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On Property and Ownership Relations

A Return to the Social Theory of Karl Marx

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Wielslaw Gumula

This book comprises a systematic analysis of Karl Marx’s reasoning on ownership. Marx as the author of an original theory of ownership is yet to be discovered. The creator of a theory which was to interpret social reality is quite a different thinker from the creator of a doctrine which was to alter the world. In designing communist society, Marx ignored the threats which social property bears, despite having skillfully identified them in investigations of diverse pre-capitalistic forms of common ownership. The author seeks to break through one-sided interpretations which discern in Marx a decisive critique of private property and an apologia of common ownership. It becomes apparent that Marx treated both the processes of socialization and privatization of ownership with equal consideration.

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Chapter III: Capitalistic Forms of Private Ownership and Other

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Chapter III:  Capitalistic Forms of Private Ownership and Other

Introductory Remarks

Naturally, the majority of the works of Karl Marx pertains to capitalism. This area of his interest has been thoroughly investigated by historians of economic and social thought. The literature discussing the views of Marx on capitalism is characterized by a single trait: they primarily investigate capital seen as a historical mode of production. Significantly fewer analyses address capital understood as a system of property relations.

Additionally, the vast majority of the interpretations of his viewpoints is limited to generalizations that take into consideration merely the basic mode of capitalist production. Nonetheless, there were many forms of ownership functioning simultaneously in 19th-century capitalist societies and, in fact, Marx observes and describes various of their modes of production. Serving as examples here are the mode of industrial capitalist production, the agricultural mode of capitalist production, the metayer (or sharecropping) system of production, and the cottage industry mode of capitalist production – all of which differ from one another with regards to several key characteristics. Karl Marx also devotes much attention to nonproductive forms of capital, subjecting each concrete form of productive and nonproductive capital (and forms of property) to deep analysis, and identifying distinctive traits.

Marx’s outlook on this subject of capitalist property relations will be systematically discussed in this chapter, albeit also surfacing in partial analyses throughout the volume at hand. This will enable a spotlighting of the...

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