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Critical Review of Proudhon's Book



Frederick Engels

1) "To the bourgeoisie".

"You", bourgeois, "were always the most fearless and the most skilful revolutionaries..." Even before the invasion of the barbarians, it was you who by means of your municipal federations had laid the shroud over the Roman Empire in Gaul (p. 1). From then on until now you were at the head of the revolution. Nothing that was attempted without you or against you met with success; everything that you attempted has been achieved, everything that you will attempt will be achieved.

The historical exposition of this theme in declamatory style.

At the present moment the old political intriguers are again in the saddle and treat you as revolutionaries (p. V). Therefore, accept the title, be revolutionary!

2) As to the subject matter. There follow seven essays to develop the following three points of view:

a) the old regime, b) the parties at the time of the revolution, c) the solution, the revolution itself (pp. 1-2).

First Essay

A revolution cannot be prevented. The opinion of Droz, who believes that the first revolution[a] could have been prevented by concessions and skilful behaviour. is as absurd as that of Blanqui, who believes revolutions can be conjured up (pp. 3-4).

The French monarchy from Clovis to Richelieu was revolutionary, it became reactionary in 1614 at the time of the last Etats généraux[338]; the punishment: January 21, 1793[b]. The revolution can be guided, moderated, made to advance slowly, and this system of giving way step by step is the wisest (p. 5). But it cannot be curbed. Witness[c] the suppression of the conspiracies of 1822 and 1839[339], and the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. But "established interests and governmental pride" always oppose the peaceful development of the revolution (p. 8). Reaction always creates revolution. So it was in 1789 et seq., so it was in 1848. In February[d] when the proletariat intervened in the conflict between the bourgeoisie and the Crown, it demanded only work. The Republicans promised it work and so it joined them (pp. 10-11). "Work and, by means of work, bread; that was what the working classes asked for in 1848, that was the unshakable foundation they gave to the Republic, that is the revolution." The Republic was the "act of a minority more or less ... usurpatory", "the revolutionary question of work" was something quite different. The Republic was merely the "pledge of the revolution" (p. 11).

The Provisional Government was serious in its promises of work, but it could not keep them, otherwise it would have had to "change course, to alter the economic system of society". But instead of dealing candidly with the difficulties, and turning to the journalists, it kept silent, became directly reactionary, declared itself against socialism, "the new name that the revolution was taking" (p. 13), drove the unemployed masses in Paris and Rouen into revolt, and tried to drown in blood the great idea of February and the protest action of the workers. Henceforth it was established that the Republic of 1848 and that of 1793 were two quite different things, and that socialism was the last word of the Republic of 1848.

Hence the present struggle between all the old revolutionary trends on the one side, and socialism on the other. And if at the outset one did not know what socialism was, the forces of reaction have taught us this since February; "it is by the reaction that the revolution will be determined" (p. 17).

A solemn description of reaction and repression gradually making the majority of the nation revolutionary, and the bourgeoisie itself, the "eternal friend of order", becoming suspect and therefore being punished, and consequently thrown into the arms of the revolution. This leads up to the new electoral law.[340]

Therefore, "the people having been mentally alienated", the sole remedy that remains is "force" (p. 26).

And this "force", for the crisis of 1852[341], consists of a series of measures which is only completed by the restoration in full of the feudal ancien régime.

But that you cannot and dare not do (p. 31). Appeal to the Republicans now to become really revolutionary and give "the revolution pledges" and "plans of economic renovation" (pp. 33, 34).

Second Essay

1. "The Law Determining the Tendency of Society.
The Revolution of 1789 Accomplished Only Half Its Work"

"The motive for revolutions is not so much the unhappy state experienced by society at a given time as the continuation of this unhappy state which tends to nullify well-being and cause it to disappear" (p. 36). Hence it is the tendency of the society which is the cause of revolution. The people, being neither optimists nor pessimists, do not demand that society shall be perfect, but that it "should have a tendency towards well-being and virtue"; they revolt "when society has for them a tendency towards poverty and corruption" (p. 37).

What then is at present the tendency of society?

1789 merely overthrew things, but did not rebuild at all. Hence "the kind of impossibility of living to which French society has been a prey for the last sixty years".

(Therefore the actually existing bourgeois social order is nothing positive, free competition is merely negative, consequently the true bourgeois order has yet to be found.)

The feudal organisation which was destroyed on August 4, 1789[342], has not been replaced by a new "national economy and equilibrium of interests". "Since birth no longer determined the position the citizen occupied, for labour alone was all" (?!) "for even property depended on it ... it was evident that the problem of the revolution consisted ... in establishing everywhere ... an egalitarian or industrial regime" (p. 39).

(As if that did not exist as far as was possible!)

But that was not understood and people resorted merely to politics. The revolutionaries were led astray by "their lack of the rudiments of economics, their idea of government,[e] and their distrust of the proletariat" (p. 40). "In the minds of all, politics again took precedence over industry, Rousseau and Montesquieu reigned to the exclusion of Quesnay and Adam Smith." (!!!) Hence the new society remains always in an embryonic condition (p. 41).

2. "The Anarchy of Economic Forces.
The Tendency of Society Towards Poverty"

"I term economic forces certain principles of action such as division of labour, competition, collective force, exchange, credit, property, etc., which are to labour and wealth what class distinctions, the representative system, hereditary monarchy, centralised administration"

(a fine juxtaposition!)

"are to the state. If these forces are kept in equilibrium, subject to the laws appropriate to them, and which do not depend in any way on human arbitrariness, labour can be said to be well-organised and the well-being of all assured. If, on the other hand, they are left without guidance and without any counter-poise"

(against what??)[f],

"labour is in a state of complete anarchy; the useful effects of the economic forces are mixed with an equal amount of harmful effects, the deficiency outweighs the benefit, and society, insofar as it is the seat, agent, or subject of production, circulation and consumption, is in a state of increasing suffering" (pp. 42-43).

Up to now only two forms of social existence[g] are known, "the political form and the economic form, between which moreover there is an essential antipathy and contradiction".

"The anarchy of the economic forces, the struggle they wage against the system of government, which is the sole obstacle to their organisation,—such is the real, deep-seated cause of the malaise to which society in France is a prey."

(Thus Proudhon, like a true Frenchman, confuses the French bureaucratic government with the normal state of a bourgeoisie that rules both itself and the proletariat) (p. 43).

Examples: 1) "Division of labour".—The basic principle of modern industry and at the same time the chief cause of the workers' stupefaction and decreasing wages. In England, for instance, owing to division of labour and the use of machines, the workers in one workshop have been reduced to one-half, one-third or even one-sixth of the previous number, and "their wages have been seen to fall in the same proportion, from an average of three francs down to 50 or 30 centimes"(!!) (p. 46).

Apart from this remarkable information (p. 46), it is all very superficial and commonplace.

2) Competition.—"This is the very law of the market, the spice of commerce, the salt of labour."


"Competition, however, lacking legal forms (!) and superior and regulative standards, is in its turn perverted." The workers are excluded from competition, except for competition among themselves to depress wages. It has become a monopoly and has created a new aristocracy.

Very superficial.

"Recently, when the Prefect of Police"

(a compliment paid to Carlier),

"in response to the general wish, authorised the sale of meat by auction[344], one saw what free competition can do for the well-being of the people and how illusory this guarantee[i] is still among us" (p. 48).

O crapaud![j] The bourgeois measures of Carlier are socialist! Free trade[k], because it does not exist in France, is socialistic!

