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Kropotkin: 'The Conquest of Bread' and Other Writings

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,609 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Peter Kropotkin's most detailed description of the ideal society embodies anarchist communism and the social revolution that was to achieve it. This edition's introduction traces his evolution as an anarchist, from his origins in Russian aristocracy to his disillusionment with the Russian Revolution.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 31st 2007 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1892)
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Tinea
Feb 01, 2012 Tinea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tinea by: Brandon (and others)
Uplifting, light, and truly enjoyable! While I stand by an earlier assertion that best way to learn about anarchism nowadays is through radical permaculture ecologists and intersectional women of color feminists, I was surprised to find The Conquest of Bread is really worth reading, too. In terms of your old white European male anarcho-communists, Kropotkin is the go-to guy; I'd put him ahead of Emma Goldman for timid students of anarchist theory, since he focuses more on practicalities and visi ...more
Yann
Jul 23, 2011 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Pierre Kropotkine, aristocrate russe ému par l'injustice des sociétés européennes d'il y a un siècle livre dans ce livre ses réflexions quand aux solutions qu'il imagine pour soulager la misère des classes ouvrières, lors de cette première mondialisation économique.

La hauteur de ses aspirations morales, la justesse et la mesure dont il fait preuve le font grandement estimer, quoique l'on puisse éprouver quelques dissentiment sur tel ou tel point de ses analyses. Il ne perd jamais de vue la fina
...more
Sean Mccarrey
This book was thoroughly disappointing, especially after reading Memoirs of a Revolutionist, which was an incredible book. This book however, was pretty much a 279 page rant about what a perfect society would look like, and what was wrong with the industrialized world at that time, rather than how these things could realistically be achieved. One reason for this is, as Kropotkin points out, was that these anarchist ideals could be achieved rather easily once some great revolution had occurred. ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Kropotkin highlights his observations of existing economic systems and a decentralisation of such particularly capitalism and elements of feudalism. He shows how such systems though claiming to be ideal actually encouraged continued poverty and resources scarcity. He also mentions that some revolution must occur in order for there to be change...

As stated in his opening, "The human race has travelled a long way, since those remote ages when men fashioned their rude implements of flint and lived
...more
Nick Klagge
Feb 13, 2011 Nick Klagge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Reading this book was a strange experience for me. From what I had read about Kropotkin before picking up the book, I had expected I'd really like it--critique of capitalism, Communism without the state, warm and fuzzy anarchism. But while I thought Kropotkin made a number of incisive points, I came away from CoB feeling wholly unconvinced. Part of it may be the 100+ year time gap: Kropotkin writes for a society that is largely organized around agriculture and industrial manufacturing, and while ...more
Joshua
[Read online at http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_... ]

Treads some of the same ground as "Fields, Factories and Workshops", definitely worth a read. Again, Kropotkin impresses me with his prescience about so many of the issues that we grapple with today. What follows below is less of a review than it is a collection of quotations:

