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Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin

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It only says that Kropotkin "was a man of a truly encyclopaedic culture and possessed pro-found knowledge of geography, geology, economic science, history and sociology."

In wading through the Russian Encyclopaediae, we find, oddly enough, that the most important of these --- the Russian Encyclopaedic Dictionary, better known as the "Brockhaus-Efron," called Kropotkin Peter Alexandrovitch, and not Peter Alexeyevitch. This Russian work has therefore has [sic] the honor of being the only Encyclopaedia having made a mistake in the name of this Russian scientist and writer. A few short biographic notes are given, but it must be remembered that the volume appeared in 1895!

In the other Russian Encyclopaedic Dictionary, known as the "Granat" Encyclopaedia, N. Russanov has a long article on K. from which we can usefully extract just these few lines (x):

"...Kropotkin's law, not quite new but solidly based on scientific data, of 'mutual aid,' is an important addition in K.'s system, or rather is it a serious modification of the Darwinian law of the 'struggle for existence.' ..."

The Russian "Encyclopaedia of State and Jurisprduence," published by the Communist Academy (1925), has, under the word "Anarchism," the following judgment on Kropotkin, under the pen of I. Razumovsky:

"...Although very close to the communist ideals, K. is still laboring under all the char acteristics of an intellectual whose starting point develops from ethical considerations and who does not see the concrete roads for the realization of these ideals. . . . In K.'s system the ethical philosophy of Anarchism plays a great role, and he looks for its principles in the useful for the upkeep of the species and in the tendency of Man towards enjoyment..."

The "Big Soviet Encyclopaedia" (1937) notes how K. was slated for his attitude during World War I, with quotations from Lenin who had then attacked P. K. for such attitude. The biography continues thus:

"...In the works in which K. developed the fundamental problems of Anarchism, he expressed himself against the centralized organization of society, for the socialization of means of production; he negated the necessity of the State and put forward as ideal of socialism the association of producers' communes. His protest against state compulsion led him to the complete negation of every discipline. K. was an irreducible enemy of Marxism...After the Great October Social Revolution he remained an irreducible enemy of proletarian dictatroship and while he considered the bolsheviks as the new Jacobines, he nevertheless recognized their great revolutionary value and importance not only within Russia, but on an international scale."

The "Small Soviet Encyclopaedia" (1929) is bitter, under the pen of M. Klevensky:

"...Most resolutely opposed to every State, K. would not even recognize the dictatorship of the proletariat as a temporary transitory form towards the dying out of classes and of the State. He was convinced that on the day following the Revolution the questions of distribution will be justly and reasonably solved in full by 'volunteers.' Such equally volunteer unions would, on the basis of free agreements, carry out the whole task of production. K. based himself upon the spirit of solidarity inherent to the human species and to the limitless productivity of the soil. The theories of Kropotkin, who attempted to weld together petty bourgeois radicalism with the ideal of communism, are saturated with idealistic naiveness...."

(x)This was printed after P. K.'s death but from old stereos which date back to about the year 1910, i.e., before World War I.


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