Pierre Kropotkine citations

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Pierre Kropotkine

Date de naissance: 27. novembre 1842
Date de décès: 8. février 1921

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Pierre Alekseïevitch Kropotkine , né le 9 décembre 1842 à Moscou et mort le 8 février 1921 à Dmitrov près de Moscou, est un géographe, explorateur, zoologiste, anthropologue, géologue et théoricien du communisme libertaire,,,,.

Il acquiert une formation scientifique de haut niveau à l’école du corps des pages du tsar Alexandre II. Contre les attentes familiales, il se décide pour un service militaire en Sibérie orientale alors que son rang lui promet une brillante carrière à Moscou. De 1862 à 1866, il accumule plusieurs expériences fondatrices. Anthropologue, il observe l’organisation sociale de petites communautés sibériennes et de peuples reculés, dont l’inventivité institutionnelle et le sens de la coopération, à mille lieues du pouvoir central, le frappent durablement. Géographe et naturaliste, il pratique une expédition en Mandchourie.

À son retour de Sibérie, il se spécialise en géographie, intégrant la Société géographique impériale à Saint-Pétersbourg. En 1871, il en refuse le poste de secrétaire général. Il voyage en Suisse et dans le Jura, où il rencontre des membres de la Fédération jurassienne, et surtout Michel Bakounine. En 1872, il adhère à l’anarchisme : « L’exposé théorique de l’anarchie tel qu’il était présenté alors par la Fédération jurassienne [...] la critique du socialisme d’État [...] et le caractère révolutionnaire de l’agitation, sollicitaient fortement mon attention. Mais les principes égalitaires que je rencontrais dans les montagnes du Jura, l’indépendance de pensée et de langage que je voyais se développer chez les ouvriers [...] tout cela exerçait sur mes sentiments une influence de plus en plus forte ; et quand je quittai ces montagnes, après un séjour de quelques jours au milieu des horlogers, mes opinions sur le socialisme étaient faites : j’étais anarchiste »,.

Revenu en Russie, il prend largement sa part dans la deuxième vague de l’« aller au peuple », ce mouvement par lequel les jeunes intellectuels russes s’efforcent d’influencer les masses travailleuses dans le sens de la révolution sociale. Il est arrêté en 1874 pour ses menées subversives. Commence alors une vie d’exil, où Kropotkine devient l’un des théoriciens, sinon le théoricien le plus respecté du mouvement anarchiste international.

En 1883, arrêté à Lyon, il est impliqué dans le « Procès des 66 », accusé d’être affilié à l’Association internationale des travailleurs alors interdite. Il est condamné à cinq ans de prison mais finalement amnistié en 1886. De son expérience pénitentiaire, il tire l'ouvrage Dans les prisons russes et françaises .

Lors de la Première Guerre mondiale, il est l’un des signataires du Manifeste des seize rassemblant les libertaires partisans de l'Union sacrée face à l'Allemagne.

Il est l'auteur de nombreux ouvrages dont notamment : La Conquête du pain, L’Entraide, un facteur de l’évolution, Autour d'une vie et L’Éthique.

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Citations Pierre Kropotkine

„If on the morrow of the revolution, the masses of the people have only phrases at their service, if they do not recognize, by clear and blinding facts, that the situation has been transformed to their advantage, if the overthrow ends only in a change of persons and forumlae, nothing will have been achieved.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: If on the morrow of the revolution, the masses of the people have only phrases at their service, if they do not recognize, by clear and blinding facts, that the situation has been transformed to their advantage, if the overthrow ends only in a change of persons and forumlae, nothing will have been achieved. … In order that the revolution should be something more than a word, in order that the reaction should not lead us back tomorrow to the situation of yesterday, the conquest of today must be worth the trouble of defending; the poor of yesterday must not be the poor today. As quoted in Anarchism : A History Of Libertarian Ideas And Movements (2004) by George Woodcock Variant: The poor of yesterday must not be poor tomorrow.

