The Fascinating Kropotkin

by The Art of Polemics Staff

“Where there is authority, there is no freedom”

                                                      -Kropotkin

A bald man with a beard. It seems that many great thinkers were bald and also had a beard. Yet, is this a sign of intelligence? A cause or consequence? Never you mind.

Peter Kropotkin wasn’t only a bald intellectual, with a great big old beard. He was also a Russian Prince! However, I think the reason people remember him, besides his physical qualities, was his intellectual input to the ideology of  anarcho-communism.

Kropotkin's photo by Nadar Ελληνικά: Φωτογραφί...
Kropotkin’s photo by Nadar Ελληνικά: Φωτογραφία του Πιοτρ Κροπότκιν από τον Ναντάρ (Nadar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But first, who was he? Peter Kropotkin was a pretty well rounded guy. He was one of those individuals who did a lot of things, and he did them well. From scientist to philosopher, from geographer to economist, and from zoologist from anarcho-communist. Pretty standard stuff.

Interestingly, Kropotkin worked for years as a geographer mapping the vast expanse of Siberia wasteland, particularly because there wasn’t much employment around. After his freezing adventures, he began to become actively associated with anarchist revolutionary causes in the 1870’s.

Yet his work led to his exile in France and Switzerland where he learned to deplore Western capitalist materialist market systems. Basically all the things that make anarcho-communist cringe and grind their teeth in their sleep.

So what exactly was this guy about? Well, Kropotkin believed in economic mutuality- a system in which communism flourished without authority, without a state system. Although  I do not particularly agree with him I can understand where he came from.

He lived in a world where ideas of Social Darwinism were prevalent among all echelons. However, he like many intellectuals refuted these ideas of competition and natural course of strife, and believed in cooperation. So really what this means is that he was advocating that people aren’t made to be in entirety competitive, and a system of resourceful co-operation  is possible.

Thus, instead of fighting over resources for profitable means;mutual economics and resource production is what he believed in.

I do not necessarily believe in Kropotkin’s convictions, nor that of anarcho-communism. To be frank I deplore anarchism, yet that is a topic of another post. The main point remains that it is important to understand such intellectuals as they are the manifestations of ideology.

To better understand a moderated view of this world, and its constant process of intellectualism one should understand all sides of the picture.

A communist cannot refute capitalism, without first understanding it. A capitalist, similarly, cannot refute communism without analyzing it. That would be far too dogmatic.

Personally, people that call themselves capitalists, communists, or anarchists seem to entrenched in identity politics to me. What’s my point?

Don’t refute ideas because they do’t adhere to your own. And if you are going to refute them, trust me you can do a better job if you begin to analyze and study them for what they are. I am sure Kropotkin refuted capitalism after he studied it profusely.

If you actually start thinking of ideas in this way, you might become bald and grow a beard like Kropotkin.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Fascinating Kropotkin

  1. Excellent points. I remember a professor making us read thinkers that we thought were abhorrent, but he reminded us that its better to argue a point to disagree with from a place of knowledge. You can’t argue against racism, sexism, and all the other isms without first reading what people who believe in the opposing view.

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    Like

  2. “Don’t refute ideas because they do’t adhere to your own. And if you are going to refute them, trust me you can do a better job if you begin to analyze and study them for what they are. I am sure Kropotkin refuted capitalism after he studied it profusely.

    If you actually start thinking of ideas in this way, you might become bald and grow a beard like Kropotkin.”

    Well put sir.

    Like

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