Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happiness and Property

The idea of private property, I believe has severely limited our personal freedoms. That being said I also believe that the institution of private property is entirely necessary for a modern society to exist. A modern society must construct boundaries of what is and is not owned in order to curb conflict over resources. Primitive societies, such as the Native American’s did not have the concept of private property as we do today because they did not need it. Their villages or clans were small enough that in order to survive they needed to share what resources they had.  Once a group of people had begun an agrarian lifestyle, there becomes a need for private property as the resources need to be designated to person who grew them. I feel that in this process wealth begins to be created then power obtained. One person (or a small group) begins to have much more than everyone else and things are needed to trade for that grain. Before the agrarian lifestyle anyone who wanted food simply needed to go forage it. However, because agrarian life can support so many more people there becomes less resources for people to go forage and the person controlling the harvested resource becomes very powerful. He can begin to dictate what is owned by who and what the laws are.
 In modern America absolutely everything is owned. More than it just being owned it is constantly for sale. If you have little or no money in America you have very little freedoms. What do you do with your time with no money? You could go for a walk in a publicly owned park, but you couldn’t use the resources for yourself. You can purchase the rights to hunt for game, but you cannot hunt enough to feed yourself and certainly not sustain a family. If you could afford your own private property you could grow your own food. John Locke said that property (only in the form of land I surmise) owned by anyone who “improved upon” it. Therefore, according to Locke in his work, “On Property” anyone could own land if they simply went into an area and built a house or farm. This work was the backbone for the Homestead act of 1862

In conclusion, I feel that the lack of property is more condusive to the happiness of a society that is hunter gather or perhaps even animal husbandry, but once the agrarian lifestyle is introduced it forms new problems pertaining to wealth that eventually will make that groups denizens unhappy.


  1. Is there something about the experience of ownership that drives us to lust constantly for MORE, I wonder, or is that a social construct that we've learned and could un-learn? A world without private property may be unthinkable now, but a more equitable balance between private and public goods seems entirely within reach. The push for green space and walkable cities is an example. But you're right, $ still makes the world go 'round - especially in the imaginations of Americans without it, how else account for Drumpf's appeal?

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  3. I can remember reading about Lewis and Clark's expedition and their meeting the Mandan Native Americans. I was surprised by the number of people in their villages. It made me wonder how they functioned as a society, how they kept order, took care of each other, whether they went for walks and contemplated the meaning of life? Did they think about what the future held and whether life would be better and easier for their children? How were women treated? Their private property was their tents and belongings, but the land was free except who decided which space could be occupied by whom?
    Here's a link about the Mandans. https://www.nps.gov/knri/learn/historyculture/mandan.htm