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<html>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>I.6 What about the "Tragedy of the Commons"?</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<h1>I.6 What about the <i>"Tragedy of the Commons"</i>? Surely communal 
    ownership will lead to overuse and environmental destruction?</h1>
<p>
It should first be noted that the paradox of the <i>"Tragedy of the Commons"</i> 
is actually an application of the <i>"tragedy of the free-for-all"</i> to the
issue of the <i>"commons"</i> (communally owned land). Resources that are <i>"free
for all"</i> have all the problems associated with what is called the <i>"Tragedy
of the Commons,"</i> namely the overuse and destruction of such resources; but
unfortunately for the capitalists who refer to such examples, they do not 
involve true <i>"commons."</i> 
<p>
The <i>"free-for-all"</i> land in such examples becomes depleted (the <i>"tragedy"</i>)
because hypothetical shepherds each pursue their maximum individual gain
without regard for their peers or the land. What is individually rational
(e.g., grazing the most sheep for profit), when multiplied by each
shepherd acting in isolation, ends up grossly irrational (e.g., ending the
livelihood of <b>every</b> shepherd). What works for one cannot work as well
for everyone in a given area. But, as discussed below, because such land
is not communally <b>managed</b> (as true commons are), the so-called Tragedy
of the Commons is actually an indictment of what is, essentially,
laissez-faire capitalist economic practices!  
<p>
As Allan Engler points out, <i>"[s]upporters of capitalism cite what they
call the tragedy of the commons to explain the wanton plundering of
forests, fish and waterways, but common property is not the problem. When
property was held in common by tribes, clans and villages, people took no
more than their share and respected the rights of others. They cared for
common property and when necessary acted together to protect it against
those who would damage it. Under capitalism, there is no common property.
(Public property is a form of private property, property owned by the 
government as a corporate person.) Capitalism recognises only private
property and free-for-all property. Nobody is responsible for free-for-all
property until someone claims it as his own. He then has a right to do as
he pleases with it, a right that is uniquely capitalist. Unlike common or
personal property, capitalist property is not valued for itself or for its
utility. It is valued for the revenue it produces for its owner. If the
capitalist owner can maximise his revenue by liquidating it, he has the
right to do that."</i> [<b>Apostles of Greed</b>, pp. 58-59]
<p>
Therefore, as Colin Ward argues, <i>"[l]ocal, popular, control is the
surest way of avoiding the tragedy of the commons."</i> [<b>Reflected in
Water</b>, p. 20] Given that a social anarchist society is a communal,
decentralised one, it will have little to fear from irrational
overuse or abuse of communally owned and used resources.
<p>
So, the <b>real</b> problem is that a lot of economists and sociologists
conflate this scenario, in which <b>unmanaged</b> resources are free for all,
with the situation that prevailed in the use of <i>"commons,"</i> which were
communally <b>managed</b> resources in village and tribal communities. E.P.
Thompson, for example, notes that Garret Hardin (who coined the phrase
<i>"Tragedy of the Commons"</i>) was <i>"historically uninformed"</i> when he assumed
that commons were <i>"pastures open to all. It is expected that each
herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons."</i> 
[<i>"Custom, Law and Common Right"</i>, <b>Customs in Common</b>, p. 108f] The
commons, in fact, <b>were</b> managed by common agreements between those
who used them. Similarly, those who argue that the experience of the
Soviet Union and Eastern Block shows that <i>"common"</i> property leads to
pollution and destruction of the resources also show a lack of awareness
of what common property actually is (it is no co-incidence that libertarian
capitalists use such an argument). This is because the resources in 
question were <b>not</b> owned or managed in common -- the fact that these
countries were dictatorships excludes popular control of resources. Thus
the Soviet Union does not, in fact, show the dangers of having <i>"commons."</i> 
Rather it shows the danger of not subjecting those who control a resource
to public control (and it is no co-incidence that the USA is far more
polluted than Western Europe -- in the USA, like in the USSR, the 
controllers of resources are not subject to popular control and so 
pass pollution on to the public). The Eastern block shows the danger
of state owned resource use rather than commonly owned resource use,
particularly when the state in question is not under even the limited
control of its subjects implied in representative democracy.
<p>
This confusion has, of course, been used to justify the stealing of
communal property by the rich and the state. The continued acceptance 
of this "confusion" in political debate is due to the utility of 
the theory for the rich and powerful, who have a vested interest in
undermining pre-capitalist social forms and stealing communal resources.
