Political Philosopher, Author, Journalist. He is most-remembered for declaring himself as the first anarchist, believing that a government is harmful and unnecessary. He advocated in a non-violent matter the replacement of state government with a loose federation of “communes,” or local municipalities. The beginning of his life was humble with parents being poor tavern keepers and him, as a boy, wearing wooden shoes tending cows in a pasture. At an early age, he exhibited the signs of being brilliant, and with his mother's encouragement won a scholarship to the college at Besançon, France. Even as a teenager, he talked about the need for a better way-of-life for every man especially after been bullied by wealthy students at school. He became a loner reading in the library most evenings. When his family's financial needs became a disaster, he was forced into the trade of a printer in 1827. He started as a proofreader and by September 1830 was a full journeyman and compositor. It was at this point that he taught himself Greek and Latin and wrote numerous books and newspaper articles, as well as founding several anarchist newspapers, which most failed from poor management. After developing his pose of writing, he was awarded in 1838 a scholarship by Gustave Fallo to study in Paris. While in Paris, he joined the Freemasons. His first major writing was the 1840 “What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government.” He started the slogan, “Property is theft!”, which gained much notoriety and attention. His 1846 book “The Philosophy of Poverty" is said to prompted Karl Marx's book “The Poverty of Philosophy”. Proudhon's principals criticized Communism, whether of the Utopian or the Marxist type, which both destroyed freedom by taking away from the individual control over his mean of production. He believe the land should belong to the farmer and the tools to do a craft belong to the maker. He relocated to Lyons where he started “Mutualism”, a worker's association for the purpose of credit banking. Later, he presented the ideal of federalism, the denial of a centralized political organization. Although his reasoning made sense, his concepts were rejected by most of the people he wanted to help. His concepts impacted the Russian populist, the radical Italian nationalists of 1860's, the Spanish Federalist of the 1870's and the trade unions that developed in France, and later became powerful in Italy and Spain. His concepts remained popular in the French working-class until the 1920's. He became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1838, referring to himself as a Federalist.Proudhon was arrested for insulting France's President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and was imprisoned from June of 1849 to 1852. In December 1849, while in prison, he married 27-year-old Euphrasie Piégard, with whom he had four daughters. In 1854, he suffered with a bout of cholera which caused his health to decline. In 1858 Proudhon published two more important books, “Justice in the Revolution and in the Church,” and on June 2nd , 1858, for publishing them, he was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 4,000 francs. He escaped to Belgium and using the name of Durfort was a professor of Mathematics. On December 12, 1861, he was pardoned by Emperor of France and in September, 1862 he returned to France. He last noted work was written on his deathbed, “The Political Capability of the Working Classes”. Besides his writings on anarchist, he published works supporting being an abolitionist along with ideas that were anti-capitalism, anti-feminist and anti-Semitic.
Bio by: Linda Davis