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Geopolitics and EmpireThe Legacy of Halford Mackinder$
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Gerry Kearns

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199230112

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230112.001.0001

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Making Space for Darwin

Making Space for Darwin

(p.63) 3 Making Space for Darwin
Geopolitics and Empire

Gerry Kearns

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins to develop a critical perspective by paying attention to views quite contrary to Mackinder's, expressed by his contemporary — the geographer and political philosopher Peter Kropótkin, who interpreted rather differently the social translation of biology. He shared with Mackinder an evolutionary reading of space, time, and organism but he meant something rather different by each of these. The crucial differences between Mackinder and Kropótkin involve their interpretations of history and community. Mackinder saw history as a struggle between races, or racialized-nations. The injunction was to compete or face extinction, or at the very least insignificance. Kropótkin saw history as a struggle between two principles: the social power of association versus the antisocial forces of capitalism and the State. Unlike Kropótkin, then, race was central to Mackinder's view of Empire; indeed the British Empire was needed precisely to preserve the British people, or the Anglo-Saxon race, in the global struggle for space and power. Kropótkin's alternative version of the social, rather than racial, bonds of communities promoted international federation and cooperation instead of civilizational conflict.

Keywords:   Halford Mackinder, Empire, Peter Kropótkin, biology, Darwinian geography, racism

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