Property is Theft! blog
30 September 2023
A discussion of council communist Sylvia Pankhurst's account of Proudhon's General Idea of the Revolution after it was published by Freedom Press in 1923. It is of note as council communist discussions of mutualism are rare (usually passing dismissal based on regurgitating Marx's distortions) and we include her two part article "The Views of Proudhon" which appeared in Workers’ Dreadnought on 5th and 12th April 1924. .
23 March 2022
A discussion of how Engels distorts Proudhon in his discussion of The Housing Question.
14 December 2021
A discussion of what Proudhon meant by "Property is liberty" along with new postings and a link to an article on Proudhon refuting J. Salwyn Schapiro’s claims that Proudhon was a harbinger of fascism.
12 May 2021
Welcome to the new home of Property is Theft! and its blog. Due to technical issues, I have had to move to this new – but very retro – environment. All the extracts from the book have been moved over now, along with most of its blog entries (some for long past events have not been transferred). At some stage, I will need to investigate more technologically advanced rendering means but for the time being it is basic html files. In this posting I will discuss Proudhon’s theory of “collective force” and its key role in his critique of capitalism and his vision of socialism.
25 September 2020
It has been a while since my last update on the Property is Theft! blog, so apologies. I have been busy of other work (A Libertarian Reader, a new edition of Kropotkin’s Words of a Rebel and a collection of Camillo Berneri’s writings with full translations of his most famous works plus new ones).
30 March 2019
For some, the verdict of history is of little consequence. Marxists in particular seem unconcerned that every mainstream Marxist movement and revolution has become authoritarian, at its worse dictatorial, at its best bureaucratic. Rather than socialism, state-capitalism has been created time and time again.
26 November 2018
This blog notes three Proudhon texts going on-line, two of which are in Property is Theft! and another newly translated although a previous partial translation appeared there. These preface a discussion of leading Marxist David Harvey’s account of Proudhon’s ideas in his recent book Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason (London: Profile Books, 2017). They are related, in-so-far as Harvey claims to be critiquing Proudhon’s System of Economic Contradictions and the texts are a new, complete translation of its Conclusion and extracts from Proudhon’s attempt to implement his ideas during the 1848 Revolution, Organisation of Credit and The Bank of the People.
22 March 2018
I know it has been a while since I posted to the Property is Theft! blog, for which I can only apologise. Suffice to say, I have been busy – including working on other Proudhon related material which has appeared elsewhere. I was particularly keen to mark the anniversary Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy and show how he distorted Proudhon’s work. It is useful to summarise the material as some of it is I would humbly suggest important:
23 December 2014
Proudhon has been interpreted in many ways, some more honestly and accurately than others. Two of the most dishonest and, sadly, influential have been by Karl Marx and American liberal J. Salwyn Schapiro. While the former’s work is discussed in the introduction of Property is Theft!, space preluded discussion the latter’s attempt to portray Proudhon as a fascist.
22 November 2014
“Property is Theft!… is in many ways quite successful… the critical work of the 1840s [is] presented with a depth that is unfamiliar, refreshing and enlightening... this is a work designed to introduce Proudhon to an anarchist mainstream that has largely written off his particular form of anarchism… It is a powerful corrective to the second-hand Proudhon we have inherited from Marx… it is an important contribution. ” (Shawn P. Wilbur, Black Flag, no. 236)
25 September 2013
“The collection offers rare and often difficult to obtain excerpts from the voluminous works of Proudhon… in a single (if hefty) volume. These sources are essential in the study the intellectual history of the revolutions in France between 1830 and 1871… Both the casual reader, as well as the scholar, should find Property is Theft! a comprehensive and invaluable source” (Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 57)
17 April 2013
First off, sorry for the large gap since the last Proudhon update. I’ve been busy on numerous things, not least my new Kropotkin anthology Direct Action Against Capital. The best that can be said is that the Proudhon blog suffered equally along with replying to emails and writing articles. No excuse, other than I’m just human with a lot of responsibilities and things to do. However, I plan to be a bit more focused this year and I am starting with Proudhon.
