“When you go into a public library, the librarian does not ask what services you have rendered to society before giving you the book.
In the same way, those who man the lifeboat do not ask credentials from the crew of a sinking ship; they launch their boat, risk their lives in the raging waves, and sometimes perish, all to save men whom they do not even know. And what need to know them? “They are human beings, and they need our aid — that is enough, that establishes their right — To the rescue!”
Thus we find a tendency, eminently communistic, springing up on all sides, and in various guises, in the very heart of theoretically individualist societies.
Suppose that one of our great cities, so egotistic in ordinary times, were visited to-morrow by some calamity. That same selfish city would decide that the first needs to satisfy were those of the children and the aged. Without asking what services they had rendered, or were likely to render to society, it would first of all feed them. Then the combatants would be cared for, irrespective of the courage of the intelligence which each has displayed, and thousands of men and women would outvie each other in unselfish devotion to the wounded.
This tendency exists and is felt as soon as the most pressing needs of each are satisfied, and in proportion as the productive power of the race increases.
How can we doubt, then, that when the instruments of production are placed at the service of all, when business is conducted on Communist principles, when labour, having recovered its place of honour in society, produces much more than is necessary to all — how can we doubt that this force (already so powerful) will enlarge its sphere of action till it becomes the ruling principles of social life?
Following these indications, and considering further the practical side of expropriation, we are convinced that our first obligation, when the revolution shall have broken the power upholding the present system, will be to realize Communism without delay.”
Pp. 34-36 in Kropotkin, Peter. 1907. The Conquest of Bread. New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. From Chapter III, Anarchist Communism, pp. 29-43.
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