Private Property VS Possession

Discussion (Property)
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One of the most sticky points in explaining Communism to people is the concept of property. This is especially tricky because all socialists renounce the concept of Private Property as wrong and something to be abolished, which in turn created vast confusion to those not familiar with the theory. This is even more accentuated by deliberate (ie propaganda)  or accidental misunderstanding of Communism as it espousing that people won’t own stuff.

But it is an obvious truth that people like to own items for various reasons. From the most simple of not wanting to share a toothbrush, to the more complex of feeling psychological attachments to various items that we would like to consider ours (say a car or a toy). This is understandable and it is obvious that it would be unnatural if any social theory proposed that this is undesirable.

Which is why Socialism doesn’t demand it either.

Now this might seem contradicting but it is only because we are missing part of the puzzle. The fact that one can define two different types of ownership.

The first type of ownership is the common one that everyone is familiar in our current society. It is the type of ownership based on a legal claim to something, ie it is based simply on what the law will recognise based on previous contracts. In this system of ownership, one can consider to own anything and it will remain his until he trades it away. Private Property (PP).

Precicely because this ownership is legally constructed is why it requires to be defined through contracts of some sort that will be recognised by the state. Which is incidentally why any social system based on Private Property will require the existence of a state of some sort and extensive laws to clarify and settle disputes.

But this is not the only system of ownership that can exist. There is another one that not only comes naturally to humans but it also avoids all the pitfalls of PP. Possession or ownership based on use. To put it simply, one can only ever lay claim to things that they use personally. This is fundamentally different from PP in that it does not demand an extensive legal system to enforce it (although it can benefit from it) and it prevents accumulation of wealth.

Now there is an immediate straw man that people who hear of this system immediately jump to. It goes something like this:

“Under Possession, as soon as you left your car unattended, someone could take it legally. Or someone could get in your house and lay claim to it.”

If this sounds as an absurdity, it’s because it is. Of course socialists do not mean something like this when we talk about Possession. Of course the claim to anything is more solid than this. The basic difference from PP is that it is anchored on the use of the item in question rather than an arbitrary claim that goes back to the original forceful appropriation of land.

So under the rules of any society, the possession of any item can be defined socially or legally. Socially for example, it would be unacceptable for someone to lay claim to a car that someone else left in the parking lot. People doing so would be prevented with all the coercive measures any socialist society makes use of (peer pressure etc). However, as this is defined socially, it’s the acceptance of society that would make act of appropriation act acceptable or not. So for example, a car that has been left in a parking lot for years and is going to rust, could be taken on by someone else. Common sense would say that this would be acceptable. Of course these are not hard and fast rules, but up to each community to define to their own culture and experience. But I hope to give you an idea of how this works.

Why is the difference between private property1 and possession so important? First it is because it explains what socialists mean by the abolition of the former and avoids straw man arguments about the “unnaturality” of communism. The second is that it provides a link to pre-civilization human societies, or to be more precise, those which had a hunter/gatherer lifestyle which were egalitarian precisely because the concept of PP did not exist. The third is that it draws attention to the severe drawbacks of PP and by extension it shows how the introduction of it directly led to inequality and relations of authority.

The main characteristic private property is that it allows accumulation of wealth. As each persons claim of ownership is simply based on the law, one can keep massing up as many such claims as they can. As society expands and as people are born without a claim to property, this in turn becomes a leverage for exploitation and, by extension, inequality. Simply put. Someone who does not own land, must sell the only thing he can, his labour (and by extention freedom), and he must sell it at a price that is less than what he would make if he did own land. The excess result of this labour, profit, of course goes to the employer who then uses it to expand his PP. And the cycle of exploitation continues.

Contradict this with Possession, where any one person can only ever own as much as they personally use. As such the scarcity of the land is automatically reduced, as there’s not a few people controlling vast tracts or land and preventing its use until those desperate enough “volunteer” to their terms. There is of course always the possibility that the amount of humans would eventually become so great as to create a situation of scarcity where people would be landless again. But if anything human ingenuity has shown that we can always find more places to live in (From multi storey buildings to space stations).

As such, inequality would not be possible without the ability of people to accumulate. Without this incentive people in turn have no reason to exploit and emiserate their fellow humans for it would not bring them any social benefit. As such, people would realize that their interest lies in spreading the surplus value they create and cooperating with others to collectively improve their life standard rather than competing with each other for diminishing returns (as excessive wealth does not bring excessive happiness).

One would ask, how would Possession deal with items that are too big for one person to use, such as a factory? This is of course has a very easy solution: Collective ownership. Each person who works in a factory is considered to own an equal share of it and as such, any surplus value it creates. And this cannot be run in any other way other than a democratic one. For in a collection of equals, there’s no room for bosses giving orders.

One can then imagine a society based on Possession rather than Private Property would be the exact opposite of what we have now. A society where people would actually not have an incentive to be evil. It is from this society that the necessary mind-frame would spring, of cooperation, voluntarism and freedom.

And as much as the above is true, so is it delusional to expect a society based on private property, an ownership system that promotes the mentality of greed and short term interest, to somehow transform into a libertarian society, where people actually act charitably and do not seek to exploit their inequality for personal gain.

  1. Note: Some elements of the Anarchist tradition, such as Mutualism, use the term Private Property to refer to ownership of all sorts. They still make the functional distinction between them, but call them somewhat differently. So Possession becomes “occupancy and use”. Of course they support possession as natural. []
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FrancoisT Francois Tremblay

    I agree with everything but for one objection: making and enforcing contracts does not require a State (otherwise we'd have to abolish society, since no social structures would be possible).

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Did I write that (I honestly don't remember, and can't find it looking back). I only said that PP would require state recognised contracts.

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Did I write that? (I honestly don't remember, and can't find it looking back). I only said that PP would require state recognised contracts.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/FrancoisT Francois Tremblay

        That's what I mean. That implies that contracts can't exist without the State, because there's no fundamental difference between a PP contract and a non-PP contract.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          There is a difference between PP contracts and the rest. The difference is that PP contracts are a solely legal construct, they have no basis in reality. On the other hand for example, Possession contracts can be enforced socially, as they can be deducted from common sense principles.

          As such, PP requires a state, which will always protect the rights of the property holder (ie the ruling class) against the working class, while in a possession society, the state is not required in order to enforce them as there is not class struggle that needs a state to protect the interest of the minority.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/FrancoisT Francois Tremblay

            Makes sense.

  • Allen

    You mention a factory in your post. Could you explain where it will come from?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      What do you mean? We already have plenty of factories around.

      • NV5

        Yes we have, but if society grows, their have to be more factories. And we'll also have to build new factories for the production ofnew inventions. And we would still have the problem of outdated factories, who aren't efficient so we would have to work more for making thinks that could take less time.

  • Allen

    How will they be maintained and/or where will new ones come from? My question was a mildly sarcastic one which tried to get at the idea of how does something like a factory just get built in a socialist society. I felt like your post spent a lot of time on the question of "how do we treat the goods once they are made" (in essence, just assuming they are already and always will be there) and not much time on "where/how do the goods get produced in the first place."

    • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      They will be maintained by the workers and new ones will come from people who want to start a new workshop or factory for some purpose. They will ask the workers of other factories to create for them the machinery they will need or provide them with the raw material they need.

      Of course I assume that the "goods" (by which I assume you means the means of production) are already made since we're living in this reality, where they are, in fact, already made.

  • Allen

    Is there a method by which these workers will know how to create and maintain the factories? Will those that know how to make/maintain factories also be the ones to build them? If so, why? Maybe they are more useful in society using their intelligence to instruct others on how to build other things? Who will make these decisions? What about how many factories should even exist in the first place? And why will a worker agree to help build a factory if simply asked to?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      I assume that the workers of each factory would know better of what type of maintenance to do, they generally know their machines best.

      Who will make these decisions?

