So You Think I’ve Gone Marxist? Then So Were Franklin and Jefferson!

FUNDAMENTALS OF NATURAL LAW: Not All Property Is ‘Private’

This post is primarily addressed to my ‘Conservative’ friends, but also to those few ‘Libertarians’ who happen to follow my blogs, as well. I have written several posts about corporations to which these friends of mine have taken offense. They seem to think I am attacking private property. Some have gone so far as to tell me I am sounding like Marx. The problem, however, does not lie with me, but with their flawed understanding of property. They do not differentiate between types of property, especially where its nature and origins are concerned. Our founders did, and they tried to explain it to us. But we have accepted a perversion of what they believed that is designed not to protect property rights, but to consolidate them among a privileged elite. SO I am writing this post in hopes of clearing the air about what the founders taught me about property, and I start with the words Franklin and Jefferson:

Read the rest, you might be surprised at what the founders had to say on this matter.

40 thoughts on “So You Think I’ve Gone Marxist? Then So Were Franklin and Jefferson!

  1. Pure gobbledygook. Riddle me this; if I have no propertyr right to own land why does the government? The government is a figment, something we the people created to take care of administrative matters and certainly not to “own” property. To now say that we can’t onw property because no one can BUT the government can is bassackwards. The government should not own any property. I think all of the lands that the federal government “owns” should be given to the states where the property is located and then the states themselves should not “own” property but could, with the consent of the people, administer it.

    • GoneWiththe Wind,

      With respect, YOU are the one writing ‘pure gobbledygook.’ The founders said government does NOT have the right to own land — so take that one off your list. And once you do that, maybe you will see why you missed the point here. You are attacking me for making the very case you seem to be trying to make, yourself. You just do not understand the foundation upon which your case is built. I do, and I am trying — hard — to explain those principles…to those who will listen, anyway.

      • You are vereing off into “Left” field with all this Joe.

        Gone’s assessment of Gobbledygook is not off base here.

        • Then ignore me and everything I write and cling to the belief that you can claim as your private property that which can never belong to any man in the State of Nature: cling to the belief that YOU can tell GOD how HIS universe works.

          The sad truth of the matter here is that ALL of you are so busy trying to do just that you cannot see you are telling me I am wrong while making the very same arguments I have been making for years. You just don’t see it because you want the benefit while still being able to reject the accountability that I am pointing out comes with it. THAT, my friends, is a breach of Natural Law as surely as ANYTHING the Socialist advocates — and on the exact same level.

  2. Windy/Joe: While I abhor the proof-texting approach to quoting scripture and the ideas of the thinkers of the past, I’ll keep this simple by siding with Jefferson’s limited quote over Franklin’s in this case. The best authority on these issues is neither Franklin nor Jefferson, but Richard A. Epstein, whose body of work on private property and government takings is the most developed thinking I have yet found. Epstein’s TAKINGS and SIMPLE RULES FOR A COMPLEX WORLD examine the attacks on the Founders’, and the US Constitution’s approach to the sanctity of private property in the American legal system. Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and accelerating under Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and other Progressive Democrats and Republicans, the Federal government has illegally seized private lands without the payment of just compensation constantly.

    Windy…you are quite correct that the Constitution provides no support for the Federal seizure or use limitation of private property and the scale of the current Federal land “ownership” is patently illegal. Private property belongs in the hands of America’s private citizens. The Federal government, which has been the cause of a massive and damaging drought in California in order to protect a possibly endangered smelt, has neither the standing not the right to own or control private property beyond what is minimally necessary to support the strictly limited services enumerated in the Constitution itself. And yes, the current Obama approach to private property is Marist rather than Constitutional in its derivation. CDE

    • CDE,

      Typical: assume/imply I am making arguments I have not made, then assume the high ground by arguing something I have already argued in the past. And add to this that, the whole time, you are ignoring the fundamentals upon which ALL of this are founded.

      The founders had NOTHING wrong, CDE. We do. We have perverted our very understanding of Natural Law. To argue that you or I or anyone can own the earth while in the State of Nature is an absurdity. So, to assume that government can someone give that which it has no power to give an absurdity upon absurdity — and this is what BOTH Jefferson and Franklin were saying.

      You have repeatedly demonstrated you have no real understanding of the fundamentals here, nor desire to obtain it. You are selfishly motivated and seek only to rationalize and moralize your own desires. I’m tiring of it.

