Comparison of Pierre Joseph Proudhon and Karl MarxJune 27, 2021
As I told him a few months before his death, despite all his efforts to shake the classical idealist tradition, Proudhon remained an incurable idealist throughout his life, unable to transcend his bible, Roman Law and metaphysics.
Proudhon’s greatest misfortune was that he had never studied the natural sciences and had not adopted such methods. Proudhon had an ingenious instinct and saw the right way, but, being hindered by his idealistic method of thought, he always fell into his old mistakes. Proudhon was an eternal contradiction; a zealous genius and a revolutionary thinker who opposes idealistic deceptions but unfortunately cannot overcome them himself… As a thinker, Marx is on the right track.
Marx established the principle that legal evolution in history is the result, not the cause, of economic progress, an important and useful insight. Although Marx was not the first to make this comment—the same theory had to some extent been formulated by many others before Marx—still the honor of giving such a solid foundation to an economic system belongs to Marx. On the other hand, Proudhon understood and felt freedom better than Marx. Leaving aside the metaphysical doctrine that haunted him, Proudhon was instinctively revolutionary; He worshiped the devil and declared anarchy. Marx could well have created a much more rational system of freedom, but Marx lacks the instinct for freedom, is authoritarian from head to toe.
Mikhail Bakunin, 1870
Taken from Sam Dolgoff’s book Bakunin
Translated by Cemal Atila, KAOS Publications, 1998