Thursday, April 23, 2009

Qu'Est-Ce Que La Propriété? C'Est Le Vol.

When I think of P. J. Proudhon, I think of two works: What is Property? and The Philosophy of Poverty. Apparently, System of Economical Contradictions; or, the Philosophy of Misery is a translation of the latter's full title. And I "know", from Karl Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy, it is a very badly argued book.

The Project Gutenberg collection for Proudhon consists of exactly those two books. The formats plain text, sometimes html, Mobi pocket, and other protable formats, but no PDF.

Shawn Wilbur recently announced annouced the New Proudhon Library. I found the organization of the wiki confusing. This page has external links, but not to the Project Gutenberg texts. I guess this page has links to the original French.


Anonymous said...

You are totally right, Proudhon's works are not well-known in English. Which is a shame, as he definitely has a way with words!

That may be changing. I've made a suggestion to AK Press for a Proudhon Reader, and they have agreed! My ideas are in this blog post (which has links to various other good articles on-line):

A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon ReaderHopefully we have get lots of new material translated as well as getting what is available to more radicals.

After all, when you read market socialists like David Schweickart you cannot help but think of Proudhon's similar ideas. As various Leninists have noted in their criticism's of market socialism, but obviously to invoke "guilt by association"!

Unfortunately, with the rise of Marxism other socialists fell into obscurity, like Proudhon. People forget his influence was huge at the time. Most obviously, the Paris Commune's vision of a federation of communes and co-operatives is straight from Proudhon.

And, of course, the terrible assumption by Marxists that because Marx critiqued someone he did so accurately and fairly! And, of course, that there was no need to read said person...

I remember once we organised an anarchist summer school at which someone was going to discuss Stirner's ideas. A Marxist I knew proudly said to me he was going to read The German Ideology -- he was genuinely shocked when I asked him when he was going to read The Ego and Its Own, the thought had simply not crossed his mind!

I'm not suggesting Proudhon had all the answers, or was not wrong on some (many?) things, but his ideas should be better know. Particularly as they have, probably unknowingly, been reinvented by many market socialists today!

And how many times have we seen mainstream economists blame everything on workers (high wages causing unemployment, inflation, crisis, etc.), so confirming Proudhon's quip:

"Political economy -- that is, proprietary despotism -- can never be in the wrong: it must be the proletariat."Iain
An Anarchist FAQ

Robert Vienneau said...

I always seem to be putting old anarchists on my pile, but not getting around to them very fast. Anyways, I stumbled on this announcement of a workshop on Proudhon.