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תן @shel

When it comes to communicating communist ideas I feel like it'd be more effective if instead of saying "private property" we said "remote ownership" or "ownership on paper" or "economic property" or "corporate property" or "for-profit property"

Cuz like what we mean is "you can't own a house you don't live in" "you can't own a business others work in" "You can't own land others live or work on"

And I think in the 21st century "private property" just doesn't evoke that meaning

· Tusky · 34 · 57

@shel "private" kind of has the implication that the property is, well, private. If you're not living in "your" house and someone else is then in what world should it be considered "private" to you

@jordyd yes see this is the discrepancy between what we mean by "Abolish private property" and what that sounds like

i don't think most people think of their apartment as the "private property of their landlord" because "private" evokes like, diaries.

which is why I think a term besides "private" to describe what we wanna abolish would be useful

@shel Oh no I think you misunderstand me. I completely agree with you, I was just phrasing it another way

@shel @jordyd I've heard property being split into "personal" and "private", with diaries being put into one category and apartment buildings into another.

@pettter @jordyd yes I know but I'm trying to find a way to communicate the idea without redefining words for people in a way different from how they use it every day. We on the left have a problem with using antiquated 19th century meanings of words and then explaining our idea involves like "no community of food means like we all share food not that there's a bunch of sentient sandwiches who are friends" "no private means something different than how you understand it to mean"

@jordyd @pettter Like the private/personal/collective categories make sense as a theory level of sorting stuff but when I'm at a rally of strangers in a crowd I can't say that and expect "private" to make sense as distinct from "personal" when they're very much synonyms to most people outside of politics or business.

@shel @pettter
I expect every random person on the street to have read Proudhon and Kropotkin at a minimum

@shel @pettter Honestly I know Proudhon was the originator of the property/possession distinction but I've never read his works and I don't plan on it. We don't just use antiquated terms we use terms that are inaccessible to anyone that doesn't want to spend years studying these things. And it's silly because they already know enough to understand it all, they just have to wade through a mountain of terminology

@jordyd it's not actually that difficult to explain a lot of these ideas in simple terms ime if your goal is to communicate the idea and not to recite a theory to them or convince them to read a book.

@shel I agree, but I also think a lot of our terms can be discarded, especially those terms that require explaining all kinds of other terms in the process, because they often have modern analogues

@shel By all means explain terms. But use simpler, more modern terms by default as well

@shel @jordyd i think we should just do a better job of explaining the difference between private and personal. the alternative term for "private property" you are looking for is "capital"

@shel @jordyd or, rather, make it more clear that you're saying that you think ownership should be decided by usage and not by some abstract claim.

@shel your point is sound, but i'm not huge on the replacements offered either. there's gotta be a better phrase out there that can roll owned vacant property and rental property into one term without sounding abstract

remote ownership sounds closest but it still sounds more like a good thing than anything. at least private property sounds as dreadful as it is

@ctrlaltdog "private property" to me, before I started using it how the left does, evokes "private" in a way that sounds like "my private life" or "I don't want to share private information with you" like the term tends to mean "held close to my chest" yeah?

so "private property" to a lot of people who aren't talking about politics all the time evokes like "my diary" "my car" "my blender" "my photo album"

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@Trev only when "my toothbrush" is the toothbrush you own but that I rent from you



@Trev @shel *insert the General Ripper Fluoridation speech from _Dr. Strangelove_ here*

@shel What if we called it "rent-seeking" or "rent-collecting"?

When you own a house you don't live in or a business you don't work in, all you're doing is taking a cut of money that other people earned, right?

@christianbundy @shel True, but most people haven't learned to despise the notion of profits. Nobody likes paying rent to a fucking slumlord, though.

@starbreaker @christianbundy i think this is a little narrow though

because even if i didn't collect rent if i still "own" your apartment you still only get to live there on my terms and that also needs to be abolished

@shel @starbreaker I think I may be misunderstanding -- where is my rent going if not to the "owner"?

@christianbundy @starbreaker I think you're reading this backwards

I'm trying to figure out good ways to communicate the communist idea of "abolishing private property" that's more modern and doesn't require as much explaining

Someone suggested "rent collecting" but I'm saying like... even if I stopped collecting rent on your house (so you're not paying rent at all in this scenario) I could still "own" it under current law and like, evict you or something, so it's still my "private property"

@shel "privatization" still sounds like something elites do at others' expense, and it assumes a privatizer

So, privatized property

@shel I think we need to bring back the distinction of personal and private property, and make it clear that the home in which you live is personal because you live in it, and then get on with the abolition of private property.

And by "live in," I mean "as a primary residence." No "I timeshare across my seven mansions" bulldada. You get one. When everybody has one, we can talk about two.

@literorrery @shel please someone hurry up and make this happen so I can get rid of the house I don't want without losing the house I do want.

