Zitate von Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin

Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin Foto
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Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin

Geburtstag: 27. November 1842
Todesdatum: 8. Februar 1921

Fürst Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin war ein russischer Anarchist, Geograph und Schriftsteller.

Er hinterließ viele Schriften, darunter die revolutionäre Schrift Die Eroberung des Brotes und sein wissenschaftliches Werk Gegenseitige Hilfe in der Tier- und Menschenwelt. Kropotkin kämpfte für eine gewalt- und herrschaftsfreie Gesellschaft und gilt als einer der einflussreichsten Theoretiker des kommunistischen Anarchismus. Aufgrund seiner adeligen Herkunft und seiner Bekanntheit als Anarchist des späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts wurde Kropotkin auch der anarchistische Fürst genannt. Wikipedia

Photo: Unknown author, Unknown source / Public domain

Zitate Pjotr Alexejewitsch Kropotkin

„The State idea means something quite different from the idea of government.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Quelle: The State — Its Historic Role (1897), I
Kontext: The State idea means something quite different from the idea of government. It not only includes the existence of a power situated above society, but also of a territorial concentration as well as the concentration in the hands of a few of many functions in the life of societies. It implies some new relationships between members of society which did not exist before the formation of the State. A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed in order to subject some classes to the domination of others.
This distinction, which at first sight might not be obvious, emerges especially when one studies the origins of the State.

„They study the characteristics of law, and instead of perpetual growth corresponding to that of the human race, they find its distinctive trait to be immobility, a tendency to crystallize what should be modified and developed day by day.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Quelle: Law and Authority (1886), I
Kontext: Men who long for freedom begin the attempt to obtain it by entreating their masters to be kind enough to protect them by modifying the laws which these masters themselves have created!
But times and tempers are changed. Rebels are everywhere to be found who no longer wish to obey the law without knowing whence it comes, what are its uses, and whither arises the obligation to submit to it, and the reverence with which it is encompassed. The rebels of our day are criticizing the very foundations of society which have hitherto been held sacred, and first and foremost amongst them that fetish, law.
The critics analyze the sources of law, and find there either a god, product of the terrors of the savage, and stupid, paltry, and malicious as the priests who vouch for its supernatural origin, or else, bloodshed, conquest by fire and sword. They study the characteristics of law, and instead of perpetual growth corresponding to that of the human race, they find its distinctive trait to be immobility, a tendency to crystallize what should be modified and developed day by day.

„A society entering into possession of the social capital accumulated by the labor of preceding generations, organizing itself so as to make use of this capital in the interests of all, and constituting itself without reconstituting the power of the ruling minorities. It comprises in its midst an infinite variety of capacities, temperaments and individual energies: it excludes none. It even calls for struggles and contentions; because we know that periods of contests, so long as they were freely fought out, without the weight of constituted authority being thrown on the one side of the balance, were periods when human genius took its mightiest flight and achieved the greatest aims.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. Under the name of Anarchy, a new interpretation of the past and present life of society arises, giving at the same time a forecast as regards its future, both conceived in the same spirit as the above-mentioned interpretation in natural sciences. Anarchy, therefore, appears as a constituent part of the new philosophy, and that is why Anarchists come in contact, on so many points, with the greatest thinkers and poets of the present day.
In fact, it is certain that in proportion as the human mind frees itself from ideas inculcated by minorities of priests, military chiefs and judges, all striving to establish their domination, and of scientists paid to perpetuate it, a conception of society arises, in which conception there is no longer room for those dominating minorities. A society entering into possession of the social capital accumulated by the labor of preceding generations, organizing itself so as to make use of this capital in the interests of all, and constituting itself without reconstituting the power of the ruling minorities. It comprises in its midst an infinite variety of capacities, temperaments and individual energies: it excludes none. It even calls for struggles and contentions; because we know that periods of contests, so long as they were freely fought out, without the weight of constituted authority being thrown on the one side of the balance, were periods when human genius took its mightiest flight and achieved the greatest aims. Acknowledging, as a fact, the equal rights of all its members to the treasures accumulated in the past, it no longer recognizes a division between exploited and exploiters, governed and governors, dominated and dominators, and it seeks to establish a certain harmonious compatibility in its midst — not by subjecting all its members to an authority that is fictitiously supposed to represent society, not by trying to establish uniformity, but by urging all men to develop free initiative, free action, free association.
It seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees, for all imaginable aims; ever changing, ever modified associations which carry in themselves the elements of their durability and constantly assume new forms, which answer best to the multiple aspirations of all.