Next, credit. A monopoly of the Bank of France. According to Proudhon, this monopoly is to blame for the fact that "property has become progressively mortgaged to an amount of 12 milliard [francs], and the state to an amount of 6 milliard francs", that interest and other expenses in this connection amount to 1,200 million francs per annum

(still only 62/3 per cent),

and that in addition 700-800 million francs have to be paid annually in discount, "advances of money, payment of arrears, shares of joint-stock companies, dividends, obligations under private deed, judicial expenses, etc.", and that as a result house rents and land rents have become unbearably high, and that of 10 milliards of annual production, 6 milliards are swallowed up through parasitism[345] (pp. 51-52).

Further examples or quotations are intended to prove that the situation of the people is continually worsening, and their income continually decreasing, in arithmetic progression, a counterpart to that of Malthus, such as

65 centimes, 60, 55 ... 15, 10, 5, 0, -5, -10, -15 (p. 52),

so that a time comes when the worker, instead of being paid so and so many centimes for his work per day, must pay 5, 10, 15 centimes into the bargain! And what about the law of wages, and competition!!

Examples follow to prove that the situation of the people since the revolution has continually worsened.

Decrease in the consumption of wine, meat, etc. Reduction in "the height required for military service", and an increase in the number unfit for service—1830 to 1839 451/2 per cent; 1839 to 1848 501/2 per cent. Incompatibility of universal education with the present social state of affairs. Increase of crime:

YearCriminal casesAccused persons

and in the police courts:

YearCriminal casesAccused persons

3. "Government Irregularities, Tendency to Tyranny and Corruption"

Prior to 1848, philanthropic concern for the workers, even on the part of the government. Since 1848 progress; people realise that only a revolution can achieve decisive results here and therefore leave matters alone.

Interest on the national debt amounted to 63 million in 1814, now it amounts to 271 million. In 1802 the budget was 589 million, in 1848 it was 1,692 million, an increase which cannot be explained by the stupidity and wickedness of the governments. Between 1830 and 1848 the total salaries of officials rose by 65 million. Ditto.

(In France there are 568,365 officials; taking this as the basis Proudhon calculates that every ninth man lives at the expense of the budget, that is to say that there are only 5,115,285 men in France, whereas over 6½ million voted in 1848!) (p. 62).

This increase in the number of officials and in the size of the military budget is proof of the growing need to enhance the repressive power, and hence of the growing danger to the -state from the proletariat[l]. This tendency of the state to maintain big landownership and capital leads directly to corruption, which is the direct consequence of all centralisation.


"there is sufficient reason for revolution in the nineteenth century".

This second essay contains among other things also the following gems:

1. "The system of taxation at present in force ... is conceived in such a way that the producer pays everything, the capitalist nothing. In fact, even when the latter is entered for a particular sum in the book of the tax collector, or when he pays the dues laid down by the Exchequer on articles of consumption, it is clear that his income, being derived exclusively from the prelibation of his capital and not from the exchange of his products, this income remains free from tax, since only he who produces pays" (p. 65).

This last "since" says the same as the first proposition which has to be proved, and this proposition is thus of course proved. C'est là la logique tranchante de M. Proudhon[m]. This is expounded further:

"There is therefore a pact between capital and the authorities for ensuring that taxes are paid exclusively by the worker, and the secret of this pact consists simply, as I have said, in imposing taxes on products instead of on capital. By means of this dissimulation, the capitalist property-owner appears to be paying for his lands, for his house, for his chattels, for the alterations he makes, for his travels, for his consumption, like all the other citizens. Moreover, he says that his income, which without the tax would be 3,000, 6,000, 10,000 or 20,000 francs, is, thanks to the tax, not more than 2,500, 4,500, 8,000 or 15,000 francs. And on top of that he protests more indignantly than his tenants against the size of the budget. Sheer equivocaton! The capitalist does not pay anything, the government shares with him, that is all."

(It shares also with the producer when it takes part of his products from him, and the capitalist likewise, dicitur potest[n], shares with the producer.)

"They make common cause."

(O Stirner!)

"What worker then would not regard himself as lucky to be written down in the public ledger for 2,000 francs of rent on the sole condition of parting with one quarter of it as amortisation?"!!! (pp. 65-66).

2) The register is drawn up "as if the purpose of the legislator[o] was to re-establish the inalienability of real estate—as if he continually wanted to remind the bondsman freed during the night of August 4 that his position was. that of a serf, that it was not his lot to own the soil, that every cultivator was of right, except through a concession from the sovereign, a tenant by emphyteusis and in mort-main!" (p. 66).

O Stirner! As if the registration did not affect big real estate just as much as small, according to which Louis Philippe himself was a bondsman.

3) The theory of free trade and explanation of protective duties.

The duties yield 160 million to the state. Suppose the customs were abolished and foreign competition were strong in the French market; "suppose then the state makes the following proposal to the French industrialists: which do you prefer for safeguarding your interests: to pay me 160 million or to receive them? Do you think the industrialists would choose the first alternative? It is precisely this that the government imposes on them. To the ordinary expenses we have to pay on products from abroad and on those we send there, the state adds 160 million which serve it as a sort of premium; that is the meaning of customs" (pp. 68-69).

If considering the lunatic French tariff, such nonsense can be excused, it is still a bit steep that M. Proudhon measures protective tariffs in general by the French scale and makes out that they are a tax on manufacturers.

4) pp. 73, 74. Proudhon quotes a speech by Royer-Collard in the Chamber of Deputies; the debate of January 19-24, 1822[346], in which this lawyer expresses his regret at the disappearance of the independent Benches (parliaments)[347] and other "democratic institutions", "powerful assemblages of private rights, true republics in the monarchy" ; they had set limits to sovereignty everywhere, whereas at present although the government is divided up it is unrestricted in its action.

This reactionary review of the old lawyer, who cannot conceal his hatred of the administrative system, M. Proudhon mistakenly regards as social-revolutionary;

"what Royer-Collard said about the monarchy of 1814 is true, what he says of the Republic of 1848 is still more so."

What leads M. Proudhon astray is the confused statement by Royer-Collard:

"The Charter[348], therefore, at one and the same time has to provide the constitutional basis for government and society; no doubt society has not been forgotten or neglected, but postponed."

What Royer-Collard understands by society is evident from the fact that he says:

"It is only in establishing freedom of the press as a public right that the Charter has restored society to itself" (p. 75).

Hence "society"=the governed considered in their capability of resistance to the government.

Third Essay

First of all, before we come to the solution, "it is advisable to estimate the value of the theories offered for public consumption, the compulsory baggage of all revolutions" (p. 79). But when we criticise their principle then we have disposed of all of them, the St. Simonists, Fourier, Owen, Cabet, Louis Blanc, etc. This principle of all systems is association.

Association is not an "equilibrium of economic forces", it is not even a "force", it is a "dogma" (p. 84). The further elaboration of the principle of association always leads to a system and the socialism based on it necessarily becomes a religion (p. 84).

Association is not an "economic force". Commerce is one, for "independently of the service performed by the material fact of transport it is by itself a direct stimulus to consumption, and consequently a cause of production, a principle of the creation of values (!) the metaphysical act of exchange, and just as much as labour, but in a different manner from labour, it produces real objects and wealth.... Moreover, the merchant enriched by speculative transactions divested of all stockjobbery (!!), deservedly enjoys the fortune he has acquired; this fortune is as legitimate as that produced by labour"

(the bourgeois forgets here that without capital one can certainly work for another capitalist, but cannot carry on commerce without capital, otherwise this apologia for the merchant is very significant). Further...

"exchange, this purely moral operation ... is also creation" (p. 85). The "collective force",

which Proudhon flatters himself to have discovered in Qu'est-ce que la propriété,

is also an "economic force". Likewise competition, likewise division of labour, property, etc., etc.

