LONG LIVE PROLETARISM!
The Nature of Property
A Scheme for Investigation
Property is the most important category of political economy. Marxist literature always considers property as the relations between people concerning things. The subject of political economy is the sum total of the transformation of these relations, linked to the character of social production. Despite the very great significance of this category for the science of political economy, in our national research a definite level of agreement about it is lacking. Quite the opposite, extremely varied presentations of this question prevail. All the way from property as a form of appropriation or simply a particular social relation, to assertions that the concept of property has multiple meanings and that in differing contexts has, accordingly, differing significances; or, that there is a particular concept of property characteristic of each social-economic formation which can be considered only through the sum total of the production relations linked to the specific means of production.
However, it is impossible to be content with this.
The inadequacy of such broad definitions is obvious if only because appropriation itself can be most rationally defined as the circulation of property under some conditions, and property, as a particular social relation, must be distinguished from other social relations. On the other hand it is obvious that the peculiarity of property in each social-economic formation is not the negation of the commonality which singles this relation out in all historical stages.
It is clear that the highest flowering of property is achieved under capitalism in the form of private property in the means of production. But for us, the greatest interest lies in the movement of property at the stage which begins with its socialization and ends with its final dying away. The comprehension of this process will be assisted by the understanding of the reality of the basic characteristics of property in the specific conditions of socialism. This work is dedicated to revealing these characteristics.
A full fledged investigation, based on the entire history of study of this questions, containing a critique of the basic positions and drawing on the essential historical material for proof would, probably, require several volumes. The present article offers only a scheme for positive research and does not contain a critique, nor any citations or concrete historical examples. In essence, while pointing out the basic landmarks in the movement of ideas, the author relies on the historical and social experience of the reader. Many will find such and approach unconvincing, but, on the other hand, it allows us to take the shortest path leading to the most interesting of our results.
What is Property?
The simplest and clearest understanding of this turns out to be historical.
Property is the relation which binds a certain sort of individual subject over property (owners, proprietors) to a certain sort of material object in the world, the objects of property (possessions).
But the clarity of this is deceptive.
What is the essence of this relation? How was it established? Why does one object become an object of property while another does not? How may this relation be changed and how may it not? We must pose these questions twice; in conformity with the specific society, situated within a definite stage of development, and in the scheme of history, in the scheme of the form of this relation.
We could pose many other question; indeed we will pose them in the course of the investigation, but it is already clear that we will not be able to answer them without conducting a preliminary investigation.
By way of a first step let us lend more precision to some elements of this relation.
Robinson Crusoe lived on an uninhabited island and was provided with everything essential for a long life. Was this island, and all its animate and inanimate natural wealth, the property of Robinson and would this have any significance? We must answer in the negative; just as for any other living creature on the island it was pointless for Robinson to even think about this.
If only Robinson was not afraid of attracting the wrath of an assumed owner of the island by his activities or the mere fact of his arrival their.
If only Robinson was not required to clarify his relations with the island and its natural wealth with any other people who turned out to be there.
In either of these cases .ul links with society would be present; whether in the form of the social experience, accumulated by Robinson himself, or through the joint shaping of real relations.
>From this we can immediately conclude that property is a social relation; that it characterizes not the relations between a subject and an object, but relations between subjects, which only appear through the differences in their relations to the objects of the world.
In order to conclude this stage of the discussion of Robinson, we must clarify one more dialectical side of the facts under consideration. Robinson's life was saved, he was permitted to survive because, in the first place, the island existed, and, in the second, he was able to get there after the shipwreck.
The sum of these two circumstances we will understand as .ul given. Naturally, by the term 'given' in regard to some object, we will mean not that it was given, to someone, by someone, at some time, nor even the simple fact of the existence of the object, but a more complicated fact, consisting of the presence and accessibility of a definite object to a definite subject, i.e. the possibility of the subject interacting with the object in some form. In other words, a given is the sum of pairs of relations between the subject and the object, although later we will consider (while still using this term) only the most important elements of this sum.
