Allen Ritter, The Political Thought of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 1969

Explanation and Criticism

Not even the most understanding student of Proudhon's thought is likely to spare it of all criticism. Its onesided view of human nature, its biased slant on history, its self-defeating moral rigor, its sweeping denunciation of the status quo, not to mention its extravagant mutualist outcome -- all these features provide inviting targets for attack. Yet not all of them may be fairly criticized. Some parts of Proudhon's theory, like its moral rigor, follow from premises which, being judgments of intrinsic value, are beyond reproach. Others, like its radical critique and its proposal for mutualist reform, are undeserving of criticism because they were forced on Proudhon by circumstances he could not control. Analysis of these circumstances should therefore help to account for his most implausible ideas.

French Authority and Proudhonian Implausibility One circumstance that drove Proudhon toward radical criticism and sweeping reform was the pattern of authority prevalent in France. Alexis de Tocqueville was the first to describe this pattern and to trace its political consequences. Authority in France, he said, consisted of a "single central power controlling public administration throughout the country" by means of "rigid rules" covering "every detail of administration."1 The consequences of this pattern of authority, according to Tocqueville, were political apathy and the division of society into isolated compartments. The monarchy segregated social classes in order to govern more effectively. Being segregated, they became ever more politically indifferent and incapable.2 Recently Michel Crozier has applied Tocqueville's analysis to contemporary France. He sees the same kind of authority still producing the same effects. Today "the impersonality of rules" and "the centralization of decisions" cause "strata isolation" and "apathy in public affairs" just as they did under the old regime.3 But Crozier also sees something else, that escaped Tocqueville. He finds that Frenchmen use the pattern of authority they encounter in political life to govern their social lives as well. They relate to others through the medium of impersonal rules, and then unyieldingly stand up for their rights. Conversely, they avoid direct dealing as much as possible. "To compromise, to make deals, to adjust to other people's claims is frowned upon; it is considered better to restrict oneself and to remain free within the narrow limits one has fixed or even those one has had to accept."4 Social relations thus reinforce the very pattern of political authority that created them in the first place. To sum up, authority in France, as described by both Crozier and Tocqueville, takes the form of an aloof lawgiver, who imposes fair but unilateral decisions on all members of society. The main product of this pattern of authority is a disposition to obey and exploit impartial rules. Its main ban is on compromise and bargaining.

The bearing of this pattern of authority on Proudhon's attitude toward it is easily seen. Once he had decided that authority in France, far from being advantageous, was nothing but a prejudice, he had to condemn it radically and work for its total abolition. No attempt at moderating it could possibly succeed, since habits of submission to it were too deeply entrenched. Nor was this all. Since submission to monocratic legal authority and distaste for bargaining were mutually reinforcing, a successful attack on the first called for rehabilitation of the second. Proudhon's whole reformative enterprise, being meant to take place in France, had to glorify bargaining; otherwise it could not possibly reach its intended goal.

Tocquevilie too sought to undermine the traditional French pattern of authority, and for much the same reason as Proudhon. Both writers attacked it as destructive of liberty. But whereas Proudhon envisaged a totally new form of social order, Tocquevilie, who favored an aristocratic ideal of freedom, proposed to rebuild a feudal structure, to the greatest extent possible.5 This restoration involved a revival of religion as a weapon against state control and a reordering of government to strengthen local units and voluntary associations. The second of these planks is reminiscent of Proudhon's federalism, but the resemblance is only formal. The aim of Tocqueville's decentralization was to create a new aristocracy under modern democratic circumstances. He wanted local and associational units to "take the place of the individual authority of the nobles."6 Proudhon's federalism, on the other hand, was to be a substitute for both centralized and feudal authority. Hence it is not surprising that he harshly criticized Tocqueville. "Why, in his book on L'Ancien regime ou la Revolution [sic], does M. de Tocqueville join die ranks of those extolling an alliance of aristocracy and democracy, of Catholicism and liberty? The reason is that M. de Tocqueville, who like M. Guizot is an excellent Christian, is a perfect non-believer on matters of liberty and equality."7 In Proudhon's opinion, Tocqueville does not effectively combat French legalism and centralization. He merely restores an old pattern of authority that is even more objectionable.

