In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a dystopian fiction novel, she describes a Communist society organized by a centralized bureaucracy called the World Council of Scholars. Children are raised collectively by the whole society and not their biological parents. These children are not given names, but rather numbers – the protagonist is referred to as Equality 7-2521. Roles are assigned to them once they become adults and they are expected to fulfill these economic roles. There is no concept of salary though; equal communal living arrangements (housing and food) are provided for everybody by the World Council. The workers are also fully expected to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the collective, if necessary.
Ayn Rand may have been describing a well-functioning colony of ants or bees. E.O.Wilson, the famous sociobiologist, once quipped: “Marx was right; he just had the wrong species”. He was referring to the fact that eusocial animals with reproductive division of labour like ants and bees exhibit traits remarkably similar to communist societies.
In eusocial species, brood care responsibilities are shared by the entire hive. Since the workers are infertile, there is no need for any genetic competition between them; they can all work together with communal ownership of resources. Since the workers are clones, there are no distinctions between them. The worker bees work as a collective to serve the Queen, who is their genetic clone sister capable of reproduction. Worker roles are typically assigned by the Queen at birth (based on dietery differences in feed to the larvae). And the workers often sacrifice their lives (they are infertile, their lives don’t mean much) for the sake of the hive.
Humans, unlike bees, are a parasocial species (but not solitary like some members of the cat family). We live together in a shared community and there is inter-adult male cooperation but we are not wired for communal child-rearing. We are genetically different and fertile, which means that there will be competition among us resulting in economic inequalities. But, being social creatures, we also trade and cooperate with one another.
The notion of property rights also seems to be genetically determined. Children often make distinctions such as “this toy is mine and that is yours!”. When a child’s toy is stolen, it creates an emotional outburst. Property rights are not a social construct; Adults often have to teach children to share. That implies that sharing is the social construct and property rights are genetic.
Successful farming and dairy collectives are in existence, but they are typically family owned affairs with genetically related members. The Free Market does not impose corporate structures; it gives participants the freedom to organize their enterprises any way they want. Organizing an enterprise as a collective would require a very high degree of trust among the members and such collectives do not scale well; enterprises organized as corporations scale up more easily. This implies that the social construct called ‘sharing’ only works in genetically related, small scale units.
One of the primary corollaries of Natural Law is that the legal constructs used to govern a species must closely match the intrinsic nature of that species. All mismatches between the legal constructs used for governance and the intrinsic nature of that species create social tension and disharmony, eventually leading to violence.
When property rights are not legislatively mandated, societies remain poor and dysfunctional. When Pol Pot attempted to raise children in a communal basis, parents protested, eventually leading to a mass genocide. The Free Market, which allows competition but also trade and cooperation, is easily the best way to organize human economies.
But, process patents seems to be unnatural. Children often copy one another in sports. A child who develops a better strategy to play a game might attempt to keep that strategy secret. But, if another child manages to figure it out and copy that strategy, it is accepted as a natural consequence and is not a source of any emotional outburst. I believe that removing process patents altogether will actually make us more prosperous. Companies can keep their best practices as a secret if they can, but they should not be suing one another if their strategies are copied. Process patents will just result in making lawyers richer and consumers poorer.
You can read the original at my blog here: http://humancivilizations.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/humans-have-been...
"I would also comment that even chimps, when given food or tools, will naturally trade with other chimps, even for sex. " - Yes, I knew this point already but I didn't include it in my post because I was worried that people might get offended when I compare humans to chimps. A lot of people call me a racist when I point out such similarities. PC gone mad.
"Children must be taught to share as a part of socialization and learning to be part of a group. When we are born we know nothing of the world except our experience." - I've read in a paper recently on the evolution of cooperation, that human children are inherently quite good at sharing compared with other species. This is seen as something hardwired into the human genome as a result of our evolutionary past, when we had to cooperate and share in small groups in order to survive.
A baby spends several months at its mother's breast as an extension of her (and cognitively is still a part of her. As the child develops and the brain develops the mind expands to start learning that it (he or she) is separate from the mother. This is when we start learning about boundaries.
That is a profound statement, and there is more. Infants and children also need connections to others in the community. "The community" that was shaped by evolution was much different from the community that's shaped today by culture. Back before civilization, a child's social environment was communal, with relationships and love of family, other families, and elders. Families and neighbors were not isolated from each other, as we are today.
