En el gélido invierno de 1848, cuando las calles de París se siembran de barricadas, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon es testigo del primer asalto al orden establecido desde tiempos de Sieyès. Aquella revolución titubeante dará a la postre con Napoleón III en el Palacio del Elíseo, pero del poso de su fracaso nace Idea general de la revolución en el siglo XIX, la obra que habría de servir de guía a los revolucionarios del futuro. Siempre en el filo de la utopía, Proudhon brinda reflexiones certeras sobre los peligros y promesas del cambio, sobre el papel del Estado frente a la libertad individual o sobre la necesidad de repensar el mercado, anticipando ideas tan actuales como el socialismo de mercado o la democracia económica.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (15 January 1809 – 19 January 1865) was a French socialist, politician, philosopher, economist, and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist, using that term and is widely regarded as one of anarchism's most influential theorists. Proudhon is considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". Proudhon became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist. Proudhon described the liberty he pursued as "the synthesis of communism and property". Some consider his mutualism to be part of individualist anarchism while others regard it to be part of social anarchism.
Exposition of Proudhon's vision of revolutionary reform that would destroy authority and install an economic organisation of society. A foundational text, much sparkling rhetoric. The 1923 translation is augmented with an extensive preface that outlines the importance of the 1851 book for history of anarchism and the then-current moment (1989).
Proudhon’s revolution takes Engels’ phrase the transition from the “government of persons” to the “administration of things” in a decidedly libertarian direction as direct economic control by the people replacing the centralized political control of the state and propertied class. He substitutes what he calls association which is based on sentiment and coercion for the law of contract based on the mutual consent of individuals for their interests. Proudhon can only with difficulty be considered a socialist as he is anti-capitalist but also in favor of the market, division of labor, and competition as well as usufruct personal ownership over state ownership of the means of production. Proudhon’s ideal is a market economy according to the “cost principle” that goods equal the cost of production ie labor which is only possible by the elimination of rent interest and the wage system by way of occupant ownership of land, mutual credit unions, and worker cooperatives with the idea that without state backed monopolization prices could fall to the cost of production. This is to be achieved by way of a public bank lending credit without interest and a temporary land tax. The downside to this is that it cannot be done simply by passing laws but has to be done by the people themselves. Much of the book is about the inevitability of revolution in contemporary France but I read it mainly for the economic theory and political program which is there but mainly in his polemical style. At the least this is a good start for reading Proudhon especially in English.