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Altruism and Aggression

In the preface to his book named “Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution”, Russian Anarchist, Peter Kropotkin writes ” Two aspects of animal life impressed me most during the journeys which I made in my youth in Eastern Siberia and Northern Manchuria. One of them was the extreme severity of the struggle for existence which most species of  animals have to carry on against an inclement Nature; the enormous destruction of life which periodically results from natural agencies; and the consequent paucity of life over the vast territory which fell under my observation.

And the other was, that even in those few spots where animal life teemed in abundance, I failed to find–although I was eagerly looking for it–that bitter struggle for the means of existence, among animals belonging to the same species, which was considered by most Darwinist (though not always by Darwin himself) as the dominant characteristic of struggle for life, and the main factor of evolution.”

Thus according to him, this means that mutual cooperation and mutual aid are as important for evolution as are competition and mutual strife. This also means that human beings are basically good at heart.

Many great scientists have commented on his ideas. Stephen Jay Gould says that “a common conceptual error in failing to recognize that [Darwinian] natural selection is an argument about advantages to individual organisms”. and secondly that “there are no shortcuts to moral insight” and that the answers to such questions must be found within us, not in nature. But overall, the ideas of Kropotkin are very respectable and form the basis of principle that individuals in society in general benefit from mutual cooperation.

Alexeyevich Kropotkin was (9 December 1842 to 8 February 1921) was one of Russia’s foremost anarchist and one of the first advocates of anarchist communism: most of his life he advocated for a communist society free from central government. Because of his title of prince and his prominence as an anarchist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was known by some as “the Anarchist Prince”. Some contemporaries saw him as leading a near perfect life, including Oscar Wilde, who described him as “a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia”. He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops and his principal scientific offering, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution from which this matter is taken.

In short, Kropotkin, was the father of altruism. Modern theories run against this thought. Nowadays, it is held, that whatever an individual does is basically for his own benefits and happiness. Even in situations where it seems that an individual benefits from the action he is performing, in reality he is being selfish for his own happiness. Suppose, a person, sees an child leaping in the fire and he even does no the child, he will go for saving the child. This will save him from the guilty feeling and remorse he will suffer in the aftermath and his happiness will not be under jeopardy.

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