Wikipedia and Absolutism

Wikipedia, whilst being a dubious source of information if approached on the premise of neutrality , provides great summaries and is sometimes exceptionally insightful. On the topic of property, it is especially so. There are two wikipedia pages on the the topic in particular which are quite fascinating.

The first is the Wikipedia page on land tenure in England in which Wikipedia informs us 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.

I am curious as to how you define a legal fiction, actually, no I am not. I know exactly how you define it.

So here you see that at one point, all was under the lordship of the crown (can this not be reduced to ownership?) and then it was deemed a legal fiction at some point.

The second Wikipedia page is the one on private property itself. Here it is on John Locke:”John Locke, in arguing against supporters of absolute monarchy, conceptualized property as a “natural right” that God had not bestowed exclusively on the monarchy. Influenced by the rise of mercantilism, Locke argued that private property was antecedent to, and thus independent of, government.

In case you didn’t catch that, absolutism entails that property is posterior to society. The state in the form of the crown has total lordship and then allows usage (but not alienation) of the property by subordinates and subjects. This makes sense. Locke and Hobbes et al then produce a natural rights theory using the labor theory of property to place property as antecedent and not reliant on the state. Following from this the question then arises – why do we even need a state then? and of course this has been the political and economic discussion of the western world ever since. After this we get Smith following this tradition, and then we finally get to Marx who then (still following this tradition) asks the question which in hindsight is obvious – if you don’t work, then why do you have property.

This whole process is then a group of people from the same tradition arguing over collectively agreed premises. Liberals, Marxists, libertarians, anarchist, socialist – they all have the same conception of property. See the Wikipedia page yourself.

But lets back up a second. What if this conception is wrong? I would argue it is drastically wrong, and that would explain why economics is basically nonsense. The whole edifice is built on 16th century mysticism.

You have primary property maintained by defense capability, and all subsequent ownership within this perimeter is secondary. Property is therefore posterior to the state.