Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reply To Stupid Angry Canajun

The SAC blog has a rant on individual property rights where upon he says;

"As much as I respect
Mr. Plawiuk, I disagree that the right to individual property ownership is evil."

I never said Property was evil, perse, it is not. What I said was that private property is the origin of capitalism and its state, it is theft as Proudhon called it. He also said it was freedom, that is you have the right to what you possess, but not the right to possess more, that is to become a rentier. Proudhons whole work on Property was against the idea of the rentier class, which by the by Mr. Canajun is exactly the problem with deals made like the example you have given;

Individual responsibility must return to our lives or we will not have lives worth living. If I sign a great deal with an oil company regarding my property, and I care about my neighbours, I tell my neighbours about the deal."

And if you don't care so what,
in most cases of individual responsibility from the right the next phrase used is MYOB. You made a deal there is no need to say anything to anyone about it.

But again your land use is no longer a matter of your own use, but now is subject to being land use by a rentier, whose impact on others may include poisioning their ground water. Which by the by would mean you have a social responsibility to your neighbours to inform them of the deal you made. Once you no longer merely use your property for yourself, but now involve a third party, whose environmental impact goes beyond your property to impact on others, you no longer are a sovereign individual with their own possessions, you are now involved in a contractual arrangement which may have an impact beyond you and your property.

Mr. Canajun goes on to say;

If I sign a deal with an oil company because I am forced to, by way of required association with my neighbours, I undoubtedly end up with a loser of a deal because human nature ensures one or more of the group is corrupt or too stupid to understand the implications of the deal and this person frequently ends up in a position of power over the rest of the group who are too tired, busy or otherwise not motivated to get involved.

There is that force issue, who forced you? Ah right you are required to associate with your neighbours, for a common good. But what if your actions, a private deal with the oil company has the same impact, you are then the corrupt power hungry individual who affects their community without regard of their neighbours property rights. This is of course a straw man arguement, full of typical right wing assertions , that the common good of all is a threat to the individuals rights. Which of course is untrue. The historic case is that the large landowner is a tyrant over his neighbours, he is in effect the rentier with a monopoly, like his aristorcratic ancestors. For an excellent example of this see the movie Missouri Breaks.

The nature of private property is that it arises from the commons, from the encroachment acts of the state which limit the communal farm lands and creates private lands which can be fenced. It is this privatization of farming which creates capitalism in its modern form, and continues to plague the world today with despotism of the landlords/ladowners over the peasants. It is in effect theft of the peasants property both individual and communal that allows you Mr. Canajun to have the right to property.

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Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

I agree with you in one sense here Eugene. "Capitalism" was coined by Marx, and defined as such. I have recently come to the conclusion that I don't think it's particularly useful for people who believe in non-marxist ideas to adopt the word, or defend it, since it's a "concept" that has been framed in a specific way, such that any tautological and advanced marxist is very well equipped to defy axioms and premises that are required in order to justify anarcho-free-marketism.

Lately, I've also come to the conclusion (especially after our run-in with Wal-Mart) and doing a lot of thinking about corporations, that such things are actually statist creations, and antithetical to freedom. They are fictions created by the State to offer certain protections to collectives, sometimes, (and in worst case scenarios) terribly exploitive of the rights of others. EG -- the right of "corporations" to engage in "acceptable levels of pollution" -- what a joke and half that concept is.

What we see in North America today is not a free-market, by any stretch of the imagination. Most large businesses in order to actually do business need to collude with Government in order to operate. Then you add to this the entire lobbyist industry, which is all about influence and power peddling, protectionism and so on.. and it's a very toxic mix.

My connundrum is of course, that my ancestors, and my relatives all firmly believe in the right to own their own individual property... including land holdings, and aquired capital. They then bartered this property extensively in a highly complex form of capital-exchange via the Potlatch system, (which was a form of debt-financing) -- but part of the reason this worked so well, and was so sustainable for so many thousands of years, such that the concept of famine never existed for our people - was because there was no "government" per say acting as a centralized body running the show, by which certain indivdiuals or families could immunize themselves against debt they had racked up... nor could they force other individuals or families to not trade (ie implement tariffs, embargos etc) because such ideas were seen as ridiculous to everybody's well being.

eugene plawiuk said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments Meaghan. The potlach economy is pre-capitalism. It is based on values exchange, I was chatting about this with a Metis friend of mine last "night, so your posting is appropriate. I will be doing a blog piece on potlatch which is still in the works. However I did mention it in my article here. This is a quote from it.

"Marcel Mauss; shows this in his Outline of a General Theory of Magic, which is still relevant today, the centennial of its publication. While not as well known as his The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, the General Theory of Magic postulates that magic is different from religion and not only pre-dates it but represents a social function that is essentially anti-authoritarian and based on an economy of self consciousness of production. Just as The Gift shows that this magickal economy is not one that produces exchange value but a communist exchange, those with surplus exchange it with those who do not have it by holding a potlatch."

An important but overlooked book I am reading currently is Religious Poverty and the Profit Economy in Medieval Europe

Which also points out that a gift economy, of which Potlach is an important part, is NOT a profit economy. It is about status items being exchanged.

An excelelent example of this gift economy in the Medieval world is The Easter Pagent put on by the York Guilds, each guild that produced surpluses shared them with the community, but organizing a week long Easter pagent, with parades, a market and feasting. Each guild took on a biblical story to represent their craft, and performed it while giving away goods and services to those who attended.

See: York Mystery Plays

As Karl Polyani points out the market has always existed, but it is a function of society, not the creator or purpose of society. The later Austrian School of Economics sees the market, that is capitalism, as the basis of all social relationships, thus as Polayni points out, puts the market as dominant over society.

Thus those of us who are communist libertarians can agree with Free Market anti-capitalist libertarians that the market is not what the capitalists and their ideological apologists like Von Mises say it is. The market is more about potlach than profit.

Larry Gambone said...

Minor point. The term capitalist actually pre-dates Marx. Proudhon might have been the first to use it, but it may have been first used by the Ricardian market socialists.