Cercle Proudhon

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Proudhon Circle
Cercle Proudhon
LeaderGeorges Valois
FounderGeorges Valois
Édouard Berth
FoundedDecember 16, 1911 (1911-12-16)
Succeeded byFaisceau[1]
HeadquartersParis, France
NewspaperCahiers du cercle Proudhon
IdeologyNational syndicalism
Integral nationalism
Political positionFar-right[2]

Cercle Proudhon (French pronunciation: ​[sɛʁklə pʁudɔ̃]; French for Proudhon Circle) was a National-syndicalist political group founded in France on December 16, 1911 by Georges Valois and Édouard Berth. The group was inspired by Georges Sorel, Charles Maurras and a selective reading of anarchist theorist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.


Founded in 1911 by national-syndicalist disciples of Georges Sorel, Georges Valois and Édouard Berth, the group was described as "founded by nationalists, and initially addressed only to them".[3] The organisation began as informal meetings consisting of about twenty people on average, mainly monarchists and syndicalists who were associated with the right-wing monarchist group Action Française. The main speakers at these meetings were Valois, Berth, monarchist militant Henri Lagrange and nationalist philosopher Gilbert Mayor. French historian Géraud Poumarède describes the Circle's ambition as to "convert trade unionists to the monarchy".[3]

Despite the group's close association to Sorel he was initially hostile to the group stating that he feared the Circle would make "young people less able to understand Proudhon".[3] Charles Maurras was also wary of the group describing them in his book, L’Action française et la religion catholique (1913): "The French who met to found the Circle Proudhon are all nationalists. The boss they chose for their assembly made them meet other French, who are not nationalists, who are not royalists, and who join them to participate in the life of the Circle and the writing of Cahiers. The initial group includes men of different origins, different conditions, who have no political aspirations in common, and who will freely expose their views in the Cahiers."[citation needed]

The Circle published a bulletin entitled Cahiers du Cercle Proudhon, and operated a bookstore owned by Valois named the La Nouvelle Librairie which is still open to this day.[4]


Cover of the first issue of Cahiers du Cercle Proudhon

The first issue of Cahiers du cercle Proudhon appeared in January – February 1912 and included a Déclaration:

The founders – republicans, federalists, integral nationalists, and syndicalists – having resolved the political problem or dismissed it from their minds, are all enthusiastically in favour of an organisation of French society in accordance with principles taken from the French tradition which they find in Proudhon's works and in the contemporary syndicalist movement, and they are all completely in agreement on the following points:

Democracy is the greatest error of the past century. If one wishes to live, if one wishes to work, if one wishes in social life to possess the greatest human guarantees for production and culture, if one wishes to preserve and increase the moral, intellectual and material capital of civilisation, it is absolutely necessary to destroy all democratic institutions.

Berth and Valois had been brought together by Georges Sorel when he was planning a Nationalist and socialist-leaning journal La Cité française in 1910. This journal never appeared, except as heralded in a flyer entitled Déclaration de la Cité francaise signed by Sorel, Valois, Berth, Jean Variot, and Pierre Gilbert. However Variot quarrelled with Valois and went on to publish material with Sorel's support in L'Indépendence.[citation needed]

A controversial but influential book by Zeev Sternhell, Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, points to the Cercle Proudhon as a pre-existing laboratory for fascist ideas that would provide a bulwark for Nazi collaboration in Vichy.[5]

In place of the bourgeois ideology and as an alternative to democratic socialism, the Cercle Proudhon propounded a new ethic suited to the alliance of nationalism and syndicalism, those "two synthesizing and convergent movements, one at the extreme right and the other at the extreme left, that have begun the siege and assault on democracy." Their solution was thus intended as a complete replacement of the liberal order. They wished to create a new world — virile, heroic, pessimistic, and puritanical — based on the sense of duty and sacrifice: a world where a morality of warriors and monks would prevail. They wanted a society dominated by a powerful avant-garde, a proletarian elite, an aristocracy of producers, joined in alliance against the decadent bourgeoisie with an intellectual youth avid for action. When the time came, it would not be difficult for a synthesis of this kind to take on the name of fascism.