Now we can construct the first (formal) definition of property.
Property is a social relation, manifesting itself in various relations of a subject and some objects of the material world.
We have still not advanced to an understanding of the question, we have only formalized it with greater precision. We have satisfied ourselves that for the existence of the property relation there are at least three indispensable elements; the subject owning the property, a subject not owning it (or the aggregate of such subjects) and object which is property. We may consider property as a ternary relation, or, more precisely, as a relation between relations, in which the relations "owner-object" and "non-owner-same object" participate. Our original presentation of this relation was true only to the extent that it assumed the existence of a non-owning subject. It is completely obvious that the clarification of the relation of property amongst the owning and non-owning subjects is possible only on conditions that it is a given for both of them. The island, on which Robinson lived, could have had and owner and could, over that period, have changed hands through exchange or inheritance etc. and none of this would have had the slightest significance for Robinson since, there could be no intersection, no common point at which it appeared as a given for Robinson and for the owner. Only with some, at least partial, coincidence as a given, for example if the owner or his representative appeared on the island, would the necessity of clarifying the relation arise.
Now it is time to pose the question; why, precisely, is it is necessary to clarify this relation? Why does the necessity of clarifying whose property this or that object actually is arise among people? What are the causes which lead to the establishment of the property relation as applied to one object and not to another?
It is not difficult to understand that the essence lies in the very fact of the establishment of property, from which, definite advantages flow to the subject who is the owner of property.
Humanity does not need to define who is the proprietor of the dust on the road or who is the owner of the Pole Star, because such property confers no advantage. These objects, as givens, cannot, at the present time, serve as the source of any advantage. But in the course of time, with the development of society and, most importantly, changes in its requirements, the objects of the real world which are givens for us also change. It was not so long ago that discussions about the ownership of the sea or the atmosphere seemed absolutely absurd; yet recent years have brought us decisions on the two hundred mile coastal limit, internal laws and international agreements concerning the the protection of the surrounding environment. It has become necessary for humanity to clarify relations on these questions.
The question of property arises wherever there is lack of satisfaction (or incomplete satisfaction) of requirements and limitation on the possibilities for their satisfaction. The advantage for the owners of property is completely defined in exactly this realm. Moreover, not infrequently, the crucial role is played not by the raising of the level of satisfaction of the requirements of the owners of property, but by the possibility of lowering the level of satisfaction of the non-owners.
Now, having elaborated some details we can give a second (no less formal) definition of property.
Property is the historically determined form of social relations, manifested in various relations of subjects to some objects in the real world, producing for some of the subjects (the owners of property) the opportunity to obtain specific advantages over the remaining subjects.
We must direct further investigation to the clarification of the essence of this relation. The first question that awaits us along this path is; what lies at the foundation of the property relation?
Some analogs of property exist in the animal kingdom. An animal can become, in a sense, the owner of some food which it has found and caught; this is quite common throughout the animal kingdom. The objects which can act in this capacity include habitation, a definite territorial range and there are even elements of similarity in the relation of a leader to his herd.
There are also quite complicated conflicts linked with these relations which arise in the animal kingdom. For example when one animal encroaches on the home or range of another, or when the predator pursues and torments its prey.
Force lies at the bottom of all these relations. Each appears as the owner of only that which he can defend against encroachment from others and only to the extent that he can continue to do so.
Animals and birds, on discovering quarters suitable for habitation are very wary of possible occupants; if it is already occupied, but the inhabitants are away at the given moment, indirect signals of the presence of a "landlord" serve as sufficient warning. Young males in a herd avoid actions which might provoke conflict with the leader, and only victory in a decisive battle frees them from this limitation.