„We know well the means by which this association of the lord, priest, merchant, judge, soldier, and king founded its domination. It was by the annihilation of all free unions: of village communities, guilds, trades unions, fraternities, and mediæval cities.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: We know well the means by which this association of the lord, priest, merchant, judge, soldier, and king founded its domination. It was by the annihilation of all free unions: of village communities, guilds, trades unions, fraternities, and mediæval cities. It was by confiscating the land of the communes and the riches of the guilds; it was by the absolute and ferocious prohibition of all kinds of free agreement between men; it was by massacre, the wheel, the gibbet, the sword, and the fire that Church and State established their domination, and that they succeeded henceforth to reign over an incoherent agglomeration of subjects, who had no direct union more among themselves.
It is now hardly thirty or forty years ago that we began to reconquer, by struggle, by revolt, the first steps of the right of association, that was freely practised by the artisans and the tillers of the soil through the whole of the middle ages.
And, already now, Europe is covered by thousands of voluntary associations for study and teaching, for industry, commerce, science, art, literature, exploitation, resistance to exploitation, amusement, serious work, gratification and self-denial, for all that makes up the life of an active and thinking being. We see these societies rising in all nooks and corners of all domains: political, economic, artistic, intellectual. Some are as shortlived as roses, some hold their own since several decades, and all strive — while maintaining the independence of each group, circle, branch, or section — to federate, to unite, across frontiers as well as among each nation; to cover all the life of civilized men with a net, meshes of which are intersected and interwoven.

„Our society seems no longer able to understand that it is possible to exist otherwise than under the reign of law, elaborated by a representative government and administered by a handful of rulers.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Quelle: Law and Authority (1886), I
Kontext: In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. … In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.
We are so perverted by an education which from infancy seeks to kill in us the spirit of revolt, and to develop that of submission to authority; we are so perverted by this existence under the ferrule of a law, which regulates every event in life — our birth, our education, our development, our love, our friendship — that, if this state of things continues, we shall lose all initiative, all habit of thinking for ourselves. Our society seems no longer able to understand that it is possible to exist otherwise than under the reign of law, elaborated by a representative government and administered by a handful of rulers. And even when it has gone so far as to emancipate itself from the thralldom, its first care has been to reconstitute it immediately. "The Year I of Liberty" has never lasted more than a day, for after proclaiming it men put themselves the very next morning under the yoke of law and authority.

„What if that knowledge — and only that — should become the possession of all? Would not science itself progress in leaps, and cause mankind to make strides in production, invention, and social creation, of which we are hardly in a condition now to measure the speed?“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899) http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/memoirs/memoirstoc.html Part IV, Sect. 3 http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/memoirs/memoirs4_3.html
Kontext: Belief in an ice-cap reaching Middle Europe was at that time rank heresy; but before my eyes a grand picture was rising, and I wanted to draw it, with the thousands of details I saw in it; to use it as a key to the present distribution of floras and faunas; to open new horizons for geology and physical geography.
But what right had I to these highest joys, when all around me was nothing but misery and struggle for a mouldy bit of bread; when whatsoever I should spend to enable me to live in that world of higher emotions must needs be taken from the very mouths of those who grew the wheat and had not bread enough for their children? From somebody's mouth it must be taken, because the aggregate production of mankind remains still so low.
Knowledge is an immense power. Man must know. But we already know much! What if that knowledge — and only that — should become the possession of all? Would not science itself progress in leaps, and cause mankind to make strides in production, invention, and social creation, of which we are hardly in a condition now to measure the speed?

