The French sociologist Pierre Ansart (1922-2016), a specialist on Proudhon, does not seem to have been translated into English. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Proudhon is so little known in the English-speaking world and particularly in anarchist circles, which seem to go so far as to dismiss him as a theorist of anarchism.

The French libertarian movement has never challenged the author of the System of Economic Contradictions as an anarchist, even if aspects of his work are deliberately set aside. This was, moreover, the position adopted by Bakunin and James Guillaume.

To understand Proudhon one must go beyond his vocabulary and his mode of reasoning : for lack of a “key”, one cannot understand why he says at the beginning of his career that property is theft, and at the end of his life that property is freedom, while affirming that he has not changed his mind.

Likewise, it is impossible to understand why a man who has a reputation for being opposed to strikes was recognized as one of their own by the revolutionary syndicalists. It is certain that the reader who has a binary mental structure cannot understand.

One of the authors who has been able to best “decipher” Proudhon is precisely Pierre Ansart.

I thought it would be useful to translate the chapter of “Sociologie de Proudhon” in which Ansart develops Proudhon’s sociology of the State.

I hope the English-speaking reader will forgive the imperfections of the translation. R.B.

• Sociologie de Proudhon, PUF, 1967

• Socialisme et anarchisme : Saint-Simon, Proudhon, Marx, PUF, 1969

• Naissance de l’anarchisme, PUF, 1970

• Les idéologies politiques, PUF, 1974

• Idéologie, conflit et pouvoir, PUF, 1977

• Proudhon, Le Livre de poche, 1984

• Les sociologies contemporaines, Seuil, 1990

Article publié le 11 Oct 2020 sur