Another Letter [from Kropotkin]

La Voix du Peuple, 28 December 1912

On the occasion of his seventieth birthday, comrades sent Kropotkin a gold watch.

Here is his letter to them:

Dear, dear companions, brothers and friends,

I do not know how to thank you for your letter in the Réveil and for your beautiful gift with its fraternal inscription.

Both touched me to the point of tears. I have done so little, and the little I have done, it is still to you and the Russian peasants that I owe it.

The guiding idea of anarchy, its developments, its practical applications – and with these, its philosophical foundations which were discovered later – all this did not come from books. It is first of all to have been in close contact with the people of the Russian countryside, and here, in the West, to have lived amongst you, and later, in close contact with the English worker. It is to have seen, felt, how free men can live, organise themselves; what energy the young can put into their struggles for the reconstruction of society, – to have breathed, lived all this, – which allowed me to understand where the real forces of the future are and what needs to be done to march with progress towards the demolition of the two enemies of the human race: the capitalist exploiter and the statist exploiter.

And then, there was the independent, jovial, friendly and inventive spirit of your mountains, your spirit of revolt against the abominations and old men of the past – all of this is enough to leave its mark. Keep this spirit, cultivate it: soon you will feel its power.

I embrace you with all my heart, dear companion, brothers, friends.

Brighton, 14 December 1912.

Peter Kropotkin