Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)

Author: Peter Kropotkin was a Russian philosopher, evolutionary theorist, and economist, promoter of anarchy- communism (looks to abolish capitalism, the state, and private property and promote common ownership in production), influenced by Pierre- Joseph Proudhon and John Stuart Mill, wealthy upbringing but rejected his “princely” title at a young age, influenced by republican readings and his time working under Tsar Alexander II, spent time working alongside the International Workingmen’s Association and other anarchist associations and was imprisoned for his activities
Context: Tsar Nicholas II had his formal coronation to Russian leader in 1896, Tsar Nicholas had previously turned down attempts for some democracy and stated that he would do everything to maintain an absolute autocracy
Language: Asks many questions in the beginning to force people to think critically about their society and these issues, his writing is not advanced and is at a level that is easy for most to read
Audience: The common man, he uses his simple language to express to all the issues with the current state of society and how much bettered all would be without certain institutions
Intent: To make people question the institutions of society which they take for granted and assume need to be in place (ex. questioning the usefulness of the police by showing how they have missed opportunities to protect the people)
Message: That men are corrupted by the institutions and that without these unnecessary objects of society there will not be places to harbor “coercion” (ex. that state- run prisons have allowed for many crimes to occur within their walls), believes that institutions only cover up the issues within society and that they do not address the needs of the people, without the institutions people would more easily be able to address the root of human issues and create a better “means for preventing anti-social acts”

3 thoughts on “Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal (1896)

  1. This seems to be a man discontent with his domestic regime; this essay may very well have had the intention to advocate for the extreme so as to be able to negotiate a desirable middle ground. He may not actually have wanted anarchy in its purest form, but rather to give his side some breathing room so as to negotiate for a lesser presence of law enforcement agencies instead of eradicating them altogether. The development of my idea comes from the background you give on him.

  2. I found your mention of Kropotkin’s questions useful for discussion. It’s important to mention that he sought to engage his audience by asking them to think critically about the society in which they lived. He most likely took this approach to arouse emotions and reactions of those to whom he was attempting to reach.

  3. Understanding Peter Kropotkin as an individual who separated himself from the title, label and thereby institution of royalty or elite is helpful when reading this piece. His character is against this kind of categorization and institutionalization which leads him in turn to question the usefulness of institution and urge people to be more independent and think/do for themselves.

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