Property is theft! (French: La propriété, c'est le vol!) is a slogan coined by French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his 1840 book What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government.
If I were asked to answer the following question: What is slavery? and I should answer in one word, It is murder!, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to remove a man's mind, will, and personality, is the power of life and death, and that it makes a man a slave. It is murder. Why, then, to this other question: What is property? may I not likewise answer, It is robbery!, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?— Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What is Property?[I]
By "property", Proudhon referred to a concept regarding land property that originated in Roman law: the sovereign right of property, the right of the proprietor to do with his property as he pleases, "to use and abuse," so long as in the end he submits to state-sanctioned title, and he contrasted the supposed right of property with the rights (which he considered valid) of liberty, equality, and security. Proudhon was clear that his opposition to property did not extend to exclusive possession of labor-made wealth.
In the Confessions d'un revolutionnaire Proudhon further explained his use of this phrase:
In my first memorandum, in a frontal assault upon the established order, I said things like, Property is theft! The intention was to lodge a protest, to highlight, so to speak, the inanity of our institutions. At the time, that was my sole concern. Also, in the memorandum in which I demonstrated that startling proposition using simple arithmetic, I took care to speak out against any communist conclusion.
In the System of Economic Contradictions, having recalled and confirmed my initial formula, I added another quite contrary one rooted in considerations of quite another order—a formula that could neither destroy the first proposition nor be demolished by it: Property is freedom. ... In respect of property, as of all economic factors, harm and abuse cannot be dissevered from the good, any more than debit can from asset in double-entry book-keeping. The one necessarily spawns the other. To seek to do away with the abuses of property, is to destroy the thing itself; just as the striking of a debit from an account is tantamount to striking it from the credit record.
Jacques Pierre Brissot had previously written, in his Philosophical Inquiries on the Right of Property (Recherches philosophiques sur le droit de propriété et le vol), "Exclusive property is a robbery in nature." Marx would later write in an 1865 letter to a contemporary that Proudhon had taken the slogan from Warville, although this is contested by subsequent scholarship.
The phrase also appears in 1797 in the Marquis de Sade's text L'Histoire de Juliette: "Tracing the right of property back to its source, one infallibly arrives at usurpation. However, theft is only punished because it violates the right of property; but this right is itself nothing in origin but theft".
Similar phrases also appear in the works of Saint Ambrose, who taught that superfluum quod tenes tu furaris (the superfluous property which you hold you have stolen) and Basil of Caesarea (Ascetics, 34, 1–2).
Jean-Jacques Rousseau made the same general point when he wrote: "The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying 'This is mine', and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody."
Karl Marx, although initially favourable to Proudhon's work, later criticised, among other things, the expression "property is theft" as self-refuting and unnecessarily confusing, writing that "'theft' as a forcible violation of property presupposes the existence of property" and condemning Proudhon for entangling himself in "all sorts of fantasies, obscure even to himself, about true bourgeois property".
Max Stirner was highly critical of Proudhon, and in his work, The Ego and Its Own, made the same criticism of Proudhon's expression before Marx, asking, "Is the concept 'theft' at all possible unless one allows validity to the concept 'property'? How can one steal if property is not already extant? ... Accordingly property is not theft, but a theft becomes possible only through property."
"A las Barricadas" ("To the Barricades") was one of the most popular songs of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. "A las Barricadas" is sung to the tune of "Whirlwinds of Danger" ("Warszawianka"), composed by Józef Pławiński. The lyrics were written by Valeriano Orobón Fernández in 1936, partly based on the original Polish lyrics by Wacław Święcicki.
