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Who was Mikhail Bakunin?
Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) was a Russian anarchist and revolutionary who was active in Europe from 1840 to 1849, and 1861 to 1871. During the years between these periods, he was imprisoned in both Europe and Russia, and for a time was exiled to
Peter Kropotkin was a Russian prince whose views on communism were mitigated by science and the ideas of evolutionary theory (Art Archive).
Siberia. His views are held to be contradictory because he believed both that the "instinct for freedom" in the masses would lead to revolution and that revolution would need to be the result of a plan by educated elite.
In his first period, Bakunin criticized liberal projects to reconcile the demands of workers with the establishment, and he was particularly excoriating about both the Church and the state. In his second period, he attacked scientism, or the dominance of technical approaches to public policy, calling for a "revolt of life against science." Overall, Bakunin and his followers were opposed to the development of Marxism.
Who was Peter Kropotkin?
Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) was perhaps the mildest of all the Marxists and anarchists. He mainly sought to provide a scientific foundation for anarchist-communism by drawing on his own work in geology and his knowledge of Charles Darwin. He was a Russian prince, claimed to be descended from Rurik, who was said to have founded Russia. (Some say Rurik was not an actual historical person, and even if he were it would be hard to prove who his descendants were.)
Kropotkin also wrote the entry for anarchism in the famous eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica that was published in 19ll. This edition was mainly composed by the experts in leadings fields of nineteenth century knowledge and is still highly regarded. (All volumes of this edition are now available free online.)
How did Peter Kropotkin come to form his life philosophy?
Kropotkin's father was a general, and Kropotkin was educated in the Corps of Pages, becoming an attendant to Tsar Alexander II. He received a commission in the Mounted Cossacks of the Amur and went to Siberia, where he investigated the penal system. What he saw turned him against the repressive form of government in place.
In his twenties, Kropotkin led expeditions into unchartered areas of Siberia, which resulted in discoveries about glaciation, the deserts of eastern Asia, and mountain structure.
He read Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's (1809-1865) writings, which led him to resign his commission in protest of an execution of Polish prisoners, who had attempted to
What was Peter Kropotkin's doctrine of anarchist-communism?
Kropotkin's proposals proceeded from the needs of consumers. He envisioned a free-distribution warehouse, instead of the collectivist production cooperatives proposed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865). The main cohesive forces were to be based on social ties, rather than production goals. In his La Conquête du pain (The Conquest of Bread), Kropotkin attempted to work out the details of his system, which was based on ideas previously developed in Thomas More's 1516 work, Utopia, and directly made known to Kropotkin by François Dumartheray, who had worked with Kropotkin in setting up the journal Le Révolté.
escape. After exploring the eskers of Finland, he was offered the position of secretary of the Russian Geological Society in 1872, but instead went to Switzerland to meet exiled radicals.
Kropotkin decided he was an anarchist after moving interactions with Bakunin's followers among the watchmakers of Jura. (The watchmakers were conscientious craftsmen who were not part of the wider industrial revolution, and their cooperation in a close-knit community inspired Kropotkin.) When he returned to Russia, he joined the underground, and in 1874 was imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress. He escaped to Europe, where he founded the journal Le Révolté in 1879 and participated in the London International Anarchist Congress in 1881. In Lyons, France, in 1882, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for being a member of the International Working-men's Association, but public outcry led to an early release. After that, he went to England and remained there, returning to Russia after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
When Kropotkin lived in England, he worked mainly as a scholar. Leading scientific journals and publishers printed his work. His most important publications were Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899), Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution (1902), and Modern Science and Anarchism (1912). His last work, Ethics, was published in 1924 after he died in Russia. Kropotkin's final years were disappointing to him because the aftermath of the Russian Revolution defied his anarchist ideals. He denounced the Bolshevik reign of terror after the October Revolution.
What was Peter Kropokin's view of Darwinism in society?
Kropotkin did not think that competition was a good survival strategy, whether in the animal or human worlds. In his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902) he wrote the following:
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 unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.
However, Kropotkin did hold that revolution is part of human evolution and that anarchism was a return to a condition that had been distorted by modern repressive institutions. Because human beings are naturally social, government is unnecessary.
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