21 May 2012
"All those who wish to see the ideas of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon … achieve wider appreciation and recognition will welcome this new anthology … This is the most comprehensive English-language collection ever published…The primary function of this impressive collection is to make Proudhon’s writings accessible…and to dismantle the superficial misconceptions that have surrounded Proudhon’s theories. It does this marvellously…" (K. Steven Vincent)
13 January 2012
“[Property is Theft!] really is a welcome addition to the literature. Comprehensive, with a well-researched and substantial introduction… including not only the most important of Proudhon’s political writings, but many of his manifestos and letters… Proudhon outlined… the basic tenets of anarchism… Iain McKay and A.K. Press are therefore to be warmly congratulated on this very satisfying and much needed anthology” (Brian Morris, Freedom)
8 August 2011
As with any book, particularly one which is as long as Property is Theft!, some errors were not spotted before publication. Since getting my copy, I’ve discovered a few minor mistakes and have listed them on the book’s website, plus corrections. I include them here as well, before discussing my thoughts on additions to any second edition. As will become obvious, the errors are few and far between and not that significant.
27 April 2011
Freedom Bookshop is hosting the book launch of Property is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology.
This is the new comprehensive anthology of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's writings published by AK Press. Proudhon was the first person to call themselves an anarchist and his ideas on property, state, exploitation, workers self-management, federalism and anarchy defined anarchism as a socio-economic theory.
05 April 2011
Time has not been kind and I’ve not been able to work on my planned release of a new chapter of Property is Theft! and blog on “Proudhon and Market Socialism”. I have, however, decided to expand the Supplemental Material (online only), specifically material about Proudhon and his ideas.
8 March 2011
At long last, Property is Theft! is now at the printers. You can buy it at AK Press ( USA and UK). A little over 2 months late, but still not too bad considering how much material it contains (it comes in at 840 pages). The advance praise for the anthology is included below -- comments coming from the likes of Robert Graham, Lucien van der Walt, David Berry and Mark Leier. There is also a new cover:
28 January 2011
Property is Theft! is nearing completion. It is a few months late, but given the wealth of material (much of it newly translated into English) this is not too bad. The book has been indexed and is being proofread for the final time. As part of the whole aim to make it the "definitive" anthology of Proudhon for some time to come, AK Press suggested that it needs a biographical sketch. This is it.
11 October 2010
The final stages of getting “Property is Theft!” ready for publication are being reached. The proof-editing is near completion, with the introduction done. Since I got the original version sent off earlier this year, I’ve been finding and fixing typos. I’ve also revised the introduction a bit, mostly the appendix on Proudhon and Marx. I’ll sketch why I made these changes here, particularly as they throw light on both Proudhon’s ideas and how much Marx distorted them.
28 September 2010
This month’s (somewhat delayed!) release from Property is Theft! is 1851's General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century.
5 July 2010
24 May 2010
Two postings this time, on the theme of elections. As is well known, Proudhon both argued against standing candidates and for abstaining in elections (during the Second Empire) and, in 1848, he stood for Parliament twice, with success in a by-election. The postings cover both these periods with this blog also discussing Proudhon, Marx and the Paris Commune (again!).
21 April 2010
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. Blanqui (the Second Memoir on Property) and the final chapter of the posthumously published Theory of Property (‘Théorie de la propriété’). While much is made of the latter by Proudhon’s enemies (due to its supposed embrace of property), there are much in common between the two texts.
18 March 2010
This update of Property is Theft! is focused on two key issues, Proudhon and Marx as well as Proudhon’s influence on the Paris Commune (which explains why it has been updated on the 18th of March!). The two are inter-related, simply because many key “Marxist” positions are first found in Proudhon’s work or date from the 1871 revolt and, ironically, simply repeat the ideas raised by the Communards who in turn found them in Proudhon…
11 February 2010
A two new extracts are now on line, both from an important discussion by Proudhon about the state, what it is and why anarchists are against it. They are part of the polemic he undertook with the state socialists Louis Blanc and Pierre Leroux at the end of 1849 and beginning of 1850. The previously posted letter to Leroux is part of that debate.
9 February 2010
I've added quite a few sections, including most of the introductory material and the glossary of terms, people and events. Hopefully the introduction will give some idea of why Proudhon is important as both a thinker in his own right and as founder/father of anarchism.
02 February 2010
31 January 2010
Welcome to the new blog for the new Pierre-Joseph Proudhon anthology, Property is Theft! This is due to be published in November this year by AK Press and will mark the 170th anniversary of Proudhon's "What is Property?" and the birth of anarchism as a named socio-economic theory.