On Labadie’s Spelling of ‘Kropotkine’

Throughout my archiving of Laurance Labadie’s works, I have noticed he has unique spellings of a number of words. In particular, he spells “Kropotkin” (Кропо́ткин) with an “e” at the end: “Kropotkine.” For example, he writes in “Objections to Communism:”

Most communist-anarchists are followers of Kropotkine, who showed that mutual aid was a factor in evolution and who tried, like Marx, to conceive a society in which mutual aid was the sole factor in its maintenance, but whereas Marx saw that authority was necessary Kropotkine thought that men could iron out their differences by voluntarily agreeing to maintain a standard of “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

For some time I was unsure where he got this spelling from; but after digging further and looking back at some other writings, I believe he picked it up from his own father Joseph Labadie, whose description of Kropotkin goes like this: “Kropotkine was a small man, with a large head, bushy hair and whiskers, talked English very well, and his movements were quick, as tho surprised.” 

This is also the spelling that Benjamin Tucker, a close associate of the elder Labadie, utilizes, writing:

Suppose I had said to Kropotkine that the real question is whether Communism will permit individuals to exchange their labor or products on their own terms. Would Herr Most have been so shocked? Would he have printed that in black type?

The spelling appears to be a French variation of the name, usually combined with the first name “Pierre” to make “Pierre Kropotkine.” This linguistic connection makes sense not only because the Labadie family’s ethnic background can be traced back to France, but because of Tucker’s interest in French literature, he being a fan of Scènes de la Vie Future by Georges Duhamel and a translator of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s Qu’est-ce que la Propriété? Ou Recherche sur le Principe du Droit et du Gouvernment. There’s nothing really groundbreaking about pointing out the origin of the “Kropotkine” spelling, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

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