Private property, Freedom, Coercion

   A person works hard and therefore gets its sweet fruits in the shape of what he or she produces out of this work. This fruit is his private property; it is private because it is he or she who produced it out of his or her labor. There is another person who does not work so hard or does not work at all; he produces less fruits commensurate to his labor or in the later case does not produce any fruit at all. In this comparison, the last one is destitute; the earlier is less rich and the first one the richer of the two. This difference of wealth among the three is natural. There may be poor, rich and the richest persons in the society; and, on this score there is no objection from any quarter of society. Private property is the fruit belonging to a person because it is produced by him by spending his personal labor.

  What is the nature of private property and what is its relation with human personality? A person has his physical body, which is his own self and which is his forte. And, it is not his body alone, which he possesses; there are desires behind this body, which are to be fulfilled, and his thoughts, which are to be applied. These three things are his self, which is on the move – propelled in the form of his actions by his desires and guided by his thoughts. These actions produce concrete results in the material world; they produce fruits. These fruits are very dear to him; he is very much attached to the fruits of his work; it is his private property. Private property is the extension of human personality; it is the extension of his self in the material world surrounding him. A person should be allowed to work and enjoy the fruits – private property – of his work. There should not be abolition of private property in a just social system. Taking away one’s private property or abolishing the institution of private property is inflicting an injury to his self. It lies in the legitimate domain of personal freedom. A person should be allowed the freedom to work, reap the fruits of that work and enjoy the same to his heart’s content.

  There is no problem here; the problem lies somewhere else. There are always limitations to one’s freedom. There is no problem with the legitimacy of the grant of freedom to human beings; the problem lies with the extent of this freedom. Let us take a few examples. A person works hard to invent a weapon and he invents that weapon – a fire arm.

  He uses the fruit of his work – the weapon – to defend him against the attack of a savage animal. It is perfectly justified in enjoying the fruit of his work in this way. But he does not stop here in his freedom of the use of his labor. Now, he has got an advantage over other fellows around him and he uses this gun to rob those fellows’ wealth.

  There is no legitimacy on his part in exceeding the limit of his freedom in this manner. He has no right to take undue advantage of his hard-earned fruit – the weapon – against the similar freedom of his neighboring fellows. It is an unjust action on his part. The people around him would not approve this much extension of his freedom. They would come together and stop him – take away his hard-earned fruit, the weapon – in his devil’s venture.

  We live in an organized society where there are many intelligent and hard-working people. A person one day observes the lid of a kettle, of which water is turned into steam by the burning fire underneath, being pushed upward by the force of steam; his intelligent mind leads him to conclude that this wonderful phenomenon is possible only because there is force in the steam. His logical mind makes him convinced that this force can be tamed somehow and used by him in many ways. He pursues his thought and contrives a machine – a steam engine.

  It is his invention. This machine is his private property. He decides to employ this machine to move his load of things; this use relieves him of his daily hard work of carrying his goods manually – he did not own load carrying animals. It is legitimate use of his property. It is his right to be benefited by his hard-earned product and property.

  But one day he thought it was better to hire a servant to work on this machine and use the machine with its driver to carry the loads of other fellows who were willing to pay him the fare. He executes this plan and makes a lot of money. And, he is rendered free of work – nothing to do except to count thus earned money.

  He seems to create jobs for other people around him but he is not concerned with creating jobs for others; he is solely concerned with making profits by charging money as fare for carrying loads belonging to others and by paying a fraction of this money to the driver as his pay.

  Creation of jobs in the process of making profits by the use of his private property is only an incidental thing, which is an unwanted but necessary evil. This is misuse of his property. He has the right to use but not misuse his hard-earned product.

  Take another case. A person works really very hard and earns a lot of money. It is his money – his property. He has the freedom to enjoy this fruit of his labor. He should be allowed this freedom by the society. But he does not limit his freedom to this mode of enjoyment of his private property. Now, because of his hard labor he is stationed in an advantageous situation in comparison to his fellow beings in the society who could not obtain – for several but obvious reasons – such an amount of money; he has got sinister design in his mind. Instead of spending this money in his enjoyment, he hires money-less fellows around him to work hard for him and robs the fruits of their labor. This conduct on his part is unjustified. It is exceeding the legitimate limits of his freedom.

  What are the similarities between these three cases of misusing the gun to rob other fellows’ wealth, of misusing the steam engine in making profits by hiring a servant and of misusing the money to rob other fellows’ labor? In all the three cases individuals work hard; they produce the fruits of their labor; they do not use the fruits of their labor– their private property – for personal legitimate enjoyment; and lastly, they misuse their private property to rob other fellows’ wealth (labor is wealth).

  What are the dissimilarities between these three cases? In the gun’s case, the things are too obvious and the effected people know they are being robbed with the aid of gun; in the steam-engine’s case hired employees know that they are being paid less than the amount the engine owner charges as fare but in the money’s case, the things are not so obvious and the effected people do not know they are being robbed with the aid of money. While dealing with subjects like just social system, freedom and exploitation, it is not relevant whether things are obvious or not so obvious. We are concerned with facts and all the three cases are similar in their consequences. They all rob other people of their wealth, which the labor is, with the help of those means that they own.

  If a person is allowed the freedom to enjoy the fruits of his labor but not allowed to put those fruits to additional use, are these fruits not almost useless to him? After all, a person cannot eat his gun or engine or money as food or wear them as cloths or put to his use in countless other manners, which that person needs.

  A person may always exchange his private property – that is, sell them by the medium of money – with the private property owned by others. For example, he may sell his engine by getting money and purchase food with that money. But in any case, no one should be allowed to use the product – private property – in his hand to hire other people to work on it. No private person has any justification or right to hire other human beings to work for him on the means he owns. A human being has the right to work for his own benefits and a right not to be made to work for others, by whatever compulsions, economic disadvantageous circumstances or otherwise. In a truly free society, all humans are equal and all human activities that have bearing on their freedom – in direct or indirect manner – are sovereign functions. They don’t belong to private individuals; they belong to people, in whom the sovereignty vests in democratic states. It is the people alone – and not the private individuals – who have the right to hire people for working for common benefits.

  Who are the people in whom the sovereignty lie and who alone have the right to hire persons? In a self-governed democratic society it is the State that has this exclusive privilege. Is it not an old and foolish idea of public sector ventures, which has already been tried and miserably failed in numerous democratic countries? Is it not a hum bug of the highest rank? There are all round inefficiencies and corruption in rampant in such so-called public sector state enterprises. What else is there?

  In the modern competitive economic world, where do such enterprises stand? Let us examine this problem from a different angle.

  The first question is of the initiative. In competitive economies, there is the first need of taking initiative to set up production facilities. A private capitalist has the necessary motive (the motive to make profits) to go ahead and take the initiative to set up a facility. He is ready to take the risk involved in the venture. State, on the other hand, is made up of faceless Ministers who are not motivated by making private profits and therefore not expected to take initiative, like the capitalists.

  This problem can be looked into from a different, and a more correct, angle. Humans have physical body, their desires and their thoughts. All actions of humans are motivated by either of these psychological forces, the lowest force being the needs of their body. Some persons are motivated by their desires – and to make money by way of profits is nothing but desire, a very powerful desire – to take initiative. It is done this way by capitalists.

  But this desire is not the only motivating force available there in human society. There is still higher – and more forceful – motivating power of mind. It is reason; it is logic. It is higher than dark force of desires. It is the force of light and reason. The motive force of desires operates in darkness. It works in secrecy. On the other hand, the motive force of mind operates only in the broad day light of reasonableness, just and fairness. The initiative of a capitalist to make money operates in the darkness of his secrecy. The initiative of a State to hire people for the common benefit operates only in the transparency of governance.

  The problem is not that the capitalist’s initiative is more forceful than of the initiative of a faceless State. The problem is that while a capitalist is able to obtain in the society the darkness of his secrecy, a State is not able to afford the transparency of its activities. Today, the information technology is able to solve this problem and there is no need or justification for us to allow capitalists the darkness of secrecy to make profits. This technology can render the governmental activities transparent.

  The second question is related to corruption in State enterprises. This problem does not prove the strength of capitalist mode of production. It is weakness and negative aspect of modern democratic State’s functioning. The only solution to this chronic ailment of democratic self-governance is the application of the information technology to this governance. Transparency in State affairs, which is brought by the empowerment of people through technology with their right to constantly elect and recall their representatives, is the solution of this problem.

  And, then, there are some superficial arguments by private capital in its favor. In justification of his enrichment, capitalist says, ‘I have invested money in factory, so I need profits, which is justified’ or, ‘I have taken  incentive and risk in setting up the factory, so in return I take profit, which is justified’. But all the means of production belong to the nation’s people; the organized society should take the initiative and risk in setting up the factory and the profit should go to the people who constitute the society. What is the justification of allowing a private person (that is, capitalist) to take initiative, invest money, take risk and accumulate un-earned profit.

  People through their collective instrument of self-governance, that is, State, have the right and capability to invest capital on their common behalf and take risk in setting up production factories. They have the sovereign and exclusive privilege of hiring human beings and none else. They alone have the right to make profit out of the labor of hired persons for common benefit.

  This right to make profit out of others work belongs to State, that is, people themselves and not to private capitalists. People through their common instrument – State – have all those advantages, which a capitalist may possess, like capital for investment, capacity to utilize technology, means to hire workers and initiatives in planning ventures.

  A State has all those advantages that a capitalist has in this respect but with a very vital difference: a capitalist keeps the earned profits in his pocket while the State utilizes this profit for the common good.

  It is no excuse to say that in setting up of such ventures in public sectors there is always corruption. It is lame excuse. A democratic society may very well provide for the extreme penalty of public shooting of corrupt persons in public ventures and execute those provisions. It is not dictatorship in the least. Such an allegation is ex facie false and a form of corruption, which also needs condemnation and severe deprecation.

 How can such a government responsive to the people’s needs and aspirations be formed in practice? It was tried in the past to be formed by the use of force by a few committed and pragmatic individuals – in the socalled, revolutionary way. But the history shows this social experiment has failed; it failed not because such a revolutionary government could not be formed by the use of force but because the victorious leaders of the revolutionary government could not remain responsive to the people’s needs and aspirations. It was not the failure of the revolutionary methods used by the leaders to come to power and govern; it was the failure of human nature; failure of the revolutionary leaders to rise above normal human weakness. Is there any way other than the way of the use of force, which is practical and pragmatic in its efficacy? Until recently it was not possible. Today, it is possible.

Technology brings silent revolutions in society. Technology is a great liberator of people. This is the lesson of history. This time, the new information technology in its avatar of artificial intelligence, robotics and complete automated production of commodities will bring yet another revolution; it will liberate the people. It will transform our society beyond recognition. This technology, while making the production-machines run automatic, will render human-work in production-process unnecessary and redundant. This new technology, while reducing humans redundant and work less in the production-process (which is carried on solely with the intention and purpose of earning more and more profits), will also empower ordinary people to communicate globally with one another and resist their workless-ness in pursuit of the greed for more profits.

This technology by empowering the ordinary people will transform our static and stale democracy. This democracy, which vainly claims itself a government of the people, by the people and for the people, will be transformed into a new dynamic democracy. In this dynamic democracy, the people will be empowered by the new technology; they will constantly elect, recall and replace their government. In this new form of democracy, the representative government will be at its tiptoes to the dictates of people’s will wherein economic activities generating wealth will be thrown open to public gaze and transparent accounting scan of the government.

In dynamic democracy, persons who are able to take the risk for undertaking new economic ventures will be rewarded for their incentive in the form of a part of the profit, a fair share, in the venture and the major share of the profits will go to the public through their government. This sharing of private-profit by public through their government would not be a heavy-taxation, not even taxation, of the wealth generator. It will be an accounting of cost and price of the commodities produced and sold and the amount of profit made in the process. It would not be the abolition of the private-property; it would be taking the veil of financial secrecy off and bringing the private-economic activities in the public domain in a transparent way. It will be putting a brake on the greed for more profit.

The profit shared by the public through their government is the price of the natural resources used in wealth-generation, which exclusively belong to humanity at large, like air, water, land, minerals, forests, human-work, knowledge, technology etc. The truly representative government, while performing the tasks of economic accounting and profit-sharing, will plough the earned wealth back to the public-good in the form of providing means of subsistence, health and education (in modern parlance, free provision). This public provision of subsistence, health and education would rapidly transform the vast pool of human resource, which is miserable and ignorant today, into healthy, educated and intelligent human-mass capable of undertaking newer wealth-generating ventures. This new and dynamic democracy will technologically enable people to take their fate in their own hands for the first time in human history (except in ancient times when a few people of a tribal clan assembled and took direct decisions about their affairs). The click in this new type of democracy is the people’s empowerment through technology and their ability to elect, recall and replaces their representative government at will. Opposition to such a reform of democracy on the pretext of danger of instability, security or impracticability etc. will be swept away by the advantages of this new technology.

This self-governance of technologically empowered people will take the most weak, miserable and ignorant human-lot out of a dark hapless corner in our society and by guaranteeing the provisions of food, health and education put them on the front row of humanity’s fight against the odds of Nature. This will be a society advanced as a whole, capable in the matters of health and education, and busy in discovering the secrets of Nature. Such a society will make rapid evolutionary strides and the ills of today’s decaying human culture born out a capitalist-consuming economy will be things of the past.

  This is the only way a society may become advanced, great and a model for the suffering mankind.

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