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Redefining Property

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I have been reading a book from Uwe Wesel, Der Mythos vom Matriarchat: Über Bachofens Mutterrecht und den Stellung von Frauen in frühen Gesellschaften (The Myth of Matriarchy, About Bachofen's Mother Rule and the Position of Women in Previous Societies). The book is thin but it summarizes anthropological findings from Bachofens, Richard Evans, and Engels, among others.

So, what is the relationship between Property, Family, the State and Matriarchy?

This question has been answered by Engels in his book The Origin of the Family:

Engels' ideas on the role of property in the creation of the modern family and as such modern civilization begin to become more transparent in the latter part of Chapter 2 as he begins to elaborate on the question of the monogamous relationship and the freedom to enter into (or refuse) such a relationship. Bourgeois law dictates the rules for relationships and inheritances. As such, two partners, even when their marriage is not arranged, will always have the preservation of inheritance in mind and as such will never be entirely free to choose their partner. For Engels, a relationship based on property rights and forced monogamy will only lead to the proliferation of immorality and prostitution. (Wikipedia Summary)

Ill try to simplify...

During the early Stone Age, people hunt and collect food in the wilderness. Man hunt for animals, women collects fruits and leaves. Some anthropologist said that Men collect 20 per cent of daily nutrition and Women collects 80 per cent. The relationship between women and men are equal, no one is superior.

And then the food become scarce. Along with food scarcity people began to invent new tools. Some migrated and formed an entirely new societies. The Age is then turned into the New Stone Age. In this newly sophisticated societies people begin farming and domesticating animals (using the tools they have invented). Now this is exactly where the concept of property begins. They begin to define whats belong to them and whats not. They begin to create land boundaries. They began to create structure and create customs of patriarchy -- of course -- with the purpose of not letting family inheritance outside their clan. The society is becoming even more complex. They need leadership, they need law, they need a state. So, they creates Kindom. The Sumerian kingdom is one of the very first state in the world.

So thats how men begins to rule the world. But, Wesel also mentioned other example. There are societies which are closely related with the early savage people, societies which are not ruled by men. These are the Iroquis, The Minoans in Crete and the Egypts. I dont know much about the Iroquis but what I know for sure is that the Gods of the Minoans are females and so does some of the God of the Egyptians, Isis. Interestingly, ancient scholars noted that in these societies where women commands, there is a fair distribution of properties. The Minoans does not recognized money. The result of their harvest do not go to market, but is collected at the palace and is divided. It is also said that the same thing happens in Egypt. Palace is the central of goods distribution.

My question is, could there be any relationship between women rules and the concept of property? To me the answers are still unclear.

The study of property is important in finding the real properietary nature of molecular nanotechnology. In my previous post, I have suggested that Molecular Nanotechnology should be declared a Common Heritage of Mankind. From Aristotelian conception, anything can be subjected to property as long as it has a Telos, or, as long as it has a purpose.

Aristotle in his Politeia said:

For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual

That is known as the "Tragedy of the commons". Garret Hardin concludes that mankind are somewhat individualistic. Chaos could be the result when all goods are made "common" to everyone. This justifies "property", as regulated by law. However, this does not apply in an infinite world. In a world where every goods can be obtainable for free, there will be no such tragedy. Post MNT society is exactly this kind of society. Goods are a matter of information and information can be available for everyone, for free. So, property in an MNT society would serve no more Telos....