It's Kropotkin's birthday!

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mikus
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Dec 23 2007 03:04
Anna wrote:
Oh and wasn't there something about him advocating Prussian hegemony over the various slavic countries, because slavs were inherently less revolutionary than Prussians

Like I said, I think this is a myth. If I had Draper's book I'd be able to reference his argument. I think Draper showed that Engels did support war against Russia but Marx didn't. (Which would explain that Engels quote.)

Marx did support the North in the Civil War and I believe he took a side in a Turkish war, although I can't remember which side.

Anna wrote:
Marx's late writings regarding Russia are really interesting. Have you read T. Shanin's 'Late Marx and the Russian Road'? I was wondering if it was worth hunting down.

Yes, it is worth hunting down. It reprints Marx's writings on this issue (all 4 drafts of his letter to Zasulich, and a letter to the editorial board of some Russian newspaper). It has a few essays by people about Marx, one by Shanin, one by Derek Sayer, and one by someone else whose name I forget. The Sayer essay was the only really interesting one but there were a few interesting things said in the other essays as well. The book also includes some writings by some Russians which Marx liked, which are incredibly boring and mildly illuminating.

So yeah I'd recommend hunting it down.

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Steven.
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Dec 23 2007 09:35

IrrationallyAngry's gone a bit quiet at this point I see...

IrrationallyAngry
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Dec 23 2007 14:08
John. wrote:
IrrationallyAngry's gone a bit quiet at this point I see...

What?

Mark.
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Dec 23 2007 22:02
Devrim wrote:
Anna wrote:
Kropotkin's ideas about evolution were pretty much totally wrong. Or at least he got it all backwards.

Why? I have never read his stuff on evolution, but I have read a lot of modern evolutionary theory, and would be interested to know your opinion.

Devrim

Article by Stephen Jay Gould about Kropotkin

IrrationallyAngry wrote:
It always astonishes me that Anarchists can celebrate Kropotkin without mentioning the small fact that he supported the first world war. It would be a bit like Marxists commemorating Kautsky.

Malatesta on Kropotkin's support for the war

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Bubbles
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Dec 23 2007 22:37
Hieronymous wrote:
Emma Goldman

hand

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Bubbles
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Dec 23 2007 22:38
cantdocartwheels wrote:
I was walking in the woods one day among the fading sunlight one evening and then a pack of ravenous wolves descended on me and tore me to pieces, while they ripped out my spinal column, i couldn't helpn but notice the way in which these animals worked together, if only human society acted in such a naturally co-operative fashion.
Jesus kropotkin, what a fuckwit.

what is with primmos and wolves?

Anarcho
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Jan 9 2008 16:28
Devrim wrote:
There was quite a good thread on this on Revleft: http://www.revleft.com/index.php?showtopic=62577&hl=kropotkin

For me it is quite shocking that Kropotkin is celebrated.

By "quite good" I guess you mean "quite mad". My favourite has to be the leftist who kept asking when Kropotkin joined Kerensky's government when Kropotkin, in fact, refused the post of education minister!

I suppose that shows how well Marxists have a grasp on history. Clearly, ignorance of a subject is no handicap to Marxists waffling on about it!

In reply to the attempts to justify Lenin's counter-revolutionary role, particularly in repressing the anarchists, I would suggest my reply to an article quoted in that strange thread:

Red Emma and the Reds

Why anarchists still respect Kropotkin? Simply because his 1914 stupidity had nothing to do with his revolutionary politics. That explains why Goldman, Berkman, Malatesta and so on were so utterly surprised when he did so.

Not that those who proudly proclaim that they would never read Kropotkin would know that, of course...

syndicalist
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Jan 9 2008 16:55
Quote:
Devrim wrote:
There was quite a good thread on this on Revleft: http://www.revleft.com/index.php?showtopic=62577&hl=kropotkin

I haven't read the thread, bui the photos of pretty good----except the stiff Kropotkin laying in his coffen. That said, I never saw a few of those photos before.

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Anarcho:Why anarchists still respect Kropotkin? Simply because his 1914 stupidity had nothing to do with his revolutionary politics. That explains why Goldman, Berkman, Malatesta and so on were so utterly surprised when he did so

Right on comrade. The comrades were able to parse out Kropotkin's 1914 decision of the body of his work and activities up until then. I think it's easy enough to latch on to someone's failure (major as this was) and not putting the overall body of ones work into a broader more general context.

