Friday, November 13, 2009

Understanding poverty



"We, in civilized societies, are rich.  Why then are the many poor?  Why this painful drudgery for the masses?  Why, even to the best paid workman, this uncertainty for the morrow, in the midst of all the wealth inherited from the past, and in spite of the powerful means of production, which could ensure comfort to all in return for a few hours of daily toil?

The Socialists have said it and repeated it unwearyingly.   Daily they reiterate it, demonstrating it by arguments taken from all the sciences.  It is because all that is necessary for production -- the land, the mines, the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge -- all have been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery, enforced migration or wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of Nature.  It is because, taking advantage of alleged rights acquired in the past, these few appropriate today two-thirds of the products of human labor, and then squander them in the most stupid and shameful way.  It is because, having reduced the masses to a point at which they have not the means of subsistence for a month, or even for a week in advance, the few only allow the many to work on condition of themselves receiving the lion's share.  It is because these few prevent the remainder of men from producing the things they need, and force them to produce, not the necessaries of life for all, but whatever offers the greatest profits to the monopolists.  In this is the substance of all Socialism." -- Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread; 1892

4 comments:

Montag said...

thanks for this. i've got Kropotkin on my 'to-read' list.

Coldtype said...

Ditto.

JRB said...

Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings is a great place to begin; it even includes his preliminary judgments on the Bolshevik regime.

I'd also really recommend the indispensable An Anarchist FAQ from AK Press (also available online) for anyone interested in a compendium of anarchist philosophy organized by subject. Tons of primary source material from every left libertarian personality imaginable.

Anonymous said...

fuckin' a.

once you start thinkin' along those lines...well, maybe not everything, but a whole shitload of shit falls into place.