chapter  5
21 Pages

Peter Kropotkin and mutual aid

WithCharles Marsh

This chapter reviews Peter Kropotkin’s unique contributions to that goal and compare them with those of Charles Darwin as well as those of Darwin’s bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley. Kropotkin biographer Brian Morris characterizes Mutual Aid as “presenting a wealth of empirical data to substantiate his thesis, namely, the importance of mutual aid in both the life of animals and in human societies throughout history”. Kropotkin’s synthesis of individualistic and collectivist tendencies thus forecasts and supports Holtzhausen’s vision of a postmodern framework for public relations and society in which “a vibrant, participative democracy reconciles freedom and justice”. Kropotkin’s synthesis of individualism and collectivism thus moves beyond the simple compromise of reciprocity. Kropotkin believes that a refusal to seek accommodation with forces of excessive competition is, like mutual aid itself, evolutionary. Kropotkin’s rich development of Darwin’s much briefer gloss on ethics is particularly important given the direction of Thomas Henry Huxley’s survey of the same territory.