From Dog Section Press by Ruth Kinna
I was involved in a conversation about nihilism the other day. I’d been asked to recommend some readings and I included Kropotkin’s Appeal to the Young – a text I’m fond of – in the list. The other members of the group were less familiar with it and less taken with it, too. Readers found it old-fashioned, sentimental and full of gendered language. Where were the women in this text? Kropotkin’s call to intellectuals – apparently to bridge social divisions – appeared to be grounded in a syrupy view of class relations, and reinforced conventions about domestic relationships, to boot. It expressed the views of a privileged white European male and was really part of a culture that should be unpicked and challenged. We could have nit-picked about historical context, rhetoric, political motivations and interpretation, but however you explain Kropotkin’s ideas, this was all fair comment.