      The people themselves, Democratically I assume

      What about how many factories should even exist in the first place? And why will a worker agree to help build a factory if simply asked to?

      Why not? It quite possible that they will stand to gain from it, for example by being able to get the new products the factory will be creating etc.

  • http://www.anarchistfaq.org.uk Anarcho

    You do realise that you should read Proudhon's "What is Property?" where the distinction between property and possession was discussed in some detail? A summary can be found here:

    http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secB3.html

    Iain
    An Anarchist FAQ

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Thanks Iain. I probably must. Altough I've made the distinction myself, perhaps Proudhon has articulated it better.

      Do you see any obvious holes in this?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Thanks for stopping by Iain. I probably must. Altough I've made the distinction myself, Proudhon is likely to have articulated it better. I've already read the link ;)

  • Allen

    Democratically people will decide how many factories to make? Does this mean there is a majority vote to figure out how much of every societal good to produce? What if someone believes he needs good X but that good is instead voted against in favor of good Y?

    You asked why the workers would not create the products if asked. I think here is one reason: right now workers get a wage for what they produce (which they are often unhappy with). In your society, not only will they not receive any wage (I'm assuming you believe workers should keep the goods they produce rather than a wage), but it also seems like they will not receive the goods they produce either since… they won't be able to produce any goods. Could you explain how democratically making production decisions could possibly express the relative scarcity of goods and make production possible in the first place? How will democratic decision-making on the production of every good also be a plausible method of determing what types of knowledge are necessary to create the goods that are previously democratically chosen? There are, after all, many ways of creating a good/service.

    How/why will methods of creating goods/services ever advance past their current technological state? How will society know whether to have resources directed to advancing the production of factories vs. advancing the quality of toothpaste? And at what time exactly should resources be directed for this or that purpose?

    I might as well be blunt at this point: do you really believe that every method of production for every good in society can actually be determined by democratic decision-making? Do you realize all the knowledge required to even produce 1 good?

    Sidenote to "Anarcho:" I fully understand the distinction between property and possession. I am trying to get more information on db0's belief that all production in society can simply be voted on.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Democratically people will decide how many factories to make? Does this mean there is a majority vote to figure out how much of every societal good to produce?

      Democratically does not mean that everyone in a society votes on every decision. In this case, a bunch of people have an idea for a new product, so they go to the other workplaces and ask for the raw material or machines. The syndicate of those workplaces then democratically decides if they will give it to them or not.

      • Allen

        So who at the other workplace can or cannot vote on it? Can someone who was previously not at the workplace, come into the workplace for the vote? What reason does a theoretically rogue voter (rogue in the sense that for whatever reason, people tend to disagree with him on everything) have to take part in these votes? What if he wants to go off on his own with some land and tools and not bother or be bothered by anyone? Would this be fine or is he going to be forced to give up the land and tools he wanted and instead take part in these communal voting schemes which he always loses?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          So who at the other workplace can or cannot vote on it?

          The people who work in it of course! Why would they allow random people who do not work there to vote?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          What reason does a theoretically rogue voter (rogue in the sense that for whatever reason, people tend to disagree with him on everything) have to take part in these votes? What if he wants to go off on his own with some land and tools and not bother or be bothered by anyone? Would this be fine or is he going to be forced to give up the land and tools he wanted and instead take part in these communal voting schemes which he always loses?

          He is free to go into the wilderness and become a hermit for all I care. Why do you think he wouldn't be able to?

          However I do not like such suspicious examples about "people which for some strange reason always tend to be in the losing side". This is an unrealistic example.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      In your society, not only will they not receive any wage (I'm assuming you believe workers should keep the goods they produce rather than a wage), but it also seems like they will not receive the goods they produce either since… they won't be able to produce any goods

      Why won't they be able to produce any goods? That's an inane proposition.

      • Allen

        It was a clear exageration. I understand that a rudimentary version of any good/service can always be produced. My point is that there is little room for progress to take place and little room to know exactly how much of anything should be made. That is the crux of voting on production rather than having a market-based pricing mechanism. What if after a vote on something, production has already begun, but then unexpectedly something takes place that alters the previous decision by some of the original voters. Do they stop production? Do they continue? Who decides? Do they vote again? Is a pricing mechanism not better than realistically spending all day voting on decisions?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          My point is that there is little room for progress to take place and little room to know exactly how much of anything should be made.

          Not at all. People do not need to know all the variables in order to produce something. For example, one factory that produces steel plates would of course produce as much of them, as there was demand from other syndicates for such raw material. If the demand changed they would increase or decrease as appropriate. A voting only needs to take place when there is a disagreement, not for every minute detail.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          Is a pricing mechanism not better than realistically spending all day voting on decisions?

          People do not vote all day on decisions. That's ridiculous. There's not so many things people will disagree on in a cooperative environment.

          And no, the price mechanism is not better, since it gives partial information only (it cannot say anything about future demand) and thus is a directl factor towards crises of overproduction.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Could you explain how democratically making production decisions could possibly express the relative scarcity of goods and make production possible in the first place

      Since when do production decisions "express the relative scarcity of goods"? This whole question makes no sense. Can you please rephrase it?

      • Allen

        Market-based production shows us which goods are more scarce than others. As the price of oil goes up, oil companies have a clear expression from society that oil is wanted more than, say, wind power. Depending on the degree of price rises/falls of goods, its also possible to make calculations about just how much something is needed. How is democratic voting for production going to produce anything remotely close to the above?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          Market-based production shows us which goods are more scarce than others. As the price of oil goes up, oil companies have a clear expression from society that oil is wanted more than, say, wind power.

          Actually, this is not true. While price can go up due to scarcity, there are other factors that can affect it, such as increases in wages or greater monopolization. Not only that but any calculation about how much anything is needed is going to be a wild guess as well, since the price mechanism only gives at best current information, but not future Which mean that the oil companies will all get the same signal and start producing more oil, more investment if going to occur, new companies are going to open etc (in a relatively optimal environment of course). However, once all this new demand comes to the market some time later, they may find out that the aggregated supply is now significantly more than the demand, especially if the miscalculated the demand. This will cause the price to drop again which will lead to lay-offs, bankrupcies and open the possibility for a crisis.

          So why is democratic voting better than the price mechanism? First of all, because it reacts to demand and not effective demand. Second because where the price mechanism can give partial or incorrect information, a democratic decision will be made based on facts, facts such as another company requesting a definite number of widgets per month. As such, they produce based on need, and a possibility for overproduction and waste is minimized.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    How will democratic decision-making on the production of every good also be a plausible method of determing what types of knowledge are necessary to create the goods that are previously democratically chosen?

    The people who want to work to create a particular product, sill decide how they want to do it (democratically among them I assume, by using science as a guide).

    • Allen

      What if they don't want to work for everyone else's benefit? How is science going to advance in this society? Is there an incentive? Your use of the word science is similar to your use of the word factory that started this whole discussion. You assume the existence of these things as if the society you are describing would ever be able to create them in the first place. This is similar to how Soviet leaders were taking prices from capitalist countries to try to keep their system going (I read in your comments section that you hate references to the Soviet Union as an example of socialism, but I am referencing it here purely as "a bunch of leaders in a system that did not have its own functioning price-mechanism had to look to the capitalists for proper pricing/production).

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        What if they don't want to work for everyone else's benefit?

        Why would they not want to? Especially if everyone else if already providing them with the benefits that will allow them to create this particular product (raw materials, food to eat while they work, free housing and services etc).

        But even if they do not want to, then what are they going to do? Create is just for themselves? Well I don't see the problem why someone would go through all the trouble to do something he likes but not want to share it and spread it to others. This is not how usually humans work.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        How is science going to advance in this society?

        It's going to provide the data that people will need to make those democratic decisions?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        Your use of the word science is similar to your use of the word factory that started this whole discussion. You assume the existence of these things as if the society you are describing would ever be able to create them in the first place.

