NEITHER Godwin nor Stirner had any considerable organized following. This was not the case, however, with the “father” of French Anarchism, Proudhon. (*1) Proudhon’s influence lasted from the Revolution of 1848 to the Paris Commune of 1871, and marked a transition from the Liberal-Anarchism prevalent before 1848 to the Communist-Anarchism that dominated the field later.
The revolutions of 1848 in Europe were decidedly exemplary of the law of uneven development. In France, it was the proletariat, immature and confused, that carried forward the traditions of the French Revolution of the preceding century and forced the establishment of the Second Republic. In Germany and Middle Europe, it was the mass of toilers, the inchoate party of plebeians and small property holders from whom the proletariat had not as yet definitely separated so as to form a decisive element, that bore the brunt of the fighting. In the revolutions of 1848 we first see the complicated interrelations between the proletarian and the democratic revolutions classically twine themselves together.
In the preceding centuries, it had been the bourgeoisie itself that had helped to take the lead in initiating and giving theoretical direction to the forces tending towards revolution. After 1848, it was the people who had to initiate the revolutionary movement even against the bourgeoisie, though that revolution might ultimately be only bourgeois. In 1848, in the countries of Middle Europe where modern capitalism was beginning to show its power, it was the lower middle classes, aided by the modest beginnings of a proletariat, that took the lead and from the very beginning attempted, not only to defeat the old feudal remnants, but immediately to introduce that democracy into bourgeois rule that would give control to the small owners, the small agrarian, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the handicraftsman, the small entrepreneur and such. And it was from these economic classes that Anarchism drew its life.
The European revolutions of 1848 were extremely important, if only from the point of view of the relations between proletariat and peasantry. In these revolutions the modern proletariat appears for the first time as an independent force mobilized in its own parties and articulating, in England, France, and Germany, its own interests and aims with its own slogans. While the advanced workers in one place might be willing to ally themselves with the Liberal bourgeoisie in their struggle against Feudalism, they never ceased for a single instant to instill into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat. In another place, the workers might join with the democratic petty bourgeoisie against both bourgeois and aristocrat. And yet, in all their struggles, the proletarians were able to draw the lessons of the differences between proletariat and petty bourgeoisie. In the insurrections it was the working classes of the towns that made up the real fighting bodies. They found the small property classes great in boasting but futile in action, and very reluctant to jeopardize any part of their little property.
In the course of these revolutions, the working class became aware that it was the fate of all revolutions that any union of different classes could not subsist long, and that no sooner was the victory gained against the common enemy than the victors became divided among themselves into different camps and turned their weapons against each other. The proletariat watched its ally, the petty bourgeoisie, as it would an enemy. And it was in the course of these revolutions that it was able for the first time in history to organize a Communist League, at the head of which stood Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
The revolutions of 1848 were the first signs that capitalism was indeed now world-wide, bringing in its train world-wide crises and convulsions, more or less sharp according to the law of uneven development in the respective countries. The world economic crisis of 1847 was the basic cause for the heightening of all social antagonisms to the breaking point, although each country was affected differently.
In England, a virile Chartist movement was organized. This Chartist movement, however, was handicapped by the superior power of the English bourgeoisie and was diluted by a large number of petty bourgeois democratic elements, headed by the industrialist capitalists, who wanted to extend the franchise so that they could dominate the other sections of the ruling classes. Thus Chartism was not able to advance beyond Radical Populism. The proletariat was not so desperate as to turn to Communism, nor the small propertied elements to Anarchism. It was Liberalism in a more extreme form that prevailed throughout the movement, save for a small Left Wing which was communistic.
In France, the crisis of 1847 was but the last of a whole series of events that had put a tremendous strain upon the government of Louis Philippe, itself a product of the July Revolution of 1830. Preceding the crisis there had taken place in 1845-46 great potato and crop failures which had forced a rise in prices and a large increase in business failures and general business risks on the Continent. To this must be added the fact that the French State, manipulated by a shameless clique of financiers and plunderers, was heavily in debt, with the curt brazenly flouting its luxurious orgies before the masses. From all sides, therefore, especially as the government did not represent the entire French bourgeoisie but only the aristocracy of finance—the manufacturing elements, the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat being wholly outside the government—there issued a demand for a cheap government and a more democratic one. The poorer elements, in addition, came out for the end of the Monarchy and the establishment of a Republic, the workers on the extreme Left stressing the point that the Republic must decide as its first task what to do with the new offspring capitalism had left on the doorsteps of France, namely unemployment.
