About the institute of property

Out of the entire system of public institutions, which are the genius results of the use of man’s intellect, the institution of property, together with the institutions of family and state is the most ancient.

Property itself appeared simultaneously with human society. Since then, it has always existed, developing together with the society, taking a variety of forms. At all times, almost all people (including the poor), one way or another were included in the proprietary relationship.

Property has a decisive influence on the social character of production of vital goods, on the method and volumes of their distribution, exchange and consumption, on the structure of society, politics, ideology, and even morality. It touches at least a dozen of disciplines: law, economics, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology and others.

The concept of “property” has a lot of meanings. A large number of authors, dealing with the issues of ownership from different angles, often express mutually exclusive statements.

Within the context of this research paragraph we will study the dominant statements of Russian and American scientists on the issue.

Thus, according to many authors in Russian scientific and educational literature and periodicals within the analysis of property there were conceded the elements of dogmatism, excessive abstractness, separation from requests of social practice, the property was considered not deeply and comprehensively enough, there is a lot of uncertainty in its classification and characteristics of forms of appearance, laws of its development are highlighted only in order of arrangement, the question of selling of property is poorly explored.

In the works of Russian economists dedicated to property they provide an objective survey of the whole variety of views on issues of property, peculiar to the society of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Most modern authors aspire to remove the concept of property from the phenomena of the reality that surrounds us, by linking the concept of “property” both with the class approach and the social nature of work and the current legislation.

According to Kamenetskiy V.A., Patrikeev V.P. “we should formulate regulations of institution of property starting from the conditions in which it was formed, based only on objective economic and social needs of the person (remaining unchanged until nowadays because of biological immutability of the human species), and also on common sense, that ancient man, even taking into account his level of knowledge about the environment, perhaps, had to a greater degree than our contemporary”. The authors do not exclude that “in conception of property the humanity under the influence of mistaken views, having formed in the minds of our contemporaries about the exclusive role of property capital and boundless opportunities of legislation, has lost many truths that our ancestors mastered perfectly”, and “denial of the role of man’s intellect as the most important factor of production and non-recognition of it as a property object is the result of human progress”.

We share the viewpoint of these authors, that “it is impossible to define the concept of “property”, in advance excluding from the number of possible objects those abilities and qualities of a person (“goods”), which he owns initially just being a man”.

The opinion of G.I. Cherkasov is also worth noticing. He says that “we need to develop a general theory of property” and “only in this case it is possible to obtain a sufficiently deep and systematic knowledge of the subject, to form creative thinking staff for different spheres of public life”, “it is necessary for several social science schools and directions to take part in creating of this theory”.

This author introduces relatively new theoretical propositions, such as public-social interpretation of property, multi-planning characteristic of structure of the subjects and objects of the latter, clarification of the various manifestations of property, considering of the main stages, levels and methods of its implementation, multilateral approach to the management of forms of appropriation.

The state of this problem in America isn’t less interesting.
According to Tom Bethell, more than a hundred years ago, the institution of private property fell into intellectual disfavor; the war with property became public after the publication of “The Communist Manifesto”, western intellectuals treated the idea of property with contempt for many decades. Most often it was expressed in its complete disregard.

For example, offered by Locke in the XVII century grounding of private property (the person deserves to own what was created by his labor) was studied with suspicion in western academic circles.
Private property “was accepted and taken for granted, without examining by the economists of the nineteenth century” – wrote John R. Commons.
Harvard professor Richard Pipes reported that one researcher in the field of child psychology was surprised that as at 1980 there were almost no empirical research and systematic theoretical work on the psychology of possessiveness – about the origins and development of this feeling, despite the fact that William James suggested the potential importance of the psychological aspects of property more than a hundred years ago.

In the field of economic theory, the most popular textbooks written by Paul Samuelson and others, they are either silent on the property questions, or tell them down under the heading of “ideology of capitalism”.

In higher doctorates, according to economist Steve Chen, property rights have long been considered as “forbidden area” as the theme of a doctorate thesis.

Robert Solow from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nobel laureate in Economics in 1987, said, “I am still convinced that the institution of private property needs to be proved”.

Date: 3 February 2015