“The Complete Works of P.-J. Proudhon” (advertisement)


Under the title Complete Works, we collect all the publications (books, pamphlets, and journal articles) published during Proudhon’s lifetime, which it would be impossible to find stocked in bookstores today. These works, along with his “posthumous works,” which will be published in the same format and by the same house, will comprise –- if we may allow ourselves to say so –- a veritable Encyclopedia of the issues raised by the Social Revolution. Philosophy, ethics, politics, economics, religious exegesis, literary and artistic criticism: nothing has escaped the great thinker, this “great agitator of ideas” in the words of Michelet.

Proudhon summed up his work in the epigraph to his Contradictions économiques; DESTRUAM ET AEDIFICABO. Critics took this as license to grant the author the glory of having largely completed the first half of its program, destruam, “I shall destroy,” but reproached him for never having done more than sketch the the second part, ædificabo, “I shall build.”

“They called me ‘demolisher,’” he himself said; “this name will remain after I am gone: it’s the limit of inadmissibility that is opposed to all my work, that I am a man of demolition, unable to produce! … I have already given quite thorough demonstrations of such entirely positive things as:

“A theory of force: the metaphysics of the group (this, as well as the theory of nationalities, will be especially demonstrated in a book to be published);

“A dialectical theory: formation of genera and species by the serial method; expansion of the syllogism, which is good only when the premises are allowed;

“A theory of law and morality (doctrine of immanence);

“A theory of freedom;

“A theory of the Fall, i.e. the origin of moral evil: idealism;

“A theory of the right of force: the right of war and the rights of peoples;

“A theory of contract: federation, public or constitutional law;

“A theory of nationalities, derived from the collective force: citizenship, autonomy;

“A theory of the division of powers, correlate with the collective force;

“A theory of property;

“A theory of credit: mutuality, correlate with federation;

“A theory of literary property;

“A theory of taxation;

“A theory of the balance of trade;

“A theory of population;

“A theory of the family and marriage;

“As well as a host of incidental truths.”

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2141 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.