Up to about 1833, only handicrafts and little workshops had existed generally in France. But under the bourgeois King Louis Philippe, industries speedily developed, to the great detriment of domestic industry. By 1866 there were about eleven million persons, or 29 per cent of the total population of thirty-seven million, who were dependent upon industry for a living. (*2)
In the countryside, in 1850, of a population of thirty-six million in France, twenty-four million were occupied with agriculture; in 1860, almost 1 per cent of the landowners (50,000) were large holders, 90 per cent (5,000,000) were small and only 9 per cent (500,000) medium or average.
The revolution of 1848 was the first in which the modern development of over-production coincident with increased pauperization and unemployment of the masses became a paramount issue. Capitalism was driving the petty bourgeoisie from direct ownership of the means of production; it was locking the workers out of the factories.
Under such circumstances it was no wonder that the masses began to revive the traditions of the Jacobins of the French Revolution and to call for a sort of egalitarianism, i. e., that none should have a surplus while others starve; that, in a country where the petty bourgeoisie weighed so heavily, both in the city and in the country, this egalitarianism should predominate in all sections of the toilers. This philosophy induced the slogans “The right to work” and “unemployment insurance,” and led both Proudhon and Louis Blanc to formulate schemes whereby the government would be but the agency of the lower classes.
The French working class was too weak to carry through its own revolution and to formulate clearly its demand for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It is true that, following its demand for a Republic with social reforms, it did attempt to storm the citadels; the terrible June Days, provoked by the ruling class, resulted. The proletariat received a decisive defeat, and in the end was forced to allow the petty bourgeoisie to take the lead and to carry on the struggle.
This independent attempt on the part of the working class of Paris brought into sharpest relief the difference between the situations of the manufacturing capitalists in England and in France. Compared with their British rivals, the largest French manufacturers were really petty bourgeois. In England, manufacturers like Cobden and Bright, fighting for the domination of industrial as against merchant and finance capital, could be found at the very head of the crusade against the bank and stock exchange aristocracy. This state of affairs could not prevail in France, since in France it was not industry but agriculture that was dominant. To enforce their interests, the French manufacturers were too weak to take the leadership of a movement and dominate it like the English; soon after the February, 1848 revolution in France, they realized this all too well. They quickly perceived they could not control the government. In June, they were forced to witness the proletariat, the very workers from their own shops, make their first glorious attempt to seize the power of the entire State apparatus of France. “The manufacturer, in France, necessarily became one of the most fanatical members of the party of order. The impairment of his profit by high finance, what is that as compared with the elimination of profit by the proletariat?” (*3)
Thus, as the French bourgeoisie swung violently to the Right and refused to fight even for the bourgeois revolution, the petty bourgeoisie was forced to do what might ideally have been conceived as the task of the bourgeoisie. Similarly, the French workman, swamped by the petty bourgeoisie, could do only that which, normally, would have been the job of the petty bourgeoisie to accomplish. Thus there was no class that could pose the task of the proletariat itself, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The Revolution of 1848, therefore, did not solve, the problems of labor and capital; it only cleared the ground, wiped out all illusions, and posited the struggle between labor and capital as the question of the future.
Anarchism, Socialism, and Communism, as great mass movements, all spring from these historic days of 1848 and color all the Populist movements of the time. At least so far as Continental Europe was concerned, the people were forced to break violently from Liberalism, and although Liberal ideas continued to pervade strata of the poor, more and more the masses were forced to take a different orientation and a different direction. In this period, Anarchism in Europe lost its last vestiges of open Liberal connections, so far as its masses of followers are concerned.
