Debate – Second negative speaker for “Private property is the foundation of freedom”

Private property is not the foundation of freedom. Whilst it in many ways can facilitate, and help in the acquisition of an individual’s dreams, it is simply not the foundation to their ability to chase their dreams. Because before one can have the ability to flourish as an individual, they must be born. Birth is thus the foundation of freedom, for it is what comes before the concept of private property. Birth determines whether or not we are born into a family which has the resources to grant the individual what they seek, and grow to desire in life. This is immediately relevant to the debate as class thus becomes the determining factor to freedom.

Inheritance undermines the concept of “hard working individuals are the ones rewarded” as it becomes merely those who are born into a better off class are the ones who are rewarded, without having ever earned their place in the hierarchy of society. As Karl Marx adequately put it “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation“. (1848:65) But again, it is not the notion of property which has granted freedom here in the communist light, it is class, for class is the foundation of property within the capitalist society we live in.

In many ways, the market based economy not only makes it harder for people to do as they please, but it is the sole reason most cannot. Vanessa states in her submission “Such a system allows an individual to continuously improve and expand what they own and be availed the freedoms and democratic values that are entwined with this ownership, for private property is indeed the foundation of our freedom” I must contest this point as being falsehood.

How does capitalism or the market based economy help artists and musicians? How can an individual who wishes to become a better musician in his preferred genre of music do so, if the prospects for him as a musician within the market are always slim? There are far more struggling musicians than successful ones in the world, and it is a result of the capitalist society we live in. The market for music is never as big as the supply of it. Instead many musicians are instead forced into looking for work in other areas and many times are discouraged from chasing their dreams and spending the time and resources they wish to develop their skills, because there really isn’t a market for what they wish to do.  The market and capitalism is the sole reason these people cannot do as they please, and must instead chase other dreams which coincide with the market based economy, for fear of their own futures.

And this leads on to the other point I must contest. As Vanessa stated “Unowned natural resources such as grazing lands, timber tracts, and wildlife are quickly depleted. Similarly, unowned land, water are frequently polluted.” Through capitalism and liberalism, we find ways to be more effective with our scarce resources and are given a reason to care more for what we own for we may be fined for any irresponsibility.”            

The first rebuttal is simple, through the capitalist structure, natural resources such as grazing lands, timber tracts and wildlife are already being depleted. In the past 40 years alone , nearly 20% of the Amazon has been cut down. The claim put forward, that with private property this would not occur is simply untrue.

Unfortunately, as is taught in economics 101, the simple equation for value is Supply Vs. Demand.  Commodities are higher in value when supply for them is low, and demand is high. What this creates is a system dependent upon scarcity. Simply put, so long as we have a market based economy, where the base motivation for actions is the profits it would produce, we will always exist in a world with scarce resources. Capitalism enforces scarcity through its base values.

It just isn’t true, that through the concept of private property we are alleviated from our resources being quickly depleted. One need only look to the Amazon, or several mines within Australia alone which have been depleted such as Mary Kathleen in Queensland.

I must now return to Madeline’s first submission and the problems found within it as well. As Madeline states in her definition “we define the foundation of freedom as including; the framework, establishment, or setting up of such democratic values such as social freedoms including; freedom of speech, movement etc and political freedoms; including the freedom of oppression etc“. This is certainly an interesting point to use, because private property is also the foundation upon which the bourgeoisie can subjugated and exploit the proletariat. Modern day working class man, is a slave. He is not free to do as he pleases, as he must sell his labour for sustenance. Where in the past, owners of slaves were required to feed and house their slaves, now through the ingenuity of capitalism, the modern day slave is forced to earn his right to food and shelter, ever being fed the lie that if you work hard enough, you could be one of us too.

As Marx put it “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”(1848:51) it is clear, that the super structure of this system oppresses more people than it liberates. Equality is thus at the heart of this debate.

And finally, to the point that the free press is dependent upon business… I can’t say I really see how industry and private ownership is inherent to a free press. Certainly the rise of the citizen journalist, and other forms of free online journalism undermines that point completely. Through capitalism we have seen the monopolisation of entire industries by media moguls AND government alike. We have not argued in favour of state capitalism, we have argued from an inherently anarchical point of view. That the market based economy should be done away with completely. Not that private property in the hands of the rich should be swapped to that of a government, but that we scrap the idea of a market based economy, for that of a resource based economy. The resource based economy is similar to a gift economy, where by resources are traded.  Exchange occurs voluntarily and such exchange circulates and redistributes wealth (of resources, not money) to the  community. In contrast to the market economy social norms and customs govern gift exchange and not the exchange of money or some other commodity.

Whilst this idea seems highly utopian to our minds moulded by capitalism, one only needs to look at the internet and how the gift economy has worked there to produce the best software on the market. Through freeware, Mozilla Firefox, Linux and the Android market have popped up through the use of open sourced software, an inherently gift economic based system. The treasures of the internet and modern day technology have progressed further due to a lack of desire for money, and a focus on creating a better product, for the sake of creating a better product.

Bibliography

 

Marx K. and Engels, F. 1969 [1848]: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in Feuer, L. Marx and Engels: Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, London, Fontana, pp 45-82

“Amazon Deforestation Rate Escalates”. The Real Truth. Retrieved 2008-08-19.

http://realtruth.org/news/080207-001-weather.html

The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). February 8, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-06.http://www.smh.com.au/news/Queensland/Mary-Kathleen/2005/02/17/1108500203550.html

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About Saúl A. Zavarce

Venezuelan-Australian journalist and international relations academic.

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