Proudhon's Preeminence

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Proudhon's Preeminence.

My dear Mr. Tucker:

Manifestly a sort of reversed Midas, all the gold I have hitherto touched has speedily dissolved, and what I have most earnestly striven after in almost every instance vanished beyond my reach. Indeed, I have so long camped with defeat that I doubt whether I could ever feel comfortable in the company of victory. I fear I am so made that I shall forever train with the defeated. And so may it be. I will not bewail it. But while I am beginning to resign myself to my fate,—that of a lone wanderer with nothing but his ideal and some friends and fellow-thinkers scattered over the earth, to cheer and sustain him in an unfriendly world well-nigh bereft of all ideals and fatally immersed in a " mere property career," — I hope there is something better in store for you and your great enterprises, Liberty and now also "The Proudhon Library," and that in your case the high spiritual rewards that always accompany the service of a noble cause will not want their material counterpart. In the prosecution of your journalistic and literary enterprises I sincerely wish you the most abundant success. Your essential work has my unqualified approval. In exalting, like Jesus, the Quakers, Emerson, and some other characters in whom the race flowered, the spontaneous element in man above fixed institutions, religious, political, or of whatever nature, and proclaiming the supreme excellence of liberty as a solvent of social ills and as the condition precedent to the perennial regeneration of human society, you, together with other Anarchists, are working, " not for an age, but for all time." Among the eminent thinkers and writers who proceeded on similar lines, who clearly recognized the utter futility and crime of politics and all arbitrary interference in the work of social reform, and who with great eloquence and power placed before the world the new hope there is for it in the spontaneous and natural agencies of liberty, the Frenchman Proudhon, so far as I am able to judge, is unexcelled. I cannot but congratulate you upon your undertaking the translation and publication of his complete works. It is true we have Herbert Spencer and Emerson, but Proudhon did his work in his own characteristic way, different from and often surpassing theirs, and for one I hold there is room for him in English. Let me assure you of my hearty cooperation in this your new enterprise. I have already urged the "Proudhon Library" upon a number of friends, and shall continue to bespeak for it the favor of others. Of course you are to place me on your list as a subscriber. It grieves me not to be able to support your enterprise more largely.

Yours truly, George Schumm.

St. Paul, Minnesota.

  • George Schumm, “Proudhon’s Preeminence,” Liberty 4, no. 18 (March 26, 1887): 5.