( Next to Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin is the most famous and important of anarchist theorists, and was one of the first to advocate the theory known as Anarchist Communism.  His lifelong love of science and nature led him to develop his political theory which he saw as the most sensible, and perhaps more importantly, the most natural form of social and political organization.  In developing what he thought to be the most natural means of human organization, in terms of studying human needs and the most rational and equitable means of satisfying them, he laid out some of the basic ideas that would later be developed into the philosophy of Social Ecology, as well as other schools of ecological thought.

I will try to demonstrate how the tactics that Kropotkin developed in his time working within the anarchist movement have come to be used by radical environmental groups, often called ‘eco-terrorists.’  Apart from detailing the tactical methods which eco-terrorist groups have inherited from Kropotkin, I will also attempt to show how Kropotkin’s philosophical writings on anarchism and evolutionary theory have come to be incredibly influential within the environmental community.  In doing this I hope to show the theoretical framework that eco-terrorist groups are working in, because I believe it is essential to understand the development of these theories into the modern period as a way of both understanding, and addressing the issues we face as a global community today.

To begin, however, we must start by laying out some of the concepts that went into Kropotkin’s thinking in order to grasp a better understanding of his overall philosophy.  Firstly, there is the influence that nihilism had upon him.  Kropotkin wrote of the nihilists: “The life of civilized people is full of little conventional lies.  Persons who hate each other, meeting in the street, make their faces radiant with a happy smile; the nihilist remained unmoved, and smiled only for those whom he was really glad to meet.” [1]

The first sentence of this quote alone describes perfectly the nihilist view of society: whatever is accepted, reject; a perfect recipe for a rebel such as Kropotkin.  It also, however, shows an incredible display of honesty.  A nihilist would say one should not sugar coat something simply because it is the societal norm to do so.  One should instead do it because one generally feels that that is the appropriate action to take.  This level of honesty can also be seen in examples of Kropotkin’s life, as even his harshest critics could not deny the amount of honesty and gratitude that he radiated.

This break from traditions and norms are a critical aspect of modern anarchist thought.  The anarchist conception of freedom is very heavily situated upon radical notions of individualism that does not “bend before any authority except that of reason,” [2] and nihilism also views life as ultimately meaningless, without a higher purpose or meaning to life.  If one were then to hold a nihilistic conception of the world, things such as societal norms and traditions, as well as religious doctrines would lose much of their relevance.

Another conceptual aspect of Kropotkin’s thinking is that of our natural ability as humans to rebel.  Kropotkin’s fellow Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin writes: “Yes, our first ancestors, our Adams and our Eves, were, if not gorillas, very near relatives of gorillas, omnivorous, intelligent and ferocious beasts, endowed in a higher degree than the animals of any other species with two precious faculties—the power to think and the desire to rebel.” [3]

In this quote, Bakunin reveals elements that would become absolutely paramount in Kropotkin’s thinking, and the theories he develops: the concept of evolution (of which more will be said shortly), and combining our natural capacities for intellect with our natural desire to rebel.  In Bakunin’s view, humans are essentially animals.  We are not some entity distinct or outside of nature, but instead we are in nature.  We make up one portion of the ecosystem, and while Bakunin was not thinking as complex about this issue, Kropotkin develops it further, and the environmentalist groups that will be discussed later will grab a hold of this as a central theme in their respective philosophies.

For Bakunin and Kropotkin then, rebellion is something that comes as naturally to us as a species as breathing and thinking.  Or, better yet, our natural capacity for rebellion—which is for Bakunin and Kropotkin the rebellion towards freedom—is the evolutionary product of our natural capacity for thinking.  We naturally want to rebel against the status quo towards complete freedom, which for Bakunin and Kropotkin is anarchism.

This natural tendency of rebellion towards freedom obviously implies a very progressive view of history.  Kropotkin, however, would extend this to claim that every occurrence in nature is naturally a progressive occurrence, such as is found in dialectical materialism.  Let me explain: sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid crashed just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of modern day Mexico.  This event heralded the end of the dinosaurs, as well as seventy percent of all the life forms on earth at the time.  So, as cataclysmic as this event was, it provided for the conditions necessary for mammals to evolve, and now here you are with a paper in your hands reading about it.  Kropotkin saw revolutions in just the same way: a possibly violent event which ultimately would bring about some sort of progress.  This shows the very dialectical way of thinking which guided Kropotkin throughout his life.