Is it not true that there are many relations in the animal kingdom which remind us, above all, of the relations of property in human society? So why do we consider property to be a social relation? Should we not consider property to be a relation with a purely biological basis? And one more tricky question; perhaps, socialization, "humanization" only confers on this relation a legal formality which is created by man?
The similarity, actually, is considerable and is not accidental; the source, the initial moment of property as a social relation is the same as the relations in the animal kingdom about which we have spoken. The difference, too, has quite a minor character and is, by no means, connected with the realm of rights.
For animals, all facts and environmental phenomena in their world are givens and only givens. The givenness of one and the same object is not always simple. It can be altered and complicated by the presence of individuals of the same species, animals of a different species and, in general, the most varied sorts of natural influences. But these too must be givens, i.e. must be present in the perceptible reality. According to some order, the animal possesses the ability, to some extent, to predict the development of events. And on every occasion, confronted with a specific given, chooses that form of action which is dictated to it by expediency, forged in the course of natural selection, in the course of the development of the biological form of the animal.
When an animal refuses to occupy a comfortable borough which has been reserved by signs of its recent occupation, because it foresees an unwanted squabble with its kin, it may well be reacting to such signs at the level of unconditioned reflex. An animal refrains from approaching the catch of a powerful predator until such time as it has sated itself and withdrawn. In all cases, animals act in conformity with the givens presented to them - and no more.
Primitive humanity, naturally, began its journey from the same point. Like animals, the primitive human possessed only what it could defend, and only to the extent that it could defend against both other humans and animals. At the root of such possession lay force and also cunning, an almost animal, personal cunning. Yet this possession was still not property.
How did the given turn into property?
What changed as humanity development?
Force capable of defending definite objects has been retained as a foundation of property. But with the development of humanity, as society changed in a fundamental way, so too force changed both qualitatively and conceptually. Animal physical force, manifesting itself for concrete reasons, ceded its principle role to the force of consciousness, which provoked action for ever more abstract reasons.
The tiger can throw off, strike, even kill the jackal, interfering with its meal. But it never entered the head of any tiger to punish a jackal for a piece of meat that it had already eaten. Punishment at the moment of the crime, at the moment that someone's interests are infringed, is not yet punishment. It is a given, a manifestation of the natural force of nature, included in normal animal instincts. Punishment for a misdemeanor already completed (retributive punishment) is the first step to the formation of private property.
The punishment attends the individual who was included in the given, but no link to the given object, the object of the action being punished, is perceived. Moreover, the punishment may attend an individual who was not present at the completion of an action. All this compelled the primitive man not to trust the animal immediacy of the perceived given and gave rise to a fear of forces concealed yet nonetheless potent, thus shaping in him a definite foreknowledge of the presence of links, not directly observed in the perceived given, and a burning desire to comprehend their dangerous significance. On the other hand, this taught the man to take seriously even unclear warnings from his kinsmen, introducing him to the sphere of their experience, the sphere of social consciousness.
The next stage in the development of consciousness, which had colossal importance for the formation of property relations, found its eventual expression in taboos. The very possibility of making specific objects taboo signifies that, in the foreknowledge of force not flowing immediately from the observed reality, a man is able to trust, not only his own personal experience, but can completely rely on the mature experience of his society, transmitted to him through communication. The taboo was still closely linked to punishment; breaking the taboo promised terrifying retribution, for the taboo object concealed mysterious, but terrible, invincible forces.
And, in the end, the final factor in the formation of property was the rise of the unconditional prohibition. The terrible forces, concealed behind the taboo, were dispersed and society was presented with its taboos in the form of essential norms of conduct.
The sum of such norms shaped social ethics.
Further social development is linked to the disappearance of both property and ethics, but, following the object of our investigation, we will not consider this in detail now.
How did property develop under the influence of these factors?
We must, at once, make a proviso. We will consider the given factors from a definite angle, but of course, the particular stage of the origin and establishment of punishment, taboos and morality, had a much broader significance for the development of social consciousness than can be linked to property. They played an important role in formation of social experience in general. But for us, what is important is that property relations were developed under their decisive influence.
