“In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”
Karl Marx says in his Manifesto of the Communist Party
What is the difference between private and personal property?
When we, as tenants and as communists, call for the abolition of private property we are not looking to take your things. We are not asking you to give up your tooth brush or your bed or, especially, your home.
These things — my phone, your shoe, Comrade Fidele’s kitchen or her access to the bathroom — are personal property. We are not against personal property. To the contrary, we, as communists, are staunch advocates and the real defenders of personal property, of one’s ability and right to attend to their own material wants and needs. It is in fact our antagonism to—and our call to abolish—private property that most properly expresses this.
Private property is a contractual relationship that grants ownership of — i.e. the exclusive right to dominate and to make profit off of — a specific object to a specific individual or corporation. Private property is a social fiction upheld (made real) by law — by cops, and contracts and their consequences — and by social norms — by culture (of which we are partial and active producers). Private property is why houses and apartments can be owned, rented out and profited off of by people other than those living in them. Private property is the foundation on top of which multinational corporations, real estate trusts, shadowy shell companies and asshole landlords wrap their fingers around the throats of our homes and squeeze our ways of life for profit.
Private property most simply, as society is currently misarranged, is the tool that violently separates people and communities from their places and ways of living. private property is the force that separates us from our very existence and daily practices.
It is private property that infringes upon our, the people’s, right to attend to our needs, to live in our homes, to make community, to be full human beings.
When the working class recoils at slogans like “abolish private property” it is because the gap between what is happening on the ground — what the working class’ material conditions actually are — and the horizon gestured towards in such a slogan, has been clouded, the horizon hidden behind an impenetrable mist of status quo. It is the responsibility of socialist organizers, of Marxist organizers, of revolutionary organizers, to fumigate this gap with clear and scientific historical materialist analysis.
That is to say, it is an imperative to historicize our current conditions — to denaturalize with clear and detailed analysis, the regimes that oppress us. That is to say, to struggle together toward an understanding of our current conditions’ historical contingency—that how we exist now is because of material historical precedents — and to struggle toward an understanding that it didn’t have to be how it is and it certainly doesn’t have to remain so.
The task ahead of us, before (or rather, alongside) contesting, abolishing or transcending those things that feel or appear solidified and inherent—like private property, like prisons, like liberal individualism—, is to collectively (and materially) recognize them as contestable, as abolishable, as transcendable. And it’s the beautiful dialectic that as we organize, that as we grow, that as we grapple with our own internalized oppressive regimes, that our argument itself — our analysis therein — is bolstered: the regimes that oppress us are in no small part informed by our belief in them, by our collective submission to their looming authority, by our own internal entrenched capitalist logics. This is not an idealist overlooking of the very physical and material enforcement of private property by the state, by the police, by our landlords— but is to say that it is through collective and international working class political consciousness and organization that we can build the power to win our liberation.
To say that we cannot speak of socialism to the working class is to give up this fight before it has even begun — while ignoring too that the fight (class warfare) is already and always ongoing.
Are we coming for your toothbrush, your favorite basketball jersey, your bed, or even your home? No. We are fighting for a world where everyone’s need to be housed is guaranteed and no one has the right to exploit you for that need.
– Comrade Karlos