A Letter from Peter Kropotkin

La Voix du Peuple, 21 December 1912

At the meeting of Scientific Societies, where an enthusiastic crowd gathered to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Peter Kropotkin and pay homage to his long life working for the liberation of humanity, Jean Grave read the following letter:

Dear comrades and friends

I cannot tell you how touched I am by the expressions of friendship which reach me from various quarters, and how happy I would have been to be with you, if my health permitted it.

Naturally I today look back to assess the path travelled. I am thinking back to the year 1878, when, at the first signs of the awakening of the French proletariat after the crushing of Commune, an early affirmation of the direct struggle of Labour against Capital was made by our Jura comrade Balivet, at the Lyon Congress, and the anarchist idea was again asserted in public meetings in Paris by a few comrades, one of whom, at least, is still amongst you, Jean Grave.

In measuring the progress made since then, it is impossible not to see how right were the fundamental ideas of anarchy that were asserted thereafter, and how productive they were in preparing the people’s revolution against their oppressors.

At this very moment we are living on the eve of great historic events. We all feel their approach.

A general awakening of workers has recently occurred in Europe and America. A revolutionary tremor is felt in the working masses. Even our adversaries admit it.

And, as of today, we can affirm that in this looming awakening of the masses, we will see the anarchist idea assert itself publicly – to seek its practical realisation in life, to influence the course of events.

How far will it reach? We cannot predict that. A revolution only comes to the end of its development if it lasts a few years. But what is certain is that it will not stop at these innocuous reforms that are now called socialism. This limit that they wanted to impose on the upcoming revolution has already been exceeded. And it will depend on vigour – but above all also on the creative force that the anarchists, walking hand in hand with the people, will be able to deploy in the Revolution to develop new communist institutions – it will depend on these two elements to push the revolution to the complete liberation of society from the double tyranny which oppresses it: that of Capital – principal support of the State – and of the State – this father of modern capitalism, its principal support and its most faithful servant.

Wholeheartedly with you,

Peter Kropotkin.

“Brighton, 6 December 1912.