Kropotkin’s Anarchy and How It Works

Can’t We All Just Get Along (As a Species)?

by Brandy Anderson

Peter Kropotkin uses scientific theory in his idea of cooperation through mutual aid and this scientific approach is supported by Peter Marshall’s definition of anarchy. Kropotkin believes that humanity is ruled mostly by mutual cooperation between humans and rejects Darwin’s idea that struggle between humans is the dominant natural order.

Marshall states that anarchy should  have an“immediate and considerable relevance to contemporary problems as well as to future well-being” (“Relevance”). Kropotkin’s idea that cooperation within a species adds to its well being and overall future success falls into Marshall’s category. Humanity would be more successful as a race if it considered the scientific evidence of the evolutionary and instinctual cycles noted by Kropotkin and humanity needs to embody this idea of offering mutual aid to fellow human beings like other species employ to each other because this is the natural law.

Marshall points out that “the most common criticism of anarchism is that it is based on a simplistic view of human nature” and at first glance Kropotkin’s ideology seems to possibly fall within this claim. However, Kropotkin’s stance is substantiated by his scientific support and he does not “embrace an immensely wide range of phenomena in one single generalization” as he criticizes Darwin and Wallace of doing (Mutual Aid. Ch.1). The empirical observations of various species and their reciprocal behaviour adds weight to Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid theory. He documents and details the many layers in which various species work together, thereby forwarding their species through this reciprocal aid.

Marshall says one of the chief concerns of anarchy regards work and how necessary work would be carried out if there is no one to delegate jobs (“Relevance”). Kropotkin’s observations show that species naturally work these problems out on their own and that humans would follow the same evolutionary pattern of self survival. By systematically listing the massive cooperation found within specie groups Kropotkin shows that this form of helping our fellow beings is natural.

Anarchy Archive observes “it is only fitting to see how the themes and ideas in Mutual Aid have fared. If done, it will be quickly concluded that (terminology aside) they have stood the test of time and are now standard positions in evolutionary theory, biology and anthropology. There is overwhelming evidence to corroborate Kropotkin’s thesis”.  This assessment of Kropotkin’s ideas of mutual aid support Marshall’s claim that “Anarchism remains not only an ultimate ideal, but also increasingly a practical possibility” and Kropotkin’s evolutionary mutual aid clearly falls within this definition.

Works Cited:
Kropotkin, Peter. Mutual Aid. Anarchy Archive. Web. 14 October 2012.
“Mutual Aid: An Induction and Evaluation”. Anarchy Archive. Web. 14 October 2012.
“The Relevance of Anarchism”. Marshall, Peter. Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. Web. 14 October 2012.
Image Source:
Anarchy Symbol. Ancient Types of Government.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s