Phil Graham on 26 Jul 2000 20:49:11 -0000

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Re: <nettime> Terror in Tune Town

People seem to be mixing up "private property" with "simple possession". 

In all the classical conversations of "private property", land was what
was meant, as well as the (fixed) capital welded thereto later on. Same
with Marx. He makes the distinction quite clearly between the two. Land is
"property" in the argument you are trying to make sense of. 

Don't forget that (in W Europe) land was held in common prior to 1469
(roughly), when the first enclosures were enacted in England. This process
was completed, amidst constant outrage and many rounds of legislation, by
around 1790. Nobody owned land, not even the crown, prior to enclosure.
"Property is theft" refers to privatised land, not to "simple possession",
the ownership of one's own "things", the fruits (a certain amount thereof
at least) of one's own labour, and the means thereof. 

Steal my fucking music and I'll sue you.
Steal my writing and I'll fucking sue you too.
It's mine, I wrote it, played it, sang it, thought it, felt it - so fuck off.

Ask me for it and I'll gladly give it to you.
But that has nothing to do with private property (keep out!).

That's the distinction.

Property alienation was an impossible concept before industrialisation. 
Why? because of the division of labour in the production of commodities.
That's where Weber makes his mistake calling pre-capitalist piece work a
form of capitalism. Otherwise we can just call the whole of the history of
trade and simple possession capitalism. 


To do so strips the term of all historical meaning. 

All you are doing by confusing private property with simple possession is
echoing idealist horseshit from the post-Thermidor French, all bourgeoise
apologists to a man in any case. You are also ignoring history and
political economy. 

A person has a right to what they produce. They have a right to their own
possessions. The distinction between intellectual and other types of
simple possessions (and labour) is a horseshit, elitist distinction. The
ownership of land is a far more incomprehensible idea to me than the
ownership of one's own music, scribblings, secrets, or kitchen wares. 

Thank you for reading.


Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
Phil Graham
Lecturer (Communication)
Graduate School of Management
University of Queensland
617 3381 1083

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