Therefore, most examples used to justify the <i>"tragedy of the commons"</i> 
are <b>false</b> examples, based on situations in which the underlying social
context is radically different from that involved in using true commons.
<p>
In reality, the <i>"tragedy of the commons"</i> comes about only after wealth and
private property, backed by the state, starts to eat into and destroy
communal life. This is well indicated by the fact that commons existed for
thousands of years and only disappeared after the rise of capitalism --
and the powerful central state it requires -- had eroded communal values
and traditions. Without the influence of wealth concentrations and the
state, people get together and come to agreements over how to use communal
resources, and have been doing so for millennia. That was how the commons
were managed, so <i>"the tragedy of the commons"</i> would be better called the
<i>"tragedy of private property."</i> Gerrard Winstanley, the Digger (and 
proto-anarchist), was only expressing a widespread popular sentiment 
when he complained that <i>"in Parishes where Commons lie the rich Norman 
Freeholders, or the new (more covetous) Gentry overstock the Commons with 
sheep and cattle, so that the inferior Tenants and poor labourers can 
hardly keep a cow but half starve her."</i> [quoted by Maurice Dobb, <b>Studies 
in the Development of Capitalism</b>, p. 173] Colin Ward points to a more 
recent example, that of Spain after the victory of Franco:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The water history of Spain demonstrates that the tragedy of the commons
is not the one identified by Garrett Hardin. Communal control developed
an elaborate and sophisticated system of fair shares for all. The
private property recommended by Hardin resulted in the selfish 
individualism that he thought was inevitable with common access,
or in the lofty indifference of the big landowners."</i> [Colin Ward,
<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 27]
</blockquote><p>
As E.P. Thompson notes in an extensive investigation on this subject, the
tragedy <i>"argument [is] that since resources held in common are not owned
and protected by anyone, there is an inexorable economic logic that dooms
them to over-exploitation. . . . Despite its common sense air, what it
overlooks is that commoners themselves were not without common sense. Over
time and over space the users of commons have developed a rich variety of
institutions and community sanctions which have effected restraints and
stints upon use. . . . As the old . . . institutions lapsed, so they fed
into a vacuum in which political influence, market forces, and popular
assertion contested with each other without common rules."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 107]
<p>
In practice, of course, both political influence and market forces 
are dominated by wealth -- <i>"There were two occasions that dictated
absolute precision: a trial at law and a process of enclosure. And
both occasions favoured those with power and purses against the 
little users."</i> Popular assertion means little when the state enforces 
property rights in the interests of the wealthy. Ultimately, <i>"Parliament 
and law imposed capitalist definitions to exclusive property in land."</i> 
[E.P. Thompson, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 134 and p. 163]
<p>
The working class is only <i>"left alone"</i> to starve. In practice, the
privatisation of communal land has led to massive ecological destruction,
while the possibilities of free discussion and agreement are destroyed in
the name of <i>"absolute"</i> property rights and the power and authority which
goes with them.
<p>
For more on this subject, try <b>The Question of the Commons</b>, Bonnie M.
McCoy and James M. Acheson (ed.), Tucson, 1987 and <b>The Evolution of
Co-operation</b> by Robert Axelrod, Basic Books, 1984. 
<p>
<a name="seci61"><h2>I.6.1 How can anarchists explain how the use of property <i>"owned by everyone in the world"</i> will be decided?</h2>
<p>
First, we need to point out the fallacy normally lying behind this
objection. It is assumed that because everyone owns something, that
everyone has to be consulted in what it is used for. This, however,
applies the logic of private property to non-capitalist social forms.
While it is true that everyone owns collective <i>"property"</i> in an anarchist
society, it does not mean that everyone <b>uses</b> it. Carlo Cafiero, one
of the founders of communist-anarchism, states the obvious:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The common wealth being scattered right across the planet, while
belonging by right to the whole of humanity, those who happen to
be within reach of that wealth and in a position to make use of it
will utilise it in common. The folk from a given country will use
the land, the machines, the workshops, the houses, etc., of that
country and they will all make common use of them. As part of
humanity, they will exercise here, in fact and directly, their
rights over a portion of mankind's wealth. But should an inhabitant
of Peking visit this country, he [or she] would enjoy the same
rights as the rest: in common with the others, he would enjoy
all the wealth of the country, just as he [or she] would have
in Peking."</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 1, p. 250]
</blockquote><p>
Anarchists, therefore, think that those who <b>use</b> a part of society's 
wealth have the most say in what happens to it (e.g. workers control 
the means of production they use and the work they do when using it). 