One last critical aspect of Kropotkin’s thought, before we move on to his political theory, is the theory of evolution.  Kropotkin wrote a work, Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, and in the work he states: “Mutual Aid would be considered, not only as an argument in favour of a pre-human origin of moral instincts, but also as a law of Nature and a factor of evolution.”[4]  This mention of mutual aid being the fundamental factor of moral instincts is crucial to Kropotkin’s ethical and practical arguments for anarchism.  In a political pamphlet published in 1909 entitled, Anarchist Morality, Kropotkin asserts: “The feeling of solidarity is the leading characteristic of all animals living in society.”[5] He goes on to say: “Thousands of similar facts might be quoted, whole books might be written, to show how identical are the conceptions of good and evil amongst men and the other animals.”[6]

George Woodcock writes in an introduction to the Kropotkin anthology, Evolution and Environment: “Kropotkin considered that the application of evolutionary theories to the development of human societies provided a basis in reality as well as in science for his ideal of a liberated society.”[7]  This view that science and technology can play a prominent role in liberating society is a concept that will be returned to with the introduction of Murray Bookchin and his theory of Social Ecology, but for now we move to his political theory.

Kropotkin writes of anarchist communism as “a synthesis of the two chief aims pursued by humanity since the dawn of its history—economic freedom and political freedom.”[8]  He goes on to claim: “We are communists.  But our communism is not that of the authoritarian school: it is anarchist communism, communism without government, free communism.” [9]

Kropotkin’s work, Mutual Aid, is critical for understanding why he felt humans could carry out this type of society.  In Kropotkin’s view, humans are animals, ultimately no different than any other on the planet, and given his argument for mutual aid in the evolutionary process; he argues that, if given the chance, humans would naturally order society in this way.  So, it is in fact unnatural, in Kropotkin’s view, for humans to subjugate one another and instead are capable of incredible amounts of empathy and aid.

Given Marx’s claim that history has been one of class struggles, where one class utilizes the state apparatus to oppress opposing classes, Kropotkin argues that if humans are ever able to take control of the means of production, they will have no need for the state.  Here, Kropotkin and other anarchists differ from Marxists in one crucial aspect: tactics.  Marxists believe the state should be seized in the revolution and utilized to bring about communism, and anarchists believe it should be destroyed in the very process of the revolution.  The goal is the same but the strategies are vastly different.

I have attempted to elucidate briefly the theoretical aspects of Kropotkin’s thinking, and next issue I will illustrate how radical environmental groups have been influenced by these ideas.  For a more complete view of his ideas I would strongly suggest delving into his body of works on the subject such as: The Conquest of Bread, Fields, Factories, and Workshops, Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, as well as the anthology Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings.

Trent Trepanier

[1] Peter Kropotkin, Memoirs of a Revolutionist, p. 298.
[2] Ibid. p. 297.
[3] Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State, p. 9.
[4] Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: a Factor in Evolution, p. 4.
[5] Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, p. 95. Quoted from Anarchist Morality.
[6] Ibid. p. 90.
[7] Peter Kropotkin, Evolution and Environment, p. 12.
[8] Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: a Collection of Revolutionary Writings, p. 61. Quoted from Anarchist Communism.
[9] Ibid. p. 61.


Part 2 available here: Peter Kropotkin & Radical Environmentalism (Part 2)

( North Sea suffers worst oil spill for 10 years : Footage from Marine Scotland, the government body that manages Scottish waters, of the worst oil spill in the North Sea for a decade.

Shell says there have been two leaks at the Gannet Alpha platform, just over 100 miles east of Aberdeen. The first was discovered on 10 August, and has already spilled about 1,300 barrels of oil into the sea – more than the amount spilled across the whole of 2009. It claims that the first leak is ‘pretty much dead’ and the second is minor

( Koide Hiroaki began his career as a nuclear engineer forty years ago drawn to the promise of nuclear power. Quickly, however, he recognized the flaws in Japan’s nuclear power program and emerged as among the best informed of Japan’s nuclear power critic. His cogent public critique of the nuclear village earned him an honourable form of purgatory as a permanent assistant professor at Kyoto University. Koide would pay a price in career terms, continuing his painstaking research on radio nuclide measurement at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute (KURRI) in the shadows. Until 3.11.

Since the earthquake tsunami and nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, he has emerged as a powerful voice and a central figure in charting Japan’s future energy course in the wake of disaster: in scores of well attended public lectures, in daily media consultations and interviews, in his widely read posts and in three books that have helped to redefine public consciousness and official debate.

