Biography of Proudhon, one of the fathers of anarchism

Biography of Proudhon, one of the fathers of anarchism

Pierre Joseph Proudhon He was a 19th century French philosopher and politician who was especially noted for his ideas on the economy and political organization of France. Today it is considered one of the fathers of anarchism, since his works had a decisive influence on the Paris Commune and on all the anarchist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

He was born on January 15, 1809 in Besançon (France) into a family of artisans and peasants. His father, a brewer, thought that the products should be sold at the price of what they were worth, because if you paid more "it was a robbery”. This mentality was learned by the young Proudhon and would be one of the basic and central pillars of his future ideology. In 1820, thanks to a scholarship, he was able to study at the Besançon school, although lack of financial resources prevented him from completing high school.

When he was 19 years old, he started working in a major printing company in his hometown. At first he was a proofreader while learning the art of typography. Since, among other things, the printing press made copies of the Bible, Proudhon was able to learn Hebrew, as well as notions of theology, philology and linguistics. Everything that he knew and that made him such a reputable politician, he acquired in a completely self-taught way. In his spare time, he hung out with the Fourierists and made friends with them.

So much so, that Just Muiron offered him a position as an editor at the newspaper El Imparcial. Proudhon He took advantage of it to learn and deepen his knowledge about Descartes and Rousseau. It was the first stone of his career. The next step was to travel and broaden horizons in France, to the point of founding a small printing company that had to close in 1838.

The Proudhon's first work It was a "General Grammar Essay" in 1837. The young man realized that he was ready to take a leap, so he moved to Paris. It was there in 1840 where he made his great work “¿¿What is property? ”, Which gave him great fame among Parisian intellectuals.

In it, it manifested a anarchistic individualism and it showed that only the disappearance of capitalist profit and the introduction of free credit, called "exchange bank”Could put an end to social injustices. In principle, Proudhon agreed with Marx, but he soon separated from it, since revolutionary action did not seem to him an appropriate means to achieve social reform.

In 1843, he published the so-called "Philosophy of misery"Or"System of economic contradictions”. Marx responded to Proudhon by launching "Misery of Philosophy", giving rise to a dispute that they would maintain until the death of the Frenchman.

Apart from his texts, Proudhon was also known for his political involvement. In June 1848 he was elected deputy of the Constituent Assembly in the framework of the Second French Republic and tried in vain to impose an income tax on his colleagues. Also, his project called "People's Bank”It was not successful, so it focused on carrying out an opposition policy in front of the National Workshops, as it considered that they violated the dignity of the proletariat. When Cavaignac repressed the workers, he was one of two deputies who condemned the president's conduct.

After failing in the legislative elections of May 1840, Proudhon devoted himself to journalism. Specifically, he turned to his newspaper "La voix du peuple”, But the press processes ruined him between 1848 and 1850. The politician's intention was to confront Louis Napoleon, who was beginning to embrace power over him in an alarming way. These publications cost him a judicial sentence, so he left the country and temporarily moved to Belgium.

However, personal reasons made Proudhon return to France and was imprisoned in the prison of Santa Pelagia. There he devoted himself essentially to study and wrote "The general idea of ​​the revolution”. In 1858, he oriented his work towards economic and social problems. His main work was "Of justice in the revolution and in the Church”, Where he opposed the religion of work against the Christian religion.

In 1863, he published “Of the federative principle”, A text in which he expressed his hostility towards any centralizing authority and advocated federalism. For him, power should not only be held by communes and municipalities, but the land should be in the hands of the local community of workers. These theories were the ones that fostered his influence on the Paris Commune and on subsequent anarchist movements.

In the year of his death, Proudhon also published a work that would be of great importance to the founders of the First International: “Of the political capacity of the working class”. Finally, he passed away on January 19, 1865, leaving behind a rather interesting legacy. Many consider him one of the fathers of anarchist thought and mutualism.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


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