        This is because I'm living in this system. Today. Were factories exist. Were scientific facts exist. There's no point in arguing if Communism could ever come about without Capitalism first (I don't think it could mind you). We're in the here & now, and can use the things we have to work and make a better system.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    I might as well be blunt at this point: do you really believe that every method of production for every good in society can actually be determined by democratic decision-making? Do you realize all the knowledge required to even produce 1 good?

    Your confusion of course stems from not understanding that when I say "democratically" I do not mean a societal vote. Democratic principles are simply used as a decision making process by those affected by them.

    • Allen

      Could you please enlighten me with those democratic principles?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        Oh come on. One person, one vote and Freedom of speech for example.

  • Richard Garner

    I honestly don’t find this first essay that attractive. for instance:

    However, as this is defined socially, it’s the acceptance of society that would make act of appropriation act acceptable or not.

    In otherwords, a family of black people set off out into the wlideness to find new usable land. They come across some, clear it, build a home, plough it and start a crop. Then other households later follow, springing up around them. Unfortunately, the other housholds are all KKK members who don’t want the blacks there and want that land for themselves. Since “society” has not “accepted” the black’s appropriation of this land, the KKK can turn them off? When the family leave on a day trip, the KKK guys can move onto the land and squat, and make it theirs?

    • Richard Garner

      Likewise, this claim seems false:

      As society expands and as people are born without a claim to property, this in turn becomes a leverage for exploitation and, by extension, inequality. Simply put. Someone who does not own land, must sell the only thing he can, his labour (and by extention freedom), and he must sell it at a price that is less than what he would make if he did own land. The excess result of this labour, profit, of course goes to the employer who then uses it to expand his PP. And the cycle of exploitation continues.

      It is a fact that (a) I, living here in the UK, own no land, and (b) I am considerably wealthier than many in the world who do. It is not obvious that other people’s appropriation of all available land has made me worse off than had the land remained in common, or had everybody owned their own, equal slice. On the contrary, it seems quite credible that such appropriation has left me better off, despite the fact that I own no land.

      • Richard Garner

        The author argues for “possession,” which is “where any one person can only ever own as much as they personally use.” It is worth noting, of course, that compossibility issues he has raised on this thread, about an appropriation depriving others of freedom, apply here too: It is perfectly concievable that all available land be appropriated by people who own no more than they can personally use, leaving, say, somebody born into a future generation no place to stand or do anything without violating the property rights of others.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          It is perfectly concievable that all available land be appropriated by people who own no more than they can personally use, leaving, say, somebody born into a future generation no place to stand or do anything without violating the property rights of others.

          That is true, and I did actually mention it in my own post:

          There is of course always the possibility that the amount of humans would eventually become so great as to create a situation of scarcity where people would be landless again. But if anything human ingenuity has shown that we can always find more places to live in (From multi storey buildings to space stations).

          Unlike a society which is based on profit, in a Communist society, people have an incentive to allow others to have a place to stay or work. This is because due to the impossibility of accumulation, there is no incentive to keep people desperate in order to exploit them, but rather it is more useful to give them all the necessities they require to become productive in society.

          On the contrary, for Capitalism that result is unwelcome. It requires desperate people. This in turn was the main cause of the enclosure movement of Europe and the subversion of homesteading in the US.

          • Richard Garner

            Firstly, accumulation would not be impossible: Owner occupiers could save portions of their income.

            Secondly, the growth of urban population at the end of the eighteenth century was not the result of enclosures but because population was rising in town and country alike, and the labour force inscreased at a rate that was higher than could be absorbed by agriculture. Without the enclosures and the higher productivity it achieved, and without the employment opportunities that capitalaist manufacturing provided, they would have starved.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Firstly, accumulation would not be impossible: Owner occupiers could save portions of their income.

            First of all, a socialist society can easily be without money. Second, even if people could accumulate money, what would they do with it? Accumulation of money that does not turn into capital is not something that can create inequality..

            Of course money would most likely create various problems which is why most anarchists would seek to abolish them.

          • Richard Garner

            I did not say accumulation of money, I said accumulation. Thats it, nothing else. That said, I doubt any society would last long without some sort of market rising, and from that would arise the practice of buying a good solely for the purpose of using it to buy other goods with. Incidentally, accumulation of a good that is not turned into capital sure can lead to inequality: I store my grain and cure my meat for the winter months, whilst you do not, come winter, I am eating, you are starving: Inequality, plain as the eye can see. The same goes for your claims about only granting private property to those that have possession of a plot of land: There was a whole debate between the individualists and the Georgists that this would not eliminate inequality, with Tucker et. al accepting that the person with better land would earn a higher income as a result.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            I did not say accumulation of money, I said accumulation. Thats it, nothing else. That said, I doubt any society would last long without some sort of market rising, and from that would arise the practice of buying a good solely for the purpose of using it to buy other goods with.

            Why would a market come out when people get what they need whenever they need it? Of course a market would probably create inequalities, which is why I'm opposed to it, and this is one of the main sticking points between collectivist and individualist anarchists.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            I store my grain and cure my meat for the winter months, whilst you do not, come winter, I am eating, you are starving: Inequality, plain as the eye can see.

            Then obviously you give me some of the grain since you don't need it. Or I get grain from the excess number of food that exists anyway (Currently we have an over-abundance of food, it's just that there's isn't effective-demand for everyone…)

            Why wouldn't you? What would you achieve if you held it? You already have anything you need.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            The same goes for your claims about only granting private property to those that have possession of a plot of land: There was a whole debate between the individualists and the Georgists that this would not eliminate inequality, with Tucker et. al accepting that the person with better land would earn a higher income as a result.

            Possibly, which is another strike against individualist anarchist strains. In Anarcho-Communism such is not the case though, since there is no money or markets. The person with the better plot might thus make more food, but he would simply give it away as he wouldn't require it.

          • Richard Garner

            Of course he would… or he could keep it for himself and eat more than anybody else, or just not produce more food, but only what he himself could use. Or he could offer to sell it to those with less food.

            Who would stop him doing any of these things?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            If he produces only as much as he uses, then he obviously doesn't have a lot of land. If he doesn't produce, then he's obviously not using his land to the full, and someone is justified in making use of it (most likely the starving one). He wouldn't need to sell it as he could get what he wanted for free anyway.

          • NV5

            How can a society exist without money? Wouldn't it be a big step back, how would we trade without a common currency?
            And even if money didn't exist, accumulation would still be possible for example by accumulation of a certain kind of food.
            And my biggest question about the moneyless society is, how would we begin with it, and what about the people who don't want to live in that kind of society.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Secondly, the growth of urban population at the end of the eighteenth century was not the result of enclosures but because population was rising in town and country alike,

            You mistake cause and effect. As is shown by empirical evidence, the rise of population is always directly correlated with povertry. The more impoverished people are, the more likely they are to bet on their progeny as future security, and so they want to have many, so that some might become succesful.

            The rise of population thus, a population that remained relatively stable for most of pre-capitalist history mind you, can be shown to be an effect of the enclosures themselves, which led previously secure people into povertry and insecurity.

          • Richard Garner

            There is no empirical evidence that a rise in population results in poverty. Quite the opposite, the evidence is that population levels have little impact on poverty: Africa is very poor with extremely low population density; Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan are very rich with extremely high population density. Population rose massively during the first half of the nineteenth century UK, whilst the average wage more than doubled.

            Could you provide the evidence that the population level was stable during the eighteenth century, and not rapidly rising?

          • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            There is no empirical evidence that a rise in population results in poverty.

            Sigh, No. I said that poverty results in rise of population.

            And again, you seem to be picking the kind of variables that fit your arguments. Africa has a low population density if you look at the whole continent (1/3 of which is desert). Take a look at the population density of areas with poor people compared to those with rich people.