On May 23, 2011, the Government Oversight Committee of the House of Councillors (the Upper House) invited four guests to address members of the Diet – Koide, Ishibashi Katsuhiko, a seismologist who has long warned of the reactors’ vulnerability to quakes, Goto Masashi, a former Toshiba nuclear engineer who now defies the industry, and Son Masayoshi, President of telecommunication giant Softbank and, since 3.11, an outspoken proponent of renewable energy. The unprecedented government effort to seek advice from staunch critics of nuclear power policy is indicative of fresh winds blowing at a time when the government is calling for a sharp increase in renewable energy and curbing of nuclear power and the nuclear power giants and their supporters in the bureaucracy are fighting back.

Thousands across the nation and overseas watched Koide’s criticism of the government being webcast, sharing through Twitter the excitement of seeing their best kept secret being unveiled in a grey business suit, at the centre of Japanese politics – the very centre he has exposed throughout his career. At the same time, a human chain was being formed around the building of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) where Fukushima parents and their supporters rallied to protest against the ministry’s decision to raise the allowable radiation exposure level.2 Viewers of the two simultaneous events had one eye on the relentless Koide, and the other on teary and angry Fukushima parents.

Read more, watch the lectures:

(farmwars.infoSafety of Monsanto’s Synthetic-Toxin maize to be re-examined

Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK formally request withdrawal of EU market authorisation of Monsanto´s genetically engineered maize Genuity VT Triple PRO Cornwith synthetic toxins.

28 July 2011. The non-profit organisations Testbiotech (Germany) and GeneWatch UK have submitted a formal request to the European Commission to re-examine market authorisation of a genetically engineered maize produced by Monsanto sold under brand Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn (event MON89034 x MON 88017) that produces a synthetic toxin, intended to kill insect pests. This maize was approved for usage in food and feed by the EU Commission on 17th of June. It produces a combination of three different insecticidal toxins, one of which is synthesised artificially. Further, the plants are made tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate (known as Roundup).

The organisations are filing a formal request for internal review of the EU Commission´s decision according Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No. 1367/2006 because the legally required high level of protection for consumers, farm animals and the environment are not met and legal requirements for monitoring of health effects have been ignored completely. They argue that the authorisation should be withdrawn.

“This maize produces a unique combination of insecticidal proteins. In the parts of this plant, a synthetic Bt toxin is produced. Its toxicity might affect a much wider spectrum of species than expected. Further combined effects have to be expected with the other toxins and the residues from spraying with the herbicide. These risks can impact both on health and the environment,” said Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK. “But none of these risks were properly examined before approval was granted.”

The plants were not tested for health effects in feeding studies. Only a short term trial for its nutritional quality was performed in poultry. The residues from spraying with glyphosate formulations were also not considered by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. There are further legal requirements for monitoring of potential health effects that were ignored by the EU Commission:

No plan for monitoring as required by European regulation was made available that would allow identification of particular health impacts that might be related to the use of these genetically engineered plants in food and feed. There is not even a reliable method to measure the level of toxins produced in the maize and to trace the products within the market,” said Christoph Then from Testbiotech.

According the request prepared by the two organisations, this case is also of general relevance for the setting of risk assessment standards by EFSA that are currently under discussion before being adopted as EU regulations. This case shows that in general much more effort is needed to ensure the high level of protection for human health and the environment required by the framework of the EU regulations.

Since this case is a precedent, the NGOs have the option of considering further legal steps such as a case at the European Court of Justice if the EU Commission rejects their request for internal review.

Currently, genetically engineered crops mainly enter the EU from North and South America as soya or maize for use in animal feed. Maize containing a single Bt toxin is also grown for use in animal feed in Spain. Numerous “stacked events” containing multiple Bt toxins and/or resistence to one or more herbicides are awaiting regulatory approval in the EU. Herbicide resistant “superweeds” are becoming a major problem for American farmers growing herbicide tolerant GM crops and pests are also developing resistance to the Bt toxins included in many GM crops. A recent Canadian study suggested that the assumption made by regulators that Bt toxins do not survive in the human gut may be incorrect.

Link to Testbiotech and the request as filed to the EU Commission:

Link to GeneWatch UK:

by Christoph Then/TestBiotech


( Japan has passed a law that will enable the police and contractors to monitor internet activity without restriction to “cleanse” the Internet of any “bad” Fukushima radiation news.

As I previous reported, Japan has officially ordered the censorship of any reporting of the truth about the Fukushima nuclear radiation fallout by  ordering telecommunications companies and web masters to scrub any stories negative stories from the about the disaster.

Continue reading on Japan Passes Law To Cleanse Internet Of “Bad” Fukushima Radiation News – Jersey City Civil Rights |