Anyway, as I've been working to pull together the various threads of the "gift economy of property" analysis, I've spent a lot of time with sources that approach the question of "property" from perspectives that are pretty much outside the current envelope, in part because of their ability to "make strange" a question which all too often is addressed with tired talking points, but also because sometimes the outliers go the extra mile in explaining what they're really on about.
Last week, a typical round of footnote-chasing and archive-dredging led me back to the files of The Harbinger, the paper of the Brook Farm Fourierists—several of whom went on to play more or less significant roles in the history of individualist anarchism and the New England radical leagues. The specific reference I was chasing (Marx Edgeworth Lazarus, with a Fourierist account of cannibalism, among other things) is a story for another day, beyond the fact that it reminded me of just how much material the Brook Farmers managed to translate and reprint. As I mentioned awhile back, in the context of translations of Proudhon, there are a lot of reasons to be interested in these early translations, and it had been some time since I looked at The Harbinger, so I prepared myself to be distracted for awhile—and immediately found a fairly remarkable essay by Gabriel-Desire Laverdant, translated by John S. Dwight, "Of Property, and the Various Legitimate Modes of Acquiring It." It appeared in three installments:
Down the road, I intend to do a collection of translations from The Harbinger—and maybe talk about where cannibalism fits in the serial order—but for now I want to suggest this essay by Laverdant, both as a fine introduction to Fourierist analysis and as a well-reasoned (if somewhat eccentric) example of "natural rights"-style argumentation.