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Re: [ox-en] Re: Role of markets

Michel Bauwens wrote:
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Dear Paul,

Thanks for your input here.

I know you are very busy, but I would be very interested in an elaboration
of the following, for eventual publication in our blog, i.e. where exactly
do you see the market being replaced (or can be replaced), and where is it
likely to be retained, as where you write:

- This is only necessary for those goods that either can not be allocated on
the basis of need ( like health care ), or can not be distributed freely (
like radio and TV broadcasts, information downloadable on the internet).
Basically indicative markets have to be retained for goods whose marginal
 labour content does not tend to zero, and for which objective requirements
can not be socially determined.

My second question concerns you triarchy of forms of ownership ... which I
think does not take into account the difference between public and common
property ...

I dont have a triarchy of forms of ownership, I just gave 3 examples and said that these were the stable forms for industrial production. More generally I would put forward a 16 fold division of property rights.

Who owns what is the basic question which must be answered by any system of prop- erty law. The atoms of property relations are owners and the things they own;
systems of property are like molecules built up of these atoms. The simplest
property relationship is ‘A owns B’. But at different times and in different places
this right of ownership amounts to different things. To a peasant farmer with
property in land and a commodity dealer with property in wheat futures, own-
ership has a different practical significance. Let us consider
ownership as being made up of four components: the right to use, the right
to buy, the right to sell and the right to inherit. In the previous example the peasant is more interested in the right to use and to inherit; to the commodity dealer the rights to buy and sell are everything. (By the right to inherit we
include acquisitions by means of marriage.)
We can order the component rights as follows: use, sale, purchase, inheri-
tance. These rights can be treated as logical predicates. In logic a set of ordered pairs (A,B) for which some predicate holds is termed a relation. For instance,
the relation of usufruct is the set of all pairs (A,B) such that A uses B.
We thus have four distinct relations that define property rights. These derive from four predicates: the relation Usufruct from the predicate (A uses B), the relation Sale from (A can sell B), Purchase from (A can buy B) and Inheritance
from the predicate (A can inherit B).

A given pair of entities, for instance a trader on the wheat futures market
(A) and a shipment of wheat (B), may be members of more than one of these
sets. In this case the pair (wheat futures trader, wheat shipment) would be
included in the relations Sale and Purchase. This is because the Sale relation includes all pairings of potential sellers with all that they can potentially sell,
and similarly for Purchase.

A property right between a class of owners P and a class of owned things Q
can therefore be characterised by the set of property relations that pairs (p,q) can belong to, there p is an instance of P and q of Q. A property right between
classes of entities is therefore a set of between 0 and 4 relations.

Since any predicate is a Boolean relation, we can thus encode property rights in terms of 4 boolean values, giving a total of 16 different forms of property

A uses B A can A can A can
sell B buy B inherit B examples
0 no no no no (slave, American law)
1 yes no no no (collective farm and land)
2 no yes no no (hired worker and labour)
3 yes yes no no
4 no no yes no
5 yes no yes no (consumer and electricity)
6 no yes yes no (commodity trader and
7 yes yes yes no (capitalist firm/factory)
8 no no no yes
9 yes no no yes (traditional peasant and land)
10 no yes no yes
11 yes yes no yes
12 no no yes yes
13 yes no yes yes
14 no yes yes yes
15 yes yes yes yes (bourgeois right)

- how would you characterize trusts?
What kind of trust?
- how would you characterize the new forms of common property, that are not
cooperatives, such as evidenced by the GPL and similar open licences, which
guarantee universal availability and put the property in an inalienable
common pool
These correspond to form 1 in the table above
- how do you see the form of private property, but that are subsumed to
social goals, i.e. fair trade, social enterpreneurship, nonprofits ...
One would have to look at each of these and see what position they had in the 4 Boolean relations.
I use a different triarchial structure

which distinguishes private (which includes cooperatives), state-public,
from common property

For documentation, see

Two citations, one from


More and more the concept of the common seems to become a third term,
alongside the private and the collective.

The common consists of a series of inalienable rights that are hold by all
individuals, rather than collective aspects governed by a separate sovereign
body, and different from the individualized/privatized aspects of existence.

The difference is explained in our entry on Common
from an article by Dan

It translates into new forms of Common
Property<>that has it own
rules <> and
applying to Common Goods <> and Common
Pool Resources <>,
sometimes governed by specialized Common Good
as the General
Public License <> for

The concept of the common is therefore essential for building a society
based on the Common Good <>, and is
the key to understand Peer
Production<>and how it
socially reproduces itself through a process of Circulation
of the Common <>

Common proprerty forms for physical goods that can be governed through
Commons <>-based approaches can take the
form of Trusts <>"

and from

"Common Property <> should be
distinguished from both private and public state property, argues Peter
Barnes, who proposes Trusts <> as a
property format for it.

