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Word of a Rebel

Word of a Rebel

by Peter KropotkinIain McKayElisee Reclus. Cover art by NO Bonzo. PM Press 2022

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Peter Kropotkin remains one of the best-known anarchist thinkers, and Words of a Rebel was his first libertarian book. Published in 1885 while he was in a French jail for anarchist activism, this collection of articles from the newspaper Le Revolte sees Kropotkin criticise the failings of capitalism and those who seek to end it by means of its main support, the state. Instead, he urged the creation of a mass movement from below that would expropriate property and destroy the state, replacing their centralised hierarchies with federations of self-governing communities and workplaces. Kropotkin's instant classic included discussions, themes and ideas he returned to repeatedly during his five decades in the anarchist movement. Unsurprisingly, Words of a Rebel was soon translated into numerous languages - including Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Russian, and Chinese - and reprinted time and time again. But despite its influence as Kropotkin's first anarchist work, it was the last to be completely translated into English. This is a new translation from the French original by Iain McKay except for a few chapters previously translated by Nicolas Walter. Both anarchist activists and writers, they are well placed to understand the assumptions within and influences on Kropotkin's revolutionary journalism. It includes all the original 1885 text along with the preface to the 1904 Italian as well as the preface and afterward to the 1919 Russian editions. In addition, it includes many articles on the labour movement written by Kropotkin for Le Revolte which show how he envisioned getting from criticism to a social revolution. Along with a comprehensive glossary and an introduction by Iain McKay placing this work within the history of anarchism as well as indicating its relevance to radicals and revolutionaries today, this is the definitive edition of an anarchist classic.

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