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Murray Rothbard: Aristotle on Private Property and Money

From Mises.org -

An excerpt from Aristotle on Private Property and Money by Murry Rothbard

The views of the great philosopher Aristotle are particularly important because the entire structure of his thought had an enormous and even dominant influence on the economic and social thought of the high and late Middle Ages, which considered itself Aristotelian.

Although Aristotle, in the Greek tradition, scorned moneymaking and was scarcely a partisan of laissez-faire, he set forth a trenchant argument in favor of private property. Perhaps influenced by the private-property arguments of Democritus, Aristotle delivered a cogent attack on the communism of the ruling class called for by Plato. He denounced Plato's goal of the perfect unity of the state through communism by pointing out that such extreme unity runs against the diversity of mankind, and against the reciprocal advantage that everyone reaps through market exchange. Aristotle then delivered a point-by-point contrast of private as against communal property. First, private property is more highly productive and will therefore lead to progress. Goods owned in common by a large number of people will receive little attention, since people will mainly consult their own self-interest and will neglect all duty they can fob off on to others. In contrast, people will devote the greatest interest and care to their own property.

Second, one of Plato's arguments for communal property is that it is conducive to social peace, since no one will be envious of, or try to grab the property of, another. Aristotle retorted that communal property would lead to continuing and intense conflict, since each will complain that he has worked harder and obtained less than others who have done little and taken more from the common store. Furthermore, not all crimes or revolutions, declared Aristotle, are powered by economic motives. As Aristotle trenchantly put it, "men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold."

Third, private property is clearly implanted in man's nature: His love of self, of money, and of property, are tied together in a natural love of exclusive ownership. Fourth, Aristotle, a great observer of past and present, pointed out that private property had existed always and everywhere. To impose communal property on society would be to disregard the record of human experience, and to leap into the new and untried. Abolishing private property would probably create more problems than it would solve.

Finally, Aristotle wove together his economic and moral theories by providing the brilliant insight that only private property furnishes people with the opportunity to act morally, e.g. to practice the virtues of benevolence and philanthropy. The compulsion of communal property would destroy that opportunity.

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Later: Rothbard: Aristotle on priv property and money

Later: Rothbard: Aristotle on priv property and money

School's fine. Just don't let it get in the way of thinking. -Me

Study nature, not books. -Walton Forest Dutton, MD, in his 1916 book whose subject is origin (therefore what all healing methods involve and count on), simple and powerful.

The History Of Usury:

http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/Articles/1998_usury.htm

Usury laws are still on the books in most states, but lenders seem to ignore them !

beesting

People can freely choose not to take out loans...

from lenders they deem to have too high interest rates. This use of one's free market vote serves to lower rates over time as the lender begins to lose revenue.

The fact that two of the

The fact that two of the greatest philosophers of all time, Plato and Aristotle, both "counseled the virtues of scaling down one's desires to fit what was moral and not unnatural" is completely ignored in this article. Instead, such things as charging interest (the practice which easily triples or quadruples the amount owed back to the lender) is condoned, even though Aristotle believed that education should teach people voluntarily to curb their rampant desires and thus lead them to limit their own accumulations of wealth. The reason as to why Rothbard considers such a practice as charging interest to be "moral and not unnatural" is completely ignored in the article - leaving me to wonder if I shouldn't ignore this article, and Rothbard himself, completely - except, of course, for those few ideas of his which I may condone.

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!"
- Howard Beale

Charging interest is "natural"...

From my understanding, I would say that interest is the price paid by the borrower to the lender in exchange for the lender being without the ability to re-allocate his/her money over the period of the loan.

In addition, when "creators" of the money engage in inflationary practices, interest becomes even more important due to the fact that in those cases if interest were not charged the lender would lose money over the period of the loan to the inflation tax.

In my opinion,

a simple fee charged to offset the inflation tax would be much more natural and moral than the current practice of usury by the central banks, which easily triples or quadruples the amount owed back to the lender; thus preserving the virtues of scaling down one's desires to fit what was moral and not unnatural, just as Plato and Aristotle both counseled.

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!"
- Howard Beale

You ignored my point. Inflation was just a secondary reason...

to charge interest.

My primary point is that when a lender lends out money, this money becomes unavailable for the lender to use in potentially more productive endeavors that may come along during the term of the loan. The money can be said to be tied up. This is true even in the absence of inflation.

Agreed. Also, based on the

Agreed.

Also, based on the text above, this composition looks good. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks, dw.

School's fine. Just don't let it get in the way of thinking. -Me

Study nature, not books. -Walton Forest Dutton, MD, in his 1916 book whose subject is origin (therefore what all healing methods involve and count on), simple and powerful.