If there were no more thieves among us, we would all be upright and happy! This is socialism’s statement of principles!
Letter No. 5
P.-J. Proudhon to F. Bastiat
Today’s quote is typical of the issues that socialism is confronted to. There are no thinkers, be they socialist, liberal or nationalist, who deny that the absence of thieves would be a good to humanity. But if this is the statement of principles of socialism, it is wishful thinking to believe that it is enough to issue a decree for it to happen.
One of the fundamental characteristics of liberals is that they do not pretend being able to mould individuals but seek to take a situation, good or bad, into account in order to establish institutions that will allow society to progress, be it from a material or an immaterial point of view, the latter being illustrated by the pursuit of peace as a key benefit for individuals. What Proudhon is hinting at today is that he plans to mould individuals to his own image in order to live in a better society. What the future has shown to us is that this method for improving society systematically leads to horrors, not only because all individuals do not easily abide by the desiderata imposed by a third person but also because it is impossible to define what all these desiderata should be, apart from the will of the strongest psychopath of the day, the one who managed to established absolute power for himself.
Besides, I note that within his conclusion, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon uses the term “democratic centralism”, which I thought had been coined much later in the 20th century and which is one of the most interesting oxymorons of politics, revealing in its advocates the ability of the wolf to wear on the sheep’s clothing.
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