In Germany, too, this shift away from Liberalism was very apparent. There the feudal system of tenure still prevailed to a considerable degree, the feudal classes officering the army, and ruling the government as a special non-taxed group. The German bourgeoisie was neither so rich nor so concentrated as the French, since French and English competition had destroyed the old manufactures of Germany and the new manufactures had not yet become strong. It was only after the Napoleonic wars that modern capitalism began to grow in Germany; it was only in 1844 that the first great strike of workmen broke out. Germany had no large manufacturing and trading centers like London or Paris, etc. The great mass of the nation were small traders and shopkeepers, working people and peasants. Of this mass in the cities, the small trading elements were exceedingly numerous and important. With the lack of big industry, dependent as the towns had been upon the trade of the courts, these petty bourgeois elements made up the majority in the larger towns. The workers themselves were exceedingly backward and could not attain the independent position that had been taken by the French. (*4)
Just as the emancipation of the German peasantry had to come from without, from the French Revolution, so the emancipation of the German workers, in this period of history, could come only from without—from the June Revolution in Paris, 1848. With the decisive defeat of the proletarians in Paris, the proletariat all over Europe had to retreat; it made no further general attempts to lead the Revolution, but had to follow the petty bourgeoisie as best it could.
In Germany a people’s “Democratic” Party arose. Its Right Wing wanted a democratic monarchy, its Left Wing, a federal republic. The proletariat, whose advance guard was organized in a separate proletarian party, proposed the demand for a unified republic as the first step towards a workers’ rule in Germany. The conscious working class elements in Germany knew from the very beginning that they were taking up arms in a struggle which directly had nothing to do with the abolition of the wages system, but they followed the effective policy of supporting the democratic elements wherever they could.
Between the two groups, however, there was a great schism, as large, in a sense, as the gap between Anarchism and Communism. This was classically examined by the Communist League under Karl Marx. We give here an extended quotation of the views of this body because nowhere else has the case been so well put and the Communist line of action so well distinguished from that proposed by Proudhon and the Proudhonists of the period.
“The petty bourgeois democratic party in Germany is very powerful. It embraces not only the great majority of the town population, the small traders and craftsmen, but also the peasantry and the agricultural labourers insofar as the latter have not yet come into contact with the proletariat of the towns. The revolutionary working class acts in agreement with the party as long as it is a question of fighting and overthrowing the Aristocratic-Liberal coalition; in all other things the revolutionary working class must act independently.
“The democratic petty bourgeoisie, far from desiring to revolutionize the whole society, are aiming only at such changes of the social conditions as would make their life in existing society more comfortable and profitable. They are for a reduction of national expenditure, a decrease in bureaucracy, taxation burden to be placed upon the capitalists and landlords, usury to be wiped out, state banks and cheap credits to be established, feudal land remnants to be abolished and a democratic constitution organized, for reform of inheritance and legacy laws, etc. Some may even desire the nationalization of public services and many industries.
“As to the workingmen-well, they should remain wage workers; for whom, however, the Democratic party would procure higher wages, better labour conditions, and a secure existence. The democrats hope to achieve that partly through State and municipal management and through welfare institutions. In short, they hope to bribe the working class into quiescence, and thus to weaken their revolutionary spirit by momentary concessions and comforts.
“The democratic demands can never satisfy the party of the proletariat. While the democratic petty bourgeoisie would like to bring the revolution to a close as soon as their demands are more or less complied with, it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, to keep it going until all the ruling and possessing classes are deprived of power, the governmental machinery occupied… With us it is not a matter of reforming private property, but of abolishing it, …"
“It is a matter of course that in the future sanguinary conflicts, as in all previous ones, the working men by their courage, resolution, and self- sacrifice will form the main force in the attainment of victory. As hitherto, so in the coming struggle, the petty bourgeoisie as a whole will maintain an attitude of delay, irresolution and inactivity as long as possible, in order that, as soon as victory is assured, they may arrogate it to themselves and call upon the workers to remain quiet, return to work, avoid so-called excesses, and thus to shut off the workers from the fruits of victory… . The workers must not be swept off their feet by the general elation and enthusiasm for the new order of things which usually follow upon street battles; they must quench all ardour by a cool and dispassionate conception of the new conditions, and must manifest open distrust of the new Government.
“Beside the official Government they must set up a revolutionary workers’ Government, either in the form of local executives and communal councils, or workers’ clubs or workers’ committees, so that the bourgeois democratic Governments not only immediately lose all backing among the workers, but from the commencement find themselves under the supervision and threats of authorities, behind whom stands the entire mass of the working class. In short, from the first moment of victory we must no longer direct our distrust against the beaten reactionary enemy, but against our former allies, against the party who are now about to exploit the common victory for their own ends only."(*5)
Only by keeping in mind the stirring events in the middle of the nineteenth century and the evolution of class relationships in the respective countries, can we understand the background and the development of the Anarchism of Proudhon. In this environment Proudhon lived and worked.