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„These societies already begin to encroach everywhere on the functions of the State, and strive to substitute free action of volunteers for that of a centralized State.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: These societies already begin to encroach everywhere on the functions of the State, and strive to substitute free action of volunteers for that of a centralized State. In England we see arise insurance companies against theft; societies for coast defense, volunteer societies for land defense, which the State endeavors to get under its thumb, thereby making them instruments of domination, although their original aim was to do without the State. Were it not for Church and State, free societies would have already conquered the whole of the immense domain of education. And, in spite of all difficulties, they begin to invade this domain as well, and make their influence already felt. And when we mark the progress already accomplished in that direction, in spite of and against the State, which tries by all means to maintain its supremacy of recent origin; when we see how voluntary societies invade everything and are only impeded in their development by the State, we are forced to recognize a powerful tendency, a latent force in modern society.

„The higher conception of "no revenge for wrongs," and of freely giving more than one expects to receive from his neighbours, is proclaimed as being the real principle of morality — a principle superior to mere equivalence, equity, or justice, and more conducive to happiness. And man is appealed to to be guided in his acts, not merely by love, which is always personal, or at the best tribal, but by the perception of his oneness with each human being. In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support — not mutual struggle — has had the leading part. In its wide extension, even at the present time, we also see the best guarantee of a still loftier evolution of our race.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: In primitive Buddhism, in primitive Christianity, in the writings of some of the Mussulman teachers, in the early movements of the Reform, and especially in the ethical and philosophical movements of the last century and of our own times, the total abandonment of the idea of revenge, or of "due reward" — of good for good and evil for evil — is affirmed more and more vigorously. The higher conception of "no revenge for wrongs," and of freely giving more than one expects to receive from his neighbours, is proclaimed as being the real principle of morality — a principle superior to mere equivalence, equity, or justice, and more conducive to happiness. And man is appealed to to be guided in his acts, not merely by love, which is always personal, or at the best tribal, but by the perception of his oneness with each human being. In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support — not mutual struggle — has had the leading part. In its wide extension, even at the present time, we also see the best guarantee of a still loftier evolution of our race.

„As to the sudden industrial progress which has been achieved during our own century, and which is usually ascribed to the triumph of individualism and competition, it certainly has a much deeper origin than that.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: As to the sudden industrial progress which has been achieved during our own century, and which is usually ascribed to the triumph of individualism and competition, it certainly has a much deeper origin than that. Once the great discoveries of the fifteenth century were made, especially that of the pressure of the atmosphere, supported by a series of advances in natural philosophy — and they were made under the medieval city organization, — once these discoveries were made, the invention of the steam-motor, and all the revolution which the conquest of a new power implied, had necessarily to follow... To attribute, therefore, the industrial progress of our century to the war of each against all which it has proclaimed, is to reason like the man who, knowing not the causes of rain, attributes it to the victim he has immolated before his clay idol. For industrial progress, as for each other conquest over nature, mutual aid and close intercourse certainly are, as they have been, much more advantageous than mutual struggle.

„Hope is born in their hearts, and let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: One courageous act has sufficed to upset in a few days the entire governmental machinery, to make the colossus tremble; another revolt has stirred a whole province into turmoil, and the army, till now always so imposing, has retreated before a handful of peasants armed with sticks and stones. The people observe that the monster is not so terrible as they thought they begin dimly to perceive that a few energetic efforts will be sufficient to throw it down. Hope is born in their hearts, and let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions. The government resists; it is savage in its repressions. But, though formerly persecution killed the energy of the oppressed, now, in periods of excitement, it produces the opposite result. It provokes new acts of revolt, individual and collective, it drives the rebels to heroism; and in rapid succession these acts spread, become general, develop. The revolutionary party is strengthened by elements which up to this time were hostile or indifferent to it.

