Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin
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Page 15 Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin
The nobility of Kropotkin's inspiration, his honesty in discussion and the sincerity of his conviction evidenced by his whole life are, however, beyond question."
The "Encyclopaedia Britannica" (American Edition, 1941) is very reserved:
"He was an authority on agriculture as well as on geographical subjects, and put forward many practical suggestions for its development. K. had a singularly gentle and attractive personality and was much loved and respected in England. He desired the minimum of government, and the development of a system of human cooperation which should render government from above superfluous."
The "New International Encyclopaedia" (New York, 1926) is trying hard to understand what is revolution and what is violence:
"...His exploration in Asia had convinced him that the maps of that continent were based on an erroneous principle. after two years of work he published a new hypothesis, which has since been adopted by most cartographers... Observations of the economic conditions of the Finnish peasants inspired in him a feeling that natural science avails little so long as the social problem remains unsolved....While a believer in revolution as a necessary means to social reform, K. has always displayed a disinclination for violent measures. His ideal is a society of small communities of equals, federated for the purpose of securing the greatest possible sum of well-being, with full and free scope for every individual initiative. Government and leadership have no place in his scheme of social organization. He recognizes that it is impossible for any man to conceive the method of operation of such a society, but trusts to the collective wisdom of the masses to solve the problems involved."
The "Encyclopaedia Americana," 1941, has this to say:
"...K. was one of the ablest representatives and most eloquent exponents of that theory of society known as the anarchist communism. He was opposed to all societies based on force or restraint, and looked forward to the advent of a purely voluntary society on a communistic basis. He desired to see the division of labor, which is the dominant factor in the modern industry, replaced by what he called 'integration of labor,' and was a stanch believer in the immense possibilities of intensive agriculture."
In turning our reading to other countries, we find the "Encyclopaedia Italiana," published "under the High Patronage of His Majesty the King of Italy" (1933), very sympathetic:
"...K. is one of the most characteristic representatives of anarchist communism. According to him, the social revolution has to destroy the state (from here arises his aversion to dictatorship of the proletariat propagated by the bolsheviks) and private property (socializing not only the means of production but also the objects for consumption). Not the limitation exercised by the powers that be, but the social instincts which develop freely will determine, as the time passes, the life of humanity."
While the "Grande Enciclopedia Popolare" (Milan, 1928) is slightly sarcastic:
"...The main characteristic of his doctrine was an unlimited optimism which is almost ingenious. Crowds and international demagogy enjoyed making of him a terrible revolutionary. But in reality he was no more than an aristocratic dreamer and a man of refined sensitiveness. The pages of his autobiography ('Memoirs of a Revolutionist') are a literary and spiritual chef d'ouvre. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky did not penetrate so deeply the child's soul as he did. At the outset of the European War, K. was for the coalition of the free peoples against German imperialism which, with czarism, represented the greatest obstable to human progress..."
The German "Der Grosse Brockhaus" (1931) might have said a little more, especially as it was published under the Weimar regime:
"...In seiner Gesellschaftslehre ist K. der bedeutendste Vertreter des sog. Kommunistischen Anarchismus; er erstrebt das Gemeineiwentum und den Produktions- und Konsumtionsmitteln, das auf kleine Interessengruppen ubertragen werden soll, unter Abschaffung aller Regierungsformen. Seinen sittlichen und Gesellschaftlichen Anschauungen gipfeln in dem Grundatz der gegensitigen Hilfe."
The French "Larousse" has no more than a half-a-dozen empty lines. As to the "Bulgarian Encyclopaedia" (Sofia, 1936) it is the most laconic one and perhaps the most cryptic:
"...Kropotkin was a pitiless theoretician but a quiet, hard-working utopist"!!
The Spanish "Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europea-Americana," 1926, is very reserved, considering the date of its publication.
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