Labor Theory of Property
"Mutualist economics should be based on a labor theory of property, not a labor theory of value.
Labor is responsible for wealth, but it is not the only source of wealth. There has been much confusion on this issue. Land and capital certainly contribute to economic value, but only through the application of labor. Labor is "different" or "peculiar" in this sense. People (i.e., labor) are responsible for creating wealth, not things (i.e., land and capital). I recommend David Ellerman's Property and Contract in Economics on this point.1
This is not to say that value theory is unimportant. The conventional labor and marginal theories of value are based on flawed physics analogies2 and Kevin Carson's attempted synthesis3 of the two still suffers in this regard. Rather, the basis for mutualist opposition to capitalism (perhaps better named the "wage system") should flow from property theory (e.g., Proudhon's What is Property?). Capitalism denies the right of labor to its whole product, the fruits of its labor. It is based on wage labor, or the renting out of human beings, which treats people as things. It alienates labor from its product, despite its right to the whole product being inalienable (again, see Ellerman on this point). An economic system based on the labor theory of property, on the other hand, grants this right. It supports private property based in labor and necessitates economic democracy (or in other words, mutualism)." ()
LTP is explained in chapter three of the following book:
- Book: PROPERTY AND CONTRACT IN ECONOMICS: The Case for Economic Democracy. David P. Ellerman*
Available via http://www.ellerman.org/Davids-Stuff/Books/P&C-Book.pdf
- Kevin Carson, "Part One -- Theoretical Foundations: Value Theory," Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (2007), http://mutualist.org/id47.html.