Among the ideas that are commonly debated in our modern society, there is the idea of wealth redistribution, an idea that is largely associated with liberals and liberalism. Its essential definition is the transferring of wealth from one part of society to another, after the in-place rules of economics have given wealth to one member or another. One of the primary methods that wealth redistribution is enacted is through heavy taxing of the rich, and in turn using that taxes to fund programs such as college funds, better schools, improved social security, among other social programs, so that the taxes of the rich go to the poorer parts of society in a more equitable way. Those who support wealth redistribution also support other things such as raising the minimum wage laws, increasing health care, decreasing the work week, and other things that would otherwise aid the working class and eliminate poverty. However, these progressive reforms that are being implemented into our system, as much as they seem to take hold, poverty, crime, and unemployment still manage to exist and infect millions of lives. And, even beyond this, these progressive reforms are highly criticized by conservatives as being destructive to the economy and antithetic towards ideals of justice. Not only are these progressive reforms ineffective, conservatives argue, but they violate the rights and liberties of people — particularly, they violate the right to property of the people. The property rights of the people as they exist today I shall call property relations.
I am not going to make my views or opinions a mystery here. I firmly hold to the belief that wealth redistribution is, in fact, ineffective. The most effective method of preventing poverty, unemployment, and misery is by reorganizing and rearranging society so that the public is in ownership of the means of production. That is to say, the farms that harvest the food, the mines that bring up the metal ore, the factories that manufacture the products, the stores that distribute the goods, and the vehicles that transport the value created by society, all of these things should be owned publicly. Just as public as the roads, the railroads, the highways, the utility (water and electricity) companies, and parks are publicly owned, so shall the means of production be owned by the public. Regulation may be largely ineffective, but no regulation at all simply allows for so much poverty and misery to flow through. While a bureaucracy might pose as a hurdle to the economy, a completely free market economy may be viewed as a wall that reaches to the heavens, impassable by those who love justice and freedom. It is only by an ownership of the means of production by the public that the ills of a Capitalist society can be remedied. It would require a complete revolution of the property relations as they exist.
“But it is unjust!” is the first cry uttered. The idea that property can be taken away from the Capitalist class, who has worked so hard and so diligently to produce the wealth that they have amassed, is almost seen as theft. If we were to take the wealth of corporations, and put it under the control of the people, we would be violating the property relations of society! There is no doubt to this, as it is my intention to revolutionize the property relations of society. However, there is still the cry that what we are doing is unjust, what we are doing is immoral, what we are doing violates a higher, ethical principle. Some people honestly believe that the words “Laissez Faire” truly exist on some stone tablet in heaven (an opinion which I must admit is quite frightening). “Why should anybody have the right to touch the property of anyone else?” it is asked of us, “Why should the people have any right to touch, to manipulate, to control, to operate, or to possess the means of production, which is the legal property of investors and entrepreneurs today?” These questions, I shall here answer.
2 – Serf to Lord
Prior to the rise of Capitalism and free trade, the belief that individuals are allowed to trade their commodities and goods with minimal restriction, there was the system of Feudalism, or what most historians regard as Manorialism. Feudalism was a term adopted by the French revolutionaries to classify those they opposed. It was believed in that day that serfs belonged to the land, and the land belonged to a vassal and a lord, who in turn had to face others in the hierarchy. The difference between a slave and a serf was not all that enormous. However, the brutality that was displayed against slaves in the Americas was probably much more common than the brutality given towards the serfs. The serfs, while they were considered to a large extent the property of their lords, were still somewhat free. Food was more common and work was not, to my understanding, as brutish as it would be for the African slaves. It is believed by most historians that the system of Feudalism (or Manorialism) arose after the fall of the Roman Empire, with slaves living on large estates with their masters. These were the property relations of this feudal society.