Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Private property" is inseparable from plutocracy

Here's something to think about: pretty much every human ever in the history of humans has had personal belongings, things that belonged to that person and/or their immediate family – cooking utensils, gardening tools, weapons, clothing, jewelry – the stuff of everyday life. And here's what the plutocrats can't comprehend – people generally don't need a concept of "private property" to have some basic respect for other people's personal effects. Just being a member of a community of people who know each other is good enough almost all the time!

But when you hear plutocrats and their toadies talk sanctimoniously about "private property," they are not really talking about things like your phone, or your car, or the stuff in your house, or even your house. They are talking about private ownership of things out in public – public things – things like oil under the ocean, forests in the mountains, the radio spectrum, money (which is public debt and public power). That's the "private property" they're worried about protecting from democracy – the private ownership of public things – not Joe Citizen's bigscreen tv. 

The modern Enlightenment concept of "private property" was only required when people started claiming things that weren't their personal belongings – like vast countrysides, ports, forests, resources buried underground – and asserting the dual right to exclude others and to use the "property" in their own, individually-determined self-interest. Only when people start claiming dominion over public things do the grabbers have to come up with rationalizations, learned assertions (backed by the force and law of the Nation-State) that this idea of "private property" (enabling the private to control the public) is some kind of "natural law" that the public has no choice but to bow down to. Obviously, the elites have no moral authority to deny that the basic right of democracy includes the right to abolish the current regime and institute new ways of organizing life that would not have to include the capitalist plutocracy concept of "private property." Of course, if you have the force and law of the Nation-State on your side, you don't necessarily need moral authority to impose your will on the public. But no matter how powerful the controlling elites become, the public, the people – the human beings who make up a society – always have the ultimate right and ability to demand and enact democracy.

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