Kropotkin, 1886

In this essay [Law and Authority] , Kropotkin argues that law serves a dual purpose-firstly, it codifies and enforces accepted moral standards, and secondly, it furthers the particular interests of the ruling classes. According to Kropotkin, the former purpose is unnecessary, and the latter purpose is positively harmful.

Customs, absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd. “Do not kill,” says the code, and hastens to add, “And pay tithes to the priest.” “Do not steal ,” says the code, and immediately after, “He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have his hand struck off.”

Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day. Its origin is the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage. Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of l aw to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment. Like individual capital , which was born of fraud and violence, and developed under the auspices of authority, law has no title to the respect of men. Born of violence and superstition, and established in the interests of conqueror, priest, and rich exploiter, it must be utterly destroyed on the day when the people desire to break their chains …

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