            Do the same for those countries like the Asian Tigers, and look how the wealth correlates with the population density in specific areas. Hint. Hong Kong and the like, have a few very rich people who skew the average upwards, which is why you don't see the correlation.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Could you provide the evidence that the population level was stable during the eighteenth century, and not rapidly rising?

            Do you have any idea when the enclosures started happening?

          • Richard Garner

            Well, the Statute of Merton 1235 and the Statute of Westminster 1285 allowed the enclosure of manorial waste, open fields becoming enclosed as individually owned fields. There were enclosures of the commons throughout the medieval period, but this process started occurring much faster during the Tudor period, under Elizabeth, especially. Open farmland became enclosed for pastures, for instance, this process rapidly increasing during the 16th and 17th century, as the demand for British woold rose. During the tudor period period the church and the government denounced enclosures. Thomas Moore, in Utopia condemned the practice and blamed it for social ills like theft. There were anti-enclosure acts in 1489 and 1516.

          • Richard Garner

            From the time of Henry VII on, for 150 years, there were eleven anti-enclosure acts, and eight commissions of enquiry on the subject, but none of them were able to prevent the practice (though, in some cases Rothbardians would say they should have, for instance, when enclosures turned cottagers out of their homes). During the 18th and 19th century, government opinion changed, though the process was still regulated, and enclosure had to be by a local act of parliament.

            What does this have to do with whether urban and rural populations were growing during the 18th C?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            A simple “yes” would have sufficed. I can read Wikipedia myself :P

            So obviously you know that the enclosures started in very early times and gradually increased. This meant that a larger and larger amount of farmers on the commons found themselves without a subsistence means, which forced them to hire themselves out to large landlords as wage workers. They did this of course on the terms of the landlord, which meant that they worked on a much lower economical scale than before, and with much less freedom. So the poverty rates started slowly creeping up, along with the population. As the enclosures rose up in scale, so did the landless workers, so did poverty, and so did population. The 18th Century was simply the time were the enclosure acts were basically finished, as all the land finally was scooped up.

          • Anarcho-capitalist

            Concerning land enclosures, Tom Bethell in The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity Throughout the Ages, said:

            “The efficiency of British agriculture, and of the economy in general, was further enhanced by the large number of land enclosures in the latter half of the eighteenth century – Parliament approved of some 3,000 Enclosure Acts between 1750 and 1816 alone. Enclosure was a systematic privatization in which open fields and common areas were fenced and divided among those who had enjoyed either communal or private rights to them. Problems of free riding and of “externalities” were much reduced. Animals that had been grazed on common fields often transmitted diseases to one another, for example. “The advantages of enclosed and compact farms under one man’s sole control, over the dispersed and fragmented holdings in common fields were widely appreciated,” the economist historian G. E. Mingay has written. “…[It resulted in] a rapid conversion to the conditions necessary for more efficient farming.”

            Here indeed was a moment in English history when the law was changed in response to the promptings of efficiency. Communal rights are ill-defined. Enclosure therefore “economized” agriculture. Enclosure also increased the incentive to invest in new farming methods, for the returns would go to those who made the investments. Expenditures on draining and experiments in crop varieties and animal breeding greatly increased. They added up to an Agricultural Revolution that was not entirely separate from the Industrial Revolution as more generally understood.”

          • http://dbzer0.com db0

            There is nothing inefficient about the commons. And the fact that you defend on of the most horrid crimes of the british state against its own people as more efficient is sample of your bias. Go read what the people of time had to say about their new found "efficiency". They even have poems about it…

      • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        It is a fact that (a) I, living here in the UK, own no land, and (b) I am considerably wealthier than many in the world who do

        That is because the UK is a bourgeois nation, through imperialism it is exploiting much of the rest of the wealth of the world. If you want to have an accurate idea of what I'm talking about, look at the spread of wealth within the UK society and see who owns the land and who gets progressively richer. The Landowners and Capitalists or the working class?

        Your example is also intellectually dishonest as I'm talking about the phase of the introduction of PP and the enclosure of the commons. If you want to see the true result this has had in Britain, you'd better look at the effect of the enclosures

        • Richard Garner

          The trouble is that emprically these claims aren't backed up: Someof the richest countries in the world had no colonies (eg Switzerland), and some of them were colonies (the USA, Hong Kong), whilst some of the poorest were not British colonies, or were colonies of countries that are poorer than the UK. Likewise, the incomes in the poorest fifth of the world have grown faster in the last half a century than the incomes of the world's richest fifth.

          Landownership alone doesn't bring much income in the UK. But workers and capitalists and landowners have grown progressively richer, so I don't see how looking at this explains anything.

          I don't know why you keep bringing up the enclosures. There was private ownership of land before it, and they are scarcely examples of people appropriating by mixing their labour with previously unowned resources.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            The trouble is that emprically these claims aren't backed up: Someof the richest countries in the world had no colonies (eg Switzerland), and some of them were colonies (the USA, Hong Kong), whilst some of the poorest were not British colonies, or were colonies of countries that are poorer than the UK.

            It is not backed up only if you take a generalized look and look no closer. For example, the reason why USA and Hong Kong as succesful is because of excessive protectionism while they were building up the industry. Protectionism which was absolutely anti-free market, but sustained those building economies from being outcompeted by the UK industry.

            The general idea is that those who followed protectionist tactics, managed to grow and then compete on the free market, while those who followed free market policies from the start, were swallowed by the already existing ones and made into raw material producers

          • Richard Garner

            The USA industrialised under high tariffs, that's true (its a large part of what the civil war was fought over). I don't see how that helps your claim that my higher income in the UK dispite not owning land and little capital is due to exploiting colonies, though! As for the other claims, they are all false: Hong Kong grew wealthy after becoming the only country since 19th century UK to unilaterally scrap its tariffs. Likewise with Taiwan, and Singapore: they grew rich after lowering tariffs.

            Your claim supposes that protectionism encourages growth and is good for an economy. The opposite is true – protectionism is bad. M'kay!

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            don't see how that helps your claim that my higher income in the UK dispite not owning land and little capital is due to exploiting colonies

            The UK currently is not just exploiting the colonies. It was exploiting its colonies to keep the free markets open and prevent them from industrializing themselves (via protectionism) and thus getting more competition. Put more simply, it was the state making the UK capitalists richer.

            Now, like US and all the countries that managed to achieve industrialization, it only has to let the free market do its work as it will by default benefit the more powerful (developed nations) over the less powerful (developing nation which provide only raw materials).

            Thus the wealth that is produced elsewhere is distributed and spent in the developed nations. Which is what I explain in the Bourgeois Nations article

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            As for the other claims, they are all false: Hong Kong grew wealthy after becoming the only country since 19th century UK to unilaterally scrap its tariffs.

            You do not understand Hong Kong

            Correlation is not Causation.

            Likewise with Taiwan, and Singapore: they grew rich after lowering tariffs.

            You do not understand the "Asian Tigers" either. Needless to say, when their economies tanked, suddenly everything was blamed on the protectionism (that didn't exist just before of course)

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Likewise, the incomes in the poorest fifth of the world have grown faster in the last half a century than the incomes of the world's richest fifth.

            What!? Just go and look how much inequality has skyrocketed. I don't have the number in front of me but what you say sounds extremely false.

          • Richard Garner

            Between 1965 and 1998, the average world citizen's income almost doubled, from $2,497 to $4,839. This did not come from industrialised nations simply multiplying their incomes: In the same period the richest one-fifth of the world's population saw their average income rise from $8,315 to $14, 623, i.e. roughly by 75%. For the poorest one-fifth of the population, the increase was faster, from an average of £551 to £1,137, more than doubling.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Average income says very little. Median income is where it's at. Also, don't look at the 1/5th of the population. Look at the top 1% VS the bottom 50%

            Then the numbers start to show.

