Property is Theft! A Proudhon Anthology
Every time I look through this book, I'm amazed at the sheer amount and quality of material in it, and the scholarly apparatus included with it.
As I keep telling people, the last major Proudhon anthology out there -- if you can call it that -- was Stewart Edwards' Selected Writings of P. J. Proudhon. Calling Selected Writings an anthology is generous. Its format was actually more like that of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, with a long series of short excerpts from assorted works grouped together under topic headings. It totalled 262 pages, which meant that even if someone took the trouble to assemble all the scattered excerpts from any particular book in order in a single place, the result would hardly qualify as an abridgement.
On the other hand, this effort by Iain McKay -- widely familiar as the principal author of An Anarchist FAQ -- is over 800 pages, with almost twice as many words per page. It includes modestly abridged versions of almost all of Proudhon's major works, along with dozens of shorter works in their entirety. The abridgements of longer works include What is Property?, both volumes of System of Economic Contradictions, Solution of the Social Problem, Organisation of Credit and Circulation, Bank of the People, Confessions of a Revolutionary, Interest and Principal, General Idea of the Revolution, The Federative Principle, The Political Capacity of the Working Classes, and The Theory of Property. The excerpted material from General Idea of the Revolution, for example, is over fifty pages, and over forty pages are excerpted from Political Capacity of the Working Classes.
A considerable portion of the material is in English translation for the first time, some of it translated by Proudhon scholar Shawn Wilbur.
Iain McKay's fifty-page Introduction is not only a studied bibliographic essay on Proudhon, but also a closely argued thesis regarding the place of markets in the anarchist movement and anarchism in the socialist movement. As such, it is the latest contribution to the ongoing and often heated "Who is an anarchist?" debates, and will no doubt attract careful attention from my market anarchist comrades at Center for a Stateless Society.
Edwards' venture at a Proudhon anthology, for better or worse, was pretty much it for thirty years or so. I expect this one will stand -- far more deservedly -- as the standard anthology for at least that long.