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Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph

Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph (1809–65) An autodidactic French brewer, early socialist thinker, and militant, who popularized the sayings ‘God is evil’ and ‘property is theft’. He is widely regarded as the founder of political anarchism, although his own followers applied the term ‘mutualism’ to their beliefs, emphasizing the need for justice as the means of ending conflict in society. Proudhon advocated production co-operatives and mutual interest-free banking as the basis for reorganizing society. His doctrine was located between extreme individualistic anarchism and those who envisage an anarchist communism. He emphasized the violent passions of individuals and the need for the family to control these. His Economic Contradictions, or the Philosophy of Poverty (1846) provoked a major rejoinder from Karl Marx.

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