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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon quotes (showing 1-30 of 58)

“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“Why, how can you ask such a question? You are a republican."
A republican! Yes; but that word specifies nothing. Res publica; that is, the public thing. Now, whoever is interested in public affairs -- no matter under what form of government -- may call himself a republican. Even kings are republicans."
Well! You are a democrat?"
No."
What! "you would have a monarchy?"
No."
A Constitutionalist?"
God forbid."
Then you are an aristocrat?"
Not at all!"
You want a mixed form of government?"
Even less."
Then what are you?"
I am an anarchist."


Oh! I understand you; you speak satirically. This is a hit at the government."


By no means. I have just given you my serious and well-considered profession of faith. Although a firm friend of order, I am (in the full force of the term) an anarchist. Listen to me.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Proudhon: What Is Property?
“Property is theft!”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Quest-ce que la propriété? ou Recherches sur le principe du droit et du gouvernement
“When deeds speak, words are nothing.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, censured, commanded… noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished… drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed… repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed… mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“Of a real, true contract, on whatsoever subject, there is no vestige in Rousseau's book. To give an
exact idea of his theory, I cannot do better than compare it with a commercial agreement, in which
the names of the parties, the nature and value of the goods, products and services involved, the
conditions of quality, delivery, price, reimbursement, everything in fact which constitutes the
material of contracts, is omitted, and nothing is mentioned but penalties and jurisdictions.

"Indeed, Citizen of Geneva, you talk well. But before holding forth about the sovereign and the
prince, about the policeman and the judge, tell me first what is my share of the bargain? What? You
expect me to sign an agreement in virtue of which I may be prosecuted for a thousand
transgressions, by municipal, rural, river and forest police, handed over to tribunals, judged,
condemned for damage, cheating, swindling, theft, bankruptcy, robbery, disobedience to the laws of
the State, offence to public morals, vagabondage,--and in this agreement I find not a word of either
my rights or my obligations, I find only penalties!

