Wednesday, 21 November 2007

You cannot own it!

Ran has just done a good post today (November 20) about ownership and how it just doesn't make sense. This is something I've believed for the past few years now - how can anyone actually own anything in this world? I've got a lot of thoughts around this, and reasons why ownership cannot work as we humans use it. I've not written about it before, mainly because it would be quite a long post, as I do have a tendency to try and be complete about things (which some people might see as being a bit rambling). Whereas Ran just gets the essence of an idea across, and I can read between the lines of what he says.

Anyway, as Ran says, ownership is really a negative thing, like a lot of other man-made laws. It is not really about what the 'owner' can do with the owned property, but more about what everyone else in the world cannot do with that property anymore. Which means that in the long run ownership is a restrictive practice that alienates more and more people and disenfranchises them from 'normal' living. And such 'normal' living becomes an acquired privilege, rather than an intrinsic right. The haves versus the have-nots.

And as a result it is unsustainable, as Ran points out. At some point it is going to collapse one way or another. In one distinct possibility, a few select groups of people will officially 'own' every physical object on the planet, and everyone else (the vast majority) will be paying rent for access to and use of it all (also known as wage slavery).

The thing that strikes me as weird, is how mankind ever came up with the concept of outright and everlasting ownership of everything i.e. that just about anything can be owned by someone. Usage of something, and an exclusive right to use it - yes, I can understand that. But outright ownership in perpetuity, whether used or not, seems bizarre and unnatural.

Ownership of specific things, I can kind of get my head around - 'this is my knife', 'this is my house'. But ownership of non-specific things, and general, natural things seems completely weird to me. What I've come to realise is that 'stewardship' of something is possible. I am responsible for an area of land, and for ensuring its wellbeing so that I and many others can benefit from it. This stewardship is a two way relationship - I take care of the land and environment and in return it takes care of me by supplying me with food and resources. And in time this stewardship will pass on to someone else.

Ownership is a one way, exploitative relationship. I take what I want from this, and give nothing back to it in return. Which is the opposite of stewardship (I don't know what other word to use for this at the moment). I do not own this land, as the land beneath our feet cannot be truly owned. I might put down some concrete as a floor surface, and claim ownership of the concrete itself. But I cannot own the land underneath the concrete.

The most bizarre element of this to me is that anyone can own naturally occurring resources such as land, water, air, minerals and animals. I just find the whole concept bizarre and incredible. The argument seems to be that someone can own a piece of land, because the land does not move. It is always the same piece of land in the same location. But what about a river that flows through the land? Can that be owned? What do you own? The land enclosing the river, the form of the river within the landscape, but not the water in it? Or you own the water in it too? So you could dam or divert the river, as it belongs to you?

But who owns this water that you say you own on your land, before it enters your land and after it leaves it? If ownership can change so suddenly then it just shows that ownership of such natural resources is impossible. What about the air above the land? Do you own that too? Can I stop planes flying above my land? Can I shoot them down? And out into space? Or does it stop at some atmospheric boundary? And what about below the surface of the land? All the way down to the core of the Earth?

What about the animals on the land? The current laws seem to say 'Yes, you own the animals on your land'. Which is of course how farms work, and why taking such animals is theft. But what about all the other animals? What about wild animals which wander over large areas? What about deer, foxes, rats, and so on. What about birds and fish? Do you own those when they appear on your land, but no longer own them when they move off? How can you own a fish in a moving river? What about salmon that are born in a river, travel down to the sea, live there for many years, and then travel back up the same river again to spawn? So what if a fence breaks around a farmer's field and the cows wander out onto open, public land? Does the farmer no longer own them?

When a wild deer gives birth to a baby fawn, who owns that new born deer? Real answer - no one does. Nearest answer according to man made laws - that baby belongs to the mother deer, until it becomes old enough to be an independent deer. So who owns the newborn calf of a cow, or lamb of a sheep? The mother animal or the farmer? How can a farmer own something that did not exist before the mother cow gave birth? If the cow temporarily breaks out of the farmer's fields, and gives birth on public land, does the farmer still own the calf?

