Much of contemporary ire at capitalism is in fact directed at property. Or rather, property rights. Or if we look deeply, past the wall of resentment-for-success that the Left has erected: rights themselves.
If you come out and say you are against freedom, justice and rights most people will consider you insane. That is the nature of dying empires: people insist on truths, and enforce them on each other, that are not actually true.
But let us look into rights. These are comforting because they are absolute. And as is sometimes said, any great strength is also a great weakness. That absolute nature also makes them inflexible, forcing our minds to adapt.
With rights, all aspects of life become properties. If you have a right to do something, that is a property that you can trade or sell to others. This also gives all things some form of cash value.
More sinister is that rights convert ends into means. Things like local areas, civilizations or customary practices are now “protected” by rights which means they are valuable as themselves, but not in themselves. They no longer have inherent value, but have value in trade alone.
Under rights, objects and ideas which should be ends in themselves — like civilization, nature and tradition — become simply more things that can be sold. Rights force a dollar value on everything because someone has a right to sell each part of it.
Rights exist in a sense of being timeless, mechanical and having rigid boundaries. They are like walls of language protecting us from others. They trigger automatically, like a home defense robot, and let us force society to clear other people out of our way.
But this in turn makes us agents of our rights. We no longer can do anything for the sake of doing it alone; it must be justified with rights, explained as freedom or justice, and therefore made acceptable to the other rights holders. This amounts to a dispossession of us from our own countries and land.
Yes, some laws can be made to protect things like customs and traditional areas. But these must be specific, and by their very nature they make it easier and more efficient to not engage with tradition, but to leave it behind with all of the red tape and hassle involved.
Before we had rights, we had roles. We belonged to our societies, in some capacity or another, roughly suited to our abilities. We did things because they needed doing. The things themselves thus had the rights, or were the ends, and rights were the means.
When rights passed to individuals, that process was inverted. The rights now became the ends, and everything else the means. We sacrificed our civilization to ensure that individuals had rights. And now what is left? A commercial wasteland, not because of capitalism, but because our rights made all aspects of life into property.
As with all things modern, “rights” sound good on paper until you work out the mathematics of their many effects on the objects and people around us. At that point, they look like less of a good deal, and more of a shedding of responsibility in order to consume all that we know. Today’s parties for tomorrow’s famine.
Tags: capitalism, equality, freedom, justice, property, property rights, rights