Monthly Archives: January 2012

An Old Post on Owning Human Property

Mitdasein: over 2 years ago
@DomOnTheLevel – I can’t do anything but agree with BA that you begin with an unsupported and likely unsupportable ex cathedra statement, and when called on it respond with only one anecdotal piece of evidence that even if it did necessarily imply (which it doesn’t) that she would have had better overall health if she had been working, doesn’t imply that the same would be the case in all other man/woman relationships, whether O/p or not. It sounds like simply an extreme version of a protestant work ethic that has caused much grief and misery and continues to do so, particularly in the U.S. where it is more prevalent than in most Western countries. And this work ethic, while associated primarily with and spread through protestant religion, historically was an invented ethic promoted by early capitalists for their own personal benefit.

As for my own household? Currently neither of my girls work. This is not an enforced rule of mine, it is what is healthiest for them at the moment. In both cases they are in a situation where their doctors prefer that they do not work, as the structure of most available work causes particular types of stress that would be likely to worsen their prognosis and endanger their lives. Should work opportunities that do not endanger their health, and that offer growth possibilities that do not exist at home, I would consider letting them make an effort to obtain that particular employment.

As far as an expectation that property should support the Owner if he feels like sitting on his ass; if that is a paramount desire of his, then by all means he can sacrifice other things, including his property’s immediate happiness, knowing that her longterm happiness lies more in serving her Owner than in not being forced to work when she doesn’t necessarily enjoy it, or to work at something even that she hates, but is the only thing available to her. He also can sacrifice any desire he has that her happiness be taken into account at all. He needs to realize that it will inevitably bring up conflicts, not between himself and his property, but between different desires he wants fulfilled, and circumstances beyond his or his property’s control that prevent all of his desires from being fulfilled simultaneously. For instance, his girl may run into a situation where a significant amount of overtime is temporarily required by her boss, and company bosses are simply not used to being interfered with by employees’ partners, nor are they used to being opposed directly by employees. If the Owner interferes, on the valid basis that he wants her to work and provide for the household, but he didn’t agree for her to be absent from the household and her other service duties during regular non-work hours, he’s liable to cause her to lose employment with that company. Reality being what it is, she has to maintain some income for the household, since nobody else is doing it. But if she quits or is fired from that employment, there’s no guarantee that she can find more suitable employment in the necessary timeframe, nor is there any guarantee that she can in any timeframe find employment that suits her Owner better but generates equivalent, or even sufficient, income to maintain the household.
There is also the reality that particularly since the 1980’s in this country the economy has adjusted to a situation where both partners are more likely to work than one stay at home. Part of this adjustment has been a significant slide in real individual income because overall productivity and economic output has not matched the number of additional workers currently in the workforce, and has been achieved by maintaining a real inflation rate that is significantly higher than employers can afford to match with wage increases, and than the government is willing to give to public servants. Unless the property has a particular talent that is currently in special demand, which is going to be the exception rather than the rule, she may simply be unable to earn enough to maintain the kind of lifestyle the Owner wants and expects, and he has to make a decision to contribute income of his own by getting off his ass, or accept a lower than average standard of living. Of course he can attempt to choose his property based on economic capability, but this will likely both detract from other aspects of the property that he is looking for, and simply may make him propertyless for a longer period, or indefinitely, in which case the pleasure of owning human property will be denied him along with any ability to implement any decisions whatsoever regarding human property until he finds willing potential property with the required economic capability or potential, or accepts that property with less economic capability, but more value in other ways, is either ultimately preferable or simply all that he has the capability and luck to acquire.

Of course many of the same issues affect an Owner whose preference is that the property be at home serving his needs and not being interfered with by external bosses and employment circumstances. If his ruling is that she stay home while he works, he has to accept that any desire of his to stay at home and relax, enjoying both his own leisure and the continued labour of his property, must be given up, unless he is independently wealthy and can afford to run the household on unearned income. And that without her contributing income, either he must earn a better than average income, which may require a lot more work than an average person, or may simply be impossible. Or he can again accept a lower than average standard of living. In the likely most common scenario, where due to external circumstances both partners are required to earn part of the household income in order for the household to remain economically viable and most important wants met, the decision is essentially made in advance by circumstances, and unless circumstances change significantly the Owner will not be able to quit working and just enjoy himself while his property provides the necessary income, nor will he be able to tell his property to stay at home and make his time at home as comfortable as possible rather than spending her time contributing to the income, nor finally will he be able to override decisions made by her boss or company that interfere further with whatever acceptable compromise he has made.

