The Poverty of Philosophy. Answer to the Philosophy of Poverty by M. Proudhon

Karl Marx, 1847 free ebook

Written: First half of 1847; Source: The Poverty of Philosophy, by Karl Marx, Progress Publishers, 1955; First Published: in Paris and Brussels, 1847; Translated: from the French by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, 1955; Transcribed: by Zodiac for Marx/Engels Internet Archive ( 1999; Proofed: and corrected by Matthew Carmody, 2009.
In this work Marx critiques the economic (chapter one) and philosophical (chapter two) doctrine of P. J. Proudhon. Marx started work on this book in January 1847, as can be judged from Engels’ letter to Marx on January 15, 1847. By the beginning of April 1847, Marx’s work was completed in the main and had gone to the press. On June 15, 1847 he wrote a short foreword.
Published in Paris and Brussels in 1847, the book was not republished in full during Marx’s lifetime. Excerpts from section five of Chapter Two appeared in different years, mostly between 1872 – 1875 in papers such as La Emancipacion, Der Volksstaat, Social-Demokrat, and others. In 1880 Marx attempted to publish the Poverty of Philosophy in the French socialist newspaper L’Égalité, the organ of the French Workers’ Party, but only the foreword and section one of Chapter One were published.
This translation is from the original 1847 French edition. It has been updated to also include the changes/corrections Marx made in the copy of the book he presented to N. Utina in 1876, as well as the corrections made by Frederick Engels in the second French edition and the German editions of 1885 and 1892. Twentieth Century Press published the first English edition of this work in 1900. Note: italics in quotations are as a rule Marx’s. Also, references added in brackets correspond to the same edition Marx used.
M. Proudhon has the misfortune of being peculiarly misunderstood in Europe. In France, he has the right to be a bad economist, because he is reputed to be a good German philosopher. In Germany, he has the right to be a bad philosopher, because he is reputed to be one of the ablest French economists. Being both German and economist at the same time, we desire to protest against this double error.
The reader will understand that in this thankless task we have often had to abandon our criticism of M. Proudhon in order to criticize German philosophy, and at the same time to give some observations on political economy.
Karl Marx Brussels, June 15, 1847
M. Proudhon’s work is not just a treatise on political economy, an ordinary book; it is a bible. “Mysteries,” “Secrets Wrested from the Bosom of God,” “Revelations” – it lacks nothing. But as prophets are discussed nowadays more conscientiously than profane writers, the reader must resign himself to going with us through the arid and gloomy eruditions of “Genesis,” in order to ascend later, with M. Proudhon, into the ethereal and fertile realm of super-socialism. (See Proudhon, Philosophy of Poverty, Prologue, p. III, line 20.) free ebook