1838: Property is theft (Jules Leroux)

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EPISODES in another history of anarchism:

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In volume 4 of the Encyclopédie nouvelle, which appeared in 1838, Jules Leroux contributed a lengthy entry on Political Economy. There is a lot there that is of interest, but perhaps nothing that touches this passage for topical interest here in the mutualist blogosphere:

Et la propriété se trouve être nécessairement définie en ces termes: La possession et l’usage d’un objet propre à satisfaire un besoin.

Supprimez le mot possession, et la propriété disparaît.

Supprimez le mot usage, et la propriété devient une chose immorale, anti-humaine : c’est l’accaparement, c’est le vol.

That is:

“And property necessarily finds itself defined in these terms: The possession and use of an object to satisfy a need.

Suppress the word possession, and property disappears.

Suppress the word use, and property becomes an immoral, anti-human thing: it is monopoly; it is theft.”

1838. Two years before What is Property? Ain’t that some fun?


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2620 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.