The Conquest of Bread (New)
In The Conquest of Bread, Peter Kropotkin describes how the revolution can achieve a free, egalitarian, and self-sufficient anarcho-communist society. In issuing his argument for this society, Kropotkin critiques the various economic systems, from pure capitalism to state-run socialism to collectivism. Additionally, he provides the reader with a history of the revolution, analyzing the failures and successes of past revolutions, including the French revolutions of 1789, 1848, and 1871. Throughout, Kropotkin emphasizes humanity's ability to cooperate and advance through mutual aid and science – abilities critical to the success of the revolution and post-revolution society. The Conquest of Bread is an important and enduring work of political theory and anarchist thought.
This Dialectics edition includes nearly 100 new historical and biographical footnotes and notes on the English translation from the original French text. Also included are nine historic lithographs, etchings, and woodblock prints depicting the periods discussed in the book. These notes and illustrations help to make The Conquest of Bread as relevant today as when it was first published.
Peter Alexeyevitch Kropotkin (1842–1921) was born into Russian nobility but abandoned his princely title at the age of twelve. An ardent intellectual, he read widely in politics and science. As his education progressed—and his exposure to revolutionary writings—he became more concerned with the plight of the peasants and workers. After graduating from an elite military school, he pursued geography, undertaking important research expeditions and becoming a member of the RussianGeographical Society.
In 1872, he traveled to Switzerland, where he briefly joined the International Working Men’s Association. He also stayed with the Jura Federation, coming away deeply influenced by that unique association and taking up the anarchist cause.
He returned to Russia and was arrested in 1874 for belonging to a secret, revolutionary group. After two years in prison, and just before his trial, he escaped with the help of friends, fleeing to England. He lived in exile until the overthrow of the Tsar in 1917.
He settled in with the Jura Federation, where he edited the newspaper Le Révolté. In 1881, he was expelled from Switzerland. He went to England, and then France. In France he was arrested and imprisoned at Clairvaux until an early release in 1886. Again, he returned to England, where he stayed until his final return to Russia. In England, he started the anarchist newspaper, Freedom, and restarted Le Révolté as La Révolte. The Conquest of Bread first appeared in these papers.
In The Conquest of Bread, Kropotkin details an anarcho-communist society. The book is not only a rejection of government in all forms, but also a rejection of the wages system, including the labor-based wages system that the Collectivists espoused. Further, his lifelong passion for science is evident in the vision that he brings forth.
With the February Revolution of 1917, Kropotkin was finally able to return to Russia. He took interest in the Revolution and briefly stayed in Moscow. However, the Bolsheviks took power during the October Revolution of 1917, and Kropotkin moved to the town of Dmitrov where he did not participate in the local Soviet. He died in 1921 at the age of seventy-eight.
In an effort to bridge the gap between the original publication of The Conquest of Bread and today, Dialectics has included footnotes that give brief biographies, histories, and commentaries on the translations.