Proudhon's Solution Of The Social Problem

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Edited by Henry Cohen

Vanguard Press, 1927.

P.-J. Proudhon's Solution du Problème Social consisted of five sections: "Solution du Problème Social;" "Organisation du Crédit et de la Circulation;" "Résumé de la Question Social;" "Banque d'Échange;" and "Banque du Peuple." The collection does not seem to have been included in the Rivière edition of the Oeuvres Complète, so the standard French edition is vol. 8 of the Œuvres Anciennes Complète published by A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven and Co. (1868) This edition is available on microfiche from John Zube's Libertarian Microfiche Project.

William B. Greene appears to have been one of the first to translate portions of the work, in his 1850 Mutual Banking. (The passages, from ""Organisation du Crédit et de la Circulation," translate roughly pages 112-120 of the original, with minor omissions, mostly related to the specific politics of the 1848 Revolution.) Henry Cohen's Proudhon's Solution of the Social Problem consists of an extensive expansion of Greene's translation, together with Charles A. Dana's Proudhon and His Bank of the People (1849/1869), and an edited version of Greene's [[Mutual Banking, Showing The Radical Deficiencies Of The Existing Circulating Medium, And The Advantages Of A Free Currency]] (1871). Dana's work appears to be presented in its entirety. Greene's has been substantially reduced in length. (A full treatment of the edits will appear elsewhere, but it's worth noting that the removal of the sections by Proudhon, in order to expand them in a separate section, was accompanied by the removal of a short section, critical of Proudhon, which is worthy of attention. As the only modern reprints of Greene's mutual bank writings have been based on this edit, as further altered by the editors of the 1846 Indian edition, both the sections by and about Proudhon have essentially been lost for modern readers.)

Clarence L. Swartz translated additional sections of Solution du Problème Social, as well as some short passages from the untranslated section volume of The System of Economic Contraditions (the first volume of which Benjamin Tucker had translated in 1888.) Cohen also gathered some or all of Tucker's translation from the Proudhon-Bastiat exchange on interest, which had originally appeared in the Irish World. The result is something of a hodge-podge, but it is certainly a useful expansion of Greene's initial translations.

A rough collation of Solution du Problème Social and Proudhon's Solution of the Social Problem: the opening section, "Solution du Problème Social," (pages 1-87 in the original) remains untranslated, except for its closing paragraph's which include the phrase "liberty not the daughter but the mother of order," which appeared on the masthead of Tucker's Liberty. Of the section "Organisation du Crédit et de la Circulation," (pages 89-131 in the original) pages 94-111 and 120-131 remain untranslated. The portion that have been translated focus on the Bank of Exchange, and Proudhon's larger economic programme is largely ignored. The section "Banque d'Échange" (pages 133-258 in the original) begins with an untranslated "Préface" by Alfred Darimon (pages 133-147). Three addition sub-sections— "Qu'est ce que la Propriété?" (147-155), "Comptabilité Propriétaire" (155-168), and "Identité de la Question Politique et de la Question Économique—Méthode de Solution" (168-180) follow. Swartz's translation picks up again with the sub-section "Banque d'Échange" (and about every third section seems to have some variation of this title) and covers, with minor omissions., the remainder of the section, omitting only a final section, "Autre Response au NATIONAL" (237-258). "Banque du Peuple," (259-284) which treats the mutual bank which Proudhon actually attempted, is translated in full, but the "Rapport de la Commission des Délégués du Luxembourg et des Corporations ouvrièrs" (284-312), which was published with it, is not.