This does not mean that those using it can do what they like to it. 
Users would be subject to recall by local communities if they are 
abusing their position (for example, if a workplace was polluting the 
environment, then the local community could act to stop, or if need
be, close down the workplace). Thus use rights (or usufruct) replace 
property rights in a free society, combined with a strong dose of 
<i>"think globally, act locally."</i> 
<p>
It is no coincidence that societies that are stateless are also without 
private property. As Murray Bookchin points out <i>"an individual appropriation
of goods, a personal claim to tools, land, and other resources . . . is
fairly common in organic [i.e. aboriginal] societies. . . By the same
token, co-operative work and the sharing of resources on a scale that 
could be called communistic is also fairly common. . . But primary to
both of these seemingly contrasting relationships is the practice of
<b>usufruct.</b>"</i> [<b>The Ecology of Freedom</b>, p. 50]
<p>
Such stateless societies are based upon <i>"the principle of <b>usufruct</b>, the
freedom of individuals in a community to appropriate resources merely by
the virtue of the fact they are using them. . . Such resources belong to
the user as long as they are being used. Function, in effect, replaces
our hallowed concept of possession."</i> [Bookchin, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 50] 
The future stateless society anarchists hope for would also be based upon 
such a principle. In effect, critics of social anarchism confuse 
property with possession and think that abolishing property 
automatically abolishes possession and use rights. However, 
as argued in 
<a href="secB3.html">section B.3</a>, 
property and possession are distinctly 
different. In the words of Charlotte Wilson:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"<b>Property</b> is the <b>domination</b> of an individual, or a coalition of
individuals, over things; it is not the claim of any person or persons
to the use of things -- this is usufruct [or possession], a very
different matter. Property means the monopoly of wealth, the right
to prevent others using it, whether the owner needs it or not. Usufruct
implies the claim to the use of such wealth as supplies the user's
needs. If any individual shuts off a portion of it (which he is not
using, and does not need for his own use) from his fellows, he is
defrauding the whole community."</i> [<b>Three Essays on Anarchism</b>, p. 17]
</blockquote><p>
Thus an anarchist society has a simple and effective means of deciding
how communally owned resources are used, one based on possession and
usufruct. 
<p>
As for deciding what a given area of commons is used for, that falls 
to the local communities who live next to them. If, for example, a
local self-managed factory wants to expand and eat into the commons, 
then the local community who uses (and so controls) the local commons 
would discuss it and come to an agreement concerning it. If a minority 
<b>really</b> objects, they can use direct action to put their point across. 
But anarchists argue that rational debate among equals will not result 
in too much of that. Or suppose an individual wanted to set up an allotment
in a given area, which had not been allocated as a park. Then he or she
would notify the community assembly by appropriate means (e.g. on a notice
board or newspaper), and if no one objected at the next assembly or in a
set time-span, the allotment would go ahead, as no one else desired to use
the resource in question.
<p>
Other communities would be confederated with this one, and joint activity
would also be discussed by debate, with a community (like an individual)
being free <b>not</b> to associate if they so desire. Other communities could
and would object to ecologically and individually destructive practices.
The interrelationships of both ecosystems and freedom is well known, and
its doubtful that free individuals would sit back and let some amongst
them destroy <b>their</b> planet.
<p>
Therefore, those who use something control it. This means that <i>"users
groups"</i> would be created to manage resources used by more than one person.
For workplaces this would (essentially) be those who worked there (with,
possibly, the input of consumer groups and co-operatives). Housing
associations made up of tenants would manage housing  and repairs. 
Resources that are used by associations within society, such as communally
owned schools, workshops, computer networks, and so forth, would be
managed on a day-to-day basis by those who use them. User groups would
decide access rules (for example, time-tables and booking rules) and how
they are used, making repairs and improvements. Such groups would be
accountable to their local community. Hence, if that community thought
that any activities by a group within it was  destroying communal
resources or restricting access to them, the matter would be discussed 
at the relevant assembly. In this way, interested parties manage their 
own activities and the resources they use (and so would be very likely 
to have an interest in ensuring their proper and effective use), but
without private property and its resulting hierarchies and restrictions 
on freedom.
<p>
Lastly, let us examine clashes of use rights, i.e. cases where two or 
more people or communities/collectives desire to use the same resource. 