It might seem that taboo was a ready method, a completed mechanism for the defense of property. However, this was not the case. A taboo is a fact of consciousness, not reality, so because of the secondary nature of consciousness, a taboo must be continually reinforced by practical experience, in the absence of which it is subjected to disintegration and destruction. Only in specific historical periods, when an intensive disclosure of new social possibilities is taking place, is there a sharp predomination of social experience over personal forms; taboos maintained in relation to stable forms are actively contradicted in the consciousness and practice of the individual. Besides which, taboos are subjected to powerful shock by the contradiction of tribal with various social experiences. The taboo played its most important role by affirming in consciousness the concept of inviolability (even if only temporary) of some objects, but it could provide no more.
>From this point of view, the possibilities for morality were even less. The inculcation of morality in consciousness requires significantly greater social effort, and the breaching of unconditional prohibitions is not prevented even by the fear of mysterious forces. But support came from an entirely different quarter.
The strengthening in consciousness of the concept of punishment, tabu and morality is provided by only one thing; the very fact of the existence of actual punishment. Only actual injury, only the direct application of force, perceptible to the individual as the not completely predictable consequence of his personal behaviour, serves as practical experience reinforcing the links drawn from social experience. It turned out that breaking a taboo, in the majority of cases, did actually attract the inevitable penalty.
The only mysterious, other-worldly force turned out be this; that since not all of the perpetrator's kinsmen could simultaneously free themselves from the influence of the prohibition, they inevitably reacted to the breaking of the taboo with a sharp change in relations to him; immediate reprisal for the infringement, banishment from the tribe, fear of him or ostracism, these were the punishments that followed infringement. The mystical suggestions about punishment were filled with an entirely real content, they became fact.
It was precisely these social reactions which permitted the weakening of the mystical side of prohibitions and of going over, in many cases, to unconditional prohibition, the efficacy of which was, in reality, provided by the society itself through the spontaneous turning of social pressure on the transgressor. Thus, social consciousness substantiated itself in the form of completely real forces, defined itself as a force of nature.
The given, presenting itself to the man, was enriched by another force, social reaction, actions which were both foreseeable and predictable not only on the basis of individual but also social experience. If for the animal the given presents itself together with all it physical, observable links, then for the man to this picture must be added one unobservable link, the link which he brings with him in his consciousness. An animal always apprehends one and the same given in the same way, his relation to the situation is simple, defined by the specific instincts of his species and his individual experience. The relations of man became multi-faceted, having turned out to depend on factors of consciousness, not having any immediate link with the given.
Without ever having been punished, without experiencing for himself the action of force not flowing immediately from the given, a man would not be able to obtain the basis, through personal, practical experience, for the perception of social concept of the action of social force. And on the other hand, in order to stabilize, the concept of the action of social force must be have been confirmed in practice with sufficient regularity.
Such were the social circumstances in which the property relation arose. Just as the jackal will not risk touching the tiger's catch for fear of provoking the use of the tiger's force directed against him, so too the man comprehends that the attempt to satisfy personal requirements with specific objects can call forth the force of society in action against him. Force, as before, remains altogether decisive. But the concept of force, and the foreknowledge of its application is quite different in the man. He became multi-faceted and the source of this was social consciousness. Two men can consider one and the same given quite differently, and this difference can contradict their personal qualities (physical force, preparedness) but it cannot contradict their social experience, the entire sum of the links which bind them to society.
Such were the social preconditions for property to arise. But what were the personal preconditions? In order that property might arise, the condition that was still lacking, that would permit it flower, was a social demand.
The mimicry of property, characteristic of the living world, always has as its first cause the satisfaction of the physiological requirement of the animal. This too is maintained in human society, but for the rise of property this was obviously an insufficient cause.