          • Richard Garner

            I don't have the figures for that. Do you have a link?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            I don't know why you keep bringing up the enclosures. There was private ownership of land before it, and they are scarcely examples of people appropriating by mixing their labour with previously unowned resources.

            Bbecause the enclosures were a very important part to understand how capitalism could be jump-started (simply, without the enclosures, capitalism would have happened). They are also important empirical evidence to show why Lockean ideas lead to an worse result form an utilitarian perspective.

            The history of the rise of capitalism (with its enclosures and other violent acts of the state) also shows that this ideal of homesteading is nothing more than a fantasy tale, as this kind of event never happened.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        PS: You don't have to reply to your own comments. Simply make a new individual comment per topic. This will allow threading to work naturally and the discussion to flow.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      You ignore the pressure the rest of the society would apply against them. In your example, the KKK abusing the black family would happen wether we had Possession or Private Property rights. In both cases, the Black family could only reach for support in the greater society who would then rightfully condemn the KKK actions.

      Of course your example is absolutely unrealistic and extreme (In a anarchist society, racism would be hard pressed to survive) which is something I always find as a positive sign for a theory that is solid. If it wasn't you would have used a realistic one.

      • Richard Garner

        True, even under private property the black family would have to have some means of taking their property back. But the question is whether or not they would be just in doing so. For instance, they may not have to rely on the rest of society backing them up – they could just have bigger and better guns. Or know somebody that does. The issue is whether they would be just in evicting KKK members that had entered the land whilst the family was out. You seem to say that they wouldn't be, because you only get to own something for as long as everybody else is willing to refrain from stealing it.

        Further, the assertion that racism would cease to exist in an anarchist society is just that, an assertion. I have no reason to believe it, so it is not obvious that this scenario is unrealistic.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          You seem to say that they wouldn't be, because you only get to own something for as long as everybody else is willing to refrain from stealing it.

          No I am not. Because a society does not work in cartoony and absurd examples of "a galaxy far far away" like neoclassical economics is used to. There will not such an event, so discussing it is about as useful as discussing how many angels will dance on the head of a pin. If, for some reason, such an event started happening, it would face problems from the first moment a racist family moved next to a black family. It would never reach the point of the KKK "taking over the house".

          • Richard Garner

            Let me get this straight: You are now not saying that how long my land remains my land whilst I am not using or occupying it depends on how long society thinks it should remain mine, and not, say, the property of someone who squats it whilst I am away?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            No. I'm saying that your example is irrelevant as in reality, it would never progress to the point of actually coming into question.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          Further, the assertion that racism would cease to exist in an anarchist society is just that, an assertion. I have no reason to believe it,

          Racism would not exist for the same reason why Patriarchy, Sexism and the like would dissapear. Because they are methods of oppression and by definition counter to an Anarchist society. People would not stand for them, in the same way they would not stand for capitalists. Telling me racism will exist in Anarchism, is like saying that bosses would exist in Anarchism. It's just as absurd!

          so it is not obvious that this scenario is unrealistic.

          Well really. This says more about your mindframe than I ever could.

          • Richard Garner

            Are you saying that having a racist view is a form of oppression. And surely taking over a homestead of a black family whilst they are away because you and your community don't want blacks in the neighbourhood is oppressive… but since you have said that people who do not use and occupy some land shouldn't be thought of as the owners, and who long they have to be absent to cease to be the owners should be decided by something called "society," which is the racists in this scenario, it seems to me that your argument is that any attempt to reclaim their land would be unjust.

            Bosses will exist in anarchism if people want to work for a boss. Racism will exist under anarchism so long as weird people think that whether you are a good or bad person depends on skin tone. Personally, I don't think beliefs are oppressive, and racism is a set of wrong beliefs.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Are you saying that having a racist view is a form of oppression.

            No, but trying to exercise this racist belief will be and thus opposed by anarchists and quickly extinguished, and without trying to exercise it, you won't be able to find others like you to organize anything.

          • Richard Garner

            Unless the racists become all concentrated together in a single place, which sounds plausible if they are going to be resisted elsewhere.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Good, so you have somehow a racist haven, which quickly implodes due to its own authoritarian inconsistencies and not being able to exploit anyone else but themselves.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            it seems to me that your argument is that any attempt to reclaim their land would be unjust.

            You keep sticking to your absurd fantasy example. Sorry but I won't waste my time with such nonsense. Once more. Your example. can. never. happen.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Bosses will exist in anarchism if people want to work for a boss. Racism will exist under anarchism so long as weird people think that whether you are a good or bad person depends on skin tone

            Perhaps in the "Anarchism" of the Rothbardian kind, were oxymorons live.

        • http://directionlessbones.wordpress.com/ Alderson Warm-Fork

          "But the question is whether or not they would be just in doing so."

          Well if I had to express the anarchist-socialist theory of justice (which is usually not as important as a theory of what sort of society would work best), it would be that people should be willing to accept socially-made decisions that include them and respect them as equals. A society with some black members and a majority of KKK members isn't really a society, it's a fragmented mass of hostile groups. Statehood and coercion is necessary to enforce on people that they must always remain and act as members of a society that shows them no respect.

          The example you describe is essentially one where a racist society tries to invade and dispossess a weaker society, i.e. a decent analogy to European colonialism. And very few anarchists would deny the right of the colonised to resist colonialism.

  • Richard Garner

    There are all sorts of claims in the essay, like “As such, inequality would not be possible without the ability of people to accumulate. Without this incentive people in turn have no reason to exploit and emiserate their fellow humans for it would not bring them any social benefit.” This ignores the fact that wage rates depend on the accumulation of capital; societies with little accumulated capital, savings, etc, will be societies in which workers recieve very little for their pay. (This is an odd thing comparing the currect recession with development economics. Everybody knows that to eleviate third world poverty, we need to get people saving and investing in those economies, accumlating capital… and yet to boost productive when our own economies go into recession, we are told the opposite: Stop saving, go out and get spending! Nobody would say that the solution to poverty in Africa was to get people spending more!)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      You try to apply capitalist economics in a socialist society. This can only end up in absurdities.

      Nevertheless, I'd better argue this: Wage rates, depend on the class struggle. Simply, the more scared and desperate the working class is, the lower the wages and the more the time they will work. It has nothing to do with the accumulation of capital. The more empowered and succesfull the working class is (through strong unions, successful strikes, full employment) the higher the wages get, until the rate of profit drops enough to cause a crisis.

      In a society based on Possession though (ie socialism), there is no class struggle because there are no bosses! There are no wages to be low, because workers own the means of production. As such, the limit to their individual wealth (which approximates the collective wealth since there is no inequality) is only up to the collective amount of labour. Or put more simply, the more they work, the more they achieve, unlike Capitalism where the wealth a worker creates is disconnected from their wage.

      • Richard Garner

        First, it is economics, not capitalist economics. There is no such thing as capitalist economics.

        Second, unions do not raise wages over all, nor do successful strikes, because they don't make labour more valuable. Wages depend on marginal productivity and the degree of competition for workers. And marginal productivity depends on the amount of accumulated capital.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          First, it is economics, not capitalist economics. There is no such thing as capitalist economics.

          No, it is *capitalist* economics, as it attempts to explain the production and distribution of wealth in a capitalist society.

          • Richard Garner

            No it doesn't, it tries to explain the production and distribution of wealth, period. Economics is not about specific economies.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Yes it is. As it is based on false assumptions that only exist in a Capitalist society. It simply disguises this by taking the Capitalist society as a given and of course then, all its results of “efficiency” would be of a form of a Capitalist society

          • Richard Garner

            The presumptions that, for instance, neoclassical economists basis their economics on are assumptions they acknowledge do not exist in any society.

