New Kropotkin anthology update

First off, happy New Year and all the best 2013! Second, update on the Kropotkin anthology. The work is progressing well – the Kropotkin texts, glossary, bibliography and biographical sketch have been sent to AK Press. Just the introduction to do and the title of this blog is inspired by the work I’m doing on the introduction to the book. Simply put, my research has reminded me of why Kropotkin was so highly respected during his lifetime. On issue after issue, he has been proven completely correct.

This can be seen on numerous issues – the need for anarchists to take part in popular struggles; his support for revolutionary unionism (from the 1870s onwards); the disruptive effects of revolutions; the failure of Marxism (both in terms of the reformism of Social Democracy and its vision of a centralised state-run economy); how structures created for mutual aid can become the framework of a free society; that people and animals survive best by co-operation; the evolutionary basis of ethics and the evolution of ethics itself; the necessity for decentralisation, federalism and self-management in both the labour movement and the revolution; direct action and solidarity as the means of social change; and so on. This is being covered in the introduction, the details of which are:

Introduction: Bread and Liberty

Anarchism before Kropotkin

  • The Birth of Anarchism: Proudhon and Mutualism
  • Libertarians in the First International
  • Bakunin and Revolutionary Anarchism

Kropotkin’s ideas

  • On Capitalism and the State
  • On State Socialism
  • On the Workers’ Movement
  • On Syndicalism and Revolutionary Minorities
  • On National Liberation
  • On Mutual Aid and Ethics
  • On Revolution
  • On Anarchy and Communism


Some of this is covered in my Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation, although obviously I will be summarising the evolutionary/biological science aspects of Kropotkin’s ideas for the anthology. There is still a lot to do, but it is coming together well enough. I have a busy January ahead of me! Suffice to say, the section Anarchism before Kropotkin draws upon my introduction to the Proudhon Anthology Property is Theft! as well as my talk at last year’s London Anarchist Bookfair (“Direct Struggle Against Capital”, or anarchism and syndicalism). I consider it important to set the theoretical context for Kropotkin’s anarchism, particularly given the nonsense which seems to be associated with Proudhon and Bakunin (thank you, various numpty Marxists!). Also, it seems Kropotkin was more influenced by Proudhon than I thought. He does not mention him much, but it is very positive when he does – not to mention the obvious links between what they analyse and their conclusions.

Just before the holidays I posted Kropotkin: The Anarchist Formerly Known As Prince which will be the book’s biographical sketch. The Bibliography has had a few additions to it, but still as complete as it can be with my limited resources. In terms of contents, I will need to trim something (probably just have the first and last chapters of The State: Its Historic Role) but here is final version. I’ve indicated where the texts come from and if they are newly translated for this book:

Direct Struggle Against Capital

Peter Kropotkin on Anarchism, the Workers Movement and Social Revolution

Anarchism and Anarchists

From Memoirs of a Revolutionist

  • St. Petersburg – First Journey to Western Europe
  • Western Europe

The Lyons anarchist trial of 1883 (Freedom, first time in book)

  • From Kropotkin’s Defence Speech
  • Defence Declaration

The Place of Anarchism in Socialist Evolution (first time in book)

Preface to Bakunin’s The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State (Newly translated)

Letter to Maria Isidine Goldsmith (Newly translated)

Letter to Max Nettlau (New translation, different translation in Selected Writings on Anarchism and Revolution)

Anarchism (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets)

  • The Historical Development of Anarchism
  • Anarchism in the International Working Men’s Association

From Modern Science and Anarchism

  • The Origin of Anarchism
  • The Anarchist Ideal and the Preceding Revolutions
  • Anarchism
  • A Few Conclusions of Anarchism
  • The Means of Action

The Anarchist Principle (Newly translated)

A Few Thoughts about the Essence of Anarchism (Freedom, first time in book)

Letter to the Bakunin Centenary Celebration (Freedom, first time in book)

From Ethics: Origin and Development

Capitalism and the State

From Representative Government (New translation, Words of a Rebel)

Our Riches (Conquest of Bread)

The Division of Labour (Conquest of Bread)

Economic Expedients (Newly translated)

From The State: Its Historic Role

Prisons: Universities of Crime (Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth)

From The Modern State (Freedom, first time in book)

  • I. The Essential Principle of Modern Society
  • II. Serfs of the State
  • III. Taxation as a Means of Increasing the Power of the State
  • IV. Taxation a Means of Enriching the Rich
  • V. The Monopolies
  • VI. The Monopolies in the Nineteenth Century

The Workers Movement and Class Struggle

From Memoirs of a Revolutionist

Enemies of the People (Newly translated)

The Workers’ Movement in Spain (Newly translated)

Workers Organisation (Newly translated)

The Use of the Strike (Freedom, first time in book)

Strikes (Newly translated)

1st May 1891 (Newly translated)

Letter to French and British Trade Union Delegates (Freedom, first time in book)

The Death of the New International (Newly translated)

Commemoration of the Chicago Martyrs (Freedom, first time in book)

The Workers’ Congress of 1896 (Newly translated)

The Development of Trade-Unionism (Freedom, first time in book)

From Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

  • Mutual Aid Amongst Ourselves
  • Conclusion

Politics and Socialism (Freedom pamphlet, first time in book)

Trade Unionism and Parliamentarism (Newly translated)

Letter to “The Voice of Labour” (The Voice of Labour, first time in book)

Anarchists and Trade Unions (Freedom, first time in book)

1886-1907: Glimpses into the Labour Movement in this Country (Act for Yourselves)