In general, such problems can be resolved by discussion and decision
making by those involved. This process would be roughly as follows: if
the contesting parties are reasonable, they would probably mutually agree
to allow their dispute to be settled by some mutual friend whose judgement
they could trust, or they would place it in the hands of a jury, randomly
selected from the community or communities in question. This would take
place if they could not come to an agreement between themselves to share
the resource in question. 
<p>
On thing is certain, however, such disputes are much better settled without
the interference of authority or the re-creation of private property. If
those involved do not take the sane course described above and instead
decide to set up a fixed authority, disaster will be the inevitable
result. In the first place, this authority will have to be given power to
enforce its judgement in such matters. If this happens, the new authority
will undoubtedly keep for itself the best of what is disputed, and allot
the rest to its friends! By re-introducing private property, such
authoritarian bodies would develop sooner, rather than later, with two 
new classes of oppressors being created -- the property owners and the
enforcers of <i>"justice."</i> 
<p>
It is a strange fallacy to suppose that two people who meet on terms of
equality and disagree could not be reasonable or just, or that a third
party with power backed up by violence will be the incarnation of justice
itself. Common sense should certainly warn us against such an illusion. 
Historical <i>"counterexamples"</i> to the claim that people meeting on terms of
equality cannot be reasonable or just are suspect, since the history of
disagreements with unjust or unreasonable outcomes (e.g. resulting in war)
generally involve conflicts between groups with unequal power and within
the context of private property and hierarchical institutions. 
<p>
And, we should note, it is equally as fallacious, as Leninists claim,
that only centralisation can ensure common access and common use. 
Centralisation, by removing control from the users into a body 
claiming to represent <i>"society"</i>, replaces the dangers of abuse
by a group of workers with the dangers of abuse by a bureaucracy
invested with power and authority over <b>all</b> workers. If rank and
file workers can abuse their position and restrict access for their
own benefit, so can the individuals gathered round a centralised
body (whether that body is, in theory, accountable by election or
not). Indeed, it is far more likely to occur. Thus <b>decentralisation</b>
is the key to common ownership and access, <b>not</b> centralisation.
<p>
Communal <i>"property"</i> needs communal structures in order to function. Use
rights, and discussion among equals, replace property rights in a free
society. Freedom cannot survive if it is caged behind laws enforced by
public or private states. 
<p>
<a name="seci62"><h2>I.6.2 Doesn't any form of communal ownership involve restricting individual liberty?</h2>
<p>
This point is expressed in many different forms. John Henry MacKay (an
individualist anarchist) puts the point as follows:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"'Would you [the social anarchist], in the system of society which you 
call 'free Communism' prevent individuals from exchanging their labour  
among themselves by means of their own medium of exchange? And further: 
Would you prevent them from occupying land for the purpose of personal 
use?' . . . [The] question was not to be escaped. If he answered 'Yes!' 
he admitted that society had the right of control over the individual and 
threw overboard the autonomy of the individual which he had always zealously
defended; if on the other hand he answered 'No!' he admitted  the right 
of private property which he had just denied so emphatically."</i> [<b>Patterns 
of Anarchy</b>, p. 31]
</blockquote><p>
However, as is clearly explained above and in sections 
<a href="secB3.html">B.3</a> and 
<a href="secI5.html#seci57">I.5.7</a>,
anarchist theory has a simple and clear answer to this question. To
see what this answer is it simply a case of remembering that use 
rights replace property rights in an anarchist society. In other words, 
individuals can exchange their labour as they see fit and occupy land 
for their own use. This in no way contradicts the abolition of private
property, because occupancy and use is directly opposed to private
property. Therefore, in a free communist society individuals can use 
land and such tools and equipment as they personally <i>"use and occupancy"</i> 
as they wish -- they do not have to join the free communist society. 
If they do not, however, they cannot place claims on the benefits 
others receive from co-operation and their communal life. 
