Quotable (#67)

Private property has no real legitimacy, argues David Graeber:

Basically, we assume that market relations are natural, but you need a huge institutional structure to make people behave the way that economists say they are “supposed” to behave. So, for example, think about the way the consumer market works. The market is supposed to work on grounds of pure competition. Nobody has moral ties to each other other than to obey the rules. But, on the other hand, people are supposed to do anything they can to get as much as possible off the other guy — but won’t simply steal the stuff or shoot the person.

Historically, that’s just silly; if you don’t care at all about a guy, you might as well steal his stuff. In fact, they’re encouraging people to act essentially how most human societies, historically, treated their enemies — but to still never resort to violence, trickery or theft. Obviously that’s not going to happen. You can only do that if you set up a very strictly enforced police force.

In the absence of a moral bond, who’s going to stick to the rules, when they could cheat? It’s a consistent viewpoint, in its own way.

Merge with me morally, or I’m just going to steal your stuff. And people wonder where the impulse to algorithmic governance comes from.

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