Lifeboats, Kropotkin and Mutual Aid
The recent declarations by Nigel Farage and the Daily Mail criticising the humanitarian work of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboats Institution) are nothing less than disgraceful. One thing is to have an opinion on immigration, another is to excoriate the selfless work of an organization whose volunteers have put their own lives at risk to save others, whatever race or nationality, in distress on the high seas.
More than a century ago, the anarchist philosopher and theorist of evolution, the Russian Peter Kropotkin, in his exploration of the bonds that unite humanity through what he termed “mutual aid”, outlined why helping others regardless of their origin not only made sense in terms of human progress, but also was a hallmark of what being human is. Kropotkin, in his book on Mutual Aid, detailed how assistance for others was at the heart of the activity of the RNLI:
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