This distinction is often made by the geolibertarian branch of

Peer Property <>, such as the General
Public License <>, may be
considered to be a form of common property.

See the related concept of Collaborative

Dan Sullivan:

"The distinction between common property and state property is lost on royal
libertarians. Common property is that to which we all have inalienable
rights. State property is that which the state actually owns, and can
dispose of as it sees fit. For example, a public right of way is literally a
right of way. Under principles of common law, nobody, not even the king,
could close a traveled road and make it private property. A state
maintenance truck, on the other hand, is state property, which can be sold
if it no longer suits state purposes." (

From Peter Barnes at

"It seems that when it comes to "takings" of valuable property, governments
in Europe as well as the United States have a double standard. If the
property is privately owned, it can't be taken without fair compensation. In
the U.S., this prohibition is embedded in the Constitution ("nor shall
private property be taken for public use, without just compensation," says
the Fifth Amendment).

By contrast, if the valuable asset is commonly owned, no such prohibition
exists. A government can take from the commons and give to private owners
without the latter paying a dime. There doesn't even have to be a "public
use" to justify the taking.

Why this double standard? Why does private property receive royal treatment,
while *Common Property* gets the bum's rush?

Part of the answer is that private property is more clearly "possessed" than
common property. It comes wrapped in deeds and titles that give it
legitimacy and legal standing. Common property, by contrast, is generally
ill-defined. There's no piece of paper that says who the atmosphere, or the
broadcast spectrum, belong to. So when Bob Dole, the former Republican
Senator, said in 1995 that the broadcast spectrum "belongs to every American
equally," he had common sense, but no deed or title, to back him up. Hence
Congress could blithely hand out free broadcast licenses to private media
corporations, and no one could say it acted unconstitutionally.

It seems to me this is an oversight that can and should be corrected. A
taking of valuable common property needs to be compensated just as much as a
taking of private property. That compensation could go to government, or to
a trust representing all beneficial owners. This would put an end to further
windfalls for the rich, at the expense of everyone else. It would assure
that common resources are used for the common good.

Perhaps, to make things crystal clear, we ought to create a new class of
property -- common property -- that lies somewhere between private property
and state property. Such property could be managed by trusts rather than
corporations. Such trusts would be separate from government, and government
couldn't take and redistribute their property without compensation, any more
than it could take Exxon's. The trusts' beneficiaries would be future
generations and all living citizens more or less equally. Trustees would be
legally bound to serve those beneficiaries, just as corporate directors are
legally bound to serve stockholders. Each citizen's beneficial share would
be a non-transferable birthright.

One can imagine such trusts protecting common gifts such as the atmosphere,
the broadcast spectrum and terrestrial ecosystems, paying equal dividends to
living citizens, and supporting renewable energy, public transportation,
non-commercial broadcasting and other common goods.

In short, by giving common property the same respect we give private
property, we could have a market economy that takes better care of the
planet and of citizens who lack private wealth. This would be a better
version of capitalism than the one we have now." (

On Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 4:13 PM, Paul Cockshott <wpc> wrote:

What is the point of these hypothetical situations. One has to deal with
concrete social formations and the processes of transformation of these
social formations under the influence of specific configurations of

After the invention of industrial technologies  which need the co-operation
of a large group of people using expensive equipment to produce things,
there are only three possible forms of property relations that can reproduce

 1. Private capitalist industry
 2. Publicly owned industry
 3. Producer Co-operatives

I think that there is evidence that systems dominated by producers
co-operatives have a tendancy to gravitate towards capitalist industry
through the pressures exerted on them by the banking system, but that is a
secondary matter.
In the first and last of these it is clear that commodity markets are
essential to the reproduction of the units of production. In the case of
publicly owned industry, commodity markets may exist, but they are not
essential. The activity can continue without commodification as in the
Health service in the UK, the education systems in a number of countries,
the armies in all countries.

If we assume generalised public ownership the issue arises whether markets
can be completely abolished. I think no. I think that some residual
indicative function remains for certain consumer goods markets in order to
match output to community tastes.
This is only necessary for those goods that either can not be allocated on
the basis of need ( like health care ), or can not be distributed freely (
like radio and TV broadcasts, information downloadable on the internet).
Basically indicative markets have to be retained for goods whose marginal
 labour content does not tend to zero, and for which objective requirements
can not be socially determined.
Christian Siefkes wrote:

Hi Patrick, hi all,

Patrick Anderson wrote:

Stefan, are you saying that any trade in ANY form is always
necessarily destructive?

What if there were two people stranded on an island?  Must they stay
isolated in order to preserve the biosphere, or can they get together
and trade labor and products so they can specialize without increasing
harm to the island?

There is a third option: they can cooperate, jointly producing what they
like to have (and making some formal or informal agreements on how to
the necessary work).

Best regards

Contact: projekt

Contact: projekt

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