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Devrim
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Jan 9 2008 17:55
syndicalist wrote:
Quote:
Anarcho:Why anarchists still respect Kropotkin? Simply because his 1914 stupidity had nothing to do with his revolutionary politics. That explains why Goldman, Berkman, Malatesta and so on were so utterly surprised when he did so

Right on comrade. The comrades were able to parse out Kropotkin's 1914 decision of the body of his work and activities up until then. I think it's easy enough to latch on to someone's failure (major as this was) and not putting the overall body of ones work into a broader more general context.

It is a bit of a major failure though, isn't it?

I think if we look at Kautsky's body of work it is not all invalidated by his decision to support the First World War. For example it doesn't invalidate his 'Foundations of Christianity', but I also think that it is a mistake to believe that his decision came out of thin air. I doubt Kropotkin's did either.

Devrim

nastyned
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Jan 9 2008 18:18

Well it's a while since I've read them but I suspect you'd be hard put to find the seeds of coming out in support of the allies in 'the conquest of bread', 'mutual aid' or 'fields, factories and workshops'.

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fnbrill
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Jan 9 2008 18:26
Anarcho wrote:
I suppose that shows how well Marxists have a grasp on history. Clearly, ignorance of a subject is no handicap to Marxists waffling on about it!

Do you mean Marxists or Leninists? Back in the day, Kropotkin's writings were sold in many marxist publications.

Anarcho
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Jan 10 2008 09:41
Devrim wrote:
It is a bit of a major failure though, isn't it?

And who, exactly, is saying it wasn't? I'm not aware if any one here saying otherwise. Malatesta, Berkman, Goldman, Rocker (and so on) all considered it a major failure and said so. So, please, try and change the record. It is getting tiresome -- flogging strawmen generally is...

But I suppose I should be grateful you are not banging on about why Kropotkin joined Kerensky's government when, in fact, he did no such thing...

Devrim wrote:
I think if we look at Kautsky's body of work it is not all invalidated by his decision to support the First World War. For example it doesn't invalidate his 'Foundations of Christianity', but I also think that it is a mistake to believe that his decision came out of thin air. I doubt Kropotkin's did either.

Talk about philosophical idealism at its worse! Kautsky's ideas were shaped by the political and bureaucratic pressures of social democracy, particularly its attempts to follow Marx's dogma of "political action." I doubt that his decisions and the evolution of his politics were independent of that. So, his decision did not "come out of thin air" -- they were a product of a movement which degenerated by following Marxist strategy. As Bakunin predicted.

As for Kropotkin, where did his decision come from? Not from his politics, as is clear if you read them -- which, as I said above, explains why the likes of Berkman were so surprised by it. From my reading of biographies, it appears to have come from his love of France, his dislike of Germany and his fears about the results of German militarism.

In other words, personal failings. I doubt that communist-anarchism can be blamed, particularly as, firstly, his decision was in contradiction to its principles and, secondly, the vast majority of its supporters opposed the war -- and Kropotkin.

From my substantial reading of Kropotkin's works, I cannot see any indication the decision flowed from those. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, of course. Can you point to an example of Kropotkin's works which would explain his decision in 1914?

Anarcho
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Jan 10 2008 09:45
fnbrill wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
I suppose that shows how well Marxists have a grasp on history. Clearly, ignorance of a subject is no handicap to Marxists waffling on about it!

Do you mean Marxists or Leninists? Back in the day, Kropotkin's writings were sold in many marxist publications.

I was talking about the current generation of Marxists. Most seem more than happy to spout forth about anarchism without knowning anything about it. There are a few exceptions, of course -- Harry Cleaver wrote an excellent article on Kropotkin a few years back.

Still, I suppose that is better than Marx, Engels and Lenin totally distorting anarchist ideas... Ignorance is at least fixable, systematic distortion is a different matter.

Battlescarred
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Jan 10 2008 13:21

Devrim is being a mite disingenuous here. It was he that recently posted up a biography of S. Medvedev, one of the leaders of the Workers Opposition inside the Bolshevik Party. Not only did the leaders of the Workers Opposition take part in the assault on Kronstadt in 1921, to prove their loyalty to Lenin and the Party, but later under Stalin Medvedev and his friend Shliapnikov , also a leader of the WO, demanded that all oppositionists be silenced in yet another craven capitulation.

syndicalist
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Jan 10 2008 14:18

Well said Anarcho.

