Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) was a French writer whose writings come under the rubric of socialism, that is, social idealism.
Proudhon is famous for saying that all property is theft. Proudhon chose to believe that everything in nature belong to all people and that any one who claims a part of it as his personal property has stolen it from the rest of us.
Proudhon believed that what one produces is ones property. He agrees that the only legitimate justification for property is labor, but the individual’s labor. If I work for something directly that something is legitimately mine. But if as a result of my manipulation of the financial markets I acquired billions of dollars, Proudhon would not consider that my property.
Proudhon advocated workers self-management of the work place. The workers should own the means of production, not the idle capitalist class.
Unlike Marx and other socialists Proudhon did not see society as better than the capitalist class; he did not want society to own the means of production, as was the case in Russia, but wanted a group of workers to directly own their work. Only those who worked on something own it, and this includes land. Land does not belong to society but to those working on it.
Proudhon considered himself a revolutionary (see his Confessions of a Revolutionary) and an anarchist. He and the Russian, Mikhail Bukanin, are considered the guiding lights of anarchism (refusal to recognize authority above the individual).
In other writings Proudhon the socialist utopian and anarchist showed that he was a rabid racist. His views on Jews (that they screw everybody and ought to be shipped out of Europe) and blacks (that they are not creative and have contributed nothing to science and technology hence not worth living) are absurd and not based on facts. Jews gave his European people their Christian religion, a religion whose ideas he was trying to translate into socialism. Africans gave the world the first civilization, Egypt.
Proudhon’s anti-Semitism and anti African posture showed that he was mentally unbalanced. Adolf Hitler could not have been more virulently anti-Semitic and anti African than this man who claimed to be fighting for the working man. That goes to show you that among so-called revolutionaries are many mentally deranged folk; as Harold Laswell observed, folk politicizing their personal psychopathologies.
Joseph Proudhon. What is Property? (1840)
Joseph Proudhon. Theory of Property. (1866)