Anarchist, Revolutionary, Dreamer
Evolution is a game of survival of the fittest, and to survive, organisms have to compete. But does competition always lead to a struggle between and within species, or can it also lead to cooperation? This was the idea advanced by Peter Kropotkin, known as a political anarchist, but in fact also a brilliant biologist. Kropotkin studied nature in the severe landscape of Siberia, and what he found differed from what contemporaries like T.H. Huxley had seen in the tropics: there was plenty of "mutual aid," or cooperation, in nature, and this, he thought, defined the natural state. Blending his view of politics and his view of nature, Kropotkin offered a stark interpretation of Darwin's evolutionary theory, one that was de-emphasized for nearly a century. With cooperation now assuming its rightful role alongside variation and selection in contemporary evolutionary theory, it is worth remembering Kropotkin and his legacy: a dream in which not only the natural world, but also our own human cultures, evolve and thrive through cooperation.
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