Dev, I know nothing of Kautsky in any meaningful way. I've skipped through the following book "Democracy and Dictatorship" (now on-line as "Marxism and Bolshevism: Democracy and Dictatorship"
http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1934/bolshevism/index.htm ). It seems like he was a staright social democract, not a revolutionist.

Mike Harman
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Jan 10 2008 15:35

I don't think the actions of the WO were a capitulation, I think they were consistent with their general politics. Shliapnikov was calling of strikes in 1917 as head of the metalworkers union.

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Demogorgon303
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Jan 10 2008 15:51

It's true Kropotkin refused any official posts but did he not serve as an "adviser" to the Kerensky government in some capacity? According to RN Baldwin sketch of his life, Kerensky consulted him "constantly". I'll have to look him up tonight in Avrich to see if there's any further evidence of this.

He certainly supported the Provisional Government and the idea of the Constituent Assembly, i.e. bourgeois democracy.

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Devrim
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Jan 10 2008 16:02
Battlescarred wrote:
Devrim is being a mite disingenuous here. It was he that recently posted up a biography of S. Medvedev,

I am not sure why it would have been disingenuous if I had posted this, but I can't see why it is at all as I didn't:

Quote:
Medvedev, Sergei Pavlovich, 1885-1937
tags: * Eastern Europe * Bolsheviks * Russia * Workers Opposition * biographies * Russian Revolution September 6th, 2007 by Ed

Devrim

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Devrim
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Jan 10 2008 16:04
syndicalist wrote:
Dev, I know nothing of Kautsky in any meaningful way. I've skipped through the following book "Democracy and Dictatorship" (now on-line as "Marxism and Bolshevism: Democracy and Dictatorship"
http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1934/bolshevism/index.htm ). It seems like he was a staright social democract, not a revolutionist.

Yes, I was quite careful to refer to his historical writing, and not his political work.

Devrim

Battlescarred
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Jan 10 2008 16:20

Devrim, My apologies, put it down to old age.
Catch, it was a capitulation , in terms of opposition within the Party, as just before they had been in opposition, but were now scared to preserve their positions ( and their lives, I suppose)

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Devrim
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Jan 10 2008 16:21
Anarcho wrote:
From my substantial reading of Kropotkin's works, I cannot see any indication the decision flowed from those. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, of course. Can you point to an example of Kropotkin's works which would explain his decision in 1914?

No, because I haven't read them. But you seem to point to what you think could have been the reasons:

Anarcho wrote:
As for Kropotkin, where did his decision come from? Not from his politics, as is clear if you read them -- which, as I said above, explains why the likes of Berkman were so surprised by it. From my reading of biographies, it appears to have come from his love of France, his dislike of Germany and his fears about the results of German militarism.

If we take the reason as being 'his fears about the results of German militarism', it seems reasonable to me to assume that he took a political position that some factions of the bourgeoisie are more progressive, or less reactionary than others, and should be supported. A position, which is today, totally anti-working class.

Anarcho wrote:
In other words, personal failings. I doubt that communist-anarchism can be blamed, particularly as, firstly, his decision was in contradiction to its principles and, secondly, the vast majority of its supporters opposed the war -- and Kropotkin.

I don't blame 'communist-anarchism' for these failings. I just doubt that they were entirely personal. Also you make it sound like Kropotkin was virtually alone in supporting the war. Other anarchists supported it too. In fact the French CGT did in nearly its entirety.

Anarcho wrote:
Talk about philosophical idealism at its worse! Kautsky's ideas were shaped by the political and bureaucratic pressures of social democracy, particularly its attempts to follow Marx's dogma of "political action." I doubt that his decisions and the evolution of his politics were independent of that. So, his decision did not "come out of thin air" -- they were a product of a movement which degenerated by following Marxist strategy. As Bakunin predicted.

I don't see where the 'philosophical idealism' is here.

Devrim

Battlescarred
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Jan 10 2008 16:31

"Also you make it sound like Kropotkin was virtually alone in supporting the war. Other anarchists supported it too. In fact the French CGT did in nearly its entirety"
And as of course did most Marxists in the social democratic parties throughout Europe. Whilst a minority of anarchists supported the War, I would say that it was a majority that was opposed to it .

