- Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph
- (1809-1865)socialist, anarchistBorn in Besançon to a working-class family, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who is often considered the father of modern anarchism (and to whom Mikail Bakunin, a Russian anarchist, owed much), was successively a typographer, small printer, and journalist. His forceful, audacious, and eloquent attack on the propertied classes in Qu'est-ce que c'est la propriété? (1840) aroused strong reactions and alarm among the bourgeoisie. Proudhon continued his criticisms in De la création de l'ordre dans l'humanité (1843), in which he defined work as the only true capital. But soon he would nuance his attacks, seeking less to eliminate private property than to attenuate its abuses, and less to eliminate the capitalist system than to reform it and to reconcile the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In La Philosophie de la misère, or Système des contradictions économiques (1846), he discussed the basic concepts of communism. This brought a strong reaction from Karl Marx, who wrote Misère de la philosophie (1847) in response. A representative for the people in the National Assembly (1848) and the editor of several journals and newspapers, Proudhon was sentenced to prison (1849-50) for his opposition to Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. But in L'Idée de la révolution au XIXe siècle (1851), in which he put forth the principle of anarchism, he seemed to believe in the possibility of a rapproachment between napoléon III and the cause of social reform (Révolution sociale démontrée par le coup d'État du 2 décembre 1852). The publication of De la justice dans la Révolution et dans l'Église (1858) forced Proudhon to go into exile to Brussels, Belgium. on his return to France, his work Du principe fédératif et de la nécessité de reconstituer le parti de la révolution (1863) appeared and, after his death, De la capacité politique de la classe ouvrière was published. The founder of the mutual-ist system, worker syndicalism, and federalism, Proudhon seems to be at once a revolutionary and, according to Marx, a conservative. He envisioned a society in which ethical human nature and a sense of moral responsibility would make government unnecessary, and he rejected the use of force to impose any system. His followers opposed Marxist socialism as represented at the First International.
France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.