Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Gift Economy of Property: Thesis

 The Gift Economy of Property
  1. Thesis
  2. From the Self to Property 
  3. From Property to Gifts
  4. Gifting Property 

An adequate, non-simplist, mutualist theory of what is proper to individual human beings, seeking to do justice to the range of things we denominate by the word "property," will have to account for the nearly unbridgeable separateness that we experience in consciousness, as well as the inextricable interconnection which is our material reality. It will have to, in essence, respond to Max Stirner and Pierre Leroux (or any number of other advocates of a roughly ecological universal circulus.) The "gift economy of property" proposal seeks to base a form of "self-ownership" on two generalized "gifts:"
  1. A conscious ceding of all that we might claim of our own in others; and
  2. An affirmation of the right to err in the process of learning to manage one's own.
On this basis, "self-ownership" would actually be an elegantly appropriate phrase, highlighting the ways in which the notion brings together two aspects of property, the "I am..." and the "I own...," without being able to simply merge them. And it would indeed be "property," according to the definitions used by Proudhon, combining the elements of "use" and (socially limited) "abuse."

There might be ethical arguments for denying one another one or both of these "gifts," but I suspect there are very few that would meet any very rigorous standard of mutuality.

[Continued in Part 2: "From the Self to Property"]

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