Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
An Appeal to the Young
By Peter Kropotkin
(The Russian author and scientist, 18421921, who renounced the title of prince and spent many years in a dungeon for his faith)
IF your heart really beats in unison with that of humanity, if like a true poet you have an ear for Life, then, gazing out upon this sea of sorrow whose tide sweeps up around you, face to face with these people dying of hunger, in the presence of these corpses piled up in the mines, and these mutilated bodies lying in heaps on the barricades, looking on these long lines of exiles who are going to bury themselves in the snows of Siberia and in the marshes of tropical islands; in full view of this desperate battle which is being fought, amid the cries of pain from the conquered and the orgies of the victors, of heroism in conflict with cowardice, of noble determination face to face with contemptible cunningyou cannot remain neutral; you will come and take the side of the oppressed because you know that the beautiful, the sublime, the spirit of life itself is on the side of those who fight for light, for humanity, for justice!
It rests with you either to palter continually with your conscience, and in the end to say, one fine day: Perish humanity, provided I can have plenty of pleasures and enjoy them to the full, so long as the people are foolish enough to let me. Or, once more the inevitable alternative, to take part with the Socialists and work with them for the complete transformation of society. That is the logical conclusion which every intelligent man must perforce arrive at, provided that he reasons honestly about what passes around him, and discards the sophisms which his bourgeois education and the interested views of those about him whisper in his ear.