"The Confederation" referred to in the final stanza is the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo — "National Confederation of Labor"), which at the time was the largest labour union and main anarchist organisation in Spain, and a major force opposing Francisco Franco's military coup against the Spanish Republic from 1936–1939.Agorism
Agorism is a libertarian social philosophy that advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics, thus engaging with aspects of peaceful revolution. It was first proposed by libertarian philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III (1947–2004) at two conferences, CounterCon I in October 1974 and CounterCon II in May 1975.Anarchism in Canada
Anarchism in Canada spans a range of anarchist philosophy including anarchist communism, green anarchy, anarcho-syndicalism, individualist anarchism, as well as other lesser known forms. Canadian anarchism has been affected by thought from the United States, Great Britain, and continental Europe, although recent influences include a look at North American indigenism, especially on the West Coast. Anarchists remain a focal point in media coverage of globalization protests in Canada, mainly due to their confrontations with police and destruction of property.Anarchism in Egypt
Anarchism in Egypt refers both to the historical Egyptian anarchist movement which emerged in the 1860s and lasted until the 1940s, and to the anarchist movement as it has re-emerged in the early 2000s.Anarchism in Iceland
Anarchism is a small minority political movement in Iceland, defined by its relationship with other progressive social movements, and its involvement in primarily ideological work.Anarchism in Turkey
Anarchism in Turkey only began to emerge in 1986 with publication of the magazine Kara.Anarchism in Vietnam
Anarchism as a political movement in Vietnam started in the early twentieth century. Its most recognizable proponent was Phan Boi Chau.Anarchist law
Anarchist law is a hypothetical body of norms regarding behavior and decision-making that might be operative in an anarchist community. The term is used in a series of ongoing debates within the various branches of anarchist theory regarding if and how norms of individual and/or collective behavior, decision-making and actions should be created and enforced.Anti-authoritarianism
Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and to authoritarian government. Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.Anti-statism
Anti-statism is opposition to state intervention into personal, social and economic affairs. Anti-statism means opposition to the state and any artificial form of government and it differs from traditional anarchism which means the opposition not only to the state, but to any form of rulership.Autarchism
Autarchism is a political philosophy that promotes the principles of individualism, the moral ideology of individual liberty and self-reliance. It rejects compulsory government and supports the elimination of government in favor of ruling oneself to the exclusion of rule by others.Cost the limit of price
Cost the limit of price was a maxim coined by Josiah Warren, indicating a (prescriptive) version of the labor theory of value. Warren maintained that the just compensation for labor (or for its product) could only be an equivalent amount of labor (or a product embodying an equivalent amount). Thus, profit, rent, and interest were considered unjust economic arrangements. As Samuel Edward Konkin III put it, "the labor theory of value recognizes no distinction between profit and plunder."In keeping with the tradition of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, the "cost" of labor is considered to be the subjective cost; i.e., the amount of suffering involved in it.Economic secession
Economic secession has been variously defined by sources. In its narrowest sense, it is abstention from the state’s economic system – for instance by replacing the use of government money with barter, Local Exchange Trading Systems, or commodity money (such as gold). Wendell Berry may have coined the term "economic secession." He promoted his own version in his 1991 essay Conservation and Local Economy. John T. Kennedy used the term to refer to all human action that is forbidden by the State; he explains economic secession as tax avoidance or refusal to follow regulations as a method to reduce government control.