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Devrim
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Jan 10 2008 16:40
Battlescarred wrote:
And as of course did most Marxists in the social democratic parties throughout Europe. Whilst a minority of anarchists supported the War, I would say that it was a majority that was opposed to it .

The fact that most 'Marxists' supported the war is not in doubt. The words that you use to talk about the anarchist support for it here suggest that it is at least unclear if it was a majority, or not.

The fact is that the coming of war destroyed the traditional workers' movement as a movement for socialism. All segments of the workers' movement were affected by this, and Kropotkin was one of those who found himself on the wrong side of the class line.

Devrim

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fnbrill
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Jan 10 2008 16:56
Anarcho wrote:
I was talking about the current generation of Marxists. Most seem more than happy to spout forth about anarchism without knowning anything about it. There are a few exceptions, of course -- Harry Cleaver wrote an excellent article on Kropotkin a few years back.

Still, I suppose that is better than Marx, Engels and Lenin totally distorting anarchist ideas... Ignorance is at least fixable, systematic distortion is a different matter.

Again, i would assert that you are correct concerning Leninists, which I would seperate from marxists. Most of the folks I know who are council-communists, libertarian socialists, SPGBers, Situs, etc. are generally well read in regards to the anarchists and tend to try and be honest/sincere in their criticism/acceptance of anarchist ideas.

nastyned
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Jan 10 2008 18:12
Devrim wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
From my substantial reading of Kropotkin's works, I cannot see any indication the decision flowed from those. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, of course. Can you point to an example of Kropotkin's works which would explain his decision in 1914?

No, because I haven't read them.

Hmmm...so you're shocked people would celebrate Kropotkin's birthday but you haven't read any of his works. Perhaps if you read some you might understand why.

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Demogorgon303
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Jan 10 2008 19:46
Demogorgon303 wrote:
It's true Kropotkin refused any official posts but did he not serve as an "adviser" to the Kerensky government in some capacity? According to RN Baldwin sketch of his life, Kerensky consulted him "constantly". I'll have to look him up tonight in Avrich to see if there's any further evidence of this.

As promised:

"Kerenskii offered the venerable libertarian a cabinet post as Minister of Education as well as a state pension, both of which Kropotkin bruskly declined. In August, however, he accepted Kerenskii's invitation to speak before the Moscow State Conference (Plekhanov, the sage of Russian Social Democracy and also a supporter of the war effort, was to be another speaker), a body of former Duma members and representatives of the zvestva, municipal governments, business associations, trade unions, soviets, and cooperatives, called together by the new Prime Minister in the hope of bolstering his shaky regime. The Conference welcomed Kropotkin with a standing ovation. In a brief address, he urged a renewed military offensive, summoning the whole nation to rally to Russia's defence." - Avrich, The Russian Anarchists, AK Press edition, pge 136.

No clear evidence of an advisory role there, but definite evidence of his support of the Kerensky regime, national defence which in the context could only be a call to rally behind the bourgeois state.

Does anyone else have anything on Kropotkin's involvement with Kerensky?

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Jan 10 2008 21:32
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Hmmm...so you're shocked people would celebrate Kropotkin's birthday but you haven't read any of his works. Perhaps if you read some you might understand why.

Actually, I have read a few articles. I agree that there was a contribution from Kropotkin to the revolutionary movement. However, when the crunch came Kropotkin sided with the bourgeoisie.

Devrim

Battlescarred
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Jan 11 2008 09:00

No it was a clear majority of anarchists who opposed the war which I will detail if you wish as you don't seem to believe me.
"Marxists" in inverted commas, hmmm . Two can play at. that . Some "anarchists" supported the war.

Battlescarred
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Jan 11 2008 10:12

From Anarchist FAQs
"If we look at Kropotkin's support for the Allies in the First World War we discover a strange hypocrisy on the part of Marxists as well as an attempt to distort history. Why hypocrisy? Simply because Marx and Engels supported the Prussian during the Franco-Prussian war (in contrast, Bakunin argued for a popular uprising and social revolution to stop the war). As Marx wrote to Engels on July 20th, 1870:

"The French need to be overcome. If the Prussians are victorious, the centralisation of the power of the State will be useful for the centralisation of the German working class. Moreover, German ascendancy will transfer the centre of gravity of the European worker's movement from France to Germany . . . On a world scale, the ascendancy of the German proletariat the French proletariat will at the same time constitute the ascendancy of our theory over Proudhon's." [quoted by Arthur Lehning, Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, p. 284]
Marx, in part, supported the deaths of working class people in war in order to see his ideas become more important than Proudhon's! At least Kropotkin supported the allies because he was against the dangers to freedom implied by the German military state. The hypocrisy of the Marxists is clear -- if anarchism is to be condemned for Kropotkin's actions, then Marxism must be equally condemned for Marx's.

