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Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Anarchism

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 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.



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).
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