Today, the most social relationships (and rivalries) are developed in classrooms, with kids of the same age, all competing to be popular and "fit in" to current fads and mainstream, whatever it is perceived (or said) to be at the time. In other words, separated from our evolutionary roots, we are constantly shaping children in an artificial environment, created not for the purpose of group survival, but for the purpose of competition and/or sense of individual goals.
I'm not saying "artificial" is necessarily bad. I'm saying that modern culture and institutions have rarely been a direct result of our "intrinsic" or genetic character. (Back to what Belle's saying, hell, even breastfeeding in public has recently been a forbidden option for mothers! Wtf?)
"NO, property rights became a necessity when agrigulture and farming became the norm. There is nothing "genetic" about it." - Property rights revolve around scarce, important resources. Land become important after farming, so property of land evolved after that. But, even before, we exhibited property rights around other goods - animal hides, combs, spears etc.
When property rights are not legislatively mandated, societies remain poor and dysfunctional.
What was poor and dysfunctional about Native American society? Didn't it become poor and dysfunctional with the arrival of the Europeans? And who should decide whether another society is poor and/or dysfunctional? Do we decide or do they? You talk about poverty and social functionality as though God handed them down as finished and eternal concepts.
When Pol Potnattempted to raise children in a communal basis, parents protested, eventually leading to a mass genocide.
Pissed off parents caused the Cambodian genocide? That's a new one. Can you actually document that?
The Free Market, which allows competition but also trade and cooperation, is easily the best way to organize human economies.
That's a very Euro-centric view. I find it attractive, but it's also clearly just an opinion and not a fact.
Imagine a society without property rights. Let your imagination run wild - what do you see? An utopia or a hellhole? I see something out of the last Dark Knight movie.
I see Marxist scumbags 'occupying' my house and claiming that it is only 'fair' that they do so because they have been oppressed and I am the oppressor. The same will happen everywhere to everyone who is unable to defend themselves and their family.
"What was poor and dysfunctional about Native American society?" - Why do you assume Native Americans did not have property rights? They may not have valued land as property. Property rights revolve around scarce, valuable resources. Native Americans may not have valued land, but they would have valued other goods and such valued goods would have come under the domain of private property rights.
Ayn Rand was a hackish writer of incredibly poor quality fiction that was little more than parables promoting a particular type of psychopathic behavior. While the Communist society described in Anthem is intended to horrify any member of a modern industrial society, Well documented social structures have and continue to exist with no concept of property.
Just as Sigmund Freud tried to prove that all human behavior is motivated by sex, E.O. Wilson tried in a similar fashion to prove the idea of individual ownership ( property rights, capitalism) as the prime motivator. But Wilson's specialty was the study of ants.
The rationalization to the claim that ownership is a genetic trait shows a lack of knowledge of developmental psychology. It can be argued that property rights concepts are entirely learned, based on less convoluted reasoning
Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism are ideologies concerned with property rights and the extraction of rents, the main difference being in who gets the benefits of those rents.
Well documented social structures have and continue to exist with no concept of property.
Let's assume for a moment that what you say is true. It would seem that a lack of a concept of property doesn't make a society better or lend it any degree of survival value, If there are such societies, are they represented in the world economy? What countries in the UN have no concept of property?
While Ayn Rand is an easy target, there are some great advantages to having the concept of property:
Recognized private property rights provide the legal certainty necessary for individuals to commit resources to ventures. The threat of confiscation, by either private individuals or public officials, undermines confidence in market activity and limits investment possibilities.
Clear property rights tend to make decision makers pay close attention to resource use and the discounted value of the future employment of scarce resources. Absent private property rights, economic actors will tend to be short-sighted in their decision making and not conserve resources over time.
Property rights are the basis of exchange and the extension of ownership to capital goods provides the basis for the development of financial markets that are essential for economic growth and development.
Secure private property rights, as indicated in the above quote by Thomas Jefferson, is the basis for limited and civilized government. The elimination of arbitrary confiscation and the establishment of regular taxation at announced rates enables merchants to calculate the present value of investment decisions and pass judgment on alternative allocations of capital. (source)
Property rights would seem to be a basic necessity for a civilization.
I don't want to shake your confidence in what you just wrote by doing what I am about to do, but:
Real Estate Property Rights make no sense for a nomadic people, yet I would say they had a civilization.