Samuel Edward Konkin III used the term "counter-economics" to refer to a similar concept.Economic secession takes government out of the equation when making economic decisions. Trading happens through payment in-kind, cash and barter.Economic secession is a way for the individuals to withdraw their wealth for both economic and political reasons. If individuals disagree with the use of tax money to fund a political agenda, they use economic secession as a means of privately protesting the control of government in their lives. The opinion that government is too involved in society fuels individuals to withdraw economically and view their withdrawal from the government system as a moral stand.Individual reclamation
Individual reclamation (French: reprise individuelle) is a form of direct action, characterized by the individual theft of resources from the rich by the poor. Individual reclamation gained popular attention in the early 20th century as a result of the exploits of anarchists and outsiders, such as Ravachol and Clément Duval, who believed that such expropriations were ethical because of the exploitation of society by capitalists (see Anti-capitalism). Advocacy centered on France, Belgium, Great Britain, and Switzerland.Left anarchism
The terms left anarchism and left-wing anarchism distinguish social anarchism from laissez-faire anarchism and right-libertarian philosophies.Left anarchists refer to philosophies which posit a future society in which private property is replaced by reciprocity and non-hierarchical society.The term "left anarchism" is sometimes used synonymously with libertarian socialism, left-libertarianism or social anarchism. More traditional anarchists typically discourage the concept of "left-wing" theories of anarchism on grounds of redundancy and that it lends legitimacy to the notion that anarchism is compatible with capitalism or nationalism.Ulrike Heider, a syndicalist, categorized anarchism into left anarchism, right anarchism (anarcho-capitalism) and green anarchism.List of films dealing with anarchism
This article is for films both fictional and non-fictional which focus on anarchism, anarchist movements and/or anarchist characters as a theme.Philosophical anarchism
Philosophical anarchism is an anarchist school of thought which holds that the state lacks moral legitimacy while not supporting violence to eliminate it. Though philosophical anarchism does not necessarily imply any action or desire for the elimination of the state, philosophical anarchists do not believe that they have an obligation or duty to obey the state, or conversely that the state has a right to command. Philosophical anarchism is a component especially of individualist anarchism.Scholar Michael Freeden identifies four broad types of individualist anarchism. He says the first is the type associated with William Godwin that advocates self-government with a "progressive rationalism that included benevolence to others". The second type is egoism, most associated with Max Stirner. The third type is "found in Herbert Spencer's early predictions, and in that of some of his disciples such as Donisthorpe, foreseeing the redundancy of the state in the source of social evolution". The fourth type retains a moderated form of egoism and accounts for social cooperation through the advocacy of the market, having such followers as Benjamin Tucker and Henry David Thoreau.Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (; French: [pjɛʁʒozɛf pʁudɔ̃]; 15 January 1809 – 19 January 1865) was a French politician and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist, using that term and is widely regarded as one of the ideology's most influential theorists. Proudhon is even considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". He became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist.Proudhon, who was born in Besançon, was a printer who taught himself Latin in order to better print books in the language. His best-known assertion is that "property is theft!", contained in his first major work, What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government (Qu'est-ce que la propriété? Recherche sur le principe du droit et du gouvernement), published in 1840. The book's publication attracted the attention of the French authorities. It also attracted the scrutiny of Karl Marx, who started a correspondence with its author. The two influenced each other and they met in Paris while Marx was exiled there. Their friendship finally ended when Marx responded to Proudhon's The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty with the provocatively titled The Poverty of Philosophy. The dispute became one of the sources of the split between the anarchist and Marxist wings of the International Working Men's Association. Some such as Edmund Wilson have contended that Marx's attack on Proudhon had its origin in the latter's defense of Karl Grün, whom Marx bitterly disliked, but who had been preparing translations of Proudhon's work.
Proudhon favored workers' associations or co-operatives as well as individual worker/peasant possession over private ownership or the nationalization of land and workplaces. He considered social revolution to be achievable in a peaceful manner. In The Confessions of a Revolutionary, Proudhon asserted that "Anarchy is Order Without Power", the phrase which much later inspired in the view of some the anarchist circled-A symbol, today "one of the most common graffiti on the urban landscape". He unsuccessfully tried to create a national bank, to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists and shareholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans.Self-refuting idea
Self-refuting ideas or self-defeating ideas are ideas or statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true. Many ideas are called self-refuting by their detractors, and such accusations are therefore almost always controversial, with defenders stating that the idea is being misunderstood or that the argument is invalid. For these reasons, none of the ideas below are unambiguously or incontrovertibly self-refuting. These ideas are often used as axioms, which are definitions taken to be true (tautological assumptions), and cannot be used to test themselves, for doing so would lead to only two consequences: consistency (circular reasoning) or exception (self-contradiction). It is important to know that the conclusion of an argument that is self-refuting is not necessarily false, since it could be supported by another, more valid, argument.