What Proudhon calls "economic forces" are simply the modes of production and intercourse of the bourgeoisie, insofar as they serve his purpose, insofar as in his eyes they have either only a good side or, along with the bad side, have at least a very marked good side as well. Even general forms of intercourse and production, which when once discovered are everywhere applied in all succeeding generations, with appropriate modification, are as much at the disposal of society as the use of water power, knowledge of the spherical shape of the earth and the division of the latter into degrees of latitude and longitude, etc., etc., even these general forms Proudhon knows only in their bourgeois form. Exchange, for example, as we have just seen, is from the outset merged in commerce. If the collective force appears at least to be something eternal, it is on the other hand nothing but an attempt to convert the existence of society itself into an economic force. Without society, just as without a collective force, there is no relation between men, no intercourse. Exchange, division of labour, competition, credit are manifestations of the collective force. It takes at least two to produce a relationship, and where two collaborate to do something which cannot be done by one, there exists a collective force. However, it is ridiculous first of all to describe all the forms in which members of society carry on intercourse and produce as forces, and then finally trying to foist on us the existence of society, social production and social intercourse as a distinct economic force. Moreover, the primitive, crude form of collective force which Proudhon has in mind (mass labour in the construction of obelisks, pyramids, etc., etc.) has long ago been almost entirely replaced by the use of machines and horses, division of labour, etc., and converted into quite different forms.

If, however, commerce, competition, division of labour, etc., are economic forces, there is no reason why, for instance, the factory system, banking, paper money, the parcellation of landed property, big landownership, wage labour, capital, and rent, should not also be economic forces. On each of these it is easy to declaim a dithyrambic panegyric as Proudhon does for the former set of forces. But there's the rub.

It is strange that Proudhon, p. 88, calls these relationships essentially non-material forces, and makes this non-materiality the basis for hymns to the effect, for example, that

the economists by their theory of industrial forces "have, without suspecting it, demonstrated the fundamental dogma of Christian theology, creation de nihilo",

(ex ??[p]) (p. 87), and earlier [he speaks] of

the "purely moral" act of "commerce, which is also a creation" (p. 86).

Next comes the following magnificent piece of sophistry on association:

"Association is by its nature sterile, even harmful, since it impedes the freedom of the worker. The writers responsible for utopian fraternities ... have, without motives and without proofs, ascribed to the social contract [contrat de société] a virtue and an efficacy which belongs only to the collective force, to division of labour, or to exchange.... When an industrial or commercial society has as its aim either to put into operation one of the great economic forces, or to exploit a group of resources the nature of which demands that it remains undivided, one clientele, one monopoly, the society formed for this purpose can have a successful result; but this result is not created by virtue of its principle, but is due to its means. This is so true that whenever the same result can be achieved without association, people"

(i.e. the capitalists)

"prefer not to associate" (pp. 88-89). People associate only when they must.

Association—solidarity, "joint responsibility, fusion of rights and duties in relation to third parties".—"Equality of wages, the supreme law of association. "—"One can say" therefore "that association is useful to the associate who is weak or lazy, and only to him."—"Solidarity of the unskilful and the unfit" (pp. 89, 90). Every prospering association "owes its prosperity to an objective cause which is foreign to it and is in no way bound up with its essence". Association is suitable only "in special conditions" (p. 91).

Furthermore, in all workers' associations at present piece-work[] has been substituted for equality of wages—there is the least possible solidarity, the greatest possible independence when forces and capitals are combined,

that is to say, the least possible association, the greatest possible means.

"Association established specially with a view to the family tie and the law of dedication, and apart from any external economic consideration and any preponderant interest, association for its own sake, in short, is purely an act of religion, a supernatural bond, devoid of positive value, a myth."

As far as the Paris workers' associations are concerned, Proudhon gives the following cold-blooded classification:

"A fairly large number exist and can be expected to develop further; one knows why. Some of them are formed by the most skilled workers in their occupation; it is the monopoly of talent which helps them to succeed... Others attract and keep their customers by cheapness; they live by competition.... In general, finally, in all these associations the workers ... have to work a little more and to content them-selves with a smaller reward. There is nothing in that but what is quite usual in political economy and to obtain which ... there was no need of association" (pp. 96-97).

The associations of slaughtermen are not associations, "they are set up at joint expense by citizens of all estates to compete with the monopoly of the butchers. It is the application, such as it is, of a new principle, not to say"

(why not?)

"of a new economic force, reciprocity, which consists in the partners guaranteeing one another, irrevocably, their products at the cost of production.[349]

(Of course, M. Proudhon is the first inventor of "reciprocity", cf. Organisation du crédit et de la circulation, Garnier frères, 1848, and the Banque du peuple) (pp. 97, 98).[350]

Next come advertisements, M. Proudhon's witty remarks about Louis Blanc. De chacun selon sa capacité, chacun selon ses besoins[r], and then:

of 36 million Frenchmen, 24 million are peasants. "These you will never organise in associations. Agricultural work has no need of joint choreography, and the soul of the peasant rejects it."

Compare the rage of the peasants against the June insurgents, whom they believed to be communists. Moreover

of the remaining 12 million, at least half are "manufacturers, craftsmen, employees, for whom association is purposeless"; there remain 6 million who could perhaps be induced to join the associations, but the majority of whom would very soon break this yoke.

The existing workers' associations are not to be judged by their present results, but by their "secret tendency, which is to affirm the possibility of the social republic. Whether the workers know it or not, the importance of their work does not lie at all in the petty interests of the society ... later on ... the associations of workers, abandoning the production of fancy goods and toys, will have to turn to the major branches of industry which are their natural sphere" (p. 107).

Finally, he invites Louis Blanc,

the "cicada of the revolution"[s], to "contribute his abstention and his silence as his obol to the cause of the proletariat, which on one day of mistakes fell into his feeble hands" (p. 108).

The point is: association as such, in abstracto, is of course just as much dependent on circumstances as any other social relationship. Where the prerequisites are absent, no economic force is of any avail. Competition presupposes the means for it just as much as association. Division of labour can be applied inopportunely just as much as association. One can carry out exchange badly, just as one can form associations badly. Viewed abstractly, every economic force is just as much a dogma as is association, it all depends on the existing conditions. And it is precisely in the investigation of existing conditions that Proudhon has contributed nothing at all; he has treated Parisian small-scale industry as the normal state of affairs, instead of seeing in the development of large-scale industry, machinery and division of labour, as it occurs in England, and the growing centralisation of capital bound up with it, a need for association which requires for its satisfaction a quite different type of amalgamation and centralisation of forces than the Parisian toy associations and the Proudhonist workers' companies.[351]

Fourth Essay

First of all a dithyramb on "anarchy", discovered by M. Proudhon.

1. "The Traditional Negation of Government.
Emergence of the Idea Which Succeeds It" (p. 116)

All government has arisen from the patriarchal family. "The final stage of governmental evolution is democracy" (p. 119); the final stage of democracy is the direct government of Considérant, Rittinghausen, etc., etc. And this would logically lead directly to imperial tyranny, as in Greece and Rome (p. 121).

The "negation of government" dates from the Reformation. The principle of authority in the religious sphere supplanted by liberty of thought. Later carried over into the secular sphere as well, especially by Jurieu, who invented (?) the term social contract. The idea of contract, of "the reign of contract", applied in practice to social life, trade, etc., and not merely to politics, would have led beyond the whole government regime. But Rousseau, "who did not understand anything about the social contract", ruined everything.

The social contract must be freely discussed and accepted by every participant, otherwise it is invalid

...and other moral comments of a Stirner-like character (pp. 125-27).

But Rousseau's social contract 1) does not contain even the matters which should be the subject of contract; 2) it contains neither rights nor obligations, but merely punishments (p. 128).

Detailed proof that Rousseau, proceeding from the "broadest democratic basis"[t], abandons one aspect of it after another as being impracticable, and that having recognised the impossibility of maintaining equality and democratic government he "deduces the necessity of the proletariat, the subordinate position of the worker, dictatorship and the Inquisition", and simply puts forward "the code of capitalist and commercial tyranny" (pp. 131-33).

