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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (January 15, 1809 - January 19, 1865) was a French anarchist of the 19th century. Born in in Besanšon, Doubs, France, he is most famous for asserting "Property is theft", in his missive What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right of Government. In the same book, he became the first person to call himself an anarchist, a word which had previously been used as a term of abuse during the French Revolution.

Proudhon also claimed that "Property is impossible." Although he was a socialist, he rejected communism and believed that individual possession -- which he distinguished from private property -- was necessary both for liberty and for an efficient economy.

He adopted the term Mutualism for his brand of anarchism, which involved control of the means of production by the workers. He criticized Marxism as The Philosophy of Poverty, and was rejoindered by Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy. In his libertarian socialism, he was followed by Michael Bakunin, in contrast to the authoritarian socialism that followed from Marx.

He probably became a socialist under the sway of Charles Fourier.

His works were first translated into English by Benjamin Tucker, who promoted Proudhon's ideas in the United States as individualist anarchism.

His essay on what is government is also quite well known.

"To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first world of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality." ( P.J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.)

External links

e-texts of some of P.-J. (Pierre-Joseph) Proudhon's works:



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