I have just been reading, or rather trying to road, a book by Peter Kropotkin. It is Anarchist Communism.
The problem about it is fourfold.
1. That it is full of mid nineteenth century examples and analysis.
2. That while it is very useful in terms of describing the development and practice of capitalism up to that era, it does need to be updated.
3. That any perspective about economic developments does really need to factor in ecological issues.
4. That much of the analysis does remind me of what is to be found in the pamphlet Wage Labour and Capital by Karl Marx.
Away From A Socialist Perspective
One of the greatest problems with both a socialist and Anarcho Syndicalist economic analysis is that both are very good at pointing out the problems, but not so good in giving any ecologically sound solutions.
Rail and Power
One of the most simplistic arguments which I keep hearing from Socialists is that all the problems of both the railways and energy generators can all be solved by re-nationalising them.
That takes no account of how we need to create energy sources at the point of use. i.e. by the use of many more vertical wind turbines and solar panels in our city centres, together with buildings which are properly insulated.
While none of them refer to the need to create local manufacturing workshops which use recycled materials, or returning all goods movements back to both canals and railways.
Or how we can produce better solutions by the use of energy cooperatives.
While all of these solutions will help us to close down the Drax power plant and nukiller power plants.
Dole Not Coal !
There there is the issue of what are and are not socially useful jobs.
Which goes back to the concept that saving jobs is more important than saving the environment.
Historically supporting striking miners was a blow against improving our environment.
While a lot of current political campaigning is focused upon saving totally socially useless work, such as using cash rather than debit cards, or not using self checkouts within supermarkets.
Yet there are still lots of jobs which need many more people working on them.
Here are a few example : –
– More people to build and operate more trains and trams.
– Many more Traffic Wardens.
– More people to building and operate many more sustainable recycling centres.
– People to plant and maintain more urban fruit orchards.
– Creating more wetlands to prevent major floods.
– Building and maintaining vertical wind turbines and solar panels at the point of use. That is within the inner cities.
In the Fields
Now contrast the above with the Following
work of Peter Kropotkin.
Fields Factories and Workshops
Industry combined with is agriculture
and Brain work with manual work.
The chapters on agriculture being of special interest.
Although first published in 1898, while not taken from a Vegan perspective, and pre-dating the effects of climate change, there is still a lot in it which is worth considering.
Of those political thinkers which I like the best is Colin Ward, as he looked at issues from a practical perspective. The issues which he wrote about were very wide ranging indeed.
The first series of the Freedom Press periodical Anarchy which he edited is well worth reading, as is his book Anarchy in Action.