Pierre-Joseph Proudhon  

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"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[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word 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." [...] --Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

This page Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (15 January 1809 – 19 January 1865) was a French politician, the founder of Mutualist philosophy, an economist and a libertarian socialist. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist and is among its most influential theorists. He is considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". He became a member of the French Parliament after the revolution of 1848 whereupon he referred to himself as a federalist.

Proudhon, who was born in Besançon, was a printer who taught himself Latin in order to better print books in the language. His best-known assertion is that Property is theft!, contained in his first major work, What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government, published in 1840. The book's publication attracted the attention of the French authorities. It also attracted the scrutiny of Karl Marx, who started a correspondence with its author. The two influenced each other: they met in Paris while Marx was exiled there. Their friendship finally ended when Marx responded to Proudhon's The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty with the provocatively titled The Poverty of Philosophy. The dispute became one of the sources of the split between the anarchist and Marxian wings of the International Working Men's Association. Some, such as Edmund Wilson, have contended that Marx's attack on Proudhon had its origin in the latter's defense of Karl Grün, whom Marx bitterly disliked, but who had been preparing translations of Proudhon's work.

Contents

Sexism

Nevertheless, while racism was not overtly part of his political philosophy, Proudhon did publicly express sexist beliefs. In her study of Gustave Courbet, who painted the portrait of Proudhon and His Children (1865) – art historian Linda Nochlin points out that alongside his early articulations of anarchism Proudhon also wrote and published “the most consistent anti-feminist tract of its time, or perhaps, any other,” La Pornocratie ou les femmes dans les temps modernes, which “raises all the main issues about woman’s position is society and her sexuality with a paranoid intensity unmatched in any other text.” (Nochlin, Courbet. Thames & Hudson, 2007. p. 220, note 34)

Proudhon's defenses of patriarchy did not go unchallenged in his lifetime; Joseph Déjacque attacked Proudhon's anti-feminism as a contradiction of anarchist principles. Déjacque directed Proudhon "either to 'speak out against man's exploitation of woman' or 'do not describe yourself as an anarchist.'" (Jesse Cohn "Anarchism and gender" in: The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Immanuel Ness (Ed.), 2009)

Bibliography

On Proudhon

  • Justice, Order and Anarchy: The International Political Theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon by Alex Prichard. Routledge. 2013

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pierre-Joseph Proudhon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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