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System of Economical Contradictions; or, the Philosophy of Misery   By: (1809-1865)

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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's monumental work, often translated as "System of Economical Contradictions; or, the Philosophy of Misery," is a profoundly thought-provoking exploration of political economy. Originally published in 1846, this book continues to captivate readers with its bold assertions and groundbreaking ideas regarding the flaws and inherent contradictions within the capitalist system.

One of the most striking aspects of Proudhon's work is his passionate critique of private property. He argues that the ownership of capital leads to exploitation and social inequality, ultimately perpetuating a cycle of misery for the majority of society. Proudhon's incisive analysis and eloquent writing style make his argument both persuasive and engaging, challenging readers to reconsider their notions of economic justice.

Furthermore, Proudhon's discussion of the concept of value is particularly intriguing. He delves into the distinction between "use value" and "exchange value," arguing that the latter is an arbitrary and artificial creation of capitalism. Proudhon's exploration of these concepts sheds light on the intricacies of market dynamics and serves as a foundational pillar for subsequent theories of value.

Another notable feature of Proudhon's work is his exploration of the role of the state in perpetuating economic contradictions. He criticizes the state's intervention in the market, arguing that it often benefits the elite and perpetuates the exploitation of the working class. Proudhon's examination of power dynamics and his call for radical political transformation are bound to resonate with readers seeking a comprehensive critique of existing systems.

While Proudhon's writing can at times be dense and complex, his ideas remain timeless and deeply relevant. Though written in the 19th century, his analysis of capitalism's shortcomings continues to find resonance in the modern world, where income inequality remains a pressing issue.

In conclusion, Proudhon's "System of Economical Contradictions; or, the Philosophy of Misery" is a seminal work that challenges traditional economic thought and presents a powerful case for alternative systems. Through his incisive critique and compelling argumentation, Proudhon invites readers to contemplate the contradictions inherent in capitalism and explore avenues for a more just and equitable economic order. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in political economy, economic justice, or the nature of human progress.

First Page:



Destruam et aedificabo. Deuteronomy: c. 32.




CHAPTER I. OF THE ECONOMIC SCIENCE % 1. Opposition between FACT and RIGHT in Social Economy % 2. Inadequacy of Theories and Criticisms

CHAPTER II. OF VALUE % 1. Opposition of Value in USE and Value in EXCHANGE % 2. Constitution of Value; Definition of Wealth % 3. Application of the Law of Proportionality of Values

CHAPTER III. ECONOMIC EVOLUTIONS. FIRST PERIOD. THE DIVISION OF LABOR % 1. Antagonistic Effects of the Principle of Division % 2. Impotence of Palliatives. MM. Blanqui, Chevalier, Dunoyer, Rossi, and Passy

CHAPTER IV. SECOND PERIOD. MACHINERY % 1. Of the Function of Machinery in its Relations to Liberty % 2. Machinery's Contradiction. Origin of Capital and Wages % 3. Of Preservatives against the Disastrous Influence of Machinery

CHAPTER V. THIRD PERIOD. COMPETITION % 1. Necessity of Competition % 2. Subversive Effects of Competition, and the Destruction of Liberty thereby % 3. Remedies against Competition

CHAPTER VI. FOURTH PERIOD. MONOPOLY % 1. Necessity of Monopoly % 2... Continue reading book >>

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