Educational Philosophy and Theory 52 (4):443-454 (2020)
AbstractAt first glance a Russian anarchist’s revolutionary address to the youth of his day made in the late 19th century and the address to youth made by a contemporary French philosopher may appear to have little in common as their context and era are ostensibly very different. How would Petr Kropotkin’s address be understood in our time? Are Kropotkin’s concerns the same as those raised by Bernard Stiegler? Could Kropotkin speak of universal concerns, a sense of elevation and sublimation not governed, undermined or circumvented by digital relations, calculation or algorithmic determination? I find a mutual concern with the coming into maturity of youth, but, I am concerned that as we are passing through an epochal and revolutionary transformation driven by digital and cognitive capitalism and in our toxic and crisis-ridden milieu, Kropotkin’s rhetoric would inevitably fall on deaf ears? Is his rhetoric on revolution anachronistic? How would his rhetoric be crafted for a youth seemingly indifferent to the plight of fellow brethren? Is it conceivable that the humanist-inflected prospects of youth so vaunted by Kropotkin have now been devastated by the inhuman and nihilistic tendencies of the so-called miscreant, ‘blank generation’ as described by Stiegler? True, while it is difficult to calibrate the vision of youth affirmed in Kropotkin with the fear of youth in Stiegler, and, despite differences in episteme, tradition and political orientation, both thinkers I think are concerned with the trials and tribulations of youth and both hold out the prospect of the not-yet of youth, of the coming into being of the maturity of youth, of Aufklärung. It is this shared focus I wish to examine further.
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