Оn being yourself in an era of wars and revolutions: Piotr Kropotkin’s personality in the modern interpretation

Gordon A.V.


The personality of the great political and public figure of Russia Piotr Kropotkin has been a subject of much research, replete with contradictory judgments. The book by V.V. Damye and D.I. Rublev «Piotr Kropotkin. Life of an Anarchist», is the latest example of Russian «Kropotkin studies», raising some questions to reflect upon. What prompted the offspring of a noble family to embark on a revolutionary path, and then, on the wave of popularity in the anarchist movement, to advocate for national statehood? Biographers seek answers, faithfully reconstructing the stages of Kropotkin's life journey in the roles of revolutionary and anarchist. However, the multifaceted nature of this personality requires to pose a wider question, bringing forward his worldview aspect and actual interpretation of historical process, in which the evolutionism pertaining to a naturalist was intertwined with historical cyclicism; the ongoing steps of social progress coexisted with catastrophism. The inductive method played an exceptional role in shaping his worldview. Going to generalizations from empirical observations, Kropotkin made remarkable progress in the geographical study of Siberia and the Far East. This method was also applied in the development of his political positions, which varied depending on the situation. In 1914. Kropotkin spoke in defense of France against German aggression, assessing the country's contribution to European civilization and revolutionary potential. In 1917 he supported the Provisional Government, advocating necessity of the national union to defend the revolutionary gains and Russia itself against aggression. The Bolshevik dictatorship and the policy of «war communism» deepened Kropotkin's understanding of the transitional period to socialism by recognizing the fundamental importance of democratic values and institutions. Trade unions, cooperation, and federalism became the credo of the final period of his life.


P.A. Kropotkin; A.A. Borovoj; anarhism; evolutionism; inductive method; Corps of pages; geography of Siberia; World war I; French revolution; Russian revolution 1917; Soviet power.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2023.04.11

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