Personal vs private property or: do the communists want to take your stuff?

This article is part of Fightback’s “What is Capitalism” series, to be collected in an upcoming magazine issue. To support our work, consider subscribing to our e-publication ($20 annually) or magazine ($60 annually). You can subscribe with PayPal or credit card here.

Are the communists coming to take your property?

That all depends. What do you have?

This is a big question, especially if you have a home to store things in. To simplify, communists tend to distinguish between personal property and private property.

Personal property consists of things you use in everyday life, things that meet your basic needs, or bring you personal satisfaction. These may include:

  1. Your toothbrush

  2. Your house

  3. Your author-signed copy of Capital: Volume 1

We support your right to personal property. Nobody should take what you need to survive, or to live a fulfilling life. Nobody wants your toothbrush.

That’s not what communists mean when we rail against ‘private property.’ Private property consists of larger financial assets, things you most likely don’t physically use yourself, but profit from owning. These may include:

  1. A rental property

  2. A textile mill

  3. A weapons factory

If you own a rental property, we do want to take it from you. It’s nothing personal. You may be a good landlord or a bad landlord, that’s beside the point. The point is that you don’t need the house, except to make a profit. And the profit system seems like a bad way of allocating housing; when the market booms, rent is too expensive, and people live on the streets; when the market crashes, banks calls in loans, and people lose their houses. There doesn’t seem to be any point in the market cycle where everyone has somewhere to sleep. Unless housing is collectively allocated, rather than privately.

Perhaps you own a textile mill in Mumbai, drawing profits from garment workers paid less than 1USD an hour. Any battle waged by garment workers to determine their own conditions receives our unqualified support, and we hope your ‘rights’ over their lives are rescinded.

If you own a weapons factory, we hope to turn it into a public museum, showcasing the horrors of a brutal past.

ursula capitalism

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