Although the pattern of French authority goes far toward explaining the vehemence of Proudhon's critique and the oddness of his proposal for reform, it does not markedly help to explain his doubts about the viability of his proposal. Why did he worry so much that his scheme for bargaining would lead to war ?

The theorist in the history of political thought whose proposals most resemble Proudhon's did not have this fear. This theorist was G.D.H. Cole, in his Guild Socialist phase. Cole went almost as far as Proudhon toward dismantling government. Like Proudhon, he suggested that legal and political regulation be replaced by compromise among interested parties themselves. But in Cole's vision the dangers of bargaining do not figure at all. Negotiation between the Guilds is obviously important, yet no effort is made to define the conditions under which it is to take place. Bargaining is casually mentioned; Cole simply takes it for granted that this is the practice by which disputes will be settled.8 Cole's sanguine attitude toward bargaining is best explained as a symptom of his optimism about social harmony. "The essence of the whole proposal," he explains, "is that the producers should be put 'on their honor' to do their best."9 Cole implicitly assumes that society can handle its affairs in harmony without coercion. Assuming this, he need not worry about the problem of safety.

This assumption may hold true in England; it certainly does not in France, for there pluralism does not lead to harmony. Tocqueville was not the last to lament that French attempts to decentralize, even though half-hearted, have had disastrous results.10 The very pattern of authority that pluralism is supposed to change makes its adoption dangerous, by disposing people to stand up unyieldingly for their rights. Deep ideological cleavages add to the dangers of pluralism by fostering intransigence between potential negotiators. Since the sense of fair play in France is simply not vivid enough to warrant putting contenders "on their honor," Proudhon, unlike Cole, could not take the harmonious operation of bargaining for granted. French contenders are roguish swindlers, not honest gentlemen. They may be transformed into proud duelists, but never into genteel cricketeers; even this transformation will be difficult.11 Proudhon's determination to tame contenders who are not disposed to bargain peacefully accounts for his obsession with war and his resort to ever harsher measures to prevent it.

While conditions in France are responsible for some of the quirks in Proudhon's thought, they cannot be blamed for all of them. Given Proudhon's values and the world he faced, he had no choice but to aim at replacing established authority with bargaining. But this is not to say that his implausibilities are entirely justified, or even excused, by circumstances. The truth is that neither Proudhon's values nor environmental conditions forced him to reach the conclusions analyzed in this study. Both allowed generous scope for a different, and more acceptable, position. His failure to reach one is due to faulty theorizing, not to uncontrollable circumstances. There is ample warrant for asking exactly what is wrong with his theory and how it may be improved.

Respect or Autonomy?

Proudhon's political thought is above all else a liberating endeavor. It is an attempt to discover how we must change the world in order to be free. Viewed from this angle, its strongest point is its concept of a totally free man, autonomous in the sense that he not only acts as he pleases but decides as he pleases too. Most political writers deny that a man must enjoy liberty of choice in order to be free. If nothing prevents me from executing my decision, they say, then I qualify as free in die full sense of that word. What this thesis overlooks is that the decision I am free to carry out may itself be made without freedom. My choice may be impeded by a wide variety of restraints, such as overwhelming desire, ignorance, and social pressure. In such cases I would be deemed free according to the usual concept of liberty, but not according to Proudhon's more discerning one.12

Despite his discernment in making autonomy the goal of reform, Proudhon went only a short way toward showing how to reach it. The main reason he was unable to go further is that, rather than aiming directly for autonomy, he tried to achieve respect instead. Both goals have the same liberating effect on action, since both call for release from impediments to conduct. But they differ in their effect on choice in a way that makes respect far less suitable than autonomy as the aim of libertarian reform. Respect, unlike autonomy, imposes a duty to identify with the choices of others. The unfortunate effect of this duty is to curtail die very freedom of decision that Proudhon was anxious to defend. In most cases, to be sure, the duty of others to identify with my choices protects my freedom of decision. Persons who identify with my choices obviously will not interfere with them. But in one crucial situation this duty sharply curtails my freedom to decide as I please: when I encounter a person who chooses to do something I dislike. My duty to identify with his choice then restricts my own freedom of decision, by binding me to identify with a choice I would prefer to oppose. In short, Proudhonian respect obliges sacrifice of free decision for the sake of the wishes of other persons.

