The Conquest of Bread
1892 Print Cover
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The Conquest of Bread (French: La Conquête du Pain; Russian: Хлеб и воля) is a book by the anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin. Originally written in French, it first appeared as a series of articles in the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Révolte (both edited by Kropotkin). It was first published as a book in Paris in 1892 with a preface by Élisée Reclus, who also suggested the title. Between 1892 and 1894 it was serialised, in part, in the London journal Freedom, of which Kropotkin was a co-founder. It has been translated and reprinted numerous times: it was translated into Norwegian already in 1898, and in Japanese, for example, by Kotoku Shusui in 1909. It has been reprinted by Elephant Editions (1985), Cambridge University Press (1995), Vanguard Press (1995), Freedom Press, AK Press (2007), and BiblioBazaar (2008).
In this work, Kropotkin points out what he considers to be the defects of the economic systems of feudalism and capitalism, and how he believes they thrive on and maintain poverty and scarcity, as symbol for richness and in spite of being in a time of abundance thanks to technology, while promoting privilege. He goes on to propose a more decentralised economic system based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation, asserting that the tendencies for this kind of organisation already exist, both in evolution and in human society. He also talks about details of revolution and expropriation in order not to end in a reactionary way.
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