Saturday, June 29, 2019

Property and Freedom: Excerpt

Whereas in England the impetus to deliberations on the origins and nature of property stemmed from strictly pragmatic considerations - the desire to rein in the arbitrary power of the crown, especially in matters of taxation - in France it was inspired by a philosophical revulsion from the world as constituted. The French philosophes viewed the actual world as a perversion of the true or ideal world, of the world as it should and could be. When James Boswell visited Rousseau, who more than any Frenchman of his time influenced public opinion against property, his host told him: "Sir, I have no liking for the world as it is.... a world of fantasies, and I cannot tolerate the world as it is.... Mankind disgusts me." Ill-tempered but honest: utopians have always served as an outlet for misanthropic emotions.

- From Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes

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