„After having fixed all their attention on the sun and the large planets, astronomers are beginning to study now the infinitely small ones that people the universe. And they discover that the interplanetary and interstellar spaces are peopled and crossed in all imaginable directions by little swarms of matter, invisible, infinitely small when taken separately, but all-powerful in their numbers.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: Take any work on astronomy of the last century, or the beginning of ours. You will no longer find in it, it goes without saying, our tiny planet placed in the center of the universe. But you will meet at every step the idea of a central luminary — the sun — which by its powerful attraction governs our planetary world. From this central body radiates a force guiding the course of the planets, and maintaining the harmony of the system. Issued from a central agglomeration, planets have, so to say, budded from it; they owe their birth to this agglomeration; they owe everything to the radiant star that represents it still: the rhythm of their movements, their orbits set at wisely regulated distances, the life that animates them and adorns their surfaces. And when any perturbation disturbs their course and makes them deviate from their orbits, the central body re-establishes order in the system; it assures and perpetuates its existence.
This conception, however, is also disappearing as the other one did. After having fixed all their attention on the sun and the large planets, astronomers are beginning to study now the infinitely small ones that people the universe. And they discover that the interplanetary and interstellar spaces are peopled and crossed in all imaginable directions by little swarms of matter, invisible, infinitely small when taken separately, but all-powerful in their numbers.

„Governmental Communism, like theocratic Communism, is repugnant to the worker.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: The uncertainty of Socialists themselves concerning the organization of the society they are wishing for, paralyses their energy up to a certain point.
At the beginning, in the forties, Socialism presented itself as Communism, as a republic one and indivisible, as a governmental and Jacobin dictatorship, in its application to economics. Such was the ideal of that time. Religious and freethinking Socialists were equally ready to submit to any strong government, even an imperial one, if that government would only remodel economic relations to the worker's advantage.
A profound revolution has since been accomplished, especially among Latin and English peoples. Governmental Communism, like theocratic Communism, is repugnant to the worker.

„Belief in an ice-cap reaching Middle Europe was at that time rank heresy“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1899) http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/memoirs/memoirstoc.html Part IV, Sect. 3 http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/memoirs/memoirs4_3.html
Kontext: Belief in an ice-cap reaching Middle Europe was at that time rank heresy; but before my eyes a grand picture was rising, and I wanted to draw it, with the thousands of details I saw in it; to use it as a key to the present distribution of floras and faunas; to open new horizons for geology and physical geography.
But what right had I to these highest joys, when all around me was nothing but misery and struggle for a mouldy bit of bread; when whatsoever I should spend to enable me to live in that world of higher emotions must needs be taken from the very mouths of those who grew the wheat and had not bread enough for their children? From somebody's mouth it must be taken, because the aggregate production of mankind remains still so low.
Knowledge is an immense power. Man must know. But we already know much! What if that knowledge — and only that — should become the possession of all? Would not science itself progress in leaps, and cause mankind to make strides in production, invention, and social creation, of which we are hardly in a condition now to measure the speed?

„But a greater evil of the present system becomes more and more marked; namely, that in a system based on private appropriation, all that is necessary to life and to production — land, housing, food and tools — having once passed into the hands of a few, the production of necessities that would give well-being to all is continually hampered.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: The masses have never believed in sophisms taught by economists, uttered more to confirm exploiters in their rights than to convert exploited! Peasants and workers, crushed by misery and finding no support in the well-to-do classes, have let things go, save from time to time when they have affirmed their rights by insurrection. And if workers ever thought that the day would come when personal appropriation of capital would profit all by turning it into a stock of wealth to be shared by all, this illusion is vanishing like so many others. The worker perceives that he has been disinherited, and that disinherited he will remain, unless he has recourse to strikes or revolts to tear from his masters the smallest part of riches built up by his own efforts; that is to say, in order to get that little, he already must impose on himself the pangs of hunger and face imprisonment, if not exposure to Imperial, Royal, or Republican fusillades.
But a greater evil of the present system becomes more and more marked; namely, that in a system based on private appropriation, all that is necessary to life and to production — land, housing, food and tools — having once passed into the hands of a few, the production of necessities that would give well-being to all is continually hampered. The worker feels vaguely that our present technical power could give abundance to all, but he also perceives how the capitalistic system and the State hinder the conquest of this well-being in every way.
Far from producing more than is needed to assure material riches, we do not produce enough.