<p>
This can be seen from Charlotte Wilson's discussions on anarchism
written a few years before MacKay published his <i>"inescapable"</i> 
question. Wilson argues that anarchism <i>"proposes . . . [t]hat 
usufruct of instruments of production -- land included -- should 
be free to all workers, or groups of workers"</i> and that <i>"the 
necessary connections between the various industries . . . 
should be managed on the . . . voluntary principle."</i> She 
asks the question: <i>"Does Anarchism . . . then . . . 
acknowledge . . . no personal property?"</i> She answers by 
noting that <i>"every man [or woman] is free to take what he 
[or she] requires"</i> and so <i>"it is hardly conceivable that
personal necessaries and conveniences will not be appropriated."</i> 
For <i>"[w]hen property is protected by no legal enactments,
backed by armed force, and is unable to buy personal 
service, its resuscitation on such a scale as to be
dangerous to society is little to be dreaded. The amount
appropriated by each individual . . . must be left to
his [or her] own conscience, and the pressure exercised
upon him [or her] by the moral sense and distinct
interests of his [or her] neighbours."</i> This is because:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"<b>Property</b> is the <b>domination</b> of an individual, or a 
coalition of individuals, over things; it is not the claim 
of any person or persons to the use of things -- this is, 
usufruct, a very different matter. Property means
the monopoly of wealth, the right to prevent others
using it, whether the owner needs it or not. Usufruct
implies the claim to the use of such wealth as supplies
the users needs. If any individual shuts of a portion of
it (which he is not using, and does not need for his
own use) from his fellows, he is defrauding the whole
community."</i> [<b>Anarchist Essays</b>, pp. 22-23 and p. 40]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, <b>possession</b> replaces private property in a 
free society. This applies to those who decide to join a free 
communist society and those who desire to remain outside. This 
is clear from Kropotkin's argument that an communist-anarchist 
revolution would leave self-employed artisans and peasants alone 
if they did not desire to join the free commune (see <b>Act for 
Yourselves</b>, pp. 104-5 and <b>The Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 61 and 
pp. 95-6). Thus the leading theorist of free communism did not 
think the occupying of land for personal use (or a house or the 
means of production) entailed the <i>"right of private property."</i> 
Obviously John Henry MacKay had not read his Proudhon!
<p>
This can be seen even clearer when Kropotkin argued that <i>"[a]ll 
things belong to all, and provided that men and women contribute 
their share of labour for the production of necessary objects, 
they are entitled to their share of all that is produced by the 
community at large."</i> [<b>The Place of Anarchism in Socialistic 
Evolution</b>, p. 6] He goes on to state that <i>"free Communism . . . 
places the products reaped or manufactured in common at the 
disposal of all, leaving to each the liberty to consume them 
as he [or she] pleases in his [or her] own home."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 7] This obviously implies a situation of <i>"occupancy and use"</i> 
(with those who are actually using a resource controlling it). 
<p>
This clearly means, as the biographers of Kropotkin noted,
that an Individualist Anarchist like Tucker (or MacKay) <i>"partly
misinterprets"</i> Kropotkin when he <i>"suggests that [Kropotkin's]
idea of communal organisation would <b>prevent</b> the individual
from working on his [or her] own if he wished (a fact which
Kropotkin always explicitly denied, since the basis of his
theory was the voluntary principle)."</i> [G. Woodcock and I.
Avakumovic, <b>The Anarchist Prince</b>, p. 280]
<p>
Thus the case of the non-member of free communism is clear -- they 
would also consume what they have produced or exchanged with others 
in their own home (i.e. land used for their own <i>"personal use"</i>). The 
land and resources do <b>not,</b> however, become private property simply 
because they revert back into common ownership once they are no longer 
<i>"occupied and used."</i> In other words, <b>possession</b> replaces <b>property.</b> 
Thus communist-anarchists agree with Individualist Anarchist John 
Beverley Robinson when he wrote:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"There are two kinds of land ownership, proprietorship or property, by
which the owner is absolute lord of the land to use it or hold it out
of use, as it may please him; and possession, by which he is secure in
the tenure of land which he uses and occupies, but has no claim on it
at all if he ceases to use it. For the secure possession of his crops
or buildings or other products, he needs nothing but the possession
of the land he uses."</i> [<b>Patterns of Anarchy</b>, p. 273]
</blockquote><p>
This system, we must note, was used in the rural collectives during the
Spanish Revolution, with people free to remain outside the collective
working only as much land and equipment as they could <i>"occupy and use"</i> 
by their own labour. Similarly, the individuals within the collective
worked in common and took what they needed from the communal stores.
See Gaston Leval's <b>Collectives in the Spanish Revolution</b> for details
(and <a href="secI8.html">section I.8</a>). 
<p>
Mackay's comments raise another interesting point. Given that Individualist
Anarchists oppose the current system of private property in land, <b>their</b>
system entails that <i>"society ha[s] the right of control over the individual."</i> 
If we look at the <i>"occupancy and use"</i> land system favoured by the likes
of Tucker, we discover that it is based on restricting property in land
(and so the owners of land). Tucker argued that if <i>"the Anarchistic view"</i> 
of <i>"occupancy and use"</i> would prevail then any defence associations would
not protect anyone in the possession of more than they could personally
use, nor would they force tenants to pay rent to landlords of housing.
