Kropotkin’s ecology


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I’ll focus on a particular aspect of his extensive and extensive writings, specifically his seminal work on the social ecology.

The very essence of our existence, for Kropotkin there was a fundamental “paradox” due to the fact that on the one side, humans were part of nature, a result of an evolutionary process and completely dependent on the world. Nature is the source of food, water, and air to exist.

However, on the contrary humans were, in the sense of being “separate” in nature. the earth had existed since billions of years prior to the time humans were born as a group. Particular species of beings were distinctive in that they combined an elevated level of self-awareness and deep socialization and the ability to develop complex symbolic cultures and techniques.

Humans are considered to be an “geological power” on the planet earth. Humans were a bit “separate” with nature.

What’s significant about Kropotkin is that he’s always worked to ensure that these two aspects of the human experience in harmony.


He thereby merged humanism, with a focus on human behavior and culture, with naturalism, accepting the ecological aspects of human existence in which humans are “rooted in the natural world”. Being a social philosopher this means that Kropotkin was an ecological humanist, as well as a social ecologist.

Two of the books he wrote (both basing themselves on articles that appeared around the time of the 1800s) provide a glimpse into his social ecology These are “Fields factories, fields and workshops of the future” (1899) in addition to “Mutual aid: a determinant in the process of evolutionary change “(1902).

At the close in the late 19th century Kropotkin began to become more concerned about two issues or developments that were interconnected.

One of these was the ever-growing “gulf” which developed between the bleak countryside with its inhabitants , and increasingly more animals, and the city, which was populated by people living in poverty and misery in the overcrowded housing, and also working in city. factories that were unsafe, degrading and totally non-democratic.


Another concern was the growth in capitalism of an industrialized form of agriculture, which was a form of monoculture, which reduced the soil’s fertility and where the cultivation was not primarily focused on the production of food , but towards profit-making.

He was also worried that almost all the land in Britain was privately owned and large areas of land were being utilized to hunt particularly pheasants, grouse and pheasants to be used for recreational purposes of a powerful and wealthy ruling class.

While people who like Trotsky and liberal academics generally, depicted Kropotkin as an idealistic intellect and a utopian socialist totally detached from the political and social “realities” However, in reality Kropotkin was a practical and grounded scholar. .

When Marx was working in the libraries at the British Museum studying economics – mostly government reports Kropotkin was a frequent traveler to conduct research on the farming practices. Throughout his life, he and partner Sophie cultivated a small plot. Kropotkin even designed the furniture himself!


In his journal of reflections factories, fields, and workshops of tomorrow that Colin Ward described as one of the “great prophetic works of the 19th century.” Kropotkin argued that:

  • The idea that all kinds of industrial activity such as workshops or factories are decentralized, and he advocated for what we today refer to as”the “greening” of urban life.
  • Future agriculture should be both diverse and extensive with fields with intensive crops, irrigated meadows orchards, greenhouse plants, and vegetable gardens. Because of those, Kropotkin argued, high yields from a range of crops could be made. Self-sufficiency in food could be realized, he believed without the need to resort to the industrial agricultural system (under capitalism) If the farmer was free of the three “vultures” (as Kropotkin then described) which included the state the landlord. earthling, and the banker. . Kropotkin was adamantly opposed to both agricultural state collectivization as well as capitalist agriculture.
  • The amount of labor required in both industries and agriculture is likely to be reduced to only a few hours per day, which allows the residents of a particular community enough time to enjoy leisure and activities. cultural.


This, Kropotkin admitted, would require a revolution in society and the development of an ecological society that is based on anarchist communist principles.

It is important to note that Kropotkin’s work had influential influence on a variety of individuals, such as Lev Tolstoy, Ebenezer Howard (and his campaign for gardens in city planning), Lewis Mumford and Paul Goodman.

The book about “Mutual aid” is probably the most known of all Kropotkin’s works and is under review. It was a well-known scientific book that expressed the concern of Kropotkin towards the close 18th-century about the development of the school of thought referred to by the name of “social Darwinism”.

The first thing that triggered Kropotkin came from an article written by Thomas Huxley, widely known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” due to the defense he gave to Darwin’s theories. The article was that was published by the journal the nineteenth century in 1888.

It was called, The fight for existence and the impact it has on mankind. In quoting Hobbes, Huxley specifically described the life of the natural world – both organic and the life of indigenous peoples as “lonely poor, squatter brutal, wicked and extremely short.”

Mutual assistance

In the wake of Huxley Huxley, social Darwinists which included such brutal American entrepreneurs such as Rockefeller and Carnegie were able to apply Darwinian theory, specifically Herbert Spencer’s theory of “survival of the strongest” to human society.

This notion has been employed as an argument for ideology to justify imperialism and capitalism as well as the colonial exploitation of native peoples. It also implied that human beings were naturally driven by aggression and were competitive, selfish, selfish and possessive individuals.

Kropotkin obviously was not a fan of Rousseau and never doubted the existence of the factual reality conflict, competition, or the selfishness (subjective action) as well as in the real world and in the social lives of humans.

However, he strongly opposed his Hobbesian (capitalist) view of the world and argued that it was exaggerated and totally unbalanced. He decided to write essays on “mutual aid” or, cooperation, mutual support and concern that are exhibited not just by animals and animals, but also throughout human societies and throughout the history of mankind.

The self-help tendencies or what he called “anarchy” was visible “among us” those within Western societies.

It coexisted alongside and sometimes even in opposition to with, the capitalist and state institutions. It was a form of cooperation (or chaos) was practiced according to Kropotkin in worker’s unions, associations and family life, as well as religious charities, cultural societies and clubs in addition to various other types of voluntary organizations. . The mutual aid, Kropotkin stressed, was an essential element in the development and social interactions.


mutual assistance does not constitute an anarchist text or a piece of political theory, but instead represents Kropotkin’s idea of a society that is described as anarchist or free communism.

This implies the necessity of a social revolution, as well as a new form of political system that reflects the following three basic principals or concepts:

  • The rejection of the state and any forms of hierarchy and oppression which hindered the independence and wellbeing of the individual as a social entity;
  • A rejection of the capitalist market system and it’s wage system (which was for Kropotkin was a type of slavery) as well as private property as well as its competitive ethic, as well as its belief in possessive individualism
  • Finally, a vision of a sustainable future society, built on mutual assistance as well as voluntary service, participatory models of democracy, as well as a model of community-based social organization. This kind of society will encourage the highest expression of individual freedom as well as could promote mutualism, an interdependent relationship with nature.

In a world where capitalism has ruled the world and creates conditions that trigger tension, fear as well as glaring inequality in the economic system and an acute ecological crisis Kropotkin’s philosophy and vision of politics are still in significance.

In contrast to those who support”Green New Deal,” which was a variant of the “Green New Deal” which was backed by Naomi Klein et al – Kropotkin claimed that the capitalist state , rather than being the answer to the environmental crisis was actually the reason.

According to socio-ecologist Murray Bookchin has long argued that capitalism is in a synergistic relationship to the government is plundering the earth for the sake of profits and is the principal reason for”the “modern problem”.

This author

Brian Morris is thmerited professor of Anthropology in Goldsmiths College, and aauthor of many books on ecology as well as anarchism, such as Kropotkin Politics in the perspective of the community (Press PM, 2018). “In the memory of my friend, David Graeber (1961-2020). “


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