„The State idea means something quite different from the idea of government.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: The State idea means something quite different from the idea of government. It not only includes the existence of a power situated above society, but also of a territorial concentration as well as the concentration in the hands of a few of many functions in the life of societies. It implies some new relationships between members of society which did not exist before the formation of the State. A whole mechanism of legislation and of policing has to be developed in order to subject some classes to the domination of others. This distinction, which at first sight might not be obvious, emerges especially when one studies the origins of the State. I

„Human society is seen to be splitting more and more into two hostile camps, and at the same time to be subdividing into thousands of small groups waging merciless war against each other. Weary of these wars, weary of the miseries which they cause, society rushes to seek a new organization“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: In periods of frenzied haste toward wealth, of feverish speculation and of crisis, of the sudden downfall of great industries and the ephemeral expansion of other branches of production, of scandalous fortunes amassed in a few years and dissipated as quickly, it becomes evident that the economic institutions which control production and exchange are far from giving to society the prosperity which they are supposed to guarantee; they produce precisely the opposite result. … Human society is seen to be splitting more and more into two hostile camps, and at the same time to be subdividing into thousands of small groups waging merciless war against each other. Weary of these wars, weary of the miseries which they cause, society rushes to seek a new organization; it clamors loudly for a complete remodeling of the system of property ownership, of production, of exchange and all economic relations which spring from it.

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„When men are reasonable enough to follow their natural instincts, they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the Cosmos.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: The best exponent of anarchist philosophy in ancient Greece was Zeno (342-267 or 270 B. C.), from Crete, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, who distinctly opposed his conception of a free community without government to the state-Utopia of Plato. He repudiated the omnipotence of the State, its intervention and regimentation, and proclaimed the sovereignty of the moral law of the individual — remarking already that, while the necessary instinct of self-preservation leads man to egotism, nature has supplied a corrective to it by providing man with another instinct — that of sociability. When men are reasonable enough to follow their natural instincts, they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the Cosmos. They will have no need of law-courts or police, will have no temples and no public worship, and use no money — free gifts taking the place of the exchanges. Unfortunately, the writings of Zeno have not reached us and are only known through fragmentary quotations. However, the fact that his very wording is similar to the wording now in use, shows how deeply is laid the tendency of human nature of which he was the mouthpiece. "Anarchism" article in Encyclopedia Britannica (1910) "The Historical Development of Anarchism", as quoted in Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings (1927), p. 288

„All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth.
All things are for all.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: The means of production being the collective work of humanity, the product should be the collective property of the race. Individual appropriation is neither just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth. All things are for all. Here is an immense stock of tools and implements; here are all those iron slaves which we call machines, which saw and plane, spin and weave for us, unmaking and remaking, working up raw matter to produce the marvels of our time. But nobody has the right to seize a single one of these machines and say, "This is mine; if you want to use it you must pay me a tax on each of your products," any more than the feudal lord of medieval times had the right to say to the peasant, "This hill, this meadow belong to me, and you must pay me a tax on every sheaf of corn you reap, on every rick you build." All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work, they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all, and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such vague formulas as "The Right to work," or "To each the whole result of his labour." What we proclaim is The Right to Well-Being: Well-Being for All! The Conquest of Bread (1907), p. 14 http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/kropotkin/conquest/toc.html Variant: All things for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men worked to produce them in the measure of their strength, and since it is not possible to evaluate everyone's part in the production of the world's wealth... All is for all! This variant was probably produced by a combination of accidental as well as deliberate omission, rather than a separate translation.

„The best exponent of anarchist philosophy in ancient Greece was Zeno“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: The best exponent of anarchist philosophy in ancient Greece was Zeno (342-267 or 270 B. C.), from Crete, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, who distinctly opposed his conception of a free community without government to the state-Utopia of Plato. He repudiated the omnipotence of the State, its intervention and regimentation, and proclaimed the sovereignty of the moral law of the individual — remarking already that, while the necessary instinct of self-preservation leads man to egotism, nature has supplied a corrective to it by providing man with another instinct — that of sociability. When men are reasonable enough to follow their natural instincts, they will unite across the frontiers and constitute the Cosmos. They will have no need of law-courts or police, will have no temples and no public worship, and use no money — free gifts taking the place of the exchanges. Unfortunately, the writings of Zeno have not reached us and are only known through fragmentary quotations. However, the fact that his very wording is similar to the wording now in use, shows how deeply is laid the tendency of human nature of which he was the mouthpiece. "Anarchism" article in Encyclopedia Britannica (1910) "The Historical Development of Anarchism", as quoted in Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings (1927), p. 288

