On Property

Trying to review the overall history of property is proving instructive, as almost all ready at hand resources start the discussion at Locke, Hobbes or Smith. This is telling. Further to this, when reading theory on property, the entire issue is framed as a moral discussion right across the spectrum.

Excavating with a pickaxe and not a trowel here, I am going to assert some hypothesis’s. The first of which is that during the period of monarchy (actual non-sham monarchy) property, all property, was the kings. To see how this works, consider the invasion of England by William the Conqueror who held allodial title to the whole country by virtue of conquest. He then dispersed this property (but retained ownership proper) to supporters and those who professed loyalty. This process is exceptionally simple. The king owned all of the land, and then dispersed (not alienated) the property as he deemed fit and profitable. Sovereign property and secondary property.

With the collapse of monarchy into popular sovereignty, which was largely the fault of the monarchy itself, the sovereign property category was annulled. All land was ultimately held in common if no one person or corporation held it. Of course, no one quite saw it like this, and even Hume and Smith apparently held that the state could requisition property and use it all as it saw fit in times of emergency, but who cares what they said. They were basically communists.

Wikipedia informs me that:

In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown’s paramount lordship, a legal fiction – that all land titles were held by the King’s subjects as a result of a royal grant – was adopted.”

But it would, wouldn’t it? Wikipedia, like everyone and everything in the western world is basically communist. No one maintains that property is ultimately owned by a sovereign organisation, and that subsequent ownership is not “yours” but only secondary, because this thought was banished long ago, any modern realizations of this tend to get shut down. Once the monarchy was removed, the question shifted to one of how to share and utilize all of this secondary property which was each person’s rightful property. So we get Locke’s labor theory of property continued throughout the modern economic tradition, and we get Hume and Smith’s economics in which MacIntyre notes in comparison to Aristotle:

The individual envisaged by Aristotle engages in practical reasoning not just qua individual, but qua citizen, of a polis; the individual as envisaged by Hume engages in practical reasoning qua member of a type of society in which rank, property, and pride structure social exchanges.” (MacIntyre 1988, 298)”

Or, in other words, the development of economic and (ethical) theory which is based on the category of sovereign property being null and void, which is basically communism. So following this, all economic theory has no coherent end point, so it is all communist theory regarding how best to divvy up the communal proceeds of secondary property.

It is striking how much this complete collapse of any common sense completely tracks the total collapse of ethics during this same period, and we find the same culprits issuing this communist crap each time. Of course, given that I hold that power is above culture, I don’t think these individuals are the root cause, instead you need to look at what those in power were doing, which is my second hypothesis. So, what exactly were they doing? Well firstly the main culprits responsible for abolishing feudalism were the crowns themselves. The Great Contract and then the Tenures Abolition Act 1660 preceded Hume et al by some time.  We also see in the Quo Warranto campaigns that the kings court engaged the public good as a means to annul franchises. I will link this Szabo essay again, because it is excellent and covers the ground well. Take this footnote for example:

In one thirteenth century quo warranto case, John of Warenne reportedly “held up in court his old rusty 18 sword and said, ‘Here my lords, is my warrant! My ancestors came with William the Bastard and conquered the lands with the sword, and I shall defend them with the sword against anyone who tries to usurp them. The king did not conquer and subject the land by himself, but our forefathers were partners and co-workers with him.’” Sutherland at 82, (quoting H. Rothwell ed., The Chronicle of Guisborough 216, (Royal Society, Camden Series, v. 89). P9

Well was he right? He has a point, but could he defend the property by himself? And was it sovereign? No.

Even better is this section:

On the other extreme, Romanist scholars such as Bracton, Fleta, and Britton read to varying degrees an imperial hierarchy of delegation from the king (as emperor) into the Anglo-Norman hierarchy of property grants. Bracton argued that jurisdiction over the “king’s peace” could not be granted, only delegated, and thus could be revoked at will. Fleta extended this argument to apply to all franchises. Britton argued that the 22 23 king can revoke at will franchises granted by his predecessors, and that they should be revoked unless they served “to hold the people’s affections and speed justice. P9-10

The key points to take from this quote are that this line of thinking is long dead, and that one can see the thing that killed it (or should we call it suicide?) The suicide is here:”they should be revoked unless they served “to hold the people’s affections and speed justice.”

Szabo goes on to note:

During the reign of Henry III, the university-trained legal scholar Bracton, following the legal texts of the totalitarian Roman Empire, argued against franchise  jurisdiction generally and prescriptive franchise jurisdiction in particular. Following the Roman model, he argued that all jurisdiction originated in the king. While exercisers of franchise jurisdiction argued that, like other kinds of property, franchise jurisdiction could come to be held by long use (what we call prescriptive rights), Bracton argued that jurisdiction must be strictly granted and that exercisers of jurisdiction must prove this by producing a written charter or lose their jurisdiction. He believed that long use, rather than justifying jurisdiction, aggravated the offense p10-11

If there is no king, then where does jurisdiction and property originate from? The people? labor?

Of course, this process was completed by Coke as Szabo notes:

Coke thereby achieved what royal attorneys had often vainly tried to achieve during the quo warranto campaign of Edward I, namely a very strict (and in practice often ruinous) interpretation of franchise grants, but under the rationale of protecting the rights of subjects rather than of protecting the rights of the king.p34

The upshot of all of this, is that communism, classical liberalism, modern liberalism et al are essentially anti-propetarian (as Moldbug noted a long time ago) and are functionally within the same group of concepts. That they all derive from the same sources should tell you that, but we still seem to have a problem processing this.