Page:Peter Alexeivitch Kropotkin - Expropriation.djvu/31

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ments; but there are other branches which could be rapidly modified in such a way as to furnish the peasant with clothes, watches, furniture, and the simple implements for which the towns make him pay such exorbitant prices at the present time Weavers, tailors, shoe-makers, tinsmiths, cabinet-makers, and many other trades and crafts could easily direct their energies to the manufacture of useful and necessary articles, and abstain from producing mere luxuries. All that is needed is that the public mind should be thoroughly convinced of the necessity of this transformation, and should come to look upon it as an act of justice and of progress, and that it should no longer allow itself to be cheated by that dream so dear to the theorists—the dream of a revolution confining itself to taking possession of the profits of industry, and leaving production and commerce just as they are now.

This, then, is our view of the whole question. Cheat the peasant no longer with scraps of paper—be the sums inscribed upon them ever so large; but offer him in exchange for his produce the very things of which he, the tiller of the soil, stands in need. Then the fruits of the land will be poured into the towns. If this is not done there will be famine in our cities, and reaction and despair will follow in its train.


All the great towns, we have said, buy their grain, their flour, and their meat not only from the provinces, but also from abroad. Foreign countries send Paris spices, fish and various dainties, besides immense quantities of corn and meat.

But when the Revolution comes we must depend on foreign countries as little as possible. If Russian wheat, Italian or Indian rice, and Spanish or Hungarian wines abound in the markets of western Europe, it is not that the countries which export them have a super-abundance, or that such produce grows there of itself, like the dandelion in the meadows. In Russia, for instance, the peasant works sixteen hours a day, and half-starves from three to six months every year in order to export the corn with which he pays the landlord and the State. To-day the police appears in the Russian village as soon as the harvest is gathered in, and sells the peasant's last horse and last cow for arrears of taxes and rent due to the landlord, unless the victim immolates himself of his own accord by selling the corn to the exporters. Usually, rather than part with his live stock at a disadvantage, he keeps only nine months' supply of grain, and sells the rest. Then, in order to sustain life until the next harvest, he mixes birch-bark and