Sunday, July 3, 2022

Part of the fabric...............

       Acquisitiveness is a universal phenomenon, among animals as well as human beings, children as well as adults, primitive peoples as well as those culturally advanced.  It is rooted in the instinct of self-preservation, but it also has an important psychological dimension in that it enhances feelings of self-assurance and competence.  Its objects are, in the first place, material goods, but it also has an incorporeal aspect, embracing ideas, artistic creations, inventions, and even the very space that surrounds us.  Claims to exclusive use are especially emphatic in respect to land with which humans are linked by mystic bonds.  The notion of primitive communism has not basis in fact: it is simply the ancient—and, apparently, indestructible—myth of the Golden Age dressed up in modern pseudo-scientific language.  Anthropology has not knowledge of societies ignorant of property rights: in the words of E. A. Hoebel cited above, "property is as ubiquitous as man, a part of the basic fabric of all society."  Which means, to employ Aristotelian terminology, that it is not merely a "legal" or "conventional" but a "natural" institution.  As such it is no more a subject of moralizing (unless it be for its excesses) than mortality or any other aspect of existence over which humans have at best minimal control.

-Richard Pipes, Property and Freedom

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