A furious attack on Rousseau in the highest style of Proudhonic declamation, but nevertheless sufficiently serious for people like L. Blanc and Co.

Saint-Simon was the first to envisage the end of the governmental system, the coming of the industrial system. He deduced the negation of the state "from historical observation and the education of mankind".

Proudhon deduces it

"from an analysis of economic functions, and from the theory of credit and exchange". The eighteenth century finally completed the reformation and replaced the idea of government by the idea of contract (of "liberty of thought" in the sphere of practice) (pp. 136-40).

2. "General Critique of the Idea of Authority" (p. 141)

1) "Absolute authority"


"Absolutism in its naive expression is repugnant to reason and liberty" (!),

and similar profound matters (pp. 142-46).

2) "Laws"

Infinity of cases, hence laws pass into bad infinity (pp. 147-50).

3) "Constitutional monarchy"

"A hybrid government." It is the number, the majority, that is decisive.

Verbose exposition of all the old abuse of the historical school[352] against majority, against counting heads, etc. (pp. 150-56).

4) "Universal suffrage"

General platitudes about the moral justification of the February revolution.

What universal suffrage can do is shown by the two National Assemblies and the election of Louis Bonaparte.

Universal suffrage is definitely discredited (pp. 156-62).

5) "Direct legislation""

It is at any rate consistently democratic and Robespierre and L. Blanc very wrongly (from their standpoint) oppose it.

Solemn discussion of direct government.

It is a question of ascertaining "the wish of all", as of a "collective being". But this is not possible. Hence a system of questions is necessary, questions which the representatives ask and to which the people have to answer yes or no. But that is nonsense, for no question can be formulated in such a way that all truth, fairness and justice are on one side and all unreason and injustice on the other.

There follows a mass of examples, mostly taken from Herr Rittinghausen himself. Among them is the following example of the industrial, regime à la Proudhon:

Rittinghausen asks the people: "Should there be a railway from Lyons to Avignon?" and the people say yes. "This yes, however, can contain a serious mistake, in any case it is an infraction of the rights of the localities."

"There exists a navigable waterway from Châlon to Avignon which offers transport 70 per cent below all the railway rates (!). It can lower its charges (I know something about it) to 90 per cent (! D. Instead of constructing a railway which will cost 200 million and which will ruin the trade of four departments, why not utilise"

(what does this mean? is it not already utilised?)

"this waterway which would cost almost nothing? But that is not how matters are understood in the Palais législatif, where there is no freight commissioner, and since the French people, apart from those living along the Rhône and the Saône, do not know any more than their Ministers what takes place on the two rivers, they will pronounce, as can easily be foreseen, not according to their own thought, but according to the desire of their appointees. Eighty-two departments will decree the ruin (!!!) of four others; that is how direct legislation wants it to be" (p. 169).

Thus under the industrial system railways would never have been built if tug-boat navigation existed on the Rhine. This is already promising enough.

Then on p. 173 against Ledru and the Constitution of 1793[354], and the system that the people should merely vote the laws, the general principles, but the deputies should make the decrees, i.e. the "executive part". Proof that then, with the help of the decrees, it is possible to reverse in detail that which the people have decided in general, in principle (pp. 174-76).

The final form: where the people themselves perform all governmental duties. But

then they are unable to work, and they do not have slaves. Hence the "governmental idea" results in an absurdity.

As a practical example he considers the Constitution of 1793 and Robespierre. He says that Robespierre was a "juste milieu" man of 1791 and that he hated "direct government." By greater concentration of governmental power he wanted to abolish the Constitution of 1793. This was also the desire of the majority of the Convention, but this majority did not trust him, appropriated the same idea, removed him and subsequently carried out the idea. What the men of Thermidor did was what he wanted.

Proudhon writes that Robespierre was reactionary throughout the revolution and always preached tranquillity. Conclusion: a rhetorical characterisation of Robespierre.

Fifth Essay

Recapitulation: the solution is said to lie in reciprocity and in the idea of contract, which is the juridical expression of reciprocity. According to this, three things have to be done: "1) to put a definite stop to the disorganising tendency bequeathed to us by the old revolution[v] and to proceed with the help of the new principle to the liquidation of the vested interests; 2) to organise with the help of the new principle the economic forces and give property its constitution; 3) to make the political or governmental system dissolve, merge and disappear in the economic system" (p. 196).

Assuming that the elections of 1852 turn out to be revolutionary, the following would have to be done:

1. "National Bank"

The citizens can agree on and if necessary contribute to any establishment which proves to be to the advantage of the participants—hence also to a discount bank, and in fact this can be founded without "either association or fraternity being necessary for it ... there need be nothing but a reciprocal promise of sale or exchange, in short, a simple contract" (p. 198).

The existing bank[355] endeavours to become a "public establishment" 1) because it makes use of capital that does not belong to it, 2) because it has the privilege of issuing paper money, and any privilege is a "public property", 3) because enjoyment of the interest on foreign capital and artificial increase of the price of the circulating medium are illegitimate, "hence the bank, owing to the illegitimacy of its profits, is condemned to become a public establishment" (p. 199). Hence the decree: "The bank is declared to be not the property of the state but an establishment of public utility, and the liquidation of the company is ordered." As an "establishment of public utility having as capitalists its own clients" (!) it does not pay interest to anyone, since the public benefit requires that money shall be as cheap as possible. Once the interest accruing to the bank belongs to the public it can be so much reduced that it covers only the costs of administration, i.e. to 1/4 or 1/2 per cent (pp. 200-01). This is very different from the socialist State Bank, and from the "credit of the state", which is nothing but "the democratic and social consecration of the principle of plunder, the exploitation of the worker in the name of, on the model of and under the patronage of, the Republic" (pp. 201, 202). This, then, is what the National Assembly should decree.

2. "The National Debt"

Six milliards, interest 270 million, and 74 million annually for redemption, hence 344 million annually, and 56 million for pensions and retirement payments.

With the bank revolutionised and the rate of interest reduced, the national debt can likewise be put on a lower rate of interest. Then it is paid off in annual instalments[356], that is to say, from the 5 per cent paid 1/4 per cent is reckoned as interest and 4¾ per cent as repayment of capital (pp. 204-05).

3. "Mortgage Debts, Simple Bonds"

Interest amounts to 1,200 million annually,

hence capital of about 24 milliards.

Decree: "Interest on all debts, mortgages, simple contract debts, joint-stock shares, is fixed at the same rate"

(as above, 1/2 per (cent[w]);

"repayment claims can be met only by annual instalments; the annual instalment for all sums below 2,000 fr. will be 10 per cent, for sums above 2,000 fr. 5 per cent. A section of the offices of the National Discount Bank will become a mortgage bank, the maximum of its advances will be 500 million per annum" (p. 213).

4. "Buildings"

If the rate of interest=0, house rent is also reduced to nil

(therefore profit and ground rent depend on the rate of interest) (p. 218).

Decree: "Every payment made in respect of rent shall be entered to the account of the property, reckoned as twenty times the rent"

(and what about repairs?).

"With every instalment of rent the tenant will acquire a proportional and joint share in the house he occupies and in the totality of all buildings let for rent and serving as dwellings for the citizens. Property thus paid for will pass by degrees into the hands of the communal administration (!), which by the fact of the payment"

(which it does not make at all!)

"takes over the mortgages and prerogatives in the name"

(and without the permission?)