      Society creates CIVIL RIGHTS to land, intellectual property and the like. NONE of these things exist outside of society, in Nature. To claim them as rights only works within the confines of society and the Social Contract, and to embrace those confines is to accept our DUTY to society. But you would claim the benefit while rejecting the duty. How is that anything but the height of selfishness and Anarchy? It isn’t. It is the very definition of both.

      • And this is what I’m talking about. Sometimes, you are a big bully. If you’re going to bully Charles, please have it be over the important matters (like changing his avatar to his dreamy pic.)

        As I’ve already stated, Thomas was right, and so am I (cause I can bully with the best of em.)

        • Kells,

          What can and cannot be considered as property in terms of Natural Rights and what can only be property under CIVIL law IS an important matter.

          These guys do not realize it, but they are saying a man CAN give himself the ‘right’ to own another man. If you can give yourself a Natural Right simply by passing a law, then men can be made chattel by passing such a law. So, either land and intellectual property, etc are NOT subject to Natural rights, or slavery CAN be a Natural Right. We cannot have it both ways and expect the system we build upon such contradictions to last.

      • Joe: Although you persist in viewing my responses to your ideas as some sort of bizarre high school debating club, that is not even remotely what I am trying to achieve, as you should really know by now!!! I’m trying to understand your points, and I find them somewhat confusing. Human beings have a natural right to own and keep the property they have acquired by first use, acquisition or creation, in the case of intellectual property. If I do not own my private property, who does and by what right???

        At one time the king, czar, pharaoh or other authoritarian (such as George III) owned all property within his or her dominion, as of divine right. Vassals, aristocrats and other privileged characters received holdings from the Crown, as did my ancestor William Penn, but 95% of the subjects of any kingdom were not permitted to own property or most other things. That divine right went away with the Reformation and the rejection of the idea that that the King or Queen was somehow divinely appointed, and a large body of law, based largely on Biblical practices and Anglo Saxon case law has developed, under which common citizens can acquire and hold land by virtue of first use, acquisition from the holder by first use, or creation in the case of intellectual property. Are you questioning this long history, and why? To what end?

        Marxist fantasies reject the notion of private property, in favor of shared ownership “by the people.” In practice that has meant the ruling elite, the nomenklatura in Russia, hold and use the land, while the common people, the fictional proletariat, basically enjoy shared misery. Only societies with strong protections for the ownership of private property have ever flourished economically, or at least I am unable to identify a society that has functioned under a Collectivist or Marxist doctrine and succeeded in providing an improving standard of living for average citizens. Am I missing something here? CDE

        • CDE,

          The point is simple. Property — as in land, or ‘intellectual rights’ — does not exist in the State of nature. Therefore, they cannot be Natural Rights.

          To create these types of property, one must first create a government. The government then writes laws that create this property and defines the limits to which it can be treated as private property.

          But there is the key point: it can be TREATED like, BUT IT IS NOT AND CANNOT BECOME PRIVATE PROPERTY — not in the same sense as those things we make or acquire by our labor and which are necessary to sustaining our lives.

          As the creation of the people — through their government — property of this sort is — by definition — public. And as a public creation, it does remain subject to the control of the public. BUT THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT FOR SOCIALISM! However, one will ONLY understand this if one holds this point in mind at the same time they hold the rest of Natural Law in mind.

          Socialism is the antithesis of Natural Law because it makes slaves of those who work to sustain those who refuse to work and turns the government against one citizen for the benefit of another. But to say created property is subject to public control is NOT socialism — no more than saying the created government is socialist simply because the people created it.

          But you do not seem to understand this point any more than you seem to understand the relationship between morality in relation to our duty to society. You have ever argued they are separate and not connected, and that is the open door to Anarchy.

          So, my friend, it is not I who am confined to misery — but yourself. You simply do not see the way the world REALLY works; you are too focused on trying to make it conform to the way you WANT it to work. And this is why the Libertarian ideal has never worked any better than the Socialist.

          • Sadly … you have used your argumentation to in fact Argue FOR one the Basic Tenents of pure Marxist Socialism.

          • “The point is simple. Property — as in land, or ‘intellectual rights’ — does not exist in the State of nature. Therefore, they cannot be Natural Rights.”

