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The Poverty of Philosophy criticizes the economic and philosophical arguments of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon set forth in The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty. Marx specifically accuses Proudhon of wanting to rise above the bourgeoisie. In the history of Marx's thought and Marxism, this work is pivotal in the distinction between the Marxist concep The Poverty of Philosophy criticizes the economic and philosophical arguments of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon set forth in The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty. Marx specifically accuses Proudhon of wanting to rise above the bourgeoisie. In the history of Marx's thought and Marxism, this work is pivotal in the distinction between the Marxist concepts of utopian socialism and scientific socialism. This Elibron Classics edition is a facsimile reprint of a 1920 edition by Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago.


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The Poverty of Philosophy criticizes the economic and philosophical arguments of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon set forth in The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty. Marx specifically accuses Proudhon of wanting to rise above the bourgeoisie. In the history of Marx's thought and Marxism, this work is pivotal in the distinction between the Marxist concep The Poverty of Philosophy criticizes the economic and philosophical arguments of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon set forth in The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty. Marx specifically accuses Proudhon of wanting to rise above the bourgeoisie. In the history of Marx's thought and Marxism, this work is pivotal in the distinction between the Marxist concepts of utopian socialism and scientific socialism. This Elibron Classics edition is a facsimile reprint of a 1920 edition by Charles H. Kerr & Company, Chicago.

30 review for The Poverty of Philosophy

  1. 4 out of 5

    C

    This is the first book by Marx that I cannot rank highly. Marx has a notorious reputation for belittling anarchists, and wasting too much time on responding to less worthy opponents, instead of developing his own theories. There are even rumors and notions that had Marx solely done his own work, and stopped wasting time in rhetorical matches to the philosophic death, he may have finished all his intended volumes of Capital. We’ll never know, but this is certainly one of those books that gave Mar This is the first book by Marx that I cannot rank highly. Marx has a notorious reputation for belittling anarchists, and wasting too much time on responding to less worthy opponents, instead of developing his own theories. There are even rumors and notions that had Marx solely done his own work, and stopped wasting time in rhetorical matches to the philosophic death, he may have finished all his intended volumes of Capital. We’ll never know, but this is certainly one of those books that gave Marx this nasty reputation. The first half of the book is like watching Einstein mock grade schoolers for their poor math performance. Yes, Marx is that much superior to Proudhon, but instead of merely proving him wrong, and revealing the error of his ways, perhaps even offering a helping hand and guidance, Marx proceeds to bury him six feet under, and place a dunce cap on his philosophical grave stone. In a letter to a friend Marx even remarks that this reply/book, ruined their friendship forever. Some friendship… Economically, there’s little here that is not stated clearer, and with more depth in Capital, EP Manuscripts, and Wage Labor and Profit. Moreover, the chapters dealing with metaphysics and philosophy are very cursory glances into Marx’s clearer theory of historical materialism, as found in The German Ideology. However the book warrants three stars for two reasons. First it dispels the myth that Marx saw history as a teleological process whereby communism was inevitable and the light at the end of the tunnel. Two, he mirrors a critique anarcho-primitivist have been moving towards (I’m thinking of Derrick Jensen, DGR, and John Zerzan). Proudhon develops his own dialectic whereby everything in history has a good side and a bad side. Marx quips about the good side to slavery, in typical sarcasm. Proudhon also believes that the tensions between the good and the bad are inevitably leading to equality. All history for Hegel is the realization of the absolute, and for Proudhon, it’s the realization of equality. Marx spends ample time refuting this view. Thus, Marx does not see history as a trajectory towards equality as he has been accused of doing. The second praise worth point is summed up in a quote, where Marx sees civilization as the falling point of humanity, and not its rise into progress: “The very moment civilization begins, production begins to be founded on the antagonism of orders, estates, classes, and finally on the antagonism of accumulated labor and actual labor. No antagonism, no progress. This is the law that civilization has followed up to our days. Till now the productive forces have been developed by virtue of this system of class antagonisms.” Overall, read Marx’s other works, this isn’t a very good one. Unless you’re like me, and just want to read everything he wrote, including the lousy stuff…

  2. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    man with unruly facial hair engages in intra-left polemic with neckbearded anarchist in deathmatch over the issue of best politico-cosmetological system.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rothermel