As a frequent teacher of thermodynamics, I appreciated (and will attest to) his statement that the field was first really "invented" by the engineers, and only turne
...more
Brandon Rapozo
Jun 16, 2017 Brandon Rapozo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I now know how to find bread
Peter Neiger
Jan 15, 2017 Peter Neiger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: liberty
Kropotkin's "The Conquest of Bread" is rightfully a classic of anarchist literature. This book was the first of the "classic" anarchists that I've actually read and I found it rather illuminating. In my social circle, the words "communist" and "socialist" are so toxic that few people actually read communist authors to understand what they are actually advocating, which is unfortunate. In some ways, most people are socialist to some degree, it is just a matter of how far away from the individual ...more
Nick
Kropotkin is a great writer. Also, there is way too much content in this, and it is way too late for me to review it in any detail. Just some things off the top of my head. This is a much better book for understanding Kropotkin's anarcho-communism than Mutual Aid, is, although I think Mutual Aid is a better book overall. He espouses some proto-knowledge problem stuff and refutes the Marxist labor theory of value. He makes a big point in the early chapters of stressing that humanity is extremely ...more
Dana Garrett
Jun 12, 2012 Dana Garrett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism-read
In the Conquest of Bread Peter Kropotkin sketches his vision of how an anarchist communist society might work. He sees it organized as divided up into agricultural and industrial communes federated together for mutual benefit. Diversity of activities would dominate the workday as people would, when capable, achieve competence in a variety of trades. The workday for necessities would be short because Kropotkin believes that the agricultural and industrial capabilities exist to create post scarcit ...more
Lucas
Jan 04, 2014 Lucas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, anarchism
Possibly the most vital text on Anarchist-Coummunism, The Conquest of Bread not only critics the current capitalist system it also gives a fair critic of traditional Marxist conceptions. Kropotkin explains his ideas and how they could look in society and also responds to criticisms of Anarchist-Communism. Although some of the data is now outdated the validity of his claims must still be seriously considered in the modern world.
Timothy Wood
Dec 09, 2014 Timothy Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its amazing that so much of this still rings true today. Some of it does seem a little dated as its been roughly 100 years, but the concepts are brought into contemporary times, it is almost like reading a warning from a previous century and future never realized.
cee
Mar 04, 2017 cee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FULLY AUTOMATED LUXURY COMMUNISM
Emily Warfield
Mar 12, 2017 Emily Warfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars, really- 4 for being surprisingly accessible and delightfully uplifting for a radical text, 3 for being repetitive (it did originate as a series of newspaper columns) and relying too much on simplistic reformulations of the same basic ideas. The first six chapters, at least, are certainly worth reading for anyone inclined toward anarchist communism
Ietrio
Nov 12, 2015 Ietrio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
Rethorics. And some mad man plan already tried and failed in the communist states. But like any revealed religion, the humans are failible and the apostles magically inspired. The text is scientist and the pseudo-reason is like most continental philosophers done backwards. First the author sets a noble goal. Than anything goes to apparently prove the goal to the believers.

For me it was useful to see the sects dealing into hate and the holy anti-one-percenters were already quite common in that a
...more
Jeff
Jul 29, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though I didn't come out of it totally convinced/sold on the anarcho-communism idea, it's still an incredibly important book in several respects. The most important aspect though, in my opinion, is how convincingly it portrays the ways in which bourgeois exploitation totally wastes the resources that we have in society, from labor-power to natural resources. Anyone who thinks "well solving world hunger and giving everyone a home would be great, but that's a total head-in-the-clouds utopian ...more
Constantinos (Gus) Kalogeropoulos
Kropotkin's take on the limitations and contradictions capitalism produces. A very optimistic take on what Anarcho-communism can achieve agriculturally, industrially, and socially given the (then) advancements in technology and organization. An arguement against those who seek to portray Anarchism as some kind of wish to return to pre-industrial or pre-modern primitive conditions. Kropotkin believed that the technology and knowledge was such at the time of his writing (1890s) that the dreams of ...more
Dayton
Mar 29, 2015 Dayton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A turn of the 20th century Russian outlines the principles and organization of an anarchist communist society. Had some really great stuff when he spoke in the abstract, such as his moral arguments and critique of collectivism, but slowed down a bit when he dug into more practical details and calculations about how many hours it would take to produce x and y (these parts were also quite dated).

It was also a little disconcerting to hear him applaud environmental destruction as progress, and the i
...more
Javier
Aug 31, 2007 Javier rated it really liked it
A seemingly much-ignored classic--Kropotkin here lays out the specifics of 'the ideal society,' where labor-time would be vastly reduced, everyone would have necessities provided for, and leisure time would be greatly maximized so as to allow for the greater cultivation of self and community. I, for one, saw many of Kropotkin's claims here echoed in later anarchist works, esp. in those of Ursula Le Guin and Murray Bookchin. Highly recommended--certainly a more constructive account of politics/ ...more
Megan
Nov 18, 2008 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly clear and down-to-earth text for one trying to pronounce an entirely alternative form of social organization. I had harbored somewhat negative connotations of Kropotkin prior to this (not really sure where they came from), and so found myself pleasantly surprised. In general, the book serves as a reminder of the principles that classical political economy is founded upon, and how different economic theory can look if we challenge those principles by focusing not only on the ways tha ...more
Claire Ulthar Sideral
Libro vital para comprender y salir de la alienación en un sistema asesino como el capitalismo. Un libro que debe leerse siempre.
Ilmar Salaoja
By either coincidence or unconscious planning, I ended up reading Kropotkin's "The Conquest of Bread" reciprocally with Lenin's "The State and Revolution." Quite an eccentric, yet fitting coupling, since they appear to me in many ways to be the two sides of the same coin. Simply put, both of them are early 20th century Russians writing about the coming revolution. In their works, when the bourgeois state has fallen, Father Lenin is furiously working himself to death with agitating the masses to ...more
D.B. Buzzkill
Mar 09, 2017 D.B. Buzzkill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in over a century ago, in 1906, and that makes it a period piece. Kropotkin paints a picture of what daily life was like in industrializing Europe and it makes predictions about what the future could be like after a socialist revolution. A future without hunger, where everybody can eat until satiated. Hence: the conquest of bread. So this book is some kind of historical futurism.