@Fuego @literorrery you say this as though you own two houses?

@shel @literorrery I would very much love to un-own one of them but that doesn't seem to be possible.

@Fuego @literorrery i dont understand but i'm guessing it's like some complicated bank nonsent

@shel @literorrery bought the house right before the crash. House lost a ton of value. Still have to pay the bank. Cant sell it. Unless someone wants to hand me $100k?

@Fuego @literorrery this is such a disgusting situation to get thrown into

@shel @literorrery it feels very very helpless and futile, yeah...

@shel @literorrery when someone says they “own a house” what they really usually mean is the bank owns the house and they are on the hook for more money than they have ever seen in their life times 3

@Fuego @literorrery yeah i often have said that homeownership for anyone who isn't megawealthy just sounds like having a shittier landlord

@Fuego @shel I bought the house I'm planning on dying in, so I'm not worried about selling it, but the cost of upkeep has definitely exceeded my worst projections. It was still the right move. I still has downsides for which I wasn't prepared.

@literorrery @Fuego I'd only buy a house if I was trying to start one of those Collectives or a housing co-op or something like they have in Worcester; or like lupinewood up in turners falls.

which is definitely a fantasy i've had hehe. but yeah like spreading the cost across a bunch of ppl equally owning the space and chipping in for labor, making it into a super cool space that can act as a space for community events, would be cool~

@Fuego @shel I've been running one in various forms for seventeen years. It doesn't always work out as it does in the dream, and the reality of having to tell people they're not contributing sufficiently -- by whatever measuring stick you use -- is a lot harder when enforcing boundaries means taking away living stability.

@Fuego @shel This isn't to say it can't work, but everyone in the house needs to commit to the common good, and to agree on what that means, for it to work long-term. That's a lot of emotional labor for everyone to manage, and not everyone is suited to those kinds of arrangements. Even those who are can still gave different needs and those have to be communicated and managed as a group.

@literorrery @Fuego yeah the ones I know of, like Collective-A-Go-Go in Worcester, are often more places where artists and activists do a term of living for a while, make some sort of contributions to the space, and then cycle out after a couple years.

@shel @literorrery I live with a collective - thats why we bought the houses - just most of them are cis canine and cis feline.

@Fuego @literorrery that's just called having a lot of pets

@shel @literorrery dont be dismissive of my very important and productive cis canine and cis-feline co-op partners. They can't rent living space on their own in our society.

@Fuego i still have not met them

@Fuego i imagine you live in a constant fantasy of being covered in four amazing dogs

@Fuego holy shit that looks sooooo comfortable and warm

@shel @literorrery when someone says they “own a house” what they really usually mean is the bank owns the house and they are on the hook for more money than they have ever seen in their life times 3

@literorrery i think "continuing to use the confusing terminology and trying to explain it over and over" isn't useful for education and understanding of the masses

@shel I suppose my challenge is that at some point we're going to have to draw the distinction between "personal" and "private" by whatever labels you want to call them. If you want to call it "private" and "remote" or "personal" and "collective" or whatever pair of terms, fine, but I think the real issue is that we need to get people used to the idea that some things as "not ownable by individuals," point out that individuals claim to own them, and then draw the necessary conclusions.

@shel The labels are placeholders for an idea. I'm not beholden to the labels themselves. I'm more worried that the idea needs to be conveyed and that people will eventually work out whatever labels for themselves they need to put on those ideas. I'm not going to try to be a linguistic prescriptivist and declare what the labels ought to be.

@literorrery I'm not trying to do that either and I'm just trying to figure out a better way to communicate the idea

because the words do matter insomuch not because of some sapir-whorf nonsense but just because if The Masses hear "private property" and think "diary" but I mean "factory" then I'm just not communicating the idea very well and thats how you get "the commies want my toothbrush"

I wanna be able to say "I want to abolish [the concept of individuals owning stuff used by other people]"

@shel I usually bring up the concept of "private, like a private beach" and point to all the ways in which people have carved up the commons in blatantly dangerous ways. That seems to stop the confusion pretty quickly.

I honestly don't know what other term you'd use for "the stuff that people claim to own that they really can't and shouldn't be allowed to claim." I just say "people have coopted the concept of 'private property'" and run from there.

@shel in France, there is this communist guy that makes the distinction by saying Lucrative Propriety and Propriety of Use.

I find for-profit propriety works pretty well also.

@minitrope @shel Do the Georgists have a good term for this? Seems like they or their modern descendants should have come up with something.

@shel @minitrope I bring them up because I think what you're trying to get at is the distinction between "owning land for personal use" and "owning land to extract rent from it", which is the whole thing the Georgists were interested in.