    It took three attempts over 30 years, but I finally read this book. Marx is a demanding writer, and his sacbrous style here can be confusing to the inattentive reader. His nemesis here is Proudhon, a sanctimonious middle class tinkerer who wants to bring forth a peaceful society by elimination of contradictions. "Use only the positive aspects of every economic category," is his insight. It does not take much effort to hear such sentiments echoed more recently than Proudhon's time. Start the book, r It took three attempts over 30 years, but I finally read this book. Marx is a demanding writer, and his sacbrous style here can be confusing to the inattentive reader. His nemesis here is Proudhon, a sanctimonious middle class tinkerer who wants to bring forth a peaceful society by elimination of contradictions. "Use only the positive aspects of every economic category," is his insight. It does not take much effort to hear such sentiments echoed more recently than Proudhon's time. Start the book, read it straight through without underlining anything. It takes about four hours. Then go back through to highlight Marx's illuminating lightning bolts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aung Sett Kyaw Min

    marx really takes proudhon to task for the latter's vulgarised hegelian idealist schema in which economic categories are always already developed to their fullest expression in the realm of ideas without any traffic with materiality. in proudhon there's only abstract logical movement from one category to the next and the real movement in history is relegated to an epiphenomenal role. but in order to explain one category proudhon is compelled to posit the rest of the system of contradiction simul marx really takes proudhon to task for the latter's vulgarised hegelian idealist schema in which economic categories are always already developed to their fullest expression in the realm of ideas without any traffic with materiality. in proudhon there's only abstract logical movement from one category to the next and the real movement in history is relegated to an epiphenomenal role. but in order to explain one category proudhon is compelled to posit the rest of the system of contradiction simultaneously. this book is also a serviceable textual evidence against those who leverage the charge of "totalizing historicism" against marx

  5. 4 out of 5

    Saeed

    I must read this book : https://goo.gl/obvp37 I must read this book : https://goo.gl/obvp37

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point is to change it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gilly Singh

    Part one of this text includes an incisive critique of Proudhon's idealist economic viewpoints. Such criticism also gives scope for Marx to put forward his economic theories. The Poverty of Philosophy is far from being an introductory text and I would highly recommend Comrades study Value, Price and Profit/Wage Labour and Capital first as well as Socialism: Utopian & Scientific for an overview of the ideas which Marx had developed. That is the only reason I scored it 3 out of 5. Part two goes in d Part one of this text includes an incisive critique of Proudhon's idealist economic viewpoints. Such criticism also gives scope for Marx to put forward his economic theories. The Poverty of Philosophy is far from being an introductory text and I would highly recommend Comrades study Value, Price and Profit/Wage Labour and Capital first as well as Socialism: Utopian & Scientific for an overview of the ideas which Marx had developed. That is the only reason I scored it 3 out of 5. Part two goes in depth on the philosophical ideas which underpin Proudhon's economics. Once again, it gives scope for Marx to elaborate his own conception of Dialectical Materialism. The edition of The Poverty of Philosophy which I read was the edition published by Foreign Languages Press in Peking/Beijing and it included appendices. The appendices themselves are far from essential but they attempt to reiterate some of the key points raised by Marx in his criticism of Proudhon. It is not easy going but this text is worth studying in depth once you have come to grips with the basics of Marxist Economics and Philosophy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abraham Lewik

    So after sitting down at the Curry Club in Osaka, I opened this on my mobile phone. After reading the introduction, the content became clear. Wouldn't a master professor teach that's what an introducion should be? Don't read this if you don't care about a squabble between philosopher-economists from 200ish years ago. To be praised is the free & open access to the information enabled by Marxist.com. So after sitting down at the Curry Club in Osaka, I opened this on my mobile phone. After reading the introduction, the content became clear. Wouldn't a master professor teach that's what an introducion should be? Don't read this if you don't care about a squabble between philosopher-economists from 200ish years ago. To be praised is the free & open access to the information enabled by Marxist.com.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Boyte

