Peter Kropotkin

24 Feb, 2022 320 Political science

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Russian prince who became a leading anarchist and famous scientist. Kropotkin (1842 - 1921) was born into privilege, very much in the highest circle of Russian society as a pageboy for the Tsar, before he became a republican in childhood and dropped the title ‘Prince’. While working in Siberia, he started reading about anarchism and that radicalised him further, as did his observations of Siberian villagers supporting each other without (or despite) a role for the State. He made a name for himself as a geographer but soon his politics landed him in jail in St Petersburg, from which he escaped to exile in England where he was feted, with growing fame leading to lecture tours in the USA. His time in Siberia also inspired his ideas on the importance of mutual aid in evolution, a counter to the dominant idea from Darwin and Huxley that life was a gladiatorial combat in which only the fittest survived. Kropotkin became such a towering figure in public life that, returning to Russia, he was able to challenge Lenin without reprisal, and Lenin in turn permitted his enormous public funeral there, attended by 20,000 mourners.

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  • Ruth Kinna 2 episodes
    Professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University
  • Lee Dugatkin No other episodes
    Professor of Biology at the University of Louisville
  • Simon Dixon 6 episodes
    The Sir Bernard Pares Professor of Russian History at University College London

Reading list

  • Critical Companion to the Russian Revolution, 1914-1921
    Edward Acton, Vladimir Iu. Cherniaev, and William G. Rosenberg (eds.) (Edward Arnold, 1997) Google Books →
  • Russian Anarchists
    Paul Avrich (Princeton University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin: His Federalist Ideas
    Camilo Berneri (Freedom Press, 1943) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism, 1872-1886
    Caroline Cahm (Cambridge University Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Prince of Evolution: Peter Kropotkin's Adventures in Science and Politics
    Lee Dugatkin (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness
    Lee A. Dugatkin (Princeton University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin's Commune and the Politics of History
    Antonio Ferraz de Oliveira ( 2018)
  • Utopia's Discontents: Russian Emigres and the Quest for Freedom, 1830s-1930s
    Faith Hillis (Oxford University Press, 2021) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin: Reviewing The Classical Anarchist Tradition
    Ruth Kinna (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings
    Peter Kropotkin (ed. Marshall S. Shatz) (Cambridge University Press, 1995) Google Books →
  • Mutual Aid: An Illuminated Factor of Evolution
    Peter Kropotkin (illustrated by N.O. Bonzo) (PM Press, 2021) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin
    Martin A. Miller (University of Chicago Press, 1976) Google Books →
  • Kropotkin: The Politics of Community
    Brian Morris (PM Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Darwin in Russian Thought
    Alexander Vucinich (University of California Press, 1988) Google Books →
  • The Anarchist Prince: A Biographical Study of Peter Kropotkin
    George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic (T.V. Boardman, 1950) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, the Russian prince Peter Kropotkin, 1842 to 1921, was one of the most famous scientists of his age and the most prominent anarchists.