Tuesday, 14 June 2005

The Guardian of Bad Ideas

Today I am reminded that bad old ideas never die, they just eke out a sordid and valetudinous existence in The Guardian. Therein George Monbiot reiterates the old calumny that property is theft: “in terms of looted resources, stolen labour and now the damage caused by climate change, the rich owe the poor far more than the poor owe the rich.”
.....This is how Proudhon put it back in 1840:

If I were asked to answer the following question: WHAT IS SLAVERY? and I should answer in one word, IT IS MURDER, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death; and that to enslave a man is to kill him. Why, then, to this other question: WHAT IS PROPERTY! may I not likewise answer, IT IS ROBBERY, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?

(What is Property? Or an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government. Chapter 1.)

It is fortunate that Proudhon feels that no extended argument is required; for he would find that none could be found to defend such nonsense. This passage, by the way, is a fine example of Calumnious Redefinition, which is defined below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gibran says..."you may chain my hands
you may shackle my feet
you may throw me into a dark dungeon....
but you shall not enslave my thinking...for it is free:
I live my life by those words...