            The assumptions that Austrian economists base their economics on is that people act, and they do so over or with resources who's usage imposes opportunity costs on the actor, and on others. They also presume that people lack knowledge.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            The assumptions of Austrian economics are many more than “people act”. Assumptions such as the labour market will clear, or that the prices of commodities are set by the consumer, or that there are diminishing returns on production. Needless to say, most assumptions of Austrian economics have been debunked.

  • Richard Garner

    And remember that, in the book, Proudhon said that possession is a matter of fact, whilst property is a matter of right: Factory workers already have "possession" of the factory. The reason they don't have workers control, and don't capitalise its product, etc, is because they don't own it. So this isn't a call for the abolition of property and a replacement of it by something else, but a call for giving property rights to those in possession of certain things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    Second, unions do not raise wages over all, nor do successful strikes, because they don't make labour more valuable.

    As I said above it is not the "value of labour" that raises or lowers the wages, its the nature of the class struggle, of which unions and strikes are weapons of the working class. Empirically of course I am right, as the rise of unions and working class militance has always led to improvement in wages and working conditions.

    • Richard Garner

      No, it is the value of labour. No capitalist is going to pay £10 to a worker that is bringing the firm only £9, are they?

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

        What a silly example. The wage a worker will get, will always move within the limits of his bare subsistence and the exchange value of the commodity minus the cost of raw materials and repairs (ie the surplus value). How much it approaches each end (subsistence of the worker or surplus value) depends on the state of the class struggle.

        • Richard Garner

          It doesn't, it depends on the degree of competition. If a worker brings in £9, and his employer is paying him £5, then it will pay another employer, all else being equal, to offer him £5.01, and attract the worker away from the first employer. But it will pay another to offer him £5.02. And so on: Competition, driving the price up until it is equal to that worker's marginal product, £9. In a competitive economy, were employers are not protected against competition from others for their worker's labour, wages will tend to equal the marginal product of labour. Beyond that, though, is the question of why it is £9, and not more, or less. And that is due to the extent of capital accumulation in society, whether there are better tools, better skills, and whether capital has afforded a wider division of labour, etc. Accumulation, by raising the marginal productivity of labour, when coupled with competition for labour, results in higher wages.

          • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            If a worker brings in £9, and his employer is paying him £5, then it will pay another employer, all else being equal, to offer him £5.01, and attract the worker away from the first employer.

            That is in a period of full employment (or in the la-la land of perfect competition). Something that happens very rarely and quickly brings the capitalist system to a crisis as the rate of profit drops and no new investments can be made.

            But in real existing capitalism, the rate of unemployment always keeps the worker competing with other workers in driving down the price of his labour, which is of course why the state nowadays artificially controls unemployment through interest.

            The (threat of) unemployment then, is simply the weapon of the capitalist class.

            In a competitive economy, were employers are not protected against competition from others for their worker's labour, wages will tend to equal the marginal product of labour.

            There you go again. There is no marginal product of labour. It's a debunk theory which claims an unknown number which cannot be proven or disproven. It is obvious that you must keep using, even in the face of evidence but at this point it starts feeling like I'm talking to a creationist.

          • Richard Garner

            Perfect competition is an incoherent concept. In fact, it doesn't actually involve any real competition, which is rivalrous behaviour.

            I don't see why full employment imples that profits drop, or that there is neither demand for nor supply of capital. Could you explain this?

            Every time I follow your links to the anarchist FAQ my computer freezes. I don't know why. I have, however, read it a number of times before, and remain unpersuaded by a number of its economics claims.

            There is a marginal product for labour – it is the additional revenue that adding one more unit of labour would bring to a firm. Sounds quite easy to grasp to me. It also logically makes sense to say that marginal productivity is diminishing, because adding a factor of production increases the supply of resources, but since marginal utility is diminishing, each increase in the supply of a resource will be worth less than that previous to it.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            I don't see why full employment imples that profits drop, or that there is neither demand for nor supply of capital. Could you explain this?

            Full employment would mean that the labour "market" becomes a seller market, that is, the power belongs to the workers who can always find a job and this drives wages higher and higher. However, wages come out directly from the profits, which means that the capitalist maintains a smaller amount as profit from everything that the company sells as the wages rise on aggregate. The rate of profit drops.

            This is incidentally what happened at the end of the 60's and why the inflation started, as the only way for the capitalist to make a profit would be to increase the prices, which soon required the wages to rise as well, which drove the prices to drive and so on. A crisis begun and it required a whole reorganization of the capitalist system (ie neoliberalism/monetarism) to lessen. And it did that by reducing employment levels drastically and thus cutting wages and allowing the rate of profit to stay high.

          • Richard Garner

            Workers cannot, in this situation drive their wages up higher and higher. As I said, if a worker brings £9 he can't force his wage up to £10.

            Moreover, wages are a part of the cost of running the enterprise, profit is revenue minus costs, where the result is a positive sum (otherwise it will be a loss). The only way for the employer to make zero profits would be if the revenue is equal to or less than the costs. I don't see why what you are saying implies it would be. If consumers are willing to pay more than costs, then there will be profit. Whether there is full employment of not won't change that.

            The inflation you refer to was the result of increasing the money supply.

          • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Workers cannot, in this situation drive their wages up higher and higher. As I said, if a worker brings £9 he can't force his wage up to £10.

            Once again, yes they can raise their wages, until the natural limit which I've explained before

            I don't see why what you are saying implies it would be. If consumers are willing to pay more than costs, then there will be profit. Whether there is full employment of not won't change that.

            That is because you do not understand how capitalist production works.
            1) It is not the consumers who set the costs. It is the enterprise. The boss. The Capitalist does not create something and then expects the consumers to decide how much it is worth to them. The Capitalist decides the price depending on his costs in order to make a profit that will keep the business going. So as the wages go higher (droping the rate of profit), so in the end the capitalist will simply start increasing his prices.
            2) The consumers are not disconnected from the workers. They are the workers! As such, the prices the consumers will pay are explicitly related to the wages they earn. So as the prices rise, so will the workers demand higher wages. Therefore, inflation.

            So In full employment, The power lies in the workers and wages will keep increasing. But this will eventually force the capitalist to raise the prices in order to keep the rate of proft. This will in turn force the workers, who are the consumers, to demand more wages to pay for the higher prices. This is all perfectly logical and moreso, empirically proven.

          • Anarcho-capitalist

            Richard Maybury in What Ever Happened to Penny Candy? "The wage/price spiral sounds logical, but you might ask a question. Where did the money come from?

            A company can ask any price it wants for cars, from ten dollars to ten million dollars. But it will only get the money if the money exists. Where did the money come from?

            An auto worker can demand any salary, from ten dollars per hour to ten million dollars per hour. But he will only get the money if the money exists. Where did the money come from?

            The answer, of course, is that someone printed it [a better word for inflation is dilution].

            If the supply of money had not changed, then the only way for one person to have more money would be for someone else to have less. When one worker's wages went up, another worker's wages would have to go down. When one business's prices went up, another business's prices would have to go down. The value of your money would not change.

            The only way for all wages and prices to go up is for someone to print money. If the money is not being printed, then each rise in a wage or price would have to be matched by a fall in some other wage or price.

            For instance, if the amount of money does not change, and the price of oil rises, then the prices of comic books, food, clothes, and other items must fall. That's because people are using more money to buy oil, so they have less money left over to buy other things.

            If someone demands money faster than it is created, he simply won't get it. No one will have it to give to him. That's why workers aren't demanding ten million dollars per hour and the auto manufacturer isn't demanding ten million dollars per car. That much money doesn't exist. Yet."

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Every time I follow your links to the anarchist FAQ my computer freezes. I don't know why. I have, however, read it a number of times before, and remain unpersuaded by a number of its economics claims.

            That you remain unpersuaded is not an argument though. The arguments for the false assumption and inconsistend axioms of economics are there. As for your PC freezing, try using another browser (Opera is pretty stable generally)

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            There is a marginal product for labour – it is the additional revenue that adding one more unit of labour would bring to a firm.

