by Eric Vilain
“Property” by René Berthier
The second volume of “Proudhonist Studies”
has been published by Éditions du Monde libertaire
The problems raised by Proudhon’s economic critique remain topical today. This is especially true of the question of property. The “message” that is contained is based on the fact that the status of the ownership of the means of production may not be the main differentiating criterion of economic systems. This question, however, lies at the forefront of debate and controversy in the early socialist movement, and various schools of Marxism have seen as a solution to this problem what they considered the antithesis of private ownership: state ownership.
The originality of Proudhon lies in the fact that he proposed a different approach to socialism, which he calls the “third term”, which is the opposite both to the “communist principle” and to the “ownership principle”: a path that bypasses the mental block that the issue of ownership has been in discussions within the labor movement.
Beyond this question lies another one, which still has repercussions today: indeed, poor understanding of the problem of property, and the weight of the intermediate strata in industrialized societies made all the organizations of the revolutionary left unable to develop strategies that integrate the middle class and the peasantry.