What is Property? : An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government

By Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1840)

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Untitled Anarchism What is Property?

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(1809 - 1865)

Father of Anarcho-Mutualism

: ...he turned his talents instead to the printer's trade, a profession which gave birth to many anarchists, but the first to call himself an anarchist was Proudhon. By mid-century, Proudhon was the leading left intellectual in France or for that matter, all of Europe, far surpassing Marx's notoriety or Bakunin's. Proudhon... (From: Dana Ward Bio.)
• "Revolutions are the successive manifestation of justice in human history. — It is for this reason that all revolutions have their origins in a previous revolution." (From: "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)
• "What is your flag? Association! And your motto? Equality before fortune! Where are you taking us? To Brotherhood!" (From: "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)
• "The revolution, in that epoch, without abandoning its first given, took another name, which was already celebrated. It called itself philosophy." (From: "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)

Chapters

8 Chapters | 157,472 Words | 955,778 Characters

P. J. Proudhon: His Life and His Works. The correspondence[1] of P. J. Proudhon, the first volumes of which we publish to-day, has been collected since his death by the faithful and intelligent labors of his daughter, aided by a few friends. It was incomplete when submitted to Sainte Beuve, but the portion with which the illustrious academician became acquainted was sufficient to allow him to estimate it as a whole with that soundness of judgment which characterized him as a literary critic. In an important work, which his habitual readers certainly have not forgotten, although death did not allow him to finish it, Sainte Beuve thus judges the correspondence of the great publicist: — “The letters of Proudhon, even outside the... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Preface. The following letter served as a preface to the first edition of this memoir: — “To the Members of the Academy of Besançon. “PARIS, June 30, 1840. “GENTLEMEN, — In the course of your debate of the 9th of May, 1833, in regard to the triennial pension established by Madame Suard, you expressed the following wish: — “ ‘The Academy requests the titulary to present it annually, during the first fortnight in July, with a succinct and logical statement of the various studies which he has pursued during the year which has just expired.’ “I now propose, gentlemen, to discharge this duty. “When I solicited your votes, I boldly avowed my intention to bend my effor... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
First Memoir Adversus hostem æterna auctertas esto. Against the enemy, revendication is eternal. Law of the twelve tables. Chapter I. Method Pursued In This Work. — The Idea Of A Revolution. If I were asked to answer the following question: What is slavery? and I should answer in one word, It is murder, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death; and that to enthralled a man is to kill him. Why, then, to this other question: What is property! may I not likewise answer, It is robbery, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Chapter II. Property Considered As A Natural Right. — Occupation And Civil Law As Efficient Bases Of Property. Definitions. The Roman law defined property as the right to use and abuse one’s own within the limits of the law — jus utendi et abutendi re suâ, guatenus juris ratio patitur. A justification of the word abuse has been attempted, on the ground that it signifies, not senseless and immoral abuse, but only absolute domain. Vain distinction! invented as an excuse for property, and powerless against the frenzy of possession, which it neither prevents nor represses. The proprietor may, if he chooses, allow his crops to rot under foot; sow his field with salt; milk his cows on the sand; change his vineyard into a ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Chapter III. Labor As The Efficient Cause Of The Domain Of Property Nearly all the modern writers on jurisprudence, taking their cue from the economists, have abandoned the theory of first occupancy as a too dangerous one, and have adopted that which regards property as born of labor. In this they are deluded; they reason in a circle. To labor it is necessary to occupy, says M. Cousin. Consequently, I have added in my turn, all having an equal right of occupancy, to labor it is necessary to submit to equality. “The rich,” exclaims Jean Jacques, “have the arrogance to say, ‘I built this wall; I earned this land by my labor.’ Who set you the tasks? we may reply, and by what right do you demand payment from us fo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Chapter IV. That Property Is Impossible. The last resort of proprietors, — the overwhelming argument whose invincible potency reassures them, — is that, in their opinion, equality of conditions is impossible. “Equality of conditions is a chimera,” they cry with a knowing air; “distribute wealth equally to-day — to-morrow this equality will have vanished.” To this hackneyed objection, which they repeat everywhere with the most marvelous assurance, they never fail to add the following comment, as a sort of Glory be to the Father: “If all men were equal, nobody would work.” This anthem is sung with variations. “If all were masters, nobody would obey.” “If nobody were r... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Chapter V. Psychological Exposition Of The Idea Of Justice And Injustice, And A Determination Of The Principle Of Government And Of Right. Property is impossible; equality does not exist. We hate the former, and yet wish to possess it; the latter rules all our thoughts, yet we know not how to reach it. Who will explain this profound antagonism between our conscience and our will? Who will point out the causes of this pernicious error, which has become the most sacred principle of justice and society? I am bold enough to undertake the task, and I hope to succeed. But before explaining why man has violated justice, it is necessary to determine what justice is. Part First. § 1. — Of the Moral Sense in Man and the Animals. The ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Second Memoir A Letter to M. Blanqui. Paris, April 1, 1841. Monsieur, — Before resuming my “Inquiries into Government and Property,” it is fitting, for the satisfaction of some worthy people, and also in the interest of order, that I should make to you a plain, straightforward explanation. In a much-governed State, no one would be allowed to attack the external form of the society, and the groundwork of its institutions, until he had established his right to do so, — first, by his morality; second, by his capacity; and, third, by the purity of his intentions. Any one who, wishing to publish a treatise upon the constitution of the country, could not satisfy this threefold condition, would be obliged to procure the e... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

Chronology

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1840
What is Property? — Publication.

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January 28, 2017; 7:38:59 PM (UTC)
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December 30, 2021; 12:30:36 PM (UTC)
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