Friday, May 25, 2018


Private Property

The idea of private property is not a human invention. It comes from God.[1] Own a piece of property and you are free to develop it and/or things on it. “If someone owns land, they can accumulate possessions. The Bible called this being blessed. Karl Marx called this capitalism.”[2] And there’s the rub. I have lived for many years in three different countries in which I have seen that the basis of liberty, i.e., owning private property, has always had to stand vigilant guard against Marxist marauding forces.

I grew up in a social housing estate in a low socioeconomic area of Scotland. To be sure, these were in the decades when Scotland was still recovering from the economic devastation of WWII with its attendant social upheaval. The words of Lonnie Donegan sum it up where he sings, “Oh, my old man’s a dustman/He wears a dustman’s hat/He wears cor blimey trousers/And he lives in a council flat.” Your guess is as good as mine as to what “cor blimey trousers” are, but we all know what a council flat is. For the English it is their castle – “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” For the Scots it’s their “wee bit hill and glen” that their ancestors fought and died for – even if they have noisy neighbours living above them and also through the walls. Thus, the landed gentry in Scotland with their family pile and sprawling estates with their “No Trespassing – Private Property” signs were either at best envied or at worst despised or both by the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”[3]

Sometimes a few drinks would help some Scots “breathe free” with the idea of liberty. Will Fyffe illustrates this in the lines of his song, “I Belong To Glasgow” where he sang, “I’m only a common old working chap as anyone here can see/But when I get a couple of drinks on a Saturday, Glasgow belongs to me.” We need more than a couple of drinks to gain our freedom as individuals. For, as Lord Acton says, “Property, not conscience, is the basis of liberty.”[4]

I had left Scotland and had settled in Canada by the time the much despised by the Scottish Left, Margaret Thatcher took control of the Scots. Miner’s strikes were the order of the day when I returned to Scotland for a visit. However, I did see glimmers of liberty arising in the form new front doors adorning council flats. I asked a friend, “Whit’s wi’ the fancy new front door on yer council hooses?” I was told that it was Thatcher. She was letting people purchase the council houses they had been paying rent on for years. Freedom! As a symbol of that new found freedom the ex-council house domicile would install a new front door of their own choice. Dignity, human dignity was slowly being restored.

Noah Webster of Webster’s Dictionary fame wrote, “Let the people have property and they will have power.” Conversely, the removal of the people’s power comes from the State owning all the property and renting out bits of it to the huddled masses. And on and on it goes as Capitalism with its sword and shield of freedom has to defend itself against the invading forces of Socialism and cut off the thieving heads of the Government Leviathan.

We speak in general terms, but allow a man or woman ownership of a plot of land and you allow them ownership of dignity. Let’s, for a moment, return to Lord Acton: “Property, not conscience, is the basis of liberty.” I can have the liberty of a clear conscience while behind bars as a man falsely accused. Therefore, the shackles of State slavery are removed by ownership of private property.

One of Glasgow’s weans, Gerry Rafferty, (now departed), in his song “Baker Street,” (which is a sad song with a hint of hope towards its end), anyway, there’re the lines which say, “He’s got this dream about buying some land/He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands/And then he’ll settle down/In some quiet little town/And forget about everything.” “Buying some land” is Biblical. Therefore, private property is a good thing. Never despise the things of God.

William J. Federer says, “Ancient Israel was the first nation with private land ownership – the promised ‘LAND.’ …

“Numbers 26:52-56: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.

“Deuteronomy 27:17: Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark.[5]

“Landmark”, in case you don’t know, is a boundary stone, a border marker. In other words, don’t steal any of your neighbour’s private property, and that goes for governments, even Socialist governments, too. “Thou shalt not steal” Exodus 20:15 – “By these words the right of property received formal acknowledgment, and a protest was made by anticipation against the maxim of modern socialists – ‘La propriete, c’est le vol.’”[6]

[1] “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fulness, the world and those who dwell therein” Psalm 24:1.
[2] William J. Federer, Rise of the Tyrant, 2015, p. 123.
[3] From Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty.
[4] Lord Acton.
[5] William J. Federer, Rise of the Tyrant, 2015, p. 121.
[6] Pulpit Commentary. 

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