Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Proudhon, Pierre Joseph

Pierre Joseph Proudhon (pyĕr zhôzĕf´ prōōdhôN´), 1809–65, French social theorist. Of a poor family, Proudhon won an education through scholarships. Much of his later life was spent in poverty. He achieved prominence through his pamphlet What Is Property? (1840, tr. 1876), in which he condemned the abuses of private property and embraced anarchism. He also edited radical journals. After the Revolution of 1848, he was elected a member of the constituent assembly; at that time he tried unsuccessfully to establish a national bank for reorganization of credit in the interest of the workers. As a replacement for the existing social and political order, Proudhon developed a theory of "mutualism," by which small, loosely federated groups would bargain with each other over economic and political matters within the framework of a consensus on fundamental principles. He hoped that man's ethical progress would eventually make government unnecessary and rejected the use of force to impose any system. Proudhon left a great mass of literature, which influenced the French syndicalist movement. Among his most important books are System of Economic Contradictions; or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846; tr. of Vol. I, 1888) and De la justice dans la révolution et dans l'église [of justice in the revolution and in the church] (3 vol., 1858).

See his selected writings, ed. by S. Edwards (1970); biography by G. Woodcock (1956, repr. 1987); A. Ritter, The Political Thought of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1969); C. M. Hall, The Sociology of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1971); R. L. Hoffman, Revolutionary Justice: The Social and Political Theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1972); H. De Lubac, The Un-Marxian Socialist (1948, repr. 1978); S. Condit, Proudhonist Materialism and Revolutionary Doctrine (1979); E. Hyams, Pierre-Joseph Proudon: His Revolutionary Life, Mind and Works (1979); K. S. Vincent, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican Socialism (1984).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: A Biography
George Woodcock.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956
The Un-Marxian Socialist: A Study of Proudhon
Henri De Lubac; R. E. Scantlebury.
Sheed & Ward, 1948
Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth Century: An Historical Introduction
John Bowle.
Oxford University Press, 1954
Librarian’s tip: "Proudhon's Attack on the State" begins on p. 152
The Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin
Alexander Gray.
Longmans, Green, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "P. J. Proudhon"
The Essential Works of Anarchism
Marshall S. Shatz.
Quadrangle Books, 1972
Librarian’s tip: "Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: Mutualist Anarchism" begins on p. 81
Readings in the History of Economic Thought
S. Howard Patterson.
McGraw-Hill, 1932
Librarian’s tip: "Selections from 'What Is Property?' or 'An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government'" by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon begins on p. 592
French Political Thought in the 19th Century
Roger Henry Soltau.
Russell & Russell, 1959
Librarian’s tip: "A Socialist Individualist: Proudhon" begins on p. 268
The Paris Commune: An Episode in the History of the Socialist Movement
Edward S. Mason.
Macmillan, 1930
Librarian’s tip: "Proudhon" begins on p. 30
Social Reformers: Adam Smith to John Dewey
Donald O. Wagner.
Macmillan, 1934
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XV "Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 1809-1865"
The Action Française and Revolutionary Syndicalism
Paul Mazgaj.
University of North Carolina Press, 1979
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Le Cercle Proudhon"
Liberalism and the Challenge of Fascism: Social Forces in England and France, 1815-1870
J. Salwyn Schapiro.
McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1949
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "Heralds of Fascism: II. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: Revolutionist"
Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements
George Woodcock.
World Publishing, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in multiple chapters
FREE! The Poverty of Philosophy
Karl Marx.
Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1892
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in multiple chapters
George Orwell
Courtney T. Wemyss; Alexej Ugrinsky.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 18 "Orwell, Proudhon, and the Moral Order"
Value Theory and Business Cycles
Harlan Mccracken Linneus.
Falcon Press, 1933
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Proudhon"
Political Heretics: From Plato to Mao Tse-Tung
Max Nomad.
University of Michigan Press, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon begins on p. 77
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