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The Conquest of Bread

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,840 ratings  ·  416 reviews

The fourth in AK Press’ Working Classics series, The Conquest of Bread is Peter Kropotkin’s most extensive study of human needs and his outline of the most rational and equitable means of satisfying them. A combination of detailed historical analysis and far-reaching Utopian vision, this is a step-by-step guide to social revolution: the concrete means of achieving it, and

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Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by AK Press (first published 1892)
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Ted
Anarchism: The name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfying of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.

This is how Kropotkin
...more
Tinea
Feb 01, 2012 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
E. G.
Introduction & Notes, by David Priestland
Further Reading


--The Conquest of Bread

Notes
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
Brando
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I now know how to find bread
cee
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
FULLY AUTOMATED LUXURY COMMUNISM
Feliks
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I like this dissertation quite a bit. Startling to me --Kropotkin, sometimes called, 'the Father of Anarchism' --I was expecting an incoherent, hate-filled screed. Well, there is an occasional exclamation mark (!) when he hones one of his arguments to a particularly fine point. But otherwise this is a well-tempered and calmly-considered treatise on the great, good, commonsense found in socialism. Kropotkin says pretty much the same things I say in advance of socialism when challenged by libertar ...more
Londi
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Anarchist utopia...
Duarte
Ah yes, The Conquest of Bread. The Bread Book. Every anarchist knows it, every anarchist has read it (supposedly - I'll get into that in a second). Leftist Youtube is even named after it - Breadtube. A small book that is a shining argument against both the horrible, currently world-destroying mode of production that is capitalism and the nightmare that was the endless 20th century Stalinist regimes... or is it?

See, anarchists today, they don't actually talk about production. They talk about "fre
...more
Peter Neiger
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Klagge
Feb 13, 2011 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
vi macdonald
4.5

Perhaps it isn't entirely fair to judge a writer for holding values that were dominant in their time. But that doesn't change the fact that Kropotkin, for all his surprisingly good takes on colonialism, still ultimately writes with a certain uncomfortable paternalism towards nonwhite peoples – and is entirely too enthusiastic about the effects of industrialisation for my liking. Your mileage may vary on how much this detracts from the experience for you, but I think it's definitely always hea
...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
Marts  (Thinker)
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Lucas
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kathyana Carvajal
Sep 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I hope this doesn't put me on some list ...more
Amy
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is not perfect but the articulation of the possible is so refreshing, and so easily conveyed and understood that it was impossible for me to not get swept up into the hopes of transforming our societies into the ones that Kropotkin put forward in this brilliant little book. How infuriating that we continue to mismanage our societies in such cruel and unjust ways when it is so evident that if we distributed resources and labour differently, such a better world for all would be had.
James
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book that I picked up wanting to learn more about Kropotkin himself. The approach that he represents might be best described as anarcho-communist, but this is not entirely pie in the sky. He sets out reasonable assumptions and describes how to fulfill them. It does require a paradigm shift (ie look at need rather than production and a we're all in this together from the perspective of a lifeboat viz. you don't ask for the qualifications of the fellow boaters, you just giv ...more
Andrew Mattice
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Hey you, what if I told you that you, and your family, and everyone you know, and indeed all of your countrymen, could have all their bodily necessities assured, and even some comforts perhaps, and free time to pursue your interests? All you have to do is till the fields for like... 20 hours a week? 20 hours of hard but dignified labor? What do you say?

FUCK NO! Are you kidding? I went to college. I’m not driving a fucking combine across the plains of Iowa.

Nah I’m kidding. His theories work muc
...more
Kristofer
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In working to put an end to the division between master and slave, we work for the happiness of both, for the happiness of humanity."

I'm not well versed enough in political science or theory to comment on the efficacy of Kropotkin's ideas, but The Conquest of Bread is interesting nonetheless for all interested in anarchism, socialism, communism and political history.

Kropotkin sometimes mentions contemporary events (late 1890s-early 1900s) in passing without further explanation; earlier events
...more
Robert Wechsler
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This excellent anonymous translation captures the author’s passionate, lyrical Romanticism, making this anarchist-socialist classic an enjoyable read (at least until it starts getting bogged down toward the end). It is a fascinating mix of brilliant ideas and observations mixed with wrongheadedness and a belief in the human spirit that I wish I could share.
Ietrio
Nov 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Conor
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hey Everyone,

Guiscard Hector Comtois reporting in from the 1893 French countryside. I have to admit I had a hard time reading this since I actually can't read at all. The annoying son of the guy who owns the mill read this to me as I trod behind my donkey and plow--I understand he's going to law school, unlike my kids, who currently work 16 hour days making buttons at his dad's factory.

In any case, lots of good ideas in this one. Even though all my clothes have holes in them, I would like to h
...more
T
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
"No more dubs and collectors; Socialism has abolished all that!"

Kropotkin delivers and impassioned defence of both anarcho-communism and the great possibilities of man.

In this classic, Kropotkin attacks the fundamentalist classical economists Say, Smith and Ricardo, in a way very similar to Marx (who also receives appraisal in this book). Kropotkin demonstrates that we ought to inquire not into how modern production works, but how, given the naturally productive nature of man, it could and most
...more
Constantinos Kalogeropoulos
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Alice Nilsson
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
At times Kropotkin's writing can become tedious, not because it's incomprehensible, just because he's being longwinded at times in attempting to elucidate properly and show properly how the Anarcho-Communist society would work. Productive forces he outlines in the book are great, and it's even greater now because of how far technology has progressed; I truly believe we are on the brink of possible full automation in our societies, but we unfortunately will not get there until we either have a re ...more
Nuno R.
Comrades, whenever someone asks you, "so do you think humans can actually live together and cooperate, peacefully?", you just say "yeah". And you can add that more than 100 years ago social Darwinism was (intellectually) defeated. And that historically we are here today because we did cooperate. We survived millennia because we are a cooperative species. And for the finer details you can advise the read of "The Conquest of Bread" and "Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution". ...more
Timothy Wood
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sam Orndorff
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great treatise on anarchism. It gets a little into the weeds with detail, but the theoretical framework is no less resonant. It remains remarkably relevant after over a century.
Scriptor Ignotus
Anarchism has always been a question mark for me. For much of my life I dismissed it as a political philosophy for preteens—who—can’t—go—to—the—Ariana Grande—concert—because—they’re grounded—which—is—totally—unfair—because—I—didn’t—even—do—anything—wrong—and—Lindsey’s—mom—offered—to—chaperone—and—it—might—be—the—only—concert—she—ever—does—here—and—I’ll—be—a—total—outcast—at—school—because—I’ll—be—the—only—one—who—didn’t—go—PLEASE—PLEASE—PLEASE—let—me—go—I’ll—run—away—with—Duncan—if—you—don’t—he— ...more
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Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (Пётр Алексеевич Кропоткин, other spelling: Peter Kropotkin, Pëtr Alekseevič Kropotkin, Pëtr Kropotkin), who described him as "a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia." He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops, and his principal scientific off ...more

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Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
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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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“It is not difficult, indeed, to see the absurdity of naming a few men and saying to them, "Make laws regulating all our spheres of activity, although not one of you knows anything about them!” 25 likes
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