The personal preconditions for the rise of property were shaped by the same process as the social. Punishment, at the beginning, was exclusively the right of the powerful, but, evidently, means of punishment more effective than the direct application of force were revealed which restricted the commission of offences in the course of satisfying demands. With the development of social relations, the leaders moved from the use of physical force to the use of social force, and property was one of the most important linch-pins for organizing and bringing into action these forces, it was a means for specific authorities in society to limit the satisfaction of demands of the individuals of which it was composed.
Thus, if the basic, original distinction between property and the similar relations in the animal kingdom was the change in the relation to the immediately perceived reality under the influence of factors of consciousness, then the most important secondary distinction appears in the change of consciousness; the decisive role began to be played not by the satisfaction of the requirements of the owners, but by the limitation of the non-owners, by the truncation of the possibilities present to them in the given.
Property became one of the essential means for affirmation of the individual among his peers. Now the individual was no longer affirmed as an individual whose force provided him with independence, and who, acting in his personal capacity through his multi-form links with society was capable of influencing its life processes. It was precisely this striving for self-affirmation, which, in the last analysis, arose from the biological survival instinct and which created the personal preconditions for the rise of property and its further development. In individuals, the striving to become owners, to protect specific objects from encroachment by other individuals, arose; the development of increasingly complex social relations broadened the possibilities for the satisfaction of this striving.
Now we can go on to construct one more definition of property. We have the required foundation to record in this definition that the link between the owning and the non-owning subjects arises not only through the mediation of the objects of property, but also duplicates the entire sum of the social relations of the society whose members they are, and that this link itself is one of the elements of social consciousness and consequently that specific individual changes in this link can initiate corresponding social processes.
We may present the third definition as follows;
Absolute property is a social relation consisting in the assumption of one of the subjects (the owner) of the possibility of his relating to specific objects (the objects of property) as to a given, and that this possibility will be defended by the entire system of social relations, while the other subject (the non-owner) is limited in his use of these same objects for the satisfaction of his requirements by the threat of the application of social force.
For many reasons we can not rest with this as a final definition. Here are the two most essential of these. Firstly, having put all the advantages of the owners in place, it is as if we have exhausted all the possibilities of relating to the object of property as a given, in comparison with the non-owners. Even the most cursory look at the role of property in history compels us to doubt this. It is not hard to satisfy oneself that, over the ages, property did not so much maintain the ancient relations as assist the development of the material culture of society. Secondly, this is a definition only in essence and does not touch upon the relations between the owners and the non-owners, dwelling only on the limitation, reinforced by the threat of the use of social force.
The placement of the epithet 'absolute' next to the specific term 'property' is no accident. This is not a definition of property in general, that can be defined only for one of the particular forms of property, but precisely of absolute property, which occupies its place in the life of society but does not immediately participate in the dynamic of social processes.
The ring on the finger of the capitalist and the labour power of the unemployed are to the same extent property. But in distinction from the capitalist, who hardly worries about his ring, the unemployed are very anxious to be rid of their absolute property, they want, accepting the definite limitations, to unite their labour power with the means of production, that is to go to work. Why? What's going on here?
If the object of absolute property belonging to a specific subject is a collection of objects which completely satisfy his demands, then he is completely independent of society. However, in the majority of cases this is not how things are. From history, the existence of natural economy and the causes leading to its dissolution are clear. In connection with this as a basis, we should point out that the case in which absolute property is insufficient for the satisfaction of the requirements of the subject is by far the more common.
When subjects, essential to the satisfaction of the needs of the subject are lacking as givens in his absolute property, then the necessity of augmenting his absolute property with the given subject will arise in some form. If these objects exist as the property of another subject, then the subject experiencing the need will find the establishment of such relations with the owning subject, so as to permit him access to these objects in order to satisfy his need, to be unavoidable. But such access, as we have already noted, is blocked by the entire system of social relations.