Standing entirely upon the foundation of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Sismondi, and the other bourgeois economists, Proudhon undertook to show the inhumanity of the capitalist system. The bourgeoisie had constantly affirmed that they rested their economic structure upon the principle of free contract. Proudhon exposed the fact that nowhere is the contract free, although it should be free. Wages were supposed to be freely contracted for; in reality they were determined by external laws. Buying and selling, trade in general, were supposed to be free; in fact, they were interfered with by those who had property. By private property, Proudhon meant the ability to enjoy monopoly and privilege. Proudhon was not against private property-his famous statement that “property is robbery” simply meant that privilege was robbery, that property had come to mean not only mere possession but monopoly privileges. The private property of privilege called forth and commanded the State and the government and, in order actually to establish free competition, free trade, and free contract, the government itself, instrument of privilege and monopoly must be abolished.
This fear of privilege and monopoly, so characteristic of the middle class, was the essence of Proudhon’s Anarchism. Its progressive element was his hatred for the growing large-scale bourgeoisie whose chief instrument was the State and government. Its reactionary element was his hatred for the proletariat and for revolutionary socialism. His attempt to purge capitalism of its “evils” forced him to flounder, hopelessly entangled in his own contradictions.
By this time, the bourgeoisie had also turned to “socialism.” The utopian Socialists (Owenites, Saint-Simonians) were criticizing strongly the present competitive capitalist system, and urging the peaceful end of competition through widespread co-operation of the workers. Peaceful co-operation would be able to conquer monopoly privilege. The co-operative movement would regenerate the workers, give them jobs, and move the world to socialism. Nor would such a movement necessarily be forced to disdain the State; it could even call upon the State to grant it subsidies so that it could be launched properly and put upon a firm basis. Such was the proposal of Louis Blanc, for example.
The bourgeoisie had won power in the name of “liberty” and in the interests of all humanity. Why should not the appeal be made to the bourgeoisie to change the system so that humanity should really benefit and “liberty” really be obtained? Alas, the revolution of 1848 put an end to all naive illusions! The French government took up the plans of Louis Blanc only to use Blanc to behead the revolution. According to Louis Blanc, the State was to control production, organize social workshops, and end competition. The shops themselves were not to be owned by the State, but were to be established through loans, the State merely to guarantee the interest. Instead, the French bourgeois government organized National Workshops in which the unemployed were put to work in unproductive enterprises and in which the government tried to win over the unemployed as a governmental paid force against the rest of the workers generally. The formation of these governmental shops was for the sole purpose of discrediting the whole idea of socialization and co-operation, and was part of the government’s own counter-revolutionary program.
The petty bourgeoisie completely swallowed these utopian proposals to end competition while allowing private property to remain in the means of production. They thus showed themselves incapable of emancipating themselves from the ideology of the bourgeoisie. On all sides they were beginning to realize (with Louis Blanc and Proudhon) that competition was leading to monopoly. And they wept over their impending ruin. (*6) The way out was to end monopoly and the way to end monopoly was, economically, through the formation of mutual voluntary co-operative efforts, and politically, through the end of all privileges and the abolition of all government which could be only the instrument of privilege.
Typical of these petty bourgeois, Proudhon saw the key to the economic structure of society not in the productive process but in the process of distribution and of circulation. The chief enemy was the banks, and the chief task was to destroy the monopoly of banking. This was easy to proclaim in a country where the factories were not large and the dominant ruling clique was made up of the financial elements of the country. To blame finance and money and not capitalism generally was peculiarly appropriate for the Frenchmen at this time.
In order to counter the banking monopoly, Proudhon advocated “free banking.” Instead of the State’s giving the right solely to certain individuals to issue the circulating medium, Proudhon affirmed the unlimited right of each individual to issue notes on the basis of the goods that he might have and to use these notes as currency. Proudhon’s plan consisted of the formation of an Exchange Bank which would issue notes equal to the value of the goods turned in, notes which would circulate as far as possible as currency. Because each person could get unlimited credit by the simple means of giving his goods as security, Proudhon thought in this way the “little man” could rid himself of that nightmare, interest; with the abolition of interest would fall rent and profit, as well. Thus the class struggle would be liquidated peacefully.
