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The Unraveling of Private Property

November 9, 2009

The New York Times has a nice story on the property rights struggles of Moscow residents.

The Soviet government’s land monopoly may have ended some two decades ago, but the ability of the authorities to give and take away territory has not, real estate experts here say.

While private land ownership is not forbidden today as it was in the Soviet era, current real estate laws are vague: residents can buy homes and apartments, for instance, but not the land they stand on. In all cases people are left open to the caprice of corrupt officials and businessmen.

Aw, but come on. They should rejoice in this ambiguity. In such ambiguity lies emancipation. Here, from the 1844 manuscripts:

The abolition [Aufhebung] of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and qualities, but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object – an object made by man for man. The senses have therefore become directly in their practice theoreticians. They relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa. Need or enjoyment have consequently lost its egotistical nature, and nature has lost its mere utility by use becoming human use.

See? All clear now.

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