This analysis also rewrites history as the bulk of the Marxist movement supported their respective states during the conflict. A handful of the parties of the Second International opposed the war (and those were the smallest ones as well). The father of Russian Marxism, George Plekhanov, supported the Allies. The German Social Democratic Party (the jewel in the crown of the Second International) supported the war (a small minority of it did not). There was just one man in the German Reichstag in August 1914 who did not vote for war credits (and he did not even vote against them, he abstained). And many of the anti-war minority went along with the majority of party in the name of "discipline" and "democratic" principles.

In contrast, only a very small minority of anarchists supported any side during the conflict. The bulk of the anarchist movement (including such leading lights as Malatesta, Rocker, Goldman and Berkman) opposed the war, arguing that anarchists must "capitalise upon every stirring of rebellion, every discontent in order to foment insurrection, to organise the revolution to which we look for the ending of all of society's iniquities." [No Gods, No Masters, vol. 2., p. 36] As Malatesta noted at the time, the "pro-war" anarchists were "not numerous, it is true, but [did have] amongst them comrades whom we love and respect most." He stressed that the "almost all" of the anarchists "have remained faithful to their convictions" namely "to awaken a consciousness of the antagonism of interests between dominators and dominated, between exploiters and workers, and to develop the class struggle inside each country, and solidarity among all workers across the frontiers, as against any prejudice and any passion of either race or nationality." [Life and Ideas, p. 243, p. 248 and p. 244]

By pointing to Kropotkin, Marxists hide the fact that it was the official Marxist movement which betrayed the cause of internationalism, not anarchism. Indeed, the betrayal of the Second International was the natural result of the "ascendancy" of Marxism over anarchism that Marx had hoped. The rise of Marxism, in the form of social-democracy, ended as Bakunin predicted, with the corruption of socialism in the quagmire of electioneering and statism. As Rudolf Rocker correctly argues, "the Great War of 1914 was the exposure of the bankruptcy of political socialism." [Marx and Anarchism] "

Anarcho
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Jan 11 2008 10:43
Devrim wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
From my substantial reading of Kropotkin's works, I cannot see any indication the decision flowed from those. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, of course. Can you point to an example of Kropotkin's works which would explain his decision in 1914?

No, because I haven't read them.

Okay, so you admit that your assertions are based on utter ignorance. Fine. Perhaps you should read some Kropotkin and then, perhaps, you will see why people still read him and respect his memory -- while, rightly, attacking his stupidities of 1914 to 1917.

Devrim wrote:
But you seem to point to what you think could have been the reasons:

If we take the reason as being 'his fears about the results of German militarism', it seems reasonable to me to assume that he took a political position that some factions of the bourgeoisie are more progressive, or less reactionary than others, and should be supported. A position, which is today, totally anti-working class.

A position which, among others, Marx, Engels and Lenin did. So, in that case, better not read them either! And, it should be noted, that no one is arguing that this position is right!

Christ, this is getting repeative! Listen, it is simple. No one is defending Kropotkin. We are all arguing that his decision was totally anti-working class -- then, as now. It was totally anti-working class when Marx and Engels did it too.

Devrim wrote:
I don't blame 'communist-anarchism' for these failings. I just doubt that they were entirely personal.

If they were not personal failings then they must have come from his politics. He was a communist-anarchist. Given that the vast majority of communist-anarchists were surprised by Kropotkin's decision and attacked it, we can safely say that his politics played no role in it.

Devrim wrote:
Also you make it sound like Kropotkin was virtually alone in supporting the war. Other anarchists supported it too. In fact the French CGT did in nearly its entirety.

Do I really need to state that the CGT was a syndicalist union, not an anarchist federation? Do I really need to state that only a small number of anarchists supported Kropotkin? Do I really need to state that only the CGT supported the war? That the USI expelled the nationalist marxist-syndicalists?

Really, how long do we anarchists have to refute these Marxist distortions?