Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual by Dick Pels

By Dick Pels

Estate and tool practice a key function in social and political theories of sophistication inequality and social stratification, besides the fact that, theorists have not begun essentially to outline those innovations, their mutual limitations and scopes of software. This booklet solutions the property/power puzzle via venture a huge old inquiry into its highbrow origins and present-day results via a sequence of case reviews, including:

Marxism vs. anarchism

* the fascist statement of the primacy of the political

* social technological know-how as energy theory

* the managerial revolution

* the information society and the recent highbrow sessions

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A Jamaican slavery act of 1674 simply identified bondslaves with goods and chattels. Slaves were their master’s slaves in the literal possessory sense, items of property whose legal personality was entirely absorbed in their master’s own. In the great debate on slavery in nineteenth-century America, Southerners therefore argued that interference with slavery was interference with property, and that abolitionists should hence be combated as a dangerous breed of socialists. The abolitionists countered that men were born free and equal, and that natural law clearly forbade turning men into property.

In this fashion, property and civil society turned into euphemistic substitutes or sublimated self-designations of the aspiring bourgeoisie itself, or more specifically, of its intellectual and political spokesmen (cf. Keane 1988:65). THREE DIMENSIONS OF DIFFERENCE Residues of this liberal heritage are still with us today. In common parlance and in many technical theories a categorical split is retained between the logics of power and property, which is often taken for granted as expressive of a natural cleavage or dichotomous articulation of the real world itself.

This great divide emerged both in materialist theories such as Locke’s, who affirmed that rightful property resulted from the mixing of an individual’s labour with unclaimed nature, and in idealist theories such as propounded by Kant or Hegel, who saw property as originating from a subjective act of individual appropriation, and thus as an extension of individual personality over part of the material world. Pocock recalls that this distinction between persons and things increasingly gained in prominence, and that property, instead of being a mere prerequisite to political relations between persons, turned into a system of legally defined relations between persons and things, or between persons through things (1985:104).

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