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PROUDHON, Pierre-Joseph.

System of Economic Contradictions, or the Philosophy of Misery.

Translated from the French by Benj. R. Tucker. Volume I [all published].

The Humboldt Publishing Co., New York , [1888?] Stock Code: 133006
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First separate edition in English, first published by Tucker himself as the fourth volume in his translated edition of Proudhon's works (1888), here with a cancel half-title and title page, and a variant binding. This reissue is rarely found - OCLC locates only one copy, at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, with another copy known in the University of Chicago. Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) was among the leading American proponents of individualist anarchism, promoting the case in his periodical Liberty from 1881 to 1908. Proudhon was a major influence on Tucker, and Tucker declared him the "profoundest political philosopher that has ever lived" (Liberty, I, January, 1882, p. 4). Tucker also translated Max Stirner, and undertook the first American translation of Nietzsche.
The Philosophy of Misery was Proudhon's magnum opus, his analysis of what he saw to be the economic contradictions of 19th-century capitalism, which he felt would lead in time to an anarchist society. Proudhon sent a copy of the book to Karl Marx, then his friend, for review. Marx read it in two days, and was infuriated. "He therefore determined to destroy it, and with it Proudhon's reputation as a serious thinker, once and for all"; Marx published his rebuttal, Misère de la Philosophie, in 1847, "the bitterest attack delivered by one thinker upon another since the celebrated polemics of the Renaissance" (Berlin, Marx, fifth edition, p. 108). The split between the two men over the book and its prognosis created the schism between the Marxists and the anarchists which remains to this day.

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Octavo. Original red cloth, spine lettered in gilt, covers panelled with publisher's device in black and in blind, green floral endpapers.


Partially effaced early ownership stamp to front pastedown. Lightly scuffed, front hinge cracked but holding, split to front free endpaper, internally clean. A very good copy.


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