            Tell that to the territorial lions on the African plains. You step on their property, and see what happens. 🙂

            • Joe/Augger: As far as I have been able to ascertain, property rights seem to have existed in one form or another for as far back as the first recognizable humans became self conscious and began to communicate. Per Augger’s interesting point, property rights may pre-date sentient humans, since many animal species do demonstrate a sense of ownership over defined pieces of property. My earlier point about how property rights and ownership reflects more recent legal scholarship rather than philosophical definitions. I regard Richard Epstein as the preeminent legal thinker in Western history, and all of his work is well worth reading. He is still working today, and his new work, THE CLASSIC LIBERAL CONSTITUTION is one of his best so far!!! CDE

              • “property rights may pre-date sentient humans, since many animal species do demonstrate a sense of ownership over defined pieces of property”

                Of course they do Charles. Cat’s spray to mark their boundaries, bears will scratch trees, etc., etc, etc … and long before a man came along and created a government. The point is simple. Property — as in land, does exist in the state of nature. Therefore, property is a natural right. 🙂

                @Joe — your point is not lost on me though. I understand the scope you are attempting to stay within.

              • CDE,

                You said you have a degree in this field, so how is it that Romans 1-2 seems to have been lost on you???

                Yes, NATURAL RIGHTS have existed since before government, but then, NATURAL RIGHTS do not include ownership of the property, but the work you have done on it (farm, hunting area, etc). It requires active and on-going use of labor to impart a right, and then that right is only extended to what you need to survive — not the land, itself, but what is on it.

                • In the State of nature — yes. HOWEVER, as we have created a complex society, where our homes are more fixed and ownership/right to the land has been legislatively created, then society must also respect the owner’s right to treat it as his own as though it were in the State of Nature. I have never opposed this.

                  All I am saying is that, so long as we accept this system we have created, we must NEVER allow accountability to be divorced from the reward. That is the point where the rich can and due use their wealth to trample the poor. For example: govt. regulations provide for fines if you do anything to waterfront property. result: the poor cannot afford waterfront property because they can’t pay that fine, so the rich have reserved prime property for themselves simply because they can afford it. And the only reason they can afford it is because the ‘right’ created by the PEOPLES’ govt. has been turned against them, by the wealth resulting from the privilege of that same govt. Read Scripture and we will find God condemning the rich for this very practice. I am just calling for a return to the proper arrangements is all.

                  • Don’t think for a moment that this man-made abomination cannot be altered by “nature” at a moment’s notice. No matter what any person might tell you, we are still all a piece of nature.

                    • Augger,

                      My friend, I am WELL aware of this. I keep trying to tell people that the further we push things from the way Nature intended us to work, the more likely a violent correction becomes. Those who are bothering to listen have probably heard these warnings of just such a correction starting to creep into main-stream media — not just from the likes of Beck and Alex Jones. This is because the problems are becoming so obvious that others are starting to see what is coming. It is NOT going to be fun when the storm breaks.

        • Charles,

          To jump in and answer your last question …. I don’t think you are missing anything here.

          Much of what Joe wrote below jibes with some of the Most basic tenets of “Family, Private Property and the State”. I believe the eventual “Calculus” will look something like this… According to Jefferson, Franklin et al and according to Natural Law thus according to the Precepts of the Declaration and ultimately the Bible…… you ( an individula) do not have any “natural Right” to any Property ( as said in the example “Land or Intellectual rights”. These being not “Natural Rights” are therefore the creation and purview of the “state”…… you’re smart, you see where this is going.

          Karl and others have made this basic appeal to State ownership in very similar terms BTW….I’m sure you recognize this if you’ve read here for any length of time…or elsewhere at OWS sites et passim. Because you know the importance both historically and philisophically of Private Property …. you I’m sure can recognize the “gesture” given in the statement….. “Socialism is the antithesis of Natural Law because it makes slaves of those who work to sustain those who refuse to work and turns the government against one citizen for the benefit of another”.

          Ultimately ( because I thinks it’s always best to cut to the quick)…..the argument will be that ….in order to be Living properly as Natural Law, The Declaration and the Bible require….. you must eschew the concept of Private Property.

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  4. Joe, interesting concept about Natural Rights, but did God not give Man dominion over his creation? Thus renouncing his daily decision making and endowing us with the RESPONSIBILITY for the proper stewardship of our resources? And our attempts to properly care for these resources are through the social and political systems we establish?

    Since we were given, by our creator, free will. That implies we can impose any method of husbanding those resources and the land is a resource, just as the work we do is a resource, as well as our thoughts.

    You talk of natural rights, all natural rights stem from free will. And how we are judged (by our creator) will depend on how we express this free will.

    • Triper,

      Yes, but God also placed limits on our Rights. Our Natural Rights are those things that belong ONLY to us — as an individual. This does not include land, or even ideas (i.e. intellectual property). Those are man-made creations, and, as such, remain in the control of the government as they are created through/by government.

