America’s Peculiar Institution

Article by Kevin Carson.
Once upon a time, a major portion of the American economy centered on a peculiar institution, which depended on a certain bizarre “property right.” The peculiar institution was defended by preachers and politicians, by lobbyists, and by an army of editorialists, arguing that this peculiar form of property was property in the same sense as any ordinary form of property. Any violation of this form of property, they proclaimed, was “stealing” in exactly the same sense as taking away a person’s ordinary possessions.

The federal government resorted to censorship to protect this form of property, and an intrusive police state developed in order to carry out the federal government’s legal obligation of enforcing the peculiar property right that this peculiar institution depended on. Government was forced to become more and more authoritarian in defense of this peculiar institution, because it flew in the face of every human instinct for freedom.

On the other side, there was a proliferation of advocacy groups and public figures who condemned the peculiar institution, and called for the abolition of the peculiar form of property it depended on. They argued that this so-called “property” was utterly spurious and abhorrent, and was not in fact genuine property in the same sense as ordinary possessions. Further, there were organized efforts to ignore or defy these spurious property claims, and to evade government’s attempts to enforce them.

That time is now.

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