The French Connection
Meanwhile in France, a young French student with a flair for contrarianism wrote a scathing critique of decreed property. In "What Is Property?" (1841), Pierre Proudhon's answer was "property is robbery." On the surface, this bold claim is contradictory, but what he really means is that property as defined and decreed by the state amounts to robbery, and that property not based on use and possession is unjust. His terminology can be confusing to unwary readers, since he does support unequivocably the type of property he dubbed "possession." Furthermore, he also supports sticky property for the products of labor. Thus, to understand his argument, one must realize that when he writes "property" he really means (in modern terminology) decreed or traditional property. When one realizes that France in Proudhon's time was still suffering under the vestiges of feudalism, his antipathy for "property" is quite understandable. Later in his career, Proudhon switched to more standard terminology and, demonstrating a greater understanding of the issue, came out in support of sticky property.
"Property in its modern form, which appears to be founded, in defiance of any notion of right and good sense, on a double absolutism, may in fact be considered as a triumph of Liberty. For it is born of Liberty, not, as it may first appear, against right, but through the operation of a better understanding of right.
Elsewhere Proudhon was more succinct, writing "Property is liberty."
... There is a corollary to this principle that property is the only power that can act as a counterweight to the State, because it shows no reverence for princes, rebels against society and is, in short, anarchist. The corollary is that property, an absolutism within an absolutism, is also an element of division within the State. State power is the kind of power that absorbs everything else into it. If it is allowed to take its own way, all individuality will quickly disappear, swallowed up by the collectivity, and society will sink into communism. Property, on the contrary, is a decentralising force. Being itself an absolute, it is anti despotic and anti-unitary. Property is the basis of any system of federation. This is why property, which is by its nature autocratic, automatically becomes democratic when it forms part of an ordered political society." - Pierre Proudhon, System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty