Pierre-Joseph PROUDHON. His revolutionary life, mind and works by Edward Hyams

£1.50

Proudhon (1809-65). whose followers have mostly been called anarchists or syndicalists (he himself liked the term “mutualist”), was a thinker who emphasised liberty as strongly as he did equality. The late Edward Hyams, a morally convinced Socialist disillusioned with modern statism, was attracted by Proudhon’s concept of men organizing themselves instead of being controlled by government. Besides giving us a lucid account of Proudhon’s ideas, many of which remain pertinent and challenging, Hyams offers a fine portrait of the philosopher himself, a brilliant poor boy growing up in an era acidly chronicled by Stendhal in “The Red and the Black” and “Lucien Leuwen..” Indeed, one might see the intellectually ambitious Proudhon in the Julien Sorel of social thought. Hyam’s historical background and his account of Proudhon’s relations with eminent contemporaries (Marx, Herzen, Courbet, for sample) are excellent The book is stimulating, vivid, and, at times, moving.

Description

I am a revolutionary who is profoundly conservative’ said Proudhon, or in Edward Hyams’s phrase ‘a virtuous anarchist’ He set out to foster a social revolution outside politics but without recourse to violence, using the Press to get workers to withdraw from the state and organise themselves into associations of companies, with the backing of the People’s Bank, that practical experiment in free credit which Proudhon actually ran for a few months during the Republic. The overbearing system of compulsion which is the state is replaced by mutualism : mutual contract, reciprocity and exchange not between the individual and the state but between persons. Service for service, guarantee for guarantee. A voice of freshness and astringency emerges from Proudhon’s writings thanks to Edward Hyams’s detailed analysis of and quotation from them.