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What is anarchism?

Anarchism is a theory and political movement that is based on ideals of freedom and equality. All forms of domination, authority, and subordination are considered unjust and backed up by force. The state and all of its supporting institutions, as well as the institutions supported by the state, are deemed unacceptable. Society should be reorganized into small, self-governing communities in which members cooperate toward the same ends and produce their livelihood together. English journalist and political philosopher William Godwin (1756-1836) initiated modern anarchism in the eighteenth century, and in the nineteenth, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876), and Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (1842-1921) were leading figures.

Who was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon?

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was the French social theorist who coined the word "anarchism." In his What Is Property? (1840) he famously proclaimed that "property is theft."

What was new about Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's thought?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), in talking about property in land had made a similar assertion to Proudhon's about property being theft, but Proudhon's innovation was to argue that owners deprive workers

A 1948 French cartoon lampoons Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun's ideas about the poor. Proudhon asks a servant why he left the door open, and the servant responds that since there is no such thing as property, why does it matter? (Art Archive).

A 1948 French cartoon lampoons Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun's ideas about the poor. Proudhon asks a servant why he left the door open, and the servant responds that since there is no such thing as property, why does it matter? (Art Archive).

of most of the results of their labor. Because workers had a right to the results of all of their labor, as well as that labor itself, the amount of private property concentrated in individual or small group hands should be limited. This would require reform in the economic system to establish banks that would grant interest-free loans to poor people. The state would dissolve and there instead would be associations of collectives on a worldwide basis.

What was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's lasting influence?

Although his thought, along with that of other nineteenth century anarchists, was

Did Mikhail Bakunin get along with Karl Marx?

Bakunin and Marx were bitter enemies. Marx campaigned to expel Bakunin from the International Working Men's Association. The tempestuous relationship between Marx and Bakunin is a well known part of the history of Western socialism. As a co-member of the International Working Men's Association, Marx referred to Bakunin as "a man devoid of all theoretical knowledge." Bakunin said that Marx was "from head to foot an authoritarian.... [T]he instinct of liberty is lacking in him." Although Marx said that Bakunin was "in his element as an intriguer," it was Marx who in 1848 published an untrue rumor, begun by the Russian ambassador, that Bakunin was a Russian agent responsible for the arrest of Poles.

neglected after World War I, some of Proudhon's social ideas remain influential in contemporary economic organization. Examples of this include the representation in management of workers in large industries, as well as cooperative housing units and food growing and buying projects.

Why was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon against women's rights?

In his Pornocractie (1875) Proudhon argued that if women were allowed to vote and secured other legal equalities with men, the institution of marriage would decline over time, because women would not need men to support them financially. Proudhon thought that this single state of men and women would result in widespread prostitution.

Was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon a friend of Karl Marx?

Very briefly. Marx (1818-1883) wrote to him after What is Property? (1840) was published and they became friends in Paris, where Marx was then living in exile. But Marx responded to Proudhon's subsequent The Philosophy of Poverty (1847) with The Poverty of Philosophy (1880). The ensuing dispute divided the anarchists from the Marxists in the International Working Men's Association. Proudhon also had a dispute with Mikhail Bakunin's (1814-1876) followers, who objected to his idea of worker's cooperatives and peasant ownership of land and factories after a peaceful revolution.

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