"of the mass of tenants, and will guarantee"


"their domicile to all of them in perpetuity at the cost price of the building.—The communes[357] will be able to negotiate separate agreements with the owners for the immediate liquidation and repayment of the leased properties. In this case, and in order that the present generation shall enjoy reduced rents, the said communes will be able immediately to reduce the rent of houses for which they have concluded agreements, in such a way that amortisation be completed only in thirty years.— For repairs, fittings and upkeep of the buildings, as in the case of new constructions, the communes will negotiate with the companies of masons or associations of building workers according to the principles and rules of the new social contract. The owners, sole occupiers of their own houses, will retain the property as long as they judge this advantageous to their interests" (pp. 221-22).

5. "Landed Property"

It will be revolutionised through the "mortgage bank". "The special character of the mortgage bank, in addition to the low price and facility of its credit, lies in repayment by annual instalments" (p. 223). For example, it has funds of 2 milliards and lends annually 400 million fr. with a 5 per cent annual repayment. In this way the peasants pay off their mortgage creditors and twenty years after taking up the loan they are free from debt. "At the end of five years the capital of 2 milliards would be exhausted; but because of the annual instalments it receives and the deductions it makes from credits (?!!) the bank will find that it has in hand a sum of approximately 400 million, which it will lend out afresh. The transactions therefore will continue in this way till at the end of twenty years the landed property will have repaid 4 x 2 milliards, i.e. 8 milliards of mortgages, and in 30 years it will be rid of usurers" (p. 224).

A fine calculation! 1) It is not possible to imagine that "the deductions made from credits" can be anything but acts of defraudation. 2) No annual instalment is recovered by the back in the first year; at the end of the first year it gets 5 per cent of 400 million = 20 million; at the end of the second year it gets 5 per cent of 800 million=40 million; at the end of the third year 60 million; of the fourth year 80 million; of the fifth year 100 million; it has therefore recovered 300 million, and not approximately 400 million. But supposing it could lend out 400 million in the sixth year, then at the end of this year it would receive only 120 million and therefore be unable to give out 400 million. Supposing the bank had been provided with a capital of 4 milliards instead of 2 milliards and could therefore lend 400 million per annum for ten years before having to resort to the money paid back, even then it would be broke in the 13th year and in this year could lend only 360 million instead of 400 million. With 4,400 million, that is with an original capital enabling it to pay out during 11 years, it would have reached bottom in the 17th year and could only expend 320 million. Finally, with 4,800 million it could give loans for 12 years from the original fund and afterwards from the repayments and at the end of the 20th year have 600 million over in addition to the periodically recurring repayments of 400 million annually, which fall due at that time.


Up to the twelfth year payments are made from the capital.

n-th year

per year
1st-12th4,800   1,320
13th400240+ (1320-400) 920 = 1,160
14th400260+ 760 = 1,020
15th400280+ 620 = 900
16th400300+ 500 = 800
17th400320+ 400 = 720
18th400340+ 320 = 660
19th400360+ 260 = 620
20th400380+ 220 = 600
21st400400+ 200 = 600
22nd400400+ 200 = 600

never increasing.

That is how M. Proudhon lays the foundation for his National Mortgage Bank.

But the thing can be done even more speedily. One issues a decree stating:

"Every payment of rent for the use of a piece of real estate will make the farmer part-proprietor of it and will count as a mortgage payment by him. When the property has been entirely paid for it will be immediately taken over by the commune, which will take the place of the former owner"

(why does the new owner not immediately enter into his rights?)

"and will share with the farmer the ownership and the net product. The communes will be able to negotiate separate agreements with the owners who desire it for the redemption of the rents and the immediate repayment of the properties. In that case at the request of the communes steps shall be taken to instal (!?) the cultivators, and to delimit their properties, taking care that as far as possible the size of the area shall make up (!?) for the quality of the land, and that the rent"

(where did the annual instalments get to?)

"shall be proportional to the product. As soon as the property has been entirely paid for, all the communes of the Republic will have to reach agreement among themselves to equalise (!?) the differences in the quality of the strips of land, and also the contingencies of farming. The part of the rent due to them from the plots in their particular area will be used for this compensation and general insurance. Dating from the same period the old owners who worked themselves on their properties, will retain their title, and will be treated in the same way as the new owners, will have to pay the same rent and will be granted the same rights"

(what rights?)

"in such a way that no one is favoured by the chance of location and inheritance and that the conditions of cultivation are equal for all. (!!!!) The land tax will be abolished"

(after a new one has been put in its place!).

"The functions of the rural police will devolve on the municipal councils" (p. 228).

Colossal nonsense.

Next he explains that

"the right to the increase in value", i.e. the right of the farmer to the improvements he makes to the soil, cannot be implemented, any more than "the right to work", however popular both of these are.

A very legal and moral point of view.

Sixth Essay

Everything is done by way of contract. I make a contract about something with my neighbour—the contract expresses My will. I can equally well make a contract with all the inhabitants of my commune, and my commune with any other, with all the other communes of the country. "I could be sure that the law thus made throughout the Republic, derived from millions of different initiatives, would never be anything other than My law" (p. 236).

O Stirner!! Hence the regime of contract is something like the following:

1. "Credit"

This is already settled by the bank through the lowering of the rate of interest to 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 per cent, and will be completed by the withdrawal of all gold and silver from circulation.

"As for personal credit"

(i.e. not based on security),

"it is not a matter that concerns the National Bank; it should be operated in the workers' companies and the industrial and agricultural societies" (pp. 237-38).

2. "Property"[x]

This is conceived by all socialists[358] either as property of the commune organised through association, where the peasant is an agricultural worker in an association, or as state property which is leased to peasants. The first form is "communistic", "utopian", "still-born"; if it should be seriously attempted "the peasant would be faced with the question of insurrection" (pp. 238-39). The second form, too, is inapplicable, "governmental", "feudal", "fiscal", etc. The reasons advanced in favour of it fall to the ground, for "the net product"

(i.e. the rent),

being the result of the unequal quality of the soil, belongs not to the state but to "the farmer who receives little; it is for this reason that in our plan for liquidation we have stipulated that the rent should be proportionate to the type of land so as to form a fund in order to equalise the income of the farmers and to insure the products" (p. 240).

That means everything remains as it was before, the farmer pays the rent during the first 20-30 years to the old property-owner and then to the general assurance fund, which divides it among the owners of inferior land. Thus good and bad land will have exactly the same value, or rather the same lack of value, for it is inconceivable how land then can still have any capital value. In what way this differs from payment of rent to the state especially as the communes will be at liberty to interfere in everything—is also inconceivable. And that is what Proudhon calls

"property separated from rent, liberated from its fetters and cured of its leprosy"

and believes that it has now become a pure medium of circulation (p. 242).

With the confiscation of landed property by the state, the value of the entire landed property in the country, worth 80 milliards, would be withdrawn from circulation and, as belonging to all, that is to say to no one would have to be struck from the inventory. "In any case, the collective wealth of the nation will undoubtedly neither lose nor gain; what does it matter to society whether the 80 milliards of real estate, which constitute individual fortunes, figure or do not figure in the total? But is it the same thing for the farmer in whose hands the mobilised soil once again becomes a value in circulation, money?" (p. 245).

With the system of tenure under the state, the peasant would very soon assert his right of ownership of the soil, which would be easy for him "since the peasants would always have the upper hand in France" (p. 246).

Quite correct, of course, if the lousy small-holding system, the only one that Proudhon knows, were to be retained. But then, too, in spite of Proudhon, mortgages and usury would just as quickly reappear.

"Given the facility of repayment by annual instalments, the value of a piece of real estate can be indefinitely divided, exchanged, and undergo any conceivable change, without the real estate being in the least affected. The rest is a matter of the police, and we do not have to concern ourselves with it" (pp. 246-47).

3. "Division of Labour, Collective Forces, Machinery.
Companies of Workers"

"Agricultural labour is a kind of labour which least of all requires, or, better expressed, which rejects with the utmost vigour, the co-operative form; one has never seen peasants forming association for cultivating their fields; and one never will see it. The only relations of concord and solidarity which could exist, between farmers, the only form of centralisation of which rural industry is capable ... is that which results from the equalisation of the net product, from mutual insurance and, above all, from the abolition of rent" (!!) (p. 247).