The question would arise, of course, how to arrive at an estimate of the value of the goods turned in by each person ? If goods were to sell at their value, according to Proudhon, who, following Ricardo and the utopian Socialists, defined value as labor, then one would have to find out how many hours of labor the goods cost and pay in notes that would enable the person to buy goods worth an equivalent number of hours. Thus every man’s labor time would equal every other man’s labor time. Here, then, was a scheme, like the scheme of Robert Owen and the other utopians, of doing away with money or the monopoly of money, and substituting, instead of the hard reality of gold and silver, the paper dreams of labor notes.
It is precisely the advance of capitalism, the rise of big industry over backward inefficient industry, that constantly brings home the lesson to the little fellow that his days are numbered, that his hard arduous toil does not equal the toil of other far more efficient organizations embodied in large corporations and trusts. Big industry crowds out little industry. Little industry cries out in pain; it strives to prevent the victory of monopoly, that is, the squeezing out of the little fellow by the stronger big fellow; it denounces privilege and declares that “competition must be preserved at all costs.” Gold becomes the root of all evil, and it is the cross of gold that must be destroyed. Certainly, the little fellow is crucified upon the cross of gold, but to destroy gold as the measure of value or as the medium of circulation would be to destroy the commodity market itself, and to destroy the market would be to destroy capitalism. To try to retain capitalism and yet destroy the market, this was the Sisyphus task attempted by the utopians.
To make every man’s hour equal to every other man’s hour would be to destroy competition; there would be then no way for one person to underbid or to undersell another and thus win the market for himself. If each person could obtain money or credit notes equal to money for the articles that he possessed, without the necessity of selling them, then it would follow that any person could manufacture anything and, so long as it cost labor to create it, he could demand recompense for it. Only through the anarchy of the market, however, do independent producers become aware that society has produced a surfeit of this or that article. The fluctuations of the market, the hectic price ranges, the feverish prosperity and panics, these are the only instruments by means of which society as a whole can ascertain whether it should change to this or that productive process. This anarchy of the market, which is the decisive social regulator under capitalism, presupposes that before individual labor is able to become socially necessary labor, the goods embodying this labor must be sold and sold for the universal equivalent, the social measure of all value, i.e., money, gold.
The utopia of Proudhon was the cry of the French petty bourgeois for an “ordered capitalism,” an “ordered” competition, a capitalist world without the economic chaos which was leading to the political and social upheavals which the petty bourgeois feared and hated and by which he realized he would be destroyed.
In Proudhon’s ideal system, all were petty bourgeois and all petty bourgeois were successful and secure. Just as the proletariat declares that under socialism all will be workers and thus the class struggle will be abolished, so did the Anarchist declare all will be petty owners and thus the class struggle ended. Proudhon here is but the logical continuator of the Enrages, Jacobins gone mad.
All were to be individual owners. Following this line, Proudhon was led to attack absentee landlordism and to propose the taking over of land not actually used. Not that Proudhon stood for expropriation without compensation. On the contrary he advocated payment to the owners of the full value of the land, the value to be calculated by assuming that the rent collected annually equaled five per cent of the total value. (*7)
To Proudhon, the real representative of the laboring class was the individual producer; in his fight to prevent the individual owner’s being crowded from his shop or farm, Proudhon thought he was fighting for labor as a whole. This was understandable in a country where the proletariat was small, where the laborer in fact was the handicraftsman, the artisan, that is, an individual possessor to a large degree. And it is true, as we have seen, that the proletariat was intimately allied to that group which was so much the larger mass in the continental countries, the petty bourgeois. Further, no one could help but be impressed with the hard toil that the individual small property holder had to expend constantly in order to retain his property. However, instead of realizing that the small property holder’s day was done, Proudhon and Anarchists of his type believed that they could reverse the wheels of progress so as to transform both proletariat and trustified capital into the little industry and shop once again.
Picturing the hard-working petty proprietor of France, especially the farmer, Proudhon naturally attacked the Communists for wanting to socialize the means of production. In all of their programs, the Communists had drawn a sharp distinction between the means of production and the product, and had declared that not the latter but only the former was capital. Proudhon, like the French peasant, however, asserted that the product was also capital; thus he was forced into the definition of Adam Smith that capital is only stored-up labor and does not involve the element of exploitation.