„You will understand that to remain the servant of the written law is to place yourself every day in opposition to the law of conscience, and to make a bargain on the wrong side; and, since this struggle cannot go on forever, you will either silence your conscience and become a scoundrel, or you will break with tradition, and you will work with us for the utter destruction of all this injustice, economic, social and political.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: If you reason instead of repeating what is taught you; if you analyze the law and strip off those cloudy fictions with which it has been draped in order to conceal its real origin, which is the right of the stronger, and its substance, which has ever been the consecration of all the tyrannies handed down to mankind through its long and bloody history; when you have comprehended this, your contempt for the law will be profound indeed. You will understand that to remain the servant of the written law is to place yourself every day in opposition to the law of conscience, and to make a bargain on the wrong side; and, since this struggle cannot go on forever, you will either silence your conscience and become a scoundrel, or you will break with tradition, and you will work with us for the utter destruction of all this injustice, economic, social and political.

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„Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: Legislators confounded in one code the two currents of custom of which we have just been speaking, the maxims which represent principles of morality and social union wrought out as a result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant to ensure external existence to inequality. Customs, absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd. "Do not kill," says the code, and hastens to add, "And pay tithes to the priest." "Do not steal," says the code, and immediately after, "He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have his hand struck off." Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day. Its origin is the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage. Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of law to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment. II

„Even amongst ourselves — the "civilized" nations — when we leave large towns, and go into the country, we see that there the mutual relations of the inhabitants are still regulated according to ancient and generally accepted customs, and not according to the written law of the legislators.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: Relatively speaking, law is a product of modern times. For ages and ages mankind lived without any written law, even that graved in symbols upon the entrance stones of a temple. During that period, human relations were simply regulated by customs, habits, and usages, made sacred by constant repetition, and acquired by each person in childhood, exactly as he learned how to obtain his food by hunting, cattle-rearing, or agriculture. All human societies have passed through this primitive phase, and to this day a large proportion of mankind have no written law. Every tribe has its own manners and customs; customary law, as the jurists say. It has social habits, and that suffices to maintain cordial relations between the inhabitants of the village, the members of the tribe or community. Even amongst ourselves — the "civilized" nations — when we leave large towns, and go into the country, we see that there the mutual relations of the inhabitants are still regulated according to ancient and generally accepted customs, and not according to the written law of the legislators. II

„Take any work on astronomy of the last century, or the beginning of ours. You will no longer find in it, it goes without saying, our tiny planet placed in the center of the universe.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: Take any work on astronomy of the last century, or the beginning of ours. You will no longer find in it, it goes without saying, our tiny planet placed in the center of the universe. But you will meet at every step the idea of a central luminary — the sun — which by its powerful attraction governs our planetary world. From this central body radiates a force guiding the course of the planets, and maintaining the harmony of the system. Issued from a central agglomeration, planets have, so to say, budded from it; they owe their birth to this agglomeration; they owe everything to the radiant star that represents it still: the rhythm of their movements, their orbits set at wisely regulated distances, the life that animates them and adorns their surfaces. And when any perturbation disturbs their course and makes them deviate from their orbits, the central body re-establishes order in the system; it assures and perpetuates its existence. This conception, however, is also disappearing as the other one did. After having fixed all their attention on the sun and the large planets, astronomers are beginning to study now the infinitely small ones that people the universe. And they discover that the interplanetary and interstellar spaces are peopled and crossed in all imaginable directions by little swarms of matter, invisible, infinitely small when taken separately, but all-powerful in their numbers.

„Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of law to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment.“

— Peter Kropotkin
Context: Legislators confounded in one code the two currents of custom of which we have just been speaking, the maxims which represent principles of morality and social union wrought out as a result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant to ensure external existence to inequality. Customs, absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd. "Do not kill," says the code, and hastens to add, "And pay tithes to the priest." "Do not steal," says the code, and immediately after, "He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have his hand struck off." Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day. Its origin is the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage. Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of law to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment. II

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