Last page of Engels' manuscript "Critical Review of the Proudon's Book

It is different with the railways, mines and manufactures. Here there is either wage labour under a capitalist, or association. "Every industry, mine or enterprise which by its nature requires the combined employment of a large number of workers with different skills is bound to become the basis for an association or company of workers" (p. 249).

As regards crafts, on the other hand, "unless for reasons of particular convenience, I cannot see that there is any reason for association". Moreover, the relation of master and worker is here quite different; "of the two men, one calls himself a boss, the other a worker, but basically they are perfectly equal, perfectly free" (!!). In these circumstances, "the only purpose" of assembling a number of workers in a single workshop "where all do more or less the same thing is to multiply the product, not to contribute to its essential character by means of their diverse abilities" (p. 251).

A wretched fellow, who knows only fancy goods and the petty Parisian handicraft industry without division of labour or machinery!

Contract between society and the companies of workers:

"Vis-à-vis society, which has created it and on which it depends, the workers' company undertakes to provide the products and services demanded from it at a price that is always as close as possible to the cost of production, and to enable the public to enjoy all the improvements and refinements that are desirable. To this end the workers' company does not enter any coalition, submits itself to competition[y], puts its books and archives at the disposal of society, which retains in regard to it, as a sanction of its right of control, the power to dissolve it"

(who exercises this power?).

As to the members of the company itself:

"Every person working in the association ... possesses a joint right in the property of the company; he has the right to perform successively all duties, to occupy all posts proper to the sex, ability, age and seniority. His education, training and apprentice-ship ought therefore to he conducted in such a way that, while he is made to take his share of disagreeable and arduous tasks, he will acquire experience in various sorts of work and fields of knowledge, so that when he reaches mature age he will have a wide range of qualifications and a sufficient income. Posts are subject to election and the rules are adopted by the members of the association. The size of the recompense depends on the nature of the work, the degree of the proficiency, and the amount of responsibility. Every member of the association shares both in the profits and in the expenses of the company in proportion to his services. Everyone is free to resign from the association whenever he wishes, and therefore to settle his accounts and renounce his rights; conversely the company is entitled to recruit new members at any time" (pp. 255-57).

"The application of these principles in an era of transition would cause the bourgeois class to take the initiative and merge with the proletariat, and this ... should please every true revolutionary"(p. 257). The proletariat is lacking in brains and the bourgeoisie will readily enter into association with it. "No bourgeois who is conversant with commerce and industry and their innumerable risks would not prefer a fixed salary and an honourable employment in a workers' company to all the anxiety connected with a private enterprise" (p. 258).

(Vous les connaissez bien, M. Proudhon[z].

4. "The Determination of Value,
the Establishment of a Cheap Market"

"The fair price",

the great desideratum,

consists of 1) the costs of production, 2) the salary of the merchant, or "the compensation for the advantages which the seller forgoes by parting with the article" (p. 262). In order to secure the fair price, one must ensure that the merchant will be able to sell his goods. The Provisional Government could have made commerce flourish at once if it had guaranteed 5 per cent interest to the first 10,000 industrialists to invest up to 100,000 francs each in their business

(where are these to be obtained from, even in the highest prosperity!).

One thousand million would have been invested in industry. "Ten thousand commercial and industrial establishments could not operate simultaneously without supporting one another; what one produces another consumes; work, that is the outlet."

(The landlubber only knows of home trade[za] and like the most shallow English Tory believes that he can make large-scale industry prosper by means of it!)

Thus the state would not have had to pay 50 million, it would not have had to pay 10 million, in order to meet this guarantee (pp. 266, 267).

Worse trash never was written not even by Proudhon himself.[zb]

Contracts therefore are made on the following basis:

"The state, on behalf of the interests which it temporarily represents, and the departments and communes on behalf of their respective inhabitants ... propose to guarantee that the entrepreneurs who offer the most advantageous conditions will receive either interest"

(after payment of interest has been abolished)

"on the capital and material invested in their enterprises, or a fixed salary, or in appropriate cases a sufficient quantity of orders. In return, the tendering parties will pledge themselves to meet all consumers' requests for the goods and services they have undertaken to supply. Apart from that, full scope is left for competition. They must state the component parts of their prices, the method of delivery, the duration of their commitments, and their means of fulfilment. The tenders submitted under seal within the periods prescribed will subsequently be opened and made public 8 days, 15 days[zc] before the contracts are allocated. At the expiry of each contract, new tenders will be invited" (pp. 268, 269).

5. "Foreign Trade, Balance of Exports and Imports"

Inasmuch as the purpose of customs duties is to protect home industry, the reduction of the rate of interest, the liquidation of the national debt and private debts, the lowering of rents and leases, the determination of value, etc., will greatly decrease the costs of production of all articles and therefore make it possible to lower customs duties (p. 272).

Proudhon is in favour of abolishing. customs duties as soon as the rate of interest is reduced to 1/2 per cent or 1/4 per cent.

"If tomorrow ... the Bank of France reduced its discount rate to 1/2 per cent, interest and commission included, immediately all manufacturers and merchants of Paris and the provinces who do not have credit at the Bank would endeavour in their negotiations to obtain bills, for it would cost only 1/2 per cent [to discount] these bills received at par instead of 6, 7, 8 or 9 per cent, which money costs at the bankers" (!!!!) "...Those abroad would also have recourse to this. French bills would cost only 1/2 per cent, whereas those of other states would cost 10 or 12 times as much" (!!), "preference would be given to the former— everybody would be interested in using this money in their payments" (!!!) (p. 274). In order to have more French banknotes, the foreign producers would lower the prices of their commodities and our imports would rise. Since, however, foreign countries can neither buy French annuities with the exported banknotes, or lend them to us again, nor take up mortgages on our land, this import cannot harm us; "on the contrary, it is not we who would have to moderate our purchases, it would be up to the foreign countries to be cautious about their sales" (!!) (pp. 274-75).

Owing to the influx of these miraculous French banknotes foreign countries would be compelled to repeat the same economic revolution which Proudhon has achieved for France.

Finally, an appeal to the Republican lawyers, Crémieux, Marie, Ledru, Michel, etc., to take up these ideas. They, the representatives of the idea of justice, are called upon to pave the way here (pp. 275, 276).

Seventh Essay

1. "Society without authority"


2. "Elimination of governmental functions. Cults"

Historical, religious philosophical fantasies. Result: this aspect of the voluntary system[zd] that prevails in America amounts to the abolition of the state (pp. 293-95).

3. "Justice"

No one has the right to judge another unless the latter makes him his judge and freely consents to the law that he has transgressed ...

and other such profound observations.

Under the "regime of contract", everyone has given his consent to the law, and "in accordance with the democratic principle, the judge must be elected by those who are justifiable"

(this is the case in America).

In cases of common law the parties should choose arbitrators whose judgment has executive force in all cases. Thus the state is eliminated also from the judicature (pp. 301-02).

4. "Administration, police"

Where all stand in contractual relations to all, no police is necessary, "and the citizens and communes"

(hence also the departments and therefore also the nations)

"no longer need the intervention of the state to manage their property, to construct their bridges, etc., and to carry out all acts of inspection, preservation, and policing" (p. 311)

In other words, administration is not abolished but merely decentralised.

5. "Public education, public works, agriculture, commerce, and finance"

All these Ministries will be abolished. Fathers of families elect the teachers. The teachers elect the higher educational authorities right up to the supreme "Academic Council" (p. 317). Higher, theoretical education will be linked with vocational education; so long as it is divorced from apprenticeship it is aristocratic by nature, and serves to strengthen the ruling class and the power it wields over the oppressed (pp. 318-19).

