Monday, February 9, 2009

Deviation Posting - Happy Birthday Proudhon

A quick non-China "deviation posting" that I forgot to do last month while travelling and so missed the actual anniversary. Happy Birthday – 200 on the 15th January – to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, incidentally born a couple of weeks before Darwin.(200 on the 12th of February). 1809 was a good year!

Proudhon of course was the first to call himself an anarchist and his influence on anarchism and socialism runs deep – he’s one of the major roots of the tree, so to speak, that led to anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary socialism. Nowadays Proudhon is probably best remembered for his widely misunderstood quote ‘All property is theft’ that right wingers love to parody.

Perhaps Proudhon (Gustave Courbet’s portrait of him left) should be read a bit more widely these days by unemployed capitalists - among his other ideas he tried to create a national bank (a phrase back in popularity these days), to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists (bail outs OK, taxes not the bankers would say I suppose) and stockholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans. Happy birthday Pierre-Joseph


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