And so it turns out, that the system of social relations for the defence of property, has the simplest mechanism for the lowering of the defenses; in order for this to occur all that is required is the good will of the owner of the property. The presence of this ideal (abstract) mechanism is, qualitatively, the most important of all social relations connected with property, and consequently, the most important quality of property.
Now we can construct another definition of property, taking into consideration that the given mechanism acts in the form of definite right, rooted in the system of social relations itself.
Property is that social relation which limits the subjects utilization of specific objects by the threat of the application of social force; and which permits the satisfaction of the subject's requirements, in spite of these limits, in no other way than through an agreement based on goodwill between the subjects, within the immutable framework of their combined limitations.
Thus, the deal, whether partial or complete, temporary or permanent, to change the mutual limitations, is considered by society to be the private affair of the parties striking the deal, free of social control. This is why similar a formulations are directly linked to the most bourgeois concepts of freedom. But this definition is still not complete.
In order for the deal to be concluded, the participants in it must show their goodwill. If one side needs specific objects for the satisfaction of his needs and it is precisely obtaining them which will produce his goodwill, then the other side, the owner of the objects, that is having specific privileges over them, must demonstrate his goodwill by forswearing them. On such a basis no deal could ever be concluded, for the side whose goodwill was expressed in forswearing his privileges could neither gain a foothold nor survive under conditions in which the support of social force was directly linked to the maintenance of such privileges. This means that a deal can only be done when, each one gives up a privilege in exchange for another.
Of course not. The exchange of identical privileges is a senseless waste of time. The stimulus for entering into a deal can only come from the receipt of a greater value. The deal can be struck only when both participants in it, from their point of view, receive more than they parted with.
This is impossible with material exchange, for example, in exchange according to value. But that is objectively, and a deal struck on the basis of goodwill is not the place for objectivity. No participant in a deal every reaches agreement until such time as the privileges received as a result have risen to a higher level than those which he must give up. The deal must, for each of the participants, in some specific form, broaden the possibilities for the satisfaction of their own demands.
This principle, which we call the equalization of use value, lies at the foundation of every deal. No man will bind himself to participation in a deal unless he has the possibility of obtaining more from it than has to put in. The principle of the equalization of use value, as the foundation of all deals done, also corresponds fully with the bourgeois concept of freedom and, obviously, happiness too, for the result of every deal is that each participant receives some sort of additional possibilities for the satisfaction of his needs.
At least, according to his own personal assessment.
Of course, every deal also retains its objective side. If, for example, under conditions of developed commodity circulation we consider a deal in which commodities are exchanged, where absolute property with a completely definite value is exchanged, then, to the extent that the general values of objects don't change, we can determine who exchanged a smaller value for a larger, and who took the loss. But for the participants, what is always decisive is the subjective side - an increase in use value. This is why commodity markets always operate with prices not with values; for it is precisely prices that equalize use vales. The fact that, as a result, prices oscillate around values, truly expresses value through that oscillation, which is conditioned by other laws of mass commodity circulation.
However, having established that agreement to relax the restrictions lies on the foundation of the equalization of use values, we have still not revealed all the mysteries of property. For this we must turn immediately to the nature of human requirements. We will not become excessively preoccupied with this, only remarking that all human needs change with time, even if they remain unsatisfied, and can be divided into three classes using this characteristic; those dying away over time, those which retain significant stability over protracted periods and those which increase when they are unsatisfied. The human subject lives through all these changes and assesses the use value of those objects which are essential to the satisfaction of his demands accordingly.
The requirements of the third class are vitally important to man, whether they are wholly or partially unfulfilled, they grow, at the very least, in comparison with other demands, and compel an active search for the means to their satisfaction. Unsatisfied hunger and thirst can die away only together with the man himself; the striving for life raises the use value of food and water to incomparable levels, overshadowing any wealth.