„The whole aspect of the universe changes with this new conception.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Kropotkin here may be refering to the French scientist Joseph Fourier, and not the French social philosopher Charles Fourier
Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: The whole aspect of the universe changes with this new conception. The idea of force governing the world, of pre-established law, preconceived harmony, disappears to make room for the harmony that Fourier had caught a glimpse of: the one which results from the disorderly and incoherent movements of numberless hosts of matter, each of which goes its own way and all of which hold each other in equilibrium.

„But side by side with these customs, necessary to the life of societies and the preservation of the race, other desires, other passions, and therefore other habits and customs, are evolved in human association.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Quelle: Law and Authority (1886), II
Kontext: The hospitality of primitive peoples, respect for human life, the sense of reciprocal obligation, compassion for the weak, courage, extending even to the sacrifice of self for others which is first learnt for the sake of children and friends, and later for that of members of the same community — all these qualities are developed in man anterior to all law, independently of all religion, as in the case of the social animals. Such feelings and practices are the inevitable results of social life. Without being, as say priests and metaphysicans, inherent in man, such qualities are the consequence of life in common.
But side by side with these customs, necessary to the life of societies and the preservation of the race, other desires, other passions, and therefore other habits and customs, are evolved in human association. The desire to dominate others and impose one's own will upon them; the desire to seize upon the products of the labor of a neighboring tribe; the desire to surround oneself with comforts without producing anything, while slaves provide their master with the means of procuring every sort of pleasure and luxury — these selfish, personal desires give rise to another current of habits and customs.

„It is evident that no review of evolution can be complete, unless these two dominant currents are analyzed.“

—  Peter Kropotkin, buch Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902)
Kontext: Mutual aid, even though it may represent one of the factors of evolution, covers nevertheless one aspect only of human relations; that by the side of this current, powerful though it may be, there is, and always has been, the other current — the self-assertion of the individual, not only in its efforts to attain personal or caste superiority, economical, political, and spiritual, but also in its much more important although less evident function of breaking through the bonds, always prone to become crystallized, which the tribe, the village community, the city, and the State impose upon the individual. In other words, there is the self-assertion of the individual taken as a progressive element.
It is evident that no review of evolution can be complete, unless these two dominant currents are analyzed. However, the self-assertion of the individual or of groups of individuals, their struggles for superiority, and the conflicts which resulted therefrom, have already been analyzed, described, and glorified from time immemorial. In fact, up to the present time, this current alone has received attention from the epical poet, the annalist, the historian, and the sociologist. History, such as it has hitherto been written, is almost entirely a description of the ways and means by which theocracy, military power, autocracy, and, later on, the richer classes' rule have been promoted, established, and maintained.

„Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

"Mutual Aid as a Factor in Evolution" as quoted in The Cry for Justice : An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest (1915) by Upton Sinclair
Kontext: A soon as we study animals — not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and prairie, in the steppe and in the mountains — we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle. Of course it would be extremely difficult to estimate, however roughly, the relative numerical importance of both these series of facts. But if we resort to an indirect test, and ask Nature: "Who are the fittest: those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another?" we at once see that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest. They have more chances to survive, and they attain, in their respective classes, the highest development and bodily organization. If the numberless facts which can be brought forward to support this view are taken into account, we may safely say that mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle; but that as a factor of evolution, it most probably has a far greater importance, inasmuch as it favors the development of such habits and characters as insure the maintenance and further development of the species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and enjoyment of life for the individual, with the least waste of energy.