    Early articulation of Marx's views, which will be developed in further works- this is a takedown of Proudhon's anarchistish ideas. The language and context are tricky, even with some background in political economy, the introduction from Engels is particularly sharp, and much of the books thrust is in the first section- essentially Proudhon arguing that the solution to capitalism's problems is a more fair distribution of the value of labor, and Marx arguing for a more revolutionary outlook. Marx Early articulation of Marx's views, which will be developed in further works- this is a takedown of Proudhon's anarchistish ideas. The language and context are tricky, even with some background in political economy, the introduction from Engels is particularly sharp, and much of the books thrust is in the first section- essentially Proudhon arguing that the solution to capitalism's problems is a more fair distribution of the value of labor, and Marx arguing for a more revolutionary outlook. Marx goes on to criticize the philosophical and historical errors. The heart of the argument, can we more fairly distribute products that are created through private ownership, or do we need to do away with the system of private ownership, is incredibly relevant today.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Adams

    Many seem quick to avoid this work as it is perceived as a general attack by Marx upon all anarchists. A reading of the text quickly proves this is not the case. Much of the dispute Marx has with Proudhon is rooted in Proudhon's misconception of political economy and claims of original thought that were really just disguised or renamed variations of thought espoused by the various English political economists. Much of the value of this work comes from Marx's explanation of his early conception of Many seem quick to avoid this work as it is perceived as a general attack by Marx upon all anarchists. A reading of the text quickly proves this is not the case. Much of the dispute Marx has with Proudhon is rooted in Proudhon's misconception of political economy and claims of original thought that were really just disguised or renamed variations of thought espoused by the various English political economists. Much of the value of this work comes from Marx's explanation of his early conception of dialectics, and the negation of the negation, as well as his historical theory of the transition from feudalism to capitalism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Max

    The title's a poke at Proudhon's "The Philosophy of Poverty". Marx uses his retort to Proudhon's analysis of commodity exchange to provide an in-depth, but accessible, understanding of how commodity production works, including demystifying how the market decides what products are more valuable than others, despite their lack of real utility. I wouldn't recommend this before reading his "Value, Price and Profit" or "Wage-Labor and Capital", but may be a good work to read before tackling Das Kapit The title's a poke at Proudhon's "The Philosophy of Poverty". Marx uses his retort to Proudhon's analysis of commodity exchange to provide an in-depth, but accessible, understanding of how commodity production works, including demystifying how the market decides what products are more valuable than others, despite their lack of real utility. I wouldn't recommend this before reading his "Value, Price and Profit" or "Wage-Labor and Capital", but may be a good work to read before tackling Das Kapital.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manda Lea

    I heart Karl Marx, but philosophical works that exist solely to argue against other philosophical works are less than stimulating. Of course, there are always ideas to glean from the text. Not my favorite Marx work. I certainly wouldn't recommend it. I heart Karl Marx, but philosophical works that exist solely to argue against other philosophical works are less than stimulating. Of course, there are always ideas to glean from the text. Not my favorite Marx work. I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lina

    Its fucking great so far..every page is so quotable. Karl Marx was so ahead of his time its sad he was surrounded by so many ignorant people at the time :/. Love this man!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Hardly understood any of it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    persona

    Relatively advanced, his best work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Puwa

    Both communism and socialism can't practice together, which means in one chicken half for consumption and another half for laying eggs. there is no logic. Capitalism will form itself, grow itself, and destroy itself, therefore, there can not be two swards in one pouch. So, liberalism will prevail in any civilized society and that social classes will grow up parallelly so, the liberalized system balanced the social classes. Both communism and socialism can't practice together, which means in one chicken half for consumption and another half for laying eggs. there is no logic. Capitalism will form itself, grow itself, and destroy itself, therefore, there can not be two swards in one pouch. So, liberalism will prevail in any civilized society and that social classes will grow up parallelly so, the liberalized system balanced the social classes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I don't understand why this book is so highly rated. It is entirely Marx putting the smackdown on some M. Proudhon. Maybe it was interesting and relevant back then - and it certainly seems like Proudhon deserved it - but now it seems mostly irrelevant. I only gave it as many stars as I did because Marx's prose is very witty and entertaining. I don't understand why this book is so highly rated. It is entirely Marx putting the smackdown on some M. Proudhon. Maybe it was interesting and relevant back then - and it certainly seems like Proudhon deserved it - but now it seems mostly irrelevant. I only gave it as many stars as I did because Marx's prose is very witty and entertaining.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ali Hassan

    This book discusses the two following points: 1) the value of any commodity is purely and solely determined by the quantity of labor required for its production. 2) the product of the entire social labor is divided among the three classes: landowners (rent), capitalists (profit), and workers (wages).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Saik Karik