>From this it is completely obvious that a person, restricted in the satisfaction of his vital requirements, will, inevitably, strike deals which objectively result in a loss for him, for he finds himself in a situation where the use values of his primary requirements are incomparably higher that all other values.
Now we will try to supplement our given definition with the considerations set forth above. In summary we obtain the following formulation.
Property is that social relation which limits the utilization by each subject of specific objects by the threat of the application of social force; and which permits the satisfaction of the subject's requirements, in spite of these limits, in no other way than through an agreement based on goodwill between the subjects. This agreement occurs within the immutable framework of their combined limitations, and is concluded on the basis that the use value obtained by each side is subjectively assessed as greater than that which is given up, and that this compels any subject whose satisfaction of vital requirements is restricted to enter into deals which are objectively a loss for him since the growth of the unsatisfied demands leads to the rise in the use value of the objects required for their satisfaction.
This fifth definition we can consider to be final.
At first glance, this definition appears imbalanced; its final part somehow narrows the understanding we have developed, and deprives it of the generality of the first, second and fourth definition. And the third definition appears much broader, being extended to the whole of society, while the fifth definition concentrates attention on the section of society which is restricted in the satisfaction of its vitally important requirements. But the whole point is that the principle subject in this social relation is the non-owning subject, for it is precisely his interests which are decisive for the existence and development of society, since property would loose all meaning if there did not exist subjects with limited satisfaction of their most basic, vital requirements.
We ought to warn against the temptation, arising from excessive formalism, to consider the second part of this definition as a consequence of the first part (i.e. as determined by the fourth definition), as a deduction drawn from the change in the objects of use value over time. The possibility of discovering such deductive links is illusory.
At the same time, the law-like regularity of change in requirements lies at the foundation of the construction of the fourth definition. If the requirements changed in a different way, then a different complex of social relations linked to them would arise; we would be concerned with a different reality and so different formalizations. In our investigation, we have simply been compelled to proceed from the arising content, from the source, from theory which has been confirmed in life, from the postulates which occur on this basis.
We are confronted with the unavoidability of reconstructing, in reverse order, the deductive consequences flowing from life the social characteristics of man and the consideration of the the historical transformations of these characteristics, subordinate to the laws of the dialectic.
This is why we must establish that the basis of property as a social influence lies in the existence of changing human requirements and the possibility of limiting their satisfaction, thus giving rise to the whole grandiose, all-embracing social mechanism.
It is not hard to imagine, that, if capitalist society could eliminate all labour, replacing it with, lets us say, perfect robots, and only well-to-do capitalist remained, that any exchange of goods between these capitalist would have no more meaning than in a child's game. And it is just as obvious that, in a society, where the questions of the satisfaction of each members requirements were decided solely by that member, the very category of property would become meaningless; it would not be any sort of limitation for anyone.
On the other hand, the fact, which, in life, is defined in the expression "Money makes money," and which political economy considers as varies forms of capitalist accumulation, is entirely conditioned by the fact that the majority of society are compelled to make objectively disadvantageous deals in order to satisfy their most important requirements. These losses constitute by the capitalist's profits and secure the concentration of capital in the hands of those who are able to independently satisfy their own requirements. From the foregoing definition it follows directly that the for the capitalist the only demand, which must be satisfied with hired labour, is the demand for the receipt of profits and that therefore he can never compensate labour at its full value, for him such a deal is impossible.
Moreover, the study of all the consequences flowing from what our investigation has revealed concerning the concept of property is another subject. For now we will confine ourselves to the following; beside the fact that property is not simply a social relation, but a relation which actually draws the whole of society into it and is capable of bringing very significant social forces into motion for the pettiest of personal reasons, we have established that this relation can not be considered (excepting a limited number of cases) outside the mechanism of its alteration, and that this mechanism is constituted based on the agreement to mutually beneficial conditions and that it is objectively directed against those for whom these relations are the most restrictive
The interpreter on the English language - Perry Vodchik
16 August, 2000