without distrust. Only such powerful souls can conquer the future!
Even if we are opponents of the bourgeois republic, it does not follow that we prefer an autocratic regime. If the material fate of the proletarian were unchanged, it is none the less true that we should all undergo a moral deterioration.
If State-oppression is real in all independent nations, it becomes intolerable in a subject nation.
Kropotkin reckons with this double point of view in his manifesto known as "The Manifesto of the Sixteen."
Besides, here are extracts of letters he has written during the War:
"Can one demonstrate that it is not a matter of indifference to a French worker to be under German officers in a French Republic ; that the Revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848, 1870, have created a Nation and ideas that are not in accord with the German lash ; that it is not a matter of indifference whether France be a Monarchy or a Republic—that there is in human civilization something to which one should cling; in effect the most horrible thing in Germany is that thousands of workers are partisans of the subjection of countries backward from the industrial point of view?" (December 21, 1915.)
"Among the signers of Zimmerwald there are those who do not like to hear the War mentioned, who speak of "stirring up a revolution behind the troops" and who, evidently, like those of the Libertaire, are forced to undertake nothing. I know the Russians who have been at Zimmerwald; I knew those who have declared themselves against resistance to invaders; I knew those who desired to "keep themselevs for the revolution," certainly the latter are ready to accept "peace at any price," even at the price of a new war five or ten years hence, and a new dismemberment of France. . . .
"The words 'against all wars of aggression' completely explain the groundwork of our ideas.
"These words only exclude those who pretend that a Frenchman or a Belgian is indifferent as to whether he is under a German, Swiss or French Government. But these latter forget that today, as throughout all history, every political subjection had for its aim, economic exolcitation. Ireland, and India, under the English ; Finland and Poland under Russia; the Balkan Slavs arid Roumanians under Turkey; the Slays under Hungary, etc., are the proofs of it." (November 23, 1916.)
"The first, true International, did not declare itself cosmopolitan. It proclaimed the right of every nationality to develop freely as was intended; her privilege of revolting against those who refused her this right; and the duty of all workers to unite and revolt against any attempt at oppression of one nation by another. So that Bakounine in 1871 said to the German workers that it was their right and duty to revolt against the Government which intended to make a conquest of France. But, as Bakounine and his friends well knew that the German people would not heed them, they appealed to the Revolutionists of all Nations to defend France against the invaders." (February 23, 1916.)
"And what is still worse, is the teaching sown broadcast under the name of Marxism—which declares that one must contribute to the fullest development of great and concentrated capitalism for socialism will only be achieved when capitalisni will have accomplished its evolution. With this teaching, one quickly comes to justify all the conquests of a capi-talistic and militaristic State.
"By permitting oneself to be killed in order to conquer Colonies for the German Empire, one believes that one contributes to the advent of the concentration of capitalism and the reinforcement of the State; one believes one helps forward the cause of socialism. Colonies are necessary to the German capitalists; it is a fine means of enriching themselves." (Feb. 23, 1916.)
These declarations of Kropotkin were not statements of circumstance. I have heard him in 1913, in the office of the Temps Nouveaux, rise vehemently against capitalism, vis-à-vis with a German aggression that already seemed possible. He knew the iron grip of Teutonic reaction and realized the arrogance of the, troublesome Prussians could not be stopped with phrases. He feared the defeat of France, the home of libertarian ideas, and the subjection of Russia menaced with colonization under a bureaucracy harsher than that of the Czar.*
What other attitude could have been taken against the ideas of Kropotkin at the time of
The capitluation of Brest-Litovsk proves it. The Treaty, accepted by the Bolshevists, placed Russia under the domination of German capitalism.