Hence if we are disinclined here to speak of ownership as shared between consumers and owners of the means of production, we should have to regard consumers as the true owners in the natural sense and describe those who are considered as the owners in the legal sense as administrators of other people's property. This, however, would take us too far from the accepted meaning of the words.
No, actually, it'd be way too far from sense, Horace's ditties notwithstanding.
To avoid misinterpretation it is desirable to manage as far as possible without new words and never to employ, in an entirely different sense, words habitually accepted as conveying a particular idea. Therefore, renouncing any particular terminology, let us only stress once more that the essence of the ownership of the means of production in a society which divides labour differs from that found where the division of labour does not take place; and that it differs essentially from the ownership of consumption goods in any economic order.
The "division of labour" fixation amounts to a distinction without a difference. It is proposed that if I employ Cindy, Mary and Suzanne to make me a soup, a steak and a salad then it's quite different whether it's all organised so Cindy makes the soup, Mary the steak and Suzanne the salad as opposed to Cindy cutting the veggies for the soup, steak and salad, Mary handling the sauces and seasonings for soup, steak and salad and Suzanne handling the pots and stove for soup, steak and salad. This is rank nonsense, a girl looking to grow fat through her work in the kitchen will grow just as fat in either circumstance, whether with or without "division of labour".
In point of fact, a situation without division of labour can't even exist, nor has it ever existed outside of the didactic imagination, much in the way spherical cows inhabiting vacuums "exist". Inasmuch no person is god, to have whole and complete everything, all human agency always was and always will remain an exercise in division of labour. To propose that this perpetual and universal state somehow introduces a change and justifies a departure from the natural concept of property is not really unlike pretending cheese henceforth means Brie because the Sun is now yellow.
The physical having of economic goods, which economically considered constitutes the essence of natural ownership, can only be conceived as having originated through Occupation. Since ownership is not a fact independent of the will and action of man, it is impossible to see how it could have begun except with the appropriation of ownerless goods.
Supposing at some point Ludwig von Mises had a mother, which is altogether possible, one would be curious to know, as a mental experiment, how did this mother come to her son, Ludwig. Certainly it could not be the case she popped him into existence out of her very flesh one day, so it remains as certainty that she simply found him at some point, floating in the void, motherless, and took him in.
Also, this article you are now reading. Do not heretically imagine that it was produced, out of nothing, by my hands and mind. In point of fact, I was merely shuffling through discarded bits of paper and trying to stuff them into the holes in my computer when suddenly my screen blinked colors and then my server was updated. Lucky me that I found such a great article in the garbage.
What idiocy is this !? Obviously ownerless goods may be appropriated by any with the faculty of owning. This is a trivial and mostly irrelevant subset of Creationi. If I were to be the first man, and I were to move into the first cave it is hardly the case that I have "occupied" a cave. What happened there is that I have created the cave as it shall henceforth be used from the barren and useless cave such as it had aforehand existed in nature. Simple physical identity between these two is exactly irrelevant in the discussion.
To better understand this point, consider the case of a bunch of cats. A pile of meat placed in their environment is by and of itself a pile of garbage, it will rot away ignored. It is not until the time the first cat goes and sniffs it, and then tries it, and then eats it that the meat-as-garbage becomes meat-as-catfood, and the others may now eat it by copying the original, entrepreneurial, exploratory cat. Which original, entrepreneurial, exploratory cat took a risk to its life, and so is certainly not obtaining any sort of "undeserved" or "unethical" benefits.ii
All ownership derives from occupation and violence. When we consider the natural components of goods, apart from the labour components they contain, and when we follow the legal title back, we must necessarily arrive at a point where this title originated in the appropriation of goods accessible to all.
This goes right back to the earlier misrepresentation of the nature of entrepreneurship, and the confusion between entrepreneur and manager. While it's true that many acts of creation include goods accessible to all, that part is hardly the relevant point of the discussion. For instance this article includes parts accessible to all (such as the letters of the alphabet, and such as the matter of the original article being discussed, which has sat sterile and inert for decades until I happened to bother and put my hands on it). So what of it ?
Indeed all life on earth derives from violence, in that the woman shall have to be impregnated in order for there to even be a species. So what of it ? What the author is proposing is akin to saying all life on earth derives from chemistry : it is a banal statement, and for any consideration of economy of the sort we're engaged in it is quite irrelevant. It certainly can't be used to propose all life is a matchstick.———
- Mostly brought to the fore of discussion by the tiresome fixation of marxists on the point, as they imagined it somehow can be used to enact the imaginary ethical superiority of their braindamaged scheme through maligning the quite monolithical, actual ethical superiority of the natural approach. Supposedly if a case where Creation could be argued to reduce to Occupation could be shown to have perhaps theoretically existed (such as through the "we can't imagine anything else so therefore this is what must have happened" fallacy) then it follows that all Creation is Occupation and therefore it is illegitimate and so let's send a hundred million people to their pointless deaths and cause no end of trouble. [↩]
- If you're curious, the tendency of small children to stick everything in their mouths is actually quite a selected, socially useful trait. You see, in the old days human troops had to explore their surroundings, as they had no idea what's what. So, while the adult men hunted, the adult women gathered, children in tow. The way the women gathered, of course, could be called "copy/paste" : they'd get the things they knew worked, because they'd have "always" done it that way. Like people do, like society works. Their children however, bereft of this ability and without culture, simply stuck anything available into their mouths. This often resulted in their untimely death, but occasionally resulted in a discovery of new edibles, which was valuable to the entire group. Since the cost of such discovery was the all too common death of the entrepreneurial member, it was actually more efficient for children to be doing the research, because a child costs much less to replace than an adult (very little has changed hence). And so the tribes where children stuck everything in their mouth won out over the tribes where they didn't, and both won out over the tribes where adults stuck things in their mouth, and so you're stuck today with kids slobbering all over your laptop charger. Maybe it's good to eat, who's to know ? [↩]