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Ayn Rand states that Indians didn't have the concept of property rights. I highly doubt this as there are Indian settlements and they do get into conflict when one group trespasses on another's boundary. Examples of conflicts are:

  • Burial grounds
  • Hunting grounds
  • They farmed

Now, it can be claim that Indians didn't recognize individual property rights. However, what is the difference between tribal property vs. public property then?

asked Feb 27 '12 at 01:32

Humbug's gravatar image


edited Feb 27 '12 at 01:35

The enforcement of collective "property" as such is the denial of the individual's right to property. If everyone in a collective must have access to something, then no individual may own it.

There is no essential difference between public "property" and tribal "property," because they are both instances of collective "property." The non-essential difference between the two is that tribal "property" is of the extended family (the tribe), whereas public "property" is of the state. Where the tribe is the state, the two are the same.

Regardless, both are denials of an individual's right to property.

answered Feb 27 '12 at 10:41

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

While John's answer is essentially correct I want to make one thing explicit. Objectivists reject the concept of public property. All property should be privately owned, either by individuals or by voluntary associations of individuals. Neither 'tribal' nor 'public' property are valid concepts.

(Feb 27 '12 at 18:07) Kyle Haight ♦ Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

@Kyle: Are guns used by the police in an Objectivist society public or private property? Is the White House public or private property? etc. If those are rented from private ownership, then is the money that is used to pay rent public or private property?

(Feb 28 '12 at 00:34) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Kyle's right. "Public property" is a contradiction in terms. Guns used by police are owned by whomever owns those particular guns. In a capitalist society all property is privately owned. Money which pays rent for the president, then, is owned by those who choose to pay it.

(Feb 28 '12 at 17:14) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

I don't get it. Ayn Rand made a suggestion that a government lottery can be used to raise money to run government. Who then owns the $ after you buy your lottery ticket from 7-11 from the time you paid for the ticket to when that $ goes to pay a private vendor for their services?

(Feb 28 '12 at 18:52) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Government property is not public property. It's analogous to property owned by voluntary associations of individuals. (Consider that the public is alleged to have access rights to public property -- which doesn't make sense for much government property. Allowing public access to military facilities would make military training and operation impossible.)

The key point is that property is always owned by specific people, either individually or in voluntary association. The government is just another kind of voluntary association.

(Feb 28 '12 at 19:45) Kyle Haight ♦ Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

So, then, Kyle, would you say that the government owns property? It just feels weird to call government property private property.

(Feb 28 '12 at 20:57) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

Is a government really a "voluntary" association?

(Feb 29 '12 at 23:17) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Ideally, government would be voluntarily funded. Other than that, though, the answer is no. One cannot choose whether to obey a government's laws, except by leaving its jurisdiction.

(Mar 01 '12 at 00:54) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

In the relevant sense, however, government (that is: police, military, courts, administration, and whatever other institutions a proper government would need) IS a voluntary association: voluntarily funded, with voluntary membership, just like any employment relationship is voluntary. The fact that it deals in force and "forces" its laws upon everyone doesn't negate that it's (properly) a voluntary association (with the purpose of upholding individual rights).

(Mar 01 '12 at 11:16) FCH FCH's gravatar image

Oh. Good point. Government is a voluntary association inasmuch as it doesn't conscript workers.

(Mar 01 '12 at 19:54) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image
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Asked: Feb 27 '12 at 01:32

Seen: 1,339 times

Last updated: Mar 01 '12 at 19:54