Kropotkin’s “The Conquest of Bread”: Two Main Arguments Rationally Reconstructed.

Foundations of Anarchism and Socialism 10

An Edgy Essay by Andrew D. Chapman

APP Editors’ Note:

This is the tenth in a series on the historical and philosophical foundations of anarchism and socialism, with special reference to social anarchism (aka “anarcho-socialism,” “libertarian socialism,” etc.) and democratic socialism.

We decided to devote the first five installments of the series to the Democratic Socialists of America, aka the DSA, and the Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation, aka the BRRN, for three reasons:

first, to highlight the recent emergence of the Democratic Socialists of America as a significant political movement in the USA,

second, to stress the fundamental convergences, parallels, and shared ideals between contemporary social anarchism and democratic socialism in the USA, and

third, to point up the burning contemporary need for a “borderless,” constructive, cosmopolitan coalition of all serious leftists and progressives everywhere.

Then we went from there, in the sixth installment, to a critique of so-called “anarcho-capitalism,” by Andrew D. Chapman.

In the seventh installment, we took a retrospective look at Murray Bookchin’s classic essay, Social Anarchism or Life Style Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm.

In the eighth installment, Chapman and his student Connor Scroggins presented a completely original argument for social anarchism, from existentialist premises.

In the ninth installment, by Z, we moved up one level and providing a brief synopsis of, and critical reflection on, democratic socialism and social anarchism taken in relation to one another.

In this installment, Chapman works out rational reconstructions of two main arguments in Peter Kropotkin’s truly amazing 1892 book, The Conquest of Bread, chapters I and II.

As Chapman puts it, “Kropotkin is such a clear and compelling writer, but he isn’t explicit about the specifics of the arguments: hence the need for rationally reconstructed versions.”

You can also download a .pdf copy of The Conquest of Bread HERE.

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PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS

9. Democratic Socialism and Social Anarchism: Convergence, Prima Facie Divergence, Reconciliation

8. An Existential Argument for Anarchism.

7. Social Anarchism and Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm.

6. A Quick Explanation of Why Anarcho-Capitalism Is Not a Real Thing.

5. The Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation: Our Politics.

4. Who Are the Anarchists, and What Is Anarchism?

3. Resistance Rising: Socialist Strategy in the Age of Political Revolution.

2. Towards Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice.

1. A Brief History of the American Left.

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The Argument from Present Interconnectedness.

1. If the ability to create some specific piece of wealth, A, relies on the interconnectedness of preconditions X, Y, and Z, then A belongs to the people who ought to reap the rewards from preconditions X, Y, and Z.

2. There is no specific piece of wealth created within a society that does not rely on preconditions the rewards of which ought to be reaped by all members of the society.

Thus,

3. For any wealth created by a society, all members of the society ought to reap the rewards of that wealth. (from 1 & 2)

4. If, for some piece of wealth created by a society, all members of the society ought to reap the rewards of that wealth, then we ought to be communists with respect to that specific piece of wealth, i.e., we ought to treat that specific piece of wealth as owned wholly and indivisibly both by each individual member of the society and by the society as a unit.

Therefore,

5. We ought to be communists with respect to all wealth created within a society, i.e., we ought to treat all wealth created within a society as owned wholly and indivisibly both by each individual member of the society and by the society as a unit. (from 3 & 4)

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The Argument from Historical Work

1. The existence of and the power to create and modify present wealth depends on the historical work of people who no longer exist.

2. If something exists because of the work of someone who no longer exists, then that thing does not belong to any specific person.

Thus,

3. The power to create and modify present wealth, and the wealth itself, does not belong to any specific person. (from 1 & 2)

4. If something does not belong to any specific person, then we ought to be communists with respect to that thing, i.e., we ought to treat that thing as owned wholly and indivisibly both by each individual member of the society and by the society as a unit.

Therefore,

5. We ought to be communists with respect to the power to create and modify present wealth and with respect to that wealth itself, i.e., we ought to treat both wealth and the power to create and modify present wealth as owned wholly and indivisibly both by each individual member of the society and by the society as a unit. (from 3 & 4)

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You can find out more about Andrew D. Chapman’s philosophical work and teaching, HERE.

AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 214

Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Saturday 15 December 2018

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Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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