Blanket statements such as “Not working is not healthy” or “Property should be at home serving Me at all times” are simply not tenable except in specific situations, nor does either statement suit every Owners preference, which should be his own and not pushed on him by Owners who feel their preference should be everybody’s, or is somehow morally superior. And unless you are lucky enough to be able to implement the scenario that suits your preference at all, the particulars of each situation have to be assessed on the balance of desires vs economic and societal reality and personal abilities and limitations.
Performing this kind of assessment of one’s own preferences as an Owner, the capabilities of one’s property, and the interaction with external reality is not to me an unfortunate burden, or in some way a problem in the O/p dynamic, but one of the chief sources of pleasure available to an Owner of human property, where his skill in managing both his property and his circumstances and encouraging the continued development of his property’s abilities and talents to his specifications will over time determine his own future satisfaction. My own preference is that the household and its particular needs come first over the random satisfaction of particular desires I may have, since without the household I lose the ability to protect, maintain and enhance the incalculable wealth I already possess by owning the a complex and unique piece of property that a human being is. To this end, in my household it is necessary that I make it my responsibility to earn sufficient income for the household to have economic viability and with it the prospect of continued existence and development. Putting my girls to work in the general workplace when it is unhealthy or even dangerous to their continued existence cannot guarantee the security of the household. While in a real sense nobody can guarantee the security of their income from day to day, never mind from year to year, if every useful effort isn’t made then my assessment of circumstances has to temporarily change and I have to admit temporary inability to fulfill what I feel my responsibilities as an Owner of my particular and unique human property are. A human being is a special piece of property to those lucky enough to own them, because her kind of being and its meaning does not fundamentally change when her status becomes property, but remains of the same kind of being as the Owner himself, and thereby able to give the Owner pleasure of a kind unavailable in any other kind of property. She lives in and shares the meanings of things and events with her Owner that in sum we refer to as World. No other type of property can understand either the Owner or themselves as Owner and property, name themselves as property and by personal effort increase their value to their Owner. No other kind of property can even desire to do so or understand the meaning of desire in any way. A dog obeys from training, but does not understand the meaning of obedience. And any training the dog receives is 100% the owner’s effort, and the pleasure in owning a dog limited to the successful execution of whatever training he wishes to put the effort in to begin and maintain. The immense pleasure I receive from continued willful obedience and continual effort on the part of my property to grow in their role as property, with as much understanding of the meaning of their role and its appropriateness for them, gives me an abiding gratitude to my girls for their willingness to sacrifice an egalitarian status, hard won in the first place, for a completely subservient status, not simply to anyone, but specifically to me and specifically for my benefit. This gratitude is in itself a pleasure of a kind denied to anyone not fortunate enough to experience the full potential of owning another human being.

Failing to distinguish between different types of property in terms of investment is a fundamental cause of the failure of Western society to live up to its potential as wealth building nations – there is a difference, not recognised in any property law or in the minds of most owners, between owning a valuable statue and equivalent shares in a prosperous corporation. While both may increase by the same value or by more or less as time goes on, capital requires the continued work of people unknown personally to the owner, and willingness on their part to attempt to maximize profits at the company involved, when the Owner is in fact initially incapable of determining at all whether those profits in fact are being maximized. By learning and effort the capitalist can acquire the type of understanding of the company’s workings so that at the very least he can direct if he is a majority shareholder, or support if he is a minority shareholder, the imposition of a board to run the company made up of competent management that fully agrees with the overall plan of the owner and has the knowledge and ability to guide the company in the appropriate direction. While pleasure beyond the pleasure of increasing one’s wealth and therefore one’s own opportunities is possible, it lacks imnmediacy, closeness to one’s more fundamental needs and desires, and requires effort and initiative of a kind that may or may not be natural or even possible for any particular capitalist. Given averages on the whole most shareholders take far less personal interest in the companies they own than would be required to actually maximize output and profits, and therefore contribute maximally to the overall wealth of the country, as well as contribute maximally to the owner’s personal portion of that wealth.

In contrast the statue is simply purchased and owned, nobody is required to do anything about it during its residency in the owner’s possesstion, and its value will either increase or not based on the reputation of the artist who created it, and dependent on the owners ability in the first place to choose between a good work and a great one. While the statue is in the owner’s possession, he also can enjoy a unique work in its workliness and meaning to its fullest, a pleasure fundamentally different in nature from any actual or potential pleasures of being a capitalist.

By analogy failing to understand both the differences and the similarities between owning either an artwork or capital and owning another human being, where owning a human being requires even more care and attention in the initial choosing than does a statue, and more learning and knowledge about the traits of the particular property, together with more direction in the particular areas of development that are chosen than owning capital. Owning a human being also does not result in having at one’s disposal a marketable asset that will increase in monetary value. Instead he owns a being with similar capabilities and limitations to his, and is more unique, individuated and unreproducible than any possible artwork. He owns property that with the full power of intentionality and understanding will seek to satisfy his needs with every ability they have, which provides both more immediate, personal and deeply gratifying pleasures than any capital. This failure of making the appropriate distinctions and taking the appropriate actions with regard to the property involved inevitably will put the owner in the situation of not being able to either fully develop the real value of his property nor fully enjoy his property, and his investment in time and effort to acquire, develop, train and maintain his property will not result in the incredible potential return in pleasure and satisfaction such ownership can bring, and which cannot be brought about by any other means.