Kropotkin knew a few things. And despite the fact that he died in 1921, his works are still around to help challenge our assumptions, examine how we see the world, and to offer ideas of clarity in dark times.
I’m not sure which books by this beard-rocking Russian anarchist/geographer/philosopher/writer I’ve enjoyed the most, but I’ll choose Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution today, especially since you can read it online for free. Of course, we have the book in the shop. too. We also have Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Fields, Factories and Workshops and The Conquest of Bread.
Mutual Aid explores the role of mutually-beneficial cooperation and reciprocity both in the animal kingdom and human societies, past and present – well, relatively present. It argues a case against Darwin’s theories of competition (indispensable in upholding capitalism). He also makes a case against the starry-eyed representations of cooperation in the writings of people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who felt universal love was behind cooperation rather than self-interest.
I just revisited pieces of Kropotkin’s writings and they stand the test of time.
“…in the long run the practice of solidarity proves much more advantageous to the species than the development of individuals endowed with predatory inclinations.”
― Pyotr Kropotkin
And if you aren’t up to reading, this is a good video that explains Mutual Aid briefly in a modern context by the folks at submedia.
By the way, the Diggers shop will be open Friday, the 13th and both Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, if you feel like browsing the shelves, having some tea, and/or reading some zines.
Stay tuned for news in the next post about a couple of projects we have underway for the fall and winter.