... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 4: MUTUAL AID AMONG THE BARBARIANS The great migrations. -- New organization rendered necessary. -- The village community. -- Communal work. -- Judicial procedure -- Inter-tribal law. -- Illustrations from the life of our contemporaries -- Buryates. -- Kabyles. -- Caucasian mountaineers. -- African stems. It is not possible to study primitive mankind without being deeply impressed by the sociability it has displayed since its very first steps in life. Traces of human societies are found in the relics of both the oldest and the later stone age; and, when we come to observe the savages whose manners of life are still those of neolithic man, we find them closely bound togethe... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 5: MUTUAL AID IN THE MEDIÆVAL CITY Growth of authority in Barbarian Society. -- Serfdom in the villages. -- Revolt of fortified towns: their liberation; their charts. -- The guild. -- Double origin of the free mediæval city. -- Self-jurisdiction, self-administration. -- Honorable position of labor. -- Trade by the guild and by the city. Sociability and need of mutual aid and support are such inherent parts of human nature that at no time of history can we discover men living in small isolated families, fighting each other for the means of subsistence. On the contrary, modern research, as we saw it in the two preceding chapters, proves that since the very beginni... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 Chapter 6: MUTUAL AID IN THE MEDIÆVAL CITY (continued) Likeness and diversity among the mediæval cities. -- The craftguilds: State-attributes in each of them. -- Attitude of the city towards the peasants; attempts to free them. -- The lords. -- Results achieved by the mediæval city: in arts, in learning. -- Causes of decay. The mediæval cities were not organized upon some preconceived plan in obedience to the will of an outside legislator. Each of them was a natural growth in the full sense of the word -- an always varying result of struggle between various forces which adjusted and re-adjusted themselves in conformity with their relative energies, the chan... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 CHAPTER 7 MUTUAL AID AMONG OURSELVES Popular revolts at the beginning of the State-period. -- Mutual Aid institutions of the present time. -- The village community; its struggles for resisting its abolition by the State. -- Habits derived from the village-community life, retained in our modern villages. -- Switzerland, France, Germany, Russia. The mutual-aid tendency in man has so remote an origin, and is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution of the human race, that it has been maintained by mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all vicissitudes of history. It was chiefly evolved during periods of peace and prosperity; but when even the greatest calamities bef... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 CHAPTER 8 MUTUAL AID AMONG OURSELVES (continued) Labor-unions grown after the destruction of the guilds by the State. -- Their struggles. -- Mutual Aid in strikes. -- Cooperation. -- Free associations for various purposes. -- Self-sacrifice. -- Countless societies for combined action under all possible aspects. -- Mutual Aid in slum-life. -- Personal aid. When we examine the everyday life of the rural populations of Europe, we find that, notwithstanding all that has been done in modern States for the destruction of the village community, the life of the peasants remains honeycombed with habits and customs of mutual aid and support; that important vestiges of the communal posses... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 CONCLUSION If we take now the teachings which can be borrowed from the analysis of modern society, in connection with the body of evidence relative to the importance of mutual aid in the evolution of the animal world and of mankind, we may sum up our inquiry as follows. In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense -- not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavorable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution Peter Kropotkin 1902 APPENDIX I -- SWARMS OF BUTTERFLIES, DRAGON-FLIES, ETC. (To p. 10) M.C. Piepers has published in Natuurkunding Tijdschrift voor Neederlandsch Indië, 1891, Deel L. p. 198 (analyzed in Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau, 1891, vol. vi. p. 573), interesting researches into the mass-flights of butterflies which occur in Dutch East India, seemingly under the influence of great drafts occasioned by the west monsoon. Such mass-flights usually take place in the first months after the beginning of the monsoon, and it is usually individuals of both sexes of Catopsilia (Callidryas) crocale, Cr., which join in it, but occasionally the swarms consist of individuals belonging to three dif... (From: Anarchy Archives.)

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