“Peter Kropotkin and Anarchism”


Allana Dedmon, Staff Writer

Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1842, Peter Kropotkin was born a prince but had absolutely no interest in living up to the title. In fact, Kropotkin became well known for the exact opposite of royal power and hierarchy: Anarchism.

While Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is better described as the “father of anarchism,” Kropotkin’s involvement in the freshly formed idea of anarchism started shortly after Proudhon’s. In his early life, Kropotkin was raised and surrounded by royalty, and received most of his education at a military school in order to learn to be a military officer, following in the footstep of his other family members. However, when Kropotkin was given his chance to join the Russian military, he chose to serve as an officer in Siberia. This was a disappointment to his royal family because there wasn’t much to do military-related in Siberia but that was exactly why he chose Siberia. Kropotkin knew that if he served there, he could focus on his passions rather than expectations and study geography and zoology.

For part of his life after leaving the military and his family, he earned a reputation in the science community, but as he was nearing his thirties, he found a new passion in unpopular ideas in politics. In 1872, he officially became an anarchist, opting against government power and for a world without rulers. He joined an illegal organization where he and other anarchism supporters could share ideas and read books that people weren’t permitted to read, and after word got out of Kropotkin’s secret works, he was imprisoned for his first time. He also gained a following with his ideas of evolution and mutual aid, arguing against the world wide accepted theory of Darwinism. Based on the idea of anarchism, he believed that instead of using competition, historic species survived and benefited better from working together in cooperation. Although he spent a majority of his life in prison and on the run, he earned a wide spread following of supporters, and after his imprisonment in France, he was released due to the pressure of protesters against his imprisonment.

After he left France, Kropotkin returned to his home in Russia where the Bolshevik Revolution was beginning. Kropotkin, however, didn’t live through the revolution, dying of pneumonia in 1921. The catastrophic revolution moved on without him, his works and influential voice empowering his supporters in Russia and eventually his ideas spread all around the world. Peter Kropotkin’s books and writings are still read today and he is remembered as one of the most well-known anarchist in history.