    Sometimes it's a little bit unfair with Proudhon, despite being totally right in almost every point, even though the precision of his work will grow over time, this is his first occasion to express his ideas in a polemic form (understanding polemic as a critic of others' ideas, as What to do of Lenin). Sometimes it's a little bit unfair with Proudhon, despite being totally right in almost every point, even though the precision of his work will grow over time, this is his first occasion to express his ideas in a polemic form (understanding polemic as a critic of others' ideas, as What to do of Lenin).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Enrique Martinez

    Poor Proudhon, a very hard opponent Karl Marx

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Noselli

    Led me to the study of Albert Schweitzer's autobiography. Led me to the study of Albert Schweitzer's autobiography.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Mostly makes important economic arguments against Proudhon. Some important theories about political economy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Lenzo

    Audiobook on LibriVox read by Tray One of the easiest audiobooks to follow thanks to the beauty of logic. This book is a response to 1700s economist Proudhon’s The Philosophy of Poverty. The structure of this book is, Marx takes excerpts from Proudhon and responds to his claims. Early in the book Proudhon makes the claim that railroads and road transport must be charged at the same price even though railroads are 4x as fast at moving goods. He uses faulty math and statistics so Marx must correct Audiobook on LibriVox read by Tray One of the easiest audiobooks to follow thanks to the beauty of logic. This book is a response to 1700s economist Proudhon’s The Philosophy of Poverty. The structure of this book is, Marx takes excerpts from Proudhon and responds to his claims. Early in the book Proudhon makes the claim that railroads and road transport must be charged at the same price even though railroads are 4x as fast at moving goods. He uses faulty math and statistics so Marx must correct it. Marx breaks down the economy into two simple factors, labor and goods (products of the labor). He reinforces that concept throughout the book, refuting the complexity and murkiness Proudhon implores as an economist. Another interesting bit is Marx’s claim that the capitalist class and the goods they produce aren’t born out of necessity or even competition, as free market economists like to claim, rather the products are forced upon us and we are told they are things we need. He also explains how competition within the capitalist class is a contradiction where the bigger fish is always going to swallow the smaller one, so competition will always lead to the capitalists eating their own, consolidating wealth and leading to monopoly. This is the primary contradiction that leads to the inevitable fall of capitalism (fascism), or on the opposite end the eradication of the human species via ecological collapse, war, or nuclear fall-out. The parasite tendencies of fascists (capitalists) will lead to one of these inevitabilities.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Fritz

    If you read this book in conjunction with Marx's Communist Manifesto you get the most concise essence of what he believed. I thought that Marx was very astute on economic theory, and he did not clutter his ideas with an overflow of words or nonsense. His philosophy of history is interesting, but you cannot help but conclude that he was simply wrong. The working class did not need to rise up against the capitalist to be freed from an inhumane slavery. Property did not need to be nationalized to s If you read this book in conjunction with Marx's Communist Manifesto you get the most concise essence of what he believed. I thought that Marx was very astute on economic theory, and he did not clutter his ideas with an overflow of words or nonsense. His philosophy of history is interesting, but you cannot help but conclude that he was simply wrong. The working class did not need to rise up against the capitalist to be freed from an inhumane slavery. Property did not need to be nationalized to spread the wealth of the modern nation. Peace, brotherhood, the end of religion and the state were absolutely NOT the result of any communistic revolution. He was correct, however, in his philosophy of history when he anticipated a socialistic state where property rights were lessened, wealth redistribution was made a matter of policy, and the divide between rich and poor was blurred. The book is interesting, and Marx is interesting, but the fanfare that he still gets is far too much hype. It is comparable to waiting for the 2000 year anticipated return of Christ. All of Marx's predictions were wrong. Only the spirit of his predictions were remotely accurate.

  25. 5 out of 5

    M. Ashraf

    It is a good piece a critique to another book so to have a good opinion about it you have to read The Philosophy of Poverty by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon first Thus a read is in order after reading the first book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dipa Raditya

    Wanna know the younger side and writing style of the most controversial thinker?? Try this one!!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karlo Mikhail

    Great book. Must read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Karl marx started, co-relating the religion, employment, starvation, merchant and employee status. Amazing book which turned the world upside down.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cory

    The book was interesting, but a little dry. I could only read it in short bursts.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I mean, if you really want to read a long rant. Marx makes Proudhon seem completely stupid.

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