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Centennial Tribute to Kropotkin

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so clearly how much communistic institutions and property prevail amid the present capitalistic order of society as well as in every other society that has ever been known. If only he had asserted how universal and necessary is private use of property in every society, he would have provided a highly useful and scientific definition of property. To some extent Proudhon before him had done that.

None of these socialists, whether Marxian or anarchist, have sufficient appreciation of the fact that the real evil is not property but its maldistribution, and especially monopoly control of property such as "the money power" and large land holdings. Undiscriminatingly they hate the petty bourgeois as much as the bloated capitalist and great landlord.

However Kropotkin, evidently again to prove the workability of communes, tried to show the advantages in agricultural production of intensive cultivation as compared with the uneconomic extensive cultivation of the "bonanza" farms and cattle ranches. These valuable studies are contained in his books entitled "Fields, Factories and Workshops" and "The Conquest of Bread." One feels, however, in reading them that Kropotkin got lost in the fog of his own doctrine of solidarity. Inasmuch as these intensively cultivated fields would in his assumed best organization of them involve the cooperation of quite a number of workers in one enterprise, we think he failed to realize how lamentably incompetent are communistic undertakings. Where a number of persons work together it is indispensable that the manager's authority and direction be not subject to dispute. That means necessarily limitation upon individual initiative and restraint of individual freedom of the subordinate workers. That is why anarchistic communism is not practicable in large scale production.

On the other hand, Kropotkin's analysis of agricultural improvement has great value as a criticism of traditional economics. His shift of emphasis from production to consumption, from labor done to need for produce or goods, is definitely in the direction of humanizing economics. Combining his several definitions of economics, political economy is conceived by him as in process of becoming "a science devoted to the study of the needs of men and of the means of satisfying them," or as "the study of the most favorable condition for giving society the greatest amount of useful products," "with the smallest possible waste of labor" or "with the least waste of human energy" "and with the greatest benefit to mankind in general." He regards the self-sustaining community as more economical than our present exchange economy based on roundabout production. His argument for mutual aid goes no further than saying that this is one of the two factors of progress or evolution, the other factor being the competitive struggle for existence. Highly as he regarded Adam Smith, he deemed division of labor as a "horrible principle," "noxious to society," "brutalizing to the individual," and "source of so much harm." It "means labelling and stamping men for life." It destroys "the love of work and the capacity of invention."

He maintained long before the first World 'War that decentralization of industries is rapidly taking place. The industrialized nations are losing their monopoly of manufactures. The backward agricultural countries are supplementing their economies with industrial development. Intensive agriculture and other improvements are taking place. Side by "side of the great centralized concerns" is "the growth of an infinite variety of small enterprises." Electrical power has stimulated this development. Since his time the automobile and now airways and aircraft development further this trend. Decentralization is therefore the tendency of the economic order.

Likewise he foresaw political decentralization. Representative democracy had its value against autocracy, but it is not the ideal. The best social life lies in the direction of decentralization, both territorial, professional and functional. Are we not now forecasting with him that imperialism is at an end? But can we agree with his communism? Is it true that all we have is the product of "the common efforts of all," and therefore "must be at the disposal of all." He has to admit that every commune must retain the power to oust the idler and shirker. Does he realize that communism strikes with lethargy the ablest and most willing workers? He thinks "the growing tendency of modern society is towards communism — free communism — notwithstanding the seemingly contradictory growth of individualism," which latter he accounts for as "merely the endeavors of the individual towards emancipating himself from the steadily growing powers of capita/ and the state." "Economic freedom is the only secure basis for political freedom."

What he rightly protests is the spirit in our


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