Peter Kropotkin

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Peter Kropotkin : biography

21 December 1842 – 8 February 1921

In 1881 shortly after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II he was expelled from Switzerland. After a short stay at Thonon (Savoy), he went to London where he stayed nearly a year and returned to Thonon in late 1882. Soon he was arrested by the French government, tried at Lyon, and sentenced by a police-court magistrate (under a special law passed on the fall of the Paris Commune) to five years’ imprisonment, on the ground that he had belonged to the IWA (1883). The French Chamber repeatedly agitated on his behalf, and he was released in 1886. He settled near London, living at various times in Harrow – where his daughter, Alexandra, was born – Ealing and Bromley (6 Crescent Road 1886-1914).Bromley Council guide to blue plaques He also lived for a number of years in Brighton.Peter Marshall Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, London: Fontana, 1993, p.315 While living in London, Kropotkin became friends with a number of prominent English-speaking socialists, including William Morris and George Bernard Shaw.

Return to Russia

In 1917 after the February Revolution, Kropotkin returned to Russia again after years of exile. Upon his arrival, he was greeted by crowds of tens of thousands of people, cheering his return. He was offered the ministry of education in the provisional government, which he promptly refused, feeling that working with them would be a violation of his anarchist principles. His enthusiasm for the changes happening in the Russian Empire turned to disappointment when the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution. "This buries the revolution," he said. He thought that the Bolsheviks had shown how the revolution was not to be made; by authoritarian rather than libertarian methods. He had spoken out against authoritarian socialism in his writings (for example The Conquest of Bread), making the prediction that any state founded on these principles would most likely see its own breakup and the restoration of capitalism.

Death

Kropotkin died of pneumonia on 8 February 1921, in the city of Dmitrov, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery. Thousands of people marched in his funeral procession, including, with Vladimir Lenin’s approval, anarchists carrying banners with anti-Bolshevik slogans. It was to become the last public demonstration of anarchists, which saw engaged speeches by Emma Goldman and Aron Baron. In 1957 the Dvorets Sovetov station of the Moscow Metro was renamed Kropotkinskaya in his honor.