Works mentioned:, F. Engels The Origins of Family, Private Property and the State, E. Fromm The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness Read my essays and poems: If you want to support me: For a one time donation, you can use Ko Fi:
12M I’m with you that Engels analysis on prehistoric families is pretty off. Ethnographic studies have found examples of monogamy, polygyny, and polyandry all over the world, so it feels more like family structure used to vary heavily based on local conditions. That said, we can look at Manchuria or the Iroquois Confederacy to see examples of cultures that were matrilineal until fairly recently and the effect patriarchy had on the diminishing of women’s freedoms and public voices in these regions. Patriarchy almost always seems to coincide with imperialist colonization.

And I agree about the Ego thing. As someone who’s poly the thing that I find most frustrating about people is ego and possessiveness not just of things but of people. If I am able to think “this person is mine” then it’s not difficult to think things like “I deserve the things I appropriate from others ‘in my care’.” Suddenly opportunity hoarding doesn’t feel like an ethical conflict and feudal households start to take shape.


Do you have any recommendations for more current ethnographic studies? I found Fromm’s recounting of the Çatalhöyük findings to be enlightening.


Haven’t watched this video, but i did want to ask what folks here think of the concept of property. I believe in it to the degree that the things that are mine are mine and my responsibility. I do have a friend who is a self proclaimed communist who has stolen my car in the past because he didn’t get up in time for a new job and didn’t think i would care, but i do think his actions were influenced by his opinions on property. I had another acquaintance long ago who insisted she be allowed to stay in a roommates bed even though they did not want that (out of town) and claimed that i had an “overly western view on ownership.” I am Asian American, so this nutty white lady saying that made me feel quite disgusted. Anyways, wow, bad old memories. What do any of the communists here think of that? Are those actions and thoughts justified, or was it wrong to steal my car and my friends bed?


People tend to misuse philosophical and legal terms pretty often, like free speech being used as a shield from criticism or ‘it’s a free country’ when talking about trespassing, etc. Private property in communist terms refers to public goods (land, rivers, bodies of water, geological formations, animal habitats, etc.) which have been enclosed by private interests such that individuals no longer have access to the natural resources of the land unless they sell their labor. We call people who enclose the Commons the bourgeoise. You can learn more about this in Proudhon’s What is Property?.

A good example of this is the Manifest Destiny of North America, as it happened very recently and involves millions of government records going back to the 16th century. Native Americans had fairly advanced societies that managed to operate while preserving the Commons. Mississippian culture and its adjacent relatives covered nearly half of what we now call the US, and they managed the land quite heavily with fire-managed hunting grounds, oak savannas, maize farms, fisheries, earthworks, and a large network of roads and canoe routes. All of these things were held in common, meaning entire tribes were expected to manage the upkeep of these resources as a collective and as long as no one took too much conflict was negligible.

When the United States was established, they immediately declared war on Native Americans, surveyed the land and divided it into subdivisions for private sale according to the Public Land Survey System. Under this system the distribution of wealth among settlers was psuedo-random (ie. occasionally impoverished farmers profited from oil/mineral rights but usually got driven off by bigger fish), but with a weight toward the wealthy class who could accumulate entire regions through speculation or preying on people who defaulted on their loans. We can also see this in modern Iraq with the expropriation of oil fields by western companies (with the income, wages, and profits being funneled out of the country by western contractors), when the land was previously managed directly by the Iraqi government with profits going toward public infrastructure and administration.

Basically, the phrase we normally use is “we’re not coming after your toothbrush”. Soviet citizens didn’t own their homes, but they had a legal right to a home for basically free, and the state painstakingly ensured that construction of housing kept up with population growth. Similarly, in Vietnam after the war, all citizens were guaranteed a plot of land from the state that was theirs to use for as long as they lived. To this day China and Vietnam have extremely high home ownership rates and low rates of homelessness. And not only did Russians own cars but even many North Koreans now own cars. Socialism isn’t meant to make people destitute or into hippie colonies who all share one bed. It’s about preventing people who hoard from parasitizing the rest of society for their own bloated sense of self-worth.


Thanks, that’s a nicely detailed response. This country needs some big changes now in regards to all of the above.

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