The Myth of 'Private Property'

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If you talk to conservatives, one of the most common things you’ll here is that ‘private property’ is one the key principles of a free society. But when you think about it, what exactly is ‘free’ about being prohibited from using that which should be accessible to all? What gives one person the right to hoard something for themselves, and prevent others from using it? And how many resources can one man honestly need, when there are millions of starving people in the world with barely enough to survive?

The Sinister Beginnings of Private Property

Private property was conceptualized in 16th and 17th century England, where slavery and British Imperialism were commonly practiced and challenged by few. At the time, the majority of the world outside of Europe had little concept of private property. Many of the peaceful peoples of Africa and the Americas followed tribal systems, where each man pulled his weight, and resources were shared among the members of the tribe. Tribes did not allow one man to become a greedy industrialist and hoard resources for himself. To them this was an abhorrent and alien idea, contrary to their conception of fairness and equality – why should one man occupy more than he can use, while others consume below their capacity? The British empire imposed its concept of private property and industrialism on the rest of the world, while claiming vast sums of natural resources such as minerals and precious metals. The British believed that they were bringing ‘civilization’ to the world by spreading the concepts of common law and private property, but of course the rest of the world disagreed, and still do to this day.

The Flawed ‘You Built it, Therefore You Own It’ Argument

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President Obama was widely mocked for his statement in a 2012 election campaign speech, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that”. Conservatives love to take this phrase out of context, but had they listened to the whole speech, they’d have to admit that President Obama makes a devastatingly sound argument. His point is this: no man is an island, and no individual is capable of building anything of value on his own, without the help and inventions of millions who toiled before him. Without the knowledge, opportunities and resources bestowed upon him by others, no man is capable of building anything. The ability to create something of value is a privilege granted by the collective, and thus the fruits of your inventions are owed back to society.

Private Property Denies Millions the Right to a Better Life

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The richest 1% own almost as much as the rest of the world’s population combined, infinitely more than they could ever consume in a thousand years. Why do we allow these people to own such an incredible amount of wealth, when there are so many people who can barely afford to eat? We live in an age where there are more obese people than starving people, where people in first world countries consume more than ten times what people in poor countries consume. How can we stare such glaring inequality in the face without questioning the ethical value of private property? The rich could help hundreds of millions of people live better lives, without experiencing any significant reduction in their own standard of living.

A Fairer and More Equal Way of Doing Things

Not Everyone believes in the so called principle of private property. There are many who envision a fairer way to organize society, where each man has access only to what he can consume, and no more; and where all of humanity can share in the fruits of society equally. We cannot continue to believe in rules that do not exist and have no moral basis, when resources are so abundant and yet so many are suffering. We need to tear down this immoral and antiquated concept of private property, and create a new society that recognizes people’s needs, and thus puts humanity before greed and selfishness.

1 COMMENT

  1. You hit the proverbial nail on the head.John Locke, the casuistic hack in the picture above, is a monumental figure within the heretical Libertarian movement. He was a traitor to the Crown and an insufferable sympathizer of Free Speech, Individual Rights (rather than the collective) and of course, Private Property. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is phrase used by Thomas Jefferson, but was expounded upon earlier by John Locke and Thomas Hobbes (the real hero of that era). This was merely the token truism for our Founders to engage in the rapacious extermination of the Native Americans, the subtle indoctrination and enslavement of Africans and the repugnant policy of exempting women from voting privileges.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is especially true for Libertarians and the man they revere. Locke was a sophistic, racist and misogynistic rabble-rouser and the same can be said for his followers (hundreds of years later, nonetheless).

    • I share your sentiments entirely Victor. John Locke may have thought he was doing society a favor, but the ideas he helped give birth to have allowed industrialists to usurp the world’s resources and deny millions their fair share. All these years later, private property is just as despised as it was in his day, and for the same reasons. People want their fair share! They want equality! How are we supposed to have a free and fair world, if a small percentage of the population hoard almost all of the resources. It just doesn’t make sense, morally or logically.

      • When I see the word “fair” used in the manner you have used it in your comment, I am reminded that “fair” is a condition which rates above “poor” but below the condition of “good” and thusly, twice below the condition of “excellent.”

        For you, sir, a “fair” share may be sufficient and keep you content As for me, I expect a “good” or even an “excellent” share. For that, I’m going to have to do some work. I think it to be worth my while to raise my condition from “poor” to the condition of “excellent” through productive labor, thereby creating wealth, rather be content with only a “fair” share that someone else thinks I deserve.

      • absolutely true.

        The notion of “privacy” is alien to a civilized society. Think of all the nefarious things RIGHT NOW that radical extremists like libertarians are thinking of on their private property! They might be plotting to vote for Trump or thinking hate thoughts…or even worse, dreaming of killing 7.0 million jews just like Hitler did. Private things are too dangerous. How can we as a society possible countenance these antiquated notions??

        The benevolent watchful eye of the government MUST be on people at all times to prevent threats to tolerance, diversity, and equality. Libertarians could be growing illegal plants such as marijuana, except when those are made legal in which case they might NOT be growing them. Either case requires government scrutiny to assure that they are following accredited belief patterns espoused by accredited sources.

        Extremists and terrorists are the biggest defenders of “privacy” as they are the ones with the MOST to hide! They must be brought to heel. We cannot tolerate anyone who is against tolerance, and total and complete EQUALITY MUST be enforced in the name of diversity! We must compel freedom, even with force!

        Private property? Bah…the native americans were saintly in the way that they shared the land with each other, living in perfect harmony at all times. You can read historical accounts of how many tribes over time shared the land in succession. If a tribe had the land, and another tribe came to it, they shared with open arms, many times the previous tribe would simply vanish in peace and tolerance.