ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Monday Monday — THE FUTURE OF PROPERTY

The Future of Property Among most tribal societies private property does not exist, other than a few utensils and weapons. Everything belongs to the tribe or the group or the society to which the group belong. With the growth of civilisation and national identity much private property developed, with wars and conquest create classes that owned property, land, houses and other things. With feudalism this developed into a complicated class system with strata of ownership, tenant ship, serfdom, and of course conquest created slavery, which still exists in various forms today. Capitalism brought with it the ownership of factories, businesses and the exploitation of the poor and the masses in the exchange for work, and property was associated with wealth as well as land. But wealth is difficult to define as it can take so many forms, some portable, some not. In our time a great change is taking place, which is only dimly realised. The ownership of a place to live has become the criterion of belonging to the middle class, and of many places to live or of saleable landed property of belonging to the ruling class. The Conservative Party, especially under Margaret Thatcher and her equivalents in other countries, have uses the ownership of land and houses to attract enough votes to keep them in power most of the time, while landed property has become the most trusted security to most people. Socialism, communism and other systems that have occasionally emerged through democracy, upheavals, revolutions, and wars etc, have occasionally changed the concept of property into a more equitable system, but never for long. Sooner or later there has come a grab to enable property to get back into fewer hands. What was once nationalised, transport methods, public utilities, hospitals, some industries, educational institutions have all been sold off, including public housing above all, to enable a few to get rich again. The world depression which is now deepening, is rapidly transferring ever more private property, acquired through mortgage, saving or some lucky gamble or investment, back into the hands of global capitalists. If a greater need than shelter arises you are forced to sell. This has been happening even in some of the most fortunate places in the world, such as California, where thousands, perhaps soon millions, will have lost their homes in order to live in cars, then on the streets, because of a short-lived boom that they did not understand that soon ruined them. As this trend continues and gets worse, a few will get much richer and the many so poor—with all social programmes and basic affordable amenities disappearing—that the choice will be either starvation and death, perhaps bare survival under total exploitation, or else revolution to overthrow the whole of society, followed by a fascist or a collectivist totalitarian dictatorship. Our idea of a property-owning democracy is already on the way out. No-one can predict what is likely to happen next, but it will not be pleasant. It is obvious enough that our elected representatives not only do not understand what is happening, but that they have no idea of what to do next. Events will overtake them. In the meantime, ferment is building up of conflicting ideologies, ethnic, racial, religious, economic, and class-cultural. Demonstrations are getting more violent. Selfishness is so deeply-engrained in those who have, that no thought is given to those who have not. When realisation does come, it will be too late. A new movement is needed to tell us the reality of the world and to living intelligent leaders to control and create a new mass-movement. Otherwise 2011 will be a historical year more horrible than we have known perhaps ever. John Calder 8/2/2011