We all start the game of life on “GO,” but all the property has already been purchased. The only way to make money in this game is rent, so the vast majority survive on $200 of guaranteed basic income each time around the board. If this sounds like your life, welcome to Neoliberal Monopoly, where the workers get just enough to survive and the owners get richer every round.
What does it mean to “own” something? Does it mean you possess it? There’s only so much stuff you can physically possess at once. Is everything you’re not holding in your hands up for grabs?
Does owning mean holding title to property? In the U.S., people transfer titles to land, buildings, cars, and boats, among other things. These titles clearly state that ownership rights transfer from the seller to the buyer, but they do not say the seller had right title to start with. It’s assumed the seller had rightful ownership and the sale is considered legitimate until challenged.
At some point, American courts decided land stolen from native Americans was rightfully transferred. That was just the beginning of the thefts sanctioned by courts legalizing dispossessing people of their property. It is reasonable to say the foundational property in the United States from which all other property has derived was stolen from its rightful owners, often several times over. No property has clean title.
Who owns the fish in the sea? Are they harvested or stolen? Who owns the air? How come some groups are allowed to pollute the air? Who owns the clouds? Who owns the rain? Under what authority are corporations allowed to blow the tops off mountains, harvest the timber, scoop out the coal and other valuable minerals, then walk away leaving an environmental nightmare lasting thousands of years? What could possibly give someone the “right” to do such a thing?
The fact is that “ownership” is just a cognitive web of words designed to get you to believe that the people who have property somehow deserve it, and those who do not have property deserve nothing.
Do You Own Yourself?
No. Nowhere in the world is a person legally allowed to do whatever they want with their own body. You cannot walk around naked without being arrested. You can’t choose whether or not to go to elementary school. No one under the age of majority is assumed to own themselves. It is illegal in many places to injure yourself or attempt to kill yourself. If you do not even hold legal title to your own body, what can it mean to own anything else?
Who does own you, if not you? The state. That’s right, the state considers itself to be the rightful owner of every person in the territory of the state. The state can most definitely tell you what to do and incarcerate or kill you if you do not comply. You might think you own yourself, but what does that mean if wherever you live you are the subject of a state that asserts authority over your activities? You don’t own shit, not even your own shit.
Your body is considered state property everywhere on Earth. You can be conscripted everywhere there’s a state. You can be legally restrained, detained, transported and held against your will. You can be held in confinement, dispossessed of your assets, forced to work, and executed — all legally — as long as “due process” is followed in the United States, and without much process in other states. You are owned by the state and you are obligated by law to not damage the state’s property. How can you, a piece of someone else’s property, have any rights to property of your own? You don’t.
You are on loan from the state. All your property and everything you own belongs to the state. They can legally take away all your property any time they choose. To think otherwise makes you an outlaw, a thief. I say it’s time people cleared the webs from their eyes, from their ears and their minds, webs of words like “rights” and “property” and “lawful,” which cloud the vision, distort the hearing, confuse the mind.
There is you and there is everything that’s not you and no one owns any of it! Take what you need, take what you want, take what you can get away with. Do not abuse yourself with notions of ownership, due process, or moral stricture. All restraints on your actions are arbitrary. There is no reason to take any action which does not please you.
The New You
When you follow the line, all logic leads to an absurd conclusion. Liberate yourself from the thoughts of right or wrong, good or bad, just or proper. Instead, animate yourself with thoughts of is and isn’t, I have it or I don’t. All the muck is cleared from your path, the layers of moral overtones, the build up of myths and gods and rules, and you move into the future boldly, with a swagger that says nothing matters.
When you realize everything is everyone’s and you’re “entitled” to whatever you have, you do not become a thief, a murderer, a rapist. Rather, you value that which is voluntarily given. You prefer a meal purchased through your labor to the same meal stolen from a store. You obey no laws except your own. Very quickly, your own law becomes the law of love, not property. It is only those who see other human beings as assets who can treat them like property. A liberated person sees all humans, all living creatures, all plants and rocks and rivers, for what they are, nothing magically more or less due to some mumbo jumbo mumbled by a lawyer or a priest.
Love is the logical conclusion of Ayn Rand’s selfishness. She never got there. Her protege, Nathanial Brandon, figured it out. Take a run at Ayn Rand and run the line back through the Austrians and Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham and you run smack into love, the thing which can’t be measured, not in dollars or utility. It is the motive engine of life and the logical conclusion of all selfishness: I do not matter. What matters is what I do when I’m here, not the property I leave behind. Value is in the eye of the beholder and value can only be found in the satisfaction of the needs of others.
Love, it turns out, is the currency Rand was reaching for. Albert Camus discovered the absurdity of all the other rules as he followed the line of philosophy from Aristotle to Karl Marx and realized the most important lesson of all: it doesn’t add up! All your science, your law, your art, your economics has the same senseless core and conclusion: it’s all wheels in the head, a head game, a label gun gone amok. Not one word means anything, not one number, not one thought. From the absurd heart of the universe comes a philosophy of love, of doing the greatest good for the greatest number while you have a chance. When you are finished here, nothing else will have mattered.