Peter Kropotkin and Anarchism

Prince Peter Kropotkin had widespread knowledge in numerous different subjects but anarchy was a subject that he was a prominent figure in. Anarchism is “a doctrine urging the abolition of government or governmental restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty.”[i] Kropotkin was originally a prince in Russia but gave his title up and started reading the works of French anarchists and then declared himself an anarchist. He started this piece by talking about how men trembled when they heard that society someday could be without police, judges, or jailers.[ii] Kropotkin uses this to grab the attention of the educated class to show and convince those of the anarchist way.

Kropotkin views on society show that he is trying to persuade his audience to take on another ideology that would change the current capitalist society into an anarchist one. He uses the examples of jailers, judges and the police, mentioned earlier, to show society without these systems in place and what affect that might have. The absence of these systems in any society today would create chaos among everyone, but Kropotkin is trying to create a society where everyone fends for themselves without government at all.


Do you believe that a society where there is no government at all and every person fends for themselves is a plausible goal for this time period?


[ii] Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal, 1896

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”