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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism
mp on Mon, 18 Sep 2017 22:23:42 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism

On 18/09/17 00:58, Morlock Elloi wrote:
> Using the concept of property is legitimate and effective action. It
> exists, is enforced, works, and however biased it may be, or however
> odious one may think it is (alternative being ... ?), it is far too
> ingrained into the society to be 100% biased. Rejecting it on moral
> grounds (in favor of what?) would be like Indians rejecting use of
> firearms.


Property relations: social relations with regard to things. Rather
difficult to do without.

How (and by who) they are configured is what matters.

“It is not wrong to say that the nature and intent of a society reveal
themselves in the legal and customary concepts of property held by the
various members and classes of that society. These property concepts do
not change without an incipient or fundamental change in the nature of
the society itself. The history of property relations in a given society
is thus, in a way, the history of the society itself .” (Schurmann 1956:

“No doubt the eighteenth century preferred rational treaties expounding
the theory of property to historical essays describing the theories of
property. But … we … know that the institution of property has had its
history and that that history has not yet come to an end … We begin with
the knowledge that there must be as many theories of property as there
have been systems of property rights. Consequently we abandon the search
for the true theory of property and study the theories of the past ages.
Only thus can we learn how to construct a theory suitable to our own
circumstances” (Schlatter 1951: 10).

and from the thesis where these quotes feature:

"...The commons is seen as the paradigmatic non-property case. Yet both
commoning and private property concern the same subject matter: how we
relate to each other with regard to things and with regard to the rest
of the world. Who has access to what resource, what are those with
access allowed to use the resource for, who takes responsibility for the
resource, what happens to the wealth that can be generated from the
resources, who can sell, buy or otherwise transfer the privilege of
access to a resource and its wealth effects, who makes the decisions
about these things, how are the decision-making processes organised in
cases where more than one individual holds the decision-making authority
and, finally, with reference to what values are these decisions

Once we uncover the elements which both share, these two different kinds
of property can be brought together under one analytical umbrella. The
purpose is to reveal the way in which each of them functions and the
different kinds of social relations that they give rise to. In this way
the applicability of either of the two in a given context – for instance
a particular resource or class of objects – can be assessed on the same
terms. A normative evaluation can start from there.

Because property in general has come to be understood as synonymous with
private property, the way in which analysts are able to think about
property has been greatly limited. By opening up the analytical
framework of property to include at once commoning and private property,
both will be seen in a new light. Moreover, given the anti-capitalist
starting point of the thesis, understanding commoning in the same terms
as property can better facilitate a transfer of land, its resources, and
the means of production and distribution, from being organised with
private property rights to become organised through modes of commoning.

It should here be noted that I am in no way arguing that private
property should be done away with [1], rather I am hoping to reveal its
anatomy, so that we may assess its usefulness for different purposes and
in different domains. While the idea is to better be able to limit its
range, my account of property should not be understood as a normative
exercise. While I point to certain normative implications throughout my
discussion, it is not my primary objective to provide a thorough moral
analysis of property. Many of these have been provided by others more
skilled in such matters. Rather, I will address the way in which
property is understood to function in liberal jurisprudence.
Specifically, I will draw upon J.W. Harris’s work, whose analytical
approach and framework describes with most accuracy the way in which the
institution of property in capitalist democracy functions legally as
well as economically. His account is consistent with, and indeed
clarifies, many preceding accounts of property in liberal jurisprudence
on the one hand, and on the other, economic policy which implements and
regulates property....."

Property is a code. Happy hacking.


[1] I prefer dominion over a few things, like, generally, underwear,
toothbrush and, sometimes, bed.

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