In his defense of the individual owner, Proudhon had to make a severe attack against all associations. Trade unions were anathema to him. Strikes should not be permitted. Proudhon developed the thought that no permanent gain could accrue to strikers from striking, since a wage increase would simply mean that general prices would rise to take up the increased costs. Proudhon had no conception of the fact that the interests of capital and labor are antagonistic, that profit comes from unpaid labor, the unpaid product of the laborer, and that the more the worker is paid, generally speaking, and all other basic conditions remaining the same, the smaller will be the profit. While opposed to trade unions, Proudhon preached the organization of voluntary co-operatives and of mutual aid; he constantly stressed as the only tolerable associations, co-operatives among the producers, city and country, and free banking credit schemes for the possessor generally.
Attacking the proletariat, attacking monopoly, Proudhon was led to attack all authority, whether autocratic, democratic, or communistic. As for democracy and universal suffrage, he wrote, “What need have I of proxies, any more than of representatives?” “I reject all presumptive authority, all indirect solutions; I recognize no star-chamber; I desire to negotiate directly individually, for myself; universal suffrage is in my eyes nothing but a lottery.” (*8)
The rise of the proletariat and the terrible June Days had frightened the petty bourgeois, and we can understand Proudhon’s fear of democracy. He realized that from now on democracy would be only an arena for the intensified fighting of the historic social classes. Furthermore, just at this time democracy had given way to Napoleon III, who, peculiarly enough, had become dictator and Emperor precisely through the mechanism of democracy and the mandate of the people. In the light of the ignominious end of the revolutions of 1848, it was natural for Proudhon to lose faith in the people themselves and in the possibility of democracy as a progressive type of State.
Proudhon was no revolutionist. What he wanted was the peaceful suppression one after the other of all functions of government. In a letter to Marx, May 17, 1846, he confesses his antipathy to revolution and his desire to fight it. (*9) After the revolution of 1848 was definitely over and Napoleon III had taken the helm, Proudhon turned more and more to the Right. He became a Mutualist, preaching voluntary co-operation in economics and federalism in politics. His idea of “ordered Anarchism,” he confessed, was but an ideal which could not be realized; and the next best goal was local autonomy. So Proudhon, like Godwin, constantly seeking “justice” and finding it in the middle class, degenerated into the mere Liberal- Radical. And here we must leave him. (*10)
1. Proudhon born 1809, died 1865. He wrote What is Property? (1840-1841), Philosophy of Misery (1846), and other works.
2. See Y. Lu: The Political Theories of P. J. Proudhon, p. 21
3. Karl Marx: Class Struggles in France, p. 155 and following. (Henry Kuhn translation, 1924.)
4. See Karl Marx: Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Friedrich Engels wrote most of this.
5. This quotation and the preceding ones are from Karl Marx’s “Address to the Communist League (March, 1850),” reprinted in pamphlet form under the heading Two Speeches and also to be found in Labour Monthly, Vol. III, No. 2 (September, 1922).
6. Or as Proudhon put it: “I have wept over the poor workman, whose daily bread is already sufficiently uncertain and who has now suffered misery for many years. .… I have mourned over the bourgeois, whose ruin I have witnessed and who has been driven to bankruptcy and goaded to opposition of the proletariat. My personal inclination is to sympathize with the bourgeois but a natural antagonism to his ideas and the play of circumstances have made me his opponent.” (See Gide and Rist: History of Economic Doctrines, p. 307.)
7. P. J. Proudhon- General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 194-197.
8. The same, pp. 140-141.
9. See Gide and Rist, work cited, p. 320, footnote.
10. “Nevertheless his attacks on religion, the church, etc., ere of great merit in his own country at a time when the French socialists thought it desirable to show by their religiosity how superior they were to the bourgeois Voltaireanism of the eighteenth century and the German godlessness of the nineteenth. If Peter the Great defeated Russian barbarism by barbarity, Proudhon did his best to defeat French phrasemongering by phrases. His work on the coup d’etat, in which he flirts with Louis Bonaparte and, in fact, strives to make him palatable to the French workers, and his last work, written against Poland, in which for the greater glory of the tsar he expresses the most imbecile cynicism, must be characterized as not merely bad but base productions; of a baseness which corresponds, however, to the petty bourgeois point of view.” (The Correspondence of Marx and Engels (International Edition), p. 175.) If Louis Bonaparte was Napoleon, Proudhon was Rousseau-Voltaire.