"But every penalty no doubt presupposes a duty, and every duty corresponds to a right. Where then
in your agreement are my rights and duties? What have I promised to my fellow citizens? What
have they promised to me? Show it to me, for without that, your penalties are but excesses of
power, your law-controlled State a flagrant usurpation, your police, your judgment and your
executions so many abuses. You who have so well denied property, who have impeached so
eloquently the inequality of conditions among men, what dignity, what heritage, have you for me in
your republic, that you should claim the right to judge me, to imprison me, to take my life and
honor? Perfidious declaimer, have you inveighed so loudly against exploiters and tyrants, only to
deliver me to them without defence?”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century
“la propriété, c'est le vol!”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Théorie de la propriété
“It is through separation that you will win: no representatives, and no candidates!”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“Na propriedade, como em todos os elementos econômicos, o mal ou o abuso é inseparável do bem, exatamente como na contabilidade por partidas dobradas o dever é inseparável do haver. Um engendra necessariamente o outro. Querer suprimir o abuso da propriedade é destruí-la; da mesma maneira que suprimir um artigo do débito de uma conta é destruí-lo no crédito.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, A propriedade é um roubo e outros escritos anarquistas
“Nevertheless, it is with the help of these metaphysical toys that governments have been established since the beginning of the world, and it is with their help that we shall come to resolve the enigma of politics, if we are willing to make the slightest effort to do so. I hope I will be forgiven, then, for labouring this point, as one does in teaching the rudiments of grammar to children.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, El principio federativo
“When politics and home life have become one and the same, when economic problems have been solved in such a way that individual and collective interests are identical – all constraints having disappeared – it is evident that we will be in a state of total liverty or anarchy.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“I live, like you, in a century in which reason submits only to fact and to evidence. My name, like yours, is TRUTH-SEEKER. My mission is written in these words of the law: Speak without hatred and without fear; tell that which thou knowest! The work of our race is to build the temple of science, and this science includes man and Nature. Now, truth reveals itself to all; to-day to Newton and Pascal, tomorrow to the herdsman in the valley and the journeyman in the shop. Each one contributes his stone to the edifice; and, his task accomplished, disappears. Eternity precedes us, eternity follows us: between two infinites, of what account is one poor mortal that the century should inquire about him?”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“When politics and home life have become one and the same, when economic problems have been solved in such a way that individual and collective interests are identical – all constraints having disappeared – it is evident that we will be in a state of total liberty or anarchy.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“To-day, the man who pays taxes to the amount of two hundred francs is virtuous; the talented man is the honest pickpocket: such truths as these are accounted trivial.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“The sovereign people, legislators, and reformers, see in public offices, to speak plainly, only opportunities for pecuniary advancement. And, because it regards them as a source of profit, it decrees the eligibility of citizens. For of what use would this precaution be, if there were nothing to gain by it? No one would think of ordaining that none but astronomers and geographers should be pilots, nor of prohibiting stutterers from acting at the theatre and the opera. The nation was still aping the kings: like them it wished to award the lucrative positions to its friends and flatterers. Unfortunately, and this last feature completes the resemblance, the nation did not control the list of livings; that was in the hands of its agents and representatives. They, on the other hand, took care not to thwart the will of their gracious sovereign.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“May you, gentlemen, desire equality as I myself desire it; may you, for the eternal happiness of our country, become its propagators and its heralds; may I be the last of your pensioners! Of all the wishes that I can frame, that, gentlemen, is the most worthy of you and the most honorable for me.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“It is for you now, gentlemen, whose mission and character are the proclamation of the truth, it is for you to instruct the people, and to tell them for what they ought to hope and what they ought to fear. The people, incapable as yet of sound judgment as to what is best for them, applaud indiscriminately the most opposite ideas, provided that in them they get a taste of flattery: to them the laws of thought are like the confines of the possible; to-day they can no more distinguish between a savant and a sophist, than formerly they could tell a physician from a sorcerer. ‘Inconsiderately accepting, gathering together, and accumulating everything that is new, regarding all reports as true and indubitable, at the breath or ring of novelty they assemble like bees at the sound of a basin.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“In a society like ours, to seek for literary glory seems to me an anachronism. Of what use is it to invoke an ancient sibyl when a muse is on the eve of birth? Pitiable actors in a tragedy nearing its end, that which it behooves us to do is to precipitate the catastrophe. The most deserving among us is he who plays best this part. Well, I no longer aspire to this sad success!”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“As man seeks justice in equality, so society seeks order in anarchy”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“I have been pitiless in my criticism of the economists: for them I confess that, in general, I have no liking. The arrogance and the emptiness of their writings, their impertinent pride and their unwarranted blunders, have disgusted me. Whoever, knowing them, pardons them, may read them.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“But what is sovereignty? It is, they say, the power to make laws. Another absurdity, a relic of despotism. The nation had long seen kings issuing their commands in this form: for such is our pleasure; it wished to taste in its turn the pleasure of making laws. For fifty years it has brought them forth by myriads; always, be it understood, through the agency of representatives. The play is far from ended.
The definition of sovereignty was derived from the definition of the law. The law, they said, is the expression of the will of the sovereign: then, under a monarchy, the law is the expression of the will of the king; in a republic, the law is the expression of the will of the people. Aside from the difference in the number of wills, the two systems are exactly identical: both share the same error, namely, that the law is the expression of a will; it ought to be the expression of a fact. Moreover they followed good leaders: they took the citizen of Geneva for their prophet, and the contrat social for their Koran.
Bias and prejudice are apparent in all the phrases of the new legislators. The nation had suffered from a multitude of exclusions and privileges; its representatives issued the following declaration: All men are equal by nature and before the law; an ambiguous and redundant declaration. Men are equal by nature: does that mean that they are equal in size, beauty, talents, and virtue? No; they meant, then, political and civil equality. Then it would have been sufficient to have said: All men are equal before the law.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“The nation-king cannot exercise its sovereignty itself; it is obliged to delegate it to agents: this is constantly reiterated by those who seek to win its favor. Be these agents five, ten, one hundred, or a thousand, of what consequence is the number; and what matters the name? It is always the government of man, the rule of will and caprice. I ask what this pretended revolution has revolutionized?”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“— Eh bien ! vous êtes démocrate ? — Non. — Quoi ! vous seriez monarchique ? — Non. — Constitutionnel ? — Dieu m’en garde. — Vous êtes donc aristocrate ? — Point du tout. — Vous voulez un gouvernement mixte ? — Encore moins. Qu’êtes-vous donc ? — Je suis anarchiste. — Je vous entends : vous faites de la satire ; ceci est à l’adresse du gouvernement. — En aucune façon : vous venez d’entendre ma profession de foi sérieuse et mûrement réfléchie ; quoique très ami de l’ordre, je suis, dans toute la force du terme, anarchiste.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
“If the law has been able to render the right of heredity common to all the children of one father, can it not render it equal for all his grandchildren and great grandchildren? If the law no longer heeds the age of any member of the family, can it not, by the right of heredity, cease to heed it in the race, in the tribe, in the nation? Can equality, by the right of succession, be preserved between citizens, as well as between cousins and brothers? In a word, can the principle of succession become a principle of equality? To sum up all these ideas in one inclusive question: What is the principle of heredity? What are the foundations of inequality? What is property?”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“The nation, so long a victim of monarchical selfishness, thought to deliver itself for ever by declaring that it alone was sovereign. But what was monarchy? The sovereignty of one man. What is democracy? The sovereignty of the nation, or, rather, of the national majority. But it is, in both cases, the sovereignty of man instead of the sovereignty of the law, the sovereignty of the will instead of the sovereignty of the reason; in one word, the passions instead of justice. Undoubtedly, when a nation passes from the monarchical to the democratic state, there is progress, because in multiplying the sovereigns we increase the opportunities of the reason to substitute itself for the will; but in reality there is no revolution in the government, since the principle remains the same. Now, we have the proof to-day that, with the most perfect democracy, we cannot be free.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“When our ideas on any subject, material, intellectual, or social, undergo a thorough change in consequence of new observations, I call that movement of the mind revolution. If the ideas are simply extended or modified, there is only progress. Thus the system of Ptolemy was a step in astronomical progress, that of Copernicus was a revolution.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“The object of the federations will be to guarantee, as far as possible, the beneficent reign of peace; and they will have the further effect of securing in every nation the triumph of liberty over despotism. Where the largest unitary State is, there liberty is in the greatest danger; further, if this State be democratic, despotism without the counterpoise of majorities is to be feared. With the federation, it is not so. The universal suffrage of the federal State is checked by the universal suffrage of the federated States; and the latter is offset in its turn by property, the stronghold of liberty, which it tends, not to destroy, but to balance with the institutions of mutualism.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“For some time they talked of reformation; those who apparently desired it most favoring it only for their own profit, and the people who were to be the gainers expecting little and saying nothing. For a long time these poor people, either from distrust, incredulity, or despair, hesitated to ask for their rights: it is said that the habit of serving had taken the courage away from those old communes, which in the middle ages were so bold.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?
“Society was saved by the negation of its own principles, by a revolution in its religion, and by violation of its most sacred rights. In this revolution, the idea of justice spread to an extent that had not before been dreamed of, never to return to its original limits. Heretofore justice had existed only for the masters; it then commenced to exist for the slaves.”
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property?

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