Proudhon and Law
Excerpt from “État, droit et légitimité”, in Actualité de l’anarchisme, L’Homme et la Société, 1997/1-2, N° 123-124
Article mis en ligne le 24 avril 2020
dernière modification le 18 juin 2020

par Eric Vilain

ANARCHISM IS RARELY PERCEIVED as a theory and a practice tending to create a new Right ; yet this aspiration is constantly found, in the texts of great theorists or under the pen of activists. This Right is first of all that of “standing up against oppression and exploitation”.

“The right of every individual to stand up against oppression and exploitation is imprescriptible.
Would one be alone against all that one’s right to demand and revolt would remain inviolable...”, says Émile Pouget.

Beyond the individual right to revolt, libertarian reflection is based on a social reality which, in Proudhon’s words, gives the individual a morality “superior to his individuality” : Justice is “inert in a solitary existence” – which means that justice is a social phenomenon. It should come as no surprise that a man who asserts that “property is theft” gives the problem of law a priority place in his thinking. More generally, it can be said that all the struggles of the labour movement since its beginnings have been based on claims of Right : a Right to be established.