@shel There was an Inside Appalacia recently --
"Appalachia's Deep Ties to Extractive Industries May be Keeping Region 'Poor, Sick & Stuck on Coal'"
-- that pointed out, among many other things, that 20% of all land in West Virginia is owned by 25 landowners, not only (obviously) remotely but most completely out of state.

@shel No, what it conjures is the idea that the home that I have spent my entire adult life trying to buy, so that when I am old and can no longer work, I do not immediately die of exposure after having been thrown out in the street, that home, I shouldn't be allowed to own.

Is there any way at all team communist can hire some people who are better at framing the conversation? Because Team Foreclosure has been winning for generations

@jannamark when it comes to housing the argument goes:

1. There are 6x more empty houses than homeless people
2. There's no reason to keep these houses empty except that they're "owned" by some bank, company, or rich person who keeps in empty so they can sell it or rent it out for a profit later; or to spend maybe a week in a year for their vacation
3. Whether you rent or own; a rich landlord or bank collects money from you in order for you to continue to live in your home
4. And what exactly do they do?

5. the bank sits and collects interest because they're "the reason" you could be in this home. It'll be 40 years of paying them until you're not at risk of foreclosure, enforced by police. But the bank doesn't fix your home, it doesn't live in your home, it does nothing for you. It's essentially a ransom
6. The landlord maybe pays certain bills like water or trash collection, and occasionally comes by to fix a broken light or replaces your fridge. Then might raise rent because of it

@jannamark 7. So why exactly does the landlord get to "own" your home? Why does the bank get to "reclaim" your home? they don't do anything but claim it's theirs and enforce that with police.

8. It's nonsense that this can be their property. It's nonsense that they deserve to collect money from you. We should abolish this concept and let you live in your home with no strings attached. Nobody should own two houses while anyone is homeless


7) Their argument is that they took the (negligible) risk of accepting my money, knowing that they could seize the house if we missed a payment. [Cue: hysterical laughter dissolving into tears]

But, and here I am not trying to convince you of anything other than the need to consider re-framing the argument, consider the other side's arguments:

They never once mention that their ideas of home ownership are so deeply rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy that a deed search


on any property reveals prohibitions against selling to any other than white men as the deeds go back in time.


No, heavens no!

Property ownership is steeped in all the good things, like responsibility and stewardship, thinking of the future, stuff like that. All the positive traits.

Not literally just dumb luck of being born into a rich family


By carefully crafting their message, the other team has successfully dressed up creating homelessness among the infirmed, the elderly, and our nation's veterans as an unfortunate side effect of the virtuousness of the wealthy.

Absolutely nothing to see here, citizen, move along.

@shel And if the poor are poor, it's because God has turned his face away from their wretched sinning. After all, look at them, and all their sinful ways. And if the rich are rich, it's because God has rewarded them.

Not anything to do with education, taxation, clean drinking water without lead, availability of affordable nutritious foods.

The rich own the airwaves and make sure their message is repeated 24/7.

@shel I do like your idea of using terms other than "private property" to communicate ownership of property other than one's primary residence.

@shel I keep trying to think of the right words to paint the picture of corporate property fiefdom and absentee landlord-ship as the onerous burdensome blood-sucking soul-crushing usury that it is

I'd love to be there when the gifted word-smith comes through

@jannamark I think sometimes it's okay to say things in a couple sentences, not just one word. If you aren't writing an academic paper density of meaning isn't so important


1 & 3) I know, I'm an advocate for housing first, I'm not the person you need to convince.

2) Ah, that's where you are grossly underestimating the cruelty of the system. In some areas, some housing stock is kept empty in order that the same owning entity can demand higher rents on other properties they own.

4) They kept slaves, stole the country with an army, and now their descendants are deafening the rest of us by heartily congratulating themselves on being self-made men

@shel But seriously I'm not the one you need to convince

@jannamark yes yes sorry I was more trying to present the argument I use

@shel That certainly seems like it would avoid a lot of unnecessary arguing about whether someone can just come along and take your shirt.

@shel We always used the phrase "productive property" to distinguish land and equipment from widgets.

@ajroach42 @shel If I have a vegetable garden next to my house, that is both productive property and personal property. Which makes "productive property" unusable as a replacement for "private property" :/

@shel This is essentially private property versus personal property. I don't think the terms need to be changed, we just have to shift the discourse.

I seriously suggest doing away with the idea of "property" altogether. Look up "usufruct" and "liferent" as potentially-useful concepts.

La tierra es de quien la trabaja!

@shel what if we just take the opposition of "private property" and "personal property" very literally, and call it "non-personal property".

Would that be clear enough to understand for people not drowning themselves in leftist literature?

@shel I could definitely get behind a banner with "abolish non-personal property".

Although it does seem to also include anything communally owned, sooo...
Only "personal property" and "the commons" left? :/

@shel Are people in a nation better off when foreign ownership is not recognized?