Many anarchists rejected the Cercle Proudhon interpretation of Proudhon's works. For example, Russian anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin argued that Cercle Proudhon purposely misrepresented Proudhon's views,

Democracy is an easy mark for this new party, and it finds its chief delight in pounding the philosopher of democracy, Rousseau. Now, nobody ever pounded Rousseau as effectively as Proudhon did, and in that fact the Cercle Proudhon finds its excuse. But it is not to be inferred that, because Proudhon destroyed Rousseau's theory of the social contract, he did not believe in the advisability of a social contract, or would uphold a monarchy in exacting an oath of allegiance (Proudhon and Royalism, 1914).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Georges Valois : le précurseur d'un fascisme français ?". September 26, 2019.
  2. ^ Alan Ritter (8 December 2015). Political Thought of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Princeton University Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-1-4008-7856-7.
  3. ^ a b c Poumarède, Géraud (July 22, 1994). "Le Cercle Proudhon ou l'impossible synthèse". Mil neuf cent. Revue d'histoire intellectuelle (Cahiers Georges Sorel). 12 (1): 51–86. doi:10.3406/mcm.1994.1108 – via www.persee.fr.
  4. ^ "Une librairie d'extrême droite à l'assaut du Quartier latin". LExpress.fr. September 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Sternhell, Zeev (1986). Neither Right Nor Left. Princeton University Press. p. 11.
  • Allen Douglas. From Fascism to Libertarian Communism: George Valois Against the Third Republic. University of California Press (1993) ISBN 978-0-520-07678-5
  • Bernard Lanza. Georges Valois Du Cercle Proudhon au Nouvel Age,
  • Georges Navet. Le Cercle Proudhon, 1911-1914 : entre le syndicalisme révolutionnaire et l'Action Française. Paris : Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, 1987. (Les Travaux de l'Atelier Proudhon ; 6). ISBN 2-906096-05-9
  • Géraud Poumarède. Le Cercle Proudhon ou l'impossible synthèse. Mil neuf cent (1994) Volume 12 Issue 12 pp. 51–86
  • Jack J. Roth. "Revolution and Morale in Modern French Thought: Sorel and the Sorelians". French Historical Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Autumn, 1963), pp. 205–223
  • Zeev Sternhell. "Fascist Ideology", Fascism, A Reader's Guide, Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography, edited by Walter Laqueur, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1976. pp 315–376.
  • Zeev Sternhell. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, Princeton Univ. Press, California ISBN 0-691-00629-6
  • Zeev Sternhell. The Birth of Fascist Ideology, with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri, published by Princeton University Press, 1989, 1994 (ISBN 0-691-03289-0) (ISBN 0-691-04486-4)

Primary sources[edit]

Partial bibliography[edit]

Partial bibliography of Cahiers du Cercle Proudhon

  • DARVILLE Jean. PROUDHON. in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°1, janvier-février 1912
  • DARVILLE Jean/MAYREL Maurice. Analyses et critiques.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912.
  • DARVILLE Jean. Satellites de la ploutocratie.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°5-6, fin 1912
  • GALLAND Pierre.PROUDHON et l'Ordre.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°1, janvier-février 1912
  • LAGRANGE Henri.PROUDHON et l'Ordre européen.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°2, mars-avril 1912.
  • LAGRANGE Henri.L’œuvre de SOREL et le Cercle PROUDHON. Précisions et prévisions.-in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3/4, mai-août 1912 .
  • LES VIII.Les démocrates et PROUDHON.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°1, janvier-février 1912 .
  • MAIRE Gilbert. La philosophie de Georges SOREL.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°2, mars-avril 1912 .
  • MARAND René. Grandes rectifications soreliennes.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912 .
  • MAYREL Maurice/ DARVILLE Jean. Analyses et critiques.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges. Pourquoi nous rattachons nos travaux à l'esprit proudhonien.-in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°1, janvier-février 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges. Notre première année. Murmures et rumeurs dans la presse et dans le monde sur le cercle PROUDHON.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges.SOREL et l'architecture sociale.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges.L’Action Française, l'expérience POINCARÉ et le syndicalisme.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°5-6, fin 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges. La bourgeoisie capitaliste.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°5-6, fin 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges. La direction de l'œuvre proudhonienne et le cas HALÉVY.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°5-6, fin 1912.
  • VALOIS Georges. Notre deuxième année. Transformation des Cahiers.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°5-6, fin 1912 .
  • VINCENT Albert. Le bilan de la démocratie.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°2, mars-avril 1912.
  • VINCENT Albert. La famille chez PROUDHON et dans la démocratie.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°3-4, mai-août 1912 .
  • MAURRAS Charles.À Besançon.–in-Cahiers du Cercle PROUDHON, n°1, janvier-février 1912.

External links[edit]