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(en) Ireland, The Workers Solidarity* # 85 - Book Review: Peter Kropotkin's Masterpiece The Conquest of Bread

Date Tue, 31 May 2005 09:49:41 +0300

To: <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Subject: Ireland, The Workers Solidarity* # 85 - Book Review: Peter Kropotkin's Masterpiece
The Conquest of Bread

This book isn't new in any bookshop: it first appeared 1892, and
was based on a series of articles written by P. Kropotkin, then a
leading figure of the anarchist movement, for the French
revolutionary press during the 1880s. It has been influential as few
others have, and despite having been written more than 100 years
ago, many of its arguments are still amazingly relevant today.
The first thing that really strikes you about the book is the
simplicity of the arguments: the author describes clearly the basis
of anarchist communism, without resorting to obscurities which,
usually, veil one's lack of arguments.

The Conquest of Bread is directed to appeal to the common folk
who are new to socialistic ideas, and not to satisfy the appetite for
dilettante discussion between militants. Even the way he simply
sums up the anarchist communist revolutionary drive in the phrase
"demand the right to everyone's welfare" shows the didactic
character of the book.

In this language and with well informed evidence, he demonstrates
(120 years ago!) that, objectively, the conditions to create an
anarchist society, a society that guarantees everyone's welfare, is
not an utopian dream, but an actual possibility thanks to the
advances in science and technology. He demonstrates too how
society has created so much wealth, but unfortunately, due to the
existence of an insane capitalist, statist and class society, this
wealth is completely squandered and distributed in a completely
uneven way.

To solve this injustice and to replace this dysfunctional system,
Kropotkin offers anarchism as a solution. This means the
expropriation and collectivization of property and goods from the
hands of the gang of capitalsts that have made a fortune off the
back of the workers and to put them into the service of the whole
society and not of a privileged elite; to reorganise production to
fulfil the needs of society, and not profit; to reorganise society from
the bottom up, with grassroots democracy, instead of an elite of
politicians in government deciding for all of us....

And thus, conquering the bread, to open a whole new phase in
human history in the arts, education science, etc... for the aim of
revolution is not only about material things, but also about
changing the life we're living.

He also smartly and passionately discusses the division between
intellectual and manual labour, the de-centralisation of industry,
the imperialist relationships between industrial countries and
providers of raw materials and the contradiction between country
and cities.

This book, despite not dealing with the practicalities faced by those
who organise to change society and not giving an account of the
many problems that any revolution faces (shortages in production,
international boycott, etc.), gives a vivid account of the immense
possibilities of social change and constitutes an appeal to transform

by Paddy Rua

* This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper
'Workers Solidarity'. We also provide PDF files of
ofhttp://struggle.ws/wsm/pdf.html all our
publications for you to print out and distribute locally
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