79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
An Insightful, eye opening masterpiece!, 8 Dec 2000
Mutual Aid is a masterpiece of political, sociological, historical, and anthropological work and even zoology. It challenges many common misconceptions about human nature and evolution that are held by the majority of people, previously including myself.The main idea it challenges is that of "SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST" in nature and as a part of human nature and its role in evolution. Peter Kropotkin points out that the struggle for survival is against harsh conditions rather than between inividuals and that the best way for a species to survive is by " Mutual aid and support" rather than "Individualistic struggle" and points to many examples in nature such as migratory birds, ants, bees, monkeys and ultimately humans who survived when others such as the sabre tooth tiger failed (despite its physical superiority in terms of strength and speed and sharp teeth and claws) because of humans ability to live in societies and cooperate whereas the sabre tooth tiger was far too individual. Kropotkins strength is his critical use of endless examples to back himself up which adds great power to his arguement. The significance of Mutual aid is collossal, even today. Free Market Capitalism is founded on the idea of survival of the fittest being the best way for humans to live and that inequality is natural and therefore justifiable whereas Kropotkin points to the extremely sociable and prosperous manner in which many tribes and societies have lived i.e.Greece.Also the tendency of humans to behave as savages has also underpinned the need for a state; however if humans left to there own devices can cooperate then there is no need for a state as humans can look after themselves. Also, when Maggie Thatcher famously said:"There is no such thing as society" to back up her vision of a free market, she was fundamentally wrong. Krpotkin says that as we are evolved from primates who are very sociable, then society is ANTERIOR to man, not man made.
To sum up: "In the ethical progress of man, mutual support- not mutual struggle has had the leading part."