            And yet this does not work. For an additional unit of labour, without the equivalent capital will not bring any extra amount of revenue. For example, if I have 9 shovels and 9 workers digging a hole, adding an extra worker will not make the work any faster, as he is lacking a shovel.

            The economists tried to work around this by assuming that Capital is maleable. That is, that the shovels can be split to 10 units and so on. But this just goes further and further away from reality.

            And then, the difficulty of defining labour marginal productivity is nothing, nothing compared to the immense difficulties of defining the marginal productivity of capital itself, which is required if we are to discuss how much of the profits deserve to go to the capitalist.

          • Richard Garner

            Your example proves my original point, though – the marginal product of that additional digger was nothing, because he didn't have a shovle. Providing capital boosts his productivity, then, which is why wage rates depend on capital accumulation

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            No it doesn't. It simply proves that you do not have "marginal productivity" as to prove that, you would have to keep the capital constant and get a number, which you didn't.

            I don't really understand what you think your point is. That people need tools to work? That is obvious. But from this start, the rest edifice you've build does not follow. People need tools to work but someone amassing those tools will not increase productivity, nor increase wages.

          • http://www.anarchistfaq.org.uk Anarcho

            Man, talk about not understanding mathematics. The whole point of "marginal productivity theory" is that it assumes you hold one factor constant in order to determine how much the other contributes. And so that example shows the flaw in your original point… Unless, of course, you think that the 9 shovels can be squeezed into 10 slightly smaller shovels…

            Providing capital? Without the worker, that shovel would be sitting there. Capital is not productive. Providing capital is not productive. Capital's marginal product is created by the worker…

            And why do we think that capital should get a reward? Because it is owned by a separate class. Economics takes that for granted and so concludes that capital should get a reward. As such, it is capitalist economics…

  • Richard Garner

    On the enclosures, Chambers and Mingay write "from the later eighteenth century up to probably about 1815 small owners were actually increasing in number and acreage, even in some heavily enclosed counties . . . Enclosure was not a very important factor in the survival of owner occupiers."

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Read the refutation of that little piece of apologetics

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    Marginal Productivity is bunk. It's been debunked as a valid theory and admited as such even by neoclassical economists (which says a lot about those who keep using it)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    Marginal Productivity is bunk. It's been debunked as a valid theory and admited as such even by neoclassical economists (which says a lot about those who keep using it)

    • Richard Garner

      Hmmmmm, you claim that marginal productivity is debunked notion dropped by neoclassical economists… whilst linking to a FAQ that thinks the labour theory of value is true!!!!!!! I can't see anything about this debunking on the wiki page for the concept.

      • http://www.anarchistfaq.org.uk Anarcho

        Actually, AFAQ does not think "the labour theory of value is true." It discusses the LTV in an appendix, refuting some of the more silly arguments against it:

        http://anarchism.pageabode.com/blogs/afaq/secCapp

        It also indicates why it, for all its flaws, the LTV provides a better understanding of capitalist dynamics rather than the timeless nonsense of neo-classical economics… Whether that counts of the LTV being "true" can be considered a moot point — does providing a better understanding of a complex system equate to it being true?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          On an unrelated note, now I just noticed that you provided a wrong email before, which is why you didn't receive my replies :)

  • http://dbzer0.com db0

    Read the refutation of that little piece of apologetics

  • http://dbzer0.com db0

    That's a Tu quoque fallacy. You're better off arguing against the arguments presented within instead.

    I can't see anything about this debunking on the wiki page for the concept.

    Aaahahaha! I guess you didn't look hard enough:

    As was shown in the Cambridge capital controversy, this proposition about the marginal product of capital cannot generally be sustained in multicommodity models in which capital and consumption goods are distinguished.

    Which basically means that it doesn't apply to reality.

    • Richard Garner

      Why so? I could buy beans to eat, or I could buy beans because I am a retailer and need them to stock my shelves. The same commodity in either case is a consumption good and a capital good. Why your presumption that capital and consumer goods are always distinguished in reality?

      The facts are that diminishing marginal returns are due to diminishing marginal utility. Or are you going to deny that now?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    It's funny that you accuse me of denial, when you can't even understand why marginal production fails.

    Is a can of beans a capital good? No. A can of beans cannot produce anything, therefore it is not capital, unless you redefine "capital".

    It's telling that your defence rests only upon how the counter was put on a wikipedia stub, instead of seeing the full refutation that I linked to you.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

    The facts are that diminishing marginal returns are due to diminishing marginal utility. Or are you going to deny that now?

    Heh, yes. Because the theory of diminishing marginal returns is refuted empirically.

  • Richard Garner

    I was chatting to Jon Simcock, of Total Liberty magazine, and he said that he convinced some workers in a small factory that they could run it effectively, democratically, that worker's control could be effective. But they still said they didn't want it, as they didn't want the hassle – they wanted to go to work, get the job done, and then be off home or to the pub. The meetings and votes, etc, they didn't want to be burdened with. It seems quite possible that there would be such people in any society. Why force them to join or form co-ops and prevent them from working for a boss if they want to? Simultaneously, being a good manager requires having a skill set that not all workers have yet developed. Just as Bakunin said that in the matter of shoes he defers to the authority of the shoe maker, voluntarily, instead of having it thrust on him, why not say that in the matter of managing a business I defer to the authority of a manager?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      Yes, although the majority of humans do not want bosses and do want self management. It is possible to conceive of people who's individualism and initiative has been so rotten by a society which doesn't promote it, that they wouldn't want it even if they had it. In a future anarchist society, such people would probably either quickly discover the joys of initiative again, or join a co-op factory and simply go by the majority decisions.

      But this is not an argument for anything, anymore than the slaver pointing to the slaves who cannot survive in the free alone because they prefer being slaves. (an actual argument against the abolition of slavery mind you)

  • Richard Garner

    I do need it: I saved the grain and meat up for the winter months. You didn't. I need it, you need it… but I have it, and you don't. Inequality.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      If you saved just enough to get you through, then obviously your land is not a source of inequality. In that case, the starving person would simply get his food from any of the other abundant sources of food (that already exist even now)

  • Richard Garner

    I do need it: I saved the grain and meat up for the winter months. You didn't. I need it, you need it… but I have it, and you don't. Inequality.

  • Richard Garner

    Are you opposed to inequalities because you think they are unjust? Would the inequalities that would arise under individualist anarchism be unjust? Personally, I can't see anything great about equality anyway: Why be concerned that, for instance, everybody has the same amount of food, rather than whether they have enough food, more more food, etc?

    And the market would arise because people wouldn't get everything they need whenever they need it, of course!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

      And the market would arise because people wouldn't get everything they need whenever they need it, of course!

      So it will be a market of speed? For example, while there is a, say, a car factory that will provide you with a car when you ask for it, but perhaps you might have to wait a while until it's constructed. So your idea of market would be that you will exchange something you have for the car of someone else because you just need a car so much right now?

      • Richard Garner

        Well, I don't have any reason to believe that there will be a factory that will provide me with a car whenever I need, and they won't even know what I need anyway. But, yes, the idea that I have to wait for them to finish building the car if I need one is ridiculous, too. If I want to buy a car now, I can go out to a dealer, and there will be one there, ready for me already. Just like in supermarkets – not being able to find a few itens we want is the exception not the rule – what I want to buy is likely already to be there waiting for me.

        Markets will arise, as they have done all through human existence, because people need assurances that if one person does something for someone, that someone will do something back in exchange.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

          If we're talking about a possessive society then yes you do. Factories already exist and as such they will continue to exist as long as people find them useful. Since there will be no need to money, the cars will most likely be provided to those that require them

          As for bying a car right now, I don't know which world you live in, but most people cannot, in fact, go out and buy a car just like that. Most people can't even afford a car within their lifetimes.

