Words of a Rebel

By Peter Kropotkin (1885)

Entry 441


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Untitled Anarchism Words of a Rebel

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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.)
• "To recognize all men as equal and to renounce government of man by man is another increase of individual liberty in a degree which no other form of association has ever admitted even as a dream." (From: "Communism and Anarchy," by Peter Kropotkin, 1901.)
• "The communes of the next revolution will proclaim and establish their independence by direct socialist revolutionary action, abolishing private property. When the revolutionary situation ripens, which may happen any day, and governments are swept away by the people, when the middle-class camp, which only exists by state protection, is thus thrown into disorder, the insurgent people will not wait until some new government decrees, in its marvelous wisdom, a few economic reforms." (From: "The Commune of Paris," by Peter Kropotkin, Freedo....)


11 Chapters | 32,395 Words | 192,456 Characters

It is evident that we are advancing rapidly towards revolution, towards an upheaval that will begin in one country and spread, as in 1848, into all the neighboring lands, and, as it rocks existing society to its foundations, will also reopen the springs of life. To confirm our view, we do not even have to invoke the testimony of a celebrated German historian,(1) or a well-known Italian philosopher,(2) both of whom, having deeply studied the history of our times, have reached the conclusion that a great revolution was inevitable towards the end of this century. We need only watch the panorama that has unrolled before us over the past twenty years; we need only observe what goes on around us. When we do so, we perceive two major facts emerg... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
If the economic situation of Europe can be summed up in these words-industrial and commercial chaos and the failure of capitalist production-the situation in politics can be defined as the rapid breakdown of the State and its entire failure, which will take place very soon. Consider all the various States, from the police autocracy of Russia to the bourgeois oligarchy of Switzerland, and you will not find a single example today (with the possible exception of Sweden and Norway)(3) of a State that is not set on an accelerating course towards disintegration and eventually, revolution. Like wornout old men, their skin shriveled and their feet stumbling, gnawed at by mortal sicknesses, incapable of embarking on the tide of new ideas, the Stat... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
There are periods in human existence when the inevitability of a great upheaval, of a cataclysm that shakes society to its very roots, imposes itself on every area of our relationships. At such epochs, all men of good will begin to realize that things cannot go on as they are; that we need me great events that roughly break the thread of history, shake humanity out of the ruts in which it is stuck, and propel it towards new ways, towards the unknown, towards the search for the ideal. One feels the inevitability of a revolution, vast, implacable, whose role will be not merely to overthrow an economic machine based on cold exploitation, on speculation and fraud, not merely to throw down the political ladder that sustains the rule of the few t... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
In the preceding chapters we came to the conclusion that Europe is proceeding down a steep slope towards a revolutionary outbreak. In considering the methods of production and exchange, as they have been organized by the bourgeoisie, we found a situation of irremediable decay. We see the complete absence of any kind of scientific or humanitarian basis for public actions, the unreasoning dissipation of social capital, the thirst for gain that led men to an absolute contempt for all the laws of social behavior, and industrial war without an end in sight: in all, chaos. And we hailed the approach of the day on which the call, "An end to the bourgeoisie!" would echo from all lips with the same unanimity as hitherto characterized the call for a... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Each day, in a whole range of tones, the bourgeois press praises the value and the importance of our political liberties, of the "political rights of the citizen": universal suffrage, free elections, freedom of the press and of meeting, etc. "Since you have these freedoms," they say to us, "what is the point of rebelling? Don't the liberties you already possess assure the possibilities of all the reforms that may be necessary, without your needing to resort to the gun?" So, let us analyze, from our point of view, what these famous "political liberties" are worth to the class that owns nothing, rules nobody, and has in fact very few rights and plenty of duties. We are not asserting, as has sometimes been said, that political rights have no... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
It is to the young that I wish to speak now. Let the old-I mean of course the old in heart and spirit-put these pages aside without tiring themselves pointlessly by reading something which will tell them nothing. I assume you are about eighteen or twenty; that you are finishing your apprenticeship or your studies; that you are about to enter into life. I imagine you have a mind detached from the superstitions people have tried to inculcate in you; you are in no fear of the Devil and you do not listen to the rantings of priests and parsons. Furthermore I am sure you are not one of those popinjays, the sad products of a society in decline, who parade in the streets with their Mexican trousers and their monkey faces and who already, at their ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
The spectacle offered by Europe at the present moment is very sad to see, but it is also very edifying. On the one side, there is a coming and going of diplomats and statesmen which increases visibly whenever the air of the old continent begins to smell of gunpowder. Alliances are made and dismantled; human beings are traded and sold like cattle to make sure of alliances. "So many millions of heads guaranteed by our house to yours; so many acres to feed them, so many ports to export their wool," and he who can best dupe the others in such trafficking comes out the winner. This is what in political jargon is called diplomacy. On the other side there is no ending the flow of armaments. Every day brings us new inventions for the better exterm... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
"All that you say is very true," our critics often say to us. "Your ideal of anarchist communism is excellent, and its realization would in fact lead to well-being and peace on earth; but so few want it, and so few understand it, and so few have the devotion that is needed to work for its achievement! You are only a tiny minority, your feeble groups scattered here and there, lost in the middle of an indifferent mass, and you face a terrible enemy, well-organized and in control of armies, of capital, of education. The struggle you have undertaken is beyond your powers." This is the objection we hear constantly from many of our critics and often even from our friends. Let us see what truth there is in it. That our anarchist groups are only a... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
We are often reproached with having taken as our slogan word anarchy which stirs up fear in so many minds. “Your ideas are excellent – we are told – but you must admit that you have made an unfortunate choice in naming your party. Anarchy, in current speech, is the synonym for disorder, for chaos; that word awakens in the mind the idea of colliding interests, of individuals at war with each other, who cannot succeed in establishing harmony.” Let us begin by observing that an activist party, a party which represents a new tendency, rarely has the chance of itself choosing its name. It was not the Beggars of Brabant1 who invented that name which later became so popular. But, from being a nickname – and an almost in... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
1. When we say that the social revolution must be achieved by the liberation of the Communes, and that it is the Communes, absolutely independent, liberated from the tutelage of the State, that alone can give us the necessary setting for a revolution and the means of accomplishing it, we are reproached with wanting to recall to life a form of society that has already outlived its time. "But the Commune," they say, "belongs to another age! In setting out to destroy the State and put free communes in its place, you are looking to the past; you want to lead us back into the heart of the middle ages, to reignite the old communal wars, and destroy the national unities that have been so painfully achieved in the course of history. Very well, le... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
I. On the 18th of March, 1871, the people of Paris rose against a rule that was generally detested and despised, and proclaimed the city of Paris independent, free, and belonging only to itself. This overthrow of central power was made without the usual scenes of a revolutionary uprising: on that day there were neither volleys of shot nor floods of blood shed behind the barricades. The rulers were eclipsed by an armed people going out into the streets; the soldiers evacuated the city, the bureaucrats hastened towards Versailles, taking with them everything they could carry. The government evaporated like a puddle of stinking water under the breath of a spring wind, and by the 19th, having shed hardly a drop of its children's blood, Paris ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)


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