Importance of historicizing money, property, and the nation-state

So-called liberal principles have varied historically, along with the concept of property and the form of the nation.

The Austrian school believed that the principles of property and money were neutral, apolitical, in spite of their personal awareness of the socialism of fin de siecleVienna (Slobodian 2018a, 46,119,212-213,265,275). In their view, the “rule of law” could be an instrument for removing politics from economics, according to the principle of the protection of property, and by ruling workers’ organizations illegal. In order to understand the historical evolution of the liberal state, which integrates both politics and economics, one must see the relationship between them in terms of“political economy.”That is, meanings of property and the state co-evolved (Davis 2015) with various schools of thought in law and economics.

According to Schmitt’s analysis, in a global world order there is a need for symmetry between the internal structure of each nation and the global international structure. In the Holy Alliance, for example, the common international principle was respect for dynastic succession in each nation. By contrast, one common principle for modern states is the distinction between the public/ private divide, or between the state and the market. That is, there is a form of “double government,” consisting of a government of the people, the imperium, and government of the territory or property, the dominium (Slobodian 2018a, 10-16, 21, 22-24, 104-112, 118-119, 123, 214, 2018b; Schmitt 2006, 46-47, 235).The role of“property” may be to make an immediate connection between the individual owner and the discreet parcel of land, according to domestic laws in the liberal state. Alternatively, there could be forms of collective property, such as the ejido in Mexico. Respect for individual property is also a principle of international liberal alliances, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

The notion of“Double Government” may relate to the public/private divide (Chapter 3).That is, the market is conceptually distinct from the state in spite of the fact that the entire nation is both market and state (Slobodian 2018a, 10-16, 21, 23-24, 104-112, 118-119, 123, 214, 2018b). The public/private divide was important to Hayek (Rosenboim 2017, 163), as well as to Searle

(2010, 170—171). There is a symmetry with the global order as well, with an international market among a set of nation-states whose boundaries are then permeable to flows of capital and commodities.

These associated ideas of property and governance have varied historically. A cursory review of the notion of property historically provides evidence for wide variation. For example, in the feudal period, property was used by serfs, governed by lords of the manor, associated with a monarch and the church. The enclosures of these lands in England took place by change of legal forms, with little recognition of prior claims to use rights (Marglin 2008; North, Wallis, and Weingast 2009). The French Revolution established unitary ownership, consolidating rights to each parcel to a single owner, so-called allodial rights (Blau-farb 2016). In the twentieth-century US, the legal realists understood property as a “bundle of sticks” which could be assigned separately (Banner 2011; Fried 1998).The law and economics movement after the 1980s in the US reestablished the “natural” unity of property and extended economic principles into jurisprudence (Epstein 1985; Posner 1972; Medema 1997).

These historical institutions related to property have evolved along with forms of the state. This process should be historicized, re-politicized, and subject to question and debate rather than reified and naturalized (Pistor 2019). For example, environmental implications of property could be added, such as “greenwood in the bundle of sticks” (Goldstein 2005). Public trust could be used to gage the environmental implications of property regimes (Blumm and Wood 2013).

The shift in governance principles from hereditary monarchy to representative government was accomplished over centuries and may constitute another “Great Transformation.”The establishment of markets in labor and land tended to destabilize other forms of government (Polanyi 1944; Maier 2016,146—148). The development of new ideas for the legitimation of authority coincided with the rise of the market, whether or not there is any causal relationship between these two phenomena (Davis 2015).

Early forms of self-government were expressed in corporate bodies, such as communes, city-states, and chartered municipalities, on a small geographic scale. In the monarchies, the body of the king represented the nation and the people (Kantorowicz 1957). After the revolutions in England (1640-1688), the United States (1776),and France (1789), there was considerable debate and experimentation regarding the methods of “representation” of the population as a whole, of individual members, in what balance, and who “counts” in the electorate. For example, in opposition to the crown and Parliament, the Levellers in the 1640s claimed rights for individuals as self-owners (Sabbadini 2016,178—186).

Changing ideas of governance and authority may have been driven by the twin dynamic of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution (Israel 2017; Mokyr 2016), with rationality a key principle of both, with a feedback loop accelerating the entire complex. That is, ideas, such as natural science, and institutions, including the state, may have a mutually reinforcing dialectic relationship.

Further, liberalism may be more consistent with capitalism, with its focus on the mobile individual, property rights including the right to alienate, the public/private divide, and the privilege of the private sphere for consumption, along with checks and balances (Berlin 1969; Hirschman 1977). Protection of property would serve the accumulation of capital against claims for redistribution. Protection of property can also legitimate the use of violence and rationalize the limits of suffrage by property requirements. In this case, a key term like “property” can provide an integration across spheres, as well as rationalize their separation; it provides a common discourse for law, administration, economics, and political rhetoric and provides a long-standing sense of stability to both the government and the economy.

 
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