The Well-Read Anarchist #006 – “What is Property?” by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – Chapter Four

02/05/20155 Comments

wralogoThe Well-Read Anarchist podcast continues its exploration of the works of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon with a reading of his first major work, “What is Property?” published in 1840. Today we read Chapter Four of the book, “That Property is Impossible.”


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  1. Tjeerd says:

    I expect this was on the (hidden) list of James’ new year resolutions.

  2. Stephen Amsden says:

    Is it really possible that the answer has been there in front of our eyes all this time? This is powerful knowledge of monstrous proportions. If what Proudhon is saying about the real nature of “property” is true, then it follow that all of capitalism itself is built upon a lie. Or is it possible for a true free market capitalism to exist in a non-usurious economic environment? It alsmost seems that the very notion of “capitalism” would disappear along with the notion of “property,” yet it is difficult to imagine a system of free exchange among individuals where there is no precedent. For those of us who have been seeking to identify the true evil behind the enemy of humanity, to identify it by name. is that name perhaps “property?”

    • gerbnl says:

      I’m very, very pleased that James decided to continue this series, new year resolutions or not.

      That Capitalism is a lie, i already concluded on my own, whether a thing like Anarchism is the/an answer i highly doubt, but Proudhon at least does a much better job luring me over to that view than, let’s say, the overly harsh words of a Stefan Molyneux.

      Proudhon’s views on property are extremely sympathetic to me, but then, i lost my own appetite for property a long time ago. I agree it’s very hard to imagine a system of free exchange, even for basics needs, on a global scale. Not to mention how such a system would look if humanity wants to keep up with those really big technological / infrastructural ‘necessities’.

      I loathe expressions like ‘evil’, because there’s too much religious connotations, but…

      Personally i think that the ‘evil’ in humanity is an integral part of it’s essence. Because we as a society lie to ourself denying that part of us, we become victims to those who accepted humanity as it really is. Really not so very ‘humanitarian’ at all!

      Duh, hopefully this still makes some sense, as English is not my native language. Also i drunk enough to make me want to articulate this, but probably too much to be fully capable to do it 😉


      • Stephen Amsden says:

        If the ‘evil’ in humanity is an integral part of it’s essence, then it is clear from Proudhon’s assertions regarding “property” and “capitalism” that we are guilty of denying ourselves 1) the knowledge of the truth behind the charade 2) the lack of will to oppose the perpetrators by acting on those truths 3) formulating and instituiting the necessary changes to align with natural law. Proudhon in “The General Idea of the !9th Century” portrays a vision of an ideal society where frontiers are taken down, nation states abolished, and where there is no central authority or law of government, except for power residing in communes, and local associations, governed by contractual law. If what Proudhon says in the former is true, then this is a model worthy of consideration as a plausible solution.

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