„It seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees, for all imaginable aims“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. Under the name of Anarchy, a new interpretation of the past and present life of society arises, giving at the same time a forecast as regards its future, both conceived in the same spirit as the above-mentioned interpretation in natural sciences. Anarchy, therefore, appears as a constituent part of the new philosophy, and that is why Anarchists come in contact, on so many points, with the greatest thinkers and poets of the present day.
In fact, it is certain that in proportion as the human mind frees itself from ideas inculcated by minorities of priests, military chiefs and judges, all striving to establish their domination, and of scientists paid to perpetuate it, a conception of society arises, in which conception there is no longer room for those dominating minorities. A society entering into possession of the social capital accumulated by the labor of preceding generations, organizing itself so as to make use of this capital in the interests of all, and constituting itself without reconstituting the power of the ruling minorities. It comprises in its midst an infinite variety of capacities, temperaments and individual energies: it excludes none. It even calls for struggles and contentions; because we know that periods of contests, so long as they were freely fought out, without the weight of constituted authority being thrown on the one side of the balance, were periods when human genius took its mightiest flight and achieved the greatest aims. Acknowledging, as a fact, the equal rights of all its members to the treasures accumulated in the past, it no longer recognizes a division between exploited and exploiters, governed and governors, dominated and dominators, and it seeks to establish a certain harmonious compatibility in its midst — not by subjecting all its members to an authority that is fictitiously supposed to represent society, not by trying to establish uniformity, but by urging all men to develop free initiative, free action, free association.
It seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees, for all imaginable aims; ever changing, ever modified associations which carry in themselves the elements of their durability and constantly assume new forms, which answer best to the multiple aspirations of all.

„This conception and ideal of society is certainly not new.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)
Kontext: A society to which preestablished forms, crystallized by law, are repugnant; which looks for harmony in an ever-changing and fugitive equilibrium between a multitude of varied forces and influences of every kind, following their own course, — these forces promoting themselves the energies which are favorable to their march toward progress, toward the liberty of developing in broad daylight and counter-balancing one another.
This conception and ideal of society is certainly not new. On the contrary, when we analyze the history of popular institutions — the clan, the village community, the guild and even the urban commune of the Middle Ages in their first stages, — we find the same popular tendency to constitute a society according to this idea...

„If on the morrow of the revolution, the masses of the people have only phrases at their service, if they do not recognize, by clear and blinding facts, that the situation has been transformed to their advantage, if the overthrow ends only in a change of persons and forumlae, nothing will have been achieved.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

As quoted in Anarchism : A History Of Libertarian Ideas And Movements (2004) by George Woodcock
Variant: The poor of yesterday must not be poor tomorrow.
The Spirit of Revolt (1880)
Kontext: If on the morrow of the revolution, the masses of the people have only phrases at their service, if they do not recognize, by clear and blinding facts, that the situation has been transformed to their advantage, if the overthrow ends only in a change of persons and forumlae, nothing will have been achieved. … In order that the revolution should be something more than a word, in order that the reaction should not lead us back tomorrow to the situation of yesterday, the conquest of today must be worth the trouble of defending; the poor of yesterday must not be the poor today.

„It provokes new acts of revolt, individual and collective, it drives the rebels to heroism; and in rapid succession these acts spread, become general, develop. The revolutionary party is strengthened by elements which up to this time were hostile or indifferent to it.“

—  Peter Kropotkin

The Spirit of Revolt (1880)
Kontext: One courageous act has sufficed to upset in a few days the entire governmental machinery, to make the colossus tremble; another revolt has stirred a whole province into turmoil, and the army, till now always so imposing, has retreated before a handful of peasants armed with sticks and stones. The people observe that the monster is not so terrible as they thought they begin dimly to perceive that a few energetic efforts will be sufficient to throw it down. Hope is born in their hearts, and let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions.
The government resists; it is savage in its repressions. But, though formerly persecution killed the energy of the oppressed, now, in periods of excitement, it produces the opposite result. It provokes new acts of revolt, individual and collective, it drives the rebels to heroism; and in rapid succession these acts spread, become general, develop. The revolutionary party is strengthened by elements which up to this time were hostile or indifferent to it.

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