Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B14, B31, P14

Key Words

Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Socialism, The Philosophy of Poverty, The Poverty of Philoso


This inquiry seeks to establish that Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon espoused fundamentally different visions of socialism. Marx regarded Proudhon with initial enthusiasm and joined the left at large in celebrating his 1840 essay, What is Property? However, in 1846, when Proudhon attempted to solve the problems of capitalism in his work, System of Economic of Contradictions or The Philosophy of Poverty, Marx took to his pen for an unsparing attack, authoring his The Poverty of Philosophy. At the crux of their split were two analyses of the status of labor and two competing prescriptions for change. While Proudhon wished to align property rights and access to means of production in favor of laborers in a decentralized fashion, Marx saw the need for a radical political change along with the abolition of property and the market system. The differences in the two visions have echoed in the debates over socialism ever since.


© Lillian Garcia

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