I am dissatisfied with the common distinction between private and personal.
One of the distinctions frequently made in relation to the question of the abolition of private property, and often accepted as ‘marxist orthodoxy’, is the distinction between social property, in particular the social means of production, on the one hand, and personal possessions or objects of consumption, on the other. Possibly this distinction makes some sense in the “political” phase of Communism Marx refers to above. However, the conception is of limited value because, for a start, it is founded on the rupture of the human being into a producer on one hand and a consumer on the other, and life into work and leisure, dichotomies which lie at the very heart of the fragmented existence which needs to be abolished. The abolition of private property in the productive sphere whilst retaining it in the domestic sphere, would in fact reinforce the inhumanity of modern life: personal property being entirely for one’s own use, is without significance and therefore worthless, while social property still has significance only for the purpose of earning a living and is therefore alien and oppressive.
The only different view I’ve seen from the same article as above.
So, there is a concept of property which exists in our relations both at work and outside work, which is to do with this: once you have established, with your co-workers, the right to work in a certain way, to work in a certain job or draw on the services of others in a given way and to a certain extent, then we believe that we have a right to demand that that activity should only be terminated or transformed with our agreement. We don’t need to bring things into that.
Money violates this right. Via money, people forcibly separate other people from their life and livelihood. Money grants to scoundrels the right to debauch themselves. But money is a carrier of the consent of the community, despite itself.
What about use? For Hegel use is a way of taking possession of something (provided it is not already the property of someone else who wishes to use it), and has the effect of maintaining ownership. When one no longer uses something, then one has taken one’s will out of the thing and it becomes ownerless.
This concept seems to stand up. It appears to be a substantive and ethical conception of property: a thing is mine if I use it in the course of activity which is mine, that is to say, in the course of my socially determined activity. If I stop using it, it reverts to a ‘state of nature’.
In summary, it seems to me that there is a kind of concept of property which exists within the activity of working people and the ethical relations between them. Economic relations, i.e., bourgeois relations, violate this ethic and violate workers’ property. This concept of property seems actually to provide, in combination with consensus decision-making and collaboration, the basis for the organisation of social production on a global scale.
Does this sound promising? What is your take on the subject?