Friday, April 15, 2005


Principles of Conservatism: Private Property

Why it is so important to us

F. A. Hayek in his work -- The Road to Serfdom – (written in 1944) said:

“ What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, no only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves.”

He goes on to say later:

“ Who can seriously doubt that a member of a … minority will be freer with no property so long as fellow-members of his community have property and are therefore able to employ him, than the would be if private property were abolished and he became owner of a nominal share of in the communal property? Or that the power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionnaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am allowed to live or work?”

This idea that freedom equals unrestricted right to private property is one of the cornerstones of conservative philosophy. It stands in direct opposition to the ideas of communism, and to a very great extent socialism as well. The idea of private property arose from traditions traced from the origins of civilization, and has been incorporated into the laws of many lands. This right has been called a natural right, in that a person has a right to possess that which he justly acquires. It is one of the few certain natural rights, and one which no government can deny without also denying the freedom of its citizens.


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