What also makes 'ownership' impossible in my view is, who owned this stuff in the first place, so that someone else could 'acquire' it and become the legal owner? Answer - no one owned it originally. It just existed. So how can it become owned suddenly? Even if mankind 'owns' everything, who owned it before humans existed? Who owned it all in the time of the dinosaurs?

If all animals were free and unowned, then how did someone come to own an animal for the first time? There was no existing owner to buy it from, or to transfer ownership from. So surely it is impossible to own animals in this outright sense. It is all just a mockery - the emperor's new clothes - and we are all willingly going along with it.

As Ran says, at some point the majority of the people will wake up to this scam, and stop paying rent and stop acknowledging ownership as the man made law currently defines it. And then we might go back to where we were before all this ownership mess started.

Anyway, I've now made the main points I wanted to about the fallacy of ownership. And thanks to Ran for his post for kick starting me to follow up and get my thoughts down.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Freedom = Responsibility

I named this blog about freedom because that is one of the big things that I have become aware of over the past few years - how little freedom we really have. We have choices, but not freedom. We cannot do what we want when we want - we can only choose from those options allowed us by society. We have degrees of freedom - which flavour ice cream do you want? - but not total freedom.

I'm starting to get sick of society telling us we are 'free', when we are really anything but. Civilisation is a big bunch of rules about we cannot do, rather than about what we can do. More and more laws about what is not allowed, to stop the 'bad people', while actually removing more and more freedom from everyone.

I want to emphasis the point that to me freedom brings responsibility. Which I believe is the opposite of what many people will think. The simple view of freedom is that it means less responsibility - less work and less effort. Taking it easy. But true freedom actually requires more responsibility.

I am on about the freedom to do other things I want to do, and not freedom from obligations so that I can ignore them. Freedom from means less responsibility and less accountability. But someone who holds themselves accountable for their own life and wants to be free to live it how they want to will have to be more responsible, not less.

Civilisation today presents us with a set of ways we can conform - education, jobs, owning a house, paying taxes - and in return there are a great many things we do not have to deal with directly. As long as I keep going to work, I can use the money I earn to pay off any responsibility for other things.
  • I don't have to grow food - a farmer does that for me.
  • I don't have to raise cattle and kill them - someone else does.
  • I don't have to find food - the supermarket brings it all to one place.
  • I don't have to find water - the water company pumps it to my house.
  • I don't have to produce cloth and make clothes - someone else does.
  • I don't have to educate my children - the school does.
  • I don't have to find wood and coal - the energy company does.
And the result - almost no real freedom, and a binding pact to go out and work for someone else everyday in return for money.

The truly free person, who wants to do more than just doing the same work for someone else every day, will have to be responsible for all the things just listed, and many more. They have not shirked their obligations, and replaced them all with a steady flow of money; but instead face these obligations each and every day.

I also find it interesting that the people I now recognise as living this free lifestyle are what we call tribal people. These tribes share all the responsibilities of life amongst themselves, and between them do everything necessary to live. All obligations are met directly by the people of the tribe themselves.

And as we also know, this tribal way of living has existed for millions of years. Literally millions of years. And the current way of living in modern civilisation has been around for only about ten thousand years. We have only lost this freedom in recent history, but already almost no one today is aware of this loss. No one seems aware that once we were truly free. Another example of a Great Forgetting. In fact we have gone past that point, to where our freedom is now taken away from us by society by its laws, and we are never aware that there is any other way of living.

I'd like to me more free, and not to have to work every day to earn money to pay someone else for everything else I need. I'd like to interact with all facets of life, not just the one limited aspect of it we call work. But I know that doing that also means a lot more responsibility for me. And unfortunately civilisation has seen to it that I have not learnt all the skills and knowledge I need to take care of myself and my family. And even if I did have those skills and knowledge, the laws of society would stop me from leading a natural life and would probably lock me up in jail. There is no open land to live on, as all land is owned by someone, including the government. On what open, public, shared land there is, you cannot erect a shelter (building is not allowed without written permission). And you cannot hunt wild animals, because such hunting is forbidden or tightly licensed. And even if you could, there are no wild animals left because we have killed them all off to make way for farms and agriculture.