What Is Property?: or, An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government (French: Qu'est-ce que la propriété ? ou Recherche sur le principe du Droit et du Gouvernment) is an influential work of nonfiction on the concept of property and its relation to anarchist philosophy by the French anarchist and mutualist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, first published in 1840.
In the book, Proudhon most famously declared that “property is theft”. Proudhon believed that the common conception of property conflated two distinct components which, once identified, demonstrated the difference between property used to further tyranny and property used to protect liberty. He argued that the result of an individual's labor which is currently occupied or used is a legitimate form of property. Thus, he opposed unused land being regarded as property, believing that land can only be rightfully possessed by use or occupation (which he called "possession"). As an extension of his belief that legitimate property (possession) was the result of labor and occupation, he argued against such institutions as interest on loans and rent.
WHAT IS PROPERTY?
AN INQUIRY INTO THE PRINCIPLE OF RIGHT AND OF GOVERNMENT
By P. J. Proudhon
P. J. PROUDHON: HIS LIFE AND HIS WORKS
METHOD PURSUED IN THIS WORK. THE IDEA OF A REVOLUTION
PROPERTY CONSIDERED AS A NATURAL RIGHT. OCCUPATION AND CIVIL LAW AS EFFICIENT BASES OF PROPERTY. DEFINITIONS % 1. Property as a Natural Right. % 2. Occupation as the Title to Property. % 3. Civil Law as the Foundation and Sanction of Property.
LABOR AS THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF THE DOMAIN OF PROPERTY % 1. The Land cannot be appropriated. % 2. Universal Consent no Justification of Property. % 3. Prescription gives no Title to Property. % 4. Labor. That Labor has no Inherent Power to appropriate Natural Wealth. % 5. That Labor leads to Equality of Property. % 6. That in Society all Wages are Equal. % 7. That Inequality of Powers is the Necessary Condition of Equality of Fortunes...