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The conquest of bread By Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin

The conquest of bread By Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin

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Published by Frater WothanAzazel
The fourth in AK Press' Working Classics series, The Conquest of Bread is Peter Kropotkin's most extensive study of human needs and his outline of the most rational and equitable means of satisfying them. The most important and widely read exposition of anarchist economic theory, its combination of detailed historical analysis and far-reaching utopian vision is a step-by-step guide to social revolution: the concrete means of achieving it, and the new world that humanity is capable of creating. Writing in a style that he describes as "moderate in tone, but revolutionary in substance," Kropotkin adeptly translates complex ideas into common language, while rendering the often amorphous aspirations of social movements into coherent form.

As insightful as when it was first published over a century ago, The Conquest of Bread is essential reading for anyone interested in a pragmatic, yet visionary, approach to questions of economic justice.

This edition includes a new introduction that historically situates and discusses the contemporary relevance of Kropotkin's ideas.

Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) was a Russian prince who renounced his noble title and devoted his life to anarchism. His classic works include, Fields, Factories and Workshops; Memoirs of a Revolutionist; and Mutual Aid.

Selection from the new Introduction, by C. Weigl:

The Conquest of Bread is undoubtedly a classic example of both anarchist economic theory and anarchist propaganda. The question remains, though: What makes it so successful? The objection could certainly be raised that the book is a utopian text and therefore the height of the impractical, "armchairish" theorizing that Kropotkin was accused of in the Chaikovsky Circle. Some of Kropotkin's more recent supporters have understood this possibility and have responded by denying in advance that The Conquest of Bread is, in fact, utopian at all. In his introduction to an earlier edition of the book, George Woodcock describes it as a "proposition" rather than a utopia, because "utopias have a rigidity and eschatological finality which The Conquest of Bread wholly lacks."91 Whereas utopias supposedly try to achieve an imaginary perfection that means the end of all social evolution, Kropotkin, as a scientist, "knew the difference between theory and certainty."92 While Harry Cleaver also emphasizes the fact that Kropotkin was a scientist, he considers calling The Conquest of Bread a "proposition" inadequate. For him, the book bases itself on a thorough and detailed analysis of the historical development of human society and, therefore is more "certain" than Woodcock allows. "Kropotkin was presenting the results of research into the concrete developments in the present which constituted elements of a post-capitalist society... He was showing how the future was already appearing in the present."93

Both are correct. Like any decent theorist, utopian or not, Kropotkin always provides the caveat that his ideas are ideas, neither absolute truth nor guaranteed.94 At the same time, he doesn't pull those ideas out of thin air, but bases them on a thorough study of the world as it exists. But does either of these facts mean The Conquest of Bread isn't utopian? And why shy away from the label in the first place?
Utopias have a bad name. This reputation is due, in part, to a society that does its best to convince us that we already live in the best possible world, that the market on social organization has been cornered, and that trying to imagine something better is misguided, quixotic, or, at worst, a despotic imposition. However, the critique of utopia is just as strong among anticapitalists, especially among Marxist proponents of "scientific" socialism. Woodcock and Cleaver both can be seen as providing somewhat guilty replies to the anti-utopian arguments of Friedrich Engels. In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Engels writes of utopias that, "the more completely they were worked out in detail, the more they could no
The fourth in AK Press' Working Classics series, The Conquest of Bread is Peter Kropotkin's most extensive study of human needs and his outline of the most rational and equitable means of satisfying them. The most important and widely read exposition of anarchist economic theory, its combination of detailed historical analysis and far-reaching utopian vision is a step-by-step guide to social revolution: the concrete means of achieving it, and the new world that humanity is capable of creating. Writing in a style that he describes as "moderate in tone, but revolutionary in substance," Kropotkin adeptly translates complex ideas into common language, while rendering the often amorphous aspirations of social movements into coherent form.

As insightful as when it was first published over a century ago, The Conquest of Bread is essential reading for anyone interested in a pragmatic, yet visionary, approach to questions of economic justice.

This edition includes a new introduction that historically situates and discusses the contemporary relevance of Kropotkin's ideas.

Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) was a Russian prince who renounced his noble title and devoted his life to anarchism. His classic works include, Fields, Factories and Workshops; Memoirs of a Revolutionist; and Mutual Aid.

Selection from the new Introduction, by C. Weigl:

The Conquest of Bread is undoubtedly a classic example of both anarchist economic theory and anarchist propaganda. The question remains, though: What makes it so successful? The objection could certainly be raised that the book is a utopian text and therefore the height of the impractical, "armchairish" theorizing that Kropotkin was accused of in the Chaikovsky Circle. Some of Kropotkin's more recent supporters have understood this possibility and have responded by denying in advance that The Conquest of Bread is, in fact, utopian at all. In his introduction to an earlier edition of the book, George Woodcock describes it as a "proposition" rather than a utopia, because "utopias have a rigidity and eschatological finality which The Conquest of Bread wholly lacks."91 Whereas utopias supposedly try to achieve an imaginary perfection that means the end of all social evolution, Kropotkin, as a scientist, "knew the difference between theory and certainty."92 While Harry Cleaver also emphasizes the fact that Kropotkin was a scientist, he considers calling The Conquest of Bread a "proposition" inadequate. For him, the book bases itself on a thorough and detailed analysis of the historical development of human society and, therefore is more "certain" than Woodcock allows. "Kropotkin was presenting the results of research into the concrete developments in the present which constituted elements of a post-capitalist society... He was showing how the future was already appearing in the present."93

Both are correct. Like any decent theorist, utopian or not, Kropotkin always provides the caveat that his ideas are ideas, neither absolute truth nor guaranteed.94 At the same time, he doesn't pull those ideas out of thin air, but bases them on a thorough study of the world as it exists. But does either of these facts mean The Conquest of Bread isn't utopian? And why shy away from the label in the first place?
Utopias have a bad name. This reputation is due, in part, to a society that does its best to convince us that we already live in the best possible world, that the market on social organization has been cornered, and that trying to imagine something better is misguided, quixotic, or, at worst, a despotic imposition. However, the critique of utopia is just as strong among anticapitalists, especially among Marxist proponents of "scientific" socialism. Woodcock and Cleaver both can be seen as providing somewhat guilty replies to the anti-utopian arguments of Friedrich Engels. In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Engels writes of utopias that, "the more completely they were worked out in detail, the more they could no

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Published by: Frater WothanAzazel on Jul 03, 2010
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