Peter Kropotkin:
Links to related sites,
with annotations by members of the Spunk Collective
and our readers.

Mutual Aid; A Factor In Evolution [at Anarchy Archives]
In this book, Kropotkin works out his notion of cooperation as a genetic heritage, not something that requires imposition from without. Beginning with a study of cooperation among animals (much of it from field notes he made while mapping Siberia), Kropotkin goes on to sketch forms of cooperation in different stages of human society. Although many details in the book have been challenged by specialists since, these do nothing to change the validity of the underlying argument. Of course, they, too, have been challenged by some Anarchist writers. However you come down on this, it's interesting to note that Kropotkin was the first to study the behavior of animals in their natural environment scientifically. He has not been given credit for founding "ethology" because non-Anarchist writers on the subject claim he wasn't being objective. At the time Kropotkin wrote this classic, the theory of evolution had become a means of justifying hyper-capitalism, under the cover of "social Darwinism." Kropotkin and a number of other scientists of the day brought forth arguments against it. In the time that has passed since, historians of science have pretended that the only opponents of social darwinism were religious, and based their opposition to the use of the theory of evolution to justify the most ruthless forms of capitalism on the grounds of fundamentalist religion. The covering up of non-religious arguments shows how unobjective science has been during the last century, and how well the capitalist press has obscured serious criticism.

Kropotkin's basic arguments can be found in "Anarchist Morality" here in the Spunk Archive [link back to our entry], and you might want to read this essay before checking out the much longer Mutual Aid. Looking at it from a biographical point of view, and reading it along with such works as Memoirs of a Revolutionist, it's amazing how much Kropotkin managed to do during the years he worked as a surveyor in Siberia, and equally amazing to consider how much of his analysis was worked out not in a cozy Victorian library, but in prisons in Russia and France.

- Notes by Karl Young

The Commune of Paris [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Andrew Flood]

The Conquest of Bread [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Chuck Munson]

Memoirs of a Revolutionist [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Will Kemp]

On Order [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Jack Jansen]

Process Under Socialism [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Jamal Hannah]

The State: Its Historic Role [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Mikael Cardell]

Fields Factories and Workshops [at Anarchy Archives] [at Anarchy Archives]
[Notes by Karl Young]

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