[<b>The Individualist Anarchists</b>, pp. 159-62] Thus the <i>"prevailing view"</i>, 
i.e. society, would limit the amount of land which individuals could
acquire, controlling their actions and violating their autonomy. Which,
we must say, is not surprising as individualism requires the supremacy
of the rest of society over the individual in terms of rules relating
to the ownership and use of possessions (or <i>"property"</i>) -- as the
Individualist Anarchists themselves implicitly acknowledge, as can 
be seen.
<p>
John Henry MacKay goes on to state that <i>"every serious man must declare
himself: for Socialism, and thereby for force and against liberty, or for
Anarchism, and thereby for liberty and against force."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 32]
Which, we must note, is a strange statement, as individualist anarchists 
like Benjamin Tucker considered themselves socialists and opposed 
capitalist private property (while, confusingly, many of them calling 
their system of possession <i>"property"</i> -- see 
<a href="secG2.html#secg22">section G.2.2</a>).
<p>
However, MacKay's statement begs the question, does private property 
support liberty?  He does not address or even acknowledge the fact that 
private property will inevitably lead to the owners of such property 
gaining control over the individuals who use, but do not own, that
property and so denying them liberty (see 
<a href="secB4.html">section B.4</a>). As Proudhon
argued:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The purchaser draws boundaries, fences himself in, and says, 'This
is mine; each one by himself, each one for himself.' Here, then, is
a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one has right to step,
save the proprietor and his friends; which can benefit nobody, save
the proprietor and his servants. Let these multiply, and soon the
people . . . will have nowhere to rest, no place of shelter, no
ground to till. They will die of hunger at the proprietor's door,
on the edge of that property which was their birth-right; and the
proprietor, watching them die, will exclaim, 'So perish idlers
and vagrants.'"</i> [<b>What is Property?</b>, p. 118]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, the non-owner can gain access to the property by selling
their liberty to the property-owner, by agreeing to submit to the owners
authority. Little wonder that Proudhon argued that the <i>"second effect
of property is despotism."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 259] Moreover, given that
Tucker argued that the state was <i>"the assumption of sole authority
over a given area and all within it"</i> we can see that MacKay's argument
ignores the negative aspects of property and its similarity with the
state [<b>The Individualist Anarchists</b>, p. 24]. After all, MacKay would 
be the first to argue that the property owner must be sovereign of 
their property (and not subject to any form of control). In other 
words, the property owner must assume sole authority over the given 
area they own and all within it. Little wonder Emile Pouget, echoing
Proudhon, argued that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Property and authority are merely differing manifestations and
expressions of one and the same 'principle' which boils down to
the enforcement and enshrinement of the servitude of man. 
Consequently, the only difference between them is one of vantage
point: viewed from one angle, slavery appears as a <b>property
crime</b>, whereas, viewed from a different angle, it constitutes
an <b>authority crime.</b>"</i> [<b>No Gods, No Masters</b>, vol. 2, p. 66]
</blockquote><p>
Neither does MacKay address the fact that private property requires 
extensive force (i.e. a state) to protect it against those who use it 
or could use it but do not own it.
<p>
In other words, MacKay ignores two important aspects of private property.
Firstly, that private property is based upon force, which must be used
to ensure the owner's right to exclude others (the main reason for the
existence of the state). And secondly, he ignores the anti-libertarian
nature of <i>"property"</i> when it creates wage labour -- the other side of 
<i>"private property"</i> -- in which the liberty of employees is obviously 
restricted by the owners whose property they are hired to use. Unlike
in a free communist society, in which members of a commune have equal
rights, power and say within a self-managed association, under <i>"private 
property"</i> the owner of the property governs those who use it. When the 
owner and the user is identical, this is not a problem (i.e. when 
possession replaces property) but once possession becomes property 
then despotism, as Proudhon noted, is created. 
<p>
Therefore, it seems that in the name of <i>"liberty"</i> John MacKay and 
a host of other <i>"individualists"</i> end up supporting authority and 
(effectively) some kind of state. This is hardly surprising as 
private property is the opposite of personal possession, not its 
base.
<p>
Therefore, far from communal property restricting individual liberty 
(or even personal use of resources) it is in fact its only defence.
<p>
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