Contr’un Revisited: [commentary coming soon]
And every moment, every association, every decision to build in a particular manner will have its consequences—its offspring. If we understand the social world as Proudhon did, as inhabited by “any number of individuals, on any number of scales and creating any number of associations,” with all of the “collective individuals” brought into the world by our encounters and associations figuring in the justice-balance, then we’re going to have to find the means to negotiate a new range of possibilities and responsibilities (or at least a new set of terms with which to negotiate it.)
Unfortunately, Proudhon, who has given us so much in the way of social scientific apparatus for approaching the clearly economic side of these questions, is considerably less help in tackling other aspects. As much as he has had to say about anarchistic commerce, he is not the person we would expect to enlighten us much on the subject of intercourse.
There are, of course, some approaches even to these other concerns in Proudhon’s writings. In his critical phase, he was certainly not above adding some sexy bits to his analysis of “property.” [See “Varieties of Proprietors: Lovers, Husbands, and Mother Hens,” and the linked material, for an introduction to this side of Proudhon’s discourse.] Over and over again, we find him referring to the infertile nature of proprietorship, but I have yet to find equally engaging treatments of the fecundity of the alternatives.
Fortunately, Proudhon’s work is far from the only reference point I’ve identified for the analysis of property on the blog, and for some of the other figures I’ve had occasion to invoke the fecund was something of a preoccupation. Let’s consider, for example, what our old friend Walt Whitman might have to add at this stage of our review.
Two men meet, recognize one another’s dignity, state the additional benefit that would result for both from the concert of their industries, and consequently guarantee equality, which means economy. That is the whole social system: an equation, and then a collective power.
Two families, two cities, two provinces, contract on the same footing: there is always only these two things, an equation and a collective power. It would involve a contradiction, a violation of Justice, if there were anything else.
Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.