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Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin

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During these years spent in England I saw and visited the Kropotkins many times and considering the difference in age, background and experience we were friendly and even intimate to a considerable degree. The simplicity of his home life was warm and friendly and one always felt at home with him and Sophie; and the many friends and comrades one met there constituted a great treat. The comrades knew he did most of his work at home, so Sunday was "at home day" for visitors. Men and women of all nations met there and it was not unusual to hear the host talking with those present in three or four languages almost simultaneously. Among those I met there were Fanny Stepniak, Elie Reclus and wife, V. and Freda Tcherkesov, Tchaikovsky, Malatesta, Marmol, Nettlau, Bernard Kampfmyer, Jean Grave, Turner, Marsh, then Editor of Freedom, (Miss) A. A. Davies, Rocker, Cobden-Saunderson, famous art bookbinder and friend of William Morris and his wife, daughter of Cobden of Corn Law fame, and many, many others. There were many points of view, of course, and many different angles of conditions prevailing in the different Countries presented as only natives can present them, but a common purpose animated those men and women of different cultures and languages — freedom of the individual and the right of all to live their lives according to their understanding and intelligence. However, in spite of his broad tolerance toward other political views and his strong belief that a period of liberalism must intervene between the then present and the future as he saw it, he had very decided views on how far certain types of mind can work together.

On one of my visits he told me Tchaikovsky had just left and the purpose of his visit. The latter had long dreamed of establishing a "Peoples House" in the East End where Russian Revolutionists in exile could get together, and which could serve as a rendez-vous for others who had managed to escape the clutches of the Czar. After much work he had managed to get a number of individuals and groups to cooperate and the House finally became a reality. Part of this enterprise was a library owned by a Russian named Toploff. Sad to relate the Socialists of that day were much like our present day "Communists" and before long began to lay plans to capture the organization and its property. Six or eight individuals formed six or eight groups, each sending a delegate to the meetings to outvote the others and take over. Tchaikovsky came to Bromley for advice and it was this visit that ended a half-hour or so before my arrival. Kropotkin was still worked up over it and said to me, "I have known Tchaikovsky for over thirty years and all this time he has been trying to bring Anarchists and Socialists together and it cannot be done; their minds are different and it is impossible for them to work together." At another time when Tcherkesov was there they were both elated over "the first Anarchist Opera that had been written" and joking over the fact that the Socialists had not yet managed to have one written. The "Anarchist Opera," as they described it, was "Louise," written by Carpenteir.

It was during the years I spent in England that Kropotkin made his second visit to America and while he felt himself a Euro-pean he had a great admiration for the United States of America and its lack of hidebound tradition ; he found pleasure in such small things as the absence of fences between small houses in suburban areas. "It looked more friendly," as he put it. Readers of his "Memoirs" will remember his description of the Russian revolutionists, imprisoned in St. Peter and St. Paul, putting small American flags outside their cell windows on the Fourth of July. Also, during these years he wrote his "Memoirs" and "Mutual Aid," or rather had them published, for he spent many years preparing them, and while it is hard to estimate the influence these books have had, both of them have, for many years, been used in college courses and are part of libraries all over the land.

These notes, inadequate as they are, would be even more so without a few words on Kropotkin's attitude toward World War I, and his probable attitude on the present struggle: He had expressed the opinion years before, and on many occasions, that the shadow of Germany lay heavy on France from 1870 preventing her from solving some of the more urgent evils in her own way. He wrote how the workers of France had shed their blood more often than the workers of other Continental Countries and believed the defeat of France by Germany would be a calamity, a viewpoint held by many others not Anarchists. Whatever the opinions of others, for myself I feel that events of recent years have proven overwhelmingly the soundness of his conclu-


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