Pierre Joseph Proudhon Archive
Source: Text from RevoltLib.com.
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source: RevoltLib.com; 2021
Avoid the extremes, and seek the happy medium, says the Wisdom of the Nations.
That aphorism, of course, is very true: but it must be well understood.
It is up to philosophy to look into it and demonstrate it.
I say that every extreme, in itself, is false and implies a contradiction; but by extreme I mean the element constitutive of every synthesis, an element to which it does not [ ], which constitutes it [i.e. synthesis] that much better as it is found employed more energetically.
Thus, the proprietor is a constitutive element of the social order, necessary, indispensable.
To deny it implies a contradiction.
In the common language we say: Property must be curbed, not pushed to the extreme.
I will correct that language, which lacks scientific exactitude, and say: property, in itself, strong or weak, powerful or controlled, as you like, is exclusive, fraudulent, sinful, selfish, and wrong; it contains within it, theft.
However, that same property, such as it is, is indispensable to human order; and it is even because of this that it is necessary. Remove that individualist character, and [ ] you render it powerless….
It is not the extreme, [ ] property, that is to be avoided: that extreme always exists, since it is the very principle….
Here, all the happy mediums in the world are lies, pure arbitrariness.
It is necessary to balance property with a contrary principle, which is, as you prefer, collectivity or community.
(There is no moderate community: community in itself is as bad as property…. It calls, not for a corrective, shears, a gardener to fight it, a [ ] to geld it: it needs a balance.
The two principles must be joined, married, mutually penetrating, in a manner to form a [ ]…. Thus:
Theory: Everything that can be appropriated must be appropriated; everything that can be grouped, even among the things appropriated, must be grouped.
(Similarly with Competition, Credit, Government, etc.; division of labor, collectivity.)
Other antinomies are subject to a different law, for example, that of Dead weight—live weight. It is certain that we tend, and will constantly tend, to reduce one and increase the other: that is the law of Progress. Cf. [ ] Dead weight, live weight, pages 11–12.