          • Richard Garner

            Cars won't be there waiting for people who need them, because the providers of cars won't know whether people want cars, or what type of car is needed, and whether one type is needed more than another, etc. If there are cars waiting there in case people need them, then other things are not being produced with the resources that were used to produce the cars, so other wants are not being satisfied. The owners of those resources will have no idea which to produce. Further, they will have no need to even care, since, if they can get whatever they need without producing, why would they bother producing cars?

            As for buying a car when I need it, you are correct: When I have enough money to buy a car, there will be a car at the dealers waiting for me, that is what I meant, and no central control is needed to ensure that, no time-wasting asking people what is needed (as if that would even produce some way of comparing the extent of that need).

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Cars won't be there waiting for people who need them, because the providers of cars won't know whether people want cars, or what type of car is needed, and whether one type is needed more than another, etc.

            Why not? Supply (if there is any) will be giving these signals. And if there isn't a car factory and a lot of people demand it, then they will decide to build one. I honestly don't see the problem.

            You are missing the part where production happens for human needs. If humans need or want cars then they will have an incentive to start producing them.

          • Richard Garner

            So the supply of cars in Glasgow will signal to Iron miners in Australia that more iron ore is needed? The supply of cars in Boston will signal to steel refiners in Britain that people need more steel for cars, and that they need to supply more for cars than, say, for ship building? How?

            Why does my need for a car give people an steel refiners an incentive to stop using steel for ship building and use it to make me a car instead?

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            So the supply of cars in Glasgow will signal to Iron miners in Australia that more iron ore is needed?

            Yes. Just give them a phonecall and say "You guys, we need more stuff". Very similar to how would happen now, only without the excessive bureaucracy and the money.

          • Richard Garner

            And the guys at the mine say, "how much more? What about the other people who need it? If we dig more out now, there will be less for the future, so do you need more now more than you need more in the future?"

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            Why does my need for a car give people an steel refiners an incentive to stop using steel for ship building and use it to make me a car instead?

            The steel refiners would of course either increase production or decide to whom to provide the material by judging the needs of each. If there's a disagreement, it's likely that the cases of both sides would be heard and a democratic decision taken by the syndicate.

          • Richard Garner

            How would they measure the needs?

            What syndicate? Who said anybody had joined this syndicate? And why would the outcome of the vote be the best one? If I need steel a lot, and sixty other people only need it a little, it is plain that the steel will go to those who need it less than me because they will outvote me.

          • Richard Garner

            How would they measure the needs?

            What syndicate? Who said anybody had joined this syndicate? And why would the outcome of the vote be the best one? If I need steel a lot, and sixty other people only need it a little, it is plain that the steel will go to those who need it less than me because they will outvote me.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/db0 db0

            When I have enough money to buy a car, there will be a car at the dealers waiting for me, that is what I meant, and no central control is needed to ensure that, no time-wasting asking people what is needed

            Then you're not any better, and likely much worse of what I proposed. Whereas in a communist system, whoever wants a car can always get it (perhaps waiting a bit if there is not enough supply), in the Capitalist society not only people must wait until they can afford it, but it's very likely that some who need it, can never get one, while others who have already one, can get a second and a third.

            Explain to me why this scenario is better? Because it's better for the rich?

  • http://directionlessbones.wordpress.com/ Alderson Warm-Fork

    "I fully understand the distinction between property and possession. I am trying to get more information on db0's belief that all production in society can simply be voted on."

    I don't think a comment thread about a particular distinction between two terms is the best place to get a ground-up plan for a whole society. I'd suggest reading about 'parecon', which I think is the most fully worked-out version of an anarchist socialist economic system. Some anarchist socialists would do things a bit differently, or would hope to shift to doing things differently where possible, but it's a good basic model.

    For example: http://www.zcommunications.org/zparecon/zpareconf

    If you're so enamoured of the price mechanism, I have a post critiquing the claims often made for it here: http://directionlessbones.wordpress.com/2009/04/0

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  • Anarcho-capitalist

    I agree with the part of this post that says that land shouldn't be owned. Capitalism, however, doesn't require that land be owned. The labor product of the land (the farm or factory) should be owned, but not the land itself. If the land isn't being used, it can be re-homesteaded by anyone else. Capitalists should not defend land speculators. Here is a good debate that changed my view on whether the land itself should be owned:
    http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/2017/27474.as

    • http://dbzer0.com db0

      You cannot separate land ownership from what is built on top of it. But that is unimportant if ownership is tied to use or occupancy. However capitalism goes one step further and claims that ownership is not based on actual use or occupancy, but simply past use, or use by others.

  • BOMherren

    How is your claim to owning a building that you live in any less arbitrary than my claim to owning a building which I rent out, and why would your claim require any less arbitration and enforcement than mine?

    You're not alone in advocating a "time out" on claims to abandoned property. No "propertarian", as you call us, would drag you to court over picking a dropped coin off of the sidewalk, or over restoring a long-abandoned house to usefulness and claiming it for your own. The issue seems to have more to do with absentee ownership, and with exactly how long the claim may be left without this condition fulfilled before it expires. Again: I do not understand in the slightest why your norm is less arbitrary than mine, or has any fewer grey areas wherein arbitration is required.

    Greed is a useless word. Its meaning is solely to express disapproval for the chosen ends of an actor. It is beneath the purview of civilized discussion. But shortsightedness is a meaningful and useful concept, relating to time preference, and one worth examining in relation to property norms.

    I don't see how possession-based property norms discourage shortsightedness in comparison to homesteading and contract-based property norms. If absentee-owned capital goods can be claimed by anyone off of the street after a set amount of time, then would that not incentivize people to redirect their productive efforts towards consumer's goods, ceteris paribus? Specialization in the production of capital goods would be greatly discouraged – some perhaps rendered impossible altogether, depending on the precise terms of society's property norms.

    • http://dbzer0.com db0

      How is your claim to owning a building that you live in any less arbitrary than my claim to owning a building which I rent out, and why would your claim require any less arbitration and enforcement than mine?

      Because mine is based on hard restrictions of reality. Not two humans can occupy the same space or use the same productive means.

      Q.E.D.

  • http://impinoy.com im_pinoy

    It is not only a matter of definition, but a matter of values. Some anarchists value property as a guarantee for freedom and prosperity, whereas other anarchists see property as a means of oppression and therefore wish to see it abolished completely. And there are other anarchists taking a “middle stance” both pro and con..through advocating only possession. There seems to be no way around this issue, but this essay introduces a new theory combining the arguments put forward by anarchists in all three camps.

  • http://www.humansandresources.org Humans And Resources

    With regard specifically to land, I have come up with a different system which, I believe, offers greater liberty to all. I have outlined it here [ http://www.humansandresources.org/node/13 ], but the jist of it is:
    I use ownership as the model, because I view it as the only way to assure direct access to our life-support system, the Earth. Those landless-serfs who must beg others to access their Earth (homesite, arable land) are, by definition, slaves.

    Every person shall have a diversified ‘share’ of the Earth as their birthright. These are selected from all currently abandoned land from a database which dynamically re-sizes parcels in particular areas in inverse proportion to the popularity of that area – in real-time. Each person, upon reaching the age of majority, may select a share from the available land.

    Every person can only have one ‘share’ of the Earth, so while they may inherit or trade shares (encouraging inter-generational good stewardship), they cannot own more then one share. Therefore, every death results in a land-share entering the database, as an inheritor, if they accept the offer, must abandon their own share. Any individual may also select a new share, at any time, and abandon their own.

    Suggestions for improvements to this idea are welcome.

    • http://dbzer0.com db0

      I think you're putting the cart before the horse. First we need to arrive at a society which would even consider an egalitarian land distribution. Once we are in that progress, the type of system we're going to use is probably going to be discovered depending on the circumstances.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/planttheseeds Johan Andre

    i know this thread is old, but look up direct democracy maybe :P

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