It's interesting that you mention property and its basis in social
belief. Even further, that our definition of property has come to
rule our lives, and that power is being progressively handed over to
those who would further this definition. Lastly, that individuals
communicating directly can alone escape this cycle, and decide upon a
new ideal that will better serve human needs.
I want to add something to your concept of property, as one human to
another within our community. Property is such a core element of
American society, that we tend to view it as construct of its own.
However, as I was thinking about this many months ago, it occurred to
me that property means something different than a question of
If I walk into a computer store and pick up a laptop, without paying
for it, someone will try to stop me before I leave. If I ignore them,
they will call on additional force. This interaction will continue to
escalate until sufficient force is brought to bear, and I am stopped.
However, If I walk into the same computer store, put down two thousand
dollars, and then walk out, nothing will happen. In this case, the
computer is publically viewed as my "property", and no one will stop
me. In addition, if someone else tries to take that computer from me,
I can bring the same forces to bear to stop them.
These "forces" are continually applied until the problem is solved.
At first it may be the store clerk, then rented security, then the
police, and ultimately the national guard if I choose to encamp myself
with a group of followers. The same forces will work for me in
reverse, if someone tries to steal my property.
So in a sense, property has nothing to do with the object I purchase.
Instead, capital, of which property is just a physical part, is a
contract between the powers of our nation and myself. By carrying two
thousand dollars to the computer store, I am "renting" our national
might to prevent the computer store from ripping me off, or anyone
else from stopping me during this legal transaction.
Then even as I sit here in my house, none of this is mine. Merely,
there is understanding between me, the people around me, and our
government, that the necessary forces will be brought to bear if
anyone violates the property lines that have been drawn. Looked at
it this way, it is a rather precarious arrangement, continually
dependent on mutual assurance and belief, just as you suggested.
This arrangement is also directly related to the strength of our
nation, and its willingness to pursue vindication after acts of
wrong-doing. With a very strong government, no act of violation will
go unseen, and the notion of property is both fiercely defended and
defined. With a weak government, who hasn't the resources or focus to
pursue every instance, it requires social goodwill to maintain any
notion of property at all.
In our country, the government is strong and the corporations are
strong. The corporations, in their pursuit for continued existence as
you mentioned, want the ideal of property very well guarded, and so
they willingly help the government to be stronger. Government, in its
turn, recognizes the benefit of this mutual relationship, and responds
by helping create an environment where corporations can thrive.
When it comes to property, and protecting my personal and emotional
investments in society, this is a good thing. The stronger the
companies and government are, the less likely it is that anyone will
trespass on my property -- that is, any property which falls under the
protection arrangement I paid for. If the definition of property
becomes more strict (as it does sometimes when laws change), I may
find that my ownership has grown stronger, but smaller in scope.
Yet going back to the idea that ownership is really "renting the
forces of government", I find that this is the basis of my
relationship with our government. Government exists to promote the
social welfare, which means creating a place where everyone can pursue
their own ends in harmony. It restricts liberty wherever such liberty
would cause a loss of freedom to others.
Nor is government is not a heaven-sent entity that existed before me,
will exist after me, and nothing can be done about it. Our government
was created by people very much like myself, who saw a need for
establishing standards of agreement, and ensuring they would not be
violated. Property is one of these standards, as it gives people a
wide berth to act and consume resources, without forever concerning
themselves with threats from outside.
However, our culture has progressed (or digressed) since that time to
a state of extreme materialism. Our society seeks to promote material
welfare to the exclusion of all else. The is epitomized in companies,
whose growth and development depends on material acquisition. For
them, the "bottom line" is the only defining reality, and everything
else is subservient to this end. Such may not be the case for me
personally, or for others, but it will always be for them as they are
A company's bottom line is determined by their customers, the increase
of whose desire is their main reason for growth. Thus, at some point,
I ceased to be a human being to them. I became only a customer, a
demographic; and whatever they can do to increase my thirst and need
for their product or service, is in their best interest.
To this end, the media and its machinery have begun to perceive me as
an economic unit, rather than a person. This goes far to justify many
of the practices we see today. Take sexual attraction, for example.
It is a natural and powerful agent for motivating people. Companies
see the compelling nature of this agent, and have exploited it to make
me a more eager and regularly spending consumer. Gone is the thought
that perhaps I do not want my life dominated by sexual impulses;
absent is the concept that perhaps I don't want their product, or that
advertisers should leave me alone. I am but a unit of currency in
their forecasts, and both media and government (who is intimately
linked to the corporations) have begun to believe this.
What we need to change is not the existence or role of our
corporations and governments. They are strong, and serve us in some
ways, such as guarding property, very well. What is lacking is the
human element, and the pursuit of a higher ideal than property and
materiality. In such a world, spamming could have no place, because
spamming assumes a fundamental disinterest in the one being sold to.
What we need a realignment of our excellent structures toward a higher
social ideal, rather than a mere restructuring.
This is something I believe communities are indeed perfect for. By
collaborating together to achieve a sense of who we are, and what we
want to achieve as a civilization, we can en masse influence our
government, and use this influence to chastise the corporations, who
have become like economic tyrants. But this cannot happen
constructively without a common, positive vision for the future.
Anarchy is not the solution, for along with the evils we see today, it
would dissolve many of the goods that have come from the structures
that currently prevail.
The situation we are living with now is not unlike that of a rich man
with no aim in life. Which course will he choose, but the one most
readily apparent? And if those arise who are indifferent to his view,
they are swept aside by the force of his resources. Isn't this what
is happening now? Some of us cherish freedom, and see potential for
the human mind to grow along paths undreamt of. We can achieve far
more than the mere economic security we've established so far. But
our powerful organizations, which we have each and all created by our
effort and cooperation, are defining their own goals now, leaving us
by the wayside, causing us to wonder at all of the lawsuits, patent
abuses, advertising methodologies, etc. By failing to understand and
express our own vision for the future, we have left these behemoths to
pursue their own, most facile course.
The solution, as I see it, is not merely the creation of communities
as an antithesis to government and big business. They should be a
place for us to converse openly, freely, on the topic of our common
future. Once this is done, and we realize the necessity for change,
and the requirement for plans to help us accomplish this goal, our
aspirations can make their way through government to the powers that
be, and as a collective whole we will begin our ascent to a new level
of social well-being.
In short, what we have now is good, it is only misdirected; and this
lack of direction has encouraged the discord we see around us, as if a
room of powerful robots had been left without a plan. Let us come
together, and by so doing scatter these forces of confusion, for only
such a union can bring about the evolution we need, rather than mere
revolutions, whose historical short-sightedness have only continued
the problem under different guises and using different names.