Re: MD the ideology of capitalism - what is capitalism?

From: Sam Norton (
Date: Sun May 08 2005 - 20:19:51 BST

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    Hi Mark,
    A quick response on this (it's been a long day).

    You say:
    > De Soto's underlying assumption is that private ownership of land
    > (the lake) is the key to unlocking its potential as a capital asset.
    > That is, before this capital potential can be released, someone must
    > have clear title to the land. and this is why a formalized system of
    > property record management is necessary. A lake needs a dam to
    > release its energy, and assets need a formal property system to
    > release their potential surplus value.
    > Now, reading these few sentences, some obvious questions arise. On
    > what grounds does he assume that private rather than common ownership
    > is necessary for the release of economic potential?

    So far as I can tell de Soto nowhere says that common ownership of land or
    other assets is incompatible with capitalism. His point is that the title of
    the land needs to be establised by law, so that the potential of it can be
    fixed. I don't think there is any necessity for it to be in the hands of
    evil robber barons, it could just as easily be held by a virtuous worker's
    cooperative. Which means that all the political debates come later - it
    seems to me that you can still be a socialist and accept his analysis. But
    maybe I'm mistaken on that.

    I'll have a look at the text to see if there is anywhere that he says this
    explicitly. But it'll be tomorrow....


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