Dynamic Property

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Pat Conaty:

"Chapter 11 is the penultimate one and we had to write and rewrite this one five times to get it right. It is focused directly upon your question about Ownership transfer mechanisms and what these look like including the roots of the idea in the 1820s with the insights of Thomas Spence the ingenious proponent of working land trusts (see chapter 4), the brilliant French Swiss political economist, Sismondi and working up from there through the Chartists, Ruskin, other co-operative commonwealth visionaries and practitioners through to Gandhi's trusteeship concepts, CLTs, Democratic ESOPs, the Co-operative Land Bank etc. This is evolutionary economics arising out of terribly difficult and opposed class struggles seeking democratic commonwealth.

Ruskin was consciously appreciative of unresolvable tensions in human nature (based on DNA and nurture) as a clear-cut basis for new political economy. The core insight he had was that wealth is life, not dead things (speculative exchange values or illth as he called them creating illness pervasively). In Unto this Last, he paints in wonderful words (language almost like Shakespeare) a scenario indicating a guild vision (with resonances of Sismondi) of a political economy of art and based upon a cultural understanding of what the vernacular arts of living are. In a set of essays after his Unto this Last he wrote one about seeing himself as a Tory and another one as seeing himself as a Communist. He is happy with the contradiction in each perspective of being indeed torn as a Tory Communist. Michel this is so resonant with the arguments in your brilliant lecture in Quito.

Martin Luther King picks up these threads of non-violent transition through Gandhi's insights (built directly on Ruskin's writings) and the African-American Quaker, Bayard Rustin. King was so impressed with the Gramdan (land gift movement in India in the 1960s) because the property rights in this land trusteeship model had two aspects that could be brought into healthy balance. Core here was Land that was put in commons trusteeship for the people with lease rights freely available to local people but with full repairing obligations reciprocity as part of the rules. See here the links to Ostrom's design principles.

This dualistic conceptualisation is dynamic property, property that is in tension and indeed not static like the one dimensional property right systems we know and that we are oppressed or stifled by, namely either pure public or pure private but never mixed and aligned. King expressed the vision of the I and We elements that could be democratically united under a new peaceful political economy in his last book in 1967, Where do we go from here - Chaos or community? His key observation was:

'Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social and the Kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of Capitalism, but in higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truth of both.'

The trouble is that we have no mentality in this post modern nightmare world. Aldous Huxley foreshadowed this when in France he wrote Brave New World in 1931 and published it in 1933 before Hitler arrived. He actually thought that Brave New World would not arrive until about a century or so after 1931. In 1958 he wrote Brave New World revisited to say my god, the nightmare world is upon us, at least in the USA and coming fast to Europe. He quotes in this book in the last chapter the Grand Inquisitor from the Brothers Karmazov where the people say to the Inquisitor, here do take our freedom, just feed us.

For Huxley democratic, decentralised, distributed economy that was collaborative and based on land and capital reform (both decommodified) were crucial to the great escape. He argued this in 1937 and then in his book Science, Liberty and Peace in 1946. All very Gandhian and he was in touch with Gandhi from the 1930s.

In chapter 11 of the Resilience Imperative, Mike and I do not spell out the detail of what an Ownership Transfer corporation would look like. But we did do this in an article attached on the Co-operative Land Bank that shows the maths. Now this is the material world and you argue for the need for a platform for the immaterial world in your lecture. The principles here have a degree of resonance." (email, April 2014)