Sunday, April 11, 2010

evolving ideas: private property

The most important part of philosophy is to put it into practice. This was one of Marx´s biggest criticisms of his inspiration, Hegel. Hegel lived in the mind, in logic, whereas Marx understood that humans are sensient beings who actualize themselves as a species by experiencing and doing things (different from labouring at things). Thus, he took Hegels Idea and evolved it into his own formulation: an Ideation of a universal man, the proletariat, a society of communism. As a result, Marx is followed more than any other Hegelian-philosopher. Obviously.

Howevever, my problem with philosophy, an ideology in fact, is devotion. Although I am a firm supporter, more like understander, of the Marxist Idea, much of the the components of Marxist thought does not apply today. The times have changed -- so must we.

Marx´s ideas on labour and property are outdated. What might have been applicable 150 years ago is no longer relevant. Instead, we need to take these ideas, change them and make them adapt to our situation.

Let´s take private property. Much of the arguments against private property are relevant for a time where men were subjected and enslaved as pieces of property themselves. Although I have no doubts that some sort of secretive-serf servitude still exists, at times private property can save your livelihood. Take for example the First-Nations´ Land Rights or the Northern-Canadian disputed land claims. In both cases, not only is the State trying to breach contractual agreements, but, with help from multinational corporate interests, also natural-being agreements. Although I am not a devoted fan of Locke, his principles of private property are dead-on.

If you live on the land and work the land to support yourself and your family, what gives the government or business the right to come in and take it away? The most important part of Locke´s idea is the working of land as how one sees fit. It produces a means for one´s self and one´s family, whether you have a small vegetable patch or a corner-store, that land is being worked by the owner so that the owner may live and provide for his or her family.

In today´s society, despite my dreamy hopes of a world where everyone holds hands and shares, the exchange of goods and services is a necessity. Thus, one who grows vegetables on his land should have the right to exchange, or sell, it to the other man working his corner store. The existence of exchange, usually performed through money, is a modern reality. So, for now, property is a reality.

Until we reach that utopia, or eutopia, an indivdual´s property must be protected. [The word ¨individual¨ is highlighted because property should be the right of man, not the right of conglomerates and most certainly not the right of government.] Once an individual enters into the private- (business) or public- (government) sphere, where he or she must oversee other people´s lives and jobs, his or her right to property should only exist in his or her home, not through or where he or she works. The business and government, as a representative of a group with hidden interests, should have no claim to an individual´s property.

Currently, people are being forced -- physically, mentally, financially -- from their homes as a result of disputed State and Corporation land claims. It is for this reason that First Nations protest on the 400-highways, why Caledonia is such a controversial issue, why the people in Parry Sound and Muskoka region are forced from their homes that have been passed down from generations due to rising land-taxes (because the government re-values these families´property according to business development).

In the end, all I am trying to say is that, right now, my dear Marx, an individual needs his or her property as a safe-haven from economic enslavement. Everyone needs a place to call home. Interesting research has pointed out that the homeless who have found a home, a roof over their heads, become better adjusted and are able to become financially independent. They become individuals.

Even Marx believed that society can only function if people are able to be themselves, to be individuals. Therefore, with the rich getting richer, and the State becoming more powerful, and these two forces combining to run humanity into the ground, private property is a necessity. Hopefully, in a better future, things will change and private property will adapt, evolve, into people joining hands and sharing.

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