This is a letter that Proudhon wrote to a fellow Frenchman who we wished to work with to promote a socialist revolution.

To see the original French click here

To Mr. De Giradin1

Saint-Pélage, November 10, 1849

  Sir, I just read your Fifty-Two; it is useless to tell you how marvelously I understand you. WE ARE, YOU AND I, THE TWO POLES OF THE REVOLUTION; it is inevitable that six months from now we will have turned the old world upside down.

  I offer to shortly make your system clear in the Voice of the People. I will do this taking the point of view [offered by] my favorite ideas or, rather, my anti-governmental inclinations; it is by this that we especially differ from one another, and our discussion, if you will, is going to become interesting. I will point out parts of your work that seem flawed to me. You explain them or modify them, each as you choose. But the most important point will be my criticism that, as I see it, you strongly attack property rights, and without knowing it you stand for regulation of everything by the state, and IT FOLLOWS THAT YOU ARE EVEN MORE SOCIALIST THAN I, something that I am not jealous of, assuredly, but which I find very dangerous for your project.

  The criticism that I plan to make of your plan won't, in the slightest, do you wrong. Merciful God! You will never be suspected of communism, and you will get all the benefits of my observations, become popular, become close the upper class, whom you will have the pleasure of having reassured.

  As for me, the obnoxious, absurd role that I have been playing for the past six months doesn't permit me to deprive myself of the spontaneously offered support of a man such as Mr. de Giradin. I have been searching for a long time for a man to whom I can give the reputation of premier revolutionary of this age; this man is you. Take measures in consequence. When the Press becomes associated with the Revolution and Voice of the People with the Conservation, maybe finally countries will have confidence in themselves and work towards the future. Only have courage, and defend your system, avouching for carrying it out and for all consequences, and I believe that I before long I will be able to tell you that people do not speak more highly of anyone else but you

  Agree, sir, to my amiciable salutations.


1. Translated from the French by Stephanie Silberstein