This shortcoming in the norm of respect shows that there is no place for it in a theory aimed at achieving autonomy by securing not only free action, but free decision as well. Fortunately, it can be easily dispensed with, because it is surely a mistake to think that a man's freedom of choice depends on others' identifying with his decisions. It may be pleasant to enjoy such identification, but it is a quite unnecessary condition of free choice. To decide freely, I must be exempt from restraint upon my will. All that is needed to assure this is that others refrain from interfering with my decisions; they need not respect them.13

Hence the basic correction to Proudhon's theory needed to make possible the freedom he seeks to achieve is the substitution of autonomy for respect as the goal of libertarian reform. The proper aim of liberating endeavor is not free action mixed with unfree choice, as it was for Proudhon, but action and choice that are equally free.

A Test for Autonomous Choice

Proudhon's mistaken definition of his goal set him off on the wrong track. He would have been less likely to reach the wrong destination if he had realized that social pressure blocks free choice. Had he seen this, he could not have said that people bound by the force of public opinion could still be free. If libertarian reform is not to repeat this mistake, a test must be added to its theory for distinguishing genuinely autonomous choice from choice made under the influence of social pressure.

The simplest test is the one first used by the romantics. Most of them thought society "a foreign body which the individual simply 'finds' there confronting him against his will."14 Having postulated a watertight separation between man and society, it was easy for them to distinguish self-directed from conformist choice. I choose autonomously when I follow the guidance of self-produced norms. I am a conformist when I follow the norms that society prescribes to me from outside. The romantic criterion looks solely to the origin of the norms or directives on which decision turns. Self-direction involves adherence to internally produced norms of choice, conformity to those which are externally imposed.

This test may be simple, but it is certainly inadequate, because it overlooks the fact that only a very small number of the norms used to guide decision have a purely personal origin. Almost all of them are absorbed from outside.15 To follow the romantics by using exemption from social influence as the sign of autonomy thus guarantees in advance that virtually no cases of autonomous choice will ever be found.

Some of the existentialists, our contemporary romantics, draw a line between autonomy and conformity that takes more account of society's influence on the will. They admit that public opinion may be internalized and hence that society is not, strictly speaking, a "foreign body," controlling solely by sanction and reward. But they immediately add that the volitional directives absorbed by an individual from his society are not die only kind he has; there are others immanent within him and authentically his own.16 An autonomous man follows this second type of directive, a conformist follows the first. Because it acknowledges society's influence on the will, the existentialist test for autonomy is superior to the romantic one, superior, but still not satisfactory, since it too ascribes existence to a core of self-produced, socially unmodified norms of choice. This ascription makes the existentialists' test just as pointless as that of the romantics. Since there are hardly any self-produced norms of choice, one can find almost no cases of autonomy, as existentially defined.

Both the romantics and the existentialists draw lines between autonomy and conformity that make the search for the former futile; they describe a more exalted kind of self-directed choice than social realities allow them to achieve. The sociologists, as if learning the lesson of the romantics' failure, propose to take the facts more seriously. Some, at least, think that the impact of society on the will makes it impossible to draw any line between autonomy and conformity. Conformity is the only reality. We may sometimes imagine that we are deciding according to self-produced directives, but what strike us as our own norms of choice are actually "forced upon us by the ways of the culture and the socialization process we undergo."17 The thesis that men can choose according to self-produced norms is a naive fiction. A person sometimes denies that his standards are absorbed from others, especially when he chooses to defy a prevalent convention, but he is mistaken. All that happens then, according to many sociologists, is that he follows a norm taken over from a deviant reference group. The important point is that he has nonetheless absorbed his standard from a social milieu, so that it cannot properly be called self-produced.

The bearing of the sociologists' attitude toward autonomy on die prospect for liberation is no different from that of the romantics. The romantics assure that the search for liberation will not reach its destination, the sociologists that it will never begin. Both, in their distinctive ways, condemn it to failure. For despite their differences, romantics and sociologists agree that men who absorb their norms of choice from outside cannot make autonomous decisions.

Fortunately, there is a way to escape this gloomy conclusion. Let us grant all the factual propositions made by die sociologists. We shall assume that they have forever refuted the claim, still made by the existentialists, that man can choose according to self-produced directives. Their thesis that norms of choice are always the products of social pressure will also be accepted. From these premises it follows incontestably that self-direction in the romantic sense of choice according to self-produced norms is an illusion. But this does not mean that no autonomy can be achieved at all. Even if all man's norms are absorbed from society, ample room for self-direction remains.

To think otherwise is to confuse autonomy with deviance; it is to commit the romantic fallacy of equating self-direction with total rejection of conventional norms. The romantics' abhorrence of social influence and their ardent thirst for spontaneity led to this error. We must be sober enough not to repeat it. The real sign of autonomy is not that a man rejects all prevalent norms of choice, but that his grounds for upholding the norms he accepts, be they prevalent or not, are of the proper kind. Description of these grounds will therefore open the door to liberation that the sociologists seem to have locked so securely.

Proudhon can be of help here, because he distinguishes correctly between autonomy and conformity in the political and religious spheres, if not the social one. In Propriete he maintained that autonomous choice does not call for rejecting all volitional directives whose origin is political. I can accept them while remaining my own master if I can support my acceptance with proof of their validity. If a man "no longer obeys because die king commands, but because the king convinces, it is clear that henceforth he recognizes no external authority and that he has become his own king."18 In Justice Proudhon applies the same argument to man's relationship with God. A person subject to religious influence may qualify as autonomous without rejecting all divine imperatives. In fact, he "may bow down before the majesty of a Supreme Being, but only under the express condition that this being deigns to give him explanations."19 The distinction Proudhon makes in the political and religious spheres also applies to society. I can accept socially prevalent norms of choice, while retaining my autonomy, provided I have proof of their validity.

The only way to secure this proof is through critical evaluation. Such evaluation has two forms.20 Either I must appraise possible norms of choice according to a standard, or else I must test them by a method of verification. In either case, I base my acceptance of the norms I uphold on systematic proof of tiieir validity. Acceptance backed by proof of this kind can be given to any norm, however conventional, without impairment of autonomy. Unless I go through the process of validating my norms by some standard or method that seems appropriate to me, I have no way of telling whether I have absorbed them unwittingly from my culture. Consequently, I have no assurance that my decisions are exempt from social pressure. But if I am careful to accept only those norms which pass methodical tests of validity, then I can be sure that, no matter how conventional they may be, I uphold them because I think them valid, not because they are prevalent. In other words, the process of critical evaluation serves as a yardstick for judging convention, as a shield against indiscriminately accepting it and as a weapon for resisting it when it proves to be invalid.

Making dependence on self-validated norms the sign of autonomous choice reopens die door to liberation which is closed by the sociologists. If decisions, to count as autonomous, must depend on self-produced norms, then autonomy cannot be achieved, but if they need depend only on self-validated ones, autonomy becomes attainable. While it may well be impossible to use norms of choice that lack a social origin, it is certainly possible to use ones that have been systematically validated. Hence the proper goal of liberating endeavor is not to encourage denial of convention -- as it was for the romantics -- but to strengthen die capacity for judging it by critical and methodical tests.

There is one major objection to this goal. The critic impressed by sociology is sure to claim that our so-called autonomous man is no less dependent on his social environment than an odier-directed one. It is easy to say that autonomy means choosing according to norms that have passed some explicit test. But how does the self-directed man arrive at this test? His social experience surely has some influence, perhaps a decisive one. If this is the case, is he really any more autonomous than the person who relies directly on convention when he makes a choice? The decisions of both, after all, are subject to the pressures of society.

This objection goes too far. It is true that social pressure cannot be entirely escaped -- except, perhaps, by moral innovators, who may be ignored. But there are differences in the degree of its influence. Though enjoyment of autonomy, as defined here, does not guarantee complete immunity from social pressure, it does assure some exemption from its power. An autonomous man, armed with a set of self-validated norms of choice, need not invariably follow expectations. Instead, he may conform discrimi-nately, by following only those expectations which accord with the norms he has critically accepted. Society still constrains the autonomous man, because it affects his tests for the norms he accepts. The point, however, is that the non-autonomous man, lacking any such test at all, is even more constrained by society, because society affects his norms directly rather than through the medium of his tests for tliem. In short, the autonomous person at least escapes direct social determination of his volitional standards, even though his tests for them are subject to such determination. This difference of degree may not be great, but it is perhaps the greatest possible; in any event it is sufficient to permit significant release from social pressure.

Some Implications of Autonomy for Society and Government

If the value of such release be granted in spite of its limits, the question that arises is: How can it be attained? This question will be only partly answered here, with some remarks suggested by Proudhon's ideas.

Nothing Proudhon ever defended can contribute more to autonomous choice than his pluralism, his support for diversity of social groups. Diversity fosters autonomy by encouraging people to examine their norms of choice critically. In a uniform society, men seldom think critically about the norms they use for making decisions, because everyone else uses them. In a diverse society, where different norms are accepted by different groups, critical examination is more widespread. Then, the availability of a variety of norms encourages each individual to question the validity of those he happens to uphold.

Although social diversity has great liberating power, Proudhon fails to make full use of it. He refuses to espouse the kind of thoroughgoing pluralism that would go furthest toward releasing choice from social restraint. What kept Proudhon from pressing for more diversity was the end he sought through use of a moderate amount. As we saw in an earlier chapter, he used diversity as a means to safeguard peace in his ideal society, by encouraging mutualist contenders to bargain rather than fight. The thoroughgoing pluralism that is most conducive to autonomy would defeat the objective of safeguarding peace, for it would incline mutualist contenders to question, and even reject, the principles on which mutualism depends.

The lesson of Proudhon's failure to make the most of pluralism's liberating power is easily drawn. Unless some method other than his is used to safeguard peace, die full benefits of diversity for autonomous choice cannot possibly be achieved. The most obvious alternative is legislation, the very device denounced by Proudhon as inconsistent with man's freedom. Fortunately, it can be shown that he was wrong to object to law on libertarian grounds.

Proudhon supports his libertarian objection to law by charging it with hindering action. Though this charge is true, it does not prove that law is always inimical to freedom. While all laws block free action to some extent, they need not reduce it on the whole. In fact, they may produce a net increase in options of conduct, even while eliminating some, by hindering more hindrances than they impose.

Suppose, nonetheless, for the sake of argument, that Proudhon is right to denounce law on libertarian grounds. Even if it is as coercive as he believes, law cannot be unequivocally condemned until its alternatives have been evaluated. The alternates may prove to be still more coercive.

One promising alternative to law as a safeguard for peace is the social pressure on which Proudhon himself relies. It is far from obvious, however, that social pressure is less coercive than law. Consider first whether social pressure impinges less than law on freedom to act as one pleases. The distinction between the absolute and the arbitrary is pertinent. Social pressure controls behavior less absolutely than law, because it is less severely sanctioned. Its penalties are milder than legal penalties, but, though social pressure controls behavior less absolutely than law, it also controls behavior more arbitrarily because its sanctions are more capricious. The penalties that sanction a law are limited by the terms of its enactment. Those that sanction a custom are limited only by the discretion of its enforcers. Hence persons subject to custom may not endure harsh penalties, but they are never safe from the comparatively mild penalties it does inflict.

Perhaps the nature of the sanctions of social and legal control make them equally inimical to free action, albeit for different reasons. In that case, the control that impinges least on free choice must be accounted superior from a libertarian point of view. There can be no doubt that law interferes less with decisions than social pressure. Legal control, applying to outward action, has little leverage on choice. Social pressure, through the process of internalization, wins direct access to those internal states of mind on which decision turns. Hence, even if law restricts action as much as custom does, it restricts choice so much less that it must be regarded by libertarians as the more suitable method for safeguarding peace.

Proudhon's evaluation of law is deficient not just because it misses the superiority of legislation to social pressure as a manager of conflict, but also because it fails to appreciate law's liberating power. It is true that in Du principe federatif Proudhon finally made mutualism dependent on law. But even then, he viewed legislation as a necessary evil, rather than as a practice for advancing die mutualist cause. Whatever the contribution of law to mutualism may be, it can certainly help protect decisions from the constraint of society. Law has the same sort of liberating power as social pluralism, because it too can encourage people to think critically about dieir norms of choice.

Even if my society is pluralistically arranged, so that a diversity of norms prevail, I may still not critically examine those I accept. I may be unacquainted with the available alternatives. I may fear die social sanctions I would incur, even in a pluralistic environment, by questioning the norms prevalent in my immediate milieu. While social mobility can do something to counteract this situation, law can do more. It can protect persons disposed to question prevailing social norms by regulating the methods through which convention is enforced. Used in this way, law offers valuable support to freedom of decision, by guaranteeing die individual a kind of immunity from social pressure that he could not otherwise enjoy.

Once it is recognized that law has a creative role to play in the quest for liberation, a path to that end different from Proudhon's comes into sight. While never forgetting the point he emphasized, that, as Bentham also saw, "every law is an infraction of liberty,"21 we must also remember that legal regulation may protect freedom, provided it is. properly applied. Defense of autonomy calls, not for abolishing law or even minimizing its impact, but for calculating the benefits and costs to freedom of using it in alternative ways. For the execution of this calculus Proudhon's insights are of value, but they are insufficient. His political vision was telescopic. It penetrated into remote areas that others could not see, but the price of this magnification was a narrowed field of view. Many commonplaces that were apparent to others were invisible to him. Proudhon's telescopic vision explains his theory's weakness and its strength; it also has guided this critique of his position, which has tried to fill in a few of its blind spots without ignoring its perceptivity.

Is Autonomy Desirable?

The worth of Proudhon's entire theory, as well as the foregoing suggestions for improvement, would be called into question if the value of autonomy could be convincingly denied. It is certainly not self-evident that the aim of reform should be autonomy. In fact, troublesome objections to its value can be raised.

One ground for belittling autonomy is that people do not want it. Few persons seek utmost freedom; most want only a basic minimum. A sufficient answer to this objection is: So what? The worth of ideals is not affected by conventional appraisals. It may be true that most people want nothing like utmost autonomy, for as the existentialists remind us, this is indeed a painful condition. But distaste for autonomy, however prevalent, cannot undermine its value.

Another argument against making autonomy the goal of reform points to its harmful psychological effects. "Where no body of common values and sentiments exists, a person feels isolated or lost," claims Sebastian de Grazia.22 Erich Fromm agrees that an environment conducive to autonomy leaves man "isolated, powerless, . . . alienated from himself and others; . . . ready for submission to new kinds of bondage."23 Sometimes explicitly, more often by implication, such writers invite us not only to abandon self-direction as a value but even to infringe on whatever autonomy individuals now enjoy. J. S. Mill's venerable dictum about a man's own good never being a sufficient warrant for restraining him against his will is dismissed as inhumane, or even dangerous.

Even if autonomy were psychologically harmful, this would not logically require its rejection as an over-riding end. Anyone with a strong commitment to autonomy could treat the damage it caused as a necessary evil, to be tolerated for the sake of a greater good. Nor is an environment conducive to autonomy, though not compelling it, as psychologically harmful as some writers say. Persons who find self-directed action and choice debilitating are unlikely to engage in it, even when it is easy to do so.

The most serious objections to making autonomy a goal of reform are those which expose it as unreachable. One such objection denies that autonomy can be reached, on the ground that total release from external restraint is impossible. Removal of all outward impediments to action and choice would not emancipate them, quite the reverse. For men in a world devoid of political, social, and religious controls would be continually obstructed by one another's depredations.

Even if complete freedom from external restraint could be achieved, autonomy would still be out of reach, because release from external restraints would produce enslavement to internal ones. The phenomenon of internal restraint is quite genuine. The inner tyranny of habit, inhibition, and overwhelming desire can be as great a barrier to autonomy as the outward despotism of law, convention, and religion.24 External restraint sometimes causes release from internal ones. Legal, social, and religious controls may help balance die psychological forces within a man, by strengthening some and weakening others, so that none overwhelm him. Hence full removal of external restraints would give rise to internal restraints that are equally inimical to autonomy.

Though these arguments show that complete autonomy is out of the question, they fail to disqualify it as a goal of reform. Though they show that autonomy is impossible to achieve completely, neither argument shows that it cannot be partially achieved. Hence anyone so disposed may make autonomy the aim of reform, provided he regards it not as a destination he will reach, but as a lodestar for guiding his search. What Proudhon said of the goal he aimed for is also true of autonomy. It is "an ideal to be pursued forever, but one that insuperable conflicts keep beyond reach."25

The elusiveness of autonomy may seem unfortunate. An unreachable ideal, after all, does not have much practical force. But this apparent defect is really a blessing in disguise. Confidence that ideals lie within easy grasp has been as great a source of human misery as despair of reaching them at all. Political wisdom begins with awareness that ideals are both necessary and unrealizable. It is complete when ideals, though recognized as unattainable, are applied to practice nonetheless. Whatever the defects of Proudhon's theory, it teaches this important truth.


1 Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Anchor Book edition (New York, 1955), pp. 57, 67.

2 Ibid., p. 107.

3 Michel Crozier, The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (Chicago, 1964), pp. 213, 220.

4 Ibid., p. 223.

5 For an excellent analysis of Tocqueville's aristocratic view of freedom see Raymond Aron, Essai sur les libertes (Paris, 1965), pp. 24-27.

6 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. Phillips Bradley (New York, 1945), i, 9.

7 Justice, in, 239.

8 G.D.H. Cole, Guild Socialism Restated (London, 1920), pp. 68, 147.

9 Ibid., p. 88.

10 Tocqueville, Old Regime, p. 196; Stanley Hoffmann, "The Areal Division of Powers in the Writings of French Political Thinkers," in Area and Power, ed. Arthur Maass (Glencoe, 1959), pp. 128-29.

11 Proudhon was far from hostile to duels and fought one himself, G.P., pp. 219-20.

12 For a convincing argument that free decision is as vital for political liberty as is free action see John L. Mothershead, Jr., "Some Reflections on the Meaning of Freedom," Journal of Philosophy, xlix, No. 21 (1952), pp. 667-72.

13 From a philosophical point of view, much more might be deemed necessary for free decision than mere absence of interference by others. But all parties to the philosophical controversy about free will would admit that the absence of such interference is a necessary condition for free decision, whatever else may be required.

14 Judith Shklar, After Utopia (Princeton, 1957), pp. 132-33. -- 203 --

15 Only the tiny class of persons who qualify as moral innovators use norms of choice that are indisputably self-produced. The norms used by innovators must be self-produced since, being original, they cannot possibly be absorbed from outside.

16 Edward A. Tiryakian, Sociologism and Existentialism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1962), p. 152.

17 David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd, Anchor Book edition (New York, 1953), p. 300.

18 Prop., p. 338.

19 Justice, 1, 7,66.

20 Mothershead, pp. 669-70.

21 Quoted in Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty (Oxford, i958)> P- 33-

22 The Political Community: A Study of Anomie, Phoenix Book edition (Chicago, 1963), p. 4.

23 Escape from Freedom, Avon paperback edition (New York, 1965), pp. 296-97.

24 Maurice Cranston, Freedom: A New Analysis (London, 1953), pp. 28-29. See also the interesting development of this theme, from a Freudian point of view, in Paul Roazen, Freud: Political and Social Thought (New York, 1968), pp. 289-99.

25 Quoted in Daniel Halevy, La vie de Proudhon (Paris, 1948), pp. 392-93; cf. Justice, iv, 289.