The Conquest of Bread is very neatly structured: it has chapters about the moral necessity for a
...more
James
Jun 07, 2017 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I'd be hard pressed to review one of the first major works on anarchy, so suffice it to say this book is amazing, and it's attempts to present a utopian society with no leaders succeeds on so many levels, none more so than the fact that it seems entirely plausible through Kropotkin's description. Despite some calls to violence and some anachronistic yet poor choice of words here and there this is such an essential read for anyone trying to make sense of the concept of anarchy and in so many ways ...more
David
Jun 13, 2017 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dangerous and wonderful

This book stands boldly against what I was taught about how America functions. I was thrilled and scared and looking over my shoulder to make sure reading this book would not get me arrested or philosophically assaulted by my fellow Americans. Yes, take a moment and imagine a world system where everyone worked for the needs of everyone and profit was not the driver nor enslaver it now is. Thought provoking - empowering - frightening - convicting - exciting.
Del
May 31, 2017 Del rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent analysis of the wastefulness and economic idiocy of capitalism, and the prospects for a better way of structuring society. Somewhat dated with some terminology that would be unacceptable now e.g. 'working like niggers', it still carries you with its enthusiasm & belief for a brighter future which sadly that Kropotkin thought was imminent at the time of writing but has sadly not yet been realised
Timothy Dymond
Apr 01, 2016 Timothy Dymond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The Conquest of Bread’ comes straight to the point about what people need from a revolution: bread for sustenance. Kropotkin criticises previous revolutions for being obsessed with etherial political questions while the masses who make the revolutions starve. So while ‘great ideas sprang up at such times, ideas that have moved the world; words were spoken which still stir our hearts, at the interval of a century. But the people were starving in the slums’.

In keeping with such to the point physi
...more
Alexey Khoryushin
Смешанные чувства после прочтения. Интересная как срез своего времени, книга откровенно слаба в качестве поваренной книги революционера.

Автор серьезно рассуждает об агрокультуре, промышленности, науке, являясь дилетантом практически кругом и всюду. Поверхностные, спорные, местами просто нелепые рассуждения не позволяют воспринимать построения автора серьезно. Называющий себя материалистом автор в своих фантазиях легко преодолевает силы гравитации, которые даже современников-фантастов (Жуля Верна
...more
Mario García
Oct 02, 2012 Mario García rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who doesn't understand how the world works and how ignorant are we about the recent past
Recommended to Mario by: My good judgment
This is one of those books which help you understand who is a good reader and who is not. Not because it is particularly difficult, but because some people lacks proper attention to detail. Nonetheless, before I go on, let me take one or two things off my chest.

Many people has identified this book as an utopia, but it is quite curious for me that they didn't even read:
*
we, "the utopian dreamers", we shall have to consider the question of daily bread

*
We have already had too much of Jacobin Utop
...more
Renata
POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge prompt 'A book recommended by an author you love'

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Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (Пётр Алексеевич Кропоткин) was a geographer, a zoologist, and one of Russia's foremost anarchists. One of the first advocates of anarchist communism, Kropotkin advocated a communist society free from central government. Because of his title of prince, he was known by some as "the Anarchist Prince". Some contemporaries saw him as leading a near perfect life, including O ...more
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“The means of production being the collective work of humanity, the product should be the collective property of the race. Individual appropriation is neither just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth.
All things are for all. Here is an immense stock of tools and implements; here are all those iron slaves which we call machines, which saw and plane, spin and weave for us, unmaking and remaking, working up raw matter to produce the marvels of our time. But nobody has the right to seize a single one of these machines and say, "This is mine; if you want to use it you must pay me a tax on each of your products," any more than the feudal lord of medieval times had the right to say to the peasant, "This hill, this meadow belong to me, and you must pay me a tax on every sheaf of corn you reap, on every rick you build."
All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work, they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all, and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such vague formulas as "The Right to work," or "To each the whole result of his labour." What we proclaim is The Right to Well-Being: Well-Being for All!”
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“In our civilized societies we 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?” 5 likes
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