The latest extracts from “Property is Theft!” are now available. As well as the remaining parts of the introduction, extracts of two texts from the start and end of Proudhon’s political life are included. These are 1841’s Letter to M.
In terms of the language he used, Proudhon was by no means consistent. Thus we have the strange sight of the first self-proclaimed anarchist often using “anarchy” in the sense of chaos. Then there is the use of the terms property and the state, both of which Proudhon used to describe aspects of the current system which he opposed and the desired future he hoped for.
The texts are presented in chronological order, so that readers can get a feel for how Proudhon’s ideas and ways of expressing himself changed over time. We have aimed to present newly translated material in full and have edited those which are available in English already. Any edits are indicated by bracketed ellipses and any additions are surrounded by brackets. We have tried to reproduce Proudhon’s own stresses and capitalisations.
All the texts have been translated in British English rather than American English.
If I am not mistaken, the reader ought to be convinced at least of one thing, that social truth cannot be found either in utopia or in routine: that political economy is not the science of society, but contains, in itself, the materials of that science, in the same way that chaos before the creation contained the elements of the universe. The fact is that, to arrive at a definite organisation, which appears to be the destiny of the race on this planet, there is nothing left but to make a general equation of our contradictions.
Property occupies the eighth place in the chain of economic contradictions; this point is the first one that we have to establish.
The point of departure of credit is money.
or, the Philosophy of Misery
Translator: Clarence L. Swartz (Chapters X and XIV) and Shawn P. Wilbur (Chapter XI)
In positing its principles humanity, as if in obedience to a sovereign order, never goes backward. Like the traveller who by oblique windings rises from the depth of the valley to the mountain-top, it follows intrepidly its zigzag road, and marches to its goal with confident step, without repentance and without pause. Arriving at the angle of monopoly, the social genius casts backward a melancholy glance, and, in a moment of profound reflection, says to itself: