Why Coming Together Creates Strife, and Individualism Creates Order
By Joe Jarvis - March 20, 2017

Look in the media and you will see article after article detailing bitter disagreements about what we as a nation should do about our problems, and how we can solve them with our tax dollars.

Common property (things like like Social Security, schools, and federal land) is painted as a good thing, but in reality it is a disaster.

Right now Trump’s proposed budget is in all the headlines. What are WE going to do with OUR tax money as a single unit called a nation?

It’s hard to believe people disagree over what is funded and what is not… right?

What should we do about OUR healthcare?

Who should we let on OUR property we call the United States?

The whole problem is that we have property in common in the first place. When you have multiple owners of the same property, problems will inevitably arise.

If we have common problems that need solving, there are ways to come together voluntarily while still preserving individual interests.

That’s why companies sell shares; the shareholder gets a say in the company based on his stake. If he doesn’t like the direction the company is going, he can sell his stake in it.

Josiah Warren (1798-1874) was an early American free thinker, and abolitionist who believed in voluntary government, and actually set up and lived in various towns with ideals of freedom governing the microcosms.

In a version of his works called The Practical Anarchist edited by Crispin Sartwell, Warren gives two examples (not from the towns he founded) of a schoolhouse that was built by the community as common property.

In one case the people who had pleasantly joined together to build the school erupted into a feud about who to hire as the teacher, almost immediately after finishing the project. Someone involved burnt the schoolhouse down in the night to “solve” the dispute.

In the other case, the people also could not agree on how to govern the school. One man took a team of oxen and dragged a log from the school, which of course destroyed the building. But the log was his contribution to the building of the school, and it wasn’t going to be run the way he wanted, so he divested himself.

If the school had simply been set up as a business it would have been up to the owner how to run it, and he probably would have based those decisions on what his customers wanted out of  school. This same community could have gotten a school house, and a way to govern its use by individual interest.

They still would have come together for the common goal, but each interested party could make the decision with his own property. The school owner may still have alienated some with how he decided to run the business, but instead of them coming to retrieve “their” log from the side of the building, they could have simply chosen not to send their child to his school.

That is why when things are commonly owned, like a business, you must have a prescribed way to divest yourself, as with shares, to avoid the bitter disputes which end in destruction of the commonly owned property.

And what is happening right now in America? People are figuratively pulling our the logs they gave to build the schoolhouse, and they are burning down the schoolhouse in the night.

Some want to sabotage Trump, others want their fair share based on what they contributed, and some are ready at this point to just watch the world burn, because of the betrayal they feel in how their common property is being governed.

People cannot properly organize when property is held in common. Individual interest creates order out of this chaos, because it shows clearly who is in charge under given circumstances.

“Responsibility must be individual, or there is no responsibility at all.”



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  • Rosicrucian32

    Perfect example, the women’s march in DC after the inauguration. In the true spirit of unity and derision not ALL women were allowed to go. Girl Scouts were not allowed to march in the inaugural parade but were allowed to wear cute “pink hats” not knowing the underlying metaphor they were displaying.
    Sorry…..Tuesdays give me an uncontrollable urge to state the obvious.

    • Don Duncan

      Not “allowed” by whom? How was ownership of the march determined? Why couldn’t the Girl Scouts march along side or in front or behind? Did the organizers own the streets? Own the “right of assembly”?

  • autonomous

    The ‘tragedy of the commons’ has been long understood–except by Marxists, communists and progressives. There have always been believers in the natural goodness of humans.

    • Don Duncan

      Use of property has nothing to do with morality, e.g., two moral people can disagree about property management. This presents no problem if they have separate (private) ownership. Ownership in common creates the problem.

  • Doc

    DB: “That is why when things are commonly owned, like a business, you must have a prescribed way to divest yourself, as with shares, to avoid the bitter disputes which end in destruction of the commonly owned property.”

    So the conclusion some draw from this is that everything has to be privately owned. This is typical of the modern libertarians.

    The real conclusion, I believe, is that the individual should have the right to “divest” from the government and direct any funds to a local alternative that is a better fit.

    • Good point. Would that not make you a stakeholder in the local alternative, and therefore partial owner who could likewise divest himself from that private property?

      • Doc

        If the alternative is a non-territorial government, not sure I would be an owner or stakeholder. I would only direct my funds to such an alternative if I was allowed to leave or divest from it as well.

  • Don Duncan

    If private property follows from the concept of right to property, does public property deny the right to property? How can I, as an individual, “own” public lands without control? I don’t. Ownership entails control.
    Do I “control” public assets by voting? Or is voting the opposite of control? Isn’t voting the forfeit of control to a so-called representative over whom I have no control? Don’t politicians represent themselves, their own interests, e.g., by selling favors to special interests? Doesn’t this benefit the politicians/special interests at the expense of the public? Isn’t this the worst possible outcome for asset management? For humanity?

    Wasn’t the creation of the state & federal governments only function to protect rights? Does violation of property rights, e.g., eminent domain law, asset forfeiture law, taxation, land regulation, and permits, fulfill its mandate? Or do the opposite? Is a promise of security a valid excuse to deny freedom? Does a govt. that has a monopoly on violence create exploitation, injustice, and poverty? Does it deserve to exist?

  • real427 man

    What about the stock market?