Re: Capitalism, Private Property, etc (was Re: Sweatshops)

From: J. Goard (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 18:52:41 MDT

At 03:51 PM 4/18/01 -0700, Travas Gunnell wrote:

>B.3.1 What is the difference between private property
>and possession?
>Anarchists define "private property" (or just
>"property," for short) as state-protected monopolies
>of certain objects or privileges which are used to
>exploit others. "Possession," on the other hand, is
>ownership of things that are not used to exploit
>others (e.g. a car, a refrigerator, a toothbrush,

I should point out that this left-anarchist definition of "property" is
being defined in terms of an equally tricky concept of "exploitation," and
that the term "monopoly" is used here in a very odd sense with little
connection to its use in the economic literature.

The economically meaningful definition of a monopoly is: a situation where
a monopolist "can secure higher net proceeds by selling a smaller quantity
of his product at a higher price than by selling a greater quantity at a
lower price." (von Mises, _Human Action_, XV.6) It does not mean simply
private control over a commodity. I can own a number of houses and rent
them out, but (whether my ownership is protected by a national government,
by a private defense agency, or just by me and my family with lots of guns)
I won't be able to significantly increase the market price of housing by
boarding up some of my own houses, and therefore all of my supply will be
made available at the market rate. The concept of monopoly used here is
any sort of protected claim of ownership to something that is a factor of
production rather than a personal consumptive item, IOW "property."

Left-anarchists feel they can make this distinction between "possessions"
and "property" because they don't understand the productive role played by
the wise alignment of capital by entrepreneurs. What a left-anarchist
calls "exploitation" is really just making wealth by correctly deciding
what most needs to get done rather than by doing the getting-done. But the
former is just an example of the latter, a skill that happens to be
exceedingly rare and therefore carries a high price.

J. Goard,
e-gold account #100592 (
The Beyond outside us is indeed swept away, and the
great undertaking of the Enlightenment complete;
but the Beyond *inside* us has become a new heaven
and calls us to renewed heaven-storming.
                                      --Max Stirner

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