His classic vision of a new world, updated by Colin Ward.
" "We maintain that in the interests of both science and industry, as well as of society as a whole, every human being, without distinction of birth, ought to receive such an education as would enable him, or her, to combine a thorough knowledge of science with a thorough knowledge of handicraft. To the division of society into brain workers and manual workers we oppose the combination of both kinds of activities; and instead of "technical education," which means the maintenance of the present division between brain work and manual work, we advocate the education integrale, or complete education, which means the disappearance of that pernicious distinction." Even the idea of crowd sourcing scientific discovery (discussed in the recent book by Michael Nielsen, "Reinventing Discovery") is within his scope: "Darwin spent almost thirty years in gathering and analysing facts for the elaboration of the theory of the origin of species. ) * Intensive local agriculture done intelligently and cleverly by all (with elements of community gardening and community-supported agriculture) * Post-growth/steady-state/"plenitude" economics (http://www.newdream.org/)
If one wants to get a sense of Kropotkin's effort to be "relevant" in the late 19th and early 20th century, this would be a useful work to explore.
This book sets out to offer alternatives and fresh perspectives on approaches to agriculture, industry, science and education to reshape the economy into a an extension of social life, rather than a superimposed system under which resources trickle down a social pyramid. A common theme in the book is the denunciation of a division of production and labor, weather it be states or regions specialized in the production of specific goods and mostly nothing else, or the separation of the main branches of economy, independent of each other to the methods of educating future workers both for mental and manual jobs. They offer an insight into the amount of work put in to the writing of this book, not to mention, the amount of research dedicated to it, as well as Kropotkin's keen observational eye and enthusiasm and faith in a different, better world.
Nowadays lots of people are "locavores," fans of "slow food" and all things "artisanal" and "organic," heirloom products and sustainable agriculture, urban gardening - but often motivated by a kind of snobbish aesthetic appeal and backed up by deep pockets. If Kropotkin were alive today it seems he might encourage revolutionaries to reclaim these things as our own. His advocacy of small-scale, intensive, decentralized agriculture, more like a garden than a farm, near and inside cities as well, with great variety in each region sustaining itself by growing its own food, and participation by everyone, fits right in with today's reaction against the nightmare of agribusiness, factory farms, pollution, genetic manipulation, chemical fertilizers etc. Kropotkin essentially takes the themes of decentralization, appropriate scaling, and integration (of city and country, manual and intellectual labor, tasks and skills, crops and industries, etc.) and puts them at the center of his "political economy." His confidence in science and technology would surely be shaken if he lived now.
Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin ( , other spelling: Peter Kropotkin, Pëtr Alekseevi Kropotkin) was a geographer, a zoologist, and one of Russia's foremost anarchists.