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

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Mon May 09 2005 - 02:34:19 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD the ideology of capitalism"

    Hi Sam,

    Hope you had a good night's sleep. It's 6pm, PST, so what, 2 or 3 in
    the morning for you?

    On 8 May 2005 at 20:19, Sam Norton wrote:

    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....

    No problem. See if you can find answers to my other questions as
    well, that is, how do we decide the legitimacy not only of
    claims to title, but to "legally" recognized titles as well? And how
    is capital transmuted into more capital, simply by virtue of the
    security of property titles?

    The question I'm hoping you'll ask yourself here is, if all de Soto
    cares about is making sure that the title of the land is established
    by law, so that the potential of it can be fixed, then why not opt
    for common ownership of land via the State? Very simple, very easy
    to administer. Then all those entrepreneurs who want to use their
    genius to derive profit from the common lands need only pay fair rent
    to the common owners.

    See, I think all his talk about establishing clear title by law, is
    really about securing private property rights for existing
    landholders, while ignoring the moral dimensions of land ownership
    in the first place.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
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    "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why,
    why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he
    understand." - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

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