PIERRE JOSEPH PROUDHON (1809-1865), French socialist and political writer, was born on the r5th of January 1809 at Besancon, France, the native place also of the socialist Fourier.
As Proudhon knew nothing whatever of the true principles of philology, his treatise was of no value.
For some time Proudhon carried on a small printing establishment at Besancon, but without success; afterwards he became connected as a kind of manager with a commercial firm at Lyons.
As Proudhon aimed at economic rather than political innovation, he had no special quarrel with the second empire, and he lived in comparative quiet under it till the publication of his work,, De la Justice dans la revolution et dans l'eglise, (1858) in which he attacked the Church and other existing institutions with unusual fury.
Personally Proudhon was one of the most remarkable figures of modern France.
In later years Proudhon himself confessed that "the great part of his publications formed only a work of dissection and ventilation, so to speak, by means of which he slowly makes his way towards a superior conception of political and economic laws."
Proudhon's aim, therefore, was to realize a science of society resting on principles of justice, liberty and equality thus understood; "a science absolute, rigorous, based on the nature of man and of his faculties, 1 The droit d'aubaine was abolished in 1790, revived by Napoleon, and ended in 1819.
With his strong and fervid feeling for human dignity and liberty, Proudhon could not have tolerated any theory of social change that did not give full scope for the free development of man.
Proudhon, indeed, was the first to use the word anarchy, not in its revolutionary sense, as we understand it now, but as he himself says, to express the highest perfection of social organization.
Proudhon's theory of property as the right of aubaine is substantially the same as the theory of capital held by Marx and most of the later socialists.
Marx, however, always greatly detested Proudhon and his doctrines, and attacked him violently in his Misere de la philosophic. Property and capital are defined and treated by Proudhon as the power of exploiting the labour of other men, of claiming the results of labour without giving an equivalent.
Proudhon's famous paradox, "La propriete, c'est le vol," is merely a trenchant expression of this general principle.
For property Proudhon would substitute individual possession, the right of occupation being equal for all men.
A complete edition of Proudhon's works, including his posthumous writings, was published at Paris (1875).
Proudhon, sa vie et sa correspondance, by Sainte-Beuve (Paris, 1875); Beauchery, Economic sociale de P. J.
Proudhon (Lille, 1867); Spoll, P. J.
Proudhon,etude biographique(Paris,1867); Marchegay.
Proudhon, sein Leben and seine positiven Ideen (Berlin, 1881); Diehl, P. J.
Proudhon, seine Lehre and sein Leben (Jena, 1888-1889); Miilberger, Studien 12ber Proud ho ii (Stuttgart, 1891); Desjardins, P. J.
Proudhon, sa vie, ses oeuvres et sa doctrine (Paris, 1896); Miilberger, P. J.
Proudhon (Stuttgart, 1899).
Thence he went to Paris, where he met Proudhon and George Sand, and also made the acquaintance of the chief Polish exiles.
He corresponded with Louis Blanc, George Sand and Proudhon, and collaborated with the journalists of the Left, Degeorge, Peauger and Souplet.
In rejecting absolutism, Proudhon never waffled on the question of freedom.
About this time he fought a duel with Proudhon, who had called him the "aristocrat of the democracy."
Silhouette de Proudhon (Paris, 1868); Putlitz, P. J.
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