      I think the problem people are having with this is that it is much broader and far reaching than they are seeing. I am NOT arguing that we can’t give people a civil right to land and their ideas. In fact, I think we should, as this is beneficial to society. But there are responsibilities connected to such civil rights, both on the part of the individual possessing them and society as well as government. But then, no one wants to look at the totality of what I am saying. They only want to focus on a narrow aspect of it because they think I am trying to take something from them.

      I’m not. I’m just trying to argue for returning things to their proper place; a return to Natural Law.

      • “The founders said government does NOT have the right to own land”

        What is so astounding about this belief? The King’s use of his property rights here was one reason for their discontent. And since ‘We The People’ formed this government they did not want this ownership to empower the government over the people. This ability to the rights of property ownership, is reserved to the people, a personal right, as the founders most assuredly believed in the right to own property. Just as the right of self defense, a personal right, is reserved to the people.

        Joe, if you think about it, all these Natural Rights stem from our right to freewill. And the only prohibitions, that I am aware of, to free will is the Ten Commandments.

        • Triper,

          have you read my extrapolation of Natural Rights on The Road to Concord? I mean no attack or offense. I only ask because you are making a case I posted more than a year ago, and a case I wrote in a book form over four years ago now.

          What is baffling me is that many people are telling me I am wrong and then making the very case I am now making — and have been for years. <:-/

      • “Yes, NATURAL RIGHTS have existed since before government, but then, NATURAL RIGHTS do not include ownership of the property, but the work you have done on it (farm, hunting area, etc). It requires active and on-going use of labor to impart a right, and then that right is only extended to what you need to survive — not the land, itself, but what is on it.”

        Are you not describing exclusive use of the land? Is not exclusive use also a form of ‘ownership’, since society has granted exclusive use of the land. If I were alone on the land I would not need society’s approval. It would belong to me. The laws only formalize this right with other members of society and prescribe how I obtained the exclusive use.

        The trouble with the last statement, ‘only extended to what you need to survive’ is the question as to who determines what you need to survive? Sound familiar, Joe.

        • If you were alone on the land and it belonged exclusively to you, then how would you propose to will it to your heirs? You see, it does not belong to you. That form of ownership only exists within society, and then, only so long as you live.

          • Well Joe, We do not live in a universe populated only by yourself. If you did there is no need for rights Natural of otherwise.

            We live within a society that necessitates the idea that we have rights as an individual, granted to us by our creator when he endowed us with free will. These rights are described by our societal rules and proscriptions and are protected by our laws.

            What is there to get back to other than the idea that we have free will to do as we please, as long as we do not infringe on others free will. All of your rights are described by our societies including the Religions that each society supports, and the governmental entities that we create. Do we need to change the direction of our present governmental and societal course? Yes, but the direction is yet to be decided upon.

            If we did not have free will, we would need no rights, Natural or otherwise.

            • Triper,

              Congratz! You just described Hobbes and every other Progressive assertion of rights. Guess this is why I sound ‘preachy’ to so many: because I am trying to take away their right to define their rights for themselves and return it to its original Author!

              As for your assumption that I do not recognize free will at the primary reason for Natural Rights/Natural Law, I think you’re arguing out of ignorance. I made that case many years ago and have never deviated from it. Yet, for some reason, you seem to think I do not realize the implication of our will — or its source. I do, which is why I have arrived at where I now stand.

              • “because I am trying to take away their right to define their rights for themselves and return it to its original Author!”

                You can not take away anything, God gave us free will. From that statement you indicate you are trying to take away our God given right to free will.

                Again Joe I ask you: What rights are you talking about? When asked before your answer was anything but specific.

                Does not free will, necessitate our right to define these Natural rights for ourselves? Was not man given the kingdom of earth? If we have free will we can not be commanded here on earth, even by our creator. Were we not advised to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give unto God what is God’s. I can understand the admonition give unto Caesar fairly easily. But the give unto God, makes me wonder what God could actually want from us, or need, since he gave us free will? God’s only need seems to be our love for him to be freely given.

    • Triper,

      Mostly just a return to personal accountability in the law. As it is now, the law has been — as it always is — bastardized so that it serves the wealthy and the ‘little man’ is oppressed if for nothing more than inability to access the system.

  5. Joe, have not read your articles except for here. I like reading what you write here but you get a little preachy, no offense intended. You makes me think. But just an observation; is not a return to personal accountability, the ultimate purpose of all this exercise of free speech? You don’t have to answer that is rhetorical?

    As far OWNING the land, we do not own the land now, the state owns the land and we pay a yearly rent in the form of property taxes.

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