Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Conquering causes and dominant trends attract the attention of many historians while unsuccessful movements are neglected or forgotten. Such is unfortunate in the extreme, for these vanquished ideas are often but submerged in the prevailing trends to emerge in the shape of subtle, formative influences on human psychology and the structuring of society. As socialist thought and movements developed in the latter half of the nineteenth century, two diverging currents were readily distinguishable. One, evolving from the teachings of Karl Marx, moved toward increasing centralization and authoritarianism and has become associated in the public mind with the emergence of the Communist State. The other, although less well known, is equally important to a full understanding of the development of socialism. This second tradition of social dissent has been variously labeled libertarianism, mutualism, federalism, and individualistic socialism, but is most often referred to as socialistic anarchism.

This tradition represents not merely a negative, anti-government posture, but is also a positive commitment to man's fundamental, essential nature; the anarchistic "association" is a manifestation of natural human urges. Such a doctrine is grounded in the ultimate meaning of morality-the possibility for each person to realize and fulfill himself as a human individual living in concert with other human beings. Human nature, le moi, becomes the real source of moral dogma.

The thinking of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon provided the basis for the development of these ideas as they have emerged in movements and theories of social dissent since the mid-1800' s. It is the purpose of this paper to trace the influence of Proudhon as a philosopher and, perhaps unwittingly, as a revolutionary personality on the development of libertarian theories. and activities, especially those in France in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. France deserves this position of emphasis, not only as the homeland of Proudhon, but also because in France, the various implications of socialistic anarchism were explored with a passion and logical extremity rare elsewhere. 1 France was the center of practical as well as of theoretical anarchism. The Paris Commune was created by men who called themselves Mutualists or Federalists, and anarcho-syndicalism, the only form of anarchism to gain real mass support, developed in France.