On the whole, this, too, is very narrowly conceived and bound up with the division of labour, exactly as is apprenticeship in the workers' companies.

Incidentally, "I do not see any harm in the existence of a central research department, and a department of manufactures and arts in-the Republic".

Merely, the Ministries and the French system of centralisation have to be done away with (p. 319).

There must not be any Ministry of Public Works because it would preclude the initiative of the communes and departments, and of the workers' companies.

Therefore here, too, we have the Anglo-American system with social embellishments (pp. 320-21).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Trade is sheer parasitism and corruption. The proof: its budget (pp. 322-24).

The Ministry of Finance comes to an end of itself when there are no longer any finances that have to be administered (p. 324).

6. "Foreign affairs, war, the navy"

Foreign affairs will cease to exist in view of the inevitable universal character of the revolution. The nations will become decentralised, and their various sections will carry on intercourse with their neighbours as if they belonged to the same nation. Diplomacy and war will be at an end. If Russia wants to interfere, Russia will be revolutionised. If England is not willing to give in, then England will be revolutionised and there is an end of the difficulty. The revolutionised nations have the same interests because political economy, like geometry, is the same in all countries. "There is no Russian, English, Austrian, Tartar or Hindu economics, any more than there is a Hungarian, German or American physics or geometry" (p. 328).


Pure rhetoric. In between is the following point-blank shot which, rather amusingly, overthrows the whole edifice of anarchy.

In the economic regime, "reason aided by experience reveals to man the laws of nature and society, and then it tells him: These laws are those of necessity itself, no man has made them, no one imposes them on you.... Do you promise to respect the honour, the liberty and the well-being of your brothers? Do you promise never to appropriate the products or property of another, whether by violence or fraud, usury or stock-jobbing? Do you promise never to lie or deceive, whether in matters of law or commerce, or in any of your transactions? You are free to accept or refuse. If you refuse, you belong to the society of savages; expelled from the community of the human race, you become a suspect; you have no protection. At the least insult, anyone can strike you without incurring any other charge than that of ill-treatment needlessly inflicted on a beast. If, on the other hand, you swear adherence to the pact, you belong to the society of free men. All your brothers pledge themselves with you, promise you loyalty, friendship, assistance, service, exchange. In case of infringement, on their part or yours, by negligence, passion or malice, you are responsible to one another for the harm done, as also for the disgrace and insecurity of which you will have been the cause; this responsibility, taking into account the seriousness of perjury or repetition of the offence, can go as far as to incur excommunication or death" (pp. 342-43).

There follows the wording of the oath of the new alliance, sworn

"On one's conscience, before one's brothers, and before humanity".

Finally, reflections on the present state of affairs.

The peasant has no politics, the worker ditto, but both are revolutionary. Like them, the bourgeois minds his interests, and hardly worries about the form of government. He naively calls that "being conservative and not at all revolutionary". "The merchant, the industrialist, the manufacturer, the landowner ... these people want to live and to live well; they are revolutionary to their heart's core, only they seek the revolution under a false banner." Moreover, they have been frightened by the - necessity that at the beginning the revolution had to take up a position corresponding to "the special point of view of the proletariat"; "today the question has been too clearly elucidated for such a split"

(between bourgeoisie and proletariat)

"to continue any longer" (p. 347). With credit and interest at 1/4 per cent, the bourgeoisie will become revolutionary, this does not frighten them.

Final rhetoric addressed to Cavaignac and Ledru-Rollin:

When they say that "the republic stands above universal suffrage", that means: "the revolution stands above the republic"[359]

Written in August and October 1851
First published in Russian in Marx-Engels Archives, Vol. X, 1948
Printed according to the manuscript
Translated from the German and the French
Published in English for the first time


[a] The French Revolution.—Ed.

[b] The day Louis XVI was executed after the Convention had sentenced him to death.—Ed.

[c] Engels uses the English word.—Ed.

[d] 1848.—Ed.

[e] Engels has "l'idée gouvernementale", Proudhon "le préjugé gouvernemental"[343][343] (p. 40).—Ed.

[f] A pun in the original: Proudhon has "contrepoids" (counterpoise), Engels has "contre quoi" (against what).—Ed.

[g] Proudhon has "l'ordre dans une société" (p. 43).—Ed.

[h] Engels uses the English word.—Ed.

[i] Proudhon has said earlier: "la concurrence [doit] servir à garantir la sincérité du commerce" ("competition [must] serve as a guarantee of honesty in commerce").—Ed.

[j] Toad, contemptible person.—Ed.

[k] Here and below Engels uses the English term.—Ed.

[l] Proudhon has: "des classes laborieuses" (p. 63).—Ed.

[m] Such is the trenchant logic of M. Proudhon.—Ed.

[n] One can say.—Ed.

[o] Proudhon has: "the legislator of 1789" (p. 66).—Ed.

[p] Proudhon mistakenly has: "de nihilo"—"without ground", "without reason" p. 87). Engels queries this and suggests "ex [nihilo]"—"out of nothing".—Ed.

[q] Engels uses the English term.—Ed.

[r] "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", L. Blanc, "Un homme et une doctrine", Le Nouveau Monde, No. 6, December 15, 1849.—Ed.

[s] Proudhon has: "Louis Blanc considered himself the bee of the revolution, but was merely its cicada" ("Il s'est cru l'abeille de la révolution, il n'en a été que la cigale").—Ed.

[t] Engels' quotation marks.—Ed.

[u] Engels uses the English word.—Ed.

[v] That of 1789-94.—Ed.

[w] See this volume, p. 559.—Ed.

[x] Proudhon deals with landed property here.—Ed.

[y] Proudhon has: "se soumet à la loi de la concurrence" ("submits itself to the law of competition") (p. 256).—Ed.

[z] You know them very well, M. Proudhon.—Ed.

[za] Engels uses the English term.—Ed.

[zb] Engels wrote this sentence in English.—Ed.

[zc] Proudhon has: "8 days, 15 days, one month, three months, depending on the importance of the contract" (p. 269).—Ed.

[zd] Engels uses the English term.—Ed.

[337] This review of Proudhon's book, Idée générale de la Révolution au XIX-e siècle (1851), containing many critical remarks, was written by Engels at the request of Marx who had decided to write a polemical work against Proudhon. In August 1851 Marx and Engels discussed Proudhon's book in many of their letters. In his letter to Engels of August 8 Marx gave a detailed account of its contents, citing large excerpts, and in mid-August he sent the book to Engels in Manchester asking him for a detailed opinion on it. Engels worked on the review in August (from about August 16 to 21) and from mid-October, and returned it to Marx at the end of October. On November 24, 1851 Marx wrote to Engels: "I have been through your critique again. It's a pity qu'il n'y a pas moyen [that there's no means] of getting it printed. Otherwise—and if my own twaddle were added to it—we could bring it out under both our names, provided this didn't upset your firm in any way" (see present edition, Vol. 38).

When Marx learned that Joseph Weydemeyer (who had emigrated to the United States in the autumn of 1851) was going to publish the weekly Die Revolution in New York beginning in January 1852, he decided to publish the critique of Proudhon in that journal. On December 19, 1851 he asked Weydemeyer to publish in his weekly an announcement of the forthcoming publication of the Neuste Offenbarungen des Sozialismus oder "Idée générale de la Révolution au XIX-e siècle, par P. J. Proudhon." Kritik von K. M. in the form of a series of articles. In January 1852 the notice was published in the first issue of Die Revolution, but the plan did not materialise. Until April 1852 Marx was engrossed in writing The Éighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. By that time Die Revolution had already ceased to exist as a periodical due to the editor's lack of funds.

