, , ,

It’s a common Progressive/socialist/communist trope that “property is theft” (first coined by Proudhon) and that redistributing unequal amounts of property is “fair.” the problem is that once respect for ownership of property is destroyed, the idea of self-ownership — that you are your own property — inevitably follows. Once this happens, your “owner” — the king, the state, the party, a slave master — can decide every aspect of your life, including whether to let you live.

This is not some thought exercise. It happens every day in many portions of the planet — from the forced organ harvesting in Chinese prison camps, to forced “rape” marriages in the Middle East and Africa, to outright theft of homes, businesses, and property by government in Venezuela, Zimbabwe and a host of other nations, to criminal groups stealing women off the streets of Wester Europe for sex slavery — people are deprived of their self-ownership. And it starts with something as small as “you can’t have a loud exhaust” for your car, to “your can build that treehouse on your land”, to you can’t protect your property with force.

But, Scott, property isn’t “you!” Yes, it is. Let’s use the popular Karl Marx’s reasoning: One of the worst aspects of capitalism is the supposed alienation of people from their labor; they do not own the organs of creation, so they do not have ownership of their labor. Here’s why Marx was wrong:

If you own your labor, that is because you ultimately own yourself. Not the state. Not your boss at the “evil” company. You. Your labor is yours to trade with for the things you cannot or will not make, grow, or invent. You are not alienated from your labor by working for the “evil” capitalist; you have traded your labor for a paycheck. The labor is still yours to deny the company. Yes, you might lose your job if you refuse to work. We call that “consequence.” The labor you traded gets you money or something in trade (if you want to prattle about how barter was better because you don’t understand the purpose of money.) It is your labor made manifest in coin or things. If it is wrong to deprive you of your labor (physical or mental — hence intellectual property), then it is wrong to take what that labor creates for you. Your money. The things you buy with it, from a house, to food, to that iPod some neo-Luddite tells you “you don’t need”, to a car or clothes. Everything in the ownership chain starts and ends with you being yours.