Philosophical Notes on the Political-Economic Phenomenon of Ownership

  1. One can own something for economic purposes, for its use in production of further things and importantly of their use-values. Historically the word property has been used to refer to objects owned in this way (as in the “unpropertied class”), and when we talk of abolishing private property we are talking of abolishing this kind of ownership for private individuals, replacing it with communal ownership for the common good; increasingly, though, the meaning of “property” has broadened to include both ways.
  2. One can own something for personal enjoyment of its use, separate from or tangential to production. We call things owned in this way possessions. I, though I have no property in the first sense except my labour-power, have many possessions: my laptop, for instance, on which I am typing, and the book I shall shortly reference, and several chairs. We have no interest in abolishing personal possession.

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