In this volume excerpts from Proudhon's book are printed in small type, literal quotations being given in quotes while Engels' expositions of Proudhon's text in German are not. Engels' own text is in ordinary type and the emphasised words are italicised. The French quotations and the German text are translated into English; the French words and expressions used by Engels in his own text are reproduced in the original and supplied, whenever necessary, with translations in footnotes. Editorial insertions in square brackets are made only when there are obvious omissions in the text or when it is advisable to give Proudhon's terms in French besides their English translations. In the small-type text the words in ordinary italics are ones emphasised by Proudhon, those in heavy italics by Engels.

[338] États généraux (States-General) —in feudal France the supreme consultative body composed of representatives of the various estates. From 1614 they did not meet until 1789, when they proclaimed themselves the National Assembly.

[339] Proudhon here refers to a series of trials in 1822 of members of republican societies (including carbonari) who tried to foment anti-monarchist uprisings in Belfort, La Rochelle and Saumur, and to an uprising on May 12, 1839 in Paris. The May uprising, in which revolutionary workers played the leading part, was prepared by the secret republican-socialist Society of the Seasons led by Auguste Blanqui and Armand Barbès, it was suppressed by troops and the National Guard.

[340] The new electoral law which in fact abolished universal suffrage in France was adopted by the Legislative Assembly on May 31, 1850 (see this volume, p. 145, where Marx characterises this law).

[341] In May 1852 Louis Bonaparte's term of office as President expired. Under the French Constitution of 1848, presidential elections were to be held every four years on the second Sunday in May, and the outgoing President could not stand for re-election.

[342] During the night of August 3, 1789 the French Constituent Assembly, under pressure from the growing peasant movement, announced the abrogation of a number of feudal obligations which had already been abolished by the insurgent peasants.

[343] Here and below Proudhon uses the terms le préjugé gouvernemental, le système gouvernemental and l'évolution gouvernementale to denote different aspects of the political system of government to which he counterposes the economic system, organisation of economic forces, invented and proposed by himself.

[344] According to a medieval tradition which even the French Revolution was unable to do away with, the sale of meat in Paris was in the hands of a butchers' corporation that maintained low prices on livestock and high prices on meat. When speaking of "the sale of meat by auction" (le vente de la viande à la criée), Proudhon had in mind a series of measures carried out by the government from 1848 to liquidate the monopoly of the butchers' corporation (authorisation of daily trade in meat by people who did not belong to the corporation, etc.).

[345] Proudhon further discloses the meaning of the term "parasitism": "Parasitism is finance, abusive property, the budget and all that accompanies it" (pp. 51-52).

[346] Royer-Collard made this speech on January 22, 1822, when an anti-press bill was being debated in the Chamber of Deputies.

[347] The parliaments in France —judicial institutions that came into being in the Middle Ages. The Paris parliament was the highest court of appeal and also performed important administrative and political functions, such as the registration of royal decrees, without which they had no legal force. The parliaments enjoyed the right to remonstrate against government decrees. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they consisted of officials of high birth called the "nobility of the mantle". The parliaments ultimately became the bulwark of Right-wing opposition to absolutism and impeded the implementation of even moderate reforms, and were abolished during the French Revolution, in 1790.

[348] The reference is to the Charte octroyée granted in 1814 by Louis XVIII. It was the fundamental law of the Bourbons, introducing a regime of moderate constitutional monarchy with wide powers for the king and high electoral qualifications ensuring above all political privileges for the landed aristocracy.

[349] Proudhon goes on explaining his idea: "...This principle which is of all importance in the so-called butchers' associations has so little in common with the essence of the association that in many of these slaughter-houses the work is done by hired workers under the guidance of the director who represents the depositors."

[350] Engels refers to the following footnote by Proudhon on pp. 97 and 98 of the book in question: "Reciprocity is not identical with exchange; meanwhile it increasingly tends to become the law of exchange and to mix up with it. A scientific analysis of this law was first given in a pamphlet, Organisation du crédit et de la circulation (Paris, 1848, Garnier frères), and the first attempt to apply it was made by the People's Bank"

The People's Bank (La Banque du Peuple) was founded by Proudhon in 1849 to implement the reforms he suggested in the sphere of credit and circulation which he saw as a means of solving the social question and establishing class harmony. By means of these reforms Proudhon hoped to liquidate loan-interest and to organise exchange without money while preserving private property in the means of production and the wages system. According to Proudhon, this peaceful process was to transform capitalism into a system of equality under which every member of society could become a free producer and exchange equal quantities of labour with others. The short-lived People's Bank only showed how groundless were Proudhon's projects both in theory and in practice.

[351] Engels refers here to workers' associations permissible in Proudhon's system. While stressing the need for a reform in the sphere of credit and money circulation and for the maintenance of individual property in the means of production, Proudhon also admitted the need for the transfer of a number of big factories, railways, mines; etc., to associations of workers employed in them. Accordingly, Proudhon's term compagnies ouvrières is further translated as "workers' associations".

[352] The Historical School of Law —a trend in German historiography and jurispru¬dence which emerged in the late eighteenth century. The representatives of this school—Gustav Hugo, Friedrich Karl Savigny and others—sought to justify feudal institutions and the privileges of the nobility on the grounds of the inviolability of historical tradition.

For a criticism of this trend see Marx's works: The Philosophical Manifesto of the Historical School of Law and Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law. Introduction (present edition, Vols. 1 and 3).

Legitimists—supporters of the Bourbon dynasty, which represented the interests of the big hereditary landowners. By the "first generation of French Legitimists" Engels means royalist writers and politicians who were vehemently hostile to the French Revolution, being particularly outraged when, in 1792, the monarchy was overthrown. After the restoration of the Bourbons, in 1815-30, the Legitimists formed a Right-wing political party which continued to be active even after 1830, when the dynasty was overthrown a second time.

[353] The reference is to the Constituent National Assembly which held its sessions from May 4, 1848, and to the Legislative National Assembly which replaced it on May 28, 1849. Louis Bonaparte was elected President of the French Republic by universal suffrage on May 10, 1848. p. 558

[354] The Jacobin Constitution, adopted by the Convention on June 24, 1793, proclaimed the freedom of person, religion, legislative initiative and the press, freedom to present petitions, and the right to work, to education, and to resist oppression while leaving private property intact. The difficult situation in the republic caused by foreign intervention and counter-revolutionary revolts made the Jacobins postpone the implementation of the constitution and temporarily introduce a democratic-revolutionary dictatorship. After the counter- revolutionary coup d'état of the ninth Thermidor (July 27-28), 1794, the Constitution of 1793 was replaced in 1795 by a new qualification and anti-democratic constitution.

[355] The reference is to the Bank of France founded in 1800 by a shareholders' company under Bonaparte's protection. It enjoyed a number of state privileges while remaining the property of the company. In 1848 this bank was granted the monopoly right to issue banknotes of small denomination; its monopoly position was also consolidated by the fact that provincial banks were deprived of the right to issue money.

[356] In his letter to Engels on August 8, 1851, Marx wrote concerning this passage in Proudhon's book: "Instead of interest the state pays annuities, i.e. it repays in yearly quotas the capital it has been loaned" (see present edition, Vol. 38).

[357] In accordance with the Constituent Assembly's decrees of January 15 and February 16 and 26, 1790, a new administrative division was introduced in France: the country was divided into 83 departments which, in their turn, were subdivided into cantons and the latter into communes.

[358] Among the socialists Proudhon names Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, Cabet, Louis Blanc, and the Chartists.

[359] The beginning of Chapter One of Pushkin's novel in verse Yevgeny Onegin is reproduced on the last page of Engels' manuscript. It corresponds to the Russian original though it is written in Latin letters. This is apparently connected with Engels' study of the Russian language which he began in Manchester in 1851 (see illustration between pages 564 and 565 in this volume).

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 11 (pp.545-570), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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