Letter to Alexander Berkman (Freedom, first time in book)

Syndicalism and Anarchism (Freedom, first time in book)


From The Great French Revolution

  • Action
  • The “Districts” and the “Sections” of Paris
  • The Sections of Paris under the New Municipal Law

1848–1871 (Freedom, first time in book)

The Paris Commune (Fighting the Revolution volume 2; first time in book)

  • The theory of the State and the practice of the Commune
  • Popular aspirations and popular prejudices in the Commune
  • From the Paris Commune to anarchist communism

Commune of Paris (Freedom, first time in book)

The Revolution in Russia (Freedom, first time in book)

The Russian Revolution and Anarchism (Newly translated)

  • Political and economic revolution
  • Our relation with peasants and workers’ unions
  • Conclusions of the conference

Enough of Illusions! (Freedom, first time in book)

A Letter to the Workers of the West (Freedom, original English language version)

Social Revolution

From Memoirs of a Revolutionist

The Anarchist Idea from the Point Of View of its Practical Realisation (Freedom, first time in book; another translation appears in No Gods, No Masters)

Revolutionary Government (Words of a Rebel; translation from No Gods, No Masters)

From Expropriation (Conquest of Bread)

What Revolution Means (Act for Yourselves)

Act For Yourselves (Act for Yourselves)

Local Action (Act for Yourselves)

Preface to Words of a Rebel (1904) (first time in book)

Insurrections and Revolution (Newly translated)

Preface to How We Shall Bring About the Revolution

Anarchist Action in the Revolution (Newly translated)

Postscript to Words of a Rebel (1919) (first time in book)


The Commune (Words of a Rebel; translation from No Gods, No Masters)

From In Russian and French Prisons

Are We Good Enough? (Act for Yourselves)

The Permanence of Society after the Revolution (Act for Yourselves)

The Wage System (Conquest of Bread)

  • I. Representative Government and Wages
  • II. The Collectivist Wage System
  • III. Unequal Remuneration
  • IV. Equal Wages versus Communism

Communism and Anarchy (Freedom, first time in book)

The Reformed School (Freedom, first time in book)

From Fields, Factories and Workshops

  • Preface to the Second Edition (1913)
  • Preface to the First Edition (1898)
  • The Decentralisation of Industries
  • The Possibilities of Agriculture
  • Small Industries and Industrial Villages
  • Brain Work and Manual Work
  • Conclusion


Mutual Aid: An Important Factor in Evolution (Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman's Mother Earth)

As can be seen, the book is pretty comprehensive and contains much which is newly translated (mostly from French, but also two from Russian) and from archive copies of Freedom. It includes extracts from all his major books as well in order to give a comprehensive account of his ideas. However, the key contributions are those articles on the labour movement (including the 1907 Russian pamphlet on lessons from the 1905 revolution). These really complete our understanding of Kropotkin’s works – what was mentioned in passing in his reprinted pamphlets and books come to the fore.

Anyways, while a bit big it should be essential reading for everyone interested in anarchism and Kropotkin’s ideas.

Third, I will be in Brighton giving a talk this month on Proudhon’s ideas:

Saturday 19 January


Author of the Anarchist FAQ and a Proudhon anthology, Iain McKay talks on “Proudhon and the birth of anarchism.”

“McKay's introduction offers a sure-footed guide through the misconceptions surrounding Proudhon's thought."

Free and open to all.

Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton BN1 4JA

So I will need to work on that over the next two weeks! Once I find the time, I will write this up. And I will need to post this on the Proudhon blog as well.

Fourth, I have to apologise for not producing that much these days. Maybe I’m getting old, but it seems I’m slowing down these days. Or maybe it’s my union work? Probably a combination of the two – let’s be honest, though, getting up at 6am on Saturday and Sunday to work on books is not quite as appealing as it used to be. Anyways, I’m way behind in emails and writing (I’ve started lots of book reviews and articles which I have not finished). Not to mention blogging and putting Property is Theft! on-line (which has not been done for a while). As for the blog of An Anarchist FAQ, I really need to do something new for that (I have a few ideas which are in a state of incompletion). Which reminds me, probably need to get a Direct Action Against Capital webpage sorted out….

I should mention the launch of An Anarchist FAQ volume 2 in my hometown of Glasgow (details on how to buy both volumes can be found here). It went very well, good turn out for a wet and miserable Friday evening – and mostly people I did not recognise as well, which is always a good sign. Obviously, I plan to write up my talk – but once I get the Kropotkin introduction finished and the notes for my talk in Brighton completed. So, hopefully, in February.

And a couple of interesting links. First, an interesting interview with Noam Chomsky on Work, Learning and Freedom. Second, Are Libertarians Just Lazy Marxists? Which a few obvious points and concludes:

“Expanding the scope of libertarianism to include property and capitalist relations – as well as their history – would start to raise some interesting questions, such as ‘why do we stop a poor person from eating by force?’ (try to take something from a shop without money and you’ll see what I mean). In fact, I expect a really critical look at capitalism from the perspective of individual freedom would simply collapse propertarian libertarianism into either Marxism, or, even more likely, anarchism (the latter being the true origin of the word ‘libertarian‘).”

Nice to see my work used by non-anarchists and very nice to see the right-wing “libertarians” being correctly labelled propertarians! May 2013 see more reclaiming of the good term libertarian from the fans of property-hierarchies.

Until I blog again, be seeing you…


Nice article, I learned a